Tuesday, 25 October 2011

I don't want to.

Today I called one of the small people in my life to wish him happy birthday.  It's a milestone birthday.  He's just turned three!  He lives interstate so I don't get to see him very often, but we've been talking on Skype lately.  Having the visual channel open for communication certainly makes it easier to understand and communicate with a three year old.

I was pretty excited to call today.  I'd made a cup of tea and was ready to catch up on all his news:  there'd been an outing to a Wiggles concert today and a fancy birthday cake was under construction and of course there would be gifts to report on.   I hoped the fact that we'd seen each other in person a couple of weeks ago would help the warm up phase of the call go more swiftly.  I was wrong.

His mother answered the call and then went off camera to summon her child to speak to his Aunty.  I could hear the conversation off camera.  She was reminding him that he needed to come and say thank you for his birthday present and allow his Aunty to wish him happy birthday.  There was quiet objection at first, then screams of "I don't want to" came through the internet.  Wow.  How to make a girl feel really loved.  Scream that you don't want to as though you're about to undergo root canal.  Scream that you don't want to as though you're needing to do ten years' worth of overdue tax returns.  Scream that you don't want to as though you've been asked to give up state secrets under torture.  I wasn't wanting to pour a glass of red wine and hold a discourse for an hour  on the merits of an overhaul of the tax system or offshore processing of asylum seekers.  I just wanted to say Happy Birthday.

Eventually he plonked in front of the camera and I got a few seconds of engagement.  I reminded him that it's my birthday next week.  He didn't seem very interested in that fact, but I pressed on.  I told him I'd be ready for him to Skype me and then I'd scream I don't want to when he called me to the camera.  He thought this was pretty funny.  Then he left.

That was pretty much it.  On one hand I admire the strength to know his own mind, but on the other, it took a lot longer to object than it would have to come and speak for a couple of minutes.  Although I do know how he feels.  There have been many situations where I've felt that the only appropriate response was to thrash on the ground and scream I don't want to.  Elegant simplicity.

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