One moment he is at the top of the stairs — only a half-flight but still, good hard wood — and then I turn my back and then I hear the ka-thump thump thump and BONK and then an ominous pause. I reach him in three leaping steps from anywhere and scoop him up, my hand palming the back of his head, and whisk him away from the offending scene. He buries his face in my shoulder and wails. Between coos, as I rock a little, I singsong
ooo-sa goo-sa, utch utch utch
tell mama all about it
utch utch utch.
I know. It's weird. I don't know where they come from, these sound-words. It's not babytalk. It's something else. Babytalk sparkles off the forehead and evaporates quickly. This language comes from the bottom of the spine, the place that roots you, where instinct comes from. It's the sounds my mouth makes before my brain can form words. After colouring on cupboards or pouring a box of Shreddies on the kitchen floor, it's
AAAAATCH ATCH ATCH!
Universal-speak for poor baby and mama's here and KNOCK IT OFF RIGHT THIS SECOND OR I VACUUM YOUR LEGO.
They understand. They both do. The hurry up for Evan has always been chup chup. We never get dressed without And one, and two, the cue for arms and legs into shirts and pants.
Ben will stop falling down stairs. Evan's lego will get packed away in favour of his mountain bike. Ooo-sa goo-sa will never be heard again. I'll probably forget it myself as they grow lanky, their bodies more their own than mine. There will be no more scooping-up. Motherhood will render me a fixture, teetering on uncool. I won't want to risk calling chup, chup, buttercup out the car window at Evan and his buddies after grade ten soccer practice.
It's 11:13 PM. I just spent an hour staring at our bedroom ceiling. I'd shut my eyes. TAXES. Oh god the taxes. Six minutes contemplating the fact that I don't carry a cellphone, wear a watch, or keep receipts. In a past life I escaped prison. And so in this one I evade anything that makes me trackable. Shut my eyes.
ROOT CANALS. Oh god the root canals. Eighteen minutes imagining it, the first set of procedures. We administer the sedative ourselves. In January, when we were publicly flogged in the village square after the diagnosis, the dentist said You'll need to carry him in. He'll be totally stoned and it's all your fault. And then she laughed and pointed at me, and brought all the other dentists over to laugh and point at me. Two of them were wearing scary clown suits. 75% of that really happened.
Shut my eyes. HOME INVASIONS. Shut my eyes. BURGLARY. Shut my eyes. TSUNAMIS. Shut my eyes. MY BOOK MIGHT SUCK. Shut my eyes. THE NEXT BOOK MIGHT SUCK. Shut my eyes. MOST SHARK ATTACKS ARE COVERED UP BY THE GOVERNMENT. Shut my eyes. MOST POTENTIALLY OBNOXIOUS OPINIONS ARE COVERED UP BY SENSIBLE BLOGGER/AUTHORS. Shut my eyes.
I can't sleep. So I came out here to start a spreadsheet for my taxes, wishing I had someone to tell me that on Friday April 30th, everything will be okay. Which translates, loosely, to a loving palm on the back of my head and my face shushed into a sweater that smells like chocolate chip cookies and
ooo-sa goo-sa, utch utch utch.