One day Anni was twirling and singing one of her original compositions.
"It's my gift!" she declared.
Dizzy, she fell with spectacular gracelessness.
Laying on her back on the tile floor she began flapping her arms and legs
as if she were making a snow angel.
"Falling down is also a gift!" says she.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

go fish

Frankie and I decided to play a game of Go Fish while Annika finished up her lunch today. You should know that "lunch" for Anni has become something of a 3-hour extravaganza, punctuated by frequent requests for me to come listen to her tummy (ear pressed all the way to belly is required) to see what it is "still hungry for." Meanwhile, Frankie will stuff 6 snowpeas in her mouth and wander away from the kitchen, evidently bored by the totally played-out concepts of "food" and "nutrition" and "survival." So between frazzled attempts to ensure Frankie doesn't go the way of the supermodel at age 2, and desperately trying to learn the language of The Stomach Gurgle (hint: The tummy talks about potato chips a lot. Evidently, the tummy doesn't believe in low-sodium diets.), I can get a bit, shall we say, exhausted during the lunch hour(s). Today Frankie meandered into the living room while Annika was still mowing the tops off her steamed broccoli florets with the single-mindedness of a proud member of A.I.C.E.. Almost casually, Frankie grabbed the box of Go Fish cards and upended it, so that cards scattered everywhere across the living room, which was already a total minefield of toys and magazines and books and all sorts of household crap. I had to grit my teeth to keep from screaming at the thoughtlessness of it. She didn't even seem interested in the cards, or even watching them fall. Just some light-duty mess-making. Hey, nobody gets hurt, right? There's probably a clean-up fairy for stuff like that, right? But the same headache that's kept me from picking up the place for the last 3 days (let's just say it's only been 3 days, 'kay?) meant I also didn't have the energy for letting loose with my exasperation. Instead I asked Frankie if throwing the cards on the floor was her way of saying she wanted to play Go Fish. Frankie went from being the disinterested purveyor of chaos to gathering and sorting cards with the professionalism of a Vegas dealer in about 2 seconds flat at that offer. Annika, meanwhile, had moved on to the rice on her plate, which apparently requires less concentration because she struck up a conversation with me. "Did I tell you about my weird dream last night, mama?" No, she had not. "Well, it was about this porcupine, who was a singing porcupine. And it was really strange because this porcupine was on a low-sodium diet, BUT he could eat anything he wanted!" Interesting. What a strange dream. "Yes and he was walking around and eating everything and singing at the same time." I probably should have seen where this was going, but I was distracted trying to make sure Frankie found all the cards. "He was singing this song that was like this:" she goes into her opera voice "Oh, fooooooooooooood! Oh, majestic stuuuuuuuuuufff!" She was playing the opera singer role to the hilt, arms flung out with a fake vibrato on the stretched-out notes. I looked over at her and saw rice spouting out of her mouth at the "ff" ending of "stuff." Of course, she was demonstrating to me what it looks like when a porcupine sings while eating. Only the knowledge that Jörg cleans the kitchen floors every night kept me from curling into the fetal position with my pounding head sheltered between my arms. Frankie had finished picking up the cards, so I dealt us each 5 cards to start playing. Annika continued on with her story of the singing porcupine (but only between bites, as I was now careful to caution her). I can't believe how well Frankie plays Go Fish. I don't mean that she actually plays well. I could have asked for the blue shark for the past 15 turns and when she finally draws it herself from the pond, it would never in a million years occur to her that, hmmmm, perhaps mama has the matching blue shark. All I mean is that she can correctly identify all the cards (which requires being able to distinguish between a flounder and an angelfish, a distinction that still trips me up sometimes) and she waits her turn and she hands over the right cards when asked. That's a lot to ask of a 2-year-old, right? "Do you have an orange pufferfish?" I asked. "No. Go fish." "Do you have a blue jellyfish?" Frankie looked at me hopefully. "Yes!" I handed it over. Frankie smiled and stuck it in her hand. I waited for her to lay down her match, but she looked over at me expectantly. "You need to lay down your match," I reminded her. "I don't have a match!" she protested. Figuring she had gotten confused, I looked at her hand. Sure enough, my blue jellyfish was the only one in her hand. I pulled out the blue jellyfish card. "Frankie, you're supposed to ask for the match to a card you already have, silly girl! Go ahead and take your turn again." Frankie's smile disappeared. "But I wanted the blue jellyfish! I like the blue jellyfish!" So, yes, I gave her back the blue jellyfish. And Frankie lost the game, which she celebrated by throwing up her arms and yelling, "I win second!" Annika interrupted her story of the porcupine (which went on for another 15 minutes or so and thank goodness that I know better than to transcribe the entire thing here -- it turned into a total Shrek rip-off about 8 minutes in anyway) just long enough to shake her head and say, "That doesn't make any sense!" But at the end of the day, you have to ask yourself, "Which of us really got the point of the game?"