Here’s looking at you, kid
Children are the mirror to the soul. Every day, I see a bit of myself in Adoti. Some of it is in her genes, but the more hilarious bits usually come to light when she imitates my body movements and facial expressions. Sometimes she does it innocently because she’s learning how people interact and communicate but many times, she’s just having a laugh at her Mama’s expense.
She’s such a little imp, that one. You can’t help but laugh. I have said it before and I will say it again: There are few things more miraculous than watching a child grow and develop. You are literally watching life unfold.
So the other day, Adoti had clambered onto the coffee table (it’s made of wood, no glass involved) and was probably planning to jump without a parachute or something similarly hare-brained. I was lying down on the couch with my head on a cushion, making a valiant attempt to watch a talk show without interruption.
It wasn’t working. Adoti was hooting and hollering and trying to scale every piece of furniture in the room. When she climbed onto the table, I turned my head to give her my full attention because, without a doubt, she was going to try and do something outlandish.
So I turned my head and rested my cheek in my palm, giving her the most resigned look I could manufacture. She seemed to be getting the message. I was encouraged. But then she turned her head too and rested her cheek in her palm as well, trying very hard to reproduce my expression.
We both started laughing.
Which is another thing! She imitates my laugh as well. So first she threw her head back and laughed out loud and then she placed her hand on her forehead, bent her head slightly forward and giggled.
I laughed even harder.
The other day, I sat her down to have a serious conversation. The lady who does her hair was coming round and I wanted Adoti to be prepared because her usual schedule would be disrupted.
“Dots, Miranda is coming today. Si you remember Miranda?”
“Yah,” she said. In Adoti’s world, “yah” is a versatile word that can be used in several different contexts, so I was not too sure that we were communicating. But I pressed on.
“She’s coming to plait your hair so we need to comb it out so that she doesn’t pull, okay?”
“Yah,” she said again.
But this time, she looked up at me and opened her eyes wide; as if I was telling her that I had just discovered the 9th wonder of the world.
“Hair!” she said, pointing at her head, wide-eyed.
“Yes, hair!” I said super pleased that my child was the cleverest in the whole, wide world.
That sorted, we proceeded to undo her hair from the four matutas that had held it through the night and to comb it out. To my surprise, Adoti didn’t fuss at all. She just sat there calmly as if she had understood every word I had said to her. I made a mental note to explain things to her more often.
When Miranda, rang the doorbell, I opened the door with the girl-child in my arms.
“Hi Miranda! Karibu,” I said to her.
“Thanks,” she said. “Sorry I’m late, traffic is so bad!”
“Woi, pole!” I said to her, feeling my eyebrows raise to the tip of my hairline and my eyes expand considerably in circumference. I had never noticed this motion before. But the memory of Adoti’s eyes opened wide was fresh in my head. “A-ha! That’s why she does that!” I thought to myself.
Children, I tell you. Watching and absorbing everything you do and mixing it in with their own developing sense of character. It fascinates me to think that my sassy lil’ miss is a mini human being with her own thoughts and feelings.
A human being with her own identity and preferred way of doing things. Who fights to advance her agenda. Who chooses her battles and can recognise when to push forward and when to retreat. A human being who can give love as well as receive it. One who can test boundaries and have an awareness of when those boundaries are breached.
And most of all, a human being who understands that imitation is the greatest form of comedy.