"Danny," I turned to my littlest in the car, "say 'smooch your pooch'."
Smooch Your Pooch is a children's picture book by Teddy Slater and Arthur Howard. I'm glad we found it at the library, because I get to hear my little guy say the title whenever he wants me to read it. I told him to say it for his Papa as we were headed to his big bro's football game. It's so darn cute how he exaggerates the double oos. It sounds like, "Smeeewch yo peeewch."
He said it after I pleaded a couple times, and I clapped and giggled like Elaine watching those spinning tires in that Seinfeld episode. Then Danny started directing traffic.
"Papa, that means stop. Green means stop."
"What means stop? Green or red?"
"Red means stop."
"And what does yellow mean?"
"Orange means: go schloooow...."
Of course, it's orange to him, because orange is his favorite color. If I barrel through a yellow light, he likes to remind me that orange means "go schlow."
When he said "schlooow" Matthew and I mimicked his adorable pronunciation. I flashed him a big smile, and Matthew and I looked at each other to say, That is so cute.
It is, and he knows it. He's everybody's little darling in this family. He's the baby...except that he isn't a baby anymore, and he doesn't know that he isn't. My eldest boy, Berto, has warned me: "Mama, you have to stop treating him like that. He's going to think he's a baby forever!"
Yeah, alright, but I'm not the one who hauls him around the house pretending he's my six-month-old or my favorite puppy dog (big sisters Ella and Ana). I'm not the one who scoops him up to my shoulder and pats his back every time Mama is a meanie and disciplines him (that's Berto).
This week Berto, continuing his research in parents' influence on proper self-perception, asked his little brother, "Danny are you a toddler or a baby?"
Big brother raised his eyebrows at me with a tight, self-satisfied smile as if to say, See what you've done?
"I know," I replied. "And he isn't even a toddler anymore. Once they turn three they're considered preschoolers."
So Berto turned again to the infant Danny who was playing with his toys and questioned, "Are you a baby or a preschooler?"
He believes it, too. In another library book there's a picture of a baby in a red onesie decked out with yellow stars. The book asks, "Whose fingers? Whose nose? Whose toes are those?" Danny always answers, "A baby...like me! A circus baby!"
I held up my fingers to Berto and whispered, "See? He's two steps behind."
My forever baby.