Oliver is two years and three months old. He’s an amazing little man. He seems to get cuter every day, an impossible feat. He trucks around with determination, his little legs whipping along, always moving from one thing to the next.
He’s curious. When he hears something, he asks, “What was that? What was that noise?” He loves to pick things up from the ground – sticks, rocks, whatever. To his mother’s horror, the other day he scavenged a french fry from the floor of the mall and happily ate it. In other words, he is resourceful.
He is observant. He can spot a sliver of the moon in broad daylight, when it scarcely looks different than a scrap of cloud. He learns quickly and is unafraid of embarrassing himself. I’m in a constant pattern of language instruction with him, introducing new words and asking him to repeat them. He does very well at it. I like to throw some curveballs in there too. “That’s called ‘manipulation’, Oliver. Can you say ‘manipulation’?” “Manish-ship-ship-shun.” “Can you say controversial?” “Con-oh-SERial!”
Although his vocabulary may not have caught up to mine yet, he has already superseded my musical ability. His rendition of Gincle Gincle Little Star is far sweeter to the ear than my best attempts. He is also adept at filling in the parts of songs he doesn’t know with semi-melodic mumbling, which will put him in good stead when he needs to sing the national anthem later on in life.
He loves to be tickled. When he’s had enough, he lets me know: “Daddy, dop!” In general he is not afraid to let me know when I’m being a pain in the ass. “No, Daddy. Go way, Daddy!”
On the other hand, he doesn’t like it when I leave. We have interesting conversations in the front hallway on weekday mornings when he tries to prevent me from going to work.
“No Daddy go!”
“Daddy has to go to work.”
“Why Daddy work?”
“Daddy has to work so that he can make money.”
“Because we need money so that we can buy food.”
“Because we need to eat.”
Why indeed? I used to believe that when I had a child, I would always try to explain things to that child and never resort to the pat answers I’d hear from other parents (“just because”). My child is only two and he is already defeating this goal. Why DO we need to eat?
You can answer that question, sure, but ask enough “whys”, and you’ll find yourself trying to explain the nature and reasons for existence of the universe – to a two-year-old.
Then again, he’s probably got as good a chance of understanding it as most. In fact, I think he’s taught me far more about the ultimate nature of life and existence than I could ever teach him.