Monday, January 28, 2013

Use Your Words

Jackson gets very upset when his brother sleeps in our bed. 
The rule is if Glenn wakes him up leaving their shared bedroom, then he has to stay in his own bed.  So the other night, when it was Jackson who couldn’t sleep, I had to use the opposite of this rule. .  I soothed him, began to leave the room, and he let out the “OMG! You’re killing me. Please don’t leave the room. I’m your son. Won’t you just pick me up one more time?” scream.  I walked back to his crib, placed my hand on his chest.
“Jackson, if you don’t calm down and go to sleep, then I am going to take your brother to my bed.”
Not “Ok, I understand. I’ll calm down” silence, though.
It was more like, “I’ve been playing you like a fool for the past six months.  I understand every word you say, and I just thought if I gave you the death scream you might pick me up.  Love you Dad, but I’m sleepy and, if you’re not going to pick me up, I need to get back to sleep.”  You know, that kind of silence.
It hit me like a ton of bricks…Ladies and gentlemen, we have officially entered the terrible twos….Please return your tray tables to their full, upright position.
I have found the terrible twos are a random swinging of two very strong emotions — frustration and empathy.  May I assume you understand the frustration part? 
No? Well, let me be brief. 
Kid cries because he wants a glass of milk. You give him said glass of milk, and he proceeds to lose his mind because you gave it to him in the wrong cup.  You’ve heard of Shaken Baby Syndrome? But they never warn you about ‘Slap Your Two Year Old Across the Face’ Disease.  Understanding the wants of a two year old is to say the least, very frustrating.  Worse, this is all happening two weeks before we move him to a big kid’s bed…that’s for another blog.
Now, if Glenn wanted his milk in a particular cup, he would ask for his milk in a particular cup.  (To which I would say, “This is not a butler service. If you want a special cup, then get a job, hire a butler and have him wait on you. I am not your butler.”)  No muss and easily avoided fuss, if any.
When you’re two, those requests have certain parameters. For Jackson, his verbal boundaries are currently nine words — milk, juice, breakfast bar (pronounced bra-bra), brother (bro-bro), Lola (dog one of three), No (his favorite), momma and dada. That’s it. All his wants and needs and desires and fears communicated through nine words and lots of screams.  After the frustration passes, and I put myself in those restrictions, I only feel empathy.
And to think, I thought it was me who was frustrated.  He has other words that I don’t count yet.  The old spelling bee rule — can you use it in a sentence? I was pretty sure he said, “thank you” the other day. He can also use sign language to say “more, finished, sorry, and please.” 
Think of it this way.  I drop you off in a foreign country where you have study the language to the extent that you can understand 90 percent of the conversation. But only respond with nine words. How long until you start crying?
Can you imagine getting through your day with nine words and some hand gestures?  They aren’t even verbs yet, just nouns.  Let’s say we remove the restriction on the number, and just say you can only use nouns today.
I can hear you at work now… “You…TPS report…ME…UGH”
Nouns alone are too hard to use by themselves.  So the question then becomes, given any, what nine words would you choose to make it through the day?
Here is mine: You, Me, Hungry, Fuck, Help, Sleep, Drink, No, Go

***Update, since I wrote this, last week, Jackson has probably added about 6 other words.  So the good news is that it will get a little easier, every day.  I would suspect that by the time he is up to 100 words will have moved on to the 3’s (spoiler alert) it only gets worse…


  1. Holy Crap Craig. This stuff MUST go into a book! Keeps me thorally entertained.

    Bobby J

  2. Well, I'm glad you enjoy it, but lets not get ahead of ourselves.