Monday, 17 November 2014

Of snarks and boojums

"For the snark was a boojum, you see."
I remember this line striking me straight to the heart when I first read it. Nonsensical though the poem was (or maybe something quite else dressed up as nonsense) I have never quite reconciled myself to the "children's literature" tag that Lewis Caroll's writing bears. As an adult, I have found myself weeping over sweetness in passages in Sylvie and Bruno and quoting from Alice in Wonderland.
So, with an active toddler at hand, I find myself wondering whether I should treat her like a baby or as a miniature adult? I find myself often leaning towards the latter and this is a conversational sample :
"What would you like to wear?"
K (pointing) "De"
"Red with bright blue? Are you sure? Isn't that a little, well, loud?"
K (insistent) "DE"
"Are you absolutely sure?"
K (yelling now) "DE DO" (Gimme)
(Giving in) Well, you really can't resolve everything by shouting, you know. No shouting, please.
K (volume check scream) "AAAAA"
"No shouting. It's not nice"
K (volume reduced) aaaa
"No shouting."
K (volume further reduced) aa?
"It's still shouting."
K (final defiant squeaky shout) a
(sigh) OK. Missi-missi (massage) time.
K (cheerfully) mum-mum (feed me)
"Mum-mum after missi after nhaai-nhaai (bath)- ok?"
"What do we say?"
"PISS" (In case you're wondering, that is 'please')
(interlude for nursing, massaging, dragging her back by her ankles to be massaged, taking away the phone, telling her that the dog does not need a massage, wrestling to turn her over, tickling toes, saying 'no' about ten thousand times...)
And now, after her bath (from which I typically emerge shivering because I have been soaked to the skin, especially on shampoo days - I HATE shampoo days), we have another conversation.
"What do you want to eat? Oats or ragi?"
"Os - agi"
"Pick one - oats? ragi?"
"Os - agi"
"OK - we'll do oats"
Oats arrive, generously studded with raisins. K grabs the spoon.
"aapey - aapey" (I want to eat by myself)
I tuck the towel around her (she hates bibs) and resign myself to the inevitable.
After half-an-hour of rhapsodising over "kishim" (kishmish / raisin), sneakily picking them out of her oats to eat and generously sharing her oats with the wall, bedcover and "Icha's" hair, K is ready for some play time.
"Do you want to play with blocks?"
"Try, they are really interesting. See this one? It's red."
"No shouting. Just say no, thank you."
"o. Tank-oo"
"How about a kissy for ma?"
(presents her cheek obligingly. I have given up trying to explain the difference between taking and giving: even her words for them are the same: "De do" serves even when she wants to give you something)
"OK, now Ma is going to do some work. So will you sit here and play quietly, please?"
(All hell breaks loose for about five seconds)

"That was not nice. You hit Ma. Ma ko chot lagi (Ma got hurt). Please say sorry."

(mumbles) "towwy"

"And a kissy?"

(extends cheek again)

(long monologue on how it is not nice to hit anyone, interspersed by mumbled 'oks' by K. Enter PP eating chocolate)


(interlude for tantrum, distraction, appeasement)

And so it goes. But coming back to snarks and boojums. It is true that all boojums are snarks. But hey, all snarks are not boojums, and so it's good to go a-questing for snarks and their promise of happiness.  

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