One afternoon after doing something or other in the yard I put the baby down and parked myself in front of the computer. After a few minutes she tiptoed up to me and poked me in the side.
“Right, honey,” I said. I wasn’t really paying attention.
“Mayno mama,” she repeated, pointing towards the kitchen.
“Uh, OK.” What the hell was a mayno?
I picked her up and took her into the kitchen.
“What is it honey? What do you want?”
“Uh…you want some chips? A banana?”
“No nana. Share mayno.”
I had no idea what she wanted. I shouted up the stairs to my son.
“What’s a mayno?”
“I don’t know,” he yelled back. “Give her some juice!”
Right. She always wanted juice. You can’t go wrong with juice. I looked for a bup, which was a task in and of itself. She has about 15 bups, but there never happens to be one handy.
“Where’s her bup?” I shouted.
“I don’t know where her bup is! Look under the couch.”
I finally found one and filled it with juice.
“Here you go. Bup!”
She started to cry.
“Mayno! Share mayno!”
“What’s a mayno? I don’t know what you want. Is mayno on Backyardigans?”
I fumbled around with the remote and tried to comfort her at the same time. She was starting to lose patience with me.
“What channel is Babies On Demand?”
“One thousand three!”
I typed in one-oh-oh-three and found Backyardigans, which is her favorite show at the moment. Maybe mayno was one of the characters.
“Ta-da!” I said. “Mayno!”
“Share mayno!” she said, pointing to the kitchen. I forgot. The mayno was in the kitchen.
I suddenly remembered that there was a little green turtle that my son won at an amusement park a few weeks earlier. I also remembered that he gave it a strange name. That little green turtle happened to be sitting on my dishwasher. Could that be mayno? It had to be.
“OK honey,” I said. I put her down and went to get the turtle.
“Here it is! Yay mayno!”
That just about sent her over the edge. Her face turned red, she stomped her feet and started screaming at the top of her lungs.
“Maaaaayyyyynoooooo!” she screamed.
“But I don’t know what that is,” I cried. At this point I was crying too.
That’s how Mr. Rizzuto found us. She was backed up against the stove and I was sitting on the kitchen floor. We were both sobbing.
“Mayno!” she said.
“I don’t know what she wants,” I said.
He looked at the two of us, reached for a tomato that I had just picked out of the garden, rinsed it off and handed it to her.
“Here you go, sweetie,” he said.
“Thank you mama!” she said, and skipped away.
“She really likes those things,” he said. “They’re good for her too.” Then he went away.
For a minute I considered telling them that I was going to use that tomato for bruschetta, but I decided against it. Instead I just sat there.
“She wanted a tomato,” I said. “I knew that.”