Sat 15 Apr 2006
this morning i had a little talk with the baby.
the discussion was a bit one-sided on my part – i’m taking advantage of my developed linguistic skills while i can. if the child has his father’s temperment, after all, just the idea that someone can do something he can’t will likely spur him on to the proper use of complete sentences at the age of six months.
but this conversation was a short one. bowl of cereal in one set of swollen fingers and box of Kleenex in the other, i propelled myself from the kitchen to the living room couch, and heaved myself onto the seating surface. i blew my nose, attempting to clear its reddened breathing passages of the wretched cold i’m sporting. i rearranged my belly so my cereal could sit on top of it without irritating the minor hernia i’d just given my sternum while hacking up the refuse of said cold, while avoiding the patch of skin i’d stabbed on the corner of the counter when i forgot my girth and reached too far forward for a coffee cup. and i managed to curl one leg – bruised from tripping over the forlorn figure of the exercise bike last night on one of my countless trips to the bathroom – under me. then i panted a few times, to try recover some of the oxygen squandered in all this exertion.
finally, i looked down at my belly and said “Baby, your hotel is falling apart.”
i swear he kicked me. perhaps language is not such a great advantage in these parent-child conversations, after all. but at least he seemed to be listening, which is more than one can expect from most conversation partners when one begins to wallow in the litany of one’s aches and pains.
he is a bit of a rock star tenant in the run-down and increasingly close confines of Chez Bonnie, wreaking havoc and wrecking the place as he goes. but i am not trying to give him any eviction notices just yet…though i am curious about how many more of my bodily systems can succumb to infection, swelling, and/or random injury from my dainty perambulations through a suddenly seemingly narrower world.
i’m not sure that his empathic skills are developed enough just yet to really be interested in my musings or my self-inflated miseries…but i just like talking to him. a lot. i wander about the house like a demented autocrat, making pronouncements in thin air, addressing…well, the belly. this ‘conversation’ has been a fairly late development in this pregnancy – it took long weeks of bedrest for me to breach my own walls of hesitancy and fear, to connect with the baby-to-be as a self, to trust that this time things might work out okay. now, having crossed most of those boundaries, i have come to see us as intimates, he and i. and intimates in a way i realize we may never be once he does check out of Hotel Utero and we become, fully, two. thus, i’m using the time i have with the wee hostage not merely to make him aware of the damage he’s doing to his mother’s physiology, but also to stuff him as full of important information about the world as i possibly can.
some of this wisdom is generic mom stuff that i imagine (fear?) i’ll be blathering on at him about for the next twenty (fifty?) years. while eating, i make sure i point out how delicious the spinach is, and how much babies like spinach. (i say far less about the hot fudge sundaes surreptitiously crossing the placenta).
much of the spiel, though, is gendered.
“Baby,” i say, severely, after dodging some mom’s Honda doing seventy down our tiny side street, hiphop thumping from the windows, “the peach-fuzz-moustachioed boy driving that Honda is neither actually cool nor manly.” and “son, hockey hair does no favours for anyone.” i i also throw in those little things that i know i’ll never get to say later, since by the time he’s old enough to understand what i’m talking about we’ll both be too embarrassed to broach the conversation: things like “stay awake and talk to her afterward, boy” and, in the same breath “if she is a her.”
we all make assumptions about who and what our children will be…and we shape these eventual someones, even in the womb, with our exhortations and our own limitations. quite shamelessly, in my case…and i wonder “am i going too far?” so i add a little rider to my commentary, resolving to scale back on the subliminal diatribe:
“to thine own self be true, little one,” i say, nobly.
but then, i can’t help myself. i summon my best film noir stage whisper and remind him; “a boy’s best friend is his mother.” :)