Sunday, January 3, 2010

Believe It or Not, They Really Do Listen (Sometimes)...

"For the 10th time...pick. up. those. trains," I mutter through gritted teeth, pausing between each word and casting menacing looks at both boys. My parents have been together more than 40 years and I've been with Daddy for almost 14: there's nothing about selective hearing I don't know and it's expected with two little boys, ages 3 and 5. Understanding it doesn't lessen the irritation, though, when they blithely ignore requests to do things they would rather not do and seem to intentionally not remember a request 5 seconds later. It could make any person wonder if their kids are lacking intelligence, suffering from hearing or comprehension problems, or just plain stubborn.

This is why it makes me pause with surprise when they do listen, remember, regurgitate, and understand.

"Mommy, I have lots of problems speaking properly. I need special lessons."

Recently, we started taking Hesperos to a speech therapist for lessons so he can better articulate some sounds. Although it is undeniably cute to hear Hesperos enunciate some words as though he is the offspring of a Muppet and a sock puppet, we know he needs to work past that. After every lesson (which is more like structured playtime), Hesperos gets a prize to reward him for his hard work.

Helios wants one of those prizes. He wants it bad.

So he decided, craftily, to manufacture his own speech problem. After Hesperos's last lesson, Helios shared us that sometimes he forgets parts of works like the "f" in "food" or the "t" in "train." (Note: Helios was able to correctly intone the words when providing them as examples.)

I assure you that Helios has been able to accurately express his wants for "food" and "trains" upon exiting the womb. This was not his most convincing argument. When we reminded him that he normally speaks these words just fine, illustration notwithstanding, Helios became ingeniously threatening. "Well, I want to go where Hesperos goes for his lessons so I can get a prize, too. I'll find other words I can't say!"

Well, at least we know the score!
"The fortune cookie promised me vacation!"

A couple days ago, we were driving around, running errands, when Helios piped up from the back, "Mommy, it's cold and rainy here. When's our vacation going to be?"

Wistfully thinking of my own vacation dreams, I regretfully told him that we don't have any vacation planned for a while but maybe this summer.

"But, Mommy," Helios protested, "the fortune cookie at P.F. Chang's said that I will go on at vacation soon and I'm going to have a really good time. So when will we get to go on vacation like the fortune cookie said?"

(Since that fortune cookie was received more than two weeks earlier and comprised approximately 3 seconds of an excruciatingly long 90-minute dinner at a busy restaurant, we were quite surprised he remembered it at all!)
"I am not going to drink any more cow milk, just like you."

I've been a vegetarian since a child but Daddy is not. That's no biggie; I even cook the meat for him sometimes. But the kids notice the difference, especially when we give them "chick'n" and give Daddy the kind without apostrophes. We've had that talk about why Mommy and kids don't eat animals and Daddy does, which is difficult to do without implying Daddy is wrong (ahem) but we make it work and all's well.

Recently, I decided to become a vegan and Helios noticed that, too. So he asked me why and I honestly explained that it doesn't seem "nice" to drink milk from the cow because it is meant for the calf.

This conversation was two or three weeks ago. So imagine our surprise when Helios announced out of the blue a couple days ago that he's not drinking cow milk anymore because it's "not right." When younger brother Hesperos protested with "I like cow milk!", Helios took it upon himself to convert his baby brother with arguments based on sympathy. (Example: "Hesperos, how would you like it when you were a baby if someone took Mommy's milk from you and you had to eat grass?!") Never mind that those same abilities at sympathy don't extend to sharing toys, I still appreciated his 5-year-old mind trying to rationalize and persuade.
These anecdotes almost make me feel badly about the one time (okay, maybe more than one time) I told Helios that naughty children get returned to the hospital where they were born for a full refund.

But here's my theory: Kids will go to the therapist to sort out their problems they blame their parents for anyway. Might as well give 'em something good (and true) to talk about.

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