The Kid is Alright

Submitted into Contest #119 in response to: Start your story with a character saying “Listen, …”... view prompt


Coming of Age Funny

"Listen. Listen..." You're always telling me to listen.

I. Hear. You.

Yesterday, when I was experimenting with the bang of my milk glass against the walls and cabinets; I heard you. I understand you have strong feelings when your precious glasses break all over, but I quite like the way one thing can become many smaller things. And the way glass makes that high pitch sound and just shatters in that way it does… It brings me joy.

And, I should mention that when I broke the glass yesterday, I was, in-fact, attempting the learn more about sound before my instrument found resonance with the living room brick. Sound is a curious little mystery with many possibilities and all the big people seem to hear it too… and you’re always telling me, “listen, listen,” and in order to listen I must use my ears for sounds. Right? 

You taught me that. Remember?

Head, shoulders, knees and toes,

Knees and toes, knees and toes…

Head, shoulders, knees and toes,

Eyes, ears, mouth and nose…

How am I to learn if I don’t test these things?

But, yes, all arguments aside, I understand you don’t like to perform the prompt ritual of collecting and disappearing all these newly made glass toys. I get it. I can’t stand when you make me put my toys back where I found them. I mean, I put them where they are for a reason. I want them there.

You often confuse me with all these rules.

For instance, the other day, when the dogs were shouting and you shouted back loudly and magically made them stop… well, later on, when you came home from that place you go every day, the dogs started shouting again, so I tried to mimic your techniques to see if I possessed this power. I found that not only did I lack this magic, but you were strongly opposed to me performing these silencing spells.

Speaking of dogs, how about last week when you were cooking and they were standing up around the counters and you lifted your leg to nudge them aside? That happens quite frequently, and now, it’s made me very curious. So, I attempted to swing my feet and knees at the dogs, but that somehow landed me in my room with the door shut for a long cry.

I, literally, did the same thing you did…

What gives?

You want to know the time that really hurt my feelings?

Remember the other day when we were outside in the garden and I hid from you? Remember I was behind the trampoline? Yeah, I wasn’t making jump-jumps, I was pooping – as you came to discover soon after. I know you’re not fond of changing those smelly pants for me much anymore these days, and I understand well how you’ve taught me to go potty, but sometimes, there’s just no greater feeling than running away to a quiet corner and stacking yourself a few logs to sit on.

There’s a warm comfort to it. I don't know, I can't explain it...

Anyway, that day when I made poops behind the trampoline, I identified that, yeah, Mama’s probably going to be pretty upset when she smells that, so, like the kind lass you’ve taught me to be, I attempted to get rid of the specimen myself. I managed to slip off my Crocs and took my pants down with little struggle, but when I got to my underwear, I ran into trouble. I pulled them down easy enough, but when I did, my poo began tumbling down my legs and into the pants that I hadn’t yet taken from my ankles. I didn't think that part through. It was quite a mess and I tried to pick up a few of the larger pieces and set them aside but the poops left my fingers with a thick residue and both hands quickly became unusable. When I came to you for help, you took one look at me, and made that angry face.

I hate seeing your angry face. It makes me feel some awful kind of way.

How about the time I repeated that s-word that you always seem to say when there’s trouble or you’ve made a mistake? Sometimes, you catch yourself, and try to play it off like you've just said, “ship,” but I’m getting pretty good with context. There’s never any mention of pirates or boats, or even water, and I may not know a lot, but something there seems fishy. I sense you’re joking with me, but this is one of those serious jokes where you never discover the funny. I thought I’d been quite clever when I applied this curious s-word to an outburst I had after accidently dropping the tangerine that I like to carry around much of the day.

You were not pleased.

It’s like, sometimes, I don’t get it… why do you teach me these things if I’m not allowed to try them? Do you want me to be like you or not?

How about when I stand and hop on the couch? Or when I rearrange the ottoman so I can make some sweet long-distance jump-jumps to the couches? Sometimes it’s funny, sometimes it’s dangerous. Sometimes you ignore me, sometimes you make me stop. I can’t seem to figure out what you’re thinking on that one. All I know is that jumping is, like, the best thing – I mean, like, the ultimate thing – about this life, so, if we could clear that up, that’d be great.

There are also the times when I'm bored and I just want to be close to you and nestled in your strong arms, but you seem preoccupied, so I cry to let you know my feelings because, throughout my life, whenever I’ve cried you’ve lifted me into your arms. Now, other tasks seem more important and I stand there crying to nobody but myself.

It’s infuriating. 

I wish I could say words like you.

I tell ya, learning is a strange concept. I know I must learn all I can, but it seems like every time I learn something new, there’s a few more rules to follow. A few more boundaries set around me. I despise these rules. They make me think worries when I’m exploring and I just want to be excited when I’m exploring. I don’t want to have to think if I should do something or not, or wonder if Mama is going to like this? I just want to do what I want and find out what happens.

Some days, I’m really lost.

But me and you… we’re going to be alright. I’ve recently discovered an amazing new concept. It's called pretending. So maybe next time I’m doing something that has brought me undesirable consequences in the past, I'll act like I don't hear you, or look at you dumb like I don’t understand what you’re saying.

Ahh…. Yeah…

We’re going to be just fine.  

November 08, 2021 15:32

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Lois Eaton
21:18 Nov 17, 2021

It reminds me of when my children were little. Well done!!!


Ry Danto
21:37 Nov 17, 2021

Thank you so much, Lois!


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Jon Casper
10:30 Nov 16, 2021

Amazing job getting inside the mind of a child here. It's hard to write the thoughts of a pre-verbal person but you did it very well. Nice work!


Ry Danto
12:42 Nov 16, 2021

Thanks so much, Jon!


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Beth Jackson
00:15 Nov 11, 2021

I really enjoyed this story, Ry! It was very well written, and a powerful reminder that little children are people too! Thanks for sharing! :)


Ry Danto
11:16 Nov 11, 2021

Thank you so much, Beth! I appreciate the feedback.


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