Peter Shelton

Alex Sees A Hop

Posted in Confessions of a Grandpa, Watch columns by pshelton on October 28, 2010

Why only young people have babies.

Adam was driving. I was riding shotgun. Behind me in the car seat, Alex was keeping an eye out for cows. The hard “c” sound often comes out a “d.” So when Alex, who just celebrated his second birthday, sees cows in a field, the word we hear is an excited “Dow!”

In the golden pre-winter fields between Ouray and Ridgway, there were a lot of dows. “Dow Buddha! Dow Buddha!” Alex chanted, and I responded in kind.

What’s the “Buddha” part? I asked his dad. No idea, Adam said. So we all cackled “Dow Buddha! Dow Buddha!,” cracking each other up – hard to say who was more delighted – the rest of the way home.

The thing is, Alexander is hardly the Buddha child of the family. That distinction could only go to little Boden, just two weeks old now, who sleeps a good bit of the time. And when he isn’t dreaming or stretching (Oh, man, all this room to stretch outside the womb!), has an innocent enlightenment about him that is simply unavailable to the worldly Alex. Or to Alex’s six-month-old sister, Lily.

For the first time, Ellen and I and our small Colona house were hosting the entire brood. Adam and Cloe and Alex and Lily drove up from Albuquerque. And Mike and Cecily and Boden came down from nearby Elk Meadows. They all descended on Boulder Rock, also known to the peace-loving grandparents who live there as “the old people’s home.”

Needless to say, the peace was shattered. With six adults and three kids under 26 months, the place squirmed with life. Cloe refers to her children as “alert.” This is an understatement. Alex is a mischievous blond elf. Lily should sleep more than she does. But she has a strong need to be part of the action, day and night. Her huge blue eyes dart constantly around the room making sure everyone remains in her sight. She worships her big brother. She has mastered the art of the short nap, so she can remain awake and in charge. Adam calls her the Lilynator. I suggested Lilyhammer.

Here was the scene as I left for the office today. Alex is in his highchair distributing his oatmeal (“Oats!”) liberally around the vicinity. A DVD of Thomas the Train, with Ringo Starr’s soothing narration, had been keeping him mesmerized, but now it’s not working anymore. “Down!” Alex yells. “Now!” Now is his newest command. Though when you ask him if he knows what now means, he replies honestly, “No.”

Cloe is sitting on the bench pumping breast milk. Cecily is not here at the moment, or she could be pumping too. Stereo breast pumps.

Adam is trying to get Lily to sleep by bouncing her in the bouncy-chair. First he swaddles her in a blanket to keep her flailing arms and constantly kicking legs in check. Then he sits on the couch with his feet on either side of the springy clamshell and trampolines her so high you’d think she’d fly out. Sometimes it works and she reluctantly passes out. This time it doesn’t. She cries and cries, refusing to let go.

Ellen is either cooking up a storm, or washing a mound of dishes, or throwing another load of baby blankets and clothes in the washing machine.

I’m on my hands and knees wiping up a burp/spit-up from a few minutes ago when Adam was walking Lily around. Alex thinks this is hilarious. “Bahf!” he says, pointing out the obvious.

Alex does especially well with words that end in “p.” “Poop” is a big one. But also “help.” He loves to help, whether it’s at the sink with the dishes or helping unload the truck. “Pooh” is a new favorite “p” sound. We were coming back from the Ouray Hot Springs Pool when we saw all the “dows.”

“Hop” is his word for rabbit, with the final consonant very clear. Unfortunately, there was a lot of rain this last weekend, and the Boulder Rock “hops” pretty much stayed in their holes. “Hiding!” Alex declared frequently. “High-DING,” he repeated as the two of us took a walk down the driveway on a break in the weather. Then, as if by magic, a cottontail bolted from under a chamisa and darted right in front of us. “Hop!” Alex shrieked, hopping up and down himself.

Probably at that same instant Boden was stretching and yawning. Cloe and Cec were having a sister-mom talk. Adam and Mike were talking consumer electronics, or cars. Lily was content in the Baby Bjorn on Ellen’s chest cooing and smiling her grandparent-slayer smile. And the world was in perfect balance.


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