February 3, 2012
By Ekta R. Garg
Enjoy these Spurts from the last two weeks, readers!
One day last week as I gave Three her bath in the morning before school, she entertained me as she is wont to do most mornings. The minute this child gets into the tub, she starts making up nonsensical songs and giggles all throughout them as she waits for me to make funny expressions in reaction. The funny faces make her giggle even more, and we’ve kind of turned this into a morning routine.
On this particular morning, too, she sang in her made-up words and did a little wiggle dance. I picked up the over-sized shower mug I’ve used for both girls since they could sit up in the tub and filled it with warm water from the tap. As I do every morning, I ran a small stream of water down her leg to check the temperature.
“Oh, Mama, that’s too hot,” she said.
The temperature felt fine to me, and I knew she was just in a mood to chat at high speed.
“It’s too hot, Mama. For real, it’s too hot. For real.”
For real? Isn’t Three too young to be using expressions like “for real”? I wanted to laugh because it sounded so funny coming out of her little mouth, but I just shook my head and continued with giving her a bath. When she got sidetracked with her incessant chatter, I made sure she understood that she had to move along otherwise we’d be late. For real.
Another morning last week as we drove to school, we approached a red light and a FedEx truck passed us on the left.
“Oh, look, there’s the FedEx truck,” Five commented. “It’s taking mail really fast to some place.”
I smiled in amusement.
“How did you know that?” I asked.
“You told me,” she replied, surprised that I’d asked her. “You said FedEx takes packages and letters to different places really fast.”
It didn’t surprise me that she remembered this small tidbit of information. What surprised me was that I had no recollection of the conversation, although it certainly sounds like something I would say. But if Five remembers what I said about FedEx, what other information have I casually dropped and forgotten about? What things have I mentioned in her presence (but not directly to her) that she has tucked away in her memory somewhere?
Hearing her answer made me think twice about the things I say around both Five and Three. Because they’re young and usually don’t participate in adult conversations, it’s easy to forget they are present. More, it’s easy to forget they’re listening.
But I think it would behoove all of us parents to try to remember from now on.
Yesterday morning as snowflakes floated down busily from the sky, I decided to take the inner roads to school instead of our regular highway route. I’d heard on the radio the day before that snow would fall but probably wouldn’t stick, and because it was actually coming down at a good clip as we walked out of the house I wanted to be cautious and avoid wet high-speed roads. I didn’t mind arriving at school five minutes late as long as we arrived safely.
As we crossed one light and then another and another, the girls began their usual morning chatter. Often they’ll make up games right on the spot and proceed to execute them, switching roles at random and building on the games bit by bit. It’s interesting to listen to what comes from their games, but yesterday morning has been a highlight by far.
“Hey, [Three,] how do you say ‘pink’ in Japanese?” Five asked her little sister.
Japanese? Did I miss something in the preschool presentation at the beginning of the school year?
“Um, ‘thros,’” Three replied with a straight face.
“Okay, we have a ‘thros’ sombrero at home.”
A “thros sombrero.” Wow. Talk about the ultimate international household. South Asians who have Mexican hats in Japanese colors. And we eat pizza. Yes, we are the world.
“Okay, and how do you say ‘lion’ in Japanese?”
“Uh, ‘strahm.’ You say ‘strahm.’”
And Five proceeded to invent more sentences with “thros” and “strahm” in them. I have to be perfectly frank—for just a split second, I began wondering whether Three was saying real words. I know Salt Lake City International Airport has begun one-stop flights to Tokyo, and owing the enthusiastically proactive approach the girls’ school takes I almost wouldn’t be surprised if they just jetted off to the Ginza Shopping District between morning snack and recess.
But then the giggles returned, and my moment of doubt changed into a shake of the head and a smile. Three manages to throw out jokes with a straight face and on a dime; if she had an accent, I would have sworn she was born in England. It makes me look forward to when she gets even older and has more material to work with.