“Mummy!” Vincent shouted at me the other day, with real fear in his voice, “There’s a monkey in my nose!”
And what, you may ask, does this mean? It means he has a booger.
About a year or so ago this phrase evolved, probably from me saying something ridiculous like “You’ve got bats in the cave”. I frequently say things that border on the ridiculous to both my children. Who doesn’t? Isn’t that part of parenting? Making up explanations for wee folk who don’t really understand what you are saying? Most of the time, the more creative you are the better. Once we told Vince ‘Don’t crawl around under the table because that’s where the snakes are’ and we’ve pretty much never needed to worry about him doing that in a restaurant ever again. (Yes, yes, we are awful, I know. Whatever.) So how on earth did a playful “You’ve got a monkey in your nose” evolve into something that is a cause for major concern, in my son’s eyes anyways?
Well, it’s because he’s almost four.
Have I beaten this horse to death yet? Are you tired of hearing me talk about what happens when youngsters hit four? Apparently everything awful does. Ok, I’m just exaggerating slightly… I know it’s REALLY not all because he’s about a month away from this most auspicious event. He’s a bit of a sensitive child too. And by that, I really mean he’s totally overly dramatic. He probably could rival many opera singers with the sheer depth of his dramatic wails. And many Broadway performers for their ability to make you feel their emotions during their performance. And performance is what it really is all about.
Ok, so ‘four’, ‘dramatic’ and ‘performance’ added all together and I think we are finally down to why a monkey in the nose is cause for major concern. While sometimes I just look at the tears that follow this statement with complete disbelief, most of the time I do an invisible eye-roll and divert his attention to something else. When all else fails, redirect! This is a valuable parenting skill and should be developed and honed.
And the second most overused phrase in our house?
“Mummy! Milk makes you bigger and stronger. And when you drink it? The frog in my tummy goes away! Because he doesn’t like milk! And it makes him happy! And then he goes away, Mummy!” (This is a real example. I still don’t understand. I just said ‘Ok!’)
I have no idea what a ‘frog in my tummy’ really is, it seems to vary depending on the situation and his mood. It might have something to do with him being hungry or thirsty. Or having a sore throat or a tummyache. Sometimes the frog moves up to his throat, quickly followed by a sudden move back down to his tummy, and I am really not sure in that case. It happens so quickly that I find it hard to keep up with. This one might have evolved all by itself. I don’t remember saying anything like this , but can easily understand how it come have come about. It does follow the previous theme of an animal plus a body part. This one might be an original.
Just in the last week or so, he’s dived into new territory with these gems: “Mummy, I can’t walk!” (said while walking) and “Mummy, my legs don’t work!” (said while running towards me), “Mummy! I have an owie in my tummy!” (this one is followed by tears and a complete body collapse to the ground. Reality? He’s hungry.) Sometimes he combines them like this: “Mummy, I can’t play soccer because I can’t walk” (said while running on the soccer field towards me). Or “Mummy, I can’t eat dinner because I have an owie in my tummy and I can’t sit down” (I think this one means he’s really hungry). Or “Mummy, I need to watch a tv show because I have a headache and a frog in my tummy” (no idea here, I think I said ‘no’ automatically). And my personal favorite “Mummy, I can’t clean my room because I have boogers!” (this one was said with real horror and a glimmer of tears in the corner of his eyes). He’s developing some really good stalling techniques. And he’s getting rather good at working us over.
While it’s hard not to get frustrated when I am having these nonsensical conversations with my son, I have to remind myself that I am partially responsible for them. I’ve told Vince quite a few creative ‘stories’ as had Edward. However, I also have to admit that I don’t mind seeing the fruits of his imagination popping up like this. Even if the timing stinks (like the WHOLE entire soccer game he ‘played’ last Saturday) or while we are doing our nightly bedtime rituals. Imagination is such an important part of a child’s development and something that needs to be nurtured and encouraged. Like a love of books and polite manners. So important.
So I’ll just keep telling myself ‘nurture nurture nurture’ when these events crop up (as they seem to be doing with greater and greater frequency). It’s the sign of creativity. Really. Stop rolling your eyes Mummy! Get with the nurture plan!
xoxo a.m. (seriously, I am going to really try to not roll my eyes so much. Honest)