The Boy had his annual vision and hearing screening last week.
Not surprisingly, he passed his vision test. Surprisingly, he also passed his hearing test. I say surprisingly because I could've sworn he was having hearing problems. Perhaps it's only for certain words and phrases, like "O, it's time for bed" or "O, you need to clean up the Legos". In fact, I'd like them to redo the hearing test, but instead of fun little chirping bird noises, I want to record a few sentences of my own voice and play those in his ears. Do they make hearing aids that only amplify parental instructions?
Basically, the conversation many evenings goes something like this:
O, you need to clean up the Legos.
O? You need to clean up the Legos.
O? You need to clean up the Legos. O? Hello? HELLLOOOO!!!
I heard you Dad.
You heard me?
What did I say?
Yes. What. What did I say?
I heard you.
I heard you say you heard me. But what did I ask you?
I said you need to clean up the Legos......O? O? (he has returned to Legos)
You need to clean up the Legos.
Legos. Clean them. Up.
I'm playing with them.
I. Know. That. But. You. Need. To. Clean. Them. Up.
Dad, why is your face red? And why is that funny vein sticking out of your forehead? Oh my, is it pulsating? Are you having chest constrictions? Maybe you should go lie down for a while, Dad. I'll stay out of your way and just clean up my Legos quietly. Do you want me to make you some tea? It has ginseng. I'm concerned about your stress level, Dad; is there anything I can do to help your evening go smoother?
Okay, so he doesn't say that. If only. What he actually says, without looking up, is the most dreaded question of all:
Fingernails, chalkboard. Chalkboard, fingernails. Ah, apologies - I see you've already met.
Don't ask me why. I don't need to give you a reason why. I've asked you to do it, and you need to do it.
But why do I need to?
Because I said so.
As soon as these particular 4 words escaped my lips, I knew with absolute certainty that history repeats itself, that all parents hate to be asked WHY, and that all instances of WHY will ultimately, eventually, end with those 4 words. I don't know how or when we decided universally as parents that kids should do something for no other reason other than because we said they should. But we have. Sometimes we have good reasons not to give reasons, I suppose, like "why do you and mommy sleep in the same bed?" for example. Even so, to a 5 year old, these 4 words make no sense. Especially for a very literal 5 year old, like the Boy, who actually had a logical and frank, albeit grammatically incorrect, response:
Yes, dad. I know you SAID it. But WHY did you said it?
I didn't have a response. Because it's bedtime. Because I'm tired of stepping on them. Because the house is on fire. Because if you don't I'll go crazy with hysterical and exhausted laughter and the asylum workers won't be able to snap me out of it until your college graduation ceremony. Because because because. It wouldn't matter what I said next, because he would simply reply with "why" again. And so I stare, dumbly.
And, of course, throughout the entire exchange, he hasn't looked up from his Legos. He has successfully added 4-5 minutes to his playtime. Mission complete, and sensing that he's probably gotten away with as much as he can for one night, he starts to clean with the drama level of someone who's been asked to amputate his own leg.
Parenting tip: Remind yourself constantly that your children are not evil and they will eventually do what you ask them to do. Tell yourself that they are freight trains; they take time to slow to a stop and more time to get going the other direction. Not evil. Just freight trains. Doing this should keep you out of the psyche ward. Because I said so.