Thursday, October 8, 2009

bringing up baby

For the past few weeks, Martin has sometimes pretended to be a baby. This involves wrapping himself up in a blanket and saying, "I'm a baby. I need to feed." It's funny, he never talked about nursing - let alone asking to be nursed - when I was actually feeding his little sister several times a day. He didn't seem all that interested. But now, months after I stopped nursing the real baby in the house, Martin has requested that I feed him, as he calls it, "the milk in your body."

I can't quite figure this out. I tell him that three things keep me from nursing him. 1) He is not a baby. 2) I don't have milk in my body anymore. 3) Even if I did, American 5-year-olds get their milk from cows or soybeans, not their moms. Martin never seems upset that his request is declined. He takes it in stride. But it always resurfaces a few days later. So I hold him like a baby in his blanket. I ask him why he wants to be a baby. I usually get a strange answer, such as, "Babies are dangerous" or "Babies are ridiculous."

We have a lot of moments like this one, moments in which Martin clearly is reaching out to us. Where he's bringing his own emotions and needs right to our door. But they don't make any sense to us. It's as if a weeping, emotional person came up and spoke to you, convincingly, in Mandarin Chinese. Sure, it might mean something, but not to you.

So I have two babies in the house right now. I snuggle them a lot. And I give them food, although not from my body. Most of then time, I understand what the littler one wants and needs. But the bigger one, I'm not sure I understand everything about him. But the fact that he wants to be my baby makes me keep trying.


  1. Man, this post just makes me want to gush in a way that I am just totally constitutionally able to gush

  2. What this post makes me realize is that although Martin is regularly unable to communicate exactly what he wants to communicate, he is still often able to say things that are chock full of folk wisdom. For example, babies *are* in fact quite ridiculous.

  3. Oh this is sweet and heartbreaking! My son isn't as verbal as yours, but the other day he kept saying "Mommy, owee, Mommy, owee" over and over and I just couldn't fix it, it's extremely frustrating. Sometimes what he says isn't what he means, though, so I usually end up just guessing different things until something makes him happier.

    I agree with Martin about the babies - totally ridiculous!

  4. I wonder if he is trying to give you what he thinks you want. Children are funny that way sometimes.

    -Jen from Ca.