‘Today we have ice-cream for dessert, right?’ my eldest exults. ‘Oops, sorry, I ate it last night, as I felt so much like something sweet’, I answer playfully. She flares up furiously as though she could attack me. ‘That’s not fair!’ ‘Do you really think I would eat a tub of ice-cream all by myself?’ I go on teasing her. She looks at me doubtfully, but the anger still prevails. I relief her from the insecurity and with a great gesture I take the ice-cream out of the freezer. ‘I wouldn’t dare, I know you are crazy about ice-cream. I was merely teasing you.’
My little girl doesn’t like jokes. For her, these are unnecessary scuffles which complicate communication. She looks at me with her characteristic dark gaze, as if to say: ‘Life is hard as it is, so please leave out the jokes’. Still, we continue to gently tease her every now and then. We are hoping that gradually she will learn to cope with it and she will start to recognize the patterns.
When I receive a gift that is undoubtedly a book, I expectantly say: ‘Oh, I wonder what it is.’ And when she retorts with ‘It’s a book, of course’, I always reply: ‘Well, you can’t be sure, it may be a bike’. It may be a bit lame and I find myself thinking that I really should stop making those silly jokes. Until one day, her godfather comes to visit, he had just celebrated his birthday. We sing and kiss and hand him his gift. ‘Oh my, that must be a book,’ he says. To which my eldest responds: ‘No, it’s a bike. A folding bike.’
Tears fill my eyes. To me it feels as though a milestone has been reached.