“OK, now you’re not wearing a diaper, so when you have to go peepee, you have to tell us and we’ll run to the bathroom.”
“Uh-huh,” he smiles while heavily breathing, because, frankly, he’s always breathing heavily.
Thirteen seconds later. “PEEPEE!!!”
“OK! Go to the bathroom! Let’s go!”
“No. Is all wet.” He points at the puddle and his darkened pant leg.
My primal lizard brain is screaming his scales off, “ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME?!?!”
This is the same lizard that gets upset when someone comes up behind me while I’m waiting for the elevator and presses the button. And the same lizard that desperately needs to press the button when I come behind someone waiting for the elevator.
Part of me thinks that my lizard brain and my son’s brain might actually be quite compatible. After all, my son’s brain is only lizard. The mammalian smoothness does not develop in earnest until he is a bit older. With this line of reasoning my son and I should understand each other at a deep level.
Nice theory, eh?
Have you ever watched Animal Planet? Have you ever seen lizards interact?
“Hey, Larry. Look. I know you’re not doing so well, but, man, that fly was totally on my side of the branch. Standard jungle rules stipulate that my side, my fly. So next time, I’d really appreciate it if you kept to your side. Besides, there are plenty of flies for all of us.”
That’s actually not how it goes. Larry actually will bite the other lizard’s leg thinking it’s a threat or food (I love how the reaction to both of these things is consumption) or it will engage with the other lizard in some sort of macho death match or mate fight. Or some weird eye licking.
So it’s ironic that the lizard part of my brain thinks it will play nice with my three-year-old when it’s the same part that is secretly hissing at him. I will say something to him and he will grunt back. I will say that thing louder and he will grunt back louder. Instinctively I will scurry over toward him and pose menacingly and he will wipe his nose with his sleeve leaving a contrail of snot from his wrist past his elbow and skitter away.
Why am I like this? I know why he is like this, he literally can’t not be like this. I, on the other hand, somehow learned to erode my advanced brain functions with the scales of the instinctual. Whittling down my ability to reason to a series of jerky movements and tongue flicks. What happened to the smoothness of my reactions?
Luckily I have my wife. The mother to our little reptile. And although she has her moments, she remains balanced and mammalian, even primate-like in her locutions. Her grunts are elegant and take the form of words. Words in Spanish but words nonetheless.
Photo credit: reddit?