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From miscreant to bunny friend

September 26, 2008

After flirting with the owner of Dixon’s Apple Farm; biting, then tossing, at least one apple to the ground (that I saw); and announcing to any-and everybody that he has a butt, Graysen, overcome by the hilarity of his own little self, gleefully proclaimed that we are all miscreants.
“Oh you miscreants!” he shouted from his carseat after our visit to the apple farm was over.
I was not particularly surprised that he came out with something like this, just curious about where he heard a word we don’t typically use. (The movie Ice Age, I learned later.) It was a decided divergence from his usual vocabulary, much of which includes various combinations of the words “chicken,” “butt,” “fart” and the ever popular “poop.”
Toilet humor pervades in our household.
“Knock knock!”
“Who’s there?”
“Poop! In my butt!!” (Insert hysterical 4-year-old laughter here.)
Graysen has always been hilarious but he wasn’t always very articulate. In fact, he didn’t get a handle on speaking coherently until he was almost 4. Despite reminding myself that Einstein was a late talker (which I then extrapolated out to mean that Graysen is a genius), I worried. I found myself watching him closely, looking for signs of things like autism. Having cared for an autistic child when I was a nanny I knew what to look for. But nothing clicked aside from his shortcomings with language and the knock-down, drag-out tantrums he threw more often than I had energy to cope with them.
When he was happy, he was very very happy. When he was not he was, well…. Fill in the blank—many words apply.
Words like “tempestuous,” as in, “Graysen, when I see you literally vibrating in anger on the floor and hitting walls…and screaming…and trying to hit the dog…then you’re being very tempestuous…I mean…I see that you’re very angry.”
I try to offer him words to attach to the feelings that threaten to overwhelm his little body. When I do, he typically shoots me a look that essentially says “DUH!”
Another fave word that applies remarkably well to this child is “fractious.” Also “mercurial.” And “capricious.”
Before he finally wrapped his tongue around the spoken word, he was all of these and more—often at the same time.
So we taught him some signs. One thing I noticed about Gray from a very early age was that he’s quite coordinated. Both his gross- and fine-motor skills are well-developed, so signing came easily to him. When he picked up a few it became very clear to everyone that he’d always understood us, he just couldn’t express himself in return.
This is what sparked the anger that placed a tyrannical hold over our entire family. To avoid meltdowns, we tiptoed around him, trying our darndest to anticipate his every need. At its worst, I found myself continuously disappointing the older kids in favor of keeping the peace with our mini Draco, whose ideas about fairness were, shall we say, less than fair. Designed, in fact, to be “fair” to him at all times. DUH.
When we began offering him some signs to express simple thoughts, a light went on. I think he even calmed down a bit. Finally, he could let us know right quick that he was thirsty, not hungry. Instead of grunting and pointing he could easily tell us that he wanted more…which usually applied to dessert but hey, small victories.
The baby tempest ebbed a little with the signs, though he’s definitely wired in such a way that he’s still prone to becoming “discombobulated,” which often morphs into “peevishness” before declining rapidly into a “truculent paroxysm of irascible fury.”
Or something like that.
So yes, he’s been a bit of a miscreant, though of course he’s much happier bestowing that moniker on the rest of the family. He’s the pot thinking we’re the kettle.
But then there are those moments when the sun shines into his little heart and, not to get all effusive here, he simply glows. This sunny-sweet side of Graysen has inspired a slew of other words we fortunately apply to him more often than the aforementioned.
Words like “Littlebuns.” “Gooberoni.” “Loveypants.” And the ultimate in long nicknames that eventually became a little song: “Graysen spumoni rigatoni canelloni macaroni.”
But all of these pale sadly in comparison with the words my little mutable bundle of absolute cuteness bestowed upon me one weekend morning. The sunlight was diffused through our filmy white bedroom curtains when Graysen popped out of his (really cool Lightning McQueen that Daddy built) bed into our (shored up underneath by 2×4’s until we get around to buying a real bedframe) bed.
He cozied up into me, tucked his little feet between my knees for warmth and put his hand on my cheek. I opened my eyes just enough to see him smiling at me, a sleepy, dreamy look on his face … his angel fuzz hair a blonde nimbus in the sun.
“Mom,” he whispered, his eyes sinking back to sleep, “you’re my sugarpops bunny friend.”
Then he wrapped his tiny arms around my neck and sighed, effectively dispelling any lingering thought of past transgressions.
At least for one sweet, shining moment.

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