Out of the Mouths of Babes


rockingcradle.jpg

Buddha is an incredibly verbal child. He especially loves to sing. Not a waking hour goes by that he does not spontaneously burst into song. It’s one of my favorite things about him; his unabashed merriness. As far as widely recognizable words, though, he’s largely uninterested in those. Since his first birthday, however, he’s been making considerable progress in the area of communication.

Agua – “Oooah”
All Done – “Gah Gah” + sign
Baby – “Beh beeh”
Ball – “Baah”
Book “Buh”
Bunny – “Eeeoh”
Bye bye – “Buh bah” + wave
Car – “Cgah”
Daddy – “Dah dah”
More – sign
Shoe – Ssssh
Star – sign

So far he can say/sign half a dozen words, which just absolutely thrills me to no end.
You’ll notice, however, that neither “mama” or “turtle” are on that list of words he knows. This has perplexed me for quite some time since he’s been saying ‘Dah Dah’ now for about six months and has recently (within the last two months) begun referring to Bunny as ‘Eeeoh’. I found it to be rather odd that he wouldn’t even attempt to refer to either of us, ever.
Winifred, of course, is bent on teaching him to say ‘Mama.’ She refers to herself in third person when talking to him and repeats the sounds ‘mamamamama’ with him over and over again. Well, I, obviously, have been trying to get him to call me by my name. And recently this past week he began saying, but only with a lot of prodding, the first consonant in my name when referring to me. This was supremely exciting for me and I’m not ashamed to say, really the highlight of my entire month.

Except today he called me “Maahm” and then “Maah”

Twice.
Completely out of the blue and both times specifically reaching his arms out towards me so there really was no doubt as to whom he was referring to.
Thankfully, Winifred wasn’t home when this happened but it kind of unsettled me anyway. When she did get home, I specifically exclaimed “Look! It’s mom! Mama’s home!” in hopes that he would get the queue and use his brand new word on the correct recipient.

No such luck.

The thing is, I have made zero attempt to refer to myself as mom and in fact, have been somewhat overly zealous in trying to get him to say the real world equivalent of ‘Tortuguita’. I don’t really understand why or how he has suddenly decided to use the word on me, instead of Winifred.

The real problem is that part of me feels strangely pleased, as though, in his own Buddha way, he’s acknowledged my importance to him and has validated my role in his life.

Except the moment I’m done thinking this, that stupid, obnoxious voice that always interrupts the protagonists in cheesy movies kicks in and condescendingly exclaims –

“That is way creepy. As in totally ‘Hand that Rocks the Cradle‘ kind of creepy.” And I immediately feel incredibly evil but defend myself anyway with.

“No! I just love him, that’s all.”

“Right.”

“And besides, I spend just as many waking hours, if not more, with him than she does.”

“Creeper.”

“So why wouldn’t he think of me as his mother?”

“Yeah, okay, Peyton.”

“Shut up, that is so different. I’m not trying to sleep with Dr. Doormat or destroy Winifred out of revenge.”

“Maybe not but you wouldn’t exactly don a black veil if she croaked.”

“Just because I don’t like her very much doesn’t mean I want her to die so I can raise her kids.”

“Whatever you say, oh wicked one.”

“Go to hell.”

“After you, Empress of Evil.”

“Go away.”

“Sure thing, Corrupt Caretaker.”

“Stop.”

“Execrable employee.”

“Oh brother.”

“Sick Sinful Sitter.”

“Cut it out.”

“Malicious Mentor.”

*sigh*

“Baneful Babysitter.”

“Are you done yet?”

“One more. Nasty Nefarious Nanny.”

At which point I realize that despite her nauseating synonym savviness, my incredibly irksome alter ego has a bit of a point and I am left feeling altogether very unpleasant because not only is there a good possibility I am evil but I’m probably a little crazy too.

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Dance first. Think Later. It’s the natural order.
– Samuel Beckett

Bunny has the rhythm of a dead chicken; he absolutely cannot dance to save his life. At one point I made it my personal mission to try and teach him but even basic skills like keeping a beat ended in miserable failure. So, when Buddha was born I decided it was time to move on. Here was some new clay to molded. The fact that I have been singing to him daily since the day he was born has not been for naught. The kid loves music. He’s constantly singing – even while he nurses, which is hilarious and incredibly cute.

