Sunday, July 4, 2010

Becoming a baby (again)

My daughter is obsessed with babies. Specifically, herself as a baby. I can't even count how many times a day I hear her say, "I'm just going to 'tend to be a baby, okay?"

And can I tell you? It is not okay. It may be one of the most annoying behaviours in the vast repertoire of irritating three-year-old behaviours.

For Will, being a baby involves walking with her limbs held out stiffly in front of her, in a slow lurch that looks like something between Frankenstein's monster and a robot. Even worse, she refuses to speak, and instead cocks her head to one side and grunts, something I could barely stand when she actually couldn't speak and cannot abide now. Sometimes she will speak in a language of incomplete words or phrases, and of course, she will point at what she wants.

I know this is all part of Will's exploration of how she fits in the world, no longer a baby but not really that big, in the scheme of things. But late last night, as we drove home from Buffalo, Will explained her understanding of babies and growing up.

She started talking about all the things she would do when she was a baby again. I tried to tell her that she wouldn't ever be a baby again, but she was insistent. Paraphrased, she said, First I was so little, and then I grew bigger. And I will get bigger and bigger. And then when I am so big, I will go down and down and little. And then I will be a baby again.

I was curious about what it would be like when she was a baby again, and she described it in much detail. First, she told me I would have to bring up the high chair from the basement (I might need some help carrying it up), and she hoped it had a tray - does it have a tray, Mama? - because babies need trays, they can't eat food off the table. She told me I would have to buy some "mouthy things" because babies like them, and she will like them (pacifiers) when she is a baby. She described the dress we just bought for a friend's newborn and said she wanted a dress like that one, and we would have to get some new sleepers from Walmart (?).

By the time we got home, she was telling me that although purple is her favourite colour now, it will not be her favourite colour when she is a baby. Then it will be pink. But she will also like red and gray, but not yellow. I think the colour categorization alone went on for twenty minutes.

I found this peak into her mind fascinating. Fragments of Alice in Wonderland (the only scene she's watched) mixed into her thoughts on growing up leading to something more familiar. The most familiar part being me. In her mind, even after she's grown up and back down, I will still be there to take care of her, when she is a baby again.

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