Friday, April 20, 2007

The Stories she Tells me

Adinah woke up at a goddawful hour again this morning, and after Anette went to her once, I got up and padded into her room myself, knowing full well I wouldn't be able to get her to go back to sleep. The kid is like drivers in Mexico City: she knows two speeds--Go and Stop.

I got into the bottom bunk and told her she could crawl in with me, and I'd sing her a song. After much wailing and righteous indignation from the top bunk, Adinah consented to this arrangement. I sang "Man Smart, Woman Smarter" to her and held her hand, but she just couldn't lay still. I always tell her she has to close her eyes, and lay really still, and then she'll be able to fall asleep. This morning I told her that it was my father that taught me that, because he'd been alone in a hospital for a long time when he was a small boy and he'd had to learn how to take care of himself. What's polio, Papa, Adinah asked. And why did the mama of your papa take him alone to the hospital where they didn't have the medicines for polio, Papa?

We try to be a full disclosure family. I try to be honest with Adinah without telling her things that are going to trouble her unduly. So she knows my father is dead, and she knows some people in the world don't have enough water, and she knows about her first father and her first mother. What she does with this information is another matter.

After I told her about my father's time in the hospital, Adinah told me a story. "One time," she said, "my first mommy went to he hospital when she was this small (and here she pinched two fingers together). And when she came home they gave her a schultasche (a pencil case). And one time, my mommy and papa in Ethiopia had no water so they went to a man with a swimming pool and they said, 'Can we drink this water?' and he said yes and they took the water and the man gave me a traubenzucker (a candy). He was a very nice man."

Adinah, I said, are these stories for real, for really, or are you just telling stories for play?

"These stories are for really."

Okay, I told her. But if you want to make up stories about your first mommy and your first daddy, that's okay.

"Okay, Papa, and one time...."

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