“Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life’s coming attractions.” -Albert Einstein
I’ve peeled 13 bananas in 13 minutes, and I am rounding the couch for a fourteenth round when I hear more toddler mumblings.
“Poppy, I’s gets you presents, okay? Bows on dem and wit safety zizzors.”
My son spots me and tucks the fruit loot under his arm. He guards.
“Peel and eat. EAT,” I say to him slow and furious.
Over the past week I’ve watched his little claw pawing at the bowl of fruit on the table. Just one banana at first. Then he takes two or eight. Then I take trips to a grocery store where the cashier has silently accepted that I’ve got a serious potassium disorder. The boy takes his treasured “bo-nanas” to the sofa, shields them fiercely, whispers sweet words over them before tossing them, unopened and perfectly wasted, into the trash.
Figuring the problem was the peeling process, I’d crack the stem’s neck and bloom one. He’d stare at its open ripeness, inexplicably mortified, and grab another.
Figuring the problem, also, must be that he really loves bananas, I’d take much care to slice the soft fruit, splay in across his plate for breakfast, lunch, and supper. He’d push his plastic dinner tray away in disgust, shoot me a disdainful glance as if I’d fed him the poison stuff (also known as brocoli).
On and on this cycle’s swirled. Little monkey hoards bananas. Mama monkey too curious for answers swings stealthily behind lampshades and countertops, couch backs and bookshelves to solve the mystery. I spied and spied on him, overcome with a need to know why. He spotted and spotted me, shot wide eyes to my hiding spot beneath the coffee table. He’d shove the pristine yellow arch into cushions or pockets. He’d wait for me to leave.
“Oh. Ok. Thas great. And bew-oon-as [balloons]. Yeah. Ok. Ha! Woo-Woo cars! Yeah. Ok. Ess nappin’ time, ok?,” I eavesdropped from a newer perch beside the dishwasher. The boy slurred whole conversations to his secret bananas.
Figuring I wasn’t going to figure this one out, I settled with this: He poops himself and thinks chocolate milk is better because white milk is “too hot”. He likes bubble bath only from a tacky Spider Man container because the same soap from a boring package burns his face and person. He is a kid. He’s not about the sense.
I had just accepted that the boy’s mantra prayers to the peeling gods was a fluke, an oddity, a nonsensical pre-snack ritual when I heard, clearer somehow:
“Hey. Hows are you, Mimi? Oh. Thas great. I’s on da pone. Yeah. I’s see-in you for Chrickmas times. Ok? Got to go. Ok. Talkins with you later, Mimi. Ok. Bye.”
For all my fear of obsessive compulsive eating habits, of strange kid fetishes, of general dysfunction, I found only this:
Chatty Kathy. Talkin’ Thomas. The boy just likes to take his calls in private.
What make-believe have you made?