Eli has reached the stage where he is teaching himself through imitation. Tonight the two of us were in his room, under the black blanket that he always sleeps with. This blanket has stars, planets, and the occasional alien on it. He demands that we go under the blanket and look at the night sky, light filtering dimly through the colorful parts of the blanket.
After a minute of that, he wriggled out from under the cover. He went into my nighttime routine with him: he started patting my blanket-covered form and whisper-singing “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.” Then he leaned down to kiss me through the blanket. “See you inna A.M.,” just like I tell him.
He’s lately begun whispering to me after that, though: “Come back, daddy, come back!” So I stuck my head out from under the covers and whispered that to him. “No, I see you inna A.M.,” he told me firmly and left his room.
He’s also teaching himself by asking questions. No, that’s not exactly true: he is teaching himself by demanding that we do things. Near the end of bath tonight he was fingering his chest. “Finding your nipples?” I asked him.
“Yep.” Eli turned to Misty, earnest and concerned. “Mommy? You show me your nipples?”
“No,” Misty said, “men can show their nipples when they want to but women can’t.”
“Say ‘gender inequality,’ Eli!” I told him. He didn’t reply. He must be preparing for his coming role in the hegemonic patriarchy.