One of the greatest pleasures of parenthood is passing on my love of reading. Sonya will bring a book for me to read aloud while I’m nursing Leena on the living room sofa. Now that Sonya is a sophisticated two-year-old, we’ve graduated from baby board books (those are for Leena now!) and moved onto picture books with real foldable, crease-able, rip-pable paper pages. Yesterday, Sonya brought me a new selection. One we’ve never read before.
I vaguely remembered Ferdinand the Bull from my childhood. He liked to sit peacefully under a tree and smell flowers, so as you might imagine, he wasn’t a vicious bull in the bullfighting arena.
But I had no idea that his biography started like this:
“MICKEY MOUSE HOUSE! MICKEY MOUSE HOUSE!” Sonya shrieked when she saw the castle on the first page. All castles are now mistaken for Cinderella’s Castle in the Magic Kingdom.
“That’s a castle,” I said, “with tall, tall turrets just like the castle at Mickey Mouse House. But this castle is in Spain where Daddy is.”
Sonya looked at me and nodded her head. ”Daddy workin. Pain. Fly plane.”
Since I’m fluent in Sonya-ese, I can tell you, she said, “Daddy’s working. In Spain. He flew there on a plane.”
Just to be sure, I checked with her. She nodded. “Yeah,” she said. “Cows. One… Two. Four. Seven.”
What’s interesting: she skipped three, five, and six, but got the right number of cows in the picture. I’m not sure if it was just coincidence, luck, or genius. As her mother, I’m inclined to go with genius.
Then came a part of the book I didn’t remember:
“AAAAAH! BEEEEE!!! GOTCHOOBEE!” Sonya screamed, pointing frantically at the illustration. Then we spent a few minutes discussing Sonya’s unfortunate encounter with a bumblebee— two and four days ago. “Bee. Grass. Sticker. Toe. Gotchoobee. Hurtin. Toe. Ay-gain. I kick it.”
Sonya got stung by a bee twice in one week! The first time, she got stung on her big toe when she was walking barefoot in the grass with Drex. The stinger of the bee (which she calls “sticker”) had to be tweezed out by Daddy. Her toe turned red, but she was “ah-kay.”
The second time, I saw it happen. I was carrying Leena across the field to the playground. Prancing in her flip-flops, Sonya saw the bee near a patch of flowers, buzzing around, pollinating things, minding its own business. But then Sonya freaked out and decided to kick the bee.
“AAAAAH! GOTCHOOBEE! I KICK IT!!!” she declared. And then got stung in the left shin.
At least now I know Sonya isn’t allergic to bee stings. “Oh, gotchoobee hurt!” she moaned. “I kick it. Hurt. Leg. Sticker. Oh, gotchoobee.”
She’s been telling everyone this story.
Yeah, Ferdinand the Bull, the bee gotchoo, too. Sonya gave this page in the book a kiss. And she kept giving Ferdinand kisses each time we reread the book (maybe thirty? forty? a million times?) since yesterday.
Tonight before going to sleep Sonya said, “Daddy Fernidad?”
“Yes, Daddy and Ferdinand are in Spain.”
“No, Daddy isn’t bullfighting.”
“Daddy and Ferdinand are smelling flowers,” I suggested.
“No, Daddy workin,” Sonya corrected. Such a faithful Daddy’s girl. “Daddy workin pooter.”
“That’s right, Sonya. Daddy’s working on his computer right now.”
“Miss you, Daddy. Back soon?”
Then Sonya closed her eyes and pretended to go to sleep, her head on the pillow, her arm wrapped around Big Mickey. Less than fifteen seconds later, her eyes snapped open, her head lifted up, and she said, “AAAHH! GOTCHOOBEE!”