Monday, May 09, 2011

From the mouths of babes

[Irate note: This is the very last time I'll ever attempt to compose a blog post on an iPad. After an hour of painstakingly typing away on the touch screen with its irritating busybody of an automatic spell-check, the damn browser ate my post. The moral of the story: some technologies are great for reading the Economist in the dark while nursing your baby to sleep, and not so great for enabling personal expression. I'm back on my good old-fashioned laptop now.]

Le Petit is now making disarmingly frank observations about the world, usually when I least expect them, like in between quoting Sesame Street and announcing that he's washed his hands all by himself. Or from the back seat of the car, when I thought he wasn't listening to our conversation. For instance, on our way back from vacation, I mentioned to my husband that I wanted to take the kids to Alsace for the Christmas holidays one of these years.

"But, Mommy," le Petit interjected urgently, "Alsace is really far away. And you don't even have your driver's license yet!"

That made both of us laugh. True enough.

Then this weekend he told me, "Mommy, in French, it's crêpe. And in English, it's... in English, it's..." He hesistated. Sometimes you can almost hear the gears turning in his brain as he processes the language that matches his thoughts, and I wait in amusement to hear the result.

"In English, it's... burrito!"

I was baffled where that came from, since we were all in the car, we weren't talking about dinner, and we'd already had lunch. Also, I was certain I'd never served him a burrito. Part of the charm of his observations is that they are often apropos of nothing, or at least nothing other than the new, mysterious connections he's constantly building in his own head. Preschool wisdom is impenetrable.

They also make me laugh, which is a good thing, because many of my recent days have been a long, exhausting slog. Right now Mademoiselle has two brand-new teeth, a runny nose, and a singular obsession with learning to crawl, which have all (along with the phases of the moon and the alignment of the planets, I assume) been seriously screwing with her sleep. On good nights she wakes up twice and on typical nights she wakes up four or five times. Even if propping myself up on a pile of pillows and scooping her out of her crib to nurse has become so hazily automatic that I'm usually unsure just how many times I've had to intervene, I'm still tired and grumpy and guiltily aware that if I just hauled myself off to bed after dinner (instead of, say, after writing and rewriting a blog post) I'd solve much of my problem.

One day last week I was especially exhausted, and started yelling and stomping around over several unrelated annoyances at once -- le Petit's recalcitrance on something or other, a package that arrived damaged in the mail, the Legos strewn about my living room floor. When I finally managed to regain my composure, I apologized to le Petit.

"I'm sorry I yelled. Mommy's just frustated. Everybody gets frustrated sometimes."

Le Petit accepted this, reflecting on it for a moment.

Then today, I put Mademoiselle down on her play mat on the floor of the living room while I started throwing dinner together. Eventually she flipped herself onto her belly and started to fuss, and as whenever we don't pay her proper attention, attempted to scoot off and take her business elsewhere. Failing, she began to cry in earnest.

"I'll be right there!" I called from the kitchen. She hears me say this at least fifteen times a day, and I suspect that her received language comprehension has caught up to the point that she now understands that it means "That's it, Mom's abandoned me for longer than my undeveloped short-term memory capacity." When I finally did poke my head in, I saw le Petit lying on his belly next to her, his arm wrapped protectively around her back.

"It's okay," he said reassuringly, "You're just frustrated. Everybody gets frustrated sometimes."

8 comments:

sylvie said...

Absolutely darling! I suppose it almost makes up for the lack of sleep....

Nancy Bieringer said...

Emily, that just made my day. Big brother reassuring baby sister!

Nancy B. from Watertown

Cloud said...

Awwww. What a good big brother.

I think that finding the balance between the sleep you need to feel human and the other things you need to feel sane is one of the hardest things about this phase of motherhood. Woman cannot live by sleep alone!

paola said...

What a darling! Le Petit really does sound like he is much bigger than going on 4 ( I think he is anyway). Very mature and wise, by the sounds of things.

Parisienne Mais Presque said...

@sylvie -- plus I know from experience that I'll mostly forget about the lack of sleep in a couple of years!

@Nancy -- he really is a doting big brother (when he's not deliberately trying to wake her up from a nap, that is), and I love how he calls her "little baby [Mademoiselle]" (with her real name, of course)

@cloud -- amen to the balance! I was lucky these past few days because le Petit has insisted on going to Grandma's house in the afternoon, and I've been able to nap with Mademoiselle.

@Paola -- I'm still not sure how much he understands and how much he's still assimilating through repeating, but I feel like he's way more mature than even two months ago. The transitions after 3.5 have really been amazing.

caramama said...

That is so cute!

The things these preschoolers come up with! I'm constantly amazed. Sometimes, my girl says something in this logical-sounding voice and it take me a minute to realize that she's referring to or repeating something that happened in a previous day. Those brains are just constantly processing all that info!

hush said...

Crepe = burrito is so hilarious! He sounds darling, and like he is really starting to mature at lightspeed. It must be really gratifying to see these glimmers of the little gentleman emerging. ;)

Arash said...

nice blog:) i really enjoyed.