We recently took our daughter to her belated two-year checkup. As is customary at theses visits she was weighed and measured and we were asked to give details about her development.

Is she sleeping through the night?

Is she drinking multiple cups of milk?

Is she pooping daily?

But then the doctor did something wildly unconventional. She asked us an open-ended question. We were not prepared for an open-ended question. “What has Sage been saying?” the doctor wanted to know. My husband and I looked at each other. “Well,” he nodded. “Well, yes,” I nodded back. “So much,” he said. “So, sooo much,” I reiterated. And then we both drew one massive collective blank. We just stared at each other shaking our heads like we’d been sideswiped by an elephant.

My husband was the first to break the silence, “She’s been saying everything.”

“Yeah, everything.” I echoed “And stuff too.”

“Lots of stuff,” my husband confirmed and we both grabbed Sage and gave her a big hug just to show how proud we were of the “everything” and the “stuff” that she’s been saying.

When we left the office my husband and I stopped on the sidewalk.

“What was that?” he said

“I don’t know.” I responded. “We seemed like total morons. She’s going to think we are crappy parents.”

“And I really liked her.” My husband responded. “But we can’t go back there if she thinks we’re idiots.”

“We’ll we have to redeem ourselves at the next visit.” I said.

“Good call” my husband affirmed. “Next time we’ll show her.”

I spent the following few days thinking of ways to seem very smart at our next doctor’s visit. We could rehearse in advance like we were going on Jeopardy.  My husband could be Alex Trebek and I could be the contestant.

Alex: Tell me three phrases your child has uttered.

Me: What are: “I want boobies!” “Holly macaroni!” and “Get out!”

Alex: You win it all.

Me: Yay!

But that just seemed way too involved. We’d have to get buzzers and those fancy pens that allow you to write on screen and maybe even a podium. So I decided to start making a list. It would be a comprehensive collection of everything that Sage has been saying. I’d become a parental anthropologist. I’d log her every word, I’d capture it all. At our next appointment we’d be smart!

I began the list strait away.

List of Words and Phrases:

It’s Amazing

I want pancakes

I want fresh water

That sucks!

Sheesh Kapish

Where’s my keys

I wanna hold the keys

This is not the right key

This key does not fit

NO KEYS!!!

I wanna drive

Paleontologist

I see the moon

You’re the best kind of mommy

Fuckin Christ

That’s funny bananas

Let’s sing

I wanna dance to Vogue

We could find out…

It’s beautiful

I see birds

Is that man makin’ a fool out outta me?

Watch your back

Grandma’s got two boobies

Daddy has no boobies

Where’s my notebook

I’m making a story

This is my game

Let’s play together

I want to be her friend

It was so much fun

Give me your wallet

Where’s the money

No thank you

Excuse me

Leave the door open

One for me, and one for you

But the more words and phrases that I wrote on the list, the more words and phrases I realized were missing from the list until the list just seemed endless and silly. And that’s when it dawned on me that my husband and I gave the only possible response to that doctor. Our child is saying “everything.”And even if the doctor had asked us a year ago when Sage only had a handful of words that same response would have been appropriate. And even when she was four- months-old and spoke solely in gestures and cries and subtle shifts that only we could understand it was  “everything” then too.

I put down the list and went to find my husband. “I don’t think were morons,” I said. “Just speechless parents.”

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We are riding in the car and the sun if furiously shinning down through the windows. We squint and try to avert our eyes. Sage is desperately squirming as she attempts to break out of her car seat. She begins crying in frustration and finally, utterly exasperated, she moans, “I’m shiny mommy, I’m shiny!” She is indeed shiny. We are all shiny. The sun is dancing across our faces and we are all painfully lit up.

I grab a map of Rhode Island that is folded at my feet and hold it over her eyes to block the sun, “No more shiny” I said. But as I sit there gripping Providence I want to pull the map away just to hear her say, “I’m shiny mommy”.  Her words astound me. They are an exact statement of what she is experiencing. They perfectly describe her dilemma. They are newly invented. I know that soon she will learn to say, “the sun is in my eyes, I can’t stand it” and this will break my heart.

