As she sat at the table sipping her coffee, Jennifer overheard the small voice of her young daughter saying encouragingly, “Eat, Baby! Eat! Mmmm! Eat!”
Feeling a slight pang of suspicion at the pleas, she turned around to see her tousle-headed two year old, seated Indian-style on the living room floor, feeding her pudgy infant sister bits of green playdough.
“No, Elowyn! That’s no good!” the mother exclaimed, fishing the slimy dough out of little Leianor’s two-toothed mouth. “Playdough is not food, OK? Let’s not let Baby eat playdough. Keep it on the table and don’t let Leia have it. It could make her sick.”
Elowyn sighed and looked disgruntled. She watched her mother gingerly pick up the gooey blobs, take one last swipe of the baby’s mouth with her index finger, and return the dough to its container in the kitchen.
“Oh well,” Elowyn thought to herself, “Another perfectly good game thwarted.”
Diverting her attention to a new project, Elowyn began sorting and picking up the giant blue, red, and yellow Legos which she had previously scattered across the floor. She carefully gathered them all by color into her pink plastic picnic basket, which played a little song every time she opened the lid. Her picnic basket was among her most prized of possessions, along with a large plush frog, a very loved and rather worn tag-blankie, and a toy husky named Teddy.
Leianor was intrigued by her big sister’s new game. Initially, the infant watched her older sibling from a distance with wide eyes and a string of absentminded drool hanging off her chin. Then, she determined to participate in this fascinating activity. Giggling with mirth, she crawled eagerly toward Elowyn’s basket and began emptying blocks out of it.
“No, no, Baby!” cried Elowyn in dismay. “Go ‘way! Go play!”
“Oh no! What’s wrong?” asked their mother in a consoling voice. “Can’t you play with Leianor?”
“No!” declared the little girl with an incredulous gaze. She wondered how her mother couldn’t see what a disruption her younger sister was to the orderly collection of blocks.
Having decided that this predicament required uncompromised communication, Elowyn enunciated firmly and rather severely, as if she were explaining one of the higher sciences to a dog, “I don’t want play with Baby,” she said. “Baby make messes. Elowyn want Baby to go ‘way. Elowyn want Baby to go play.”
And tossing a giant Lego across the room, Elowyn commanded, “Shoo Baby! Go get it!”
Leianor squealed with glee at the sight of the red bouncing cube, and crawled after it as quickly as she could go. Elowyn sighed with a combination of relief and resignation, thinking to herself, “Why must life be so complicated? Don’t they understand that when I put my blocks in my picnic basket, it’s because I want my blocks to stay in my picnic basket?”
Jennifer went back to sipping her coffee, and wondered how often per year she actually managed to finish her coffee before it grew cold. Twice, perhaps? That was a good rough guestimate, she thought. It was probably a semi-annual event.