We bought Nico some colored plastic shapes–used–at some jewel of a story called Once Upon a Baby. It is like the Goodwill of baby stuff and it’s a godsend. No one really, should have to spend $10 for a baby onsie that said baby will wear five times before growing out of it.
The shapes come in about six colors and the same number of shapes (square, circle, star, etc) that are eventually supposed to be pushed through holes shaped like said shapes when Nico is, well, much smarter.
Up until recently we have been using them as stacking materials that Nico could then bring tumbling down. But Marta is an overachiever and decided Nico should really learn something. So she started trying to teach her the colors.
And this is where the danger began.
Unbeknownst to me, Marta was holding up the shapes to Nico and saying their individual colors in a loud, clear voice. Then she would put several of those colored shapes in front of Nico and tell her to pick up one of them. Coje el rojo Nico! El rojo. (Pick up the red one Nico! The red one). She did this several times. We were all in the bed, but I was grading rhetoric papers while they were playing (which is where the unbeknownst part comes in). Then all of the sudden I was startled from a particularly awkward student sentence by Marta’s shout.
“Sarah, she did it,” Marta said. And I looked up to see Nico clutching the red shape.
Needless to say I was doubtful. There are dozens of studies about how humans “teach” dogs to understand words in a similar way when really the pups could just sense which object their owners wanted them to pick up. Not that Nico is a dog or anything.
But then Marta tried the trick again. And again. And again. Each time Nico picked up the correct color. Until, that is, she got tired of the trick and started staring at the ceiling fan like it was an alien pod about to land on the bed.
Still it was pretty cool. Our little baby girl is not just a drooling pooping machine, I thought. She can really understand us! Or at least really kind of understand us. Which is pretty damn cool. Although it also means I should stop making fun of her ears in front of her.
But then that night I had the most horrific nightmare. Nico was there, and all of the sudden she could speak perfectly, in both English and Spanish. And, though we speak only Spanish with her now, she was insisting on speaking only in English. And she was such a bitch!
She told me it was stupid to speak Spanish. And then she went out to the bus stop (yes, she could also walk now) and found her cousin Jorge and they started smoking cigarettes together. They were smoking and talking smack in English. I was horrified. I sat there by them mutely for a little while and eventually told Nico that this didn’t seem right. My protests did nothing. She was over me.
I woke up and immediately cursed the colored shapes. This is what happens with child development.
Yes, having a baby whose primary words are “Mamamama, Bah, Bah, Bah, and Tatatata” can be less than stimulating at times. Yes, changing poopy CLOTH diapers can feel like a form of hard labor (more on this in another blog). And, yes, not sleeping and not really having free time because said infant is physically and psychologically dependent on Marta and me is, at times, truly tiring.
But I do so love that she loves me so much. Child development will mean that Nico loves me a little less intensely. And eventually she will outright hate me. Or least get really embarrassed by my insistent use of the word “dude” and/or my inability to competently use the iPhone 124z.
PS. I am writing this at 2 a.m. from Spain. We flew in last night. I will have a new blog soon about flying overseas with a baby who has just been diagnosed with some form of bronchial infection. But right now I really should try to get back to sleep.