I’m reading Leta a book about various animals: animals on a farm, animals in trees, animals on the plains of Africa. She points out the chickens, the cows, the zebras and lions and birds. She even recognizes the rhinoceros, although I have no idea who taught her that. Probably Elmo, because Elmo teaches her a lot of things, like how to whine in a voice that has a pitch so strident it could fry an egg.
We get to the page of furry animals, and I point to the kittens and ask, “What are these?” She plays shy like she sometimes does when she’s trying to figure out just how much I know. A few seconds of silence pass, so I say, “These are kittens.”
“No,” she says in a tone that suggests she’s giving me credit for such a good guess.
“Yes,” I say. “I’m pretty sure these are kittens. I think I might have studied them once or twice WHILE GETTING MY COLLEGE DEGREE.”
“No,” she says again, and then tries to turn the page.
“Wait,” I say. “Just what do you think these are?”
She lets out a long, exasperated breath. “Mama,” she says slowly as if to prepare me for the disappointing truth. “These are baby cats. Baby. Cats. Okay?”
Yes, Leta. We’re clear.