Use Your . . . Words?
Hello Blog. Today Pat is inspired by baby Jonah's beatboxing (see home page featured video today) to remember her own children's baby sounds, and how she longed for them to talk. But when she hears what they have to say, she reconsiders!
Laughing along with adorable baby Jonah’s “beatboxing” made me recall those heavenly days when my children created similar joyous sounds before they could talk – and how naïve I was to be anxious for them to acquire verbal skills.
Sure, I loved hearing “mamamamama” and “I wuv you, Mommy.” And it was a relief when they could identify the source of their discomfort rather than me trying to interpret their crying.
But there also have been more than a few occasions when I wished they’d never gained the ability to speak. There are just some things a mother doesn’t want to hear.
One is “I probably shouldn't tell you this….,” which opened one memorable telephone conversation as my youngest son prepared for a summer archaeology dig in the Great Dismal Swamp.
“I probably shouldn’t tell you that the swamp is home to the largest concentration of black bears on the East Coast,” he continued. “Don't worry. We've been given a lot of safety instructions.”
I struggled to remain calm and offer my standard maternal response in such stressful situations (the ones where I am screaming inside): “That’s nice, dear.” But the screams in my head were getting louder, so I added, “Such as?”
He then read aloud: “If you hear loud noises in the underbrush, be prepared to make loud noises in response.”
I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. Then he offered: “And I probably shouldn't tell you this either, but I may be trained in using a machete.”
My response was stunned silence, but my husband cheerfully noted from the extension that No. 2 son’s brother-the-cop wasn’t even trained in machetes. “Maybe they'll give you a certificate, too," he added in his best fatherly voice.
My screams were about to escape into the atmosphere. “Can you use the machete against the three types of poisonous snakes that inhabit the swamp?”
“Ah, I'm not sure. But don't worry. We've had lots of safety instructions,” he repeated.
Instead of screaming, I offered this desperate response: “Maybe you should ask your brother if you can borrow one of his guns.”
Now it was my husband and No. 2 son who were stunned. And this was truly the moment when I realized I'd gone over the edge. Here I was, a woman who hates guns, suggesting one son borrow a firearm from the other.
“I don't think they allow that, Mom. This is a university course,” No. 2 son said, enunciating every word, clearly recognizing his mother was a crazy woman again.
I was seriously considering ordering his older brother to get on the motorcycle I never wanted him to buy and retrieve his brother. When the policeman son called a few days later to report the motorcycle is “really great” and he also might be receiving AR-15 semi-automatic assault rifle training soon, I gasped.
“Which would you rather have – me going into an active shooter situation with a handgun or a rifle?” he asked.
My first thought was: “With a slide rule as an engineer” because that was his initial college major. My next was: “With your words” because philosophy was his second. Instead I said, “I would prefer you not be going into an Active Shooter situation at all, but if you must, I suppose a rifle is better.”
That’s also when I asked myself: Whatever made me think hearing them talk would be music to my ears?