Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Ally, the Narrator of Everything

Ally's self-portrait or What Happens When I leave the Camera in the Car

Hey. This is Ryan. My life comes with a soundtrack. And that soundtrack is narration by our oldest daughter, Ally.

Now before all you holier-than-thou parents start commenting about how I need to love my kids' quirks before they grow into teenagers and ignore you, let me tell you this: I teach high school. I know what my kids will turn into. I can't wait to be ignored. Plus, you don't have every single happening of the day dictated back to you like a pint-size stenographer. The kid does not stop talking. In fact, the teachers at school have a special, made-up condition specifically formulated for this kid's problem: talky. I'm pretty sure that's not a word. But, there is nothing better to describe Ally. She is "talky."

Ally's been talking since she was about 11 months old. That is not an exaggeration. She has been formulating sentences since then. It used to be a cute parlor trick. Like a monkey doing what the ringmaster wills it to. But now, the monkey has turned into a gorilla with a mouth, lung capacity and vocabulary the size of New Hampshire.

An average day begins like this:

7 a.m.: Door opens. Ally sticks her head in. "I'm up. Just thought you'd like to know." We didn't. Lish and I roll over and try to go back to sleep. (It is summer, after all, and my professional right to sleep in!)

7:04 a.m.: Door opens again. "I peed. It's yellow."

7:04:45 a.m.: Door opens. "I think I'll read in bed. Today I'll be reading my fairy books. You think that's good, Dad? I need to get them back to the library because they're due soon. Don't forget about Patrick's birthday party today, Dad. We still need to get him a present. Do you think he likes Pokémon? Maybe that's a good idea. Or a coloring book! We got that for him last year, but he seemed to really like that. Oh! I know! A Pokémon coloring book. Yeah, that's just about perfect. Right, Dad? OK, I'm going to read now. I won't wake Emma up. I think she peed her bed. It stinks pretty bad but I'll be OK. I'm going up in my bunk now. Dad? Dad? Did you hear me? I'm leaving."

"Yes, Ally! Go back to bed!"

7:06 a.m.: (Calls from her room) "I'm on Chapter 4 now! Whew! I'm just reading away! Can you believe how much I'm reading? It's sure a lot. Don't you think, Mommy? Mommy? Mommy? I'm talking to you. Hey, Mom?"

This goes on. All. Day. Long. Lisha doesn't get the full force of her talkiness either, by the way, due to the fact that Ally is in school for most of the day normally. She gets a break. The summer, however, is a whole other story. One that Ally is happy to tell you for four hours.

Not only does she narrate the day's goings-on, but she talks for Emma, too. This really irritates Lisha because she knows firsthand about being the "shunned" second-born. Emma has gotten used to not saying what she feels because for the six years of existence, she's never really been allowed to divulge her inner-most thoughts. That's Ally's job. Here's a sample conversation:

"Emma, how was Church today? What did you guys talk about in class?"

"She learned about reverence," Ally says before Emma can process the question.

"How would you know? You weren't there."

"Because I know her. That's what she learned." (She actually learned about "God Made the Animals," but changed her answer to "Reverence" so as not to rock the boat. It's a tactic that all three younger siblings have learned - even Clark, who can't talk yet. When we ask him in our baby talk, "How is da baby? How is da Baby Clawk?" Ally will say, "He's good." Clark just nods in agreement because he knows.)

We've tried to teach her about filtering what she says. In fact, at dinner yesterday Lisha taught her about "thinking about what you're going to say and then asking yourself, 'Will Daddy get upset if I say that?'"

That little piece of advice came from Saturday's explosion in Target. Granted it was the Fourth of July and she was excited. This exacerbates the problem and sends the talkiness to Warp 5. Not only does she jabber constantly, her voice rises and the speed increases as well. Like a squirrel that just sucked helium.

She had been talking all day nonstop about fireworks, getting Fourth of July earrings at the $1 Spot at Target, sparklers, butterflies, Ice Age 3, Alvin and the Chipmunks ("The Squeak"uel), the Jonas Brothers, what the Jonas Brothers might be singing tonight at Stadium Fire, I wish we were going to the Stadium of Fire, Brittany (her cousin) is so lucky, dancing at the Stadium of Fire, what time we need to get ready to go to the waterfront to see the fireworks, the neon glow-in-the-dark necklaces we got at the dollar store for the fireworks ... and on and on and on and on.

I couldn't take it anymore. In the seclusion of the young men's clothing aisle, I grabbed her cheeks and growled, "If you don't stop talking, I will rip your mouth off." That is not physically possible. Don't judge me. I would never do anything like that, but it had been going on for weeks. She even talks in her sleep! Well, she shrank back and Lisha pulled me aside and said, "Really? Rip her mouth off? Couldn't there be a better way to have handled that?"

"Yeah, there might have possibly been a better way I could have told her I was going to rip her mouth off, but I can't take it any more!" I whined.

Meanwhile, Ally was crying and holding her hands to her mouth. I felt horrible. I hugged her and told her I was sorry and that I wasn't going to rip her mouth off. "I just need a break from the talking," I said.

Lish told me to go to the Electronics Department to cool off. (She knows me way too well because while looking at Charlie's Angels Season 2 DVDs, I got a grip on myself.)

The thing is, just telling her what was bugging me seemed to do the trick. She wasn't as talky the rest of the day. I know one day I'm going to beg her to talk with me. I really do. I just need to know how to deal with it today. One thing that has really suppressed my anger is blogging. I tend to see how funny something is now rather than get emotional in the moment. Maybe that's why I needed to blog. I needed to cleanse my emotional outbreaks before they could happen.

Ally and I are getting better. She is a wonderful helper to me and always willing to do what I need around the house. She is very obedient. The problem is that we are way too similar. Once I realize that, I can learn to deal with her like I always wanted my parents to deal with me - I just wanted someone to see and hear me and acknowledge I was there. (I also sympathize with my dad now, too. Sheesh. What a saint!)

I hope this post won't cause someone to report me for mouth-ripping-off. A relationship with your kids takes patience and time and this time, I lost my patience. I'm learning from that and learning to accept my daughter for the wonderful little person she is. Now, let's hope she will accept me for all my faults, now and in the future.


Anonymous said...

Loved it! :0)


Anonymous said...

LOL!!! So fun 2 read!~Roxy

sunnie said...

That is so Ryan Hansen. I could totally see you saying that to Ally in public and Lisha responding that way. Oh I miss you guys!

Sandi said...

Ally has a great career ahead of her as either a tour guide at Disneyland or the person at the end of radio commercials that tries to fit all the exceptions and legal disclaimers in the last 5 seconds.

I love the "Will Daddy get upset if I say that?" Nathan's favorite was "I can't wait to be ignored." Thanks for the laugh, Ryan!

Graham said...

Way too funny! I think I may have been Ally when I was a kid ... something tells me I answered for my siblings way too much. I seem to recall teachers writing that I was a "social butterfly." Sheesh. Keep up the fun posts!

Shanakin Skywalker said...

You are so brave for admitting you told her that. I don't know too many moms that crack on occasion and will admit what they've done in a weak moment. It happens to us ALL and we need not to judge each other.

Sandi said...

BTW, I finally posted my camping trip.

Shalah said...

Hey Ryan "the mouth ripper"! You crack me up. I miss your whole family!!! Glad you found a source of cathartic cleansing.
-your friend Shalah, former judgmental child protection social worker, turned mom, turned I-never-knew-real-life-parenting-all-these-kids-would-be-this-way.

Susan said...

Parenting does have its ups and downs. I think that it is good to know that we are not alone in our weak moments, it is hard to be perfect after-all.

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