Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Voices In My Head? Not.

We have three children. They are all wonderful people in their own ways. We love them unconditionally.

One of them, the Italian, is an inquisitive and highly intelligent child. There isn't a single discussion held in his presence during which he will not ask a question, or maybe ten.

Sometimes his questions stem from the annoying habit most of us practice from time to time when we are only kind-of listening to the other people and need to ask them to repeat something they've just said. Most of the time with the Italian, however, his questions are related to his desire to be educated.

For example, last week over breakfast one morning my Lovely Wife was talking to me about her retainer. The word "retainer" had barely finished tumbling out of her mouth when the Italian interrupted to ask: "What is a retainer and what does it do?" A fair question, but his serious expression and the fact he asked it like Larry King grilling a politician (as much as Larry King can grill) made us chuckle.

Not only does the Italian ask lots of questions, he also talks without stopping. He is enamored with the sound of his voice and believes everyone else also should be. If he isn't bending your ear he's talking to himself. If he isn't talking to himself he's mimicking funny voices he has heard on television shows or in movies. If he isn't mimicking cartoon voices he's singing his favorite song to you, or his siblings, or the dog. I'm often amazed we have any idea at all what our other children's voices sound like.

Every parent has those days when we say, "I'm going to change my name, because if I hear 'Dad' one more time I'm going to lose it."

Unfortunately for our other son, the German, he must feel the same way about his name. I'll wager if I counted the number of times in one day the Italian says the German's name, it would reach quadruple digits. Observing them throughout the course of a typical week has convinced me that Germany might not really have wanted to start World War II, they just needed to get away from their incessantly babbling neighbors to the south.

"Hey Germany. Germany! Hey Germany. Do you want to play on the Wii? Germany! Do you want to play on the Wii?"

"Not right now, Italy."

"But Germany, you can be player one. Come on, Germany. Germany! You can be player one but I want the black controller. Germany, can I have the black controller? Germany?"

"I don't want to play right now, Italy."

"Germany, you can be player one! Come on, Germany!"

"Look, Italy, I can't play on the Wii right now. I have to... I have to go check on Poland! Oh yeah, Poland. You go play the Wii and I'll let you know when I get back from Poland."

The biggest trouble used to come when the Italian and the German were in the same class at school and even before then during preschool years. Both would have had the same experiences during the day, and they both wanted to tell us about their shared experiences when we picked them up. The German, in his slow and halting way, would start talking about what the class did in the school garden. Halfway through, during an inevitable pause as the German searched for the right words, the Italian would finish the story in a matter of seconds. Big German tears would flow...

The boys just turned nine, and if Our Daughter is any indication, we will blink and they will have turned into teenagers. If they go the typical teenage boy route, then we should expect them both to turn sullen, moody and quiet.

I think I can handle the sullen and moody if it means I'll get a few years of quiet.

ⓒ 2010 Mark Feggeler

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