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Talk, Talk That Baby Talk

My brother and SIL have a 2 year-old son, “Bryan” who I love dearly. They live quite a distance away and so the only way I communicate with my brother and his family is through Skype and telephone. While my SIL is pretty good about communication, my brother has picked up a habit over the last 12 months or so that’s driving me insane and I’m not sure how to respond.

My brother will call once in a while to say “Hi”, which is great. However, the conversation usually starts with a “Hello, how are you doing?” and then immediately gets sidetracked into a play-by-play of what Bryan is currently doing and a conversation between my brother and Bryan only. For example: “Hi sister! How are you? We’re great. Bryan is eating corn right now. He loves corn! Don’t you Bryan? Did you like the park today Bryan? Bryan played in the sandbox. Bryan loves the park.”

This goes on for a long time with me unable to get a word in edgewise. The majority of the time the conversation ends when Bryan begins to act up and my brother will end the call to deal with him (which sometimes occurs 30 seconds after my brother initiates the call, which is maddening in and of itself).

As much as I enjoy talking to my brother, I don’t feel like I’ve actually really spoken to him in almost a year. I’ve pretty much given up making attempts to call him on my own, because it always seems to be a very inconvenient time for him. The next time he calls I’m tempted to tell him something to the effect of “Why don’t you call when you’re not so preoccupied?” but I don’t want to seem rude, and I don’t think he realizes just how much he focuses on Bryan. How should I handle this?  0613-13

Bryan is not going to be 2 for the rest of his life.  Grit your teeth, bear the baby talk, look forward to the day when Bryan can actually talk to you himself and be grateful your brother initiates telephone calls.   Some people  have no one calling them.

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  • Allie June 18, 2013, 10:22 am

    Ha! I was about to say I disagreed with Admin’s advice, but then I tried thinking of various different ways of approaching your brother about this problem and they all sound awful. I don’t think there is a nice way to tell him his baby talk is driving you crazy (not now, anyway). When Bryan is older, you can tell him about it and you and he can laugh at your brother for being such a blockhead. Revenge is a dish best served cold : )

  • EllenS June 18, 2013, 3:31 pm

    Your brother has nothing else to talk about right now, because this IS his life right now. He may also be completely sleep – deprived and white-knuckling through his days. As a mom who had kids later in life, I can only assure you that when the kids are 0-3 approximately, it is unbelievably shocking how little energy or brain space you have for anything else. In my own experience, the people who maintain rich adult relationships completely separate from their kids, are those who have ample access to outside help/babysitting.
    It is also possible that your brother has been affected by the “baby monopoly” in his relationships with other people. Grandparents, for example, often completely ignore their own children or in-laws to focus solely on the baby. Your brother may not realize you really DO want to hear about him.

    Maybe try reassuring him next time you talk, “no, really, how are YOU? What’s going on with YOU?” Otherwise, as Admin said, this too shall pass.

  • schnickelfritz June 18, 2013, 5:01 pm

    I wonder if something else may be going on with your brother. I have a huge family – and when anyone had issues, they were not ready to share, whatever it related to, it was really convenient to focus on the tots, distract Aunties and Grandma and Grandpa, make a quick exit / hang up. I have done this myself. Also, I can tell, in one sentence or less, if something is up with a loved one. I read people very well, pick up on voice stress, eye contact, etc. It is helpful to have an adorable kid, to take the focus off your own personal life, when communicating / visiting with family. You may have something going on you are not ready to share, or you hope it goes away. Just another view of why some people may do this.

    I adore children – but please don’t hand the phone to the baby, or scream at your kids while on the phone. Our parents just had to throw you “the look” and you piped down real quick. I like the post above, where the answer was always “NO” when the kid interrupted. That is awesome!

    Anyway, I just wanted to throw that out ther.

  • just4kicks June 18, 2013, 8:13 pm

    I have 5 great kids, who have had manners drilled into them, like my parents drilled them into me. However, they are kids and this is my response always when they interrupt me while I’m on the phone or otherwise engaged. “Are you bleeding???” “No.” “Are you on fire?” “No.” Then it, and you, can wait until I’m finished!

  • Daphne June 19, 2013, 11:58 pm

    I would definitely tape some of this behavior! If it were my brother I would totally use this against him someday. Like a video montage at the kid’s graduation or wedding. The baby talk might totally embarrass him 20 years from now.

    In my family that’s the kind of humor we have–maybe if you think of it that way it wouldn’t bug you so much?
    Just a thought!

  • Rei June 20, 2013, 9:31 pm

    I’m sorry, but I disagree. I would say “It sounds like you are too swamped to talk right now. Go have fun with Bryan, be sure to hug him for me, and maybe you can call me after he’s gone to bed. Love you!”

  • Gilraen June 21, 2013, 2:53 pm

    As much as I symathise with the OP (and oh I so so do!) Admin is right; it will get better….eventually
    Just wish that (grand)parents would understand that friends and family are interested in them and even the kids. Just not that much (constant talk about the kids) and not in that much detail.

  • honie309 June 27, 2013, 10:51 am

    I very much disagree with the admin here. Your brother is calling you to have conversations with his two year old, which he can do on his own time. If he wants to contact you to talk to YOU he can do that, just ask him. You can still find out about Bryan’s daily goings-on but it would probably be nice to be able to be spoken to by your own brother, not listen in on his baby conversations. Yeah, the kid isn’t going to be two forever, but are you just DYING to hear their conversations all the time? Is this what we, as aunties, are dying to hear all the time? I don’t think so. Just tell him you want to talk to HIM when he calls.

  • Kathlen September 12, 2013, 12:43 pm

    Older post, but I relate. Yes, young children are very absorbing, and the brother may not fully be aware of what he is doing. I would suggest saying something like this: “Hey, brother, I really miss you. It feels like we haven’t had a good heart-to-heart in such a long time. Is there a time I can call you or you can call me to do some catching up?”