Feeding Vanessa the Kudu breakfast


One of the tribe

Friday, October 22, 2010


One of the great revelations of parenthood is the alacrity and clarity with which your child begins to reveal him/herself through speech. Talking up a storm. Dialogue-ing with imaginary friends. Chattering as they beam up at you. And even if you don’t know quite what he or she may be saying, you beam too. The words may not come in clear as a bell, but the comical twist or inventiveness certainly does.

Tiger’s vocabulary seems to have taken off in a flash: Crocodawa for crocodile (added zing as dawa means medicine in Swahili); heliclopler for helicopter; panket for pancake; bouton for bottom; hippohohoh for hippopotamus; and chochit for chocolate. Not to mention endearing sentences and their executions: “I wanna wash my balls” (his one for soccer, ahem); “I make cutting with this spoon”; “I no want that juices”; “I need a chewing gums”; “I no want to do that”; and “I wanna brush my hairs.” Mixed in with a bit of Swahili: “I wanna lala (sleep) on your arm, just one minute” and “I need dawa, Mama, where’s my dawa!”

And then what comes your way, what’s shouted your way, is a sweet nothing which is truly a sweet something. This morning I was heading out to Que Pasa, a restaurant at the Karen dukas that’s my writing place of choice, and Tiger was bouncing high as a kangaroo on the neighbor’s trampoline. “Where are you going, Mama? Where are you going?” my three-year-old asks lustily. “Come, come, I need a hug. I want a hug, Mama.” “Big and tight. Bigger,” I ask him as Tiger leaps in a bounce into my arms. He pats my back, bouncing away with, “Thanks, Mama. See you later.”

Only three years old and he comes in loud and clear. That’s not just a conversation; it’s a song to make your heart sing.

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