Star Trek fans know that in The Final Frontier, some inhabitants speak Klingon. And thanks to Avatar, we know that on the planet Pandora, they speak Na’Vi. Species of all varieties seem to intuitively master the skill of communication, regardless of the circumstances.
Why is it then, that my youngest son can hardly speak during the first 60 minutes of his day?
I used to make extraordinary attempts to get some meaningful dialogue going with him during that short hour I have the pleasure (cough) of his company before school.
But he didn’t like me doing that. In fact, he detested it. Which, in turn, made him detest everything about me. So we’ve evolved and found a happy—or at least agreeable—middle ground in terms of our morning communication.
Here’s a sampling from this morning:
Me: “Time to get up!”
Him: “Five more.”
Me (five minutes later): “It’s five.”
Him: “Scratch. Back.”
Me (scratching): “Cereal?”
Him (muffled in the pillow): “Frysummnrtgruity.”
Him: “Fruity Pebbles!”
Him (Nine minutes later while eating): “Dad! Scratch!”
Him (While I’m scratching his back): “Use both hands.”
Him (Running to brush teeth): “Bus watch?”
Him (Six minutes later grabbing lunch, backpack, and running out door): Grunt.
Me: “Have a good day!”
Him: “K.” Long grunt.
Me (watching him get on bus): Longer grunt.
I used to believe if I compensated for his, uh, quiet disposition, it would naturally help him evolve into a television-perfect child who would plop himself down at the breakfast table, freshly showered with hair neatly combed, eager to talk to me about his day, and give me voluminous details about the peaceful night sleep he just enjoyed.
Lead by example, I’d tell myself. I hoped I could show him the benefits of having a sunny morning outlook. Unfortunately, the more I shared my sunshine, the more thunderous his demeanor became. And it wasn’t long before we had the National Weather Service doing live broadcasts from our kitchen regarding the severe weather warning this cheery dad apparently put into motion.
It wasn’t a fun storm for either of us to ride out.
So I’ve learned to give him his room. And in doing so, we seem to have developed our own language. One with few words.
I’m just hoping that my back scratches speak volumes to him.
—Photo Victor Bezrukov/Flickr