Talking to kids is hard, and not just because they’re not very good at pronunciation and rarely care about whatever it is that you have to say…
Sometimes I catch myself trying to talk to my son like he’s not three years old and still in the earliest stages of his journey into exploring the English language. It’s basically like talking to myself, except that occasionally he’ll interject to remind me how awesome spaceships and choo-choo trains are – and he’s not wrong – but not everything that you need to tell a toddler can be put into the terms of outer space and Thomas the Tank Engine.
“If you go pee pee in the potty, you can flush it out into space afterwards just like the astronauts do … as long as you just take my word for it and don’t look for it glittering out the window into nothingness afterwards.”
“You need to start keeping better track of your toys … like that episode of Thomas where the conductor loses the keys to one of the trains and, wait – do trains even have keys??? Maybe that wasn’t even the plot at all – I honestly don’t really pay much attention once the theme song is over…”
“Don’t push your brother over … because if Mars pushed Jupiter, it’d likely spin out of orbit and push Saturn right into Uranus!”
He doesn’t even get why URANUS is hilarious yet – how am I supposed to work with this?!?!?!
Of course, one might suggest that it’s my job as his father to teach him about Uranus, and speech and language, and other assorted lessons with varying levels of maturity. Just like I’m also supposed to be teaching him not to swear, which is challenging when already he runs around the house mimicking the likes of “Oh, ship!” and “Ocean!” as if no other adult will see through his adorable enthusiasm and lack of enunciation before sending him off to go sit in the corner for parroting what his Dad said when he couldn’t get the car started the night before.
For what it’s worth, we have been watching a lot of Moana lately which in fact has both ships and oceans in it, so I’m doing my best to develop whatever plausible deniability I can at this point!
In a way, it’s actually easier talking to my one year-olds because they still communicate mostly in grunts and giggles, which as a both a father and a man – I soundly appreciate. Sure, we’re not waxing poetically about which Lego bricks are the best for building sturdy castle walls and they’re not telling me which baby foods are the least likely to end up on the ceiling, but they’re not swearing at the dog yet, either…
…something that she’d totally deserve, considering the vast quantity of food that she pilfers from their highchairs on seemingly an hourly basis…
That said, with the way that technology is transforming global communications these days, maybe I should just be grateful that at least for the next couple of years, the preferred method of trying to communicate with my sons is still through actual sounds face to face and not limited to text messages and Twitter, assuming that tweeting is even still a thing in a few years when my oldest gets his first cell phone!
By then, when acronyms and emojis have themselves been depreciated in favor of virtual reality representations of our thoughts without ever having to utter a single word, at least our “conversations” will be mostly focused on him trying to explain to me how to turn on my VR headset and then subsequently rolling his eyes as I try to sound cool and hip in the year 2025.
There will probably still be a lot of swearing, so we’d better virtualize someplace near the ocean.