Thursday, July 27, 2006

Talk Talk.

So sorry about the delay in writing; I had lots of good stories, but all of them were too deeply enmeshed with Daughter, and would have involved exposing her life too much. And while I understand that in every day and every way, I am giving her future therapist plenty to wrestle with, making her the unwilling fulcrum of my little blog is one I can continue to try to avoid.

She will be involved in this blog, but only tangentially. Once, a long time ago, I was a reasonably interesting and funny conversationalist. I’m not saying I was being asked on the Sunday morning political shows or being invited to host the Oscars, but if I was on a topic I found interesting, I daresay I could make a dinner companion forget to eat his tuna carpaccio.

No more.

I have spent too many years spending a majority of my conversational energy talking to a small child, and I have been permanently damaged. My linguistic stumbles can be summed up in two phrases:

1. I state the obvious, and
2. I state the obvious repeatedly.

First things first. Recently, I was driving somewhere when I spotted a Yorkshire Terrier being walked down the sidewalk. I announced breathlessly, “Oh, look! There’s a Yorkie!”

Daughter and I like to look at animals, we like to talk about animals and we like to speculate and debate on the bloodlines of mixed-breed animals. We especially like small dogs, because they tend to be either cute or strange, and are frequently wearing outfits which become a whole secondary topic. One memorable day, we saw an extended family of Chihuahuas in traditional Mexican mariachi costumes.

In such ways, Daughter’s childhood passes.

Anyway, I went to the trouble of noting this dog, and waited for a response from the back seat. It was only then that I remembered Daughter was not in the car, and I was alone. Nonetheless, I was still kind of pleased about my small dog sighting. I was even more pleased I was alone. I’m not confirming this, but it’s possible I once shrieked “Ooh! Labradoodle!” while sharing a car with two adults I was trying to impress.

This is who I am now. I am the color commentator without any color. I say things like “Oh, good, you put on your bathing suit”, and “You hold the library books while I open the car door and then we’ll go to the library” and the incredibly insightful “Wash your face, please…oh, you’re washing your face already”. It’s as if I fear my brain might start playing “The Girl from Ipanema” if I leave a single moment of quiet.

Actually, to be completely accurate, the last phrase would have been more like “…Wash your face, please. WASH your face, with a washcloth, wash your face. Wash your face please. Oh, you’re washing your face already. You’ve already washed your face.”

And that is the other graceless part of my speaking pattern, the bit where I say everything repeatedly. On certain days, I sound as if I fell off of a second-story balcony and landed eyeball-first on a picket fence. But here’s the thing: I believe I need every single one of those words or my world grinds to a halt. To prove my point, we’re going to play a game. You, the reader, are going to be Daughter. I am going to play Quinn, a role I am hoping to pull off credibly.

You, Daughter, are in your room. You have been told three times that we are leaving. You were given fifteen’ minutes notice, ten minutes’ notice, and then five minutes’ notice to put on your socks and shoes. Your mother (Me) flies in the bedroom. You, as Daughter, are creating beds for Barbies out of your paperback books, all of which are on the floor. You have put on your socks.

QUINN: You must put on your shoes now.

Somewhere in your outer ear, this sentence gets trapped in a whorl and dies from lack of attention.

QUINN: NOW is the time to put on your shoes.

This sentence neatly leaps over the previous sentence dying in your outer ear, makes its way towards the smallest bones in the vicinity in the eardrum, and is summarily destroyed by a white blood cell which recognizes it as a foreign body.

QUINN: PUT DOWN THE BARBIE AND PUT ON YOUR SHOES.

You, as Daughter, are now confused. Mother is in your face, touching your shoulder to get your attention and speaking VERY CLEARLY. This is all puzzling; why is Mother going on about shoes? You aren’t wearing any. Clearly, this message is for Daddy. The third message reaches your brain and is quickly filed under “Mommy tells me things she really means to discuss with Daddy”

Mommy unaccountably grabs Barbie, trots to the kitchen, and places Barbie on the top of the fridge.

QUINN: IF YOU DON’T PUT ON YOUR SHOES, BARBIE WILL LIVE ON TOP OF THE FREEZER INDEFINITELY.

