Can’t imagine why I ever took English in university. I don’t use more than ten phrases now:
“Go to sleep.”
“Ask your father.”
“Pick that up.”
“Drink your milk.”
“Don’t hit your sister.”
“Who forgot to flush?”
In particularly lucid moments, I have been known to utter: “This place is a loony bin,” and “That’s it – I’m joining a convent.”
Janet is visiting with her toddler who is learning to talk. I am critical.
“You’re making a big mistake, Janet.”
She looks worried. “He only puts two words together, and he’s nearly eighteen months. You think I should take him to a speech therapist?”
“Heck no. I mean encouraging him to talk.”
Let’s face it. We spend the first twelve months coaxing our kids to talk, and the next twenty years telling them to shut up.
“But I want him to read,” she explains. “They say early talkers are early readers.”
“I used to read once, “ I say dreamily. “Once I read Milton. Now I read Munsch. And cereal boxes with free prizes.”
She doesn’t look convinced.
“Do yourself a favor, Janet. Wait until he’s eighteen. What do you want him to talk for? Once he talks, he’ll argue!”
I know all about it. I have two daughters. We spend every morning reworking arguments. Practicing for perfection. This is our quality time.
All my arguments with Natalie seem to conform to a predestined format. Thinking there might be a way to circumvent such tiresome repetition, I have devised a shortcut. Argue by Numbers.
Conversation should go something like this:
“Why can’t I No. 37?”
“Because Nos. 3, 5, and 17.”
She answers with a classic 34. “Everybody else’s mother lets them…”
I counter with No. 51. “Go ask your father.”
He abstains with a gutless 22.
I get angry. “That’s it – I’m joining a convent.”
“Too late by about twenty years,” he smirks.