beauty lies in the eye of the teddy-holder

beauty lies in the eye of the teddy-holder

Little Ri has outgrown all the baby proofing controls installed at home. Like a little chimpanzee she observes how we bypass them and then systematically begins to decimate their purpose. Drawers are being opened, stools being carried around to reach higher sources of fragile objects. Suddenly the sky is the limit for her and she’s loving it. I’ve somehow come to accept finding spoons in the bathtub and number blocks in the cutlery cabinet.

Yesterday I was cooking lunch and she was conducting her rounds of kitchen exploration. The drawers were being targeted. Her usual routine is to take out all the vessels and ladles she has access to and lay them on the floor. Then she’ll pick one as her victim for the day to bang away at and scuttle off before I can catch her to make her clean the mess. As I was sautéing vegetables, I felt a tug at my shirt. She shows me a tea strainer and declares, “Look mama, teddy bear.” I corrected her, “No baby that’s a strainer.” Normally when I teach her something new, she stays quiet for a few seconds, scrunches her face in a hurried effort to absorb the imparted knowledge for the day, and then repeats it. But this time she insisted, “No, see teddy bear.” I decided to humor her and took the strainer from her and held it up before me. And then I saw it. On the corners of the metal disc there were two little flaps, a little wide apart, built in to secure it to a cup that tea was poured into. And yes, they resembled a teddy’s ears.

How wonderful must it be to live in a world where anything can be anything? No definitions, no lines, no infiltration in our minds that a tea strainer can be nothing else. Perhaps education ruins us or reality forces us to sell imagination and buy pragmatism. I’m a catalyst too, swinging erratically between reading little Ri bedtime stories about giraffes that can dance and then breaking my head trying to teach her the difference between a square and a rectangle in a desperate effort to prepare her for the world.

I get back to my cooking. Ri has abandoned the latest discovery and is now fidgeting with a steel plate. What does she see? A Frisbee? A mirror? A canvas for the markers she hid a few days ago? Maybe she’ll tell me and I’ll be transported to her little magical world. Or maybe she won’t and let me wonder for myself.

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