Ollie has always had a carefully developed and well orchestrated range of gambits for artfully poking Rosie and I both mentally and physically. Through constant enforced exposure however, we have increasingly become resistant to them as time has gone. They are wonderfully passive aggressive at times and include classics such as steadfastly insisting that I am called Mummy and Rosie, is called Daddy. Even this corker is something we have developed countermeasures to, namely by responding to him by calling him ‘Bort’. This (eventually) seems to stop his attempt at enforced parental reassignment.
Recently though, potentially in a bid to fight back, Ollie has begun to refresh his repetoire of parental prodding techniques. The three most recent innovations are: the use of questioning as a means of mental torture; forcefully including us in play and telling us that we are the baby in the game; and finally, upon either of Pose or I being in error, constantly telling us that we we’re wrong. On face value, none of these are ‘that’ bad. Unfortunately though, face value is a horrid liar.
As parents, we are indoctrinated by society into thinking an inquisitive child is something to be fostered and cherished. It’s even part of the aims for the EYFS curriculum in the Characteristics of Effective Learning. Genuinely, curiosity and active interest, really is something I’ve always championed beyond anything else as a teacher. This inclination still holds true – right up until the 10 millionth utterance of the word ‘Why?’ from my son during a 5 minute conversation. It’s the conversational equivalent of a mobius strip, a mobius strip with the sole aim of questioning you until you break. I can only compare it to how I would expect water torture to play out if a verbal equivalent was developed by a particularly sadistic Bond villan.
The second innovation, allocating Pose or I the baby role within roleplay games, is more subtle in it’s means of attack. After all, playing like this with a little one is inherently cute. Pretend tea parties are almost a right of passage. What is not a right of passage however is being told you are a baby and then having every action dictated in excruciating detail, all the while being patronisingly asked ‘Are you okay Baby?’.
To be fair it’s not what is said, it’s the intonation of /emphasis on the word Baby that really gets to you the most. I honestly don’t mind playing along, it’s fun and he enjoys it. I just can’t help but feel there is an element of ‘know your place’ when he finishes the phrase with a slight up lilt on the word baby. It’s subtle, but oh so clearly there.
The final addition to our sons arsenal, is the newest one, he’s been alpha-testing it for a few weeks now and seems confident in it’s application. It’s not the pointing out when we’re wrong that’s an issue, we’re both teachers it’s almost our bread and butter having tiny errors highlighted. No, it’s the fact that he remembers every single error and will happily list them back with little to no provocation. Repeatedly. Honestly, he often bumps into things as he forgets to turn whilst walking and he regularly forgets where he’s placed his Paw patrol toy a mere second before. But, the act of me placing his shoes on the wrong feet once – 2 weeks ago, is indelibly etched into his memory as though it was a core part of his very being. On top of this freakish memory for his parents faults that he displays his timing for reeling these fun anecdotes out is immaculate too. It’s as though someone unknown walking in ear shot of him sets off his internal ‘mumanddadfailedme’ alarm and he’s forced to leap into verbal action detailing our past misdemeanors. I think this internal alarm system is closely aligned with his ‘repeatrandomswearworddaddysaidwhilstwatchingrugbyonce’ system as he tends to wheel that one out in similar circumstances too.
I’m sure it’s a developmental leap or something similar to do with a burgeoning sense of self-identity etc etc. However, it would be nice if just for once – for the sake of variety if nothing else, the ‘leap’ involved something less onerous like ‘sporadic inclinations not dive headfirst into food’ or ‘the ability to put toys away without being asked’.
Either way, I know I moan a lot, but he’s still the best thing ever.