I talked to my mother long distance on the phone today. She was babysitting my nephew when I heard him cough through the phone. It made me smile and reminded me of this memory:
My 9-month-old nephew, Zach, stayed with us for a month last summer with his mom and older brother. At the time, Zach, or Doodle as we call him, was just learning some precious new tricks, like where his nose was and how to dance when he hears music. With his brother around (being older, also adorable, and quite demanding of our attention), Doodle was always content, laid back, and pretty self-entertained for a baby. He was quite literally the sweetest, roundest, blonde-haired ball with arms and legs ever to crawl about the earth.
One day, he developed a cold, complete with runny nose and slight cough. I unknowingly developed a habit of making a fuss over him every time he finished a coughing fit. It was something like a high-pitched bout of, "Oh my sakes! Poor little Doodle, goodness gracious!" Initially, he reacted with large, curious, blue eyes meeting mine, wondering what he had done to deserve such fawning over. That's when the little stinker figured it out.
A few days later (after his cold went away), he sat on my lap as I watched TV. I noticed he was making some sort of odd noise and looked down to see what was going on. He had contorted his mouth into an "O" shape and stuck out his folded tongue, creased like a taco shell. Then he began fake coughing. It sounded mostly like grunting, but I could tell he was trying to make it come from his throat. What could I do? I really swooned over him, as if he was a starving, cold orphan who had just stumbled into my warm, safe home, "Little Doodle has a cough?! Oh no! Sakes, poor little guy!" I carried on for a minute to see his reaction and when I stopped, he curled his little pink tongue again and squeaked out another grunt.
Maybe I shouldn't have encouraged it, but I thought it was so precious. It was his way of getting attention from his Aunt Beth. If he could have spoken, he would have just said, "Aunt Beth, play with me!" But he had to do it his way, and I certainly let him. He's older now, he talks, makes barn animal sounds, walks, and eats big boy food, but I'll always see and hear him as that precious little Doodle who I spent that month with. The one with the wide smile, large ears, pudgy tummy, and joyful spirit.
Here are some past blogs inspired by these little guys:
The Little Boy and the Ducks
The Things We Do For Love
The Little Ones
The Boys I Love