Love Letter Day X
My son screamed for my attention this morning at around 3:45am when I am normally pulled to my phone for reasons above and beyond checking the time. What new reactions to the terror of the world? What new reactions to me? My son kept wailing and I thought the mature course of action was to leave him to himself; to ignore him and teach him to appease himself. I looked at my phone again, debated opening the social media feeds. My son keeps crying, and now articulates that he needs to pee, and he wants me. Husband then jolts up and says, “Mom, you’re up.” He rarely intervenes and I am surprised, so I follow his direction.
My son screams for me to take him to the bathroom. He needs to learn to go to the bathroom by himself but what he really needs is to learn to turn on a light so he can see how to get to the bathroom. He then needs to learn how to bring his pants down, and pull them back up. This is the hard part of peeing for him. Not training his body to hold the impulse but the process of undoing everything in the way—the darkness, the clothing, the strange shape of the toilet. I usher him to his commode and we return to his bedroom futon where he configures himself around my head.
He finds multiple ways to wrap around my body, mostly my face. This includes variations on straddling my face and sitting on my throat, which I find more hilarious than awkward. His urine stained groin flicking at my eyes. It’s funny. I try to maneuver him into an angle where he can’t see that I will check my phone. Whether that’s to check the time or check on you is unclear to me. I fail at negotiating the phone and son. I choose my son.
I fall asleep despite discomfort, and then immediately wake up to a revelatory statement. My son, for the first time unprompted, says articulately in the quiet dark:
I love you, Mama. I love you, Mama. I love you, Mama.
He repeats this several times, and then settles down next to my head, wrapping his arm around it like it’s a bowling ball. I tell him I love him, back. It gets quiet.
Hello, Dario! Hello, Dario!
Like a series of pings. He doesn’t make sense when he greets himself so I am forced to wonder if he knows what he means when he tells me he loves me. I think he might be talking in his sleep. I feel my phone trying to wake me up but I hide it behind a toy box next to me and concentrate on his acquisition of language. I think about the day we had, making different sounds out of a kitchen timer, an alarm clock, a walkie talkie, a variety of toy dinosaurs he has become expert at identifying. I think about how much more language he will need to acquire in his life. I think about all of the words he will see in his lifetime.
I love you, Mama. I love you, Mama.
First words and last words and all of the words in between.
We fall asleep saying I love you back and forth to each other like a mantra. It’s 4:44 and then 5:55 when I peek at the phone from a distance, so I make wishes. Magic is more magical when you’re in love.
I love you, Dario.
Like most parents of children your age I regret that you will one day have a machine in your life like this phone, which yokes you to signifiers of attention, but it will certainly figure a role especially if I think you want to see more words. Might we imagine the pre-lingual world that you inhabit, and if we meet there instead, perhaps I wouldn’t rely on superstition anymore. Perhaps that is the surrender of becoming this person I was before you ever knew I was capable of so much love.