Tuesday, March 23, 2010

He stretches out his hands.

Last night, I sat near Lucas while lay in his crib. He rustled, he rolled, he churned beneath his blankets. I whispered "Are you asleep?" "No, I'm awake" he said. I waited for him to ask me to tell him a story; about a cucumber, about a broken plate, about a boat, about Lou Reed, about a candy. There was a thick silence, and then a voice. "I want God to carry me." Quiet again. "Can he reach me?" Yes Flaco, I said. He can reach you. "But he's so far above, and I am down so low in this crib. Can he reach me?" Yes mijo, he can reach you. He's so far away but he's close by, too. (Wondering, as I spoke, why do I say things like that? How can I expect him to understand?) Quiet. He shifted again, his somber little voice suddenly mischievous. "Is God a sock?" Flaco, I said. No, don't ask such things. "Is he a plastic bag? Is he a curtain?" Flaco, no. "I know who God is." Tell me, Flaco. "Es mi Señor."
I smiled in the dark and we both fell asleep.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


We took Flaco and the Cake to the zoo for the afternoon a few days ago. We shelled out quarter after quarter so our boy could feed the goats and the llamas and the sheep and the giraffes. But after parting with a pile of coins, we found that the zoo has a section in it where you can feed the animals for free! Imagine! It works like this - you take your two year old, and tell him he can lean in close by the fence, and then a surprisingly voracious pelican comes running up and takes a small bite out of his hand. No crumbly brown pellets here, just human flesh. Flaco, shocked and hurt and indignant at what this "pajaro malcriado" did, sternly told him "Hay que ser cortes, pelicano. No le vayas a morder a Loli. No lo hagas." (You should be polite, pelican. Don't go and bite Loli. Don't you do it.) This lecture came fifty feet and ten minutes later, once he had time to compose himself. Hollered over his shoulder, little finger flailing in the air. He was back in the stroller we'd borrowed for Loli, sitting up straight, directing us where to go next like a tiny dictator. Matt took to calling him Kim Jong Il; so small, so stern. After a while, he instructed us that he would like to go back and feed more animals; the bears this time. We told him no, that costs an arm and a leg.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Freshly emerged from a pyramid, he picks up his rolling pin...

Several months ago the Flaco, in a misguided attempt to help me cook a pot of soup, burned his hand on the woodstove. He asked me to sing him a song about the unfortunate event (to the tune of "Señora de Santa Ana" - he's very particular with his wishes), and I obliged. The dirge detailed how he wanted to see the bubbling pot, how he forgot the danger, how he got a blister, and how he wept. It ends with a resounding chorus of "Ay, pobre Lucas" sung with a tremble. As sad as it was, we were at least relieved to have it over with, figuring that he would remember to be careful the rest of the winter. But it was not to be. A few days ago, he walked by and absent-mindedly leaned against the woodstove. Just like that. As if it were regular. And oh, he screamed, and oh, he cried. I could not get him to stop. Matthew came in from the shop and held him until he was calm, but when he left, he wept again. (Until my dad came in; then, he covered his hand and said "It's nothing, Abu. I'm okay, it's nothing at all." He said he was brave "como un toro" and hid his tears. But when he left, he bawled again, and begged to be held.) Hours later, he was still crying, and shaking now, his whole body shaking. Loli was crying too, not knowing what was going on, scared to hear his howls of pain. He told her "It's okay, Loli! I'm right here, Loli! Don't cry!" with such desperate sweetness I almost couldn't take it. When Matthew got home from work (early, since I could not calm our son), he gave him a burn cream and wrapped his hand in a bandage. Lucas was scared, so Matthew told him that this way he could be part mummy. So my mummified boy with his mummified hand walks around now spilling his juice and half-playing with his toys, as only a one-handed boy can do. And as for us, we've set him up a play-kitchen where he can cook to his heart's content; his own little fake burner with his own little pots and pans. Our little mummy cooks and cooks. And the dirge? He will have none of it. History belongs to the victors, and this time he would like it noted that he didn't cry at all. According to him, he is both a toro and a momia; a mummified bull, that's my son.

Monday, March 01, 2010

Cheeses of Nazareth

I do not regret having taught Lucas to speak Spanish first, although I was close to it the other day. He was sitting at the table, making a nice little nativity scene out of his supper. A Mary and Joseph made of cheese; a tiny little Jesus in between them. Mary and Joseph were walking around on his plate, taking care of their newborn. Matthew and I were listening to him with one ear, talking to each other with the other. I suppose I shouldn't have been surprised that it's easier for me to understand our son while only half-listening than it is for Matthew. When Lucas walked his sweet little Jesus up to Matt, saying "saludalo a Jesus, papa, hablale, preguntale como esta papa" Matthew turned and looked; distracted, not knowing what Lucas was saying or what he had been carefully making on his plate, he took his fork and stuck the piece of cheese onto it. Jesus had been stabbed, and Lucas didn't know what to do. He looked at me, startled. He set down the fork. Fyo stood up and, taking advantage of the moment, gobbled up the cheese. "Fyo se lo comio a Jesus!" Lucas exclaimed. Matt looked up, understanding the sentence. "Fyo ate Jesus?" he asked me, in utter confusion. In distress, Lucas flailed his little hand. Mary's feet ripped off. "Y ahora Maria no tiene pies y no puede caminar!" Lucas added. Matthew, finally realizing what was happening (and who he had stabbed with his fork) turned to his son with eyes wide open and said "Oh I'm sorry, Lucas, I'm sorry!" Lucas, left with a maimed Mary and a weeping Joseph, nodded his head solemnly in response, accepting the apology. We gave him an extra scoop of food. He busied himself trying to carve a black bean. We turned towards each other, biting back laughter, switching our conversation to Spanish this time, hoping it might help Matthew hear his son better. Lucas, for his part, was silent for a while, finally proclaiming "Ay papa, fue una calamidad." Matt understood. "Yes, it was a true calamity."