Up to this last week, he's used it for food, both before and during the meal. It's been helpful for all of us, him not the least, as it gives us some clue of how to make him comfortable. He's like a man thrown into a foreign culture, my son at this age, making the most of every word he knows, using his body language and signs to complete the job.
This last week, he's used the word for another hunger - books.
"More ... more ... more!" It can be a little much sometimes, when all I'm trying to do is to sweep away the remaining breakfast crumbs from up under his high chair and he wants to read.
He's taken to dragging an Eric Carle illustrated book around with him - one with ferocious pictures of flame orange lions and ice blue polar bears - and pulling on my pant leg until I relent and read it to him for the 107th time that morning.
To tell you the truth, I kind of like the book myself, the pictures are so unique and expressive and the words simple and compelling. So once I get going, I don't really mind. But it is a lot of time the boy is demanding and there are other things to do, like get ready for work, or get his sister ready for school.
"You," he says when we get to the page with the great purple walrus with what looks like a great old fashioned mustache.
"Who? Me?" I'm thinking, "You've got to be kidding?"
"You," he says, repeating, pointing his little forefinger like a fire poker directly at the mustache while alternatingly looking up at me with a conspiring look in his eyes, "You, You, You."
"Come on Dad," I imagine him thinking, "The resemblance is uncanny! Man! You guys could be twins!"
I'm inclined to be a little offended. That walrus has got a lot of blubber, not to mention those big pearly tusks he's got to carry around. I suppose the connection he's finding can't be explained, not even if he had the vocabulary of the bard. That purple walrus is just the thing that makes him think Dad and vice versa.
And my boy is so in earnest, both in his love of the book and his attachment to that picture, I just smile.
I suppose that's how things are, the true gifts you get are unknowable. It's a blessing to know the boy loves being read to and read to by me. It's a blessing to know he's calling out the images in the book that resonate with him - simple as they are. And it's a blessing to know that I'm a part of that literary world for him; an inexplicable, mysterious, uncanny part, but a part.
I know, especially in our house where books outnumber just about any other possession we have, that the little guy will stand a good chance of making friends with a number of books. That someday he'll draw himself up on the couch or in his room and take comfort in them and not want company.
"Okay," I say again and again as I pick him up, "Okay, Okay, Okay!"
He laughs and puts out his hand to turn the pages as we sit down.
"More!" he shouts and points at the book and then looks up at me.
As much as I can kid, as much as I can.