Dr. D listens to either Stevie Wonder or Air America, both of which are excellent, but they’re not exactly varied. And generally, Winifred doesn’t play music because it just adds to her sensory stress. So, the task of exposing him to diverse forms of music has been left up to me – one which I have been more than pleased to take on.

For the past month or so we’ve been listening to a lot of rock. I knew it was time for a change when it became apparent that Buddha’s favorite song was Novocaine by Greenday. So I worked on a new mix, this one focusing on some fast beat dance rhythms.

As is our custom after lunch, Buddha and I were having one of our dance-a-thons. I was having a blast, dancing away and I was busy shaking my badonkadonk to Sean Paul’s Temperature when I realized that Buddha was not enthusiastically participating. In fact, he was staring at me with a look of grim disdain and upon catching my eye, he shook his head, declared “goh goh” and signed “all done.”

Damn.

I just got baby burned.

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I was absently thinking about the word scrotum (okay, seriously, when will I ever get another chance to start a blog entry like that?) when this suddenly came back to me.
Bunny is an incredibly stubborn child. Moreso than your average kid. He is defiant and contrary and that’s just the way he is and nobody is gonna change him because they can’t because he’s the boss of himself, so there. When he was three, he was theoretically potty trained. As in, he was perfectly capable of knowing when he had to go, he would simply choose not to when he felt like it. When he did feel like going to the bathroom, he would insist on doing so in the most unique ways he could think of. For a while he would only go if he was straddling the toilet seat backwards. At one point, he insisted on peeing by laying across the toilet face down, so his penis was literally pointing straight down into the toilet bowl. And in moments when he was feeling particularly defiant, he would simply inform us that he was pooping or peeing in his pants, and then do exactly that.

Eventually, I learned to stop feeding the attention hoarding behavior of his and when he resorted to pooping as a control tactic, I would simply walk him to the bathroom, hand him a box of wipes and let him clean himself up. After he was through, I’d do a “heiner inspection” to make sure he was fully clean and we would go about our business, so to speak.
On one of these occasions, I was in the middle of something else when I realized that he was taking a rather long time in the bathroom. I poked my head in and asked what the hold up was, and he replied, altogether very chipperly “oh, nothing, I just have poop stuck under my scrotum.
Lovely.

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I’m not a birthday person. Six years ago, if somebody had told me I would become anti-birthday I would have gasped in disbelief and horror. And yet, here I am. Fully and completely anti-birthday. I tend to have very low expectations, in hope that if I don’t expect anything I won’t be disappointed. But that somehow, doesn’t seem to help. Birthdays just plain suck.

I hate them on the basis that I resent the hell out of time for making each year go by faster than the last. Because I never seem to be able to catch up. And because I can’t ever really fulfill the expectations that come with the day. People expect happiness and joy and self-absorbed excitement. And I just can’t do it. Can’t fake that I’m extra happy about a day just like any other day, only worse. I can’t help the fact that thoughts of my birthday fill me with feelings of dread. They just do.

And even though I wish I could just skip over the entire day, or even just sleep through it I always have this little flicker of hope that maybe something extra special will happen to make it worthy of the hype.

And that’s my big mistake. No matter how low I think my expectations are, I always have that bit of hope and I’m always, inevitably disappointed. It’s a cruel, rather ironic cycle. The less I expect out of them, the less joyous they become.

Granted none of them have sucked quite so much as my 14th birthday when instead of showing up with cupcakes for the class, my mother took me out of school and I spent the bulk of my day hiding my scars and holding back tears as I was interrogated by a couple shrinks. The only presents I remember getting that day are a diagnoses and my very first prescription for an SSRI.

Yesterday was my birthday. I received not a single phone call from any of my friends.

Except for Bunny.

I answered the phone expecting to hear Winifred’s voice and instead was greeted with a very professional, albeit cheerful “Hello, Turtle. It’s Bunny. I’m calling to wish you a happy birthday.”

