Thursday, August 26, 2004

Taking a Deep Breath

OK, maybe it's time for me to take a deep breath, have a beer, and calm down after yesterday's venting. To that end, I'll give you a glimpse into the day of the life of three boys, excerpted from a January entry to the family diary. One of my New Year's resolutions was to make an entry to the diary at least once a week, although I have been derelect, and this blog is partly to blame. But I think I might insert a column of domesticated family guy bliss into each week's blogroll, so any liberals out there can see that I live a full and balanced life, which includes indoctrinating my kids. Besides, Professor Vic and PBryon deserve a day off every once in awhile. So here is one from mid-January:

Last night was another day in the life – dad arrives home around 5:50 pm from a particularly cold bike road home from work, gives mom a kiss, leads the boys upstairs like the pied piper, they jump around on Mom and Dad’s bed while I hop in for a quick shower, Jake gets mad at one of the twins and switches from a sweet and lovable two-year old into a kid bent on vengeance as his only aim in life for at least the next ten minutes. He’ll take a slap at the offending twin; he might even try a pinch, both of which are accompanied by a sternly voiced “No” that is halfway between a yell and a cry. After a little back and forth of this, he moves on to other techniques that are more subtly effective. Of course, this is assuming that the physical violence does not escalate via the offending twin hitting him back. If that occurs, all Hades breaks loose. And that usually does occur but for one accepting circumstance – if there is a cartoon on the TV, be it Sponge Bob or Rugrats or whatever – the offending twin will only brush off Jake and not respond in kind.

When Jake is mad, he wants everyone to be disrupted so that they know the single number one most important kid in the entire world is not at the moment happy, and everyone as a result is expected to alter their behavior accordingly so that the two-year old prince can return to his normally happy self. They say the opposite of love is not hate, but indifference, and the indifference shown to mad Jake when that TV is on by the offending twin finds Jake at first perplexed. Though the mind of a kid is simple, this is OK, because the world of a kid is simple, and he quickly figures out that the only way to dig himself firmly beneath the skin of the offending twin (and perhaps the other as a pure bonus) is to place himself between the twin and the TV, displacing Sponge Bob and Patrick’s shenanigans with the fine blond hair on his little head. The twins know enough about both Jake and Dad that they do not bother to try to push Jake out of the way, a move that would only double his resolve, and disrupt both visual and auditory components of the show, but rather appeal directly to Dad.

Fresh out of the shower, where he could pretend the rhythmic sound of the water beating down was such that he could not hear the bickering, and anxious to preserve the meditative harmony of a good shower, Dad is met with a drawn out “Dad”, the pronunciation of which is a clear indicator of where the next line is heading. It is the “request” Dad. It starts out as usual, dips and lingers over the “a” as if that letter were itself part of two syllables, one with the first “d” and the second with the last “d”. There is a similar “request” Mom as well. The “request” Dad never accompanies a requested offer to do something for Dad, such as, “Dad, can I get you a beer out of the refrigerator?” Rather, it is always and everywhere used as a prefix to some request that is to the benefit of the requester. “Dad, Jake’s in front of the TV” is an implied request. It is not offered as a tidbit of useless descriptive information, and the only way I know this is the antecedent “request” Dad. I promptly remove Jake, event though I should just turn the TV off.

If I am lucky, Jake is still mad enough about it to give me his trademark stare. Chin drops to chest, eyebrows furrow as much as possible, eyes ridiculously disproportionate to the rest of the head stare up and lock in on yours, and the coup de grace of the stare comes as his upper lip disappears into his lower, which he juts out as far as possible. The stare serves the dual purpose of conveying anger at you and drawing out your deepest sympathies. It is the cutest face in the world – anyone who sees it laughs – but poor Jake mistakenly assumes that no adult would want to make a kid feel sufficiently sad to give the stare, when in fact we find the stare so humorous that, in times of parental mischief, we might even actively try to elicit it.


Blogger Incredible Dirigible said...

"Dr. Ha-atch, can I get you a beer from the refrigerator?"

Too funny...

7:58 AM  
Blogger John Wolfram said...

Here is one right back at you. Last week when I returned home from work, I performed my usual custom of giving my wife a kiss and a big hug. My four-year old son was sitting at the table (with his 1 1/2 year old brother looking on from the high chair) and promptly exclaimed "Hey! How about a little lovin' for old Jack !?!"

Last week the younger brother got so mad about not getting his way that he threw his head back and cried so much that went silent, stopped breathing and passed out. Literally. He came around of course but now he knows that it won't help him to actually pass out as part of the disciplinary process. (We secretly hope this will lead to the appropriate beer-fetching once he learns how to open the door to the fridge.)

1:32 PM  
Blogger Incredible Dirigible said...

I think it's good that young Vince Wolfram passed out from his rage, so long as he came to unscathed. To paraphrase Arnold Schwarzenegger in Pumping Iron, "There is nothing wrong with throwing up or passing out in da gym." Perhaps the SON could teach the FATHER a lesson! Think about it: if a wife could cry to get what she wants, surely a husband could pass out to get what HE wants! I would like to try.

7:32 AM  

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