Wednesday, 19 January 2022

The Girl

 My daughter is a teenager now, but every Wednesday I'll be rerunning some of her greatest hits.   

One recent night, my daughter proposed that we -- I am not making this up -- pretend to be continental landmasses and call each other on the phone.

"Hello, Africa? Are you there?" she said into her pinky finger. Yes, who is this? I said.

"This is India -- how are you doing today, Africa?" she said. I'm fine, I said -- a little ticklish from the elephants and zebras walking on me.

"I have hot weather today, and I have elephants too, and women who wear bindis!" she said. And so on.

She is just nine different kinds of awesome.


My daughter is into quizzes now, so when we play together, she asks me to be the quizmaster and she and her stuffed animals are the contestants. Things my five-year-old knows:

Comfrey is good for a headache.

Puffins say “moo.”

Apples come from white flowers.

Gorillas are smart and gentle but can’t talk.

You can make cloth out of nettles.

The red bricks in the fields are peat, which you burn to keep warm, and which were plants back when there were elephants here.

Red flowers are usually pollinated by birds, because birds like red, and they usually don’t have a smell, because most birds can’t smell much.

Sometimes she went into more detail – answering a question that bees help flowers have babies, she said, “We need to make sure bees are okay, because if they get sick there will be no one to take care of the flowers, and if the flowers goed away, all the girls in the world will be sad because no one will give them flowers anymore.”

Other times I didn’t quite know how to respond: When I asked her, “what are the only mammals that can fly?” she responded confidently, “Fairies.”

As I kissed her goodnight, she asked, “Papa, how do you make electricity?”

Usually by turning magnets really fast, I said. It’s electricity that pulls magnets together or pushes them apart.

“Could we try it tomorrow?”

I don’t know if your hippo magnet on the fridge is enough, I said – you would need big ones like on a windmill.

“Can we make electricity with a windmill?” she said.

When you are a little older, I said, I expect that you and I will make ourselves a windmill together.

"I love you, Papa."

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