Before my son Riley turned two, he took part in a study designed to measure his communication and comprehension abilities. Turns out he’s a pretty smart kid.
His test scores were equivalent to those of a seven-year old. Heck, he even had a couple of answers in the 10-year-old range.
I wasn’t surprised. He’s an expert at understanding what’s going on in the world around him. And he typically uses that understanding to get out of doing what someone else wants him to do. It’s called avoidance, and he will either use his wit or his innate cuteness to get out of doing what someone wants.
A couple of weeks ago, his daycare got a new board game and the children gathered around a small table, eager to watch two of their lucky pint-sized brethren try it out. Sounds cute, but in reality it was more like something from a zombie apocalypse movie.
A horde of scrunchy, vacant faces peering in unison in eerie silence while those at the back fight to press forward, causing those at the front to wordlessly bump into each other.
The teachers quickly decided to disperse the crowd.
“Okay! Everyone not sitting in a chair at the table, go do something else until it’s your turn to play!”
And slowly they all began to amble away. Except my kid. He got a chair and pulled it to the table with a sort of “Hey guys! Whose turn is it? Also, you should move it along because I’m pretty sure a teacher is going to ask one of you to leave soon” smirk. I’m not that clever. I have a hard time understanding what people are trying to tell me on a daily basis. Especially my son’s mother. I can’t even hold a conversation with her of late.
It began last month, when we were sitting on our couch while Riley napped. Outside there was a young woman with a young baby who was crying.
Angela sighed quietly, looked at me deeply as if trying to measure her words for proper impact and said, “I can’t even remember what it’s like to have a crying baby around the house.”
To which I responded: “Me neither. Isn’t it great?” She looked upset, but for the life of me I couldn’t understand why.
A few days later found us watching a particularly sad medical drama on television. Again, she turns and gives me that penetrating look.
“I’ve been wondering, what if something happens to us? What happens to Riley? He’ll be all alone. Wouldn’t it be great if he had somebody to grow up with? You know … just in case?”
To which I responded: “I have been thinking about that actually. Thank goodness my brother is going to have a baby soon.”
I could tell by her frown she wasn’t happy.
It got worse two days ago. It was late and I found myself drifting in and out of sleep on the couch when Angela suddenly appeared in front of me, wearing a revealing night gown.
“You need to come to bed. Now.”
Apparently I had been snoring. She didn’t say it, but it’s a thing I frequently do and I guess I had been doing it so loud she couldn’t even take the time to get properly dressed before telling me to shut up. It was cold too, with a chilly breeze wafting through the bedroom window. So I crawl into bed with her. And promptly fall asleep.
She wakes me up. “I can’t sleep,” she says. I tell her that might be because she’s essentially naked and it’s cold outside.
She tells me I should warm her up. So I do what any good man would do. I close the window, toss a sweater at her and go back to sleep.
She doesn’t talk to me much over the next day, so I know I’ve done something wrong. It’s almost like everything she’s been saying has a different meaning and I keep missing it. So I resolved to not say anything until she told me exactly what was on her mind.
So the other day, she sat me down while giving me that penetrating look and said, “I want to have another baby.”
This time I knew better. I didn’t say anything. After a few seconds, she shook her head and said “Now I know where Riley gets it,” and walked away.
I have no idea what she meant by that.
Photo: Chris Hunt