Monday, October 6, 2014

Two Conversations with the Boys

Two Conversations with the Boys:

Here are two stories about the young ‘uns.  The boys are both amazingly awesome, and they are both so very different from each other.  Since I haven’t mentioned them for the while, and to keep you up to date here are a few facts. 

The Bear, my oldest son, is now five. [1]  He’s in Kindergarten and is loving it.

His younger brother, the Bean, is now two and a half.  He’s an unintentional force of destruction, but that’s a story for another day.

Also I need to precursor this first story by saying that while the Bear is fairly smart for his age, and on any given day we are likely to have conversations about just about anything, I don’t believe I have ever talked about this type of thing with him and that I had neither done nor said anything before this conversation to prompt his comments.

While I was working in the front yard, the bear was riding his tricycle around.  Typically everything he does comes with a running monologue, so after an unusually long stretch of silence [2] I looked over to see what was going on.

He had stopped peddling and was sitting with his head slightly tilted to the side and a far off look in his eyes clearly deep in thought.  The following conversation ensued.

Me: What’s up, buddy?

Bear: Daddy?

Me: Yes?

Bear: When people don’t want something . . .

[Long dramatic pause as he finished gathering and organizing his thoughts]

Bear: . . . it costs less.

I have to admit that in the pause in his statement, I was wondering (and hoping) that he was about to make a comment along these lines.  I also have to admit that I was amazingly proud. [3]

I tried to ask him a few follow up questions to understand what had prompted the statement, but he wouldn’t really answer them and instead he just said he was “just thinking about it”. 

I admit that we do occasionally talk about the price of things, but only in the usual small child context of him wanting me to buy him something and me explaining that it’s too expensive.   And of course he hasn’t said anything else along those lines since.  [4]

On the flip side there is the Bean.  Since the Bear now goes to Kindergarten, morning trips to day care are just me and the Bean now.  Sometimes we listen to music [5], sometimes we sing our own songs [6], sometimes we look for things out in the world [7] and sometimes we have discussions of our own. 

Of course, during these conversations, I occasionally have no idea what it is he’s talking about.  I understand the words he’s saying, it’s just that he’s not the best at providing context [8]. While this isn’t strictly a conversation, the following is a good example. 

As is probably the norm for parents of small children, the back seat of my car tends to end up a hodge podge of toys, books, half eaten snack bits and other random detritus of childhood/parenthood.

Bean: I want that one.[9]

Me: What do you want?

Bean: That one.

Me: What is it?

Bean: That one.  I want it.

Me: What does it look like?

Bean: That one.

Me: [silence]

Bean [more emphatically]: Daddy, I want that one.

Me: And I want you to have it.  But you have to tell me more.  What is it that you want?

Bean: That one.

And so it goes, until finally I begin a list of random guesses of what I can remember being in the back seat.

Me: Do you want the pencil?

Bean: No.

Me: Your cup?

Bean: No.

Me: The lion pillow?

Bean: No.

Me: What do you want then?

Bean: That one.

Me: What color is it? [10]

Bean: That one.

Me [stealing a quick glance into the floorboard behind the passenger seat]: Is it the book?

Bean: No.

Me [stealing another look]: Is it the Froot Loop [11]

Bean: No

Me [relieved]: Is it the bracelet?

Bean: Okay!

He never says yes.  It’s always ‘okay’ and he always says it in the happiest most agreeable tone ever.  And it’s not like he doesn’t know all of the names for all of the other things I’ve guessed.  He just never says them.  I can only assume that it is just that for him this is how this conversation goes. [12]

I’ve tried lots of variations on this conversation, many gambits to help determine what it is he so desperately needs.  But they all end up the same way.

In truth lately when I ask something like, “can you tell me what it looks like?” there is a short period of “um, uh, er” coming from the back seat in which I start to think that we might actually be having a breakthrough and I might get some kind of helpful detail, but, so far my hopes have been dashed every time on the rocky shore of the inevitable next response: ‘That one’.

Two Conversations with the Boys:

The Bear: A+

The Bean: A+ [13]

[1] – He would want me to tell you that he is actually five and a half. 
[2] – Ten seconds would be unusually long, but in this case it was longer.
[3] – I guess Economics runs in the blood.
[4] – So I’ve held off for now on notifying the committee for the Nobel prize on Economics.
[5] - This is usually because a demanding voice from the back seat starts saying, “I want songs” over and over.
[6] – The ABC’s are at the top of the charts right now.  Bingo was there for a long time, which while repetitive in the extreme is worth it for the extreme cuteness of “Bingo was his nay-no.”
[7] – Letters, numbers and shapes most often.
[8] – Or nouns for that matter.
[9] - This unhelpfully will come with no pointing at all.  Not that I could really tell what he is pointing at anyway, since I’m usually busy driving during these exchanges. And if the car should be stopped, any request for him to point results in some comments, but ultimately no pointing.
[10] – This is truly an act of desperation as the Bean isn’t so good with his colors yet.  The only one he consistently gets is pink.  There are a handful of others he is about 50% on and the rest are completely a toss up.  Thus even if he should say a color, it doesn’t really mean that the item in question is that color.
[11] – Please don’t let it be the Froot Loop, that one single lone Froot Loop that has probably been back there for months and bears more in common with styrofoam than cereal at this point.
[12] – And I don’t think that he really enjoys these conversations either, at least that’s the feeling I get based on the sound of frustration in his voice.

[13] - Yes, these conversations can be frustrating, but I wouldn’t trade them for anything.

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