I know how to turn a one syllable word into a monotonous drone better than a lot of people I know. It is a skill that I honed during my years as a child. The word "mom," though it has just three letters, can be stretched out by simply adding modulation to that middle vowel: "mooooooooooooooooom." It is important to note that this will not create one long vowel, but a sing-songy fluctuation of that single short vowel. If you've got good lungs, it could go on for a minute or two. Did I mention that I played tuba when I was young?
The reason to develop that particular skill was to get my mother's attention. As a middle brother, it was my way of showing up on my mother's sonar. Or at least that was my intent. Now that I am an elementary school teacher, I understand that I was in no way unique. This particular way of communicating with adults may have been pioneered by me, but future generations seem to have taken those simple parameters and made them their own.
Future generations? That would bring us to my son, right? Well, it would be ridiculous to suggest that none of those noises have ever come from my son, but they are generally made in jest or as some sort of satire on the usual commerce in our house. I say this because I found myself fully tensed for the siren's wail when my son asked his mother if she would take him to the DMV to take his learner's permit test. There was a hesitation, and then the bad news came: "I don't think we can do it until next week."
I was sure that there would be some sort of squeak or wail, but I had forgotten who my son is. All those years of my own whining and living in the midst of kindergarten through fifth graders who expect that moaning will get them what they want set me up for that expectation.
"That's okay," said my son. "It's not like it's hurting me."
Really? I thought that all such slights would immediately bring on some sort of apoplexy, especially in the case of a teenager and his driver's permit.
"I don't have a permit right now, and I'm doing okay. I can wait a week," continued the zen master.
You learn a lot from your kids, if you pay attention.