“Clare!” It’s More than a Name, It’s a Battle Cry

I’m back after an extended winter break at home with all four kids. I’m sure many of you also experienced the arctic cold weather that swept across the US. Honestly, in my 34+ years, I cannot remember it ever being as cold as it was this past Monday: -30 wind chills. I still cringe just thinking about it.

The weather also caused two consecutive days of school closings after the kids had already been off for two weeks. On top of that, since it was so cold, the kids and I were trapped inside the house for the most part. I’m sure it was just a coincidence that I spent the majority of those two extra days planning a kid-free vacation for myself this summer.

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It hasn’t taken long for my daughter to learn the value of being assertive. Frankly, in a family of six, you have to be assertive if you want to have any chance of things to go your way. So, in addition to increased arm reach and boundless curiosity, Clare (20 mos.) has also discovered how to be both vocally and physically assertive.

For instance, if Clare sees that mom, dad, or an older sibling is looking in the fridge, she wants to know what all the excitement is about. So, she thunders across the room like a stampeding herd, arms raised forward, while yelling her now infamous battle cry, “CLARE!!!”

This house-shaking event also occurs anytime that the dishwasher is open, the lazy susan is open, the bathroom door is ajar, or when someone has left a cup or plate anywhere within reach. Each of these events comes with its own degree of annoyance. For example, in order to unload the dishwasher, Clare either has to be asleep in her crib or I have to bribe one of the other kids to create a diversion. Yet, I can never turn my back even after the dishes are put away or she’ll be right there to pull them all out of the cabinets and drawers and onto the floor. I actually caught her taking out the silverware and tossing each piece across the kitchen.

She has also become an expert in saying “NO!” Though she typically pronounces it as a high-pitched “new!” and it has become her response to almost everything.

Q: “Baby, do you want a graham cracker?” A: “NO!” Then she proceeds to down it in two bites.

Q: “Baby, are you tired?” A: “NO!” Then she naps for three hours.

You get the idea. But, sometimes “no” does actually mean “no.” There are slight nuances in her inflection. I’ve pretty much mastered recognizing the difference. A longer, deeper “nooo” does, in fact, mean “no;” whereas, a curt, high-pitched “new” means “yes.”

Her other favorite word is “cheese.” All food is cheese. Turkey is cheese. Crackers are cheese. Milk is cheese. Toast is cheese. Unlike her use of “no,” there really isn’t any differentiating one type of food from another when she says “cheese.”

It does make the traditional “what’s for dinner?” easy to answer. It’s cheese!

Honestly, as I was writing this, she walked into my office holding a mostly eaten apple. She then proceeded to take a bite out of it. At the time, I had no idea where she had gotten the apple. Upon further investigation, I found that she had taken the apple off her brother’s plate (someone forgot to push his plate to the middle of the table). At least it wasn’t from the garbage.

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So, two and a half weeks gone and back to the normal routine (if there is such a thing). I’m sure Clare and Grayson are ready to do all sorts of new things to drive me crazy, and hopefully to make you smile.

Until next time – Chris (active dad at home)

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