Thursday, June 24, 2010
A few weeks ago, the dink surprised us all by uttering his first sentence: I want Elmo. The level of surprise experienced by me and J, and then later by his maman and papa who heard it too, was not at his mastery over the English language, but by the subject matter that has spurred him, in recent weeks, to not only achieve a higher level of communication, but to throw temper tantrums at the television, to squeal and laugh almost uncontrollably with delight, and to snuggle, snuggle, snuggle.
By now, the dink’s relationship with Elmo is almost unnatural. There are so many things about it that I don’t understand—like how it began, where I’ve gone wrong in accidentally encouraging it, and if Elmo will one day demand a seat at the dinner table or a prominent location in family Christmas photos. What is it that you see in him, son?
Actually, I blame the daycare—the same people that introduced him to cheese puffs and goldfish. Apparently, they show Elmo to the kids during their once-a-month movie day. Seemingly harmless enough. But somehow that red, furry creepy thing took up permanent residence in the dink’s brain, and one day, he came home from daycare, made the connection that the half-animal, half-baby creature in a couple of his books was the same very Elmo that he so enjoyed once a month on tv…and such began the affair. Weeks later, his teachers were mentioning to me D’s strong affection for Elmo, and I exacerbated the situation by buying him a set of Elmo dvds one weekend when I was feeling guilty for dropping him off at my parents’ house for the night…and then of course the movies were complemented by a small stuffed Elmo doll that now goes outside, in the car, around the house, and more importantly, to sleep by the dink’s side…so I guess I’m partly to blame. But this is the first time that he’s ever been emotionally attached to any object (except my breasts), and I just never expected this. Not that I’d dare try to end it now. I guess I’ll just keep telling Elmo night-night, try to make sure the dink doesn’t start talking about himself in the third person (“Elmo loves his goldfish!”), and hope that by the time we all memorize those 3 dvds, my love for Elmo, like the dink’s, has blossomed in ways I never thought possible…
Wednesday, June 2, 2010
I think all parents must go through the ritual of examining their children every few months or so and naming the different emerging characteristics that are derived from one parent or the other. It starts at birth, when that new face and body is placed in front of you, fresh from communion with your organs, and you’re desperate to know it on every single level like you’re desperate to be reassured that you will never stop knowing it for the rest of your life. With the dink, it was pretty clear from the get-go that he represented a “good mixture of the two of us,” but I was dead convinced that his feet and toes were the exact replica of his daddy’s. J thought that his eyes were mine, even though the eyes are the last thing you’re supposed to pass judgement on since they change over the first few months, like puppies. But neither of would claim his inverted nipples.
Lately, as the dink’s unique personality emerges more and more, the traits that he’s stolen from others are becoming more apparent and more undeniable. From J—he likes to be the center of attention, to make people laugh, and to snuggle, snuggle, snuggle. With dish towels, dirty laundry, any stuffed animal, maybe even books—he holds it up in the crook of his neck, then hits the floor to roll around all over it and sometimes pretend to go night-night with it. I actually caught him snuggling my mom’s dirty rubber boots once.
And from me—the latest is my uncontrollable sense of order. I don’t even know how a kid his age can have such definite ideas about the ways things should be, but he will certainly let you know when they disturb his sensibilities. Playing with blocks is very telling. When J builds a Mega Bloks mountain, and he places one block in a direction that’s counterintuitive to the way you’d think it would face (i.e. it’s sticking out to the side when it should be lined up forward), the dink will take it off the pile and turn it the “right” way. J thinks it’s so funny that he’ll do it 3-4 times in a row, but the dink never tires of righting his daddy’s wrongs. And when it’s time to pick up the blocks—don’t dare try to throw two interlocked blocks in the bucket. Oh no, every single block must be disengaged and thrown in the bucket singly.
One of the most amusing displays of order the dink had recently involved all of his pots and pans friends in the kitchen. One by one, he carried every single skillet, pot, and lid from the lower kitchen cabinet into my bedroom. After 20 minutes or so of play, I told him to bring them all back to the kitchen, and I watched from the bedroom as he struggled down the hall carrying every single piece one by one back to where they belong. When he was all done, we cheered that they were all gone, and he walked me to the kitchen to show me his proud work: every single pot was lined up in a perfect line across the kitchen floor. All pots had their appropriate lid on top, and I dare say that the handles were even pointing in the same direction. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cheer.
It was like one of those moments shortly after the baby’s birth, when everyone in the room has agreed that the heritage of his nose or his lips or his ears are undeniable, and you look at the child and you think: Yes, you are truly mine.