Tuesday, December 08, 2009
This piece appeared in my local newspaper, the Carlisle Mosquito. That's right, I said Mosquito. Check them out here.
My son is learning to talk.
He wakes up every morning and says, lately, m’NEE! At first we (okay, I) thought it must be some mangled version of “Mommy,” the most important word he will ever know, but it soon became apparent that it wasn’t me he was after.
“M’NEEEE!!!” He pointed. We looked. He wanted the change jar, full to the brim with nickels, dimes, pennies and quarters, resting on my husband’s dresser. He wanted money. He’s eighteen months old.
I’m not sure who taught him this word (ok, maybe it was me, by accident) but he wakes up every day, storms into our room and points to the change jar. At first he wanted to eat the m’nee, but then he just wanted to play with it. He wanted to hold it, drop the coins atop one another, hear the delicious clink, poink, and fwap of copper hitting silver hitting glass. Then there was the dumping and refilling. Empty the jar, fill the jar, smile. Repeat. Occasionally a coin would be hurled across the bed or rolled with glee across the hardwood floor.
“You swashbuckling capitalist,” we said, not sure whether to be proud or alarmed. How pure and innocent this first encounter with legal tender, I thought. How long before he knows what money really is and what it’s for and what it can do? That it’s not something to play with, that it’s not merely a toy for our amusement.
Or is it? It depends, I guess, on a lot of variables.
“What were his first words?” people will ask. “Ummm, money?” I will answer, slightly embarrassed. Unless you count “Ow!” which I don’t because it was really more of a complaint that a word.
The other thing he wants first thing in the morning, right after his money, is a “bobo.” Many parents reading along will instantly recognize this as code for “banana.” And God Almighty help you if you don’t have the bobo ready and waiting by the time he waddles down to the kitchen. There has been Defcon 4 level panic in our household when, sometime before breakfast but after Fern’s has closed, someone discovers (ok, my husband) that YES, WE HAVE NO BANANAS.
Let me just say that bananas have been “rescued” from cars and neighbors’ homes and possibly even the freezer before the risk of a morning shortage is allowed to become reality.
It occurs to me again how wondrous and truly amazing the development of a human being is. And what a gift it is to witness it every day (even though, let’s face it, some days it’s like one of those gifts that keep on giving, for better or worse).
So right now his life is about money and bananas. And Mommy and Dada, of course. And that is all he needs, isn’t it? Money and food - things that give him pleasure and sustenance. And the people who help him get those things. It all boils down to that. How much money and how much food you really need is honestly debatable – especially in these times, in this country. We tend to think we need more than we really do, instead of being grateful for the m’nee and bobos we’re fortunate enough to have.
And I guess this is the tough part now, teaching him that, when I sometimes have trouble remembering it myself.
That’s why you have kids though, isn’t it?
To keep reminding yourself of who you want to be.
Posted by Tracy McArdle at 12:14 PM