Sunday, December 4, 2011

Grandmother's Kitchen

Mabel Watson Payne had a snack at her grandmother's kitchen table on Saturday before embarking on her many holiday jobs. With a tea-towel tied around her waist, she sat atop one of those old, foot-thick unabridged schoolroom editions of the Miriam-Webster dictionary. Her mother stood guard-duty behind her all the same, not entirely trusting to the stability of the spindly and charming neo-Gothic side chair.

Finger-waggling with arms raised is a signal taught to this baby by her father. It means "All Done." Lately, when she does it she also audibly says All Done (although it could require a relative to understand this). Other current two-syllable expressions include Daddy, Uh Oh, Baby, Bye Bye, and Peek Boo. Proto-sentences are uttered too. Their intent is perfectly clear from context even though they are not yet amenable to transcription.