For some reason when I was pregnant with Alex, I somehow got it into my head that all babies were alike. I’ll allow you to revel in my stupidity for a moment, because even for me, this is quite a doozy. Go ahead, roll your eyes. I do.
I think Dr. Spock probably said that most PREGNANCIES were alike, you know, if you puked your guts out from the moment the sperm hit the ova, to the moment the baby crowned, it was likely that you repeated that with Baby #2. I can’t honestly say that my pregnancies were all that alike, besides my propensity to become brilliantly fat with each baby, no matter if I was hugging the bowl or stuffing my face.
But Alex was born and BAM! He was IMMEDIATELY nothing like his brother. He looked like a small yellow old man/garden gnome whereas Ben had looked shockingly like Chairman Mao. Then he acted nothing like his brother, further solidifying how dumb that thought train had been.
Where Ben preferred the company of his mobile to human interaction, I literally could not put Alex down without evoking a tantrum. He was born with separation anxiety so fierce that I nearly lost my marbles. No, I mean, like Crazy Town USA type marble loss (not ACTUAL marbles, because with a toddler, why on earth would I have marbles around?).
Language is one of those pesky ways in which Alex was nothing like his brother. Where Alex sat in his bouncy seat and babbled different sounds and managed a first word by age one, “kitty,*” Ben barely spoke until he was three. And then, only with the aid of speech and occupational therapy.
Now, of course, he never STOPS talking, and Alex is right along side of him, yelling over each other to hear and be heard. The tone and timbre of their voices are identical (Finally! Something that IS the same) and if I can’t hear who is doing the speaking, I cannot tell them apart.
When you get closer, of course, one of them speaks coherently and the other speaks and while some words may emerge, it’s more like listening to a long monologue done by someone in another language. Either Toddler or Devil, depending on his mood. Alex is my clone, be it good or bad, he’s very similar to me, although he’s infinitesimally more charming than I could ever be.
As proof of his infinite charm-a-bility I offer you this:
Whenever Alex has something with ketchup plopped neatly onto his tray for ultimate dipping pleasure, he partakes of the sweet red goo. Rather than use a pointless utensil, he would much prefer to place one of his fingers into the mound, coat the tip of his finger in it and then offer it to whomever it is that is sitting nearest to him.
Which is often me.
He offers it to me as “ice cream.” As in “Want some ice cream, Mommy?” Although with less intelligible words. And obviously, with less ice cream. Alex tears through the entire mound that way, finger full by disgusting finger full, each time gently promising ice cream when he will only deliver ketchup.
Can we get him a shirt that says, “Future Used Car Salesman?”
Anyway. Like I alluded to, you can understand a fraction of what Alex is saying up and to a point, always with context, and it’s frustrating for us all as he is obviously really saying SOMETHING. What it was, nobody really knew, except, of course, for Alex.
Earlier in the week, though, I woke up, grumbled to myself about having to get up and shuffled down the stairs to come upon my Alex, who ran full steam into my legs, demanding to be picked up.
“Hi Mommy,” he screamed joyfully. “How’s it going?”
“I’m fine, Alex,” I replied, confused. “How are you?”
“I’m watching TV with Ben,” he hollered (Alex was born without an inside voice. This is, apparently, genetic). “Come sit with us.”
It was like I’d somehow gone to Turkey, gotten off the plane knowing all the Turkish I know (answer: none), and found that I could understand the cabbie perfectly. I don’t know if it was me or Alex or both, but it was like the Intelligible Switch was flipped into the ON position.
And now, the talking back begins. The Terrible and Terrific Two’s. I couldn’t be happier**.
“Might I interest you in a genuine pair of WOODEN NICKELS? I only have one pair left and they’re going fast! Hurry and take advantage of this once-in-a-lifetime offer!”
*sounded like “titty.”
**I could, but it would involve a pit of black beans and wrestling female gladiators. And oodles of illegal AND immoral narcotics.