Tuesday, October 18, 2011


Sunday morning Chloë asked for milk, and I decided to give her a treat. When I walked into the living room with her sippy, she looked at the cup and noticed the liquid in it was brown. "Chocolate milk?" she said after a moment, having had it before. I nodded. "Chocolate milk?" she repeated, as if getting used to the idea. She took the cup. "Chocolate milk? Chocolate milk?"

"Chocolate milk," I confirmed, and she finally took a drink.

She wasn't suspicious of the drink; she knew what it was; she wanted me to confirm that I had heard her correctly. She does this a lot these days: seek active affirmation that we understand her. So, we spend a lot of our time repeating what she says. It's good in a way, since it confirms that we understand each other, but it's also a lot of repetitive talking on both our parts. "A back tuck?" she says on our walk. "A back tuck?" until I agree, "A black truck," and then she can continue, "A hite hun!" and point to the white (actually silver) one on the other side of the street. "Goldfish*? Koë have goldfish?" she says on a break at the park, and even though I say, "Sure," and start digging through the bag, she repeats it until I say "Yes, you can have goldfish! But you have to wait!" If she says "A kirle?" it may be enough for me to point and say, "Oh yes, I see it too," rather than having to say, "A squirrel! I see it too," but she's pretty strict.

*I'm not even going to try to transliterate.

And her tantrums come almost exclusively when we can't figure out what she's saying. If I'm totally mystified by a word she's using (for example, last night it was "tiyyi") I'll sometimes try to talk around it in the hopes she won't figure out I can't translate, but I don't often get away with it. Sometimes she can show me, or Eric will know ("chili"), or from context I can grasp it, and if we can keep guessing she'll usually stay relatively calm. But if we give up she generally can't contain her frustration. That's totally understandable. But I wish it weren't so. I love talking to her, talking with her, having actual conversations in our limited way; but sometimes it feels like a minefield. I never know when exchanging information is going to blow up in our faces.

Sometimes identification comes harder because she's seeing things that aren't there. For example, there are animals in the clouds. The handles of our ice cream spoons, when the spoon part is held in the hand, are rocketships. There are snakes in the lines of a chalk drawing. (Okay, presumably she put those there. You should see the "circles" she draws.) It's marvelous, but it's tough.

She's also been waking up early and often lately, and always calls for me. Last night I had brought Maia to bed for her 3:45 feeding because I'd stayed up too late making apple tarts for my department for Treat Tuesday (however, the report is that they are delicious and belong in a magazine, so it was worth it for the ego-boost), and she woke at 5:30 to nurse again, and two minutes later Chloë started calling for me. I sent Eric, and when he said "Mommy is feeding Maia," she flew into a rage and stomped into the room crying. She insisted on coming up and crawled into bed, and so the four of us slept together until about 6:30 when Maia wanted to suck some more because it was there and I got out of bed with her and Chloë ended up following us and plagued me by asking for her light to be turned on and messing with my guitar case and the glider's settings and patting Maia on the head too hard and telling me not to sleep. But anyway. Poor jealous girl. It was kind of sweet for us all to be together like that, but man, was that bed crowded. Still, she got to be part of something everyone else but her was doing, and I guess that's important.

No comments: