When he was very young, we loved to hear Eli talk. “He said ‘dada’! Say it again!”
Yeah, we had no idea. He is a never-ending fountain of words. He has baby Tourette’s, only instead of cursing, he says, “laba laba laba laba laba.” The words begin at six A.M. Six. A. M. He wakes up and begins entertaining himself by singing every song he knows. Repeatedly. “Biku, biku liiiitle staaar.” “Ay bee cee dee, eee eff gee. Aych eye jay kay, ellellelleminnoooow-a pee.” Camp songs. When he gets older he will make a wonderful Girl Scout. Some times he greets things in his room. “Hello, star! Hello, sun! Hello, couch!”
When he began talking and singing, every time he finished a song we would say, “Yaaaaay!” and clap our hands. Now he does it for himself. “Now I know my ay bee cees, next time wanna sing-a me. Yaaaaaaay!” If I could go back in time I would make a killing in the stock market. Then I would use a portion of my new fortune to buy my old self a clue about encouraging Eli to talk and sing like this.
It’s not always bad. Some mornings Misty and I will turn up the monitor and listen to him sing and talk. We revel in how cute he is, and how he is clearly the smartest, most adorable toddler ever. Other mornings, usually the mornings after we have stayed up far too late reading, we cover our heads with pillows and mutter, “Just stick the damn binkie back in.”
We use Eli’s new-found power of speech for evil sometimes. I know we shouldn’t, but it’s so hard to resist. “Go tell your dad that your diaper is full!” Eli obediently heads my way and babbles, “Daddy, daddy, diaper full!” “Okay! Go tell your mom she needs to change your diaper!” Back he goes, saying, “Momma! Momma! Change-a diaper!” It’s passive-aggressive child rearing with a side order of cuteness.
To go with the talking, Eli is now pretending to read. He eats two types of cereal: Chex and Cheerios. The Chex box has a recipe for barbeque Chex mix. Eli will point at each letter on the cereal box. “B. B. Q. Chex!” Then he demands that the box be turned so he can read another side. “B. 2. Riboflavin!”
His talking comes and goes. I was away for several days on a business trip last week. When I came home, he was already in bed. The next morning I got him out of bed. “Momma! Momma!” he cried, wriggling out of my arms. He ignored me for most of the morning. We dropped him off in the nursery before church. I returned to get him after Sunday School. “Daddy!” he shrieked and ran for me. I knelt down to get him. He hugged me tight and said, “I miss you, daddy.”