Trivia: I know pretty much every word to the Bill Cosby “Himself” performance. I listened to it over and over at my grandparent’s house on their record player when I was a kid, and years later when I was working in a video store, it was the one constantly-entertaining-but-still-PG video I could pop in the deck and let roll on the monitors stationed around the shop.

The entire thing is genius but lately I’ve been thinking about the Brain Damage routine, which, well, if you haven’t seen it, please enjoy:

My god, this is a perfect depiction of our house.

Didn’t I just TELL YOU not to do that?

Uh huh.

What did I just say?

[mumble] You said what for not for to jump onna COUCH.

I’ve said this a hundred times, haven’t I? I said no jumping on the couch, that means I do NOT want to look in there and see you guys jumping on the couch. Do you understand me?

Uh huh.

(2 seconds later)


*high-pitched chorus* I don’t KNOW!

Everyone knows children’s brains are formed of large chunks of Silly Putty and clouds of easily-distracted bees, but man, sometimes I can’t believe the effort it takes just get someone to carry out ONE directive. I feel like a deranged border collie, nipping and nagging at the heels of my kids in order to herd them towards the thing I’ve asked them to do: “Brush (yap!) your (bark bark!) teeth! Walk to the bathroom (yip!) NOW, and pick UP your toothbrush (nip nip) and—PUT DOWN THE TOY, and (yap!) GO BRUSH YOUR—WHY ARE YOU SITTING THERE AAARRGGGH (bark bark bark *overwhelmed piddle*)”

Anyway, I actually sort of have a serious question for those of you with preschool-aged kids. Is it pretty typical for the 4-5 age range to be, you know, not so great with the focusing skills? Like, I have a friend whose daughter is the same age as Riley and she’s reading entire books and coloring big awesome pictures and, well, in my house everyone’s much more about running pell-mell from one thing to another, and the reading skills are coming along but there is SO MUCH impatience and distraction and NO ONE WANTS TO SIT STILL and every drawing looks like a frenzied tornado because HEY LET’S RIDE BIKES.

I’m kind of exaggerating, but really, I am curious as to what age a person should start expecting and demanding better listening/attention skills from a child, because I really don’t know. I know some kids are naturally more inclined to quiet activities that involve concentration and some just want to fling themselves facefirst off the couch all day long (cough cough cough DYLAN), but when does the Cosby-described brain damage start to recede a bit?


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14 years ago

Sorry I’m commenting so late – I’ve been behind on reading. I have two boys same ages as yours – oldest was 4 in September and youngest was 2 in December. It’s exactly the same in my house. I always thought I’d sit down and do art projects with my children because that’s what I did and enjoyed, but no way. That vignette about getting them to brush their teeth sounds like a script from my house. Last summer I went to the pool many times with other moms (of GIRLS) and while they were able to sit down and chat, I was chasing my boys around the entire time. And BTW, my oldest hasn’t started reading at all – he isn’t interested and his teachers tell me to leave it alone until he’s ready.

14 years ago

I know this is a late comment, and I hope like hell you still receive it because you MUST read this book: The Way of Boys, by Anthony Rao. I have a 21 month old boy and this book has helped alleviate some serious anxiety about what I should expect in my son’s behavior and development.


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