Monthly Archives: March 2017

The unfixable ears

Like most people, I take the gift of my senses somewhat for granted. But let me qualify that by also saying that the one sense I have become much more appreciative of, is my hearing.

I have a recurring malady that blocks both ears for extended periods of time and I’m beginning to understand what it must be like to be a child, that is to say, to have no ears. It’s awful. The strain of continually having to look at someone who is talking to you, so that you can read their lips and pick up smatterings of their speech is exhausting. I think the little guys must start each day with the best of intentions, listening to everyone and everything and then slowly, throughout the course of the day they just let it all slide.

I get it now, I do the same thing. At the start of the day my head is spinning like a top on my shoulders, reading everyone’s lips to figure out what they’re saying. By lunchtime, I’m only looking up every half hour or so and miss everything said by everyone in between. By nightfall I’m effectively like an octogenarian with his hearing aid turned all the way down. The only way to get my attention at this point is to throw something at me. Preferably a snack.

The amount of additional energy I expend each day just ‘listening’ is offset only by the extra calories I am forced to consume during the day. So ultimately, in order to listen to everything said in a given day, I need to have a doughnut or a flake or perhaps even a small box of KFC. For children, I think it goes even further. Not only do you have to feed them in order for them to listen, but it has to be the right foods at the right time. For instance, at the start of the day, you can top up their ears with a biscuit, but at the end of the day, it’s probably better to use something innocuous like a rice cake to avoid any sugar rush complications at bedtime.

Or, you know, you could just shout at them like a lunatic. Like a parent.

Shouting works for my hearing problem, but I force the shouting more often than not for its entertainment factor than its functional one. People talking loudly so that you might hear them speak, are really quite comical. When they speak in a normal register, they also speak at a normal speed. But if you cup your ear and ask them to repeat themselves, they not only increase the volume, but they also slow down the speed and annunciate much, much more. They can’t help themselves, they think that louder and slower are joined at the hip, when in fact they are not. Speaking louder to someone with a hearing problem, makes it easier for them to hear what you are saying. Speaking slower to them though, makes you look feeble in the head.

We do the same for  people whose mother tongue is not the same as ours. When we speak to them we tend to speak louder and slower. In this instance, speaking slower to someone whose mother tongue is not the same as yours is quite useful since it gives them time to translate what you’re saying in their heads. Speaking louder to them though, makes you look feeble in the head.

I do the same thing. It’s perfectly natural. Sky is blue, water is wet, if someone doesn’t hear or understand you, speak louder and slower. In truth though, there are very few instances where you’ll ever actually need to employ both.

With children we add another layer, we ask them to do something and when they ignore us, as they most often will do, we speak louder and slower, but also tend to ask the completely redundant question, “Did you hear what I just said?” Followed closely by, “Tell me what I just said.” 

I would be hard pressed to explain to you why a grown up human would ask a new human being asinine questions like this, but we do. Sky is blue, water is wet…


The potato fail

So the question for the day is this; is there anything more unreasonable than a child that refuses to accept that the humble potato wears many different cloaks and not just those of the ubiquitous crisp and French fry (or chip).

My boys seem to have an infinite capacity for denial. Mashed potatoes, by way of example, are shunned and seem to be seen as just another brick in the wall of mashed food that they do not eat. They afford it the same disdain they dish upon squash or pumpkin or any porridge besides pronutro for that matter and they are unwavering.

Another example is the potato wedge or roasted potato which were both, until very recently, rejected outright because they did not fit into the two previously accepted formats, vis-à-vis the crisp and the chip. No amount of explanation, empirical evidence or reasoning would convince them otherwise. At this point I must confess that I once even mashed a roasted potato into an unwilling child’s mouth. I could add the adverb ‘extremely’ to unwilling, but I think it goes without saying.

I had somehow managed to convince myself that the moment he tasted it, he would immediately be sold on the concept and from that day forward love the roasted potato.

I was wrong and needless to say, things went quickly downhill from that point onward. If memory serves I eventually had to clean up a regurgitated potato, that was appreciably covered in saliva and indignant tears. A parenting fail.

So what then for this versatile vegetable?

Are we as a family doomed to consume the perfect food in only two or three formats forever because the lowest common denominator palates in the house are deciding which meals we are allowed to prepare? Or is there a way to introduce our favourite dishes to the imps without the aforementioned regurgitation? I guess I’m hoping for an epiphany here.

At this point I must confess that I am particularly discriminating about the foods that I eat too. Really, on close examination of oneself, my rules for food selection make no sense at all. My wife would probably argue that discriminating is too soft a word. Fussy is probably more fitting.

If I’m honest, I have the palate of a five year old. So really, I’m hardly one to talk about my fussy children. Then again, I do eat all manner of potatoes….