Young Talking

Dear J-

My folks are back from New York (one of my cousins got married in New Rochelle) and they’re talking about how gorgeous the wedding was (on a harbor), the great food (they tanked up on hors d’oevures), and getting ripped off (trying to save a little money on a downtown Manhattan tour, they ended up buying tickets for a nonexistent harbor cruise that turned out to be the Staten Island Ferry, which is now free by the way). They could go to a thousand weddings and come back with the same impressions every time, but that’s how they’re wired; it’s like how you could put me in a thousand parties and I’d still find a way to hang out with the kids and avoid grown-up conversations.

We have had long nights for the last few weeks, especially on days she’s back from daycare (they somehow pull of the trick of getting toddlers to nap at the same time, and getting them to nap for hours at a stretch, to boot). She’s gotten independent enough to hang out in her room, and the conversations that come out are alternately amazing and horrifying (when they say that kids are sponges, that’s an understatement; she does dead-on impressions of everyone we meet, but especially of our anger). It’s a sobering thing to see your words writ small, admonishing a doll for having poopy pants; exclaimed disgust and short, angry movements betraying our real motives..

Today she came back wearing her hoodie sweatshirt because it was cold; the sweatshirt has a convenient pocket on the front where she managed to stash at least three pieces of chalk from school (not just little nubs, either — big “D” battery-sized chunks). What do you say? There’s no concept of ownership in the three-year-old brain; there’s little distinction between right and wrong; there’s no sense of patience or delayed satisfaction: everything now, everything just so. The best line I’ve heard all week is that the greatest illusion with communication is that it’s happening; it’s just as true with all the thousand conversations we have every day, figgy and me, but I have to keep working at it.



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