Sunday, May 18, 2008

American Dream

Elena Marie, Isabel and I play this little game. I'm lounging about, reading the newspaper (sudoku) or doing the latest masyu puzzle or some such. The girls sneak-sneak-sneak up to my reclined-at-chair self (they are so sneaky!); each girl grabs a tsinelas (pron: chi-nehl-las) and runs off, squealing with giggles and laughter to hide their prizes from their hot-in-pursuit papa.

Me: Why, you! Come back here right now with my tsinelas!
Girls, running away faster: Tee-hee!

The game then involves the proud girls producing themselves with the announcement: We hid your tsinelas, Papa; go find them. ... Now! Come on, Papa; come look for them now!

That's what I love about little girls: they wait so patiently.

So, I'm led (dragged by the hand) past the first obvious hiding place (the coat rack, the umbrella stand, the laundry bin), but this being the 50th time this game has occurred, this week!, I, playing along, "don't see" where my first tsinelas, so it's always Isabel who cracks first ... not being able to contain herself any longer, she runs to the hiding place, retrieves her hidden treasure and presents it to me --

Me: Oh, wow! you hid it in the closet? I never would've looked there!
Li'l Iz, rolling eyes, smiling hugely, jumping up and down, all at once: Hoorah! Do I get a trophy?

The kids are always getting trophies; we're starting to run out of closet space.

Elena, however, being a proper young lady at 6 years of age ...

EM, interrupting my blog entry: Papa?
Me: Yes? ['cause that's what I always say when EM says Papa?]
EM: Papa?
Me: Yes?
EM: Papa?
Me: Yes? [see?]
EM: When will I be six-and-a-half?
Me: In another two months.
EM's face turns into a lemony prune: Grrrrrr!

Anyway, EM, being a proper young lady of only six years of age [EM: Grrr!] has novel hiding places and poem hints to reveal them:

EM: Papa, I'm your tsinelas, and I'm behind a tray the holds some wires near where people comb their hair.

So I spend the next few minutes clomping about in one tsinelas calling out: Where's my other 'chinella'? I can't find my other 'chinella'!

This annoys my cara spoza to no end:

She: It's called tsinelas!
Me: But I'm wearing only one 'chinella' ...
She, interrupting my perfectly sound justification [just as I was getting into my stride, as it were], face red: A SINGLE TSINELAS IS CALLED A TSINELAS!
Me, hurt look (lips quivering, too, it was perfect): I knew that! Of course I knew that! *sniff-sniff*
She, not buying it [you'd think after 11 years I'd perfected the innocent look]: ELENA MARIE, GIVE PAPA HIS OTHER tsinelaSSSSSS!

So off Elena Marie and I skip (Me: clomp/skip-clomp/skip, EM: skip-skip-skip) to where the other chinella [She: TSINELAS!], okay, slipper, is hiding, and we play the warmer-warmer-hot-colder-cooler game until I locate the missing chinel... [She: TSINELAS!], uhm, slipper. At which point trophies are again awarded and I am regaled with many recounts of the daring and clever escape and hiding missions.

So, I told you that story to tell you this one.

Our family visited Elena's god-family. Maria, being the eldest, is also a proper young lady fully two years Elena's senior. So after we returned home (the 'as we returned home' was an adventure, too, with red monsters catching children not getting into their car seats, and li'l Iz crying that I wanted to sleep over Aunt Jen's house!) and were having supper, Elena explained to us the relative age gap between herself and Maria.

EM: I am now six, and Maria is now eight.
Me: Very good, Elena! I saw you calculated that without counting! You're very smart!
EM, continuing as before: When I will be seven, Maria will be nine.
When I will be eight, Maria will be ten.
When I will be nine, Maria will be twelve.
When I will be te ...,

Isabel, hollering in her interrupting voice: NO! When YOU are NINE, Maria will be E-LEV-EN!
Me, surprised: That's right, Isabel! How smart of you!

This did not please EM at all [EM: Grrr!], for she didn't like the idea sharing smarts. So, I went into consolation mode.

Me: Elena, it's okay, sweetie: you are smart, Isabel is smart, Mama is smart, and Papa is smart. Other people are smart, but that doesn't mean you're not smart anymore. Look at Papa: he's very, very smart!

... as I turned my head for the bestest, smartest profile. That's my problem; my humility. But, EM had an immediate response:

Do you feel smart when you can't find your tsinelas?

My cara spoza showed her support for me by falling out of her chair, laughing.

So, it's the American dream for parents that the children surpass them in excellence. Today, my 'dream' became a reality.

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