Big Brother is five and a half years old. But he doesn’t talk the way I imagine a five and a half year old boy should talk. Take the exchange we had yesterday morning, for example:
Me: Please eat your cereal properly
BB: I’d prefer to eat it like this
Me: You may eat your cereal properly, please. Drinking the milk from the bowl is impolite
BB: (thinks for a minute) No, I think you’re incorrect.
Seriously, is that the way most five year olds converse? Please tell me that’s completely normal.
But it’s not just the words he uses (all children describe their dinner as “delightful”, right?), it’s also the way he can’t just come out and say anything directly. There always has to be a story.
“When I was in Dinosaur World, my four uncles and I went to the zoo one day. But it wasn’t a zoo where they kept dinosaurs in cages, it was a zoo where dinosaurs could go and see people in cages. But it was okay because my uncles and I all dressed up as dinosaurs. I was a velociraptor, Bear was a T-Rex, Mole was a pachycephalosaurus, Kizzay was a brachiosaurus, and Silly was a pterodactyl. And when we wanted something to eat we had to go to the shop and buy some food, and they had lots of different things to eat, like chips and hamburgers and hot dogs and salad and sandwiches and bread rolls and lots of other things, and also sushi. And my uncles all had sushi for lunch.”
“Can I have sushi for lunch today?”
As you may remember, I’ve been sick for the last couple of weeks. My patience is not exactly at an all-time high. And the one thing guaranteed to send the remnants of a mother’s patience spiralling into oblivion is the need to remind a small child to eat their dinner over and over and over and over (and over) again.
“Eat you dinner please, Big Brother.”
“I am eating. I’m chewing. See?”
“Keep eating please.”
“Okay. But first I’m just going to build stairs with my cutlery….”
“Are you eating, Big Brother?”
“No, I’m drinking. Which is a kind of eating. Only it’s drinking. *starts laughing* Wouldn’t it be funny if eating was drinking and drinking was eating and you had to drink your food? That would be so awesomesauce.”
And so on, and so on, ad nauseam.
The other night, after at least thirty minutes of this type of conversation interspersed with brief moments of peaceful respite as he actually consumed some of the dinner I’d cooked, I’d had enough. I couldn’t take it anymore. I told Big Brother I’d be back soon, and I fled the dining room to hide for five quiet minutes in the bathroom.
Three minutes later, the door was gently pushed aside and Big Brother stood there. Watching me. With a big smile on his face.
“Mummy?” he asked.
“Yes,” I answered in what may or may not have been a less enthusiastic tone of voice than usual.
“One time in Dinosaur World–”
And I interrupted him. Because my sanity could take no more long, convoluted tales of imaginary worlds and people. “Big Brother?” I said. (If I was inclined to use dialog tags other than ‘said’, I might have chosen to replace this one with the word ‘pleaded’.) “Can you just tell me what it is you want? I don’t want to hear a story, okay?”
And he looked at me, his beautiful blue eyes all wide and innocent. And his voice trembled a little as he said, “But I like stories.”
And somewhere deep inside my own story-loving heart, a little piece of magic was lost.
Do your children tell stories? Do you ever accidentally damp their enthusiasm?