Regulars and Shorts

Babying the Buddha: Elephant Trunk Mama

By Kindra Fehr

Nothing like Kafka.
-by Kindra Fehr
fehr_buddha.jpgI woke up one morning to find that I had been transformed into "Elephant Trunk Mama." There are many things I thought I would be in my life. As a parent, I knew I would fill the role of comforter, disciplinarian, nurturer, friend, playmate, and guardian. But it never crossed my mind that I would be an "Elephant Trunk Mama."

I don't know how or why this transpired, but my three-year-old daughter Aria decided that we were the Elephant Trunk family. She began to walk on all fours, and we were instructed to make a sound created by pushing out the lips and clenching the teeth while making a jjjhhhhh sound. We decided that the translation of this sound to English was "I love you." She pretended to suck water into her "trunk" and blow it out during bath time. She visited the elephant trunk grandparents and always said goodbye with a jjjjhhh. In the mornings, I would hear a little thud coming down the stairs and a few minutes later my child would come in on all fours. The only appropriate greeting was, "good morning my elephant trunk baby." For over a month, this is what we were.

Then just as suddenly, one morning she came down announcing, "Now we're puppies." (I accidentally made the mistake of referring to her as my elephant trunk baby and was instantly corrected with, "No, no, no! We're not elephants. We're puppies!") The following day I was told, "Now we're birds. Flap your wings, Bird Mama." So we flew around the kitchen together for awhile.

Puppies and birds were short-lived. Soon we returned to our true Elephant Trunk nature. There's nothing quite like a "jjjjjhhhhh" followed by the words, "I sure love you, Elephant Trunk Mama," an extremely special term of endearment.

When this started, I thought that it would be a passing fancy lasting a few days, maybe a week or two. Yet we the transformation held for many months. Then our animal incarnations began to fade.

Phases and fantasies come and go. I miss being an Elephant Trunk Mama and often call her "my elephant trunk baby" just to see if we can relive the magic  She simply states, "We're not elephants anymore, Mama."

Kindra Fehr is an artist and mom to toddler Aria Hancock. She co-instructs the Salt Lake Art Center's KidsmART program.

This article was originally published on June 28, 2007.