For years I thought that when I sat down at the dinner table, it was for food. Now I realize I eat nude.
Or maybe it’s spelled nood. Not really sure. Declan’s a few years away from the spelling bee.
I learn a lot at meal time. Yesterday Declan told me to put his blueberries in the dryer. Are they wet? I asked. Yes, he said. My life is absurd, I said. Ab-nerd! he declared.
He almost always eats food off of my plate even when there’s more of the same thing on his. I be so hungry for it, he tells me. Listen kid, I be so hungry, period, because I’m getting scraps over here. Capiche? Every day he hits a growth spurt I lose weight.
I don’t yike oatmeal is another thing I heard yesterday. After he ate three bowls of it. It’s not that he’s lying. It’s just that he can’t always be trusted. Billy Joel’s driving is more dependable than the list of things he likes or doesn’t like on a given day. I don’t yike it, I don’t yike it, I’ve heard, for one-time can’t miss items likes his Thomas pajamas and, oh yeah, his mother. Of course, a few minutes later it was I want my mommy! and THOMASSSSS!!! But, you know, details.
At bed time the other night we were winding down, reading a book, when out of nowhere he shouted: I yike peanut butter. I’m going to get me some real quick. And before we could say anything he was out the door, running toward the fridge. That’s another thing. He’s not just opinionated. He’s also fast. Dangerous combination.
Declan gives orders now. Dad, move. Mama, stop singing. Watson, GO. AWAY. He attempted to change our sleeping arrangement this week. Dec-un syeep in Mama Dad’s bed tonight. Really? And who will sleep in your crib? I said. Dad! (Mama laughs). And mama! (Dad laughs). And Watson! (Watson stares longingly at food on the table). So you’re sleeping in our bed alone? Yep. All by my nelf!
The things you wear on your feet? Noos.
The instrument with the strings that I play? Ta-GARRR.
Train sounds? Coo coo and cuff cuff.
At school, his declarations can rouse a pint-sized populace. On the playground one afternoon, Colleen arrived to find him shouting Yeah YEAH! like a miniature Braveheart. And the other kids joined in. Call and response. Yeah YEAH! he yelled. Yeah YEAH! they responded. Who knows what, if anything, they were plotting.
Another day in class, he told his teachers he was going to cross my legs, do my best. So that’s a thing in class now. Cross your legs. Do your best. Good advice.
Declan’s words can cut right to the core, too. We were playing a game on the guest bed a few days ago. He would hide behind the curtains (the bed is pushed up against the window), then come charging out and dive into my arms or onto the mattress. After four or five successful missions, he came barging out the wrong side of the curtain and tumbled right off the side of the bed. Ouch. I picked him up and told him that must have been scary and he cried and then he looked at me and said: Try harder next time. Go faster.
At first, I thought he meant that he would try harder next time so he wouldn’t fall. As if somehow he hadn’t put in enough effort to come out the right side of the curtains or to stop the forces of gravity. Heartbreaking, huh? And then I thought, maybe he means me. Maybe he wants me to try harder next time to catch him. Maybe he thinks I failed him. Ouch. That’s a different kind of heartbreaking.
Whatever his meaning, his words caught me off guard. And made me think. He’s pretty good at doing that these days.
Mostly, Declanspeak is a riot. Often hilarious, sometimes unintentionally profound, occasionally painful or jaw-dropping or eye-roll producing. But I’m glad our kid can tell us what’s on his mind or in his imagination. Even if he spends too much time talking about eating nude.