It is breakfast.
Prole2 is staring out the window with his spoon halfway to his mouth.
He has been doing this for some time.

We have been discussing what to do that day but he has become distracted by the wildlife in the back garden.
Usually I don’t mind this sort of thing but Prole2’s current phase is to answer questions automatically with a kind of glazed expression on his face.
It is actually quite nice when he does it because he is usually terribly polite and certainly agrees with everything I suggest.
It’s like having a tiny Stepford son.
Then he sort of snaps out of it and has no idea what is going on or what he has agreed to in his trance like state.
Sometimes this can end badly.
So far Prole2 has agreed to everything including tidying his room.

Prole1 has got everything he wants out of the conversation and has begun folding paper, following the instructions in the Origami book that arrived recently.

He glances up.

Prole1: I don’t think he can hear you.

Me: I think you may be right. Excuse me, I don’t think you have been listening to me.

Prole2 What?

Me: I said I don’t think you have been listening to me.

Prole2: Is that what you just said?

Me: Yes.

Prole2: What?

Me: Are you watching that bird over there?

Prole2: Yes. No. Yes but no I am talking to you.

Me: Ok look this way.

Prole2: What?

I pick him up and turn his chair away from the immobile pigeon on the fence.

Me: Ok, look we talked about this the other day, it really upsets me when I think you are not listening.

Prole2: What? I mean, pardon?

Me: I am upset because you are not listening to me.

Prole2: Oh…sorry Dad.

Just something about the tone of his voice catches my ear, a tiny little thing.

Me: Hang on. What did I just say?

Prole2: What?

Me: What did I just say? I said something, you said sorry. Why did you say sorry?

Prole1 clearly hears a tiny little thing in my voice because he tucks his half finished origami Giraffe under one arm, scoops up the instructions and scuttles away into the living room.

Prole2 looks about him in mild panic.

Prole2: You said I should say sorry and I did.

Me: I did not tell you to say sorry. Why did you say sorry?

Prole2: Because I was lying?

Me: No. That’s not it.

Prole2: Because I was using all bad words and stuff?

Me (wondering what bad words he had used): Umm, no that was not it either.

Pause.

Prole2: I don’t know Dad.

Me: Ok, I was saying I get upset when I think you are not listening and I don’t think you were listening and it upset me.

Prole2: Oh….sorry Dad.

Me: Hang on, what did I just say? Why are you sorry?

Prole2: Because I was lying?

Me: No.

Prole2: Because I was using bad words and swearing?

Me (still tempted to pursue this one but must stay on track): No.

Prole2: I…I don’t know Dad.

Me: I am upset because I don’t thing you are listening to me.

Prole2: Sorry Dad.

Me: Why am I upset?

Prole2: What?

Me: Why am I upset?

Prole2: Because I was lying?

Me: No, again, that is not it.

Prole2: Because I was using bad swearwords?

Me: Ok look, let me write this down so we can move on.

I take some paper and write in big letters “Lying” across the top and “Bad Words” across the bottom.

Me: Ok these words say ‘Lying’ and ‘Bad Words’. Can you see them?

Prole2: Yes.

Me: Ok I am not upset about either of these things. Now. Why an I upset?

Prole2 (staring at the paper): What?

Me: Why am I upset?

Prole2: Because i was…..I was….

Silence. Prole2 looks like he will set fire to the paper if he stares any harder.

Prole2: I am…I am….

Me: Not listening?

Prole2: Not listening, I am not listening. Sorry Dad, I am not listening. What did you say?

Me: Just that I was upset.

Prole2: Let me give you a cuddle.

He curls up in my lap with his skinny little arms around my neck. He reaches up and gives me a kiss on the cheek.

Prole2: You ok?

Me: Yes, I am fine.

Prole2: Good. Now, what are you upset about?

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