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Monkey Hear, Monkey Say

19 July, 2019 | Steven Specht
  • Monkey Hear, Monkey Say

I’m always amazed at the tidbits of information my son picks up and repeats with no prompt from either parent.

“Hey Daddy!”
“Yes, Wolf”
“Did you know trolls are love experts?”
“Oh?”
“Yes, and true love will thaw a frozen heart!”
“That’s right Wolf.”
“Can we watch Elsa Frozen when we get home?”
“You already watched that today, we need to do something different.”
“Awe! I always never get to watch Elsa Frozen.”

Despite his assertions of neglect, he does get to watch Frozen, perhaps more than he should. See my piece on screen time for commentary on that.

But in any case, that last little bit does bother me. The mismatched hyperbole of “always” and “never” isn’t something he picked up from a Disney film. It’s an echo of times my wife and I have argued within earshot of him.

While I’d like to say “don’t argue in front of your kids” if I had the wherewithal to move to another room, I’d have the wherewithal to not argue at all. Because arguing has never changed the behaviors that drive each of us nuts in more than five years of marriage.

Suffice it to say, I thrive on chaos. She thrives on order. We butt heads at least once a week, usually in the kitchen.

When I hear the things we say each other repeated by my son and it’s a playback of just how foolish we sound. But it’s also an interesting tool to use in getting our kids to say the things we should be saying to each other. If they are going to repeat everything they hear in Disney and at dinner, then let’s make sure they are repeating the right things.

When I come back from a long run, I can always count on my son to ask “did you have a good running daddy?” I know he’s not asking out of real concern at this age, but he picked it up from his mother who actively coached him to ask that question. And if I get out of the car huffy over some perceived slight from my wife, when I get back, I can count on my son to say “goosfraba” and burst into laughter. He’s not seen the movie Anger Management, but he knows it deescalates things. It also happens to be a favorite movie of both my wife and me.

 And I do the same thing. I coach the boys to greet her when she gets home a very stressful day at work. “When she gets home, give her a hug and ask her if she had a good day.”

Marriage is stressful. Two kids under five is more stressful. That means we are going to argue from time to time.

But this is a parenting blog. If I want to create a calm and rationale adult, then I have to fake being calm and rationale enough to make him believe it. Otherwise, we are going to get he same histrionics we use with each other.


About The author

I'm a military spouse to my US Navy Lieutenant Commander, Lauren. We are proud parents of Wolf and Bear. When I'm not supporting her career and raising my two wild animals, I teach a law course at the University of Florida, run ultramarathons, and write. I'm the author of "Parenting as a Contact Sport" and currently in search of a publisher. Most stories I publish are proposed additions to a sequel titled "Daddy Hold My Milk: Famous Last Words of a Toddler. Twitter: parentingsport


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