Elisha vocabulary is limited to simple sentences, usually no more than 6 or 7 words long. These sentences usually convey the immediate, eating, bathroom-needs, sleeping, etc… rarely anything else. Often these statements are expressed in the second or third person, and somewhat ungrammatically, although he is making steady progress on that front. The only word for feeling that he uses regularly is sadness. The deep irony here for which I am immensely grateful, is that Elisha is a very happy little boy, I will often find him laughing, laughing at the world, laughing at himself, genuine non-imbecilic laughter. When I hear it, I sometimes cry. Elisha tell me the joke, I ask, but he can’t or he won’t.
When he says ‘Elisha is sad’ you have to carefully watch his face. Elisha is sometimes sad. Sometimes his little brother went downstairs behind him instead of ahead of him, sometimes the avocado’s blemishes have not been sufficiently removed, or salt was not sprinkled in the proper amount. Usually, though, Elisha is happy or amused when he says this. It is often a conversational catalyst for him, which I love, though these conversations, will sometimes consist of me telling him he is not actually sad, and him repeating that he is, and doing this 50 times in a row. Literally. He will then laugh, ‘look I got my father to repeat this 50 times.’ That is quite funny actually.
Sometimes Elisha will wake up at 5 am and talk to himself. I am a very early riser myself, and I try to tune in to these conversations. Sometimes, I recognize a word here and there, but there is no coherence I can readily discern, more importantly though, there is a well of calm happiness. When I try to shush him cuz he is waking up his poor brothers, he shhhs right back at me and laughs like a baby hyena. It is so vexing, but at the same time amazing.
I would love to be let into Elisha’s world a little more.
A natural inclination is to assume that because someone lacks a depth of expression that they are not complex. This is of course patently false. Elisha’s ability to express himself verbally may be that of a young kindergartner, but his inner life is a deep and opaque pool, and I am not saying that because I want to believe it with all my heart. I do of course. But because I constantly find doing things that I don’t understand, but nonetheless follow a certain coherence.
Consider his sense of humor.
One of the rituals that I love so much is the series of silly lullabies we do each night together. It starts with a silly song of Elisha and his brothers consuming yucky dog poo, which he thinks is hilarious. Every time I sing the song he tries to substitute different words to my nonsense sometimes he adds adjectives such as ‘sad’, and each time his brother consumes dog poo with maple syrup they are sad, which in truth they probably would be. Sometimes he will want to add the same word ten times to a particular song, and it cracks him up when the song turns into a jumble of nonsense.
There is a complex pattern here, one that only Elisha, he himself and not I are privy to, and I am so jealous. Elisha tell me more!