Four Mamas; Three Ducks

A story.

The kid has learned “mama.” What’s more, where at first he just used something like mum-um-um-um-um-um-um as a complaining noise, now he actually uses “mama” as a word to refer to his mother. Sometimes when we’re at home and he’s observing the world through the window, or when we’re on the bus heading for campus, he’ll say “mama,” and I think it means he’s thinking of her.

But… that’s also what he calls me. He can say “pen” (heavily aspirated and nasalized, but still recognizable), and he uses babaa~ to ask for things, but for some reason he refuses to combine the phonemes to make “papa.” So, papa is also “mama.” A select group of other people he meets are “mama” as well – a couple of female acquaintances, and most recently his grandmother and grandfather.

We spent the Thanksgiving break with my parents, and during the course of the visit he referred to each of us – my mom, my dad, my wife, and me – as “mama.” Perhaps there was some subtle variation in pitch or emphasis, and often you could tell whom he was talking about through context… but it was still a weird experience. One to save and tell him when he’s grown up, so here it is.  🙂


A story.

We have a set of small but powerful magnets, embedded in little duck figurines. I think I got them in Japan for classroom use, maybe. In case case they’re with us still, and just recently the kid found them and took an intense liking to them. I think he’s fascinated with magnets in general: the behaviors that seem counterintuitive in a world largely defined by Newtonian mechanics; the fact that we tend to dress them up in various shapes and colors for household use.

Anyway, he took a liking to these ducks, and spent a while last night taking them off of the fridge door and sticking them back on again. There were three within reach, so we got into a nice little cycle where he’d have one in one hand, another in the other hand, and then give one of them to me in order to take the third, allowing me to put the one he’d given me back onto the fridge for him to take.

Today, again, he indicated that he’d like to play with the ducks. So we went over and he took one in each hand… but this time, he palmed one and tried to use his thumb and index finger to take the third. When this didn’t work (they’re pretty strong magnets, and he was trying to pull it straight away from the fridge rather than working laterally), he changed his strategy. He passed the one in his palm off to the other hand so that he had a whole hand free to work with. And it worked! I’m pretty proud of his problem-solving skills.

Every time I take my eyes off of him he crams those ducks in his mouth and wanders around chewing on them, of course. Probably one of those teething things, and in any case a reminder that he isn’t even a year and a half old yet. Still  cute, though!

About Confanity

I love the written word more than anything else I've had the chance to work with. I'm back in the States from Japan for grad school, but still studying Japanese with the hope of becoming a translator -- or writer, or even teacher -- as long as it's something language-related.
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One Response to Four Mamas; Three Ducks

  1. Pingback: More words; more mamas | landofnudotcom

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