A Pro and Con to Having Just One Child.


Pro: You only have one mouth to feed.

Con: That same mouth often only has one person to talk to.

I am his entertainment. I am his captive audience. I am his sounding board for his really great ideas about really great things that really can’t wait until later.

I find that as I attempt to disengage myself from a conversation that is growing mundane or trivial or monotonous it feels like I am yanking on the starter cable of a lawn mower hoping to get it to catch so his words can be his own muse and his engine can run on it’s own. Every few sentences I give it another tug until the motor catches and it runs at full tilt.

“You know Dad. I think I would like to get a family of worms to keep as my pets.” He interjects into my quiet drive time.

“Oh, that sounds like a great idea.” I respond.

“I’m going to name the parents Wormy and Brownie and the kid worms will be called Squirmy and Turkey.”

“I don’t really think Turkey is a good name for a worm.” I say.

“No Dad. It’s a really good name. A really good one. Turkeys live in fields and fields are full of dirt and worms live in dirt. Turkey is a really great name for a worm. You don’t know these things. I do. I know everything about worms.”

“No. I think you named it Turkey because right after you said Squirmy your little kid brain went up the alphabet to the next letter which is T and you took the sound of Squirmy but with a T in the front so you stumbled on Turkey.”

“You’re wrong Dad. I didn’t name them yet. We don’t even have worms yet. See, you don’t know anything about worms like I do.”

Just a little tug on that lawn mower starter cable. Pull the choke out some. Yank a little harder.

“I think worms bite.” He says.

“No. They don’t.” I answer.

“Well, some do. You don’t know about worms. Remember?”

Full pull on the cord. The motor catches. I’m out and sit back to let the perpetual motion machine that is his seven year old brain whirl on it’s own for a bit.

“I guess some worms bite. They have mouths because they have to eat. So if they have mouths I guess they bite. But they eat leaves and dirt and little pieces of trash so their mouths must be so small. So cute! Maybe they sleep with their mouths open like I do sometimes? Their eyes must be so tiny! Wee!! I can’t wait to get worms! I’m going to put them in this cup. This would be a good cup for them. It even has a lid. But what will I drink out of? Can we share the cup? No. That’s dirty. I will wash them first. Wee!!! I can’t wait to get worms!”

Listening to him talk gives me an idea. Maybe I’ll invent a white noise generating machine for parents. It will have a microphone and a speaker and it will take in their little voices and generate an equal and opposite audio wave than the ones that comes from their little face holes. Equal and opposite? Didn’t Newton say something about that? The sounds that come from a kid’s mouth will have an equal and opposite reaction inside the brain of a parent?

And then I realized something. We are the same. He and I are the same but with one huge difference. At some point you learn how to flip that switch that allows you to disconnect your thoughts from your mouth. He just says everything he thinks!

“I think I’m going to strap a Fitbit to your face and see how many times your mouth moves in a day.”

“That’s a really great idea Dad.” He says.

I guess I said that one out loud.

“Okay then. Let’s go dig up some worms!” He says.

“Yes Son. Let’s do it.”