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Sad Child

Filed Under on February 2nd, 2013

Mimicry

By Seth Kabala

Our actions become our kids’ reactions. Not exactly new. Not exactly Newtonian (pause while joke sinks in). But it’s a truism all the same.

If I have to go outside at 11p in the middle of February because the wind blew a storm window off the house, onto the car, and the untempered glass shattered into a million (yes, I counted) jagged pieces, and the sonofabitch wind is now bullying me, forcing me to be outside in this horrible, good for nothing but ball-shrinkage weather (and who’s that good for, besides cross-dressers), and I scream obscenities too loudly, I can bet those same obscenities will be repeated out-of-context the next day, if not immediately.

Should the sounds of my lamenting carry into my kids’ rooms, I bet they will be practicing their new vocabulary all night long, just waiting for a chance to embarrass me with an out-of-context f-bomb. Because, well, that’s what kids do. They are the reaction to our stupidity.

The aforementioned story is partially true, in that I didn’t gauge my volume while cursing the damn window, so I don’t know if said suggested rehearsing was happening. But this next scene is a sure thing.

Anna, my five-year-old, spilled juice on the floor. I told her to clean it up. She acted like I’d shot her with a freeze-ray, standing in place without moving or speaking. I do have a pretty serious hobby of jumping into animated villain movies and stealing weapons, but not so in this case.

Eventually, I got her to kneel down with paper towels, and though I had to mime the circular and blotting motions necessary to clean up the mess, she eventually got the job done. Almost.

I asked her to move out of the way so I could check on the mess status, and the freeze-ray struck again. Fucking Steve Carell and his creations. Since she wouldn’t move out the way so I could check if the floor was clean, I again engaged in mimicry (if you want a lesson, come on by the house. Always a show going on), showing my five-year-old how to, in slow motion, rise to a standing position, no hyperbolic action, I swear.

At last, the case of lazy-ass-itis kicked, I was able to verify the cleanliness and safety of the floor and reopen the area to foot traffic, which my one-year-old, Ella, used to engage in her own mimicry.

Ella bent at the knees, raised herself back up slowly, then guffawed, making Chris Farley proud. You’ve got Chucky, and then you’ve got happy/angry baby laughter, getting a joke in on dear old Dad’s poor acting skills. And she didn’t stop there.

Salt in hand, wound open, Ella embraced her inner ham and continued mimicking and laughing, realizing quickly that she had an audience. Even a baby can tell the difference between stifled behind-the-hand laughing and smothering oneself.

I can see it now: 15 years from now, Ella and I will be at the DMV getting her driver’s license. Something will tick me off. I’ll act like a dick. And all of a sudden a trigger will trip in Ella’s brain, saying, “Use your skills. Embarrass Dad.”

“Hey, Dad,” Ella will say. “Look at this.” And she’ll start the kneel, slow rise, end with a guffaw motion. I have one defense against this sure-to-commence horrible event of my own making.

I hereby announce I’m starting a lobbying organization whose sole purpose is to raise the driving age for women to at least 35. What’s that you’re saying? That’s sexist? Don’t tread on me? I’ll forgive your misapplication of feminine bullshit and a wartime colloquialism, assuming you haven’t yet been caught making an ass of yourself.

If I can’t get a universal application, I’ll settle for my daughters, specifically Ella. Those who have made an ass (comically or not) of themselves, and those who will (read: all fathers), I hope you’ll take up this fight with me.

Actions and reactions. You cannot escape, my friends. Don’t believe in soothsayers? Try acting in your home, at your own risk.

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Seth Kabala

About: Seth Kabala
Seth is an entrepreneur, writer, musician, family man, and juggler of balls--big ones. He lives with his wife and three children in Portland, OR.

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