A Daring Feat of Strenuousness

Tonight, D, my four-year-old was playing with a toy when she should be asleep. “Stop playing with the toy or I take it,” I said from the hallway, where my ass had recently joined D’s two older sisters in Dream Town.

“Close the door,” D responded. I’ve fallen for this before. I close the door and she keeps playing. Fool me once.

“No,” I said.

I will now attempt a daring feat of strenuousness. I will now try to record with accurate punctuation the first twenty ways she said “close the door,” (all of which I ignored).

  1. Close the door.
  2. Close the door.
  3. Cloooose the dooor!
  4. Close, the door.
  5. Close the door!
  6. Close the dooooooooooor!
  8. Close the door.
  9. Close……the… … … door.
  10. Close the door.
  11. Close. The. Door.
  12. Close! The! Doooooooor!
  13. Close the door.
  14. Clooooooooooooooose theeeeeee DOOOOR!
  15. Close the door.
  16. Close the clore.
  17. Close the… … …
  18. Dose the door.
  19. Close the door.

She said another twenty or so, but— especially #34-39— the level of skill required to accurately punctuate the sentences is beyond my meager writing abilities. I only have a BA in journalism, thirty years of reading, and about fifteen years worth of writing.

Rather than the butcher the complicated, experts-only “black hole” punctuation, I’ll simply say that right around a snappy semi-colon in #41 I offered a deal to close the door half-way. The deal was not accepted. I closed it halfway, anyway. A line was crossed: little feet hit the floor. I took the toy away and put it up high in the hall closets with the beach towels. Screams ensued. Everyone woke up, including my ass. Mommy had to come to the rescue.

The real takeaway here is obviously the nuanced language that toddlers are capable of. But a word of caution: only grammarians and scholars should try to correctly punctuate sentences of an over-tired four-year-old that doesn’t want to go to bed.

Oh, and bring a pillow for your tush if you have to sit on a hard wood floor.

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