You, Daughter, realize Mommy is very, very emotional about something. You ask the only possible question.

DAUGHTER: What does “Indefinitely” mean?

MOMMY: PUT ON YOUR SHOES. PUT ON YOUR SHOES. PUT. ON. YOUR. SHOES. YOUR SHOES. PUT THEM ON. PUT THEM ON YOUR FEET. YOUR SHOES. PLEASE.

Somehow, when Mommy does Lamaze breathing and starts subtly frothing, that serves to shake loose the fifteen or so previous versions of the same sentence.

Somehow, shoes are put on.

I then say perceptively, “Your shoes are on”.

And with that, I go looking for my keys.

12 Comments:

Blogger houseband00 said...

Great post, Quinn.

I can totally relate to that.

4:33 AM  
Blogger Judy said...

Ah, yes.

While riding in a car with a group of intelligent women, I gasped audibly, pointed, and announced excitedly "There's an airplane!"

I'm never sure if I need to get out more, or if I should just stay home and continue to delight myself.

5:28 AM  
Anonymous Kate said...

Ah, yes. Add in the fact that my daughter (one-and-a-half) still refers to many animals by the noise they make, and you have an adult given to shouting "woof woof!" at passing dogs.

6:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh my goodness! IT ISN'T JUST MY CHILD! Just this morning, I told my 6 year old son "You have 15 minutes before we're leaving. We're walking out the door when the big hand is on the 12. You have two minutes before you have to brush your teeth. We're leaving at 8:00." We walked out the door at 8:05

8:17 AM  
Blogger Paula said...

This is a good story. Thank you for writing it here.

My oldest son, who is now almost 14, admitted to me that when I am talking, all he hears is the quacking sound the grown-ups make on the Charlie Brown movies. He told me he is so completely unaware that I have already said something to him 30 times that when I am saying the 31st one in an angry tone, he thinks there must be something wrong with me mentally.

10:57 AM  
Anonymous Bangkok Expat Mama said...

God, I can so relate to this! I'm spending this weekend with my mom and two sisters while my husband minds our two sons. It's been downright surreal to leave places, drive around, etc., without having to supervise/wait for/grimace through someone else getting dressed/donning footwear/buckling up in car/etc. Ah, the freedom! It's so exhilerating that I can barely contain my glee.

9:58 PM  
Blogger Jan said...

"PUT ON YOUR SHOES. PUT ON YOUR SHOES. PUT. ON. YOUR. SHOES. YOUR SHOES. PUT THEM ON. PUT THEM ON YOUR FEET. YOUR SHOES. PLEASE."

Oh, Quinn....I'm laughing hysterically. Maniacally, one might say. I've said these same words in this same way so many, many times.

oh. oh. oh.

8:23 PM  
Blogger torontopearl said...

You've definitely been at this a while. This is part of the parenting syndrome -- Say. Repeat. Repeat once more. Wonder if you're talking to a brick wall. Repeat louder. Threaten with punishment. Threaten again. Threaten louder and in closer proximity. Then after that scenario, here's the grand finale. Said with displeasure and obvious confusion on your face,"I CAN'T TALK TO YOU NOW. I'M TIRED OR TALKING..."

7:28 PM  
Blogger torontopearl said...

oops: TIRED OF TALKING. (guess I was tired when I typed that!)

7:29 PM  
Anonymous josita said...

Oh, yeah. And today, when one of my clients was getting ready to leave, I asked her if she needed to use the bathroom first.

5:24 PM  
Blogger Savtadotty said...

My usual opening line used to be, "Earth to Jxx. Do you read me?" The silence that followed told me that I was communicating on the wrong wave length. As soon as he was old enough, I started planting myself in front of his eyes before I said anything. Very tedious.

Now he's the father of a two-year-old. Hah! Just wait...revenge takes time.

12:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Two days ago I was driving with my children and blurted out, "Look, there's a homeless guy! Where is Quinn with her pizza when you need her?" Then came the flip side to deaf child syndrome..the questioning child. "Where is the homeless guy? Why is he homeless? Why doesn't he have a home? Did he have a home and forget where it was? Were you ever a homless guy? Can we have Quinn's pizza for dinner?"

LJ

5:15 AM  

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