Posted Saturday, September 3, 2016 at 8:28am by Darren Baker
Czech the Children- Chapter 13- Please, I want some cheese
Please, I want some cheese
A general election followed the week after Terka’s birthday and she took her new motorbike to accompany Vet to the polling station. Pregnant woman with a toddler in tow, she looked like an ideal supporter of the left-leaning Social Democrats and their plan to increase social benefits. I met up with them in the park after school so we could go shopping together at the local supermarket. Coming home, we joined our neighbor in the elevator and, noticing our single bag of groceries, he said we could have five for the same money under the old system. But, he added, there would be nothing in those five bags except bread and salami, and neither would be fresh.
The nicest thing about working in schools is the time off in summer, which really came in handy for us this year. Vet was in her final months and even bigger than at this point during her last pregnancy. Running around after Terka plain wore her out, so when the school year ended, I took over watching her for most of the day. It was a good opportunity to play catch-up with her English vocabulary, which hadn’t made much progress since she first uttered “tea.” One morning she asked me for sýr (“seer”), but I hesitated before opening the refrigerator and told her to say “cheese.” She innocently thought I was saying “please” instead, so she quickly started rubbing her hands together in the Czech habit of begging someone to do something for you. It was so sweet. She got the cheese without further ado.
Much of the time we spent in a nearby park, where I guided her by the hand through the playground attractions or else sat on a bench and daydreamed while she busied herself in the sandbox. She naturally gravitated to other small children whether they wanted her attention or not. And sometimes she met more than her match, as in the case of a boy who looked about two years old.
First, he scampered up to Terka howling like a dog, then pretended he was one by crawling on all fours around her and cocking up his leg repeatedly. He then got up and buzzed around her, first like a bee, then like a rogue Spitfire. She just stood there not knowing what to make of what might aptly be called her first encounter with a disturbed individual.
If he wasn’t annoying her, he was certainly annoying me. His mother just sat on the bench with a world-weary look that suggested, “Why should I suffer alone?” I was on the verge of morphing into a Messerschmitt and chasing his little ass off when he suddenly flopped on the wet grass and rolled around in it. That got his mother’s cylinders firing. She jumped up, grabbed him by the arm, and started dragging him home, reminding him countless times of her warning to behave or else. Terka rubbed it in by trailing after him waving bye-bye.
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