His moment of triumph

By Mir
December 28, 2008

We are staying with Otto’s brother Nearly Nickless, and his lovely wife and their two boys. My nephews are 4 and 6. While my kids were here, it was like having a small herd of wildebeests roaming throughout the house, as Chickadee doted on her younger cousin and Monkey and my older nephew ran about playing Star Wars and Bakugan and various other testosterone-infused games.

Ever since my kids left to go back to their dads, the nephews have had to make do without them. Which is tragic. Well, mostly it is tragic for my younger nephew, who very much enjoyed having Chickadee here to basically wait on him hand and foot and cater to his every whim. Now that she’s gone, the harsh realities of life have settled back in, like that his brother is older and occasionally always gets to do something super-cool that he does not. It’s a very tragic life, when you are four, is my point.

Let me just give you a few f’rinstances about this kid.

First off, I must point out that he is blond and angelic-looking. Of course. You look at him and you just want to EAT HIM UP. Which makes sense, actually, as this child’s nickname is Hungry Mungry. He always wants to eat, and if it’s candy, well, SO MUCH THE BETTER. He got a bag of chocolate coins in his stocking on Christmas, and one morning I came downstairs and found a pile of foil wrappers outside the little tent he was playing in in the middle of the family room. “Hey,” I said. “What’re these?” He peered at me and then at the wrappers and shrugged.

“I didn’t know it wasn’t ten thiwty,” he told me, “because I can’t teww time!”

Apparently his mother had told him he could have one at 10:30. But, you know, he can’t tell time, so if you are four, that pretty much means “eat five of them at eight in the morning.”

TWO MINUTES LATER his head popped into view through the mesh window of the tent, and he was chewing with a mighty concentration.

“HM!” I called (let’s call him HM, for Hungry Mungry), “What are you eating??”

“I DIDN’T KNOW IT’S NOT TEN THIWTY!” he told me again, in exasperation, as his mother dragged him from the tent and confiscated the couple of pieces that were left.

I share this incident as a fairly representative slice of life. He’s a stinker. A really, really adorable stinker, but still. He’s four, and he’s hungry, and also when you are four, rules are pretty fluid.

Another thing HM received on Christmas was some jingly bells you can shake. That sounds like it should be pretty exciting when you’re four, right? Well, maybe it would be, but the problem is that they came in a stocking that his grandparents brought over for him. And in the stocking they brought for his brother was—instead of jingly bells—a recorder.

[Side note: You couldn’t meet a nicer person than my sister-in-law, honestly. She is a saint. And having spent some time over the years with her parents, I’m beginning to understand that she comes from saintly stock. This is just a family of truly awesome, kind, generous people. So can anyone tell me WHY IN THE WORLD my sister-in-law’s parents suddenly decided it would be a good idea to give her children a RECORDER and a HANDFUL OF BELLS? Do you think maybe she was an unruly teenager? Or they just have a sadistic streak? No one will tell me, but the only possible explanation for such a gift is REVENGE, I am certain.]

Anyway. So here’s HM with his jingle bells, which should be very exciting. But they are not, because his brother got a recorder. And HM wants a recorder. Let me be perfectly clear: HM WILL NOT REST UNTIL HE GETS A RECORDER.

Apparently his grandmother took pity on him and mentioned that his mom used to play the recorder, and she probably still has it at their house, and she’ll let HM have it.

Fast forward to yesterday. Yesterday HM spent the ENTIRE DAY asking when they could go to Grammy’s to get his recorder. My sister-in-law successfully deflected him all day until about dinnertime, at which point she told him that she’d called over there and Grammy wasn’t home, so they couldn’t go. This resulted in a lot of finger-wagging. Approximately every five minutes, HM would tug on my sis-in-law and say something like, “I need to teww you somefin. I TOWD you we needed to go to Grammy’s earwier! And now she’s not home and I wiww NEFFER get my recowder!”

It was kind of pitiful.

But also really funny.

Finally it was bedtime, and everyone said goodnight and the boys trooped upstairs. My sister-in-law came back down, and we started discussing what movie we wanted to watch that evening. And then there were footsteps, as there often are. HM frequently comes back downstairs a couple of times after tuck-in to try to find an excuse to stay up, and we were told that it often takes the form of, “I just need to teww you somefin! Wait, I can’t weemember. Wet me fink….”

So HM appeared in the family room. “Mommy!” he said. “I NEED TO TEWW YOU SOMEFIN!”

My sister-in-law put on her most patient face. “Yes, HM?”

He scanned the room, clearly planning his strategy. He raised one finger into the air for emphasis. “YOU NEED TO CWEAN UP DIS MESS!” he declared, pointing to all of the toys he and his brother had left scattered about.

I took one look at my sister-in-law’s face and Otto’s face and then turned my back on HM so that I could silently guffaw without being seen.

“BECAWWSE!” he continued. “When you awwe done wif youw toys, you need to PUT DEM AWAY!” I glance back, tears springing to the corners of my eyes, now, in time to see my sister-in-law cracking up, unable to respond.

Otto looked at both of us.

“ALRIGHT!” said Otto. “That’s is. C’mon, HM, back to bed. Let’s go.” He ushered HM back upstairs while my sister-in-law and I laughed so hard I thought was going to rupture something.

A minute later Otto returned, and surveyed the two of us, on opposite sides of the room, still laughing ourselves silly. “You two are TERRIBLE PARENTS!” exclaimed Otto in exasperation, copying HM’s finger-wag.

