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My son the masochist?

February 22, 2012

My son is a masochist.  Well, kind of… but more likely I need to exercise the judgement of my 30+ years and help B (four years old) deciding what is and isn’t fun/funny.

Lord Charles ventriloquist act

I am THIS funny... no, really!

Recently we’ve been enjoying playing this game where I adopt a silly, high-pitched voice and talk ‘as him’ — saying hilariously unlikely things such as: “I’ve had such a lovely day today Daddy, I’m going to tidy up without making any fuss and go straight to bed.” which is met with gales of laughter and a snorted: “Nah!” as we both know he is extremely unlikely to say that. It’s a bit like a ventriloquist act – but with B as both dummy and audience and he didn’t even need to sit on my knee!

That’s the game.  Complex, I know.  And trouble-free, right?

Many times now B will request: “Daddy – do funny talking as me.” and the game will renew with ‘me-B’ saying more and more unlikely things.

Now, as any Dad will know, the laughter of your children is a rush no drug can replicate.  Making someone that important in your life happy, nay so happy they laugh to the point of struggling for breath is a magic that never wears thin.

When B requested the “funny talking” one bath time I had my ‘act’ down pat.  Warming to my task and feeding off my audience I had ‘me-B’ saying more and more unlikely things.  The more unlikely the funnier it was, apparently.

“Um… Daddy.” high-pitched ‘me-B’ squeaked. “I’ve decided I don’t like my toys any more… no… so I’d like you to put them all in boxes and give them to charity – yes, thank you, ‘bye!” me-B concluded — cue rivers of laughter from B.  “Again! More!” real B chimed.

“Yes and Daddy…” me B went on “I don’t really need a bed any more, no.  You can sell my bed and I’ll have a cardboard box instead… and I won’t need a duvet, just a blanket… made of nettles.” me-B continued, revving up.  Gales of laughter.  “Again! MORE!” real B managed to snort.

Part of me was thinking “How can he enjoy this?  It’s really mean!” but then, the fact it was so unlikely was kinda the point.  As ever, despite my subconscious alarm bells, I pressed on.

“Yes and Daddy…” me-B chirped, finding gaps between real B’s hoots of laughter to talk, “I won’t need Uncle Simon either… you can throw him in the bin.”

Toy teddy giraffe from directbears.co.uk

An actor plays the role of 'Uncle Simon'

At this point you should know ‘Uncle Simon’ is B’s teddy of choice.  My wife an I desperately tried to avoid having a teddy of choice for the precise reason they don’t last.  We’d seen too many parents retracing their steps looking for the lost ‘Bobby the badger’ or ‘Timmy the teddy’ with tear-stained kid in tow; or having to drive the 300-miles back to Grannys house to retrieve said teddy; or re-stitching teddy’s arm on for the 500th time to the point teddy’s arm was more stiching than arm.

No, we knew better.  Teddies on rotation, he won’t get attached to any particular one then.  Sorted.  Except he did get attached to one.  A toy giraffe.  Said giraffe was given to him by my brother-in-law so there was only one option when we asked the then 3-ish-year-old B what to call him.

The trouble that has caused with various baby-sitters is another story (imagine your child telling the baby-sitter: “I need Uncle Simon!  I can’t go to bed without Uncle Simon!”)

Anyway — ‘me-B’ had gone a step too far.  Invoking Uncle Simon was always a bad idea.  Threatening to put Uncle Simon “in the bin” was beyond the limit.

From gales of laughter B’s face crumpled.  “Then I’d be really sad!” he wailed and my heart shattered.  Whilst nothing makes a parent’s heart soar like making their kids laugh; making them cry is the opposite in every way.

Masses of reassurance, cuddles and “It was only a game” followed.  In the thrill of entertaining him with my ‘hilarious wit’ I’d forgotten something important: he’s just a kid.  He doesn’t get it — even when it seems like he does.

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