Last weekend we were seated at an event next to some friends of my parents. They have a 2-year-old granddaughter, and we got to talking and sharing pictures. Their granddaughter, (much like what I had originally expected when I birthed a female) is now obsessed with babies. In every picture she had a doll under each arm, and looked every inch the sweet maternal little creature I’m sure she is.
Her grandmother was suprised to learn that this was not the case with my own little creature.
“She could care less about her babies,” I told her.
“Really? You’re kidding! What is she interested in?”
I didn’t know how to answer. Ummm, I dunno, Hoarding?
On the rare occasion that Evelyn entertains herself, I come back into the room and while the dolls remain untouched, her backpack has been stuffed with an assortment of items.
Actually — there is a doll in there, folded inside in the least gentle way with no regard for her delicate little neck. On top of her that’s a triangle, stethoscope and other medical tools. I walked in as Evelyn was hoisting this onto her back and when I asked where she was going, she answered “The Home on the Bay place” and scurried away into the other room, presumably to perform some medical experiments.
*When we lived in Whitefish Bay I changed the lyrics to Home on the Range to a new version, called Home on the Bay … “where the Evies and Alex’s play … where seldom is heard, a discouraging word, and Dad’s home at the end of the day” (thank God). It’s now the only song she wants to sing and has also become a fictional place in her imagination. When asked where the “home in the bay place” is, she’ll answer that it’s bigger than a house and that there are a lot of trees, and there are lots of animals but no chickens and no other kids. She’s very firm on the last point.
So there you go. Big imagination, not a lick of maternal instinct.
Back to our event, we also got to talking about talking, more specifically the lack of it. The 2-year-old in this woman’s life didn’t say much. Hardly anything in fact, and this information coupled with the sweet, quiet little girl she seemed to be had me wondering how I could orchestrate a trade without anyone noticing.
From the time my spawn stirs in the morning until she finally passes out at night, there is no rest from hearing that sweet little voice. The problem is, she has so many words she wants to get in there that she neglects to pronounce most consonants, which results in her sounding like a Drunken Dutchman. (I’ll next be changing the lyrics to “What do you do with a Drunken Sailor”).
Enter speech therapy. She’s been in a birth to 3 program for a few months now, and we’re in the process of transferring into the school system as her 3rd birthday looms. At the very beginning of this process, I wondered if there was something I’d done wrong that had led to her mispronunciation of so many words.
I didn’t even finish the question in my mind before I’d answered it — yes of course I had. It was entirely my fault. In fact I may be the worst possible example of proper speech.
If you’ve ever had a face-to-face conversation with me, you’ve probably wondered if I’m training to be a ventriloquist. My lips hardly move. (I’ve found this saves energy).
To listen to my voice on tape or voicemail makes it sound like I’m halfway through the sex change process.
And if my phone has a brain, which I’m not convinced it doesn’t, it probably wants to give me a breathalyzer every time I use the talk-to-text feature.
Yesterday for example I texted a friend who is due with her second this month. I spoke clearly into my phone: “it’s officially baby month!!”
My phone heard:
A few weeks ago I was at the pediatrician with Alex for his 15-month checkup. Each room is themed, and we were in one covered in Brewers Decals. Every time he saw the life-sized Robin Yount decal, Alex pointed to it and said “dada.” I tried to text Eric as much, but my phone heard this:
When I finally communicated the correct information to Eric, he was a little offended at the resemblance. I decided not to tell him that the week before Alex had been pointing to this and saying “Dada”:
Meanwhile Evelyn is convinced this is her father:
If you know Eric, this one is actually pretty accurate, right down to the argyle socks.
Anyway, I digress. While there are a lot of “what am I doing wrong as a parent” threads that I don’t want to pull at, the speech thing is a no brainer. Sorry, Ev.
“But talk to text does that to everyone,” you may be saying.
I’ll leave you with a Starbucks order last winter.
“Can I get a name for the order?” The barista asked.
“Melissa,” I said.