Why Listening to Your Kids is a Real Treat

Sometimes your role as a Dad is just to listen. Listen to sounds, music, those amazingly annoying Wonder Pets, whose voices are the real reason God invented Advil. It's a role that at times can make you cringe and at other times make you upset, but most of the time it makes you thankful that you have a good sense of humor.

Ring, ring, ring.

My 3-year-old daughter simply loves the phone. She loves to dial numbers and to answer it when it rings. She loves to hold it hands-free, between her head and her shoulder just like her mom does. She'll keep that phone squeezed tightly to her ear as she walks around the first floor of our house like a bubbly teenager having deep discussions with her best friend about who is cuter, Justin Bieber or Justin Timberlake. (NOTE: The correct answer is neither. Your dad will give them both black eyes if they come within a 10-mile radius of you.)

What she loves to do most with the phone, of course, is to make phone calls. She'll call her Grandma and Grandpa. She'll call her Nonni and Poppi. She'll call the mysterious voice who says, "If you'd like to make a call, please hang up and try that number again." But the person she wants to call most often is her cousin Chris, who is three months her younger and, according to my daughter, "doesn't have enough dresses around his house to play fashion show."

Now what I love about phone conversations with Chris is that if he's talking to you on the phone about one of his new toys, he'll set down the phone—while you are mid-sentence—get the toy and bring it back to "show you." You applaud and tell him how much you love it, even though for all you know he's standing on the other end of the phone holding a butcher knife or, worse yet, Season 3 of the Wonder Pets.

On one particular evening, my daughter Ella told me she has something "very important" to tell her cousin and "it couldn't wait." Like any good dad, I immediately used that as leverage to make her finish her broccoli.  After that, I made the call.

Listening to a phone conversation between two 3 year olds may be the most entertaining thing any parent gets to witness. It starts out with simple pleasantries, but quickly takes a turn into uncharted territories. No conversation is ever simple and none is ever the same. When Ella called Chris this particular time (when she had something "very important" to tell him), I'm certain that to them, the conversation sounded something like this:

Ella: "Hi Chris. Lovely day we are having, isn't it?"
Chris: "Oh yes, Ella. Simply gorgeous out. Have you seen that the Dow Jones is up several bill-fold?"
Ella: "My Google stock is through the roof. But what I'm even more happy to see is that they've solved world hunger."
Chris: "About time. I had given Green Peace the answer six months ago."
Ella: "Indeed."

Of course, as a Dad who is afraid that "very important" means "I'm running off with Justin Beiber," I couldn't help but listen in and hear the actual conversation—which went more like this (and no, I'm not making this up):

Ella: "Hey Chris, remember that one time I was over your house and you pooped on the potty and then I pooped on the potty?"
Chris: "Yeah!"
Ella: "No wait, remember I pooped on the potty first then you pooped on the potty?"
Chris: "Yeah!"
Ella: "No wait, remember I pooped and peed on the potty, and then you pooped on the potty?"
Chris: "Yeah!"
Ella: "Remember, I pooped and peed on the potty and then you pooped on the potty, and then we all had popsicles?"
Chris: "Popsicles, yeah!"
Ella: "That was awesome."
Chris: "Hold on Ella, I'll get one and show it to you."

I guess solving world hunger will have to wait for another day. Though if you keep listening closely to your kids, maybe one day you'll hear the answer. In the meantime, I've learned it's just best to smile and enjoy what they have to offer now. And, if you're lucky, when they do solve the problems with the world, you'll be there to help them celebrate with popsicles.

The Life of Dad is updated every Tuesday. Thanks for stopping by and following my attempts to be a good dad, husband and co-ed softball player. I hope you visit again. -- Brian

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