One of Leta’s new favorite ways to demonstrate her outstanding retention is to identify everyone in the room. She’ll point her right index finger — the one she holds up to show how old she is — to each person around her and say, “Dat’s Mama. Dat’s Daddy.” And if there is someone among us whose name she hasn’t yet stored in her mental Rolodex she’ll get very quiet, slink over to me and whisper so that no one else can hear, “Dat is?” And the look of panic in her eyes says that I had better let her know quick because her reputation is on the line.
One afternoon last week we were having lunch with our babysitter when Leta started pointing to everyone. “Dat’s Kay-yee,” she said pointing to the babysitter, Katey, someone she only recently stopped referring to as Tiki. Katey says that most kids have a hard time with her name, and she’s even been called KeeKee by those related to her. That’s nothing when you consider that no kid can say Heather, and the closest any one of my young relatives came was NerNer. Aunt NerNer, Giant Alien Squid.
After she pointed to Mama and Daddy I asked her to point to Jon as an exercise in putting together the fact that Daddy is the same person as the one whose name Mama yells in a homicidal tone all day. She looked straight at him and said, “Der he is!” Then I asked her to point to Heather, and without any hesitation she stuck her finger in my direction and shouted, “Der he is!”
I think my new haircut may be confusing her.
Turns out I can get her to refer to me as a he on command, and we taped her doing it yesterday while we were all gathered on the bed, all of us including the animal living on Leta’s head. Right before the beginning of this clip Leta was being as harpy as an old woman trying to bargain down the price of a stick of gum, and to calm her down I flipped out the monitor on the side of the camera so that she could watch herself being taped. It worked, and you can see the exact moment she recognizes herself because her face lights up with a giddy grin you might see on a man presented with an ice cream cone of cleavage.