The boy’s verbal skills are complex. He’s a great communicator. I mentioned before that one man told me when my son was four months old that good baby communicators cried because crying was their way of communicating. So my boy is a good communicator. Nowadays, he uses words that are too advanced for me to follow. I think God only understands most of it.
Apparently my mother, grandma, has been interpreting him since before he was even baby verbal. And his grannie, my mother-in-law, has a language she uses with him that I’m not even sure he understands. But those require another series of posts.
That said, I’m making a short list of questions that have no meaning. They consist of the questions we’ve asked the boy up to this point. Of course, your questions may be different. Because your parenting skills may be stronger than mine, than ours. I’d love to have your current questions, if you have any.
- Are you brushing your teeth? Of course he’s not. He’s putting the brush in his mouth, licking the tasty gel, and circling or dancing around me as I brush my teeth. He hears my reminders. “Brush,” I groan, lamenting that it’s so early to attempt communication with another human being. “Brush,” I say while foam flicks from me to him. And he nods, turning his hand but really doing nothing different inside his mouth.
- Did you hear me? This is my preferred method of not repeating myself. I had a rule when the boy came along. I’ve eased up on it a bit, but I told my wife that I didn’t believe parents should repeat themselves. My mother didn’t, least I don’t remember her doing it much. When she said something, she said it once. Or we met trouble. So I’m raising the boy that way. To prevent repetition, I ask this question. Of course, I still have to repeat it so I’m living a life of compromise.
- What did you say? This is a common question now. Because I can only interpret about 40% of the boy’s “words” these days. His vocabulary is growing. He knows much more than he’s able to repeat. But not a day goes by when I won’t confess, “What?” He’ll repeat himself earnestly, nodding his head while saying something again. I’ll ask, “What did you say?” and he’ll repeat and stamp a foot for emphasis. “I don’t know what you’re saying.”
- Where is my phone? A variant of this question is something like, where are your gloves or where are my shoes? There is little point to this question since I can’t understand Bryce’s answers. So why do I ask it? Who knows? But I’m coming to assign most of the responsibility for lost things to my kid. I figure he’s a safer reason than admitting my personal flights of memory. Plus, I need to get something out this parenting arrangement even if it’s just saying to my wife, “How would I know where your cell phone is? Ask Bryce.”
- Are you dry? Bryce is being potty-trained. Or he was potty-trained over the Christmas weekend (Please don’t ask). Part of the three-day experiment was to praise him repeatedly when we checked for dryness. So, we’d ask this question and he’d answer in the thrilling, high-pitched, “Dry!” He still doesn’t exactly recognize dryness. He’ll claim “Dry,” in that song of triumph when he’s sprayed the entire bed and busted a diaper overnight. I think the only point right now of asking the question is to see him get excited about being dry, even if he isn’t dry.
- How was your day? A variation of this question is, what did you do today? It’s my attempt to have a chat with the child, to treat him, you know, like a person who does things during the day. He knows “Daddy at work” so I figure I’ll check in with him for what he did. Of course, he has nothing to say. Because he, uh, doesn’t work. Well, he plays. That’s something.
- Why are you calling my name? The second part of this question, “Why are you still calling my name?” carries the same effect. A variant of this question is, simply, why? There is no answer to this question. Even if he says something. He simply keeps saying “Daddy. Daddy. Daddy. Daddy.” I used to love this. I swelled at it. And he didn’t stop. I just distract him when I’ve grown exhausted. And I wonder if, one day, I’ll ache for that simple call.
- Were you good today? I instruct my son to be good. I say this to him daily, particularly when I’m departing. I tell him this before he slams the door to our home; he slams the door because he’s not good at closing it any other way. Of course, because I like a few of my neighbors, I press my palm up each time to soften his force. I walk away wondering how long I’ll do things like that before he gets that I’ve been blunting him in one way or another. But that’s a digression. I tell him to be good. He looks at me. I ask an earlier meaningless question like, did you hear me? He says, “Hear me” instead of yes.
- Tell Mommy or Daddy when you have to potty, okay? When we were doing the three-day intensive, Bryce got this question from the chief trainer—over and over. He would say, “Okaaaay.” And he’d commence to, well, not doing it. That gets tiring after a day. But he got so tired of this question because he’d say yes for a dozen times. Dawn would ask every minute or two and, after while, he just looked at her. He would sigh. He would stamp. It’s a joke now between us.
- Are you ready for bed? This usually an invitation to a no. But sometimes he just walks right to his bed and expects one of us to follow.