A few people have mentioned to Mom and Buried and me that Detective Munch has a good vocabulary for a kid his age. I don’t disagree, I mean, I’ve got him speaking jive, singing Christmas (and Beastie Boys) songs, and telling people “See ya later, alligator!” He can say some solid stuff.
Of course, he’s only two, so his vocabulary isn’t that good. Plus, a lot of the things he says are barely recognizable as English, and are probably only decipherable by me and Mom and Buried, if at all. And that so-called good vocabulary gets a lot worse when he’s distraught.
When he’s upset, whether it’s because he’s being a brat or because he got a boo-boo, words go out the window. Which can make solving – or even identifying – the problem quite tricky.
He also hurts himself a fair amount. And he pretends to cry a fair amount. Well, he doesn’t quite pretend to cry as he fake-cries. Tears materialize, but you can tell his heart’s not truly in it. I mean, the fact that he can’t go outside to play when it’s pitch black and raining and he’s in his Santa Claus pajamas is NOT really breaking his heart. He needs to
give it up.
Parents learn their kids pretty quickly, and our son just isn’t gifted enough to perfectly calibrate a fake scream just so that it sounds legit. So yeah, from rooms away the wife and I are able to tell the difference between a “Mr. Orange got gutshot and is practically dying from the pain alone” type scream and a “my ball rolled under the couch and I can’t reach it” type scream.
But there are times when it’s harder to tell, often because his pain and inconvenience mingle, or because he’s gotten himself so worked up he can’t speak at all between the guttural sounds that he’s expelling. I never really got the whole “use your words” thing before I had a toddler, but now I do. And I often find myself saying it, sounding like a condescending asshole, hoping to get the kid to spit out something besides buckets of snot and drool.
The problem as a parent is that, no matter how well you know your kid or how bad he is at faking it, it can still sometimes be difficult to tell the difference between real hurt and bullshit manipulation. Especially when he can’t enunciate. Even more especially when he’s been whining all day and your patience is fried. And especially, most of all, because he’s your kid and god forbid the one time you ignore him is the one time he shoved a screwdriver into the electrical outlet.
Words are not yet foolproof, unfortunately. So when our son starts hyperventilating, we’re forced to take almost everything seriously until we can puzzle it out. In the movies, when someone can’t speak, you give them a pad and pencil. With a two-year-old, there are no alternatives, so you usually end up playing charades with a manic little munchkin, except the only movie he seems to know is “Cry, Cry Again” from Seinfeld.
So, in the face of a child who has no concept of patience, we parents are faced with having to summon enough of it for everyone. It’s doable, but it’s a constant struggle, especially when you spend twenty minutes trying to pry something intelligible from a two-year-old’s mouth only for it to turn out that all that happened was he’d lost a penny been carrying around.
We haven’t gotten rid of pennies yet? I have enough problems! Dammit Obama!