Saturday, March 31, 2012
Little bug of spring
Little Bug is in love with the moon this spring. And stars. Also robins, squirrels, flowers and sometimes sparrows. He's maybe a little fickle about the sparrows.
The moon thing started gradually, but then one warm, early spring night we were out walking and the moon was nearly full, and when Bug saw it, he shrieked with delight. This was heartwarming and completely adorable the first six or seven times, but by the fortieth, Jennifer was imploring me to put the carrier on my back so she could be a few feet further away from our shrieking little lunatic.
I remembered why we taught him to sign. Because we needed an alternative to him shouting at us.
It took a couple of days to teach him the sign for moon and stars--moon is hard, involving cupping your fingers in a crescent shape, holding it by your eye and then extending your hand into the sky. Stars are easy, a lot like socks only directed up instead of down. Once we gave him signs, the shrieking stopped, but the excitement didn't. I found him standing on a radiator, peering out the window at the moon. We were walking down a city street, and he was so thrilled by the moon and the stars that he couldn't hold hands. In fact, he couldn't walk. He just stood there, completely enrapt, signing moon-stars-moon-stars-moon-stars. I thought he was going to bruise his head he was hitting his "moon" signs so hard and fast.
He sees moons and stars everywhere, now. In a book his sister gave him, he turns eagerly to the moon and star pages (there are a surprising number of these in board books, since most little-kid books are written with bedtime in mind). We found a baby shower present we had put away until he got older, a turtle that projects stars and moons, and he looks forward to night-time so he can turn it on. He notices stars and moons on awnings, clothing, billboards. He shouted when we drove by Macy's, with its star logo. His eyes are constantly scanning the skies.
I remember when my friend Adela told me about how when they were little her girls loved the moon. I thought that was sweet, but I think I know a little better what she meant, now. This is no mild crush. This is completely, head-over-heels, can't get enough moons and stars.
He loves all the new life of spring in the same way, shouting with pleasure at the new birds that haven't been here since fall, fat robins on the lawn, red-tailed hawks in the sky, flashes of red cardinals. He notices every new flower coming up. I told him that when the Spring Peepers sing, you know the snow won't come again, and the sound of their song means goodbye winter, hello to spring. The next day we wandered again into some boggy spot and were greeted by a chorus of peepers, and he shouted, full of delight, "Bye-bye!"
The funny thing is, I find his seriousness as moving as his delight. He was helping me in the kitchen today, gravely putting big bags of onions in the cabinet, then vacuuming with great seriousness with the hand vacuum, asking advice about the bigger pieces of popcorn on the floor. He carefully smelled the herbs for the soup, and chopped the onion in the cuisinart with brows furrowed in concentration (that's not as dangerous as it sounds. Cuisinart, in their effort to produce an idiot-proof design that adults couldn't lose a finger in, actually created something safe even for toddlers.) Not that he can't laugh--he joked around, pretended that the smell of the onions was so strong that it knocked him backward. But I am moved by this very droll little person, taking ever-so-seriously this work for our family with which he has been entrusted, hard-working and proud of what he can do.
I watch something in him reach out to the life bursting out all around him, in this, his first New England spring. I had forgotten how my heart could thrill to robins and peepers, but Bug reminds me. The world is so full of marvelous things for him, unacquainted as he is with cynicism, irony, bitterness.
He's not broken yet. Maybe he won't be for at least a few more springs.