There’s a moment in blockbuster films, especially ones about dinosaurs or alien monsters, where one of the characters, usually the clever one who’s going to get eaten soon, turns to the others and says, “Oh my God, they’re learning.” This happens just before the dinosaur or monster taps in the entry password to get into where the humans are hiding and all the doors open and the clever bloke cops it.
Suffice to say, things would be a lot easier if things didn’t get cleverer. You could relax a bit, with less fear of being eaten.
My son asks for water. “Ok son.” I say.
I go and fill his drinking bottle with water. He loves his drinking bottle. He refuses to drink out of anything else. His love of his drinking bottle is one of the few reassuring constants amidst the chaos of our lives.
“No!” He shouts, incensed. “Not the bottle! I want that.” He points into the kitchen. I can’t make out what he’s pointing at.
“Here’s your drinking bottle.” I show him. “You love your drinking bottle.”
“Nooooooo!” He wails. “Want that.” Points again.
As is so often the case, I have no idea what he’s talking about, or what to do next. “No.” I say. This is a great problem solver. Simple, reliable “No”.
“Not fair!” He wails, hurling his bottle to the floor. His mother and I look at each other. He’s never said that before. This is a truly terrifying development. Of course it’s not fair! How can it be? I have no idea what I’m doing.
Confused, I panic. My brain says fight or flight. I choose flight.
“Why, Daddy, why?” My son asks for the first time ever, chasing me. This is deeply disturbing. Two frightening developmental advances in the same minute. “Please, Daddy!” He calls after me. “Please!”. Three.
I go and hide in the toilet, shaken. For a moment I’m in comforting silence.
Then the door handle starts to slowly turn. “Daddy?”