My son is almost 19 months old. Recently, he was trying to bite my kneecap as I bent down to put away some folded laundry. I turned to him and I said: “Son, what is up?”
This was his answer:
“What is up? You are up. The stairs are up. The kitchen stools are up. I like up. I like to climb up, jump up, reach up. I do not like to throw up.
“But I am glad you are looking at me, and your words are coming towards me. I need you to pay attention to me. I am a busy person, and I perform so many interesting tricks. Sometimes it seems you do not realize how much work I am doing every minute of every day, or how amazing my various maneuvers are.
“For example, just now I was crouching down so low that my knees were higher than my ears. I was providing you with comfort and company as you put those clothes away. You did not even take the time to look at me, or clap your hands, or speak in a higher pitch. That is why I had to bite your kneecap.
“I also should point out that I do a lot of walking and running. I cover vast terrains, like the kitchen and the hallway and even the backyard, in shoes that are much too big for me. This requires energy, balance, and curled toes. Yet you never seem to react unless I am running towards a set of stairs or into oncoming traffic. That is why sometimes I need to launch myself headfirst into your quads.
“While we’re on this subject of my tricks, it has been weeks now and still I do not sense the slightest bit of excitement about my ability to scale my own high chair. I continue to eat yogurt with my fingers, but I have figured out how to hoist myself from the floor to my seat using nothing but the plastic footrest and my own determination. The last time I was this disappointed in you, I was being scolded for figuring out that an entire roll of toilet paper can be dispensed with just a few flicks of my wrist. That is why sometimes I need to shriek until you hear blood.
“Moving on. Could you please stop asking me to eat foods I need to chew? If I cannot swallow it or let it dissolve on my tongue, there is too much work required and I am not interested. I will not eat chicken or pizza or pasta from a chair or in a pair or on a square. I will not munch or crunch at lunch. I will not taste or try or just a bite. Take your airplane spoons out of my sight.
“I want what I want when I want it how I want it. Is that really so hard to follow?
“Sure, maybe I’ll spend three minutes slamming pieces onto a puzzle board, but that doesn’t mean I want to marry the puzzle. Don’t offer it up to me the next time I’m playing maim-the-sister with the toilet bowl cleaner. And a bouncy ball is a fine distraction when there’s a cat in view, but who wants to play catch when you’re wearing an orange t-shirt?
“If she has it, I want it. As soon as she is done playing with it, I hate it, too. It is dead to me. Don’t give it to me. Don’t even hold it out in my direction, with your excited eyebrows. You insult me.
“I greet children by hitting them because I am friendly. I cry a lot because you would, too. I loudly exhale with every step because even toddlers need pedometers.
“I am not a trick question. Stop acting so confused by me.
“Now, let’s go into a different room, with me going first but only after you go and I want to walk by myself but I’d like you to carry me so that I can grab a fistful of your hair and WOULD YOU PUT ME DOWN!?!”
To which I responded:
“How about a nap?”