I have no delusions that Winifred dialed and prompted his one-liner but what ensued just put the icing on my cake, so to speak.

Some small children don’t do well on the phone. Bunny is not one of them. He asked me what I was doing to celebrate and I informed him that we would have cake tonight, but that was pretty much the extent of it all. He wanted to know if I had baked it and I told him that I had not, my mother had. He paused to think about this for a moment and then giggled exclaiming that Buddha had taken mom’s lip gloss and put it in the toilet. I laughed and assumed that was the end of the birthday talk.

After a long bout of decidely maniacal laughter Bunny settled down and then very abruptly and decisively informed me that I should come over tomorrow so he and I could do something special together. I needed a treat he said. Something special. Maybe we could go on one of our walks to Starbucks and get one. And by the way I needed to be given my present. Eventually he handed the phone to Winifred insisting that we settle on a time for our date.

My dad is helping pay for $600 off my car loan and I’m thrilled, but nothing can compare to Bunny’s phone call.

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Buddha was filthy. And stinky. There was dried mush in his hair and I’m pretty sure little pieces of apple were rotting in his wrist rolls.
He stunk.
Bathtime? Oh yes.
Buddha loves the bath. Due in part, I’m sure, to the fact that he was born in one. Unfortunately due to certain pre-established perameters of Buddha bathing, it takes a good solid hour to complete the task. I usually bathe him during the day while Bunny is at school. Turns out winter break is very long around here. So I managed to convince Bunny to join in and the two of them had a total maniacal and chaotic drench-fest splashy, fun-filled time.
As much as Buddha loves bathtime, he equally loathes getting out of the tub. Especially if his brother is still in it. So I didn’t really pay attention to the lyrics of Bunny’s songs when he started singing. I was busy wrangling the screaming 14 month old, afterall. It was not until I was massaging Buddha with (product placement!) Burt’s Bees Baby Oil, that he calmed down enough for me to hear what Bunny was singing.

“Peee-nis, vagi-Nuh!”

At first I was a little troubled. And then Bunny added more lyrics and it clicked.

To the (very off) tune of “Heads, Shoulder, Knees & Toes.”

“Penis, vagina, kidneys, lungs! (splash!)
Penis, vagina, kidneys, lungs! (splash!)
Penis, vagina, kidneys, lungs!
Kidneys, lungs! (splash, splash!)
Penis, vagina, kidneys, lungs!
Kidneys, lungs! (splash, splash!)
Eyes and tonsils and butt and nose!
Penis, vagina, kidneys, lungs! (splash, splash!)
Penis, vagina, kidneys, lungs! (splash, splash!)”

I’m fairly certain those were not the words he learned at school.
There is really no doubt that he is a doctor’s son.

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They say that second siblings are often times the complete opposite of the firstborns. This is true to a certain extent with Buddha and Bunny. Where it is really apparent is in their eating habits. Buddha will eat (or try to eat) anything. I mean, literally anything. Dirt, grass, paper, plastic, metal, dustbunnies, hair, you name it. This is the kid who tried to eat my sock while it was still on my foot. Bunny, on the other hand is a picky eater. But because he’s Bunny and anything but normal, he’s not picky in your typical five year old fashion. I was munching on a bagel, that I had brought from home, one morning and after eyeing it with some curiosity, he asked if he could have a bite. Sure, I said and started to hand him a piece.

