At three and a half (that’s forty-two months! Douglas Adams fans should be delighted), you’ve developed quite the sense of humor. True, you’re holding onto habits you developed in your speech-delayed toddlerhood, so your humor more often takes the form of physical jokes than spoken words. For instance, peek-a-boo continues to be a laugh riot; in particular at bedtime, it has evolved into a sort of hybrid with hide-and-seek that usually involves hiding under a blanket or a towel (sometimes while inexplicably also insisting you are a dog) and waiting for someone to wonder aloud where you might have gone. Then you pop out and yell, “Peek-a-boo!” so we can all have a good laugh.
Another, odder, manifestation of this preference for physical humor: occasionally (once every month, perhaps), I’ll remove your diaper in the morning to find a small car. You’ll be sleepily climbing onto the toilet, you’ll clearly have forgotten that you put it there, but when I ask, “What is this car doing here?” your face lights up with such glee at having pulled so delicious a prank on me that I can’t resist playing the straight man, putting up a fuss over the mysterious appearance of a toy car! That you took to bed with you the night before! In your diaper! How utterly silly! And if I can be induced to apply the word “silly,” the humor value of any situation is multiplied by ten, so now the whole morning is cast under a golden haze, and we are forced to go play outside in the crisp autumn air after breakfast.
But before we go outside, we have to get you dressed. So I help you put on your favourite shirt, one with a train on it. Pants are neutral. “Now, let’s put on your dinosaur socks,” I say.
“No, I need my train socks,” you say.
“Your train socks are dirty. They’re in the wash.”
“Oh. Then I need to wear my dinosaur shoes,” you say, pushing away your Thomas the Tank Engine shoes, the only play shoes you own.
“You don’t have any dinosaur shoes, silly.”
“Unh!” you grunt in frustration, but calm quickly, and allow me to help you on with the socks and shoes. Then you hold out your foot, flexing your ankle to show off the dinosaur socks and train shoes. “Doesn’t match,” you say as if to yourself, then catch my eye with a look of such mischief that we both laugh again.
Colors and matching have always been important to you, my odd little boy who first started sorting his toys by color when he was six months old: it was oh-so-important to gnaw on two yellow blocks at a time, not one blue and one green. Now, though, you’re combining that finely honed color sense with the obstinate nature your speech therapists commented on the first time they met you (that’s right, “stubborn as a pig” they called you), and coming up with possibly the oddest phase yet: You’re certain that the colors we all see must bend to your will, if only you insist on them hard enough.
The confusion over your eye colour, I can understand. Not only is blue your favourite colour, your eyes were a sort of blue-green-hazelish color until you were two. They didn’t finish turning from greenish-hazel to brown until earlier this year, no matter how many basic books on biology insist that a human baby’s eyes will settle on their final colour by their first birthday. (Poppycock.) So when you say you have blue eyes, it’s not without reason, though it’s nothing if not amusing when you answer, “Brown!” if asked what colour eyes you see in the mirror and, “Blue!” if asked what colour your eyes are. And then try to claim Mommy’s eyes are blue as well (they’re not), though you’re apparently okay with Gran-Gran’s eyes being brown.
On the other hand, when you insist the pony you rode on at the fair was blue? This is comedy gold. It was brown, of course. And no, its nose wasn’t blue, either. And neither were its feet. And no, the pony your cousin rode wasn’t blue, either; that pony was black. And its spots weren’t blue.
Look, Acorn. Look at the picture in this book. Do you see the train? Yes, there it is. That’s right, there are its tracks. Do you see the hot air balloon? Yes, there it is. No, it’s not red. What color is it? You pause.
“I don’t yike it to have pink and purple stripes. It’s supposed to be wed.” And you refuse to look at the balloon or discuss it further. It is the wrong colour. It is dead to you.
About six weeks ago, I had the privilege of taking you to the state fair. For some reason when I told you what we would see there it was the prospect of chickens that caught your attention, so as soon as we got out of the car you started asking me about the chickens. Fortunately I had parked near the agriculture exhibits, so you got to have your fill of the chickens (with their exotic wattles and their laying of eggs, three of which you ate that night for supper) and the cows. One cow — a dairy cow so heavily pregnant she didn’t seem to care what you did to her as long as you didn’t require her to actually move — allowed you to sit on her and hug her (all with her owner’s permission). You also got to see some big kids, 4H-ers and local ranchers, showing their cows in competition. Fast forward a few weeks, and you had an interesting conversation with your grandmother as you drove past a nearby cow pasture. “Cows eat grass,” you said.
“Yes, they do,” she confirmed.
“We have grass in our yard,” you mused. A pause as you thought, gazing at the large field the cows were in. “Cows need lots of room.”
“Yes, cows do need lots of room,” Gran-Gran confirmed again.
“We don’t have lots of room,” you sighed. “We can’t have a cow.”
Until then, none of us had known you’d been pondering whether we could have a cow come and live with us, perhaps to show at the fair like those big kids, but I’m very glad you puzzled out on your own that it’s not possible. Trying to persuade you we couldn’t have one if you had decided we must, that your life would not be complete without a bovine companion, might have been just as easy as trying to persuade you that your eyes are not, in fact, blue.
One morning not long after that, you were sprawled across my lap, watching your grandmother get ready to rush out the door for an early meeting. You spoke quietly to me:
“Mommy, I don’t like Gran-Gran.”
“You don’t?” I said, surprised. “Why not?”
“I like you, Mommy.”
“Oh. You can like me and Gran-Gran both, you know, Silly.”
He giggled. “Yeah… I like you best, Mommy.”
Aw. I like you best too, my baby boy.