Tuesday, September 27, 2005

NFTV: The Milk Story

I have a secret name for our family. I think we are a sitcom. I calls us “Nerd Family on TV.” We’re the kind of people that other people call “characters.” So it fits. Sometimes I swear I hear canned laughter coming from the closets. I need to document some of this soon. If I don’t let people know what we do, in a couple of years they’ll be calling it Alzheimer’s and trying to take us away. Quite frankly I’d go for that but we have a kid in college. We can’t afford it.

The pilot episode of Nerd Family on TV has to be what I call “The Milk Story.”

The precocious one was six months past turning three, well into reading and driving us crazy by spelling instead of talking. He’d been doing this since he was two, so our spelling skills had quite improved. We figured we didn’t need to practice much longer, but he saw things differently.

“S-T-O-P What’s that spell?” he would say, while I was driving.

“You already know.”

“What’s that spell?”

“You already know.”

“What’s that spell?”


“How do you spell already?”

I’d come home to find LIQUOR and PRESCRIPTIONS written in magnetic letters again and know that they’d been to the store.

Lately my child had learned to outsmart me. That day I drove straight from home through a forest preserve, purposefully taking a route without signs for him to see. He was blissfully quite for almost ten minutes. Then he threw a new one at me.

“E-E-F-F-O-C. What’s that spell, Mom?” If only you heard how sweetly he asked.

Slightly surprised, I said, “Honey, I’m afraid, it doesn’t spell anything.”

“It’s coffee backwards,” he said unemotionally.

Where did that come from? Remember he was only six months past three.

Later that night or some night about then, his father the one who was about . . . forty-three sat us down to a dinner he had invested a great deal of himself in preparing. It was a spectacular chicken Napaleon feast. It took hours of preparation, and there was much fanfare to it. His anticipation made me a little uneasy. After all, it is Nerd Family on TV.

One thing about three-year-olds is that today they’ll eat any thing. Tomorrow you can offer the very same thing, and they won’t go anywhere near it. Our son had a signal for when he was in the latter mood. He would fill up on milk and ignore his food. That’s exactly what he did to his dad’s highly-prepared meal. The young man of three, drank his milk. Looked at his plate. Looked at his father and with angelic politeness said,

“May I have more milk, please?”

“I think you need to eat first,” his father replied.

Our son politely shifted his position, turning his back to his father his face to me, ignoring his food and his father too. He said, “Mom how do you spell refrigerator? . . . chandelier? . . . calculator? . . . spoon?

I had no problem with the child not eating. Having grown up around kids and babysitting, I knew that there would be no starvation or malnutrition.

My husband is an only child. He was the chef. He is a man. This was not about finishing dinner. This was two boys in a power struggle. With each word that my son asked me to spell, his father’s face got redder, and redder, and redder, until my husband leaned forward and looked our child in the eye.

“Son,” he said slow and controlled, “How do you spell EAT?”

Keeping eye contact, our son’s sweet voice said, “M--I--L--K.”

I had to go into the hall, to laugh where they couldn’t see me.

Then I had an overwhelming thought.

If this is three, what is sixteen?

—me strauss Letting me be


Eric Mutta said...

LOL, the next 13 years of your life are going to be very interesting!

Btw, if you can get Nerd Family on TV to air, I know I'd watch - that scene between the child and his dad is bound to be a winner :)

SilverMoon said...

I'm here again via Garnet's blog following the cool trail of "great posts." My daughter turned 16 recently. If I gave you a glimpse that far into the future? I'm sure you'd take it in stride,because we all can read in-between the lines at how adept you are: "Characters unite!" ,as you employ one of my coping techniques: String her upside down in the closet akin to "Mork" and I don't mean only when she is sleeping.... ;)
P.S. Thx for the memories of when she was younger.

Jennifer said...

Umm...Interesting. I wish I could watch :) What channel did you say it was on??

Ahh I remember many moments growing up :) God I was good at driving my parents nuts (do you think kids are genetically programed with the quality? Or maybe it's inherited :))

ME Strauss said...

Hi Jennifer,
Right now the show is only carried by the Letting me be Network on the Channel of your mind. I'll do what I can to make sure that the broadcast are regular, without static and without reruns.

As far as programming goes, see my earlier document on Real-Life Geneits, GRIN, I think it has something to do with what our family calls the mother's curse, "I hope you get one just like you." That's the part that I think drives parents crazy is that we're just like them.

I started to remember as our son becan his spelling spree an occasion when I was tiny and asked my own mother why it is you spell c-cee and d-dee, but y-why. So you see OR U C.

ME Strauss said...

Thanks.It really was a winner and there were many like it. Our dear child was born with a politness gene--must have gotten that from a previous generation--in place of a fear of authority gene.

ME Strauss said...

Hi Silvermoon,
Welcome, have a seat.
I'm delighted that the post brought back some memories of your daughter's younger years. My son is older now and most such behaviors are long gone.

zilla said...

