I’ve been spending several weeks in the country, digging in the garden and reading fun books. A lot of the time, I’m by myself, talking back to the birds who chirp down or grumbling at the bunnies who love to eat my Echinacea plants. Then people arrive on the scene, often in goodly numbers and it’s party time.
My most recent party time included a week-long visit with my daughter and her 21-month-old daughter, pictured above painting au natural. Little E is bursting into speech, abbreviating the language into bits and nibbles that convey her meanings with both joy and humor. And while she chats all the time, she mostly uses one or two word phrases—not yet full sentences. When she latches on to a new word, it becomes the word of the day and gets endless repeats. One day the word was Ma-Ma, her word for me. I slurped up all those lovely syllables and rewarded her with hugs and snuggles. Another day the word was fluffy, for she woke with wild hair, curling every which way and I said she was fluffy. So that day everything became fluffy.
My favorite of her expressions however takes a little explaining. Her mother has a delightful sense of humor and whimsy. The little one is in love with dogs, and so as her canine teeth are about to erupt from her gums, Mom explains that those are her dog teeth. My daughter is sure the baby will enjoy those teeth in particular because it will connect somehow with her doggy friends. Little E makes the phrase unique, for they are not canines, nor dog teeth, but dog-dog teeth. A three word phrase that always comes with a smile.
I drove them home and returned yesterday, again solitary, talking to the birds and bunnies. I spent the first half day feeling lonely and pathetic so I wallowed in it and did chores and put away bunches of toys. But this morning dawned crisp, cool and sunny and the garden beckoned. As I dug and transplanted and pruned, I kept seeing her covered in paint and hearing that chirpy little-girl voice in my ear, giggling Ma-Ma, fluffy and dog-dog teeth. I’m not sure if or when my grown-up vocabulary will return…