We were realizing that, tonight. At least, we are as fluent speakers of Elliot's nascent language as anyone but him: we understand his patterns and references and connections and connotations. We parse him, and we do it better than anyone. Because we are his parents. That's what parents of toddlers do.
Of course, eventually we will not speak his language so well. That is good and normal, if a little sad--but his language is moving forward, and it will go on without us. And he won't, I'm sure, always be fluent in Brandon and Sarah--our own little relational in-language. Which is also good.
Still. Tonight we put him down to sleep while we ate dinner at my brother's house, and when we carried him later to the car he woke up enough to be interested in the late night city environs around us. "Green!" he said, pointing to the street lights. "More green!" He gazed at the world, arms around his favorite stuffed sheep. "Sheepy happy," he said. "Da happy. Mama happy." I looked at him, a little afraid to ask the question in my mind, because as a speaker of Elliot I know that if you ask him a direct question, whether or not it's "Elliot, are you happy?" the answer almost always is no. So I knew it was special when, cheek to cheek with his sheep, he turned his full eyes to the window and answered the question I hadn't asked. "I happy," he said, and I knew just what he meant.