Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Angels and Devil's Hole

I've never been a huge fan of New Year's Eve. There's all this build up to do something cool to celebrate the upcoming year and then, sha-zam, the clock strikes, the minute passes, and the next year is upon us. Just like that. In the past, I've hated the pressure to celebrate--and even worse, how lame I felt if I didn't do something that either I, or other people, deemed as celebration-worthy. Like going to bed, for instance. Or even worse: Babysitting at 16. 

Now, as much as it isn't necessarily my favorite holiday, it provides the perfect excuse to get together with friends and go to the woods for the weekend, which, as dog owners, serves as the key to a nice, relaxing, dog-drool free weekend.

It was a wonderful weekend up at our cabin, full of snow-covered trees and squeals of laughter. It was just the six of us...plus 3 halves: Kaya, Arletta and Finn. All singletons, at least for now. Maybe if I start this 'Singleton-Society', as I dream of doing some day, I can convince them to 'ward off' any future child-bearing thoughts (I best leave that topic for another day, though, lest I be lynched by my beloved lingual community, thinking that I have something against anyone with more than one child).

What I really wanted to share was this surreal comment that Kaya made as we were driving away from the cabin last night. I had been telling Geoff, from the passenger seat as he was driving, about how Kaya reminds me, lately, of myself as kid. I remember how eager I used to be to talk to my mom, to tell her story after story and have her listen to me with no distractions. I remembered getting so frustrated when my sister would interrupt, or when it seemed like my mom wasn't listening (which was rare), just as Kaya screeched yesterday in the car when I would translate for Geoff or share with him my impressions. I was telling him about this shift that I've noticed in Kaya. She's talking so much, through much longer sentences, and with more direction and purpose. She's also so aware these days, more so than ever before. She's always seemed to be pretty observant, but now she seems to be taking more of a role in life around her, as opposed to living in her own world in the middle of ours. 

As we were cleaning the cabin, for example, getting ready to leave, she was looking for her socks without my having asked her to help find them. "Ist mein grossen Affen in dem Auto," [Is my big monkey in the car?] she asked, as well, concerned that we not leave him behind. She even grabbed the dust pan, at one point, and brought it over to the pile that I'd just swept, insistent that I let her help. Dust pan holding she can definitely do, I told myself, resistant to her help because I just wanted to get the job done. But when I finally relented and gave her the broom, she actually succeeded in sweeping up the mess into the pan that I was holding, as opposed to making a bigger mess like I thought she'd make. 

Earlier that day, as we were hiking to and from Devil's Hole and the lower hot springs, Kaya was in constant conversation with me from the Ergo on my back, telling me about all sorts of things that were going through her mind, including many descriptions of actions that had happened in her recent past ("Gestern haben wir..." [Yesterday, we...]). At one point, in fact, I remember Heather saying something to me, unaware that Kaya had been talking to me. I asked Heather to hold on a minute, wanting to make sure that Kaya felt heard, so that she could at least finish the story that she was sharing. 

So anyway, as I'm sharing some of these thoughts with Geoff, particularly the ones about how Kaya reminds me so much of me as a kid, Kaya says the following: 

"Wenn Nana weggeht...du pickst* sie ab, und tragst sie in den Armen..." 
[When Nana goes away, you pick her up and carry her in your arms...]

I was shocked and couldn't believe she'd just said what she did.
"Was hast du gesagt, Kaya?" [What did you say?]

She squealed in frustration, as she sometimes does when I ask her to repeat herself, but then said the same thing over again, in the same way, with the same words and the same pauses.

I looked at Geoff, and he at me.Our thoughts were the same. 
Did she really just say that? Really?

I don't know what it meant. 
And those of you who know that Nana died last year, and that Kaya had only ever experienced a very sick Nana, can surely understand my perplexity. 
Is my daughter an angel? Does she think that I am? Do I even believe in angels? Does she?

Technically, it all means nothing, right? I mean, her words clearly point to some understanding, or lack thereof, that she has...but any meaning that I put on it is just that: created meaning. I suppose I could have asked her what she meant by that, but the surreality of her words just left me wanting to remain in awe of what she'd just said.

After a bit of silence, processing her words through the dark forest, I decided that I wanted to play the 'song association game' with Geoff. What's that, he asked, and I proceeded to tell him the rules of my newly created game. Kaya was eager to play, too, and after Geoff and I had sung a few song snippets, Kaya shared with us what she'd been working on in the backseat. She had clearly been practicing a bit, at least in her head, for when I finally busted out my phone to capture the cuteness on video, her renditions were nearly the same--the first, second, and 3rd times she was willing to sing for us. For those of you who are more savvy in English than in German, here are the 'lyrics' to what I call,

The Cabin Song
by Kaya Staton 

Wir gehen nach Hause un [we're going home and]
Wir putzen wir die Zaehne en [we're going to brush we our teeth an']
wir haben gegessen [we ate]
wir haben geschlafen und getrinken...[we slept and drinked]

Mama: Ja wohl! Hast du noch ein Lied fuer uns? [Yay. Do you have another song for us?]
Kaya continues: 
Wir gehen nach Hause und [we're going home and]
putzen wir die Zaehne...[brushing we our teeth]
Kaya, talking: Ich kann dieses Lied lernen. [I can learn this song...]
Mama: Bitte? [What?]
Kaya: Ich kann dieses Lied lernen. [I can learn this (or that) song.]
Mama: Oh, du kannst dieses Lied lernen? [Oh, you can learn this (or that) song?]
Kaya: Ich kann das singen, nach dieses Lied... [I can sing it, after this song.]
(repeats lyrics, mostly the same, with this addition at the end: )
Wir haben SPASS GE-MACHT! [we HAD FUN!]
Ja wohl!


*For the record, Kaya used the verb 'abpicken', a word that doesn't exist (probably instead of abholen, which means to pick up) to convey her message. Her word choice adds to the mystery of the message.


  1. Woah. From the mouths of babes! I'm sitting here in the car dealership waiting for my car to be serviced, trying not to let the strangers around me see that my eyes are now filled with tears. I just think children are so connected. I think they know so much more than we do. I was trying to figure out some meaning from her words. But, like you, I think it's more powerful if you just let them sink in. Profound. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Thanks, Kate, for your riding this emotional experience with us. Means a lot that you continue to be a part of our journey!! (from the dealership, even!)

  3. Aber wieso abholen, wieso nicht hochheben?

    Und sehr süßes Lied :)

    Ich bin Deutsche und spreche mit meiner Tochter Englisch.

    1. Gute Frage, Peikko. Wahrscheinlich weil ich dieses andere Wort (hochheben) kaum benutze...ich zweifele, dass sie sogen dieses Wort kennt. =)

      Haben Sie auch einen Blog? Waere toll, das lesen zu koennen, wenn doch.

      Vielen Dank fuer Ihre Interesse!
      Bis hoffentlich bald!

  4. Nein, nein, ich meinte, hochheben = pick up. Wie "Pick up your doll, Kaya.". Also, dass sie hochheben wirklich nicht wusste und deshalb abpicken. Hmm, kam mir logisch vor irgendwie. Also, zu Deinem letzten Paragraph/Sternchen.

    Nein, habe ich (noch?) nicht. Sie spricht ja auch fast garnicht bisher, ist letzte Woche ein Jahr geworden. WItzigerweise ist bei ihr Nein Neineinei (eindeutig deutsch) und Bus Bah (English, hallo!). Das war auch schon ihr Vokabular.



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