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.