always be honest, except for when you lie

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

i'm putting on this sweater, so get me milk!

Communicating with a tired eighteen month old is tantamount to an exchange with the Korean lady who works at and possibly owns the convenience store across the street from my old apartment. I'd stand there nodding, grinning, wondering if she was in fact telling me how she planned to kill me and run off with my husband under her strangely hairy arm. By strange I mean hairy in patches. A little here, a little there. Really hard to look at but I could never look away. Much as she couldn't take her eyes off my man. A silly circle we made, her staring at him, me staring at her patchy sasquatch arms and him pretending to not be looking over at the magazines to catch a glimpse of Foot Fetish Quarterly.

Wait, that has nothing to do with what I was talking about.

Right. Last night I was sitting there with my Little Girl who is almost eighteen months old and doesn't speak much Korean at all when she and I had an exchange that made me gurgle with laughter. Here's how it went, short version:

After finding a white sweater of her on the floor behind the dog's bed under the box of shoes I need to put into storage she went about trying to put the thing on. Being that she is one year old dressing herself is not an activity of daily living she has mastered. Naturally the sweater was upsidedowninsideout and twisted like a pretzel but damn if she didn't get her little fist into that arm hole. Success! Or so I thought.

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh she screamed with red face and utter disgust for things have gone oh so wrong mommmmmmy!

I offered to help, as any decent mother would do, only to be soundly put down with a right hand to the throat and a kick in the shins.

Ok, you do it, I said.

She tried again, again, again and every time got angrier and angrier as I laughed helplessly. I wanted very much to make it work out the way she wanted and I tried to help, honest I did. Nothing worked. I was a failure in her wee eyes and I felt the sting of it. No mother wants to be so useless to her children.

But nothing would do! I tried to divert her attention, hiding the sweater under my bum. Didn't work. I suggested her dollies as a better means of entertainment but she would have none of it. I was almost giddy with laughter by then because her devotion to the task she'd set before herself was singular. My Girl, not to be deterred. I was proud.

Then something changed and I began to wonder if the sweater was not the real matter after all. Her interest in it seemed more hysterical and confused after thirty or forty minutes of putting it on one arm taking it off one arm putting it on one arm taking it off one arm. I'm not sure what it was that finally went boing! in my brain but I thought to ask:

Sweetie, do you want some milk?

TOSS! Sweater is chucked and off she marches to the kitchen, relieved that I have finally figured it out. I don't know what I was thinking. I mean, duh. All those other times when she yanked on my shirt or said MILK obviously messed with my decipherability. I am so sorry. But I am back on duty and won't miss the next One Year Old Secret Code Putting On This Sweater Means I Want Milk episode. Swear. I'd had a long day. That's the only excuse I have. Sorry Baby Girl.

It's like dealing with the insane around here.