When Iris was just two, I had severe laryngitis, amid a myriad of other symptoms (it later became evident that I was newly pregnant with child #2). Among other medical interventions, my doctor put me on "voice rest", forbidding me to talk for several days, because I had so abused my poor swollen vocal chords that I was at risk of damaging them for life. Silently caring for a toddler turned out to be a traumatic experience which hopefully did not scar the child for life, only the mother.
Here's an instant messager transcript illustrating one afternoon:
drunkenhousewife: Please call Iris and explain to her that (a) Mommy can't
talk and (b) WE'LL GET SOME CAKE AFTER YOU GET HOME.
drunkenhousewife: She is driving me insane asking for cake, cake, cake, "mommy
I wan cake"
pooroldspouse: I'm calling you now.
pooroldspouse: That's me, ringing the phone.
[telephone conversation betw. husband and toddler]
pooroldspouse: I think that was pretty clear.
drunkenhousewife: but she is still shouting
drunkenhousewife: MOMMY I WANT CAKE, MOMMY I WANT CAKE
pooroldspouse: Iris understood me, I think. I said we would go get cake when I get
home, and I emphasized that mommy's throat was sick so you can't talk.
pooroldspouse: I guess I just focused her more tightly on the cake prospect.
drunkenhousewife: now she is crying, "cake cake"
pooroldspouse: Should I call again?
drunkenhousewife: "mommy (sob sob) i wan' cake"
drunkenhousewife: I gotta go put the pac to her.
drunkenhousewife: I can't find pac
drunkenhousewife: Oh god
drunkenhousewife: she's screaming "mommy i want cake"
pooroldspouse: I don't know where there's a pac.
pooroldspouse: I can't think of anyplace. She didn't take one to bed last night.
drunkenhousewife: found pac
drunkenhousewife: going back to try to facilitate nap
drunkenhousewife: please come home early; i feel much, much sicker now
drunkenhousewife: and Iris is very fussy about cake.
Of course, the reader is left to wonder, "Why didn't she just get off her fat ass and make a cake?" In defense of my own domesticity, I should say that the reason Iris is so obsessed with cake is because I make a knock-out cake. Also, the trigger for her cake obsession at that time was the four-layer cake on the cover of the then-current "Food and Wine", which she took to carrying around the house, clutched tightly in her little toddler arms. However, when I'm oozing snot and multi-symptomatic, I'm not about to bake, because it's a little too much like, "Hi, my name is Typhoid Mary and I'll be your waiter tonight."
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