I once knew a pre-schooler to calculate how many miles per hour over or under the speed limit her mother was driving. The only way to make it stop was to go the speed limit. Precocious kids are so much fun.

Very cute post.

ME Strauss said...

Thanks 'Zilla,
That preschooler wouldn't by chance have been you? I have a feeling you were a precocious kid when you were very short too.

rhein said...

as far as i can tell, judging from "what is 13", 16 is very VERY scary.

ME Strauss said...

Hi Rhein,
Oh it was. It was.

But we managed to live through that too.


melly said...

You have a great kid Liz. You must be real proud.
16 will be just as fun, I'm sure. Actually, it will probably be very quiet and you won't even feel 'cause by then you will be manipulated seamlessly ;)
Great post.

ME Strauss said...

Thanks Melly,
Wish I had your support when 16 was here. It was no picnic.

But now life is seamless and he's a great kid just as you describe him.

Thanks for noticing.

garnet said...

A chuckle a day...

oh, how precocious they are these days!

Milk is quite nutritious after all, isn't it? Come on Dad, get with it!

ME Strauss said...

Hey Garnet,

It was definitely a young lion v. lion confrontation. No missing that.


zilla said...

No, Liz. It was a friend's little girl. She ended up skipping kindergarten.

When I was a preschooler, I hounded my mother for a "Christmas hole" because everyone else had one. She was cluelessly frustrated. We got into the car to go grocery shopping and I pointed out all of the Chrismas holes on the way to the store. "There's one! There's one!" The next day we made a wreath together.

I wasn't particularly precocious, just persistent.

ME Strauss said...


Christmas Hole, That's so creative. That's excellent and I say that as a first grade teacher. We could have had fun together.


Oleg said...

Thank you for the smile and laughter on my face after a long day's work.. I love that kid, and his politeness gene is truly a gift, especially without the authority-respecting gene!

Will tell you about the duracell-twins around, above, and all over me, some time.. it's all about love, isn't it..

ME Strauss said...

Hi Oleg,
Welcome to the community!
Did you read his response to the story at the top of the page? He's not talking.

He's a great kid--smart and sweet-- can't remember why I wanted to get rid of him so often back then.


fineartist said...

Liz, this post made me smile all over, and when I read it aloud for my man, laughing, I messed up the punch and had to go back in a second time. My man still laughed and carried a smile for a time after thinking about the story.

Sounds like you have had a lot of laughter and some large doses of frustration in your home, I would suspect that the laughter far outweighed the frustration, most times.

Good on ya.

ME Strauss said...

Hi Lori,
This is indeed one of my most favorite Nerd Family on TV stories. Believe me there are many.

I'm delighted that you both enjoyed it. Such times made life far from boring.


dog1net said...

Enjoyed this. There's a certain logic that three to five year olds possess that can really leave you scratching your head if you're not careful. My son was at his best during this time, and often made for a lot of I-got-to-go-outside hilarity. When my son was tested before going into kindergarten, I was told he may be in need of special services. "Oh," I replied. They told me he seemed to understand basic concepts. "Such as?" I asked.
"Well," they replied, "When we asked your son what he does when he gets hungry, he replied, 'He didn't.'" After I came back inside after I went out to have a good laugh, I looked at them and said, "
"I think you might be in need of special services."

dog1net said...

Whoops. Should read as: "They told me he didn't seem to understand basic concepts."

Once again, the mind proves itself to be a wonderful thing by correcting mistakes as you read without even being aware of it. That's why self-editing is so hard.

ME Strauss said...

Yeah, Scot,
About the only thing funnier than three-year-olds might be the folks who just don't get them.

I can see what you were laughing about.

When you get back to your blog, you'll also see I left a typo for you. :)


Char said...

I love the story Liz!! I can so relate! I have a 5 year old who fits this description to a T! Congratulations on the graduate. You should be very proud today.

ME Strauss said...

Hi Char!
Thank you. I bet you do have a child just like this. Everything I know about you would point to the fact that you would. :)

Good luck. I'm grinning as I say that.

Yoav said...

3.5 and spelling coffee backwards.

Thats scary.

Did he have a standard IQ test at some point. He must have scored 160+

Did you send him to a special school?

Is he better at verbal or math skills?

Is he looking for a job now that he has graduated?

ME Strauss said...

Hi Yoav,
I think we were a special school enough for him. This child was determined to seek out his own learning.
We had not a worry that he would do well, and in fact it proved so . . . 19th in his class of over 800 at Georgetown proved that -- He's says that B+ killed him -- as if that's not such a great job. :)

Luckly he smiles when he says that.

No special schools. I was determined that he spend his time with regular people and regular kids. After all the world is made mostly of people who to regular schools. If he is going to be happy and find his place, he needs to understand who they are and who he is among them.

I wanted him to be able to talk to any person on the planet. :)