Baby Talk: The Art Of Manipulation

Jack and Myles
Jack and Myles

Today, as Jack and Myles were playing in their car, I overheard something that you might not believe.  I wasn’t trying to eavesdrop.  Myles likes to hit the car really hard and run away while Jack laughs and stays in.  I was just checking to see if everything was alright and that no fingers were at risk for jamnation.  I guess they didn’t notice.  I walked in mid-sentence.  It all seemed like normal toddler babble to me, until….

Myles:  Man, do you see these mommies?  They’re in there watching Little Charmers like it’s Paw Patrol.

Jack:  I know, dude.  You wouldn’t believe how many times I catch her watching Sesame Street without me.  I’m all like, “Mom!  Let’s go outside and PLAY!” and she’s all, “Yay!  Elmo is on!”

Myles: I don’t see the appeal.

Jack:  Me neither.  She knows I like my red momo blankie, so I guess she just assumes I like this red hairy monster who talks like a deranged fairy.  She pretty much forces our entire family to buy me Elmo memorabilia.  It’s embarrassing.

Myles:  Tell me about it.  I gotta admit, though.  My mom knows how to get me in the feels.  She bought me a Paw Patrol t-shirt the other day.  I was like, “Girl, you KNOW I lerve you.”  I gave her kisses and everything.  You know, when you give kisses you pretty much get whatever you want?

Jack:  No!  Why the hell didn’t you tell me that before that ol’ cow made me take TWO naps yesterday?!

Myles: Jack….you’ve got to figure SOME of this out on your own.  It’s all about testing your boundaries.  Seeing what she will let you get away with.

Jack: What do you mean?

Myles: Well, the other day, we were at the pool, right?

Jack: Right?

Myles: ….and I grabbed Mommy’s talk box…

Jack: Uh huh.

Myles: ….and I slowly walked over to the water and showed her that I had it.

Jack: Then, what happened?

Myles:  Dude.  That crazy woman FLIPPED out.  She got that MOM look in her eyes and she called me by my first and last name and I just got that feeling, you know?  Where you know Mommy doesn’t want you to do something, but you just really need to do it anyway.  So I gave her “the smile”.

Jack:  What is “the smile”?

Myles: You do it all the time.  I’ve seen it.  Every time you go over to the TV, right before you press the big round thing that she doesn’t want you to touch.  You turn to her and give her “the smile”.

Jack:  Oh yeah!  That’s the one I give when I know she doesn’t want me to do something, but…you know….I want to.

Myles:  YES!  So, I give her “the smile” and she does the whole, “Mmmmyyyyyllllleeeeesssss.  Put Mommy’s phone back in the chair. Now.” thing she does.  It’s the best moment.  I’m not in trouble yet, and ALL of Mommy’s focus is on me.  It’s amazing.  It’s like it’s just the two of us and no one else.

Jack: So, then what do you do?

Myles: I dropped the talking box into the pool.




Myles: Right?!  They know we are going to do it, but they still make us go through the whole charade.

Jack:  But then, you got in trouble, right?

Myles: Ohhhhhhh yeaaahhhhh….but afterwards, when the tears were drying, I gave her kisses and it was all good.  Mommy even gave me ice cream.  That girl is WRAPPED.  Unlike, Izzy.

Oh….I forgot to mention.  This is Izzy.  She wasn’t present for this conversation Izzy hangs out in the same room as the boys sometimes, but never WITH the boys.  She is a classy lady and doesn’t have time for their childish shenanigans. 

Jack, Izzy, and Myles
Jack, Izzy, and Myles

Jack:  What is WRONG with that chick, anyway?

Myles:  I really don’t know.  Every time I even look in her direction she’s throwin shade.

Jack: Right?!  Did you see her at the balloon festival?  She was running around like she was the queen of Perry Georgia. She’d come and grab one of my cookies and just walk away.  It’s like she only wants me for my cookies.

