Babies and aliens

25 Apr


Two moments of note happened in the past week.

The first:

I waved at Little L. “HI!” I said.

Little L waved back.

It wasn’t the first time he had reacted to me. He has smiled, stuck out his tongue, giggled in response to me before. It wasn’t even the first time he has waved to someone; that honor goes to a gaggle of junior high girls cooing at him while we visited the National Archives.

But in that moment, I might as well have been Carl Sagan getting a radio message from an alien.

“Heyyy! I noticed you exist. I exist too. I found your golden record. Earth seems really interesting (and mostly harmless). Can’t wait to get to know you more! Love, Alien.”

Or I don’t know, maybe they would just say “E.T. phone home.”

Living for nearly a year with a little person without language can feel a lot like dealing with an alien. After all, Earth is a big, new experience for them both physically and spiritually, and we are their learn-as-we-go tour guides. Sometimes I feel about as competent as the kid from E.T. in trying to help my little alien navigate his new world. There are so many differences to surmount (“You think we should sleep for more than two-hour stretches at night? I happen to disagree.”), and it’s so much harder when you don’t have the familiar tools (namely, words) to work through them.

To finally get such an equal exchange of information–so simple, so direct–is exhilarating.

“HI. I noticed you exist. I exist too. I acknowledge your manic grinning and waving. HI.”

The second:

I was distracted doing something and Little L was playing on the floor across the room. He was starting to get bored and fuss, and was babbling amidst his grumbles. For a few weeks his coos have included “mamamamama,” but this time, he shrieked two distinct syllables in my direction: “MAMA!”

I’m not proud this was the product of parental distraction, but I am totally counting it as the first word. He knew what he wanted, and he said it. And of course, I came.

It’s always tempting to project my own feelings on the baby, but I’m pretty sure this is what he meant:

“MAMA. You should pay a little more attention to me, like, especially right now. You’re doing OK with this motherhood thing though, because I know that when I say your name, you will come. I want you; I need you. I love you. MAMA.”

Proof of L’s sweet skills, which have now expanded to waving goodnight:

*If you were enticed to this post thinking it would be a hypothetical (or real?!!) matchup between my baby and aliens, I’m sorry if you were disappointed. Let’s just agree in a battle with aliens, Little L would win, natch.

5 Responses to “Babies and aliens”

  1. Katie Sooy April 26, 2014 at 5:08 pm #

    Holly, parental distraction happens. If it didn’t there would be no food, no clean clothes and the house would be a biohazardous wasteland! Keep that in mind. Plus, without some parental distraction children would never have need for their wonderful imaginations. An imagination is childhood’s best friend (except in my case, you were my best friend).

    • Holly April 26, 2014 at 8:10 pm #

      Wise words, Katie!

  2. Karen H. April 26, 2014 at 10:29 pm #

    Wonderfuly written.

    • heidivw April 26, 2014 at 10:58 pm #

      Love, love, love the “bye bye”! So sweet! And if you think they seem like aliens when they’re new babies and can’t talk to you, wait until they’re teenagers and they can talk to you, but you still don’t understand what’s going on in their head (or sometimes wonder if anything is going on in their head). Oh, and the only reason you’ll exist then is to drive them places and keep the cupboards well-stocked. 🙂

  3. Jon Van Woerkom April 29, 2014 at 1:27 am #

    Holly- I sure do love the Babies and Aliens post. What a wonderful way to describe how babies enter our world seemingly as aliens and yet from the beginning are wrapped around our fingers and hearts. It is amazing how long it takes for the little aliens to learn our spoken language, yet they do a great job of communicating needs and wants…Are they effective in getting their general message across? Yes. Maddening to the parents? Yes with an exclamation point! You are such a gifted writer and now are just as gifted as a Mother and interpreter of the alien world of babies!

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