June 8, 2009

When Words Literally Work Against You

I was the voice of reason in my household until my children started taking my words literally.

"Get in the shower please," I ordered Camber one morning last week. I peeked in the bathroom just in time to see my fully-clothed six-year-old daughter step in and then immediately out of a completely dry shower stall.

"I did what you told me to do!" she hissed when I cried foul.

While my daughter writhed on the bathroom floor in her pajamas, crying over the insurmountable obstacle with which she was faced ("What do you mean 'take a shower?' I don't know what you're talking about! Take it where? Where am I supposed to take it? How am I supposed to move the shower? You tell me! How?"), I went downstairs to feed the rest of the kids.

"Can you get a box of cereal down for me?" asked Kellen, one of my five-year-old sons, pointing at the top shelf of my pantry.
"Just a second," I replied. I was in the middle of feeding the baby.
"One!" he shouted. "A second is up! Now can you get the cereal?!"

My son was disappointed to learn that I had lost all motivation to help him out.
"Never?" he asked. "You're never ever going to help me with anything again?!"

He was still wailing about his abandonment when I sent him upstairs to help his sister relocate the bathroom.

"Everyone in the car!" I ordered a few minutes later. If we didn't hurry, my kids would be late to school. Again.

A few seconds later, I opened the car door to find my family's two cats sitting in the front passenger seat.

"You said everyone," smirked my other son, Cortlen.

"I'm getting really sick of this!" I barked to the backseat. There was slight pause before someone cautioned me--against better judgment--to not throw up in the car.

****
Any similar tales of wo?

****
Be sure to register for my current giveaway (see below): a $100 gift certificate to Alphabet Garden Designs! Contest ends TONIGHT at midnight!

35 comments

Carrie said...

Sounds like my house. Stuff like that is kinda funny the first time but not so much as they do it over and over again. Recently, my 9 year old was talking back talk to me. I told him not to talk back and he replied, "OK...I'll talk to the front of you". It makes me want to scream when they do that!

girlnblack77 said...

Luckily(?) my two are only a year and a half apart, so they went through that let's-take-everything-literally phase together. We're coming up on the tail end of it now, and my youngest is eight. I'm hoping there's only one of these phases per child, but I feel the teenage years looming...
I can't really complain. When I was five, I hated string beans with a passion. My mom made a deal that if I ate three, I could leave the table... so I opened up the pod and ate three of the tiny inner beans and skipped away.

Kiki (G.G.) said...

You got some real whippersnappers there Meanest Mom. My son hasn't figured all that out yet and I fear the time when he does. Love the shower bit and the cats in the car. Classic. Take care.
-Kiki

Christy said...

We had been watching a Winnie the Pooh video one morning. That night as my two year old was bouncing off the walls, bounding from couch to couch, my husband said in all seriousness, "You need to calm down!" And our little smartie said, "No, calm up!" My husband said, "Fine, let's go lay up!" To which the little one said, "No, let's go lay down!"

Smart? yes. Funny? It is now!

AverageMom said...

My child does not take me literally, but he DOES have the problem of not knowing what to do unless I am very, very specific. See last post for details...
I'm tired to trying to force children to be clean, dressed, and fed. Let them be cold, naked and hungry, I say!!

Gina said...

Welcome to my world. Some of my students LITERALLY don't get anything remotely abstract so I deal with that all day long. Fun times.

Kelly said...

This just means you have very smart kids you know (and I don't mean smart -@^*!

Christa said...

not with my children, but my uncle does this all the time. If you call their house and say "is Karen there?" He says "Yes." and then it's dead silence as you think he's going to give her the phone...more dead silence. Then you say "Uh, Frank can I talk to her?" "Oh! You wanted to talk to her, you should have said so!"
And my dad would always do it to at dinner..."Can I see the pepper>" Him holding it up in the air. "What you asked to see it!"

Sarah said...

This made me laugh so hard!

The Cranes said...

Oh Lord, please let my kids skip that lovely phase...

togetherforgood said...

Are you posting from prison? I would be if my kids had tried that. Seriously. LOL.

Lisa Page Rosenberg said...

Love the image of those cats sitting in the front seat!
The benefit of that particular situation would be that your children are actually listening to you. My 3-year-old seems to have me on "mute" much of the time. I am often pleading with this guy to "Please act like you hear me!"
Thanks for showing me the probable future and the perils of getting what I wish for...

Likes Chocolate said...

Oh yeah, my children do the countdown thing when you say give me a second. Mostly though they just have the selective hearing going on unless you mention dessert or money.

Erin said...

My boys are still too young to start that, I really hope that pass on that phase, but I can remember my brother and I doing it to my mom when we were about 8 and 10....my mom asks me all the time if I have ever heard the word "PAYBACK"

Laura said...

This is going to "out" my age, but I remember a whole Brady Bunch episode about this very subject, except that the literal child was Greg, and he was at least 12, if not older! When did kids get so smart (as in "intelligent" AND "wise-guy") so young????

bbs said...

My 3 year old has a terrible time getting dressed in the morning. I tell him, "you can do it the easy way, (meaning he helps mom get him dressed) or the the HARD way (mom gets him dressed very quickly and then he sits in time out). The other day he asked me to play cars, I said in a minute. he replied "now momma, we can either do this the easy way or the hard way. now get over here!" what choice did I have, that time out chair is way too small for me.

Tanna said...

Reminds me of elementary school: "Can I use the bathroom?" and the teachers that replied, "I don't know, can you?" For goodness sake, just let the 9 year old little me pee!

