Lately, I have to stop myself from talking to the boy when walking down the street, and when I say ‘talking’ I mean indulging in voluminous and spontaneous one-sided conversation to the back of a pram. It’s not as if I mean to do it, even when my filter tells me to button-it the other part of my brain will take momentary heed before continuing to denounce spitting in public or twist ‘n’ go transport. The latter has become somewhat of a hot topic in my head because the little fella has now started to excitedly point at motorcycles which he’ll very occasionally confuse with some perfunctory git facilitator with the power of a hair-dryer and all the charm of colitis.
At seventeen months his development appears to have entered a new phase. Things change on a daily rather than weekly or even monthly basis, to the point that now you can even have some sort of rudimentary conversation with him. Fundamental questions, such as water? more? kiss? Will be answered, even if he’s not always on the money when it comes to the vigorous shaking of the head which can mean ‘yes’ as much as ‘no’. If he wants to go out he’ll bring over his coat, if he’s hungry he’ll walk to his high chair, little arms raised until lifted into position, and if he’s tired he’ll even lead you to his room after gesturing at the milk cooling in the kitchen. He also talks to himself like his dad (though I’m not as we’ve established), endless streams of excited chatter sustained by a remarkably varied vocal range from shrieking soprano to actual death grunts.
When not talking he’ll make impersonations of things around him, disregarding the learned animal ones (though he does do a good lion) it’s more the things he’s picked up on his own. He’s good at nonspecific engines noises when punting about on his ride-on toy car but it’s the drone of the microwave or the whoosh of the coffee machine that really indicate the seismic changes that are taking place. He even copies the Radio 4 pips because that’s all we listen to; I can’t do music radio, the so-called ‘rock’ stations are punctuated every five minutes by pyscho-inducing adverts leaving us with BBC Radio 6 which is so impossibly eclectic that after ten minutes my arse and elbow start to fuse.
So we’ve established that talking to the boy in the street, or oneself depending on how it might be perceived, could be seen as problematic to the casual observer, however, it’s an entirely different story at home. In the safety of these four walls, I’m at liberty to chat at my son to my heart’s content. But I don’t just chat, I gesture, cavort, and gambol with such abandonment I almost forget myself. Then I realise that I can be seen from the adjacent flats so I’ll excitedly lift my son up to the window so any curious neighbours won’t think I’ve gone insane.
I’ve not been sleeping at all well lately.