Netanya is at that stage in her development where her brain makes a lot more sense of things than her vocabulary can allow her to express. So she sees something and fully grasps what it is, but struggles to verbalise it. It’s a frustrating phase both for her and whoever she’s interacting with. But it also is an opportunity for her to become creative with her communication.

Take food for example. Like all the other Isharazas before her, Ayinza has an above-average interest in meat. All kinds of meat. However, because we started her off with chicken after weaning, it is the most familiar to her. So she calls all meat chicken, even though she knows it’s not. When we serve lamb or pork or pigeon or duck or tripe or rabbit or goat, or tilapia or haddock (like I said, it’s an Isharaza thing), she’ll know it’s a different kind of meat, but struggle to name it. So she’ll point at it and go “Please Papa, can I have some this chicken?”

Then I’ll have to name it of course.

“You want pigeon?”

“I want pigeon.”

Problem solved.

Recently, her creativity really got me laughing hard. Apart from her love for food, she also really loves police cars. That’s a little ironic, because whenever the sirens go off and I am around, she runs to me, pretending to be scared and demands for a long, long cuddle. I know she’s pretending because when I’m not there (or she doesn’t think I am), the sirens go off and she goes about her business with the mother like nothing is happening.

Anyway, I was walking her to school when a police car sped past us, sirens blaring. After the Scared-Daddy’s-Girl-Needs-A-Hug ritual, she pointed to the car, which was disappearing round the corner.

“Papa, police car is crying!”

I froze, first trying to wrap my head around what she was saying, then marvelling at the creative genius that was my three-year-old.

“Yes Sweety,” I said, “the police car is crying. It’s called a siren”

“A si-ween?”

“Yes, a siren”.

She turned her eyes away from me to the corner of the road around which the police car had turned a few moments before.

“Sorry siween, don’t cry. You’ll be fine, OK? Mama’s coming.”

I hugged my daughter tight and kept going.

My legs were walking, but oh, my heart.

My heart was a burst of pride.

And joy

And gratitude

And just…happy-ness.

“See Papa,” she said, already moving on to her next adventure, “the birdies are flying”

I looked up and indeed, there were birds flying above us.

“Birdies not crying papa!” she said.

“Nope!” I said, “birdies are not crying. They are chirping”

“Birdas are chirping???” she asked

“Yes they are”

She now turned to me with her hands on her mouth to make a beak.

“Tweet twoooo!” she said, immitating the owl in one of her favourite books.

And on and on we went, naming things, vocalising their sounds and using our more than fair share of creativity and improvisation.

May you my daughter, never lose your sense of wonder.

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Written by Ganzi Isharaza (1)

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