Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The wonders of Whac-a-Mole

Many of my columns are inspired by the beautiful dynamic witnessed between father and son.

"The wonders of Whac-a-Mole"
(originally published on Feb. 6, 2008)

We heard all kinds of things when we had our first child.

“Having kids will change your life.”

“Having kids means a part of you will live forever.”

“Having kids will bring joy and meaning to your marriage.”

But no one told us what really happens.

Having kids will make you stupid.

***

“I smell something suspicious.”

It was a sentence that would normally put anyone on alert.

But the fact it came from my two-year-old son’s mouth made it particularly troublesome.

Though I must admit I was briefly distracted since he had managed to say and use the word “suspicious” correctly.

Not too shabby for such a little guy. Those hours spent watching “Scooby Doo” were really paying off.

Uh…I mean...“Sesame Street”…all those hours spent watching an educational program like “Sesame Street” were really paying off. He must have learned that word from Elmo.

But I digress.

I walked over to my son, bent down and did the Sniff Test and immediately smelled something “suspicious” too.

“Yep,” I stood up and said, “you went poopy, didn’t you?”

He shouted back, “No!”

“Yes, you did.”

“No, I did NOT!”

“I think you did.”

“Nuh-huh.”

“Yuh-huh.”

“NO-NO-NO!”

“YES-YES-YES!”

Silence followed by a quiet, “Mommy, I love you.”

My sweet baby! I fell to my knees and asked, “Wanna cookie, Poopy Pants?”

Out-smarted by a human who still forgets the number 7 when counting to 10. And I didn’t even care.

***
There they were. My two guys. Sitting together on the couch watching television. The two-year-old with a sippy cup of milk and the older one holding a cold beer.

Then both of them burped.

But it wasn’t until I heard Christmas music that I stopped to pay attention. I took a closer look at the television and saw they were watching that timeless classic, “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.”

I was a little confused.

“Is there a reason you guys are watching that?” I asked my husband and pointed to the screen just as Rudolph and friends fell under attack by the dastardly Abominable Snowman.

He answered without taking his eyes off the screen, “Because this is the greatest Christmas cartoon ever!”

That I understood.

“But,” I stammered, “it’s February.”

They looked up at me and answered together, “So?”

OK. And I kept on walking.

It was a few minutes later when I heard my son yell out, “Bomma omma ma snowman!” followed by my husband’s loud laugh.

Then again, “Bomma omma ma snowman!” and another long laugh.

My husband said, “I’m trying to teach him to say, ‘Aboddinable –.’”

He stopped and started again. “No, wait. I mean ‘Amonidibal –.’” He stomped his feet and tried again, “Monimanal! Ugh! Stupid effin’ word! Abommable!”

He stopped, looked at me and shouted, “Jesus! How DO you say it??!”

***

“No, that’s not how you do it. Watch me. OK? Are you watching me? Put that down. Hey, over here. Pay attention. OK, now here’s how you – hey – I’m talkin’ to you. Focus! Come on! Focus! Hey, come back here with that! Where are you going?!”

I laughed. Trying to teach our son how to play Hungry Hungry Hippos was gonna be the death of my husband.

“What exactly are you trying to do?” I asked when I walked into the room to see his face turn a delightful shade of purple.

He gestured toward the toddler who had just run from the room clutching a small, plastic hippo in one fist and half the game’s white marbles in the other.

“He – I – this stupid game – HIPPO – little balls –!” was his only answer as he struggled for breath and doubled his hands into tight fists.

Apparently he had lost the ability to form a complete sentence and was thisclose to losing consciousness.

I sighed. “You know, getting a two-year-old to play a game by the rules is a great way to induce a stroke.”

“But how –,” my husband started before I interrupted. I put up a hand and gently said, “Babe, let it go.”

I reached down and plucked a plastic mallet off the floor. “Here,” I handed it to him, “go play Whac-a-Mole instead. You won’t lose nearly as many brain cells.”

You can e-mail Kelley Baldwin at life-like-mine@hotmail.com.

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