Natasha Elena is my 3 year old god-daughter. Since she was a baby, she has always called me "Nana" because her one and only real grandmother lives in Austria. Having Tasha for the day is always a treat, both for her and for myself. My god-daughter thinks she is helping me stop saying "bad words" and I like to think, she's being gently educated.
I'm normally a very calm and happy person, but there are certain times, when I feel enough is enough. I don't often swear--at least, not in English. And, even if it is in Cantonese, it's more an insult than a cuss word. Tasha hadn't spoken any words yet, but when she finally did, her first words were "scum-bag." It didn't sit well with her parents who had been priming her with "Mama" and "Papa." My defense was I thought she had been asleep when I was watching my Clint Eastwood "Dirty Harry" video.
I should have known better than to leave Tasha alone for 2 minutes, even if she was busy with her colouring book and big crayons. My newly painted blank wall was too tempting for a budding artist. She had carefully crayoned her best art on my new blush peach wall.
"Je***, I tried to say, while scrambling to remember if those were the washable crayons or not.
"Cheezies, Nana--you can say cheezies," Tasha cheerfully offered.
"Remember what Nana said about drawing on walls, Tasha?"
"And what did Nana say not to do?"
"Umm, Nana said 'Nebber gotcha Danny, ebber do it again." Even my brain blinked as I tried to decipher what I had actually said back then. Oh, right--"Never, god-damn ever, do it again!" lost its punch when you had to sub swear words for socially acceptable ones meant for little ears. Tasha was two and a half at that time.
Another time, I had parked the car in the Super Store parking lot, when we made a grocery stop. Tasha was riding in the cart, along with the groceries, when we both spotted the new ugly scrape on the side of my car.
"Holy sh**!" I hollered, managing to stop myself midway.
"Holy sheep, Nana--it's holy sheep!" my god-daughter corrected with a giggle.
Tasha had been with me when I had to go to the local department store to settle an accounting mistake. Someone else's purchases had ended on my monthly statement. No matter how it was explained, the accounting person refused to acknowledge it was their mistake and suggested I contact Management if I wasn't happy. It had been a very frustrating hour and forgetting Tasha was there too, I muttered insults at that "ass****" who had refused to listen. Tugging my hand to get my attention, my little god-daughter announced in her loud voice, "Sassy mole, Nana. You can say sassy-mole." Somehow "sassy-mole" didn't conjure up the same image of the aggravating accounts person.
I do enjoy my god-daughter. She really is very special and lovable. Whenever we spend time together, it's filled with laughter and sometimes for me, new words. It's amazing how quickly I can scramble to substitute for any cuss words and, if I'm not quick enough, Tasha would giggle and change the word for me. I use to dread her going home and tossing all the real words back to her parents, but so far, I still have access to my precious god-daughter.
The other day, I discovered Tasha has learned a Cantonese phrase and she delivered it perfectly. With her tiny hands fisted on her hips, she frowned at Loki, her Maltese terrier. Her tiny dog had chewed one ear off her stuffed bear. "Aii-ya Su-ya. Kwai, kwai!" which roughly translated means, "You stupid--bad, bad!"
Yes indeed--I definitely treasure these moments and don't want her growing up too quickly. Sometimes I think Tasha will be a wonderful peace-maker, an ambassador for her country. Other times, I think she may be a linguist as she already speaks fluent Austrian and English. She has a wonderful imagination and grasp of words so she may become a famous writer. For her young age, she has a sense of adventure and isn't afraid to try foods that are new to her. I want to be there when she discovers what the world has to offer and all the things she can do to make the world a better place. I want her to gotcha Danny do it well and holy sheep, make us proud.
Nana loves you, Natasha Elena.