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Girl Gets An Opinion

As Madeleine continues to develop a fascinating personality of her own, a couple aspects are coming to the forefront and I can’t imagine where she gets them from –

The kid is opinionated.

And bossy.

Now I grant you, she doesn’t speak much English. She can say pretty much any word that starts with the letter “B” – ball, bubble, belly button, book – though they all sort of sound the same. And she’s got the “mama”, “dada” “nanana” (banana), “kitty”, and “no no no” down pat. Especially the “no no no” part. Other than that, though, she’ll just lecture on in her own language and expect you to keep up.

And lecture is the operative word here. She’s clearly having a heated conversation – dare I say, argument – with you, and woe be it unto you if you don’t figure out what she wants from you. 

Some times the tirade is easy to figure out. She’ll be playing with Brian and he’ll do something she doesn’t like. Maddie will quickly cut in with a negative “A tchi tchi tchi tchi tchi”, which means, “Hold on now, back it up and cut that out.” The sentence comes replete with emphatic hand gestures, including a distinct finger wagging. Then she’ll elaborate for a few phrases, finish with a “no no no,” and continue on, satisfied.

She’s a quiet little munchkin when it comes to other children and her comfort level, but it doesn’t always stop her from speaking up when necessary. In her little play dates with her friends Naomi and Emmett, she’ll be the shy, quiet one of the bunch at first, holding back and watching the older kids play. Eventually, though, she’ll get comfortable and start bossing around –er, speaking up.

During a recent play date Emmett spied Maddie heading into the kitchen. There’s a small step up into the room and Mad slowed down, readying herself to balance and step up and in. Emmett had been playing on the step for a while popping toys up and over the step and, true to his generous nature  he came over to her and placed his hands on her belly, clearly getting ready to help push her up over the edge.

“A tchi tchi tchi tchi tchi!” she said, quickly rounding on him. Maddie then proceeded to tear him apart, square her shoulders, and march off. I’m not sure if she was saying, “Hey, kid, I don’t know you well enough to let you touch me,” or “I don’t need a man’s help,” but I found myself saying, “You go, girl,” to her retreating hiney.

And as shy as she is in a group of friends, she’s fearless in a crowd; she assumes everyone’s going about their business and no one’s in hers, so she’s happy and chatty and into everything. At the park she’ll go into her most recent walk mannerism – the George Jefferson. Yes, from the television show. I swear, this kid thrusts her arms stiffly behind her, palms upturned to get “slapped a five”, then peacock-struts her way around, striding quickly and talking authoritatively the whole time. Wish you could see the video.

girltalk_with_naomi.jpgAt the park, she’s lectured unsuspecting and innocent kids who have the temerity to be sitting in “her” special seat at her regular time. The child simply nods in bewilderment while the other mother smiles on, saying, “Oh, how sweet! She’s talking to my son!” And I’m thinking, “Oh, I’m so glad you don’t understand what she’s saying . . .” She’ll walk up to a big kid that’s completely oblivious to my daughter, discourse earnestly, then walk off without waiting for a reply. She’s perfected the New York talking-with-your-hand thing, as well as the New York don’t-need-to-hear-anyone-else thing. So confident is she in her Maddie Language that she’s got other kids learning it as well; where she once used to simply walk up to Naomi and lecture a silent and solemn-faced girl, Naomi now talks back in what sounds frighteningly close to Maddie’s patois. The two of them go back and forth a bit, and walk off, mutually satisfied. The first time it happened her mother and I were both stunned. I said, “Has she ever babbled like that before?” “Nope,” answered Ingrid. Apparently, Naomi will grow up being at least bilingual now.

Just recently Maddie was playing in the park with her Gamma and got into a big debate session. Maddie kept trying to make a break for a different part of the playground and Gamma was playing a zone defense, running interference and tickle tackling. The first few times Maddie was fooled; the next few, she thought it was a fun game and entered into it; and then she got wise and began approaching Gamma with arms open and palms up, trying to reason with her. When that didn’t work Maddie went into stiff-arm mode, attempting to push past while telling a distracting story. Finally she went into her “A tchi tchi tchi tchi tchi” mode, saying, “Look, enough’s enough here. Let’s go already.”

Didn’t work when I tried it either, Maddie.

And just recently Maddie took it to a whole new level – breaking out the Jedi Mind Trick. She was into a drawer that was off-limits and Gamma came over and told her “no”. Maddie waved her hand in front of Gamma’s face as if she was wiping a slate clean, said, “no no no”, and proceeded to say what I assume was something along the lines of, “You don’t need to see anything here. I’m free to go about my business.”

That one didn’t work either.

One recent Sunday my friend Graham left his 2 ½-year-old Elisabeth in the nursery next to Maddie and said, “Why don’t you play with your friend Madeleine?” Less than enthused, Elisabeth answered, “But she doesn’t talk.” An hour into playtime and Maddie’s switch got flipped. She picked up a book that interested her, walked over to Elisabeth, and began babbling and carrying on quite the one-sided conversation, giving Elisabeth what I can only hope was a page-by-page review of the book.

Elisabeth looked at me askance and said, “Boy, she sure is talking now.”

Boy, I’ll say.


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