Craig J. Hansen

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Baby Talk

Interior view of cafe with leather chairs and tables.


“Hey, Jill, glad you could make it,” says Ellen as Jill takes the chair.
“Nice place!” says Jill. “Where’s Ivy?”
“Ivy will be a few minutes late. And she is bringing Thompson with her.”
They both roll their eyes and then laugh.
Ellen says, “Well, I’ve never met Thompson. He sounds like quite a toddler.”
“We’ll see if he lives up to all that Ivy says about him,” says Jill.
“Are you going to order wine with lunch?”
Jill shrugs. “Sure, why not?”
Ivy pushes through the door of the café, maneuvering a stroller the size of a bathtub, bumping chairs and apologizing as she goes.
“Hey,” she says, “here’s Thompson!”
A chubby toddler stares at them, sucking his index finger. He pulls it out with a popping noise and turns towards his mother. “GRRLBK,” he says.
Ivy laughs. “He says he’s so happy to meet you!”
“He’s so cute,” says Jill.
Ellen leans out of her seat, slowly reaching her hand towards Thompson. He swipes it away. Lively, isn’t he?” she says.
“He’ll be 2.13 years on Friday!” Ivy says brightly.
“No kidding?” says Jill, “He seems so grown up for that age.”
“BLRRBGA,” says Thompson.
“Salad?” Ivy says. “You want a salad? He is such a healthy little eater!”
“Is that a kind of salad, what he said?” asks Ellen.
“Mixed greens,” says Ivy. “He doesn’t usually order that one, but what the heck! Thompson worries so much about sustainability.”
“I’m sure he does,” says Ellen, pulling at his little right foot, and its toddler hiking boot. Thompson kicks her hand away with his other foot.
“Ouch,” says Ellen.
“Touch bubble,” says Ivy and then laughs. She sits down. The server comes over to take their order. Ivy orders salads for her and Thompson, Ellen also orders salad, and Jill orders a pesto shrimp sandwich on wheat.
“So, how have you been doing?” Jill asks Ivy. “It seems like a long time since we’ve had a chance to talk.”
Ivy is fiddling with some kind of lever on the stroller.
“I said, it’s been a while…” repeats Jill.
Ivy looks at them.  “I think Thompson might be a genius.” She laughs. “Oh, we will be in for it, I’m sure! I am sort of in awe of him. Watch this!”  Ivy turns toward Thompson, holds up one finger on her left hand and three fingers on her right hand. “Thompson, how many fingers is mommy holding up?”
Thompson glances at his mother. “AAWMLPI,” he says.
“Oh my God,” says Ivy, “see what I mean? He just said one finger on one hand and three on the other, with a sum of four. Isn’t that incredible?”
“It is,” agrees Ellen. “So what language is that? Are you raising him to be bilingual or something?”
The wine arrives. Jill and Ellen each grab it and takes a gulp. Ivy drinks water.
“Could you please just take little sips?” Ivy asks them, “I want to model responsible behavior with intoxicants.”
Jill and Ellen put down their glasses of wine. They are all silent for a moment and watch Thompson put his index finger back in his mouth.
“So, he just sits in there?” asks Ellen, “I mean, he is happy just to sort of hang out? Doesn’t want to run around?”
Thompson yawns.
“Could you both lean back a little bit?” says Ivy, “I think Thompson needs more oxygen. And to answer your question, he might want to get out and move, but it’s so hard to take him out. It’s a 12 point safety harness. Not to mention the electrodes.  I monitor his vitals on my phone. It takes me forever just to put him in. The little saint just deals with it. But he does love running around. He looks just like a panther. Someday he will be a tremendous athlete.”
“Wow, a genius athlete,” says Ellen.
Ivy smiles. “That’s so nice of you to say.”
“GLAGLAB  EEDLR MARBB YY,” says Thomson.
Ivy frowns and looks at her friends. “Is one of you having some personal issues? Thompson is so sensitive. I believe he can read chakras. Anyway, he says he wants you to be true to yourself, just be you.”
Ellen and Jill glance at each other, laugh.
Score,” says Ellen, raising her glass and clinking it with Jill. When the food arrives. Ivy offers Thompson some of the mixed greens. He sweeps them to the floor. He points at Jill’s sandwich. “A BBUGREE,” he says.
“He wants your sandwich,”
“I gathered that,” says Jill.
“Can you give it to him? You can have his mixed greens.”
Jill takes a long, slow drink of her wine. “No,” she says, “I think I’ll keep it.”
Ivy frowns. “His blood pressure just went up,” she says, looking at her phone. “Oh, I have a reminder. So sorry, we have to go. Toddler Pilates.”
“Working on his core? asks Jill, arching an eyebrow.
“Can’t be late. The other toddlers admire him so much! It’s like he’s magnetic,” says Ivy.
“A born leader,” says Ellen.
“This has just been great!”, says Ivy. “I feel like you all have really connected with him. And despite the sandwich, I feel like he probably likes you or at least accepts you for who you are.”
“That is so, so nice of him,” says Jill. She reaches over and pokes him in the belly “You little devil,” she says.
Tears spring to Thompson‘s eyes, but Ivy is busy preparing the perambulator for movement. She smiles at them. “It has a solar charger for my phone, built right in. Isn’t that cool?”
“How do you fit that in your car?” asks Ellen.
Ivy slips on her jacket. “We bought a truck,” she says.
Ellen and Jill get up. They all hug.
Ellen and Jill watch as Ivy thumps her way out of the café.
They sit, eating their food.
“Well,” Jill says.
“No kidding,” responds Ellen.