Being a parent has given me a renewed perspective about material possessions. Things I used to treasure are now secondary to the happiness of my three sons. But baby Matthew is challenging that perspective when it comes to the single most important item to me in the house: the master remote control.
Like most families, our entertainment system comprises of multiple remotes -- five to be exact -- but of course it's the one we need most that he has mistaken for his favorite toy. Leave it anywhere in his reach, and it's button-pushing time. He has no respect for the importance of what's on TV.
For instance, I'm watching a rare, nationally televised game of my beloved White Sox. It's late in the game, Sox are down by one with one man on base, my favorite player Paul Konerko steps up to the plate, swings and smashes the ball deep and ... Spongebob is making Krabby Patties. Matthew looks at me with a grin, holding the remote, and runs to the kitchen laughing. How does an 18-month-old even know how to do that?
He knows the importance of the remote to daddy. Whenever I'm watching TV, he seeks out the remote. He doesn't do this when his mom or brothers are watching TV, only me. And he isn't fooled when I try to give him a different remote, he wants to control the master remote.
If I place it out of his reach or give him a stern, "No, no," he transforms to his "adorable puppy dog" routine as he buries his face in my lap, whimpers and gently cries. This puts me in an awkward position -- it's not like he's trying to touch a hot stove or run across the street -- so I acquiesce and give him the remote so he can change channels, reprogram our settings or order a movie (all of which he's done).
The worst is when he hides the remote. Somehow this always happens right before I want to watch something. His favorite hiding places include his toy box, under the couch, in the one unlocked kitchen cabinet, the bathroom, in one of his toy houses, under our telephone stand, in the fireplace and in the VCR.
Interrogating him is useless because he can't talk -- every answer is his favorite word, "Duh!" -- which only makes me feel more stupid. Guiding him to show me where he put it only leads me on a wild goose chase, quite literally, as he misinterprets my frustration as playfulness and thinks I'm chasing him. And displaying any level of anger brings out "adorable puppy dog," which makes me feel like a heel.
Eventually the remote will show up. In the meantime, I think I'll just read a book.