Alice looked up at my bed and said, “Ba.”
Sitting in a chair on the other side of the room, I ventured my best guesses.
“Ball? Is there a ball under there?”
Ba. Ba. “Up? You want to get up? I can lift you up.”
I walked over to where she was standing at the edge of the bed. I had taken off the sheets to wash them, and the mattress label was showing. We have a Serta.
“Oh. Yes! Baaa. That’s right! Baaa.”
She blindsides me.
I am not sure why, but I had expected that each new word – like crawling and walking – would come gradually in slow, halting stages. A syllable at a time maybe. Instead, they just spill, raw but nonetheless complete.
“Wozzzat?” she points.
“That’s a horse. Jiiiiiiii.”
(She stares. Absorbs. But she cannot say horse yet.)
“Wozzzat?” she points at the next one.
“You tell me. What is that?”
She found a snapshot of herself at 5 or 6 months old and carried it to me in her fist.
“Buh-beh,” she cooed. “Buh-beh.”
“Alice, yes! That’s you. A bebé!”
Now I exhaust her with thinly veiled pleas that she say it again.
A doll. A picture in a catalog. A child in a stroller.
What’s that? What’s that? What’s that?