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Rowan’s latest favourite pastime is playing the “Word Game,” which involves him typing messages to us on Rachel’s laptop, and then killing himself laughing as we read them. Mostly, he executes long strings of marriage proposals to his immediate family — including the cats — and several senior kindergarten classmates:

 Isaac would you like to marry me

Love rowan

Minou would you like to marry me

Love rowan

Rob would you like to marry me

Love rowan

Gryphon would   you like to marry me

Love rowan

Susan would you like to marry me

Love rowan

Rachel would you like to marry me

Love rowan

Then, every so often, things get a bit broodier. I would be slightly worried about the following if my would-be stalker wasn’t giggling so hard as he typed the following:

 I love you very moch so moch that i kant take it

Ene more

Susan i kant take it ene more love rowan

 And then, he gets downright adorable. Or, depending on my current level of cynicism, a bit Eddie Haskell-ish:

Susan and rachel  are the best moms in the hol world love rowan

And Isaac is mi kqtest letol brathre* in the hol world love rowan           

             *and Isaac is my cutest little brother

It’s interesting, though, what he chooses to put into print. I mean, perhaps this will come as a surprise to you, but if you transcribed a typical day, our household script would consist of a lot more than sticky-sweet compliments and declarations of undying — if potentially polygamous — love. In fact, I’m fairly certain that the phrases uttered most often chez nous are, “Sit on your bum, please” and “Close the fridge door,” followed closely by “Do you have to pee?” and “What’s the magic word?”

Oh, and, “We don’t have time.”

Which is not to say that we don’t try to skew the ratio of domestic statements heavily toward the positive, that we don’t remember to tell the kids how much we love them and how proud we are of them multiple times a day. We’re big on the philosophy of noticing — and remarking on — the good as much as — and preferably more than — the not-so-good, on the qualified yes rather than the outright no. But some days, or even some hours, it feels like there’s been a lot more “Hands to yourselves” or “Take your head out from under my shirt” than, “Of course I can read you a story” or “Come for a cuddle.”

But maybe that’s just me? Maybe I’m being too hard on myself — ignoring my own advice and noticing the negative more than the positive? Maybe — and this is what I hope is true — Rowan’s Word Games truly reflect his experience. Maybe he hears more love than sanction, more patience than exhaustion.

Or maybe, at the tender age of five, he’s already learning how to edit for the screen, for the page; how to mitigate the day-to-day realities of our lives to present a bright shiny face for the world, virtual and otherwise.

Wonder where he gets that from.