THE first thing I do the first time I meet a kid two years of age or less not more, I bend my knees and kneel to its height, like how we kneel to the gods. Then I smile, look straight its eyes, and call on all my charms to keep it still.
You do not know how hard that is. I do not mean it’s hard to bend my knees and kneel to the kid’s height and keep that pose. I do not mean it’s hard to keep the kid with me still up to now, And, nor do I mean it’s hard to smile and charm, then to freeze for all times on my face the said smile and the said charms. No ah.
I mean it is hard for a kid that young to keep still. It crawls, it climbs, it walks, it runs, it hops, it stomps its foot, it sways with a beat its own. But keep still it does not.
Yet I try to keep it still for a while. I cup its small hands in my large ones. Turn, it can not. Run, it can not. It stands so close to me that with each breath it takes, it wafts a sniff of milk and talc and sweat and dust.
Did I, too, smell so when I was a child? When did I lose that smell? When did we all? I think, when we gagged on the milk and tossed down our throats cokes and beers and all things nice and bad.
But, I go back to where first I got lost with my thoughts. I bend my knees and kneel, like how we kneel to the gods, and smile all my charms to the kid to keep it still. What for, you ask? To try to make eye-to-eye with the child.
Oh, but right here I must right a wrong; there is no eye-to-eye; but, there is eyes-to-eyes.
It is hard for one grown-up to stare at an eye of a child with one’s one eye for a long time and wink shut one’s twin eye for as long. Let me see you try. Then let me see you make the child do the same. For sure, at age two or less not more, it can not stare at your one eye with its one eye and shut its twin eye for the count of . . . one.
So, eyes-to-eyes we must.
Back to where I got lost twice, what I want to do is try to make eyes-to-eyes with the child. Not just to cast a quick glance; but to let my eyes leap, drop, plunge down the child’s dark orbs. To swim in there; to dive deep in the black (or blue, or green, or brown).
What for, you ask? But, of course, to find out how a kid two years of age or less not more can tell us things yet no wise words pass its lips. It just grunts with ah and ma and pa and ba and waah and those few strange sounds it makes-up as it goes on to crawl on four limbs or to walk on twos.
It sees us, it hears us, it feels us. Then it talks to us.
When did it start to see, to hear, to feel us? To talk to us?
Was it when its eyes switched on bright and glad the first time it knew Mom; or the first time its eyes shed tears when it saw Mom turned her back to leave? (So, do not let it see Mom leave!). Was it when its head shook no for no, you may not take me in your arms; I do not know you well? Or was it when it smiled and grasped for milk and ice and things to break? Or when its hands waved hi, bye-bye to mean hi, bye-bye?
It tugs my heart. But first, it tugs my skirt or pants, or it tips on its toes so it can tug my short shorts. It holds both arms up. Lift me up, lift me up, lift me up!
Hitched on my hips, it wraps its arms round my neck to pat my back. It seems to say: So nice up here! Tap pat, tap pat. It leans its head; it makes my neck its bed. I kiss the damp top of its head.
I sing to it of babes that rock on tree tops. It hums. It yawns. It snorts.
Now, I can go back to where I got lost thrice. I hold a child’s small hand in my large one. Stilled, it looks deep to mine eyes. Its eyes start to speak. It tells me . . .
(Author’s Note: This article is monosyllabic. If there is a word somewhere above of more than one syllable, send that word to the writer care of SP. The author shall stand corrected. And stilled.)