Thursday, January 29, 2009

Liana’s evolving syntax is a constant source of entertainment and amazement for me. As someone who has spent decades helping adults acquire foreign languages, I am really in awe of Liana’s language acquisition.

For example, the word “just” entered Liana’s vocabulary a couple of weeks ago. Just is a word that ESOL teachers don’t even worry too much about incorporating into a student’s active vocabulary. But Liana is suddenly using “just” and seems to understand all of its nuances.

JUST: A Tool for Persuasion

“Just one more cookie mommy?”

JUST: A Tool for Civil Disobedience.

“Come on Liana. Let’s put on our coats. It’s time to go.”

“I just sit here play my puzzle.”

“Liana!!! We have to go! Let’s put on our coats.”

“Mommy, I just sit here, ok?”

JUST: An Indicator of Sub-par

We are walking down our hallway, and we hear a door opening. Sometimes, Jonny is on the other side of the door. Liana LOVES Jonny.

The door opens. And Liana says:

“Oh. It just Olga.”

The nuance was not lost on Olga, who knows that Liana was hoping to see Jonny.

Liana is standing on her footstool in front of the sink, getting ready to brush her teeth. For some reason, she looks at the faucet from a different angel than usual, and sees her blurred refection.

Mommy!!!!!!! A picture of ME!!!!

Yes Liana. That is your reflection.

No flecter. Picture of ME!!!!!

The very next day she found another “Picture of ME!!!!” on the metal trash can in front of the elevator.

Liana’s pictures grace not only the refrigerator, mommy’s computer screen, and her very own picture books, but her images are also scattered throughout the world, appearing randomly on faucets and trashcans and nighttime windows.

Is she truly the center of the universe? It seems that the evidence is clear.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The other night Liana was watching Miss Spider on TV. It was a flashback episode to the time that Miss Spider first laid her eggs and was waiting for her first babies to hatch. Liana was watching the episode intently, trying to follow the plot. At a certain point she furrowed her brow, turned to me and declared:

“Eggs for eating. Not for babies.”

Oh my. BIG question for so late in the evening.

My head started spinning as I tried to figure out a way to approach the enormously important issues of life and birth. As she waited for my response, my confirmation of the fact that eggs are in fact for eating and have nothing to do with babies, I sorted through my huge internal database of information on the subject, struggling for the simplest way to explain LIFE. Finally, some words came out of my mouth.

“Liana. Some kinds of babies grow in eggs, and some kinds of babies grow in women’s tummies. People and other animals grow in tummies, and birds and insects grow in eggs. But the eggs we eat are for eating, not for growing babies.”

I considered moving on to discuss fertilization of eggs, and the fact that women have eggs in our bodies and that they are similar to eggs that are not inside of animals bodies… but before I could go on, she humored me, as she often does when I give absurd explanations, and responded by simply saying


And then she turned back to the TV.

Not sure I handled that as well as I would have liked. She’s a bright kid. And she is keeping me on my toes, with increasingly insightful questions about the world around her.

We have so many adventures of discovery ahead…..

Hope I'm up for it!!!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

“My turn read Hop on Pop.”

“Ok honey. Your turn to read “Hop on Pop.”

She opens the book, and turns to a page. She stares intently at the words, and runs her fingers along them. Mimicking me, mimicking the older kids at daycare, she points deliberately at each word.

“House. Mouse.”

She moves to the opposite page. Again, pointing to the words, not the pictures, she says

“Mouse. House.”

She turns the page.

“All tall.”

The opposite page…

“All little.”

I giggle to myself. How interesting. She is focusing on content, “little” rather than remembering the rhyme, which should read “all small.”

She turns the page again.

She frowns. Furrows her eyebrows. Stares intently at the page. Touches the words. Finally, she turns to me, and declares, with both surprise and frustration,

“Mommy. I no can read!”


“No honey. But you can pretend to read. You are still learning the alphabet. But when you get bigger, you will be able to read.”

Everything associated with bedtime continues to be a nightmare. Even the mere declaration that bedtime has arrived brings on the possibility that my sweet little angel-girl will turn into the exorcist-child, writhing and screaming with a strength and volume that seems impossible for such a little tyke. Sometimes the breakdown happens when the lights go out after we’ve read our books. Other nights she falls asleep without incident, but then wakes up screaming… sometimes from nightmares, sometimes night terrors… and other times just because I have snuck out of the bedroom.

There are safe moments in the bedtime ritual. We get into bed, drink water, arrange the stuffed animals, and prepare to read our books. But for the past couple of weeks, this stretch of the process has been wrought by fear of “ghosts.” As Liana arranged her stuff animals on the bed, she would exclaim that she saw a ghost, and that she was afraid of ghosts. But she didn’t cry or scream, so I just pushed through, insisting that ghosts were make-believe, or asking if it was a nice ghost, or whatever.

Last week, she saw a ghost and jumped on top of me and clung tight, chanting “afraid of ghosts, afraid of ghosts, afraid of ghosts.” So I asked if she could point out the ghost, and she pointed towards her pillow, saying that it was gone. But just as she pointed, she jumped and screamed “there the ghost!!!” I pointed towards the pillow, stating that I did not see the ghost, and as I extended my arm, she squealed again “There!!! There!!! There!!!”

And I saw it.

It was not, however, a ghost. It was the shadow of my arm, being cast on the pillow.

How could I have missed it? For weeks?

“Oh Liana… that is not a ghost! That is my shadow. See?” And I moved my arm to make the shadow move. Intrigued, but not completely convinced, she waved her own arm. When she realized that she had the power to make the image move, she was delighted. So we played with the shadows a bit, making funny shapes and rhythmic motions. She laughed, over and over again.

“Mommy! They just like us!!!”

What a bright little girl. “Yes Liana, that’s right. They are just like us.” The content of her observation… the syntax…. her giggles…. the joy that she felt as she exercised the power of control over the shadows, that were not longer scary… oh… all of it made me just gush with love.

The next day we went looking for shadows on the street. Shadows are fun.

And one, little nighttime problem has been resolved.