What I talk about when I talk to my children

I’ve been waking my girls to school almost every day this year, and my hope was stay this would be a good way for us to bond. On our way to school we would discuss ethics, or the beauty of the natural world, or considerations of economics or great art, and all the ambitions my children have for their lives.

Of course, they’re two and four years old, so our conversations consist of the following topics

  • the most recent dog they’ve seen
  • the presence or absence of Mr Roostyaye, the neighbourhood cockerel
  • arguing about what’s written on a sign (it says "LOW BEAM MIND YOUR HEAD" but my wife paraphrased it once and now that’s what they demand it says)
  • demands for me to carry their bags, their violin, their pianica or their bodies because they’re too tired/heavy
  • fear of wolves/trolls
  • the dead rabbit they saw the other day
  • indecipherable, blood curdling screams

This all serves me right. I suppose in later life I have to look forward to them sulking and not talking to me at all, so I should appreciate the limited conversational topics I do get right now.

This evening, I had to put the girls to bed. La Serpiente fell asleep immediately. (The two girls fought over who would cuddle Cinder the dragon until I persuaded La Serpiente that a fluffy rabbit would be as good.) Destroyer sat up and told me a long story about nothing I could comprehend (possibly involving her, or a classmate, or an imaginary being, being made to sit on the Thinking Chair at school for some kind of misbehaviour), then sang "Happy Birthday" in both English and Mandarin to all her class mates, her family and probably half the western hemisphere. I left to go to the toilet.

She was still audible through the wall when I finished my ablutions, so I went back in, as I’d promised her, and she continued to talk to me about heaven knows what. La Serpiente drunkenly flopped around in her sleep. After another few minutes I made my excuses and left again; she seemed to be slowing down at that point, but perhaps she’s murmuring still.

Tomorrow they will revert to morning conversations. Oh well.

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