Posted Sunday, August 21, 2016 at 8:17am by Darren Baker
Czech the Children- Chapter 11 - Pulverizing the Cookie
Pulverizing the Cookie
Where upsetting plans and protocols really affected us, though, concerned breast-feeding. We were hoping Terka could go one year this way, but the gynecologist advised us to give it up now, else Vet would be completely exhausted trying to nurse and carry a child at the same time. He was right on that score, so by nine months Terka was on bottled milk with a slapdash of vegetable puree for lunch.
Her only drink outside of milk was tea. It became her first spoken word, and not the Czech equivalent, because tea is easier to say than čaj (“chai”). By now she had six teeth, four on top, two on the bottom, and was still hungry as ever, making her a nice little plump girl with big brown eyes, brown hair curling at the back, a bubbly smile, and one-two chuckle. Being able to walk with a steady gait now, I figured it was time for her to learn a few games and simulations.
One of the first came to mind thanks to meeting the Mads and hearing all about their mountain climbing. Our bed consists of two singles bolted together, with each mattress hinged on a riveted spring support that allows us to lift the mattresses and store items underneath. What I did was open both so that together they formed a giant V. After covering the crevice in the middle with pillows and blankets, I picked Terka up, placed her in the crevice, then grabbed hold of both her hands and encouraged her to “climb the mountain,” meaning to the top edge of one of the mattresses. Once she made it to the top, I would call out “avalanche” and let her roll to the bottom. With her stuck inside the crevice, I next called out “helicopter rescue,” and making the sound of whirling blades, lowered both of my arms to grab her hands and lift her up and out over the ridge of the mountain to the safety of the floor below.
How many times we did it depended on her. If she just stood there after the rescue, that meant she wanted it again. Otherwise, she would mumble something and walk off.
Countering her basic instincts with lessons in humanity was a decidedly more difficult task. Giving and taking, for example. We gave her two cookies and then asked her to give one to each of us. She didn’t like that idea very much and it took five promptings before she gave her mother one. When Vet asked her in Czech, “What about dad?” she pretended I wasn’t even there. Vet gave her cookie back to her and told her to give that one to me, but she hesitated long before finally whipping her arm around to me without even looking, as if she was thinking, “Oh, all right!”
She was much better at giving the next time we played it, because she realized she would get the cookies back. When that didn’t happen, she looked at us with a profound sense of distress, completely unable to react. Clearly the billions of neurons in her head were all misfiring trying to make sense of the injustice of it all. Once they finally got their firing order on cue, her face became flush, her eyes squinted, mouth contorted, and a flood of tears and wailing to high heaven filled the room.
In the early days, giving her the cookie back would cut the fit short. But as she got older, into her twos, you could forget about it. She would pulverize that cookie and anything else you gave her. The only important thing was that she got ripped off and everybody was going to hear about it.
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