A lot of parents are sad when their babies start walking and talking because, well, babies are so easy and portable. They just sleep and eat and sit on your lap and don’t tear up your house they way toddlers do.
But let’s face it… babies don’t say much. It’s kind of a one-way conversation.
Toddlers, on the other hand, are hilarious.
They’re brutally honest. They string words together in unusual ways while trying to figure out the vast, confusing world around them.
For example, my four-year-old daughter Brontë HATES it when her daddy sings and isn’t shy about telling him so.
He likes to sing, however, so he keeps it up.
Brontë figures she just hasn’t gotten through to him yet. She believes he would halt his mind-numbing sonic torture if he only understood how much it bothers her, so she keeps making up new and creative ways to explain it to him.
Now, I’m not entirely sure what the fuss is all about. John just sounds like a typical dad singing silly dad songs. Maybe it’s his voice or maybe it’s the irritating whimsy of his lyrics.
Or maybe it’s just another toddler control trip, but when John first started singing, she would stop whatever she was doing, throw her arms in the air, and scream, “NO DADDY! DO… NOT… SING!”
You’d think he’d understand this, right?
But he just kept on going. Bronte looked baffled. She couldn’t figure out how she failed to get her message across.
John actually thinks it’s funny to work Brontë into a frenzy. He’s that kind of guy. If you say you don’t want him leaving water glasses on the coffee table, you can bet he’ll be leaving water glasses on the table for months on end, just waiting for you to freak out. So I kind of know how Brontë feels.
Predictably, John kept singing until Brontë started running out of the room every time, screaming with her arms out in front of her like a tomb raider escaping a rampaging mummy in a Hanna-Barbera cartoon.
This never worked either, of course. John would keep walking around the house singing made-up songs, from time to time, until Brontë ran away shrieking. I suspect he actually began using this technique to make her leave the room whenever he wanted a parenting break.
So one day, John begins singing about how he needs to feed the cat and Brontë says, “Daddy… daddy… DADDY!!!!!!!!”
John stops. “What?”
Brontë puts her little hand on his arm and looks at him very seriously. “You’re breaking my heart, daddy.”
“How am I breaking your heart?”
“I no like you singing, daddy. You CAN’T SING.”
John starts singing again.
Brontë throws back her head and shouts open-mouthed, like a screaming muppet: “DADDY! DADDY! DADDY!!!!”
“Your singing MAKES MY EARS CRY. It HURTS me.”
“Well, I like to sing.”
“That hurts my heart, daddy. Your singing makes my heart cry.”
“NO LAUGH AT ME, DADDY!” Brontë shouted while running out of the room.
Well, at least she’s honest. And has a surprisingly good vocabulary for a four-year-old. The other day she called her little sister a “terrorist” while she was throwing a fit.