And I wonder if this is how my husband feels when I ask him questions about Danish. I'm learning, and some things just don't make any sense. From now on, I'll try to take him at his word "just because".

Meagan and John said...

OH my, yes, except with my son it is borderline indescent when he takes what I say litterally...so we are walking in the store and he announces he has to pee so I ask if he can hold it while I finish shopping, he says nothing and I continue on my way to remember a few minutes later and look to make sure he hasn't peed his pants and sure enough there is his little hand cupping his "Mr. Winky"--when I tell him not to touch it he gets all hurt and says "but you told me to hold it"--you should have seen his poor little hand holding his bottom when I made the mistake of telling him to hold his poop one day--yeah the joys of my lovely 4 yr old

Foursons said...

Oh geez, you're in for a memorable time the next six months! By then they'll probably move onto some other method of torture I'm sure.

Musings of the Mrs. said...

I so remember this stage. My little sister (who is 6) is in it right now and its super annoying. I hope it passes soon!

Emily Heizer said...

GASP! Jana! Your first typo ever!!! "Wo" instead of "Woe"!!!! I'm shocked! LOL

Really, all of that literal-ness on the part of your offspring is really just a testament to their exceedingly high intelligence. Which is really just a reflection on your own brilliance. So the next time they get coy, raise your nose into the air and say, "YESSIREE, Those are MY genes!"

The Mother said...

The only solution to literalism is to turn it back on the kid.

Unfortunately, this takes constant vigil and serious concentration.

Not something we can manage on a constant basis. Our brains just don't work that way.

noelle said...

I am quite sure I did this very thing to my mother for a number of years. She was not too fond of me, nor I of her, but we're friends now. She also gets to remind me how horrible I was when I complain about my daughter, so you have that to look forward to. You make me laugh!

Bonna said...

Yes, my words have worked against me. I have realized that I must use my words carefully with my son since he was three. He is VERY literal (most of the time) and a smarty pants the rest of the time. But he's mine and I love him anyway.

Diane J. said...

Oh goodness yes. Words tend to work against me. I actually blogged about a semi-similar moment in March. My truck got broken into and my mother's bags were stolen. We were talking about horrible it is that people steal. Twins were listening quite intently. The next week I had to take the 14-yr. old to the doctor and he sent us over to another building to get a blood draw. At the other building I mentioned that "Whoops, I swiped the doctor's pen." Oh my! I said that softly, the twins both yelled "Momma! That's stealing!" Thanks kids, now the whole waiting room thinks I stole something quite valuable. I did end up returning the pen (yes, it was just one of those pharmaceutical type pens that are left at doctor's offices for free). Oh dear.

Janae said...

I really think you should write a book. It would be a best seller, and I would for sure buy it.

Mommy23miracles said...

I have 3 year old twins and this has just started to happen here - only not exactly intentionally. The other day as I was trying to put away 4 loads of laundry and had my 3 kiddos gated in their room with me, I was sick of the fighting between all three of them. Finally, i looked at my oldest twin who was causing the problems and said "If you dont quit...i'm gonna (looking around to see what I could tell him i was going to do - no intention of doing anything really, i was busy) toss you out the window (it was open and a breeze blowing curtains caught my eye). Instantly he threw himself to the floor bawling his eyes out "mommy! No throw me out window! No!!!!!! No mommy!" and this went on for 10 minutes wiht me trying to explain to him that i wasnt really going to throw him out the window. Great blog BTW!

Sinclair said...

We call this "legalism" at our house, and you have to nip it in the bud QUICK before it flowers and grows. "Where is the bud, how do you nip it?" I hear my son saying. My answer: The bud is your computer game/ipod/tv and I nip it to the OFF position.

Whatever hurts most, that is the punishment. Consistently until they get the picture that this behavior is not allowed. Live up to your name and BE the meanest mom around, and they will soon tire of the game.

Rocket Ma'am said...

My kids always stumble and stutter all over themselves when trying to tell me something. If drives me crazy because after a dozen false starts they whine that I'm not listening/reacting to what they are saying when all that's coming out is "Mom, I was, I was, I went, Mom I was, I had, I had, Mom, Mom, MOM?, MOM?!?!?"
Once in my impatience I told my daughter to "spit it out" and she promptly dropped a loogey between her feet. Gah.

Francie said...

my kids get me everytime i say...put your shoes and socks on! they say...we cant put our shoes on before our socks

Malea said...

When I substituted for a first grade class, I told them to pick up their chairs and put them under the desk. I turned around to file some papers when I turned to face the group again, I saw several in chaos with their chairs held high, with the others trying as hard as they could to stuff their chairs under the desk any which way they could.

hansenfive said...

mine have yet to do this to me. But, we did just find out that we are having two BOYS. This left my 3 year old heart broken that she will have 3 brothers and no sisters. I told her not to worry, "the three brothers will take care of you". in reply she says to me with hands on her hips "mom, i don't need them to take care of me, i can take care of myself".

Erica said...

Socks. And handkerchiefs.

Mother in the Hood said...

This does happen with my kids. But it happens more often with my husband who has boldly diagnosed himself with Aspergers syndrome, a mild form of autism. He takes everything litterally.
"Honey, do you want to turn off the TV and help me with dinner?"
"No, not really."
"I wasn't actually asking about your desire to help, I was requesting that you do help."
"Oh. Okay, I'll be right there."

Mary said...

We just banned the whiny retort: "But you said!" This is closely related to "Mom, you lied" - another personal favorite. Either they're making stuff up or I'm forgetting... or someone's not listening.. and if it's me, I forgot.