Martian Girl

9 Aug

Summer has officially ended for me as I return to work to prepare the library for the coming school year. Man, I’ve missed this place. Returning to work means returning to workplace drama as well as revisiting some old friends. I was lucky enough to visit with some work friends over the summer, but others, like my tech support buddy Carlos and the internet-shy S I haven’t seen all summer.

This probably sounds really weird but the library has a particular smell in summer that is powerfully connected to my memories: I think of working in the heat as a newly pregnant lady, making friendships with students, laughing with Carlos, and listening to the Cardigans and trying to figure out what the hell I am was supposed to be doing my first year on the job. Good times.

I’m conflicted about leaving Isobel. She is hugely, hugely attached to me. Physically and emotionally. Leaving her in the morning while she looks at me with eyes full of tears, lower lip quivering and saying, “Mama,” about kills me dead every time. Walking into the library brings me back to life. This is what I enjoy, what stimulates me, what keeps me happy.

Happiness is a double-edged sword.

Isobel has changed so much since I was last in the library. My desk is still filled with photos of her before she could walk and some before she could crawl. Now she is as dexterous as a ninja and verbal to boot. I spoke really early (to make up for my late walking, I guess) and clearly enunciated every word. Isobel is not so precise and sometimes it takes Anthony and I a couple tries to figure out what she’s saying. To confuse things further, she speaks in English and Spanish plus has a large vocabulary of made up words and phrases that we fondly refer to as “Martian language.”

I gave up long ago trying to keep track of all the words she says. There are simply too many to list now.

I have, however, decided to keep track of all the things she says in Spanish. People who don’t know my husband often think her Spanish vocab is part of her Martian language. I’m so proud to say she’s trilingual! (If you count Martian.)


Agua: Water Anthony’s family is Guatemalan and they pronounce this as “ah-wah” with a w for the g sound. It’s a softer pronounciation. That’s how Guate rolls.

Pacha: Bottle Sometimes pronounced “cha-cha” or “ta-cha.”

Chucho: Dog Anthony’s family all uses this word for “puppy” but I have Mexican friends who are unfamiliar with the term. It’s probably a regional thing. She often follows “chucho” with a hearty, “WOOF WOOF WOOF.”

Pescado: Fish she knows pescado, but generally defaults to the much easier “fishie.” That’s usually how it goes with her—she says the word in whatever language is easier for her.

Mas: More We hear this one a lot, and it’s usually accompanied by her baby sign for more. It’ll rip out your heart and then some.

Mio: Mine Mama Juani taught her this one. Thanks, Grandma!

Oso: Bear She looooves teddy bears.

Mimis: Sleeping This is either very regional to Guatemala or something just Anthony’s whole family knows, because they all say it.

Beso: Kiss She kissed me for the first time last night and my heart almost burst. I was sitting on the floor, watching her beloved Babba with her when she came up behind me, put her arms lightly around my neck, and kissed my hair lightly on the back of my head.

Words she recognizes but cannot say include manita, basura, boca, mira, aqui, vamanos, carro, comida, elote, fresas. I apologize if I butchered the spelling, I’m learning these words right along with Isobel.


Isobel has created her own vocab for words that are hard to pronounce in English and Spanish.

Shee-Shee: Horsey I don’t know how this came about but it did. She sometimes calls them Orsey. Lots of neighing for good measure.

Wower: Flower The L sound is hard for her.

Keekee: Kitty She can say kitty, but often she uses this version.

Ampa: Grandpa Referring to my FIL. She calls my Dad “Papa.”

Ama: Mom-Mom Referring to my Mom.

Wassey: Glasses It’s difficult to even transcribe this one. I’m not getting her version right, merely aiming for a ballpark transcription. It’s her word for glasses.

Poppy: Poppy OR Jupiter It’s like she refuses to acknowledge that they are two seprate cats. Jupiter is way out of her legue, words-wise. She defaults to Poppy and calls Zorro “Orro.” Sometimes she calls them “Boppy.”

Babba: Yo Gabba Gabba Self-explainatory.

Also, I am thrilled to say she has returned to her practice of saying “Wow!” all the time. What breaks my heart even further is that she even correctly uses, “ow.” The best word ever, of all time, is still “Mama.”

10 Responses to “Martian Girl”

  1. MegaGood August 9, 2010 at 9:45 am #

    What a talented baby! I am so looking forward to any kind of speak. Even Martian.

    Glad you are enjoying library time again, but the sad-faced Isobel would kill me. Stay strong.

    • LittleBig August 9, 2010 at 9:57 am #

      As much as I love my library I’d stay home if we could afford it. But we simply can’t. It destroys her when I leave but I do it for her.

      How long do you have maternity leave, BTW?

  2. LaOrganista August 9, 2010 at 9:53 am #

    I also grew up saying “mimis.” Now I tell it to Akai when I want him to go to sleep:)

    • LittleBig August 9, 2010 at 9:56 am #

      Awesome! Is it a nickname for something? I said it around Greg and he looked at me like I was insane, LOL.

  3. purplequark August 9, 2010 at 10:08 am #

    Lupe’s family also uses mimis for sleep and kiki for cats. They also use keki for cake (someone they blended in japanese…maybe the Chinese ancestry).

    Chucho is also a regional thing. I’m familiar with it though I don’t know exactly how…

    Btw, this is great! Now is certainly the time for her to pick up languages so much effortlessly. Have you guys thrown some Japanese words in there? Or maybe uncle Jakey will need to visit more. It would be adorable to have Isobel started saying thank you by interchanging gracias and domo. Or choto, choto mate, I’m not ready mama!

    Oh, and I’m sure Lupe would love the opportunity to practice Italian with her 🙂

    • LittleBig August 9, 2010 at 10:15 am #

      I would die of happiness if Lupe could teach her some Italian! Isobel does recognize pastel for cake. I forgot that one. So many words, it’s so hard to keep track of them all! She’s really stepped up my knowledge of Spanish and I work on it daily. I’ve been saying lots of phrases with her. She can’t repeat them but she certainly knows that when we say, “A la boca NO!” she needs to get that crayon out of her mouth. 😉

      I’m glad you recognized chucho! Carlos had never heard of it. And I know some people don’t know chonies. She definitely is familiar with chonies. LOL

      She says “etoh” all the time so we like to say, “Look! She knows how to say ‘um’ in Japanese!” we really should work more Japanese words in there. And why not some Swedish for good measure? We could teach her “BORK BORK BORK!” 😛

  4. asiajane August 9, 2010 at 12:14 pm #

    What a cutie. I love thinking about the words my kids said at that age… I wish I wrote more of them down, but I’ll never forget Nuala’s word for “water”: “wah-what.” And Annie’s special word for “ducks” was “duht-duh,” which is what she still calls her duck today. Now she mostly makes up words that sound like grownup words: “That’s very amangerent.”

    Must be hard to leave Isobel behind, but you’re lucky to go to a job you love!

    • LittleBig August 9, 2010 at 1:05 pm #

      Annie is so hilarious. 😀

      I am super lucky to have this job, especially considering I came so very close to being laid off.


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