Parenting-Induced Aphasia

You would think that after several years of being a parent, I would know enough to rarely be surprised by the behavior of children. A toddler insisting that pajamas are real clothes and real clothes cause her skin to hurt? Nope. A child wiping all the cheese sauce off the mac n’ cheese he just requested? Not at all. That grape jelly somehow regularly gets into the crease where the ceiling meets the wall? Well. . . that one always does surprise me. . .

But sometimes I have moments where I’m left speechless because my mind is blown by children. I call it child-induced aphasia.

Like the other morning when The Bife made pancakes for the kids. Midway through eating a jelly-covered pancake, The Boy wanted a new, plain one because there was grape jelly on his. When The Wife told him he had to finish the pancake he already had before he got a new one, The Boy had a tantrum. (The mystery of how jelly appears on the walls solved!) Eventually, he calmed down, grudgingly finished his pancake, then asked for a new one. Without missing a beat, he asked for help opening the grape jelly. I could hear The Life’s mind explode from across the house, but she said nothing.

The Boy seems to be a font of such aphasia lately. Just last week we caught him trying to go play in the snow wearing a pair of Keen sandals. Without socks. He said he never got cold, even on days like these when the wind chill made it -5. He did put on snow boots just to humor his mother, but still sans socks. This same boy who hadn’t worn socks since last April informed us yesterday that he was going to wear the same pair of socks for a year. Okay, that was surprising. Then he dropped another bomb. He was going to wear them for a year without taking them off. Boom! We were struck by child-induced aphasia, helpless to say anything.

Eventually, The Bife and I convinced The Boy that he had to take his socks off for his bath, but I’m starting to think it might not be a bad idea to have him bathe with the socks on if we are going to survive this year without being mustard gassed when he takes off his shoes.

The Boy, though, is not the only kid whose sudden 180-degree changes have struck us speechless lately. The Toddler has been displaying those signs of increased independence that presage that she will only need constant help for 13 hours a day instead of the usual 14.

See, at least three or four times a day she manages to trap herself in a room by closing the door and not being able to turn the doorknob. Much of my day is spent tracking down which room the faint cries of help are coming from. She doesn’t help her cause by insisting that I call her whatever name she has chosen for herself to be called that day (e.g., Froggy, Piggy, Big Bird, and Puppy have been popular lately).

At least three times a day, any visitor to our house would find me standing at the bottom of the stairs, trying to triangulate which room The Toddler has trapped herself in by straining to hear her cries.

Then, satisfied that she isn’t in any mortal danger if she is arguing over nomenclature, I go rescue her.

But yesterday while I was in the bathroom, she reached a developmental milestone and opened the pantry door all by herself. I came downstairs to discover not only that she could now open doors, but she had eaten half a bag of powdered sugar. She sat at the tiny table in the kitchen nook, looking exactly like Tony Montana at the end of Scarface, with the pile of cocaine on his desk, white powder all over her face and in her hair. Thankfully she didn’t have his “little friend” to put me in my place.

Of course, I said nothing. Thankfully, child-induced aphasia is short-lived and is usually cured by a shot of whiskey, a pint of good beer, nothing more than or a bottle of wine.

And that doesn’t surprise me at all.

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