THE WIFE has a tendency to say “I can’t” when someone gives her a good laugh. The joke has to be on the better side to trigger the catchphrase. Actually, when she says it, THE WIFE tends to repeat the words a few times while nodding her head side to side as the intonation of her voice ascends in pitch. The funnier the joke, the more she says it. Allow me to illustrate.
During any given telephone conversation with (former guest blogger) Kristen Frazier, for example, THE WIFE will pause whatever we’re watching when the call comes in. As I’m staring at a frozen screen of Don Draper scowling or Walter White grimacing, I’ll overhear the following:
KRISTEN: [Charlie Brown’s teacher’s voice on the other end.]
WIFE: “I can’t.” Ha ha ha. (indicating no with her hear) “I can’t.” Ha ha ha.
KRISTEN: [More of Charlie Brown’s teacher.]
WIFE: “No! No!” Ah ah ah. “I can’t! I can’t!” (her voice getting higher) Ah ah ah.
And so on.
Anyway, neither Greta nor Gus have ever mimicked the phrase. But Tilly, on the other hand, has taken it to a new dimension.
Tilly doesn’t say “I can’t” as a means to catch her breath and laugh at a funny. She just says it matter-of-factly in a cute little high pitched voice.
ME: TILLY, get back over here and give me back my sawzall right now.
TILLY: (her voice trailing as she jogs hurriedly away) I can’t.
Tilly’s addition to my clan of offspring definitely pushed our daily state of chaos from manageable into barely within our control/totally unpredictable. (I was basically jogging into the urologist’s office on the day of my vasectomy.) Part of the dynamic change was due simply to the numbers and going from man to zone coverage. However, part of the challenge was because Tilly’s personality is so much more fiery than her siblings. I’ve probably complained about this in multiple ways since she arrived 2+ years ago.
In all fairness to Tills, however, I have become completely smitten with her over the last few months. Citing to the “I can’t” example is just the tip of her iceberg. The bigger picture is that she is such a funny and adorable kid. I don’t know where to start so I’ll just fire off some of the endearing little tendencies she has, which make me want to kiss and hug her.
First of all, she is the only one of my kids with a Mass accent. It’s wicked hard core (read: hahd coah.) There is probably no coincidence that Tilly’s sitter, Sam, has one of the strongest Bay State accents I’ve ever encountered. So when Tilly pronounces words, you have to picture an “ah” for words that contain an “er” or “ar.” (Interestingly, Tilly does not substitute “er” for words that end in “a,” as discussed in detail during the infamous “Idears On An Accent” post a few years ago.
Irregahdless, Tilly says “Nana” or “Greta” as English intends, rather than “Nan-ner” or “Gret-er” as many folks from Revere (read: Re-veah) or Quincy (read: Kwin-zee) might say. We could go on forevah on Mass accents, but I digress.
Tilly is a bit of a paradox. On one hand, she can be fearless. I find her standing on kitchen countertops or tables fairly often. She terrorizes Greta and Gus with her brute strength and bear hugs. She is happy to make a run for it outside if THE WIFE or I leave the front door unlocked. She couchdives when left unsupervised.
On the other hand, Tilly is still my baby child. Another go-to phrase of hers is “I scared” (read: ska-yid). During any Disney movie, Tilly will jump off the couch and bury herself into my lap and arms when the scary part occurs. Big dogs and loud noises also trigger the “I scared” declaration.
I have a freckle on one of my lips that Tilly pointed to and asked “What’s that?” I told her it’s a freckle. Every few days when it catches her eye, Tilly points to my face and says “Daddy’s freckle, I scared.”
My little lady is also very affectionate. She often puts her hands on my cheeks and kisses me (while dodging the freckle of course) without any notice. When I get home from work, the biggest reception is almost always from Tilly. She comes barreling in for a giant hug and a squeeze. Then she holds my hand and drags me around the house to discuss anything noteworthy from the day. “Look Daddy, Frozen!” Or, “Gussy pinched me!” Or, “I fed the ducks with Sam today!”
When she wants to be held, Tilly doesn’t say “Hold me.” She says “I hold you.” It kills me. I love it.
And so on.
Everyone knows the youngest child always gets shafted in many ways. They have the fewest baby pictures. They wear all the hand-me-downs from older siblings. They have to share their toys when the oldest had free reign at the same age.
By extension, my blogs have probably shafted Tilly as well. I write many fewer posts first of all. When I finally get around to doing one, they rarely focus solely on my baby child. She was due for some air time. (Tills, when you read this as a teenager who can’t stand me, just know I am sorry for the delay.)
As I conclude my effort to count all the reasons why I love you Matilda, Tilly, the Tills, Matildees – well, I simply find that “I can’t.” There isn’t enough space to write.
I love you, honey. You will always be my little baby. Now don’t be scared of the freckle and give me a kiss!