When Tristan started to speak he didn’t call me “Mom.”
Or anything like it.
Instead, he called me Cutie.
At first we laughed. And corrected him. But he was persistent: my name was Cutie. I had called him that often… he was mirroring back what he heard. It warmed my heart every time he said it; after a few times I stopped correcting him.
I could hear him in the house calling, “Where’s Cutie?” and it made me chuckle. In public, of course, it was priceless. “Where’d Cutie go? There she is! Cutie!”
One summer we hired a college student to babysit for the summer. She, too, got on the bandwagon. When referring to me, it was always Cutie.
While at the beach that year, we found a keychain that had “Cutie” on it. I bought it, and stuck it on my key fob.
A few months later when my car was broken into, the key ring was stolen. I have to admit, after the initial embarrassment of telling the young policeman that “Yes, I did have a distinctive keychain, and it was a flip flop that said ‘Cutie’ on it,” I was sad that this souvenir was gone.
Days later, the robber’s loot was found. I went to the police station to see if any of my belongings were there. My CD’s were gone. The sunglasses too. Almost nothing from any of the cars he’d taken things from had been recovered. But there, on the small folding table in the room at the police station was my keychain.
I was so glad to have it back. Somehow it was a really important trinket to me. By the time it was recovered Tristan was already starting to call me “Mommy.”
Interestingly, when he sees photos of us together from those years, including every single one from the photo session in black and white, he says, “There’s Cutie!”
I guess those years were as important to him as they were to me.