New Stratagems

hide and seekA game of hide-and-seek with Dubsie is over almost before it begins. Instruct her to hide, cover eyes, count to ten. Open your eyes and she is ‘hiding’ square in a doorway, or her butt is sticking out from behind the couch. Before I can even pretend to look for her, she rushes out. “I hided and you found me!” she yells.

Oh, wait, that was last week. This week she didn’t rush out to be found. She crouched motionless and silent. Something has changed. She has grasped the principle of stealth. The web of deceit has begun to spin. A bit of intelligence got lodged within her when I wasn’t looking, and she has a new stratagem.

She’ll get hold of contraband, say an extra-long roll of  wrapping paper, and wave it around like a light saber the way her cousin showed her over Christmas. To manage this annoyance I do what has always worked with her — reach out and snatch it from her befuddled hand.

But before I can grasp it she’s on the run.

She runs as fast as she can, holding her cardboard sword precariously aloft, from kitchen to living room to dining room, the diaper lines on her rump twitching back and forth with every tiny step. She starts to giggle as I close in. You gotted me! she says when I snatch her up and and tickle her belly. You gotted meeeeeee….

You gotted me. A few weeks ago Dubsie figured out that she can talk about what happened by adding an -ed. Another fragment of reason snaps into place.

Mummy kisted me and her teacher saided something funny and she takeded her pet monkey to bed after the Christmas presents were giveded. Bananas are not peeled but peelded; milk is not drunk but drinkded. It’s an adorable mistake we wouldn’t imagine correcting, like when she tries to say cannot but instead manages cannit, in our bed in the dead of night when she won’t stop talking:

Mummy: Dubsie, will you shut up?
Dubsie: I cannit.



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