Puppy Pirates – the Art of Conversation with a 5 year old (Part 2)

There are no pit stops
On McTalker’s race track: just
Go fast and turn left.

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Thanks for coming back to read part 2 of Puppy Pirates.  First, how have tactics one and two been working for you?  The Last Noun Volley and Big Muscle Maneuver can be quite helpful so I hope you give them a try.  And since it is fairly obvious from those first two tips that I’m not up for Mother of the Year again this year, I’ll continue with my final tactics, 3 and 4.

Tactic #3 – Character Acting

Pretty straight forward, this one is:  talk through the toys. AB got several Imaginext Dinos for Christmas (pause for a review – they are wonderful! Highly recommend). The velociraptor’s mouth opens and closes – the only one which does that. So when AB wants to talk and play and play and talk (and all I want to do is veg out, but realize I haven’t spent any time with the little guy), I grab this velociraptor and use him like a puppet.  Moving his mouth and talking at the same time can be highly entertaining.  I get to be someone else – kind of cranky and dino-like (sooo unlike my normal character) – and I get to amuse myself being witty. (Pathetic, I know…)

These types of conversations are never as funny or interesting in the retelling as in the moment itself, so instead, let me capture the critical elements:

image from Fisher-Price website

  1. Repeat to your kid something annoying they always say to you, in character. “No, I won’t wanna do that; I wanna do this! Stop touching me! Mine!”
  2. Build in an inside joke with your husband as you speak through the toys… engages the “trying to be clever-er than you” part of your brain, which likely needs some exercise anyway.   You can also try some double entendre (wow, what that hard to spell) with him, unbeknownst to the kids, and double the fun.
  3. Let your shadow side peek out. My velociraptor is part Eeyore.  He complains a lot. Doesn’t want to participate. Goes off in a huff sometimes.  Watching my son employ all the same approaches I try with him when he’s in a mood is great affirmation that he’s at least paying some attention.

I forgot to mention that tactic #3 is actually fun – way more so than just picking up a dino and moving it around… Taking over the character requires more adult brain, plus I get to mess with my kid, which is never bad.

Tactic #4 – Silent Treatment/Change the Subject

As the mothers of boys reading this know, our angels can sometimes be a little gruesome. The other day while in the drugstore (that place brings out the best in him), AB was singing about Frosty the Snowman… “with a button nose and two eyes made out of blood”. I’m not kidding. Where in the hell does he get this? I asked, and he said someone at school said it. (Yeah right, I’m thinking…). Anyway, after a polite request to not say that because it is gross, I was rewarded with higher volume during the next chorus.

Employ tactic #4: the silent treatment. Ignore him. We all know this, but I too often forget that this is such an easy way to move the conversation forward. Only takes about 30 seconds. And then you pop up enthusiastically about another topic: So, when are you going to play puppy pirates again?

And he’s off again…. Flapping and fluttering at 75 mph.  Truth be told, I’m happy to be along for the ride, even if it is exhausting.

A few last points.  If you are the mother of girls, you are probably frightened by all this. I’m sorry. I was too as my first is a girl and I was totally unprepared for mothering a boy. I promise you I will do my best to raise a wonderful man, but you have to get through the high energy, sometimes-gross boy to get there. Leave it to me…   Also, don’t tell anyone, but some of these same tactics (especially number one) work beautifully with the self-centered friend who always calls you to see how you are and then hogs the entire conversation.  Wait for the breath, repeat the last noun, and she’ll be off again, no worries; you can get back to the crossword.  And lastly a caution: I’ve also tried this same tactic with my husband (see this post) with less success because frankly he’s usually looking straight at me and able to read the visual clues, thus figuring out that I’m totally not engaged. Oh well, worth a try.

Deposits and Withdrawals

“Mom… I don’t feel good”
A ploy? A ruse? The truth? Ack!
Who can ever tell?!

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There are days I seriously doubt my abilities as a mom, especially when my kids don’t feel well. I have this fantasy that in Little House on the Prairie days the mothers all had this 6th sense about their families.  A child would sniffle; the mother would go out back and find the root of the pine-prick bush and gently stew it with oaks leaves, dried herbs and tear drops to make a magic elixir that would cure the child.

Me?  My kid tells me her stomach hurts… her head hurts… his foot hurts… his eyes feel funny… what do I do? Two simple questions:

  1. Have you had enough water today?
  2. When was the last time you pooped?

That’s it. No magic elixir. No tear drop potion. I don’t even push on the offending body part to see if I can make the kid twinge.

Here’s the sad part. The kid in question usually drops his or her head and admits to either a lack of water or an under utilization of the toilet. He/She disappears and I never hear of the ailment again.

So, those MUST be the right questions, right?

I feel like the family in that movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding… “Put some Windex on it!”  Me? Make a deposit or a withdrawal… one will fix you. I’m sure this (among other reasons yet to be explored on this blog) is why I will never be mother of the year. Oh well.

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