In this season of tallying up, starting fresh and counting one’s blessings, I am grateful for many things: my loyal readers, a healthy family, a funny husband, loving parents and friends, a comfortable house and Carolina sunshine.
But in particular, I am also grateful for my son’s outlook on life. You see, he is a 3-year-old with Down syndrome, and among the many things this means is that he takes things literally and doesn’t interpret things the way the rest of us do, often to comic effect.
One recent ordinary Sunday, I was making lunch and our daughters — ages 6 and 3, our son’s twin — were coloring. Our son was flitting around from thing to thing as he is wont to do, and my husband was putting up shelving in the garage using a drill. From inside the house, the sound of the drill was amplified and each time it hit the wall, it made a high-pitched buzzing/trumpeting noise that sort of sounded like a large animal pushing against the wall, noisily wanting in.
To our son, who loves animals, this sounded exactly like an elephant. He animatedly made the sign for elephant and said “El-phant!” Each time the drill made the sound, he would run over and pull at me, saying “Mommy! El-phant!” I would smile sweetly and say “Yes, it sounds like an elephant, doesn’t it?” How cute, I thought.
But it didn’t stop there. Pretty soon, his excitement reached a fever pitch and he was standing on a chair, emphatically saying “EL-PHANT!” Not just once, but multiple times. And he was looking at the rest of us going blithely about our business, totally unenthused about the angry elephant sound. How boring were we, he seemed to be thinking, how unmovable. Humph, was his expression.
Well, enough of this elephant business, I thought. It’s time for lunch. “Go wash your hands,” I told my son, pointing to the bathroom, which was right on the other side of the wall from the elephant sound. “But…” the look on his face said, wordlessly, as his expression turned into a pitiful little pout. He pointed to the bathroom and said softly “El-phant?” Mommy, you seriously want me to go in there WITH THE ELEPHANT?
Boom, it finally hit thick-headed Mommy. He did not think it SOUNDED like an elephant. He thought it WAS an elephant! I nearly melted away at the comedy and pathos of that thought. Poor kid! No wonder he was looking at us like we had lost our minds. I laughed delightedly, we all did, as I explained what he was thinking and had my older daughter accompany him to the bathroom to show him there was no great beast waiting its turn at the sink. (“El-phant; all gone,” he said matter-of-factly.)
Then we all gladly took him into the garage to show him what was really making that noise. But he was not swayed. Every time the drill buzzed, he still said “El-phant!” Exclamation mark his.
And I felt slightly jealous. After all, wouldn’t a world where pachyderms stopped by for PB&J be infinitely more exciting than one where toddlers took naps while moms swept crumbs from the floor?
Trumpet Trumpet. Stomp Stomp.