“Nuuuuu-bee-bok!” she exclaims, pressing her tiny fingertip against the aquarium glass and doing a small foot-step dance as the Spanish Shawl, completely oblivious to the commotion, gracefully maneuvers itself closer to its favorite rock.
“Good morning Morgan,” I say and take a small sip of coffee.
“Nuuuuu-bee…” she starts again, in more earnest fervor than before.
I shake my head. “Try again Morgan.” She hasn’t been able to read the word yet. She can parrot “compsognathus” without batting an eye yet the humble word “nudibranchia” escapes her.
She looks at me and offers an apologetic, “Nuuuuu? Bee? Boka?”
I sigh and offer her a handful of dried fruit from my snack tin. "Look at the corner of the tank."
I love children. I love children even more when their parents leave them in my care. Specifically, I love ripping insipid things (such as Barney the Dinosaur and Elmo) out of their little heads and replacing those voids with knowledge. Morgan is one of those children that does not have as much atrophied grey matter as the average child her age, which happens to be five.
I look up from my coffee and notes to find her back at the aquarium. “New die branches?”
She points to a small sign taped to the corner of the tank and then pronounces the words again, her face screwed up in concentration. The result is only slightly different. She mimics one of my own sighs and declares “sea slug” in a somewhat dejected tone.
“No, don’t give up so easily,” I say. I pull my stool over to the tank and prop her on my lap. We watch the colorful aeolid for a while, making up silly stories about what he’s thinking or where he goes when the lab closes.
She points back to the sign and we read each syllable together. She repeats it, pointing her finger at the letter grouping as she pronounces the word: Nudibranchia. The Spanish Shawl ripples its way towards us and Morgan, filled with a wholesome child’s imagination, announces that the creature has come to thank her for reading his name correctly.
I smile and reward her with a kiss. We have reached a new reading milestone today.
It may possibly be his work. If that is the case, my pardon, Mr. Van Antwerp.)