As I write this morning, Alex is sitting beside me playing the electronic keyboard. All music is about something to him—I cannot convince him that some music is “music for the sake of music”—so as I type I’m receiving a narration, which I hope you’ll forgive.
(Down in the bass range): “Mommy, this song is about a superhero.
And when I play down here, it’s because he got tied up by the bad
On Monday we went to the Cathedral, where I played piano for Mass for the diocesan teachers. As we were walking out, we passed a series of picture boards with photos of fetal development.
(Upper range of the keyboard): “And now he’s got the key.”
They were beautiful pictures, displayed for Respect Life Month. All things about babies in mommies’ tummies are very interesting to Alex, so I walked him through them from start to finish.
(Around Middle C): “And now he’s got himself out.”
“Mommy, why are there pictures of babies in mommies tummies in the church?” he asked as we walked across the parking lot, headed for the playground across the street. Oh, dear, I thought. “Well, hmm,” I said. “Let me think how to explain this.” One of my earliest memories is of my mom trying to explain abortion to me. It was slightly traumatic—there is no way to make it even remotely comprehensible to a child that someone would deliberately kill a baby—so I want to attempt to ease him into understanding over the course of a few years.
(Lots of banging): “And now he’s locked the BAD GUYS up, because he
still had the key!”
But Alex saved me the trouble. “Wait, don’t tell me, I know!” he said.
“Oh, you do?”
“Yes.” He opened and closed his mouth a few times as he tried to gather his thoughts, and then he said, “It’s because this is a church for babies in their mommies’ tummies, too.”
It was one of those moments when a mother truly understands that we must be like a child to enter the Kingdom.
“And everybody’s cheering because he defeated the bad guys!”
Julianna’s news is that she is digging in her heels and fighting with her speech therapist, who thinks that if we accomplish nothing else between now and the age of three, our time will be well spent in fighting the battle to teach her structure. In other words: we will do this now, whether you want to or not. A lesson that a three-year-old will need to have to succeed in Early Childhood Special Ed.
It’s hard to chide her, because there’s still so much of the sweet baby in her. We know we need to scold, to put our foot down, to make her behave as we made Alex behave, but one goofy grin from her, and we’re turning away to hide our smiles. It happened with Alex, too, but it’s harder because this stage is lasting so much longer. She’s even funny when she’s in trouble. She puts her chin down, and her lower lip pulses in and out. Then she flutters her long lashes as she steals glances to see how her adorable-ness is playing with the crowd. Sigh.
In other news, she is teaching us, by way of varied and escalating nastiness, that we cannot leave her unattended on the toilet—even for a couple of minutes to deal with some other child. (Christian hates it when I include details like that, but this blog is also a family history, and such things are important for parents to remember. But I’ll leave it at that.)
You’d never guess it, looking at her, would you? It must be instinctive to small children: subversive behavior that we don’t expect, because on the surface, they look so sweet.