When your kids are little, you’re dying for them to learn how to talk. You point to things and try to get them to repeat it. “Say truck. Truuuuckk.” (That one’s a little dicey, because it almost never comes out as “truck” and almost always slaps your li’l playdate with an “R” rating. One of my friend’s kids loved to point out all the “fire f*cks.” It seemed like the city was filled with them. “Fire f*ck! Fire f*ck!”)
Top shelf swears aside, we love it when our kids learn to talk, and if it’s at all delayed, we get nervous. My son needed speech therapy for a year and we hung on every syllable like it was a magic incantation. I wasn’t around when either of my girls learned how to speak their first or second languages, but I was there for English, and we laughed and celebrated each new word. Yay for learning and talking.
But now that everybody has all the words, they’re really starting to piss me off on the regular. My kids talk back to me.
I’m not sure where this phrase comes from, “talk back.” It’s weird and sounds like it could refer to an echo or a simple reply, but there’s a level of implied anarchy to it. It isn’t something one aspires to. No one ever says, “Please talk back,” or, “She’s so gifted at talking back.”
What is this insolent junk and how do I make it stop? If you’re currently teaching your kids to talk, maybe just reconsider because when they get older you might not want to stand there while they wave their hand in your face, cut you off, and explain why they should be allowed to go to a twelve-year-old’s coed sleepover party at her dad’s beach house one state over. What fresh hell is this new stage of parenting?
Also, I have three essays in a new Coffee+Crumbs book, The Magic of Motherhood, coming out April 4. Preorder here!
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