My 2-year old daughter LOVES animals. We visit the LA Zoo often and I know a whole lot more about animals than I did pre-parenthood. I got her a subscription to a magazine called Wild Animal Baby that is put out by the National Wildlife Federation. Whenever a new issue comes in the mail, she immediately wants to me to read it to her. Over and over again.
The magazine has a set format and she flips to her favorite sections, the ones with the real animal pictures. One area she really likes is called “I Can!” and always features a child imitating something that an animal does, such as a bear touching his toes, or a prairie dog yawning and stretching. But, the one she returns to repeatedly is a child dancing like a sifaka.
Now, up until this magazine, I had no idea a sifaka existed. It looks a lot like a monkey, but apparently is a Madagascan lemur that maintains an upright position as it leaps from tree trunk to tree trunk. It jumps around and looks like it’s dancing. Very cute. We had to find them at the zoo, and now spend our visits watching their antics.
My daughter can speak well for her age, though she tends to drop a syllable on some words, or when she’s excited. At the zoo, she will want to see the “mingoes” (flamingoes), or she’ll comment on the howling of the “oaties” (coyotes) at home when night sets in. One of the funniest things around the house is when she gets up and dances, flinging her arms overhead, jumping up and down, then shouts “focker dance, focker dance!” We, of course, know that she’s doing the sifaka dance, but it sure doesn’t sound like that’s what she is saying.
As with all darling things your sweet little kids do, they eventually do them in public, much to your embarrassment. Not long after getting her magazine, we were at weekly storytime at our local library, where they end each session by turning on their bubble machine. Up until then, the kids are required to be quiet and sit with their parents, listening to stories and watching the short book-on-DVD. For bubble time, the kids are allowed to get up; most of them stand in awe, relatively subdued still, though some try to catch the bubbles. My little princess is in the middle of all the other toddlers and bubbles when she breaks into her crazy dance and yells, “focker dance, focker dance!” Did I mention how LOUD she can be?? It really echoed throughout the library and people from rooms away turned their heads in our direction.
At that moment, I figured I could either stand back and hope some of the parents wouldn’t remember the blonde cutie belonged to me, or maybe I could try to explain. I stood on the sidelines paralyzed until one of the other moms caught my eye and gave me a glare that said, Do not teach MY child to say that word. In response, I jumped in with the kids and the bubbles and yelled “sifaka dance, sifaka dance, dance like a sifaka!” My daughter thought it was great and jumped up and down with me. Hey, we’re at a library, if anyone has a question, they can look up the word “sifaka.” Situation saved. My little girl is not going to ruin the vocabulary of two year olds.
A week later, when were at home, my husband was using a few choice words to tell me about his awful day at work while our daughter was off playing with her blocks. A few minutes later as I start making dinner, the princess followed me into the kitchen and shouts “f*ck!” I look down at her thinking she must be trying to tell me something else that sounds like that. She smiles and yells “f*ck, f*ck, f*ck” as she jabs the air with her finger for emphasis. OK. Guess not.
I turn back to my broccoli and ignore her. Our little angel goes off to do her toddler things and I think to myself, Hmmm, have to figure out how to use the sifaka for that one when she does it in public. Who would have thought a dancing lemur could be such a lifesaver??