I’ve noticed that our little guy generally only seems to repeat things he’s heard a few times. Also, because he’s two (and a little bit) he is also at an especially cheeky age where he has an answer for absolutely everything.
The thing is, the words and phrases he’s using in his effrontery are not his, they are ours. Hearing them delivered by our toddler with all the profundity he can muster at this age is a little like firing a cannon ball at someone, which they dodge and then collect, pack into their own cannon and fire back at you. Except there’s no need for matches or loss of life and limb.
The favorite phrase at the moment is a combination of words he has heard us say very often indeed. He’s also mimicking the actions we use when we say them. Imagine for a moment a mother standing with one hand on her hip and the other wagging a finger at a child while delivering a tongue lashing.
Then picture a toddlers caricature of that very same scene. The mother’s wagging finger in his version has the finger bent over almost in a hook shape with the back of his hand squashed against his face, the mother’s hand on the hip in his version is behind his back in a Prince Charles kind of way projecting an air of authority and a sense of being above anything petty that is way beyond his tender years. His head is cocked ever so slightly to the side like a parrot and his serious little expression and tone of voice add a mock air of gravity as he delivers a perfectly pronounced ‘because I said so’ when we ask him why for any reason whatsoever.
It is, to be as honest and impartial as a father can be, very cute. It is also very cheeky and as such we must bite our own cheeks in order to prevent smiles and laughter from bubbling up out of us when he responds in this way.
Yeats, in his poem The Second Coming said things fall apart, the center cannot hold. I’m pretty sure he wasn’t referring to parents keeping a straight face when a child was being equal parts adorable and impudent, but he really might as well have been.