Recent Vocalizations by Scarlett

Scar­lett has moved on from scream­ing. Thank God.

She used to scream when­ev­er she saw Mac get some­thing (food) and she didn’t. Now that she is walking—she has giv­en up crawl­ing completely—she will walk towards us, eye­brows arched, arms stretched for­ward and will start to utter urgent “Hey, hey, hey“‘s. They don’t exact­ly sound like Mid­west­ern accent­ed “Heys” but—again like her brother—has a Brook­lyn gilt to the vow­els so she sounds like a wise-guy call­ing out to the ladies pass­ing by a con­struc­tion site.

Quick Update On Mac: As I write this, he stands trans­fixed, watch­ing Annie.

How Mac says “No”

If we chart the ways Mac has learned how to say, “No” and what rhetor­i­cal moves he makes when he still doesn’t get his way, we may able to get some insight into his motives, and per­haps be able to prog­nos­ti­cate what he may have in store for us. Also, since Scar­lett is watch­ing Mac close­ly and learn­ing, we might be able to pred­i­cate what lays ahead.

  1. The Sim­ple “No”: He learned quick­ly that this wasn’t get­ting him very far with Jenn, and sim­ply left me stunned when I first heard it, so it still didn’t let him get his way.

  2. The Declar­a­tive “No”: This actu­al­ly was first used by Jen­nifer. Jenn would say, “No.” and she would repeat her­self by say­ing, “I said No.” Need­less to say, this quick­ly was picked up by Macon­nell and soon his sim­ple No’s would be fol­lowed by an emphat­ic “I said No.” in which his rhetor­i­cal move is to emphat­i­cal­ly point out—to declare—that he “exists” and should be treat­ed as a sep­a­rate enti­ty with all rights and priv­i­leges. Lucky for us, this move is quick­ly coun­ter­mand­ed by sim­ply pick­ing him up and plac­ing him in his bed, his chair, or what have you.

  3. The Hid­den “No” aka “Why?”: This took me a while to pick up on. Macon­nell has appar­ent­ly done some research in neu­ro-lin­guis­tics and under­stands that when a ques­tion is posed, we feel com­pelled to answer; even if we have no inten­tion of answer­ing the ques­tion, we still pause to con­sid­er the ques­tion which leaves us open to all sorts of fur­ther manip­u­la­tion.
    So when Mac asks, “Why?” in response to a request or a com­mand, what is real­ly going on is he is say­ing “NO.” When he asks, “Why?”, we are put into an infi­nite loop that makes any fur­ther progress impos­si­ble. We are stopped in our tracks—mouths open—coming up with a reply, while we for­get what we want­ed Mac to do. It’s a neat Rhetor­i­cal Device in which ‘The Ques­tion­er is Ques­tioned’ and all basic premis­es are up for grabs and Mac goes on to stay up anoth­er ten min­utes past his bed­time.

  4. The Care­free “No”: Slow­ly we learned not to fall into his “Why?” trap, so Mac changed gears and start­ed ask­ing, “Why Not?” when he was told to do some­thing. This tricked me for a while, because it brought out my anti-author­i­tar­i­an streak: “Why not, indeed?!?” but then I real­ized it’s hard to be a par­ent and anti-estab­lish­ment at the same time, and Mac still got to stay up past his bed­time.

  5. Bribery: “No” by oth­er means: When all else fails, Mac has real­ized that he can always bribe us. He can delay his bed­time by a good 510 min­utes if he offers, hugs, kiss­es, and reminds us he needs to take his vit­a­mins and brush his teeth

  6. The Long Good­bye: “No” by Mul­ti­ple Voic­es: This occurs once Mac real­izes the jig is up and he is phys­i­cal­ly being car­ried to bed. He will start say­ing, “I love Mom­my”, “See you in the morn­ing,” and a pho­net­ic “Bonne Nuit,“1 which is french for “Good Night.” This french flour­ish seduced Jenn right away, and showed Mac’s will­ing­ness to use any­thing, even oth­er lan­guages to twist us just so. But usu­al­ly by this time, he has giv­en up, worn out by his fight to stay up a few more min­utes, and pret­ty much knocks out imme­di­ate­ly when he is deposit­ed in bed.

If Hobbes in Leviathan tells us that life is Bel­lum omni­um con­tra omnes, then we can see that Mac learns, adapts, mod­i­fies, keeps what works and throws away what doesn’t with an ease of facil­i­ty. I used to won­der how humans sur­vived giv­en how seem­ing­ly weak we are when young, but this exer­cise has dis­pelled that. Mac is doing just fine.

  1. Jenn tells me that actu­al­ly he says, “Bye Night,” a com­bi­na­tion of Good Night and Bye. []