It’s Not All Mary Poppins

Voice-Over for Living

Arthur is an extrovert. No, no, that isn’t saying it forcibly enough.


Yes, that’s better.

With small children (and not-so-small ones) this often means that they talk a lot. Their every action is accompanied by a running commentary, which would be tolerable, well, mostly tolerable… well, sometimes… well…

It would be kinda sorta tolerable on a really good day with great earplugs IF they didn’t expect you to be paying attention while they did it. They don’t expect you to listen, exactly, because generally the monologue is not for communication, it is for their own amusement. It is a monologue, not a conversation. They don’t want to have to listen to you, but they do want your attention.

Your role is to throw in “uh-huh”s and make sure to be looking at them when they look up at you. If, God forbid, you are looking elsewhere when you say “uh-huh” and they catch you at it, the volume goes UP and you’ll probably get whacked in the leg as they repeat their last critical phrase three times over, just to be sure you didn’t miss it. “I gots a red crayon, Mary, see? A red crayon.” A poke to my upper arm. “This is my red crayon what I’m colouring with. I gots a RED CRAYON, MARY.”

“Yes, yes, I see. A red crayon.”

Let me state that tiny extroverts have many wonderful characteristics. This, however, is not one of them.

Arthur’s life is accompanied by a sound-track. He talks his way through every minute of his day, every action.

“Mary, I’m gonna go pee now. I’m going up the stairs. I’m gonna go up the stairs and go pee, now…” His voice recedes as he ascends toilet-ward.

The voice returns “…down step, down step, down step. Mary, I’m back. I finished peeing and I washed my hands and now I’m gonna go build something. I’m just gonna take out these blocks, and I’m gonna put this block here. These blocks are the gate and the truck will drive through here, and…”

Some days I have more tolerance than others. Many days I can tune it out. Generally by the end of the week, I’m worn a little thin.

“Arthur, you know what? I’m getting a bit of a headache, and I need you to be quiet now. Please don’t talk to me.”

“I’m just gonna-”

“No, Arthur. I mean it. Eat your snack and be quiet. My ears are tired of listening.”

A moment passes in silence, broken only by chomping and smacking. He opens his mouth, looks at my weary yet forbidding eyes, subsides. Chews some more. Takes a breath, opens his mouth. Sees my glare. Stops. This no-talking business is a big assignment. I relax my visual vigilance as he seems to be absorbed in the happily mouth-occupying task of snack-eating. I turn to the kitchen.

“Mary, I’m swallowing now.”

August 25, 2006 Posted by | Arthur, behavioural stuff, the dark side | 11 Comments