Dear Ed, 8/2

You’ve stashed away two years and three months now. There’s hardly any stopping you. This week your grandmother and the stylist at her neighborhood salon took scissors to your curly blond mullet. The hair on the top of your hair has been growing inexplicably slowly with respect to that on the back of your head. Suffice it to day, something had to be done. You protested, as you do with any threat to complete autonomy. You get that from your father (from me.) You really did have a mullet though, one worthy of rural Georgia. I don’t know if you’ll ever make it to Georgia. Afterall, you are growing up Italian. It’s strange to watch one’s own child filling with a language other than one’s own. Your rhythm is Italian. Even your babble bears Italian inflection. All day you ask: “Che fai, mamma? Che fai?” You greet neighbors and passers-by with a robust: “Buon Giorno!” When angry, you call me ‘cattiva.’ You ask for ‘acqua’ and answer my questions with either ‘si’ or that Italian ‘no,’ swallowing the ‘o.’
I guess you belong to this country. It is making you. When you and everyone around you comes from the same place it is hard to be struck by the ‘placeness’ of people. But there it is.
There are glimmers of hope though. You point to the sky and declare the ‘planes’ overhead. You mumble-sing ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star,’ as well as Happy Birthday. You don’t drink five espressos a day. Yet.
Your personality selects you a little more every week. You are fantastically stubborn, and also outgoing, but at the same time independent and non-aggressive. You approach the other children and babies in the park and pet their hair, declaring ‘cara’ as Italians do with dogs, but then you want to go your own way: climbing the hills and tree trunks and fences and chasing the pigeons and attempting to ride strange dogs–all unmolested by companionship.
You’ve been spanked twice for two things: Biting me (hard, too!) when I wouldn’t let you out of the fenced-in playground (there were unfriendly dogs with careless owners out roaming) and trying to run into the street after repeated warnings and ‘no’s. For every other sort of outburst, you receive quiet time. But you don’t require much disciplining. I don’t begrudge you your strong will when it isn’t dangerous to you, or my leg, nor your curiosity and need to explore. I give-in to all reasonable requests and directions. I am even a little proud when the other mothers look dismayed upon your climbing antics and declare you: “spericolata!” (fearless)–although at the end of the day your shins do look like a minefield. This is the way my grandmother was with me.
You are the bearer of a few odd habits. You dearly like to rub my fingers (and fingernails in particular) between your thumb and forefinger; other times it’s the fabric of my shirt or sweater; or else the pair of purple-plaid pajama pants that you’ve confiscated and drag around the apartment. Every night at bedtime, you take my hand and pull me, insist that I come lay down with you. I go. I sing you songs. Then you rise, wish me ‘ciao, ciao’ and return to the living room alone. Because apparently it’s my bedtime, not yours. First thing in the mornings, before you consent to eat or beg me to put on The Wiggles, you come out of the bedroom and climb into my lap and lay there quietly for five to ten minutes.
These are some of the greatest moments of my existence so far.
When you are very, very angry at me (usually for denying you some sugar-bomb grandma indulgence) and when crying is getting you nowhere, you’ve gotten into the habit of growling at me. Tearfully, you look me in the eye, and then ‘grrrr,’ like a lion. Under normal circumstances, this is part of your favorite game: you growl like a lion and I pretend to be scared. Then you shout ‘lion’ at me and I growl and chase you around. Except when you are mad, I think you mean to really scare me. Sometimes, when growling doesn’t work, you try barking at me. I do my level best not laugh.

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One Response to “Dear Ed, 8/2”

  1. francesca Says:

    There are no words, my love, for how this fills me up, makes me impossibly happy. I have so few regrets in life, and the most current one is that your child is growing up without Auntie Francesca as an active figure in her life. I assure you that I am more deprived of her presence than she mine.

    It’s a shoddy little mission, but I aspire to close up this gap in time.

    In the meantime, please don’t ever stop your cataloguing of these moments, so that I may savor them, one at a time, over and over, from across that ocean that parts our lives.

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