Saturday, November 23, 2013

I cut all meadow down

 I thought he'd be upset seeing the meadow trimmed, but he watched steadfastly, with no comment. "I cut all meadow down," Beren would say later. 

I'm eavesdropping from the couch. Jared and Beren are reading bedtime stories, including a favorite from the library called A Visitor for Bear. Beren finishes the punch lines. In the story, a grumpy and solitary bear is repeatedly surprised by a mouse. He opens the cupboard, and "There was a mouse!" Beren says. "Small and grey and…" Jared continues. "Bahwight eyed!" Beren ends the sentence. In case you have trouble interpreting that, it's a "bright-eyed" mouse.

Is it just us? Do other parents melt when they hear their children speak? Jared and I love Beren's words, his stories. I have surreptitiously filmed Jared and Beren reading this story at least three times.

On drives, he pipes with tales. "I've got a tahwactor," he tells us from the backseat. "Oh, what color is your tractor?" Jared asks. "Buhwoo." "Blue, of course." "And, it has a buhwushhog attachament." "Brush hog attachment!" Jared exclaims. "I'm gonna mow the meadow with my tahwactor. I've got a new gahween one," Beren says, kicking at the back of my seat. Jared murmurs to me, "Beren knows words I never heard until I was thirty. A brush hog?"

"What are them ammohs doing? Some are sitting. And they are standing. And they are laying down in the meadow," Beren tells us as we pass an alpaca farm. Ammohs are animals, by the way. He always accents the "do" in doing.

Slowly, Beren's letter "r" is coming into its own when placed at the end of a word, at the expense of the preceding vowel sound. "I'd like some murrrr," he says. I thought I heard an "l" sound, too. The word "knife", inexplicably remains, "neef".

It's all touched by golden wings for me. His little voice flecked by gold. Why is that? Was it the wait - that we waited a good while for him to talk?

Hearing the soft little voice of my friend's two year old charms me sweetly, too. "A lot of traffic at this time of day," she told us as her mother drove Beren and I to a local farm. I was stunned.

Last winter, we picked carrots at North Slope Farm with one of the farmers, Colleen, and her son. We warmed ourselves by a woodstove, and the other farmer, Colleen's husband, Mike, joined us. Beren was silent, except for his glad crunching on his sweet carrot. In the quiet of the still room, Beren pointed to the front of the woodstove where a vent was open and said, "Hole."

Hole? There I sat with my then two year old, who refused (could there be another word or phrase here - "chose not") to speak in words to, hug, kiss, wave bye-bye, or high five even those who he loved best. And he said "hole."

In the early days of talking, Beren's personality, one who likes activity and good laughs, would call from the backseat, "Mouse!" "Cat!" "Dog!" "Wubs!" "Fuzz!" We'd respond appreciatively and exuberantly. "A cat? A cat is in the car! Oh!" "Oh no, not a fuzz! Not a fuzz in the car!" "Webs! There's a spider in this car?" We'd all laugh and the game would begin again.

A year later, I lay beside Beren as he drifts to sleep. I break his latch. "Let's talk," I say. "Let's talk about something," he agrees. "I've got a tahwactor." "What are you growing on your farm?" Beren answers, but I don't quite understand. "Beets? You're growing beets?" "No. Nuhshing. I grow nuhshing. I have a meadow. I cut all meadow down," he says. He grows nothing, but has a meadow he's stewarding. His breathing slows and becomes raspy with the last bit of congestion from our household's week long cold. I wait a moment and rest my hand on his chest. He rolls away and sighs.

Golden wings. Good night.

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