by Elizabeth Bastos
(Just who is this Bastos?)
“Gwack! Owwwhh. Amamama?” My three-month old son is crowing, top volume, from his crib. He’s coordinated all the neurons it takes to make his fingers into a fist and then put this new thing, this “fist,” into his mouth. He’s pleased with himself. He treats me to a smile, a lopsided, drooley O.
Is there a greater, more uplifting magic than a baby’s smile? No. No way. What bad day? What’s work? All is well when Nathaniel nestles in my arms. “Zimmm,” he says, by which he means, forget your troubles, Mama. Get happy.
I soak up this sunshine because Nathaniel’s strange, experimental zips and squawks will soon become understandable words and they won’t be music to my ears. He’ll say things like “No” and “Yes,” and when he’s fifteen, “Whatever. When are you going to pay me what you owe me for cleaning the gutters?”
I know, I know, talking is an important developmental step. It’s necessary for getting along in life. But what real good comes from it? Nathaniel can suck on his toes, but he can’t stick his foot in his mouth. It’s refreshing.
Talking leads to something called lying which leads to covering up a lie, which leads to being found out, which leads to a difficult time in your marriage, which leads to therapy where you—guess what— talk. Wouldn’t it be easier make big eyes and coo regretfully and be done?
Think of the ease at work, too. You’d never discuss budgets. You’d just smile so sweetly, so genuinely, so frequently that it would be impossible for anyone to doubt you. They would know you deserve a raise. And—just like the wise, wordless newborn—you would get your way. Without saying a thing. Hoorah.
The “Blizzard of 2005” dumped 28 inches of snow on my font stairs. It was like that up and down the street, people shoveling their way out of their houses, shoving the snow off their completely covered cars, busy as ants. Along came a fire truck and out came a dozen strong men to uncover the hydrants. Happy dogs barked and bit at the snowdrifts.
Elizabeth Miller Bastos, a displaced Pittsburgher, currently lives in Cambridge, MA with her husband Javier, her amazing son Nathaniel, and an assortment of fish and plants. She daylights as a mid-level fundraising executive and moonlights as a freelance writer. Her work has appeared in McSweeney's, The Appalachian Mountain Club Magazine, JewishHistory.com, Poetism.com and in Inkwell Magazine. She can be reached at seapup_3 [at] juno [dot]com.