‘Don’t talk baby to me’
So. After months of trying to learn my baby’s language, I’ve started to catch on. Also, she’s started to repeat everything I say so pretty soon I’ll stop talking ‘baby’ and she’ll start talking English. In the meantime, there is a glossary of terms that form part of her vocabulary. Words she can use interchangeably depending on her mood and the situation. When she’s angry, they all come tumbling out in no particular order as if there’s an area in her brain where she stores them, ready to unleash whenever she’s provoked. It always makes me chuckle when she says all the words she knows. And yeah, that only makes her angrier. Which just makes me laugh some more. I bet she wishes that she could throw me out the window too. Here are some of her favourite words.
Mummy made the mistake of giving Adoti chewing gum this one time, expecting that she’d be confused about what to do with it and eventually spit it out. That didn’t happen. Instead, as soon as I get home everyday, the girl-child lunges at my handbag yelling, “Ungam! Ungam (chewing gum)!”
Somehow the words ‘poop’ and ‘apple’ have gotten their wires crossed in Adoti’s mind. The first time I gave her an apple, I told her so. “This is an apple toto, say apple.” She looked at me earnestly, before yelling, “Apopoo!” And the name stuck. So I’ll be sitting there talking about, “Alikula apopoo leo” and Nanny Lucy will respond, “Eh-eeh” as if it was the most natural thing in the world.
This one is a bit tricky because it can mean ‘popcorn’ or ‘lolipop’. So it takes some situational interpretation to figure it out. If Adoti is pointing at the kitchen shelf, then it is likely to be popcorn. Mummy in her wisdom introduced the child to popcorn and some days that’s all she will eat for hours. On those days, Nanny Lucy will be in mourning. “ Mi sioni kama huyu mtoto amekula. Hii pop-pop hii inwaweza shibisha kweli!” she will ask, looking as ferocious a police sergeant.
If Adoti is lunging at my handbag and yelling, “Pop-pop!” then it is most definitely a lollipop that she’s after. Mummy doesn’t buy those anymore because baby’s should have all their teeth.
She’s not even two years old yet (two days to go!) and she’s already speaking in metaphors. Ba-dowa is a ‘Barney’ and ‘Dora’ contraction, which she uses to mean cartoon. I’m not quite sure if she means just any cartoon or if by some miracle, she thinks that she can watch both Barney and Dora at the same time. I’m leaning towards the latter because the sassy lil’ miss has absolute confidence in her own abilities.
The tea/byed-oh combo
As if to honour part of her cultural heritage, my daughter is partial to a spot of tea (drinking chocolate actually) and a slice or two of bread. The bread must be slathered in margarine, peanut butter and jam and then smothered in drinking chocolate before it will be eaten. These days she can even feed herself. When she feels a hot chocolate/bread urge coming on she stands in front of the fridge and in a stage whisper says, “Tihh …byed-oh,” in such dramatic fashion that you would think Shakespeare himself wrote those lines.
More is the word Adoti uses whenever she wants something that Mummy doesn’t want to give her. So very often when I say, “No”, she yells, “More!” Adoti is one of those children who’s extremely testy when they are hungry, but as soon as there’s little something-something in her tum-tum, she turns her nose up and begins to play with her food. She loves pouring drinking chocolate from one cup into another, usually when she’s managed to sneak in some bread. The general idea is to make a mess and then to revel in it. So I say to her I say, “Ah-ah, no-no Adoti! Stop that right this instant!” to which she yells, “More!” We usually end up wrestling for the cups in the process spilling all the contents and ending up exactly where Mummy didn’t want to end up. Sigh.
The shoes/key/car combo
Adoti loves going places. She can sit down calmly and watch cartoons but at the mere suggestion of an excursion to anywhere – even just to take out the trash – she will be up on her feet and running to get her shoes. As she goes, she’ll be yelling, “Shuss! Shuss!” Once I’ve put her shoes on, she’ll point to the door and yell, “Kiih (key)!” So I’ll open the door and we’ll start to head out and that’s when she yells, “Caah (car)!” most triumphantly, filled with unbridled expectation. At times like those, I wish that we would all look at life through the eyes of a child, where we find immense satisfaction even in the simplest of pleasures.