Thursday, November 13, 2008

Sounds the same...

Recently Rachel has encountered some new words that sound similar to words that she already knows, but which mean entirely different things. This confuses her to no end.

Although Egypt lacks sidewalks, they do have enough curbs to make up for that. There are curbs everywhere, much to Rachel's delight. She finds great joy in walking on the curb but, since she's like 16 months old, she still needs help walking on them so I end up awkwardly leaning over so that I can hold both of her hands while she tries to balance on the curb.

She started to get a little tipsy while we were out walking the other day and looked like she was going to fall and knock both of us over in the process. It scared her a little.

"Watch your balance, Rachel," I warned her.

She looked up at me like I was talking crazy, like I had just suggested the most impossible, most scary thing in the whole world.

I understood why the second time she lost her balance and I said, "Whoops! You lost your balance again."

This time she looked up with me, with the same look of trepidation frozen on her face, but then she shrugged her shoulders and started jump-walking along the curb.

Balance sounds a lot like bounce, if you think about it. And she knows the word bounce all too well.

The other instance of grave confusion that I can recall happened yesterday while I was making dinner. Rachel suddenly decided that she was ravenously hungry and couldn't wait another minute to eat. So she proceeded to tell me so by pulling on me and signing more and pointing to her mouth and whining and crying and, in general, carrying on.

I told her that I was making dinner so she'd have to wait.

She didn't think this was a good idea, but after I ignored her protests long enough she left the kitchen to scavenge around the house.

Five minutes later she was back in the kitchen saying, "Mmmmm, mmmmmm!"

I turned around to see her holding an empty yogurt cup that's she'd pulled out of the garbage can. Gross!

I told her that she wasn't supposed to get anything out of the garbage can...and that she certainly wasn't supposed to eat anything out of the garbage can. Luckily it was a yogurt cup that we'd thrown away within the hour and not Andrew's yogurt cup from breakfast early that morning, so it hadn't been sitting there too long.

Since she was apparently hungry enough to eat garbage, I told her that if she wanted we could get a yogurt out of the fridge to eat. She immediately ran to the fridge and started pounding on it with both fists, apparently to let me know that, yes, she did want to do that. I got her a yogurt and started feeding it to her.

"Now," I said, still in lecture mode, "This is just a snack, so don't expect to get full."

She looked up at me like I was crazy, again. She may very well think I'm crazy. She looks at me like that a lot.

"Yeah," I confirmed, "It's a snack. It's like a mini-meal, so it doesn't fill you all the way up. Just some."

I could read the question mark on her face when she looked at me and started snapping her fingers by touching her thumb with her pointer and middle fingers in a staccato rhythm hoping to make a not really snapping, but pretending to.

"But mom," she seemed to plead, "This is a snap!"

"Not snap," I corrected.

She shook her head no while continuing to snap her fingers, the question still burning on her face.

"snaCK!" I said, emphasis on the -ck.

She didn't get it; just kept snapping her fingers and shaking her head as if to say, "It's okay, mom. I know it's yogurt but you can call it snap if you want to."

And just so you know, Rachel learned how to snap her fingers from a toilet paper lady at a public washroom near Ibn Tulun. She was afraid to use the potty because it was a squatter and, let's face it, those are scary under the best of circumstances. These were not the best of circumstances and she really had to go, but the bathroom floor was covered in water and I swear it was growing mold. It smelled bad and was filthy dirty. Instead of acting like a normal person and just using the potty anyway, Rachel started screaming her head off while making a break for the door. All this with her pants at her ankles.

The toilet paper lady started hissing at Rachel to get her attention. That's what they do here, hiss at people.

When that failed, the lady started snapping her fingers.

Rachel found this most amusing and started "snapping" her fingers back. Temper tantrum averted, al ham dil Allah. The last thing I wanted was Rachel throwing herself dramatically on the ground.

And the toilet paper lady didn't even baksheesh us for using her bathroom. Probably because she knew that Rachel didn't go and so didn't need toilet paper. And maybe because I slipped and almost fell into the gross, mold-infested, stagnant sewage water that was covering the bathroom floor. I think she felt that she hadn't made our bathroom experience all that it could be.

It was messy and scary and she knew it.

So instead of asking for money she just snapped her fingers and waved at Rachel when we left to find a different, less scary, less messy, less moldy, less squatty bathroom.

The experience greatly impacted Rachel; she's been snapping ever since.

Oh, and while we're talking about Rachel and going to the bathroom, I have an announcement to make.

Yesterday while I continued making dinner post-yogurt break, Rachel left the kitchen. I heard her mucking around in the bathroom so I also left the kitchen so that I could see what she was up to. My sweet little girl went and sat on the potty all by herself. And went! I was so proud!


  1. Congrats on successful potty training! You have one bright girl!

  2. I can picture her, standing there feeling the urge to go potty, with her brain wheels spinning: "What do I do now? Mom's not looking at me, so I can't let her know. Oh, well, I think I'll just sit right down and do this all by myself. No big deal." She's wonderful!

  3. She's hilarious :) I love the stories.

  4. Oh, I just remembered that Rachel also mixes up "wave" with "wait."

    Whenever I say, "Wait, Rachel!" she puts on a cheesy grin and starts waving at me. It's so funny!

  5. Every time I read your Rachel stories, I am shocked that she's only 16 months old. She's so smart! Of course, she does have smart parents...