When the wee ones were little, and I mean infants since I suppose at 8 and 10, one day I’ll look back and think that they were little at this stage, getting them to burp was hard. I could see in their little faces that they would need to, and Little Miss in particular would squirm in discomfort, but getting the actual burp to come up took quite the talent.
They weren’t the ones you could simply sling over your shoulder and tap once or twice to encourage a nice belch and a happy milky face. No, I had the children who required technique. Mister Man was an over the shoulder kind of kid, but you had to pat him in just the right place to get him to release his trapped gas. Little Miss couldn’t go over your shoulder. She was one you had to prop sitting on your lap and gently rub her back in circles until she relaxed enough to burp. (Looking back, the tension in her muscles probably had a lot to do with her undetected dairy allergy and the pain it was causing her, sorry kiddo!)
I could never make them burp when I wanted to.
Now they’re 8 and 10, and I only wish I had the same problem. I remember being in elementary school and thinking that burping was fun. Someone taught me somewhere in the early grades how to burp on command by swallowing air, and I was excellent at it, although I will admit that I never learned to burp the alphabet. But I don’t remember abusing this super power.
Interestingly, it is my mother who taught the wee ones how to fake burp. The same mother who claimed she couldn’t do it no matter how hard I tried to teach her when I was a child. The mother who abhors any breach in etiquette and can tell you the use of any fork on a table. Yes, that mother is now a grandmother, and it’s amazing how things have changed.
When the wee ones came home from spending the night at her house on the occasion where she imparted this glorious knowledge, the wee ones were in heaven. The entire car ride home was filled with burping from both children, trying to see who could do it loudest, longest, and the like. I smiled in indulgence, letting them enjoy their new found talent because it was new and exciting, but the allure of it would quickly wear off.
Apparently this is one of the cases where I don’t know my own children nearly as well as I thought I did. The burping didn’t stop when we got home and started to work on homework. It continued to be a magical gift that they felt had to be shared with every body. I quieted them down and assumed this new fad would go away on its own.
Not so much.
My children are enamored of burping, and now that they’ve let this gaseous monster loose, there seems to be no reining him in. When I give That Look, they turn to me in innocence with a, “Mom, I couldn’t help it!” And I don’t believe them. The burps come loud. And often. And everywhere. They never burped like this before Grandma taught them this amazing skill.
And so we’ve instituted some rules.
1) Burps require an excuse me. Every time. Not that this wasn’t a rule before, but I didn’t have to enforce it nearly as often as I do now. For the number of times that I’ve made this request, you would think that they would start to do it on their own, but it generally still takes a stern look from me before I hear a giggled excuse me.
2) Burps may not occur in succession. “Real” burps happen. But they happen alone. You don’t burp three or four or five times in a row. If I hear more than one burp coming, that’s when we start to institute consequences.
3) Close your mouth. Burps do not require that you use special jaw widening skills that make me think you are part snake to burp. Yes, opening your mouth can provide a great bullhorn effect, but that isn’t what we’re going for. Keep your mouth closed when you can. And if you can’t, just open it the bare minimum.
4) We do not burp in certain situations. Burping in church? No. Burping when eating dinner – especially in a restaurant? No. Burping in school? No. (Yes, I’m looking at you Mister Man who got sent into the hallway for burping the alphabet during class a few weeks ago.) Burping while having conversations with people? No.
5) Do not make a production of burping. Granted, sometimes you can’t help a belch escaping. It happens. You say excuse me and move on. You don’t try to make it as long as you can, nor do you collapse in giggles afterwards. And you most definitely do not engage in a conversation about the merits and techniques of that particular burp.
Thank you, Mom. I really appreciate this. And we haven’t even entered the teen years yet.
This is a post inspired by the book “Dad Is Fat” by Jim Gaffigan. It is part of the From Left to Write book club, where we write posts inspired by books rather than traditional book reviews. I received a copy of this book as part of the book club, but all opinions remain my own.