It’s been awhile since I’ve written a monthly letter to 3B, and it’s occurred to me recently that I’ve been too tired and distracted to write in that kind of specific detail about him. The fatigue stems from an unlikely case of insomnia that’s stretched over several weeks now–unlikely because it’s winter and because there’s enough stress in my life to snap a steel cable right now. It might also come from this slowly growing belly that I’m developing as I distractedly nosh my way through far too many snack foods every day.
The distraction comes from all manner of small questions like how will we refinance our mortgage before it adjusts in a month and a half? will I have a job in a month? and how is it that the clothes seem to get dirty on their own, but never wash themselves?
Speaking of distracted, wasn’t I going to write a letter to 3B here? Yes, but in the spirit of bipartisan compromise that’s sweeping the land, I’m thinking that I’ll do that in the form of a letter to 3B that also describes our weekend together.
We had a fun weekend with more activity than we’ve had in several weekends, including a dinner with Liberal Banana and Fiancee and a trip to the Air and Space Museum, known to you by its full name: Air and Space Museum Where Rocknoceros Played.
The activity really started on Friday night, after you and Mama had headed to bed early and I set about trying to clean up the house, or at least make it marginally presentable for company. While sorting, washing and folding bushels of laundry, I was also picking up toys. Among them were some of your most favorite, such as your guitar, ukulele, banjo, accordion (or squeezebox, as you call it), wooden kazoo, microphone, fiddle and bow. There were also your tractors and trucks, including the John Deere steering wheel that you mounted on one stool while perched atop a red bucket on top of another stool. You dubbed this setup your “manure spreader,” remembering your rides on Uncle P’s tractor pulling the manure spreader on Great Grammy’s farm.
It occurred to me again how varied your interests are and how active your imagination is. You spend most of your days as Williebob, Coach Cotton, an old woman, your girlfriend A from school or one of a variety of people you’ve encountered. It keeps Mama and I on our toes listening for your announcements–“I’m an old woman,” “I’m Williebob,” and the infamous “I’m Bob Dylan.” You also actively engage your stuffed animals in a variety of conversations and situations, imbuing them with distinct personalities and voices. OK, I guess the personalities and voices might have come from Mama and me, but you’re the one who insists on them–“No, make Eeitz talk with a low voice.”
Oh, yeah, then there’s the “itz” movement, in which you drop all but the first syllable of a name and append “itz.” Eeyore becomes “Eeitz.” I become “Daditz.” Quatchi becomes “Quatchitz,” which sounds like something that might require penicillin or at least better hygiene, but we can talk about that more when you’re older.
This is an expansion of your frequent wordplay, replacing leading consonants with random consonants, leading you to call the lunar module at Air and Space the Goonar Godule. Again, it keeps Mama and me on our toes as we decipher your code in real time as it changes, sometimes with every word.
You’re the only one who knows why you do it, of course, and for all of your talk, you won’t talk about why. Actually, I’ve never asked, not wanting to ruin the fun by having you examine and explain it. Regardless, I don’t know the reason for your word play, but I choose to believe that you’re simply bored with language, that your reaction is, “I get it. When I want to hear my favorite band, I can say, ‘I want to hear Rocknoceros. I want to hear Williebob and Coach Cotton.’ But how boring is that? What can we do with that? How about, ‘Pi pant po pear Pocknoceros. Pi pant po pear Pilliepobitz and Poach Pottitz.'”
My hypothesis might be way off, but it does have something to do with your impish grin, which you frequently flash when saying something particularly clever.
Speaking of clever, you were in full clever and entertaining mode while Liberal Banana and Fiancee were over for dinner, clearly demonstrating to them why Mama and I feel no need to watch TV for entertainment. You were clearly impressed with Fiancee’s ability to play along with Rocknoceros on your guitar during his first listen to them, and returned the favor, singing several songs for them.
You’ve also gotten adept at redirecting the conversation, recognizing as astute diplomats do that brute force won’t do the trick. Rather than screaming or throwing a tantrum, you simply ask, “What are we talking about?” That’s a hard question not to answer, and while it doesn’t always stop the conversation, it effectively points out that you’re not involved in it.
And you love nothing if not to talk, although you do know when to stop, as you demonstrated on Christmas night after using your new microphone for awhile when you said, “I don’t have anything to say” and walked away. Everyone agreed that such an approach would benefit many pubic speakers. Of course, when you do want to talk, you expect technology to support you, leading you to say, when you come to your mic and it’s turned off or has a loose connection, “I can’t speak.”
Even without a microphone, you were plenty able to speak while we were at Air & Space, talking about Rocknoceros, going to see Apollo, looking for Buzz and Neil, and wanting to go see the great big moon. You got to fly a small plane similar, I imagine, to the one Dad flew, which was exciting while you were doing it, and distressing when you had to finish your turn to let the next kid in. You did also enjoy running through the museum and spinning wheels and banging buttons in the kids exhibits as well as taking a break to eat some french fries and lunch.
It’s hard to fathom that the last time we filmed you here, your greatest enjoyment came from pushing your stroller around on the deck outside, and now you were awestruck when we showed you Buzz Aldrin’s spacesuit and tools. I admit that it was easier for us this time around since you were less prone to squirm through railings to stand helicopters, airplanes and rocket ships. That’s not to say that you weren’t just as engaged as last time, but in a different way.
As we were leaving, I pointed out the painting of the astronaut on the wall by the exit and you said, “Goodbye, Buzz.” Your great-grandfather from New Jersey would be proud. I certainly am.
Proud and full of love for you,