Myles:  She’s cute, though.

Jack:  I think that’s the problem.  She’s one of those girls who knows she’s cute.  When we went to see her puppies, I tried to make a connection with her, but all she wanted to do was play with her adult-sized basketball and show off the things she could do that I couldn’t.

Myles:  Women!  Who needs ’em?!

Jack: Not me!  Now, please hit the car again and run away.  It’s always so frickin’ funny.

Myles: Okay.  (BAM!)


Jack:  You know I’m walkin’ now, right?

Myles:  Yes, Jack.  We all know.  EVERYONE knows.  I don’t know why you’re so proud of yourself.  You should have been walking a long time ago.  It’s like bragging for breathing.  Are you impressed that I’m breathing?

Jack:  No.

Myles: Then, stop being impressed with yourself over mundane skills.

Jack: But Mommy acted like it was a big deal.

Myles:  Nope.  Watch this.  (pushes Jack to the floor)

Jack: Hey, man!  What the hell was that for?!

Myles:  I’ll be impressed when you stop just dropping to the floor every time I tap you on the shoulder.

Jack:  That was not cool.

Myles: Neither are you.  I am trying to help you.

Jack:  Help me what?

Myles:  Help you fulfill all your manipulative potential.

Jack: What is that?

Myles:  Come with me, kid.  I’m going to show you an example.  I am in the mood for some goldfish.  It’s not time for dinner yet, and I already had goldfish earlier.  Check this out.

This is the part when I realized the boys were about to come into the living room. I dove onto the couch with Amyre and pretended I was as into Little Charmers as she actually was.  Myles walks up to Amyre and says:

Myles: Mommy.  Ice cream.

Amyre: No, Myles.  You already had an ice cream today.  Are you hungry?

Myles: Yes, Mommy.

Myles leaned over and gave Amyre a huge kiss on the mouth and buried his face in her chest.

Myles: Gol-fish.

Amyre: You want some goldfish?  Are you sure you don’t want some fruit?  You had goldfish earlier, too.

Myles: Ice cream?

Amyre: No.  No more ice cream.  I’ll get you some more goldfish.

Amyre poured each of the boys a huge bowl of goldfish.  They immediately went to town, shoving handfuls at a time into their mouths.  I saw Myles lean over and whisper something into Jack’s ear.  Jack looked at me, gave me “the smile”, and dumped his entire bowl of goldfish onto the floor.  


Jack looked up at me to assess my response.  I could practically see the wheels turning in his giant little head as he waddled over to me.  He reached his tiny little arms up to me with laughter in his big blue eyes.  I picked him up to make sure we maintained eye contact as I explained to him that he really shouldn’t dump his food on the floor and that the dog is eating it now and that Miss Amyre paid for the food and that now he won’t have a snack to eat.  Then, he puckered his slobbery, ringpop stained lips and kissed me. There was a moment where all I could think about was how precious this tiny person was. How his eyes are the exact color as mine. How I grew him with my magic woman body. I remembered his kicks and how he was supposed to have a head full of hair because of all the heartburn I had when I was pregnant. And how he just had a bunch of blonde fuzz instead. And how his hair is starting to get curly like his father’s. And that one day, Rick will teach him to play ball and he will probably coach his little league football team. And one day, Jack will play football in high school and he will probably be the quarterback and get offered a scholarship to play at Virginia Tech. Oh, that’ll be wonderful. And awful. I hope he comes home often to visit. I wonder what he will major in? He’s so curious. Perhaps, he will be an engineer and….wait….what was I going to say? I totally forgot what I was about to say. I looked over at Myles. He was smiling at Jack and Jack was smiling back. They looked so proud of themselves. What just happened?  


They walked back outside.  Myles patted Jack on the shoulder.  I could no longer hear them, but I watched closely to see if I could read Myles’ lips.  It looked like he said, “Good job, Jack.  Good job.”


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