Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Interior Monologue

"Andy has a brother ... named SID!"

"It's a man, and a ladder, and a SLIDE! Rawwwr!"

"I took a picnic, and it's right there, I know what's there, it's a piggy bank, and it's my toy. He took one of my toys, 'cause ... what? That wasn't very nice! Leave them there!"

This is the soundtrack of my evenings: Pie's voice burbling through the monitor as I sit here marking papers blogging. It rises and falls in a steady cadence, with occasional shrieks of protest at imaginary thefts or excitement at imaginary triumphs. Tonight's monologue suggests that Toy Story is, as always, on her mind. Like Bub, who awoke from a nightmare last week shrieking, "My toy! She took it! She took my toy!" Pie's world is one of defended possessions, piggy banks and Play-Doh canisters that must be guarded with constant vigilance.

It's easy to take this window into my daughter's mind for granted. At one time, both my children spent the first hour or two of each night emitting this stream of chitchat, fake snores, and occasional cries for help. And then one night, Bub fell silent. At first I assumed that the cessation of the afternoon nap had enabled him to fall asleep as soon as his head hit the pillow. But after catching him grinning mischievously on the stairs a few times I realized that he, too, lies awake at night, but his chitchat has moved inward; he has developed an interior monologue. It is all the more striking, this development, in my son who has only just learned to communicate his thoughts in words, as if the ability to speak were, for him, contingent upon the ability to remain silent.

30 comments:

Omaha Mama said...

Contingent on him being able to stay silent. That made my heart skip a beat. You are a beautiful mother.

KAL said...

Wow, this made me stop and think - a lot of insight here Bea. How remarkable.

Mad said...

Wow. It will stop someday. How unsettling.

Hairline Fracture said...

I never thought about that. I'm so used to hearing my kids say everything they're thinking.

beth said...

I love the monitor soundtracks. My little one sings and 'reads' her picture books for over an hour most nights.

Sad to think of it ending. The ability to stay silent may be slower to develop in girls though...

nomotherearth said...

"'cause ... what?" is so exactly toddler-speak. Your ability to capture and describe your subject is absolutely eloquent.

Amy said...

I didn't get past the second one about the man and the ladder and the slide - rawwwr! cause I thought "wow, she's posting about some rocking sex all of the sudden?!?"

Yes, my mind is in the gutter, apparently.

Susanne said...

I don't know, my son knows how to move the monologue inside but he doesn't like to. I'm happy when he's silent for a change.

But then - I find myself talking to myself all the time while doing the dishes only to hurriedly shut up because somebody else enters the room.

Beck said...

My Girl has never, ever been a chatty kid, while The Boy has been granting me constant stream-of-thought monologues since he could speak. The differences between the two of them are breath-taking...
Beautifully written.

Sus said...

wow, I love this post. I, too, love listening to the running commentary from my 2-year-old. I hadn't considered it ever stopping. Maybe just for a day, all of us could revert and speak aloud our interior monologues. Now that's truthiness.

Jenifer said...

That was lovely. Neither of girls engage in bedtime chatter so when I hear the occasional word utter in sleep I usually fly up the stairs thinking something is wrong.

a. beaverhausen said...

It does stop. And the quiet is just as deafening.

wheelsonthebus said...

Oh, I know. It was so sad when Zach stopped. And Ben stopped even earlier because he was sharing a room with his brother, who told him to shut up.

Mimi said...

Oh. I'm with Mad: it never occurred to me that this chat would stop. In my kitchen, cleaning up after supper, I turn off the radio and cock my ear up the staircase: she's talking about spiderman, she's telling her bears to 'settle down', she's taking her dolly's 'tempa-cha' and medicating her 'feefur'. You mean she won't always broadcast what she's thinking?

Oh no!

Janet said...

Beautifully written. I can hear my eldest, right now, in the next room doodling and chatting to himself. The toddler is tooting around with some dolls declaring, "Hi little babies! Time for bed now." I know the silence will come, eventually, and I will so miss this soundtrack of my life.

Mama with Marriage Tips for Men said...

Wow...such smart kids you have there...

Angela said...

I love the little chatter, but not the loud screechy kind.
I did love how you described the thought process

Kathryn said...

It is exciting to see that growth. But also sad.

bren j. said...

What an interesting observation! Hm. Sometimes I can hardly wait until the Little Goat is talking so I can figure out what's on her mind.

JCK said...

I love hearing the Bub & Pie stories. I know that someday my BOY will convert to the bedtime interior monologue, but for now ...I love hearing the various tales of his day.

Lovely moments to remember..

Christine said...

my kids are chatter boxes, but they never really did this solo commentary in the evenings.

and that last line--perfect.



Running on empty

Mad said...

wave

Karianna said...

Funny - my kids are quiet, but it is Husband who sometimes yells out, "Oh! A Tiger!"

bgirl said...

oh wow...i love this one.
touches my heart for certain.

susiej said...

Insightful -- and you've perfectly captured this universal language of sibs at this age.

Heather said...

My, that's beautiful and intense. I think I'll feel really torn when Peanut's monologue becomes silent. Well, I'm still not convinced that Peanut will actually ever be silent for more then 5 minutes straight while awake.

Mad said...

OK, this is bordering on cruel now.

I assume it's end of term marking, moving and building a house and nothing more dire?

Bea said...

Mad - Nothing dire. Just a kind of involuntary hibernation. :)

slouching mom said...

damn, girl. this was so beautifully articulated. you are a keen observer of your children.

Julie Q. said...

I never thought of it this way. When DO kids start developing the ability to think inside their own heads? When does the dialogue become a monologue? Great post.