Friday, November 13, 2009

Brain Jeans

       I’m getting Jamie dressed this morning when he looks at me and says, “What’s that?”

Actually, what he says is, “Wazda?” but baby talk on a blog—or anywhere else, for that matter—is punishable by hanging in Hong Kong, as well it should be.  So forgive me for taking the liberty of translating, saving my own neck, and allowing you a gag-free read. 

Anyhow, Jamie points and says, “What’s that?”

I look around.  Ellen’s mom is visiting, so we’ve moved Jamie’s mattress into Will and Lucy’s room.  It’s cramped and looks like a stuff animal factory vomited, spewing cuddly fluffy things with button eyes and oversized ears everywhere.  I pick up a blue bear.  “This?” I say. 

Jamie shakes his head.  “No.  What’s that?”  And he points again.

I hold up a brown dog.  He shakes his head.  A stuffed killer whale.  No.  A panda.  Uh-uh.  “What’s that?” he says again.  And he points. 

I look down.  Then I hold up his trousers.  “These?” I say.

He nods. 

I stare at the pants, then back at Jamie.  Then I get it:  overnight, the temperature dropped below sixty for the first time all year.  The Hong Kong Observatory web-site says it won’t go much over that all day.  So when Ellen went into her mom’s room to get clothes for Jamie, she brought out long pants for the first time since—

And then I have to think.  How long?  May, maybe?  April? 

I look at Jamie again.  He’s not quite two months shy of his third birthday.  Sure, tiny little baby brains are pretty malleable, and don’t hold information long.  And true, cool temperatures come late in Hong Kong, a full two months after Virginia.  But still—six months?  He can’t remember something from six months ago?  And it’s not like I don’t wear long pants every day of the week.

I hold the pants up so that he can see.  “Jamie,” I say.  “What are these?”

He grins.  “Funny,” he replies.  “Those are funny.”

He continues to grin as I help him step into them.  Once they’re on, he laughs, delighted.  He couldn’t have been happier had I strapped rubber snakes to his thighs. 

“Mommy!” he hollers.  Walking down the hall, it’s like he’s dried mud to his skin and is trying his best to make sure it doesn’t fall off.  You can just tell he’s delighted by this new, crazy, sensation.  Grown-ups and their long pants!  What will they think of next? 

“Mommy, look!” I hear him say, and then, “They’re funny!”  And sitting there in the room, waiting for him to return, I wonder, not for the first time, if maybe one of the babysitters dropped him on his head when he was little.  Or perhaps all those horsey and wrestling games he plays with Will and Lucy have left him with shaken baby syndrome?   Or maybe, just maybe, he inherited my brain genes. 

This depresses me a little—I was hoping maybe all three kids would get my family’s stunning blonde good looks and Ellen’s family’s brains and their insistence on loading the dishwasher the right way every time. 

Eventually, Jamie comes back down the hall.  He’s walking funny now, jerking one knee suddenly into the air, then the other, then walking a bit before doing it all over again.  It’s like he can’t quite believe those are his own legs in that blue denim.   

I sigh, and hold up his shirt.  It’s so cold you can see the goose bumps on his chest.   “Jamie,” I say.  “Come here.  It's chilly.”

He marionettes up, a look of glee on his face.  Then he glances at me and his expression freezes.  An arm rises, and he points at the red and yellow sweater I’m holding. “What’s that?”


Eric Kelderman said...

Just right!

michaelg said...

That made me smile.
Is this one of the kids who enjoy it when you pretend to vomit on them? Or is he too young for that?

Paul Hanstedt said...

He doesn't get it as much as the other two, but he knows it's funny--he just doesn't know why. Or maybe why not?