A conversation with my toddler, now two-and-a-half:
“What dat, Mommy?”
“That sound? That’s the car engine. We’re leaving the parking lot to go home.”
“No. What DAT?” I hear the swish of his jacket fabric as he raises his arm to point at things I can’t see.
“Honey, I can’t see what you’re looking at. Can you tell me what color it is?”
“Is it blue? Green? Can you tell me what shape it is?”
“Mommyyyyyy…. what IS dat?”
“Liam, you’re going to have to give me more information. Where is it? In the sky? On the ground?”
“It right DERE, Mommy. What is it?”
I pull the car out of the space and look around for clues. The rear-facing child seat makes this game exponentially more difficult.
“Do you mean that big van?”
“Is it something in the sky? an airplane? A rainbow?”
“Honey, I’m out of ideas here.”
“MOMMY WHAT DAT?” Swish. Point.
“The flags? Do you mean those flags?”
“Those are flags, Liam.”
This morning, when we left the house, the crescent moon was bright in the sky. I pointed it out to Liam.
“Moon. That’s the moon. Look. Up.”
And he looked up. And he SAW it. And he stared and stared and stared.
He didn’t try to say “moon,” and he didn’t point. He just stared, absorbing the moonlight through his shining eyes. We stood there for a minute, faces to the sky, and he never moved except for blinking. Looking up. Up up up and so far away.
As I turned around with him to get him into the car, he turned his head so he wouldn’t lose the moon.
Little bare feet. Five tiny toes on either side, flexing and wiggling to hold him upright as he bounces on the seat of the Fisher-Price ride-on toy. His diaper crinkles under his dinosaur jammies. Bounce bounce, crinkle. Glancing behind him, checking his blind spots like a teenager training for his license, he pushes off and moves backwards half an inch. And again. And again. Shove, shove, shove, one foot stronger than the other, bringing him in a wide circle. He looks up for approval as he inches away from me, and I smile. Good work! Keep going! He looks down at his feet and shoves again, and grins, and yells. He leans over the handlebar and pulls at the lid to the trunk, and I see he’s packed for his trip. Two plastic spoons and a wooden sheep.
The back bumper hits the baby gate and he can’t go further. He turns to grunt at the obstacle and he shoves again, feet skidding off the floor from the effort. He whines. His arms frantically flap “all done.”
I stand behind him and lean down. All the way down, almost to the floor. One arm on either side of him, my hands beside his on the handlebar, hugging him safely in place. Ready? Are you ready? His feet kick. He crinkles and bounces. One… two… threeeee! I draw the count into a wheeee as I scoot him forward across the hardwood, and he pulls up his feet, and both his eyes and his little mouth open wide in silent joy. I know this because he turns halfway back so he can see me while we zoom away. It doesn’t matter where we’re going. He’s with Mommy.