“Is it organic?” He asked me, very seriously. Erm, no.
“Never mind then.” He muttered and continued on. This is not an altogether unusual occurrence. Mrs. Winifred is very specific about what she buys. I don’t think there is a single food item in the entire house that is not organic. This is not an exaggeration. She is very particular about what the children eat and when. Both Bunny and Buddha have daily allotments of veggies that they must eat. Bunny has inherited his mother’s zest for quality and health. I was munching on some corn chips one afternoon when I saw Bunny shaking his head at me.
“I don’t think those are very healthy for you. Maybe you should put them away.” He instructed me with total seriousness. I put my corn chips away.
One afternoon, I had picked up some veggie subs from subway and had a small bag of sun chips as well. Mrs. Winifred had given her okay on the chips but after making me read the ingredients on the bag and subsequently finding out that there was a lot of sugar in said chips, Bunny politely refused to eat them.
Another day we were at Starbucks where he was having his treat: a bottle of their organic fruit juice and some organic dried fruit and nuts, when he saw two other little boys around his age sipping some chocolate-y looking drink.
“That’s an adult beverage!” He announced. (Yes, this kid uses the word beverage.)
“Why are they allowed to drink that? It’s not healthy.”
I agreed with him on the health issue but noted that some parents have different rules about treats and maybe they were celebrating a special occasion or something. He nodded and understood but glared daggers at the father of the two children.
Last week Bunny came home with a marshmallow sculpture. And he ate it!
I asked him if he knew that marshmallows are not vegetarian. He nodded.
“Mom told me that already.” He muttered off-handedly and continued chewing.
“And it doesn’t bother you that there is dead animal in that?” I asked, still in complete and total shock.
“Nope. It tastes good.” He responded very matter-of-fact as though I were the most stupid person in the world for not understanding that.

 

*sigh*

 

Everytime I think I have him figured out he goes and throws me for a loop. I don’t know whether to be proud of him for making up his own mind or scared that he’s being corrupted by his more mainstream pre-school peers. Either way, he definitely keeps me on my toes.


I spend the bulk of my time with Buddha since Bunny is in school five times a week now. We spend a lot that time conversing. Most of our conversations are pretty profound, too.
We talk about fashion.
“Buddha, do you like my new shirt?”
“Blaahh deeee bleee.”
“Excellent. I thought you’d like it. Do you think you could maybe not drool on it today then?”
“Laaa boooodleee.”
“Awesome.”

We talk about politics.
“No, you’re not allowed in here buddha. Hence the baby-proof gate.”
“Bleeeee blaaaaa!”
“How did you knock that down?”
“Gladegleuuu.”
“Wow, you’re innovative. ”
“Bleesshh.”
“Just goes to show, fences aren’t going to keep people out where they want to be.”

We talk about authority.
“Sorry buddha, you can’t have apples today. You can have carrots though.”
“Ahhhh!”
“Hey, don’t shoot the messenger. I don’t make the rules, your mom does.”
“Waaaah!”
“Well, because she’s the decider and she decides what’s best.”

We talk about nutrition.
“Buddha, how many times have I told you that dirt and grime are not food.”
“Spleeeegggleee.”
“Come here, spit it out.”
“Ahhh!”
“See? This is why you have the world’s stinkiest turds.”

We talk about philosophy.
“If you poop, and nobody’s there to smell it, does it still stink?”
“Plllauuuugh.”

We talk about PDA.
“Aww, are you gonna give me some kisses buddha?”
*slurp* *slobber*
“Ouch!”
“Heeee.”
“That was a bite not a kiss. No biting. Save it for your first girlfriend.”

We talk about the birds and the bees.
“Yes, that is your penis … but could you please not grab at your scrotum when it’s covered in poo?”
“Heee.”
“No, seriously. It’s gross.”
“Blaa deee blaaa!”
“Okay, I’m not kidding. Keep your hands off your penis while I’m cleaning the poo off. Play with it when I’m done.”

We talk about manners.
“You know it’s not polite to spit milk in people’s faces.”
“Spplleeet. Phhhattttt.”
“Nor is it polite to smear green beans in people’s hair.”
“Blauuuch.”
“You’re a real charmer you know?”

We talk about common sense.
“If you stop quirming, I’ll be done quicker, you know.”
“Ahhhhhhhhhh!!!!”
“Chill out, I’m just putting on a new outfit.”
“Ahhhhhhhhhh!”
“You know, maybe if you didn’t smear smashed food all over yourself, I wouldn’t have to change you after every meal. Think about it.”

We even practice our debate skills.
“Okay, how about you and I make a deal?”
“Bleeedlaa.”
“It’s time for your nap. If you sleep for three hours, I’ll sneak you some cheerios later.”
“Glaaadee.”
“Okay fine. Two and and a half hours and I’ll throw in an apple slice.”

It’s what I tell all my friends. Relationships are based on communication. I’m sure it’s why Buddha and I are so tight.

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