This is the son of one of my best friends, Courtney. His name is Elliott. He is almost 2, and he was my Saturday afternoon date. He (and his mom) called me up today to ask me over. The voicemail said, "Hi, Deana (her)." And then, "Hi, Neena! (him)". Not many things can force me to cut a Saturday afternoon nap in half, but this did.
No child's voice since my nephew was small has melted my heart any faster. And it has been 16 years since my nephew was this age. Even now, I can still feel his tiny hand in mine, his chubby arms around my neck, see his big blue eyes twinkling, as he yelled to me to "Chase me, DEEE-NNNUHHH!" But I was 18 then, young and dumb, and I didn't realize how quickly those days would pass. I thought that in just a few years, there would be another tiny hand in mine, but this one would be in my hand forever. But things don't always work out like you plan.
I think this is why Ell is so important to me now. Because someday, I realize now, he will be tall and strong, and his hand will no longer fit in mine and Saturday afternoon trips down the slide will be ancient history.
Over the Christmas break, Court and her husband caught Elliott calling two other blonde-haired ladies "Neena". One might be hurt that her name had been associated with the wrong person, but not me. For me, it simply signaled that I had a place somewhere in that two-year old brain, and I'm sure as hell not gonna let my place get taken over anytime soon.
It is a wondrous thing, the voice of a child. Even more so when it's calling your name.
P.S. I truly believe that if everyone in the world simply yelled out a "WHEEE!" before they took on any task, the world would be a much more content place. Try it.