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She's Got Plenty O Nuffin'

Cora’s hit the stage where she knows
she’s done -or is contemplating doing -something wrong.

I’m so thrilled, I say dryly.

I don’t think she’s hit the intentional sin point
– where she knows it is wrong and should resist, but it seems
so delicious that she deliberately chooses to do wrong – but
she’s definitely arrived at the age of sensing
something’s not going to get the parental seal of approval,
and thus should be done in secrecy.

This translates to Cora’s new favorite word –
“Nothing”. As in, “Cora, what are you
doing?” “Nothing!” Though in all fairness, she
actually says, “Nuffin!”

She’s still cute about it, so I find
it hard to do more than smile when this comes out of her mouth.
Usually the word comes up when the house has gotten too quiet and I
call out to Cora, or come to find her. And when I round that corner
and find her standing with a black marker in one hand and a jar of
jelly in another (true story) and a look of anticipatory creativity
on her face, it’s hard not to laugh when I hear it.
“Cora, what are you going to do with that marker and

“Nuffin, mama!”

But here’s my favorite part – she now says
“Nuffin!” before I say a word. Let’s say
it’s almost naptime, and I’m giving Cora a countdown
before we head upstairs. “Cora,” I call out, preparing
to tell her she’s got five minutes left, and before I can
finish my sentence I hear a frantic “Nuffin! Nuffin!”

Which of course is my signal to come running.

Or I’ll round the corner and see her staring contemplatively
out the window. My presence will startle her, and before I can say
ONE WORD she’ll jump and say – yep –

What was going through that head? Was she planning her big escape?
Coming up with multiple ways to color in the glass panes? I can
only imagine, and take a small amount of comfort from the fact that
she’s giving her hand away a bit with all her
“nuffin”s. She’s already figured out that she
needs to really sell that reassurance, and she’ll grin
disarmingly and spread her hands wide, shaking her head earnestly
in that international symbol for “I’m unarmed and not
planning anything dangerous” as she throws me her best line.

I’m really worried about the next step – learning to
prevaricate. Goodbye “Nuffin!”, hello “Oh, just
planning a surprise for you! Don’t look!”


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