...the pride I feel for Kim, who is already an outstanding mother; the love I feel for Chicago and the many people still there who have played an important role in my life. One small moment, though, stands out to me. On Saturday evening, I went to dinner with a good friend, Branson. Although we haven't spent any substantial amount of time together in...jeez, years...we had a great time. He's become a successful art director, an outstanding photographer, and an admirable dinner companion. Anyway, over dinner, Ethan came up as a point of discussion, and Branson caught me off guard by asking the rather direct but surprisingly difficult question, "What's he like?"
I've never had to describe my son before, in part because he's only now arriving at the age when he's a discernible little person unto himself. I lamely described how he's funny and dramatic (like how he slowly raises his hand(s) to cover his mouth when it's contorted with the pain of disappointment and reprimand), but I was sort of at a loss. Since that evening, I've been thinking about how to describe Ethan. So far, this is what I've come up with:
- Everyday, he comes out with new words and expressions that prove he's taking in everything around him and creating meaning for himself. The fact that he calls people "Stinky Pete" (which, apparently, Branson's little cousin has called him) shows that he connects behaviors with words, and that some of those words can be used as insults or jibes.
- He speaks prolifically, albeit in his own special patois. Since visiting D.C., he loves to build "statues" with his blocks. Towels are "tow-lows," flowers are "flau-lows," towers are "tow-eh-lows," tomorrow is "tamallow." All meat is chicken. Surprises are "plises," and must be edible to count. He loves "ships and salsa" when we go out for Mexican. "Eemies" (M&Ms) are a favorite candy, as are "Cwabby Pa-ees" (Crabby Patties). Acorns, which he collects devotedly, are "golds."
- Speaking of speaking, his accent is a special blend of Southern (he drops the G's on -ing words) and Northern Irish (he often asks for me to change his bum rather than his diaper, he almost never wants to take a "wee rest," and Mountain Dew is "Mount'n Jew," while Mickey Mouse is "Mickey Mause," and house is "hause," etc.).
- He loves books, and he reads several every night with Daddy. He often provides commentary mid-story, which he interjects with a forceful and repeated poke on the arm of the reader.
- The moon ("mooyn") is a frequent subject of discussion while out of doors, as are planes, train stations, birdies, bugs, "golds," horsies, and holiday decor.
- His capacity for affection is overwhelming. Through his behaviors, it's obvious he understands love to be comfort, companionship, and concern for well-being. That's as good a definition as I've ever come across.
- Bunny and Sammy the seal are his two most favorite stuffed animals—although he truly loves them all. We recently learned that Baby Bunny (a small, scarf-wearing version of Bunny) is the child of Bunny, who is Baby Bunny's mommy, and Sammy, who is Baby Bunny's daddy. We're a progressive household.
- According to Ethan, rocks are a precious commodity, as are sticks and "golds," and he collects them all with dedication.
- He almost always forgets something he really really needs as we're pulling out of the driveway, such as juice, a particular toy, his CD case full of movies, or just about anything else he can think of to forestall an efficient car trip.
- Movies are a favorite pastime, although he almost always finds something "scawy" about each new movie he gets. It takes about three viewings before the "scawy" parts aren't so scawy anymore.
- He also loves the "Too Stowe" (tool store, aka Lowe's), and refers to his toy box as his tool box.
This is just the tip of the iceberg. I look forward to a lifetime of discovery.