Sunday, August 27, 2006

The Boy Who Cried Wolf

Homeschooling 4 children, a dh who works full-time and goes to grad school part-time, writing, and taking care of a house are enough to keep any woman on her toes. She looks for those little things throughout her day to encourage her to keep going... evidence that all is not in vain (and that she can relax a bit because her children actually are learning something despite what seems like daily evidence to the contrary). One of those things for me is the rapidly increasing vocabulary of our 2-year-old, Quarto. As someone who loves words, dislikes "baby talk" and loves to talk, having children with large vocabularies is a great pick-me-up. True, Quarto's constant repeating of Terzo drives Terzo a little nuts, but all-in-all this rapid increase in speech has been a good thing... or so I thought.

It was cute when I would call Quarto over for a diaper change and he would call back, "Just a minute!"

Or when he would call out, "Can you pray with me?" after being in bed for an hour already or during a particularly strong "scary, terrible rain" (aka thunderstorm).

However, it ceased being cute when he began declaring, "Mom! I'm gonna throw up!" on a regular basis.

Now, to put you all at ease, the first few times he did this, I was a good parent and made sure he was provided with a bucket, that he had no fever and that he had plenty of bland food so as not to further aggrivate his delicate tummy. However, I began to notice that his declarations were not accomapnied by the typical physical signs of nausea. Quite the opposite. He would continue to run around and giggle and ask to play with cars or watch a movie or play outside. This phrase simply appears to be his "something to say when he doesn't know what else to say."

All parents know the high state of alert that the proclamation "I'm gonna throw up!" brings. You brace yourself for the wretch as you scramble to find a bucket and your brain plans how to clean whatever difficult-to-clean surface your child inevitably ends up targeting. Although my mind knows that Quarto is just repeating this phrase because he finds it an interesting phrase to utter (kind of like Frodo's need to use the word "phlegm" whenever the occasion arises because he loves the sound of the word and the chance just doesn't come up that often in typical daily conversation), I can't turn off this primitive reaction of reaching for a bucket and mentally replanning my day to accomodate a sick toddler.

I already feel like I have to be on my game on a daily basis without having the "kid alert" raised to red whenever my toddler is bored. Reprogramming appears to be in order. Here are the phrases I have decided to repeat randomly throughout the day with the hopes that Quarto will exchange one of them for his current favorite:

1. "Sweet baby gherkins!" (This is actually an exclamation that Frodo is attempting to introduce into the American lexicon. To be used when receiving a positive shock. For example: "Honey, we're going to have a baby." "Really?! Sweet baby gherkins!")

2. "The sea monkey stole my money." (from Finding Nemo. Strictly for the entertainment value.)

3. "Mom! I got a full scholarship to Harvard!" (Although still untrue, would successfully replace the instinctive dread elicited by the current phrase with a naturally joyous response.)

Any other suggestions?

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