© 2009 Lance. All rights reserved.

The All-Seeing Toddler Eye

Yesterday afternoon, I was listening to the Wait Wait … Don’t Tell Me (“the NPR news quiz”) podcast in the car. You told me you’d rather listen to music right about the time they were starting the “bluff the listener challenge”.* I told you we’d change to music after that segment was over (because it’s sometimes really funny). The panelists were Mo Rocca, Roy Blount, Jr. and Faith Salie. You talked and sang to yourself through most of the segment, but were getting antsy near the end. I was trying to string you along until we found out which story was true, and I asked “which story did you think was the best one?” Your reply: “Um… Mo Rocca’s.”

Dude, WTF. You’re not supposed to be so aware of what’s going on around you. Frankly, it’s a little unsettling. Your Ralph Wiggum moments,** while not infrequent, are giving way to surprising insights. We’re still planning your third birthday party, and I’m worried that you’ll know me better than I know myself in just a few years. That’s probably not such a hard thing to achieve, but I figured I had until at least your late teens.

Now we just need to figure out how to get you to wake up at night when you need to pee.

UPDATE: Right after I posed this, I saw that MR had just posted the following, by Penelope Lively, on Facebook:

The lives of children are mysterious, opaque even to those who know them best. Parents, existing cheek by jowl with their offspring, feel them to be almost an extension of themselves — their bodies, their habits, their speech and mannerisms so familiar that they seem to require no further consideration. This is not so, of course; much is going on there that would be startling and alarming if decoded. Mercifully, this alternative existence of children is also impenetrable.

That would be merciful.

* This is a game where a contestant calls in and the three panelists (usually writers or commedians) describe three wacky news stories. One of them is real, and the caller’s job is to pick the right one.

** That reminds me (because of how Ralph Wiggum said, after eating some poison berries, “they taste like burning!”): later in the same ride, while we were waiting for Arica to come out of her building, you asked for and received a taste of my diet root beer. After making faces and trying to wipe your tongue off, you said “I don’t like that, daddy; that makes my tongue turn orange.” I don’t know what that means, but you were emphatic.

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