I remember once hearing a collage friend say, “I feel like the skin on an old person’s elbow”. And I remember thinking; “no one has ever said that before”. It perfectly described her state of being. It really floored me. With grownups you hear these perfect phrases so infrequently but with kids it seems to happen all the time. Every moment is full of these language revelations.  I don’t want them to disappear.

When Sage used to sing Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star, she’d sing the second line as, “Up, above the world so high, like a diner in the sky.” A diner in the sky, I want to eat at a diner in the sky, it’s a fantastic idea. I bet they’d have great milkshakes. But the other day I heard her sing, “Like a diamond in the sky.” And just like that the mystical diner was gone.  It will now become another story that I tell her when she is older.  And I will not have the words to let her know how wonderful it was to hear her sing that phrase.

There are many reasons not to curse in front of your child. Not the least of which is that every word you say will at some point come back to you. JD and I tried to prep for this long before having Sage. We spent months test-driving alternative swear words. Sorkin was going to be our sub word for fuckin’. Because Aaron Sorkin seriously jumped the shark with Studio 60. Skype was going to be our sub word for shit, because it is so Sorkin aggravating when trying to have a conversation on Skype. And Mother Hubbard was going to be our phrase for mother fucker. None of these words stuck and so we now occasionally hear our own foul-mouthed expletives echoed by our daughter.

For instance:  We were home in Cincinnati visiting my folks. We were driving past the temple that I grew up going to. It was the place where I had my Bat Mitzvah, attended Sunday school and spent countless High Holidays. I pointed it out to Sage saying, “that’s mommy’s temple.” She responded with “Fuckin’ Christ!”  Or there was the time when my friend Julie handed Sage a handful of Cheerios and I said, “Say thank you to Julie” and Sage said “Thank you bitches.” Or, most recently, the time where Sage tried to teach our neighbor who is just a few months younger to say “damn it.”  Sage had both hands on this girl’s shoulders, she looked her square in the eyes and said “Damn it.” When the neighbor girl just giggled Sage shook her head like, “OK, I see you don’t get this, but I’m going to stick with you. Let’s try this again. ‘Damn it.’”

And then there is my all-time favorite. A friend was reading Sage Goodnight Moon. As she read she stopped at all the pages to ask, “and what is this?” or “Can you find the cow? Can you find the moon? Can you find the cow jumping over the moon?” After going along like this for a while she reached a full spread of the Bunny’s room and asked:

Friend: Do you see the chair?

Sage: Yes(Sage points to the chair)

Friend: Do you see the bed?

Sage: Yes (Sage points to the bed)

Friend: What else do you see?

Sage: (Pauses then waves her hands slowly over the picture) Oh… all this shit.

At 22 months these are her words. The silver lining is that she is not yet in school so the way I see it is we have roughly three years to erase these words from her memory. Then, she can rediscover them on her own. She can learn them on the school bus or the walls of a bathroom or in some movie that she sneaks into. And when she says them at the dinner table we can sound all surprised like “where in the world did you ever hear those words, certainly not from us, all we say around here is Mother Hubbard!”


In my imaginary life I had a blog and stayed up late nights to do it. In my imaginary life I was a really good blogger and I had interesting things to say all the time. And sometimes even funny things too. At some point my imaginary life became my pretend life. I started pretend blogging at night. After my daughter and husband went to sleep, after I had done my nightly ritual of worrying obsessively about the state of my finances and about weather or not I am thinking of enough interesting things during my spare time or whether or not I am crafty enough to make my own cloths or hard core enough to make my own soap and will my daughter admire me if I am neither crafty or hard core. But I didn’t actually have a blog. Just a word document called blog. But when 2010 hit and I heard that 2012 might be the year that the earth is destroyed because the planets will be aligned and the Mayan calendar stops, I figured I better make a real blog. So here it is. Welcome. My first few postings have been cut and pasted from my pretend blog but after that it is real blogging all the way to 2012 and who knows, maybe even beyond.