Which only made us laugh harder, of course. Because really, the notion that the day had arrived when Otto was the best parent in the room was a pretty fitting conclusion to that scenario, somehow.


  1. ChristieNY

    As the mother of a four year old boy myself, this story has now made my sides split with laughter as well. I think everyone who has ever been the parent to a four year old must win some sort of award, it’s a very funny, but trying age! Thank goodness Otto was there, eh? LOL

  2. Crista

    Hilarious!! I’m glad you’re feeling well enough to split your sides with laughter :)

  3. Half Assed Kitchen

    Didn’t he mean to say “Tewwible Pewants.” ?

  4. Keyona

    Isn’t it amazing how kids can make us laugh.

  5. Cele


  6. jen

    Ahhh…refweshing to know I’m not alone in this. LOL

  7. Daisy

    Ah, never is a long time when you’re four!

  8. Barbara

    You are good everyday. You were vewwy, vewwy good today! (-And the boy doesn’t get any credit for the telling of the story.)

  9. Lori N


    Apparently my husband did something to his sister when they were younger because not only did she give my 4 year old bells, but they came with 2 shakers AND a recorder. It had to be revenge!

    Of course, my sister could have put her up to it…when my niece was 2 I gave her a talking Barney stuffed animal. In my defense, I had no children yet & I was told the child liked Barney. However, I wasn’t told that my sister did NOT. Opps! *grin*

  10. Trish C

    I’ll take the bells and the recorder over the Leapfrog drum. Heck, I’d take a real drumset over this obnoxious battery-operated noisemaker. I am rapidly developing an severe distate for my in-laws while at the same time I’m wondering what my husband did as a child to deserve this.

  11. juliness

    I love Otto. Is that wrong?

  12. jennielynn

    Nice to know I’m not the only one with a sweet-looking little 4 year old demon.

  13. KathyM

    So funny. I hope you are feeling better too and that the sickies are gone from the entire household. Oh, and I have two sweet looking demons here too.

  14. jenn

    Mir, I laughed reading this until I literally cried a little, and may have damaged a vital organ or two. I am also the proud and often frustrated mother of one of those precious blond, blue-eyed little 4-year-old stinkers. HM sounds EXACTLY like my son Ryan. (This afternoon I was told “Mommyyyy! Be happy, don’t be angawy!” Which it was all I could do not to laugh my head off after he said that.)

    I honestly didn’t think there was another one in the world like him, but you’ve proven me wrong! Lord bless his mama’s heart.

  15. Zandor

    Ha. That was really funny.

  16. Andrea

    hahaha, that is hilarious! I’m glad that you’re feeling better, because it would have been a shame to miss that!!

  17. Flea

    Good grief! Having been there, done that with my youngest, warn mom that they graduate from “let me tell you something” to “trust me!” Uh uh.

  18. mama speak

    I could picture him in his jammies walking down the stairs… my 2YO has already started this stuff. We put a gate in her doorway to stop it, so stands at the doorway/gate & calls out to us this stuff. Nice to know I have a good long time to enjoy it. Or maybe she’s advanced for her age & by 4 she’ll be sneaking cigarettes and sneaking out her window at night. Since I swear there are horns under that adorable mop of curls it’s most likely the later….if only she would use her powers for good instead of evil.

  19. momzen

    Oh Mir, you make me laugh… Even though I have to live through it every day at my house too. (And somehow it’s not as funny here. Hmmm.) We’ve learned one little trick over the years with “MIL Toys.” Somehow they just seem to lose their batteries before they’re ever played with. “Guess this one just doesn’t work like the one on television.” (Well, it worked for the first couple of years, anyway). :)

  20. sheila

    HA! cute post. did he get his recorder finally?

  21. Stephanie

    OMG! That is HILARIOUS and makes me cry with laughter and bittersweet tears, too…I MISS MY BABY Girl!!!!!!!!! She’s a sweetie at 8 1/2, but 4 is SUCH a great age! They just grow up TOO fast!

  22. Crissy

    It would only have been better if Otto had said, “You two are TEWWIBLE PAWENTS!”.

  23. liz

    People in my family thought it was a good idea to give my four-year-old musical instruments. Lots of them. Remember, I’m the only child; he’s the only grandchild; he’s kinda spoiled. (Granted, _I_ wasn’t, of course. I was an angel.) But that kid got, I am not joking, from a variety of family members who clearly hate me now, a guitar, electric drums, a harmonica and a recorder. So, when do you want to babysit?

  24. nil zed

    My mom’s solution to loud toys from Grandma was to declare they were to stay at the special box in Grandma’s coat closet. To play with when we visited. As the oldest grown child, she passed this trick onto her younger siblings as they became parents. As one of the oldest grandchildren, I was able to witness it when she finally lost it once when many small grandchildren were visiting. Many toys were wheeling underfoot and many of them were clicking, beepind, whistling & grinding their little 1970’s motors & gears. “Who gives them such loud toys!?”, she complained to several of her grown children in earshot. “YOU!!”, they responded in unison from across the house.

    After that, she tended to give books.

  25. Heidi

    It is so much funnier when it’s other people’s kids.

  26. Asianmommy

    So freakin’ cute!

  27. Katie in MA

    Hee hee hee. I love those parenting moments when you get the giggles. Somehow it makes everything seem even better. :)

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