“Can you teach me how to say lama? Like when we pretend the floor is made of burning hot lama?”
“Oh, you mean, Lava?”
“Yes. Could you teach me how to say Lama properly, Daddy?” he smiles at me sweetly.
This is a surprising request. It also makes me very, very happy. He’s asked me to teach him something. How lovely. How… civilised. Much more like I imagined parenthood would be. Of course, I knew there would be times of conflict. Times when I would have to put on my serious hat and have a serious chat about behaviour or attitude. The chat would end in hugs and I love you’s and then we would go back to our normal day to day activity, joyfully learning through play. I didn’t expect that my children would spend most of their time trying to either make me look ridiculous, or just drive me mad.
“No. Lava.” I say. “Lama?” he frowns. “Laaava.” I demonstrate. “Lama?” He says, eyebrows raised, sweetly seeking approval.
“It’s OK.” I smile. “You’ll get it. Watch my mouth. Watch the shapes it makes as I say it. Laaaaa-Vaaaa.” This is lovely. My son asked me to teach him something, and here I am teaching it. I wish I could record this. I could watch it when things get tough. I might cry.
“Lama?” he says. “No, Laaaaa-Vaa.” I correct calmly. “Laaaaam-aa?”. “Laaaaa-vaaaa”. “Laaaa-maaa?”.
“Listen to the sounds. Laaaaaaaaa-Vaaaaaaa.” I work my mouth exaggeratedly.
“Laaaaam….ka?” He says, his eyes twinkling, his grin widening. He lets out a tiny giggle. This really is odd. He’s usually pretty good with words. It’s almost as if he’s pretending to not be able to say it to draw me in and make me look ridic-
My blood runs cold. He sees my eyes widening with realisation and laughs hysterically. He runs off shouting “Lamka! Lamka!”, cackling like the Joker, leaving me caught in his meticulously constructed trap.
I sit for a time, remembering wistfully how lovely parenting was before I had children.