Sometimes I congratulate myself on my foresight. Long ago, when Annie was still naturally curled up like a sleeping hand, I got to thinking about how unpleasant it is when kids say NO. It’s cute at first, then they overdo it. So I made No complicated. I said, Not For You, or Not Kind. Unable to grasp that, Annie kicked off her verbal days with da. (She is my Russian baby.) I tried not to say No, unless it was in reference to light sockets and tongues or other unhappy combinations.
Recently Annie and I were paging through a Parenting magazine which I get for some reason– I think because Christina ordered diapers for me once and they assumed, correctly, that the destination of diapers equaled the destination of babies, which are usually accompanied by one parent or two. (You know what assuming does.) So in this magazine there was an ad for gnomes? I don’t know what the ad was for, but there were gnomes and dwarves and Smurfs. Annie was very impressed. She kept pointing and I kept saying, gnome!
She picked it up quickly and while she mostly is very agreeable, with her das, if she’s really unhappy with a turn of events, she tells me gnome, in a plaintive, firm little voice. I just put her down for a nap and a small voice was pleading gnome from behind the closed door.
My Russian baby likes many things. She likes to throw rocks into the pond, and makes an old lady “oooh!” when she misses the water. She likes to eat rocks and sticks. She is a creature of comfort and she loves anything sweet, or rocky, or stick-y. She can be bribed with two beautiful words: tasty treat. The second great love of Annie’s life is animals and babies. She loves to feed them. This, to me, is rare and exquisite. She’ll give away such delicacies as teddy grahams, or a ripe mango, even before having any herself. If nothing else, I love that she loves with her actions. She has no words yet with which to simulate love. Unless you count gnome.