Felix looks like my brother Ian, who used to call Q-bert “The Pig Who Jumps Down The Stairs.”
The other day Felix came up to me clutching some treasures pilfered from the box my in-laws sent up. It was a box of my husband’s childhood things, things like a stuffed Odie and Q-Bert, and an entire set of California Raisin figures from Hardees. He took me aside and earnestly explained that “This one is the Avatar and this one is the ice cream.”
The ice cream wasn’t too hard to figure out. That raisin was holding a microphone, styled after the ones with an orange foam ball at the top, that could certainly be mistaken for an ice cream cone. The boy had no frame of reference for what a raisin might be holding. He didn’t know the California Raisins were singers. But AVATAR? I was befuddled until I realized that AVATAR sounds an awful lot like guitar. Like the one the other raisin was holding.
I have to imagine that a huge part of a child’s frustration in the early years come from the fact that communication is so often a one way street. The only way they can express themselves is through crying. They can’t understand what we are saying, and then when they start to understand US we still can’t understand THEM.
My eldest son used to come up to us and speak a string of unintelligible syllables in an earnest tone. It was always the SAME string of syllables, so he clearly knew what he was saying. I sadly never found out, and I used to just respond “OK” because that seemed like a safe answer.
I’ve been really proud of myself for figuring out what my kids are saying to me because all too often it’s someone else that reveals to me the hidden meaning behind my children’s adorable gobbledy-gook. Like, just now, Felix opened up the “Elf Yourself” app on my phone, pointed to his siblings doing a jig in their elf suits, and said they were “Dancing Bad Words.” Uh. OH. DANCING BACKWARDS. GOT IT.
But usually I am not the one to determine what my kids are saying. Me, the woman who pushed out their massive round heads with no medication, who nourished them at my breast and made them chocolate chip cookies from scratch, cannot decipher their precious mumblings 90% of the time. It’s like thinking Jimmy Hendrix was singing ” ‘Scuse me while I kiss this guy,” only I’m thinking it about my own offspring.
Sometime in January Felix stood in front of our toilet, squinted, and said matter of factly , “It’s not a Christmas Party.” Well, no. It’s not. Interesting observation. I have never known our toilet to be a Christmas party. I imagined opening it and hearing Burl Ives sing, canapes arranged lovingly around the bowl, a sprig of holly hanging from the lid. The most festive toilet in town.
When I reported this baffling observation to Facebook, my mother said “Are you sure he didn’t say “It’s not a Christmas POTTY?”
My sister in law makes toilet seat covers with Santa’s face. When the lid is down, Santa’s eyes twinkle at you merrily. When the lid his up, he covers them with his mittens. It was perhaps my favorite Yankee swap acquisition. I had taken if off the toilet so I could wash it and put it away until next Christmas, and Felix was just making a note of it.
I was reminded of his brother Linus, who spoke with maddening profienciency at a very young age. He was barely over a year before he started answering every question with “Key Cars.”
“Hey Linus! Why are you doing that?”
Did I pick up on this? Of course not. It was completely baffled that my one year old was contemplating vandalism when my friend Jill told me that he was saying, obviously, “BECAUSE.”
Perhaps the strangest, most terrifying tale of all comes from my oldest son Jarvis again. He came home from Sunday School and told me, very solemnly, that if you opened up a squirrel and looked inside, you could see a message from God.
WHAT THE WHAT?
I bent down, trembling. My church is not exactly the snake-handling, live-chicken eating type. I imagined my son, who once earnestly called out to God using a Buzz Lightyear voice modifier because he thought it might reach space more easily, luring a squirrel at the park, taking out a boy scout swiss army knife and plunging it in, then attempting to read the entrails.
“Look, I’ll show you,” he said.
He pulled out his craft, a rolled up piece of paper with a string tired around it.
I opened it. It said, “Jesus Loves You.”