Chronic. Recently my oldest son posted on the bathroom door of our apartment a poster received with one of his Astrapi. On the said document, we find, among other things, a joke with post-Lacanian resonances, which I found very funny: “We don’t say: ‘I have a parrot’, but ‘Papa agrees’. For anyone who has ever had to take care of children, this phrase sounds like a perfect summary of the sudden psittacist vortex into which your existence is sucked from the moment you come into contact with these lovely toddlers. Becoming a parent is indeed transforming over the months into an indefatigable repeater.

First, to teach the eager babbler to match the realities of the world with adequate terms. You therefore repeat the words tirelessly, starting with those composed by redoubling of phonemes, in the hope that your offspring, by an effect of mimicry, will begin to repeat them in turn, and to integrate them. Your redundant daily life is populated by “Soft toys who drank the lolo and took their nin-nin to go to sleep”. You then have roughly the same expressive originality as a broken record; which is wildly regressive and, at this point, still fun.

Like a faulty remote

But over time, this climate of blissful repetition fundamentally changes. You are no longer repeating phonemes, but whole sentences. Most often – it must be admitted – imperative and raising the tone. “Put on your shoes”, ” clean up your room “, “Finish your plate”, “Pick up your toys”, “Stop your whim”. The amazing thing about it all is that the more you repeat these phrases the less audible they seem. So you hammer them all the more, like a faulty remote control on the armrest of the sofa.

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Ironically, “Don’t make me repeat! “ is, at this stage, the repetitive phrase most drunk by parents. The latter then say to themselves that they face recalcitrant hedonists whose only ambition is to flout their authority. The proof: just ask “Who wants a marshmallow? “ so that the deafness of the audience suddenly disappears as if by magic. However, even if children hear only what they want, it would be wrong to view their lack of receptivity as a simple manifestation of ill will. As often, with these mini-mentors, their recalcitancies are double-sided, as much as they are rich in lessons.

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