I guess I'll officially declare that this will be Ricky month. What follows is another oldie-but-goodie. About a decade before he was longing for a golden penis sheath to show off in the locker room, he was entertaining me in other, more innocent ways.
I have a child who thinks he's a dog.
Well, maybe I should rephrase that. He doesn't really think he's a dog. He switches back and forth between human child and puppy dog in true Sybil-esque fashion with disconcerting ease. One moment, I'll be talking to my charming three-year-old and the next moment I'll find myself saying, "Good boy!"
I'm not sure why Ricky decided that he'd like to spend some of his time being a dog. Maybe it's because he has had a number of conversations with our friend Derek -- in dog, of course.
Derek is fluent in dog. Never mind, it's a long story.
What's interesting about this is that Ricky is much more obedient when he is being a dog. That can be very valuable when you are having to deal with a highly contra-suggestive three-year-old.
"Get down from there, Ricky!" says Daddy sternly. "You know you're not allowed to stand on the table!"
"Uhn-uh," says the culprit, shaking his head stubbornly and standing his ground.
It looks like it's going to be one of those arguments you can sometimes find yourself having with a pre-verbal child who truly believes he rules the universe and can strike you down with lightening with a single wave of his hand.
Parenthetically, I have never understood why my husband persists in arguing with the children in situations like this.
I do ask.
"Why are you arguing with him?"
My beloved spouse will look me in the eye and, after opening his mouth a few times like a landed fish, will smile sheepishly. It's not that he has no answer, it's just that it's difficult for him to admit that he still sometimes falls for the seduction of the I-am-powerful-Dad syndrome -- which, now I come to think of it, is very like the I-am-the-all-powerful-three-year-old syndrome.
That's the biggest difference between our parenting styles, you know. He wants the short people to openly acknowledge and accede to his authority. He wants them to say, "Yes, Father, I recognize that you are the ultimate authority in the universe, that it is meet and just that you should issue your commands, and I bow to your rule."
I just tell them, "I'm bigger than you." After that, further conversation is unnecessary.
Anyway, fortunately for Dad, help is nearby.
"Ricky," sings ten-year-old Gina, adding a whistle, "down, boy!"
And Ricky smiles, drops to all fours and clambers down to the floor -- no arguments. In fact, once he reaches the floor, he'll sit on his haunches and pant appealingly until you utter the line that completes the scene:
"Good boy!" Pat, pat.
Of course, I am sometimes a bit self conscious about my son, the dog, when I'm on the phone with a press contact and I have to excuse myself to say absently, "Good boy!" (pat, pat).
"Oh, you have a dog?"
"No, I have a three year old."
Some people even understand that. "Oh, you're lucky. My three year old used to pretend he was a camel. I just couldn't make him understand that it wasn't okay to spit at people ... "
I guess the grass is always greener.