In our family, when people say goodbye at the door, it’s “See you later alligator” and back comes the reply “In a while, crocodile.” It’s always been this way. I don’t know why, and I can’t remember when it started. I know I did it with the girls when they were little, and it’s still the way I say goodbye to Hank, and even though he’s a great big almost 15 year old, he still answers me the way he always has. Over the last year or so it’s been accompanied by some eye rolling, but he does it, and I love it. I’ve been trying to teach it to Luis for a good long time now, but I’m starting to think it’s not going to take. Something in his nature, maybe the fact that he’s bilingual? Who knows, but he’s absolutely not got the hang of it. I’ll chirp out “See you later Alligator!” and mostly he ignores me, or pretends not to speak English. (A favourite ploy of bilingual kids everywhere, I’m sure.) This last weekend, he was over for a visit, and we did all the fun things he loves. We made homemade pizza in the shape of a tractor.
(Thanks to Carlos for that incredibly flattering picture of me. I swear I’m not the most dour Auntie in the world – and also, Lou is standing on a step. I’m not the shortest Tia there is, and he’s not quite a gargantuan kid) and we bribed Millie the cat into licking him on the hand. (Millie and Lou have a strained relationship. She hates the young, and he adores her. He’s very gentle, but she still won’t give him the time of day unless we practically smear the kid in cat treats.)
After that we whipped the cream for the fruit crumble (I am on a perpetual search for desserts that you can put whipped cream on, so great is his passion for both the mixer, and the cream.) It was all going so well, and he seemed so big and grown up to me, and he is. He’s a proper big boy, and so when the time came to say goodbye, I tried again. “See you later alligator!” Nothing. A blank stare. I tried a prompt. “I say, see you later alligator, and you say “in a while crocodile!” Nada. I showed him how it worked with Joe, Joe patiently parroting back the response we wanted, making it look like so much fun – how could Luis resist!
I turned back to Lou, and tried again. “You do it!” I said. “See you later, alligator!”
Lou looked at me like I was nothing short of exhausting and completely committed to making the world harder than it has to be, and patiently said “Tia Effie, in Spanish, you just say adios.”
I feel like the window on that game might have slammed right shut with that one. He’s getting too big, and too…. Luis. I was thinking about it this morning as I sewed the buttons on his latest sweater.
This one is to celebrate his third birthday, just past, and I was looking at the size of it, and thinking of the size of him, and imagining that soon he won’t be any part a baby. It made me sad a little bit. I like him so much where he’s at now, and I wouldn’t trade making tractor shaped pizza and reading stories for anything, but I miss the wee baby days, and rocking him to sleep, and…. well. I think Katie and Carlos miss it too, because guess what?
They’re making me another one.