3.06.2007

Identity, or, I wish I could think of a better title for this

I suppose it all started as we drove Justy home from church one evening. With a little bit of help and prompting from Justy, the wuggies told us all about the movie they'd watched during our small group meeting--Curious George! With trains! Can life get any better than this?

And suddenly, I wondered if this might hold the key to the great mystery of our household.

For the past few weeks, Nathan had been wandering about the house singing "Time for Teletubbies! Time for Teletubbies!" and "Tinkywinky!"

This is quite normal behavior for a three year old... assuming he's been watching Teletubbies. But I certainly hadn't been showing them Teletubbies, and I didn't see how anyone else could have, either. It had been nearly six months since Nathan had sprayed down our television set, and we'd never replaced it.

Brilliant discipline opportunity, really. When you disregard Mama's warnings and squirt water on the television set anyway, you will lose all TV privileges... indefinitely. In the weeks that followed, every time he asked for Sesame Street, I could be genuinely sympathetic as I reminded him exactly why it was that the television was dead, and Elmo gone forever. No hard feelings whatsoever, just the dawning realization that maybe listening to Mama was in his best interests after all.

No, Nathan certainly hadn't been watching Teletubbies at our house, and I've been there for all his playdates---none of them involved Teletubbies. I wondered briefly if there was an unorthodox curriculum in the toddler nursury at church, but since I'm on the rotation, I know exactly what they do in there. Inside play time, song time, outside play time, hand washing time, snacks time, more song time, Bible story time, coloring time, indoor play time, and then it's time to go find mommy and daddy. Nope, no "time for Teletubbies" in there.

It was terribly disconcerting. I know everything about his life... right? And yet he'd obviously been exposed to Teletubbies--a LOT of Teletubbies--and I had no idea when or where or how.

So it was a tremendous relief to come up with such a plausible and innocuous solution. Perhaps Justy had been showing them videos at church during our small group.

She hadn't.

But as Andy and I explained our confusion to Justy, Nathan piped up.

"The neighbors. The neighbors watch teevee."

We all laughed. Of course! There little boy next door is the same age as the twins, and he watches a lot of television. With the volume turned way up. I just tune it out, but... well... I guess now I know why the boys spend so much time looking out the window. Maybe they aren't always watching for planes after all...

It was good to know the truth, but even more, it was such a delight to actually learn something from one of the wuggies. Of course they'd talked before, but up until then it was just simple requests, or declarations of the obvious. This was the first time that Nathan had actually provided me with interesting and moderately complex information.

I gasped in wonder. "He's a little person!"

It's the sort of thing I keep discovering over and over, on deeper and deeper levels.

I thought of the maybe-baby as a tiny person when I first saw the two blue lines, and I saw those two little jelly beans (two!) as tiny people... but when the ultrasound first showed recognizable shapes, and heartbeats, it was still a shock. They're little people! And when I watched little Isaiah kick during another ultrasound, and recognized in retrospect that faint sensation as real movement, it was another shock. They're little people.

You'd think with all the prenatal bonding I'd have figured it out, but it was still a shock to discover that they really were people when they were born.

And when they first smiled.

And when they first rolled over.

And when they first crawled.

And when they first climbed up on the piano, took off their diapers, and peed all over the keys.

It's an amazing thing to watch them unfold.

"He's a little person!"

Nathan latched onto the phrase, and repeated, "I'm a person! I'm a person!"

And so it was that we got into a discussion of just exactly what we all are.

Dadders asked them if they were people, or pickles. After much discussion the consensus was that Nathan and Isaiah are definitely people, although Tembo might be a lollipop.

That conversation has continued over the past month, as the wuggies earnestly attempt to define themselves verbally. There has been much talk about all the different sorts of people... men and ladies, boys and girls.

Isaiah is a man, and will not hear otherwise. When he neatly folds the towels for me, is he a helper? No, Wugger a man! As we march around the playground in a line, Wuggidy at the fore, is he the leader? NO! Wugger a MAN!"

Slowly but surely, however, he is starting to realize that manhood is consistent with other attributes. The other day he was soliloquizing about his identity... something he does quite frequently, actually.

"Wugger a man. Wugger a little man. No.... Wugger a BIG man. Tembo a girl. Tembo a girl like Mama. Wugger a man like Dadder."

He paused and thought for a minute.

"Dadder an OLD man."

No comments: