Friday, August 10, 2007
Eli took a while to start talking. Until a few months ago he communicated mostly through sign language and a few select words like "mama" and "cookie." (You know, the important things.) Now that he's chatting up a storm, I can't get enough of it. If I could bottle every conversation and save those bottles to uncork them and drink them down when he's grown and gone and I'm a lonely shell of a mother with 18 cats and a collection of bird figurines, I would. Since that's not possible, I must do what's second best: videotape what I can and transcribe everything else.
Sometimes the things he says to me are laughable in their no-holds-barred, tell-it-like-it-is, don't-pretend-it's-not-happening honesty. For example, one of his favorite things to do is poke at or pinch my, um, less toned areas. He'll come up behind me and squeeze the back of my upper arm and proclaim "Fun to do!" Or he'll poke at my pooch and say "Mushy" (though it comes out more like "moochy"). Sometimes the proclamations have a slightly bittersweet edge to them, like the times he'll point at that same moochy tummy and say "No baby in there." Thanks kiddo. I knew that. He made up for that one when a few days later he reached up, stroked my face, and quietly said, "Real Mommy." Thanks kiddo. I'm glad you think so.
Some of my favorite conversations happen right after he's woken up in the morning or after a nap. For a long time, when our interactions were mostly one-sided with me talking and him nodding or gesturing or gibberishing, I would go in and say "Did you have happy dreams?" After a while he started answering yes (usually) or no (once in a while). Now, after a good sleep, he'll wake up and sit on his bed and repeat over and over "Had happy dreams." "Had happy dreams!" "HAD HAPPY DREAMS!" (Apparently, this now translates to, "My dreams were fine, come get me woman! I need processed snack foods!") That's okay, I'll take it.
Often, if he's a little groggy, I can get him to lie back down with me and snuggle for a bit. Sometimes the things that come out of his mouth in this setting are especially random, like the time he announced, "Mommy has a penis!" (I don't.) But some conversations are consistent, like if I ask him what his dreams were about he'll invariably say "Teletubbies came to our house." This has been his happy dream for as long has he's been able to talk, and the best thing about it is that it's slowly evolving as his imagination takes shape. What I mean is that for a long time it was just that they came to our house. Then he would talk about them dancing. When I would ask if he danced with them, he'd always say "No. Danced alone." But then recently, maybe two weeks ago, when I asked him that question he said "Yes." And then another day he told me they went in their hole and he went with them.
If you're still reading this, I give you credit. I realize that the dreams of someone else's two-year-old may not be the stuff of Pulitizer Prizes, but here's why I need to have a record of it: Can't you just see his little brain working overtime to go beyond the things he's seen somewhere else? Can't you just see my little guy coming out of his shell through these descriptions? I mean, first he's just talking about these weird colorful creatures, describing them from a distance. Now he's dancing with them. As the mother of a shy, reserved boy, this is huge.
What strikes me often is how much the little tiny things in motherhood are simply magic. There is no way I can ever communicate to him how much a one-minute cuddle and conversation in his bed nourishes my whole heart. There is no way he'll ever understand that I relish every opportunity to pick him up out of his car seat because it gives me a chance to feel him and smell him and sneak a kiss onto that neck. There is no way he'll do much more than roll his eyes if, years from now, I tell him that I used to like to sit close to him while he was eating because the very sound of him smacking his lips and the sight of him happily inserting almond butter sandwiches into his mouth could make my insides melt. The best I can hope for is that the almost paralyzing love I have for this kid makes him strong, and happy, and content. And in being all of that, on some level, perhaps he'll know.