The literalism of a 5-year-old

My baby is growing up. She’s almost 6, actually, and this stage is characterized by her trying extremely hard to be a good girl and do what mama says and by¬†her absolute literalism. It ends up really funny sometimes. One morning last week as I was dropping her off at school, I kissed her and said, “have a wonderful day!” To which she said, with a mixture of fear and dread on her face, “Mama, do I have to?” I, not understanding what the problem was, replied, “well, just try to have a wonderful day.” Again, same look, and she questioned, “can I just not try?” “Okay, well just have a good day,” I said. That did not satisfy her and she was nearing, I kid you not, desperation. “Okay, nevermind,” I said, “just have any kind of day you want.” To which she replied, “can I just not try to have any kind of day?” I finally realized that she was taking my “have a wonderful/good/any kind of day” as a command, and worrying that she wouldn’t be able to fulfill it. “Okay, sweetie, just go to school and don’t worry about it.” Relief finally showed on her face. “Okay Mama, love you, bye…”

At this stage she is so eager to please and obey that I need to remember to only tell her things that she is capable of doing. But as the youngest, she does know how to push my buttons to get what she wants, all the while staying within the boundaries of obedience. I made chocolate-chip cookies last week, one of my rare forays into baking since we arrived here. Needless to say, everyone was happy. Radouane had been hinting for a few weeks, “some cookies sure would be nice,” but I had been loathe to put the effort into it. Well finally, success! So the kids are going wild, eating the raw dough, eating cookies as soon as they came out of the oven, and I finally had to put my food down, “no more now, we’ll have them after dinner!” As her brother and sister are sneaking spoonfuls of dough, Soumaya is reminding them, “Mama said no more, you have to listen to your mom.” So finally¬†the older kids clear out and it’s just me and my baby in the kitchen. She sits on the stool, her hand on the plate of cookies…”Mama, please…just one bite…please.” She did not try to sneak one but the whining was just as bad if not worse, and I don’t know how long it would’ve gone on since I gave in…”okay, but don’t tell your brother and sister…”

Soumaya on the first day of school with her cousin, Ghita.

Soumaya on the first day of school with her cousin, Ghita.

Advertisements