Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Scenes with a three year old

I may have to rethink movies with Caroline. This just in after a particularly painful thirty minute reenactment of cousin Colin in The Secret Garden. In case you don't remember the 1993 movie adaptation, bed-ridden Colin has a powerful set of lungs and the ability to throw himself heedlessly to the floor in a fit worthy of a three year old's awe. Tonight after watching the movie with me, Caroline rehearsed Colin’s tantrum in lieu of going to bed. She particularly worked on the high pitched screams interspersed with sobbing bit. When I started to sing along to match her highest shriek, she giggled but kept up the show until I turned off the lights and left her to her own devices. She is now humming to herself somewhere around middle C. Peace in our time.

C’s adoption of Colin at his worst isn’t too surprising. She has a habit of admiring the bad guy in a movie. During The Incredibles phase our household went through a year ago, Caroline liked to pretend she was the Bad Boy (aka Syndrome) and imagined every shoe into a rocket boot. When we pull out Wallace and Gromit: The Wrong Trousers, she hales Feathers the penguin as an old friend. I’ve caught C practicing speedy rail laying with her train set in case she needs to help Feathers out in his next venture. At least Feathers keeps his voice down.

And really, Caroline’s not so chatty either - talking about her day ranks way below flossing teeth on her list of fun things to do. She does like to act though. Today while we waited to sign her up for kindergarten, she tagged behind one prospective school mate, following him everywhere until he climbed up a slide backwards. Marie and I had just told her in both Czech and English not to climb up that very slide, and she obediently watched without following him, but then she turned to us and, flat of hand gesturing towards boy, twisted her mouth and narrowed her eyes so that we all could know she was thinking, "And yet, HE can climb the slide?" "Our little actress," Marie said, "our herečka." (Sadly, despite her example of instantaneous cross cultural communication, C did not get into that kindergarten - we're holding our thumbs for the next).

Ultimately, while Will and I might shake our heads and imagine that Caroline suffers a severe case of Paradise Lost syndrome (that classic condition most readers of Milton fall prey to, characterized by guilty admiration for the evilest character in Christiandom), I suspect that C just realizes most bad guys get juicy parts and short lines - just right for a less than chatty actress, with a world of faces at her command.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Spring arrives at kolo kolo

This weekend we made jam. Strawberries, mixed with sugar and lemon and stirred into a bubbly froth of jam. Strawberries, lifted from their paintbox of color in the windows of our greengrocer, a red so red the purple pink radish in the next box vibrated ever so slightly out of key.

I started the jam first thing Saturday morning, before coffee and after tea, after peanut butter toast but before Caroline woke up. I can’t make pancakes in the morning without burning them, but pouring a kilo of sugar into a pan, squeezing 2 lemons and mashing a pound of berries I can do. While I stirred (over low heat until all the sugar is absorbed, and then over high), Will washed our empty jam jars from last summer’s grocery spree in France and made more toast to test out the first sampling.

"Jam is ready when a spoonful of liquid gels when dropped onto a cool plate," the recipe said.

The next drop met bread. The first jar disappeared in two days.

Our babysitters don’t quite trust my cooking, and this morning Teta waved off an offer of a taste with a reminder that she was on a diet. "13 days and 5 kilos so far!" she said. She’s eating rohlik and grilled chicken, and as much iceberg lettuce as she wants. On occasion she'll drink coffee too.

But she made Caroline toast for breakfast and conceded to use the jam. It wasn’t peanut butter, after all, and we didn’t have anything else in the pantry. (Our sitters feel that peanut butter should only be consumed by Americans over the age of consent). Caroline ate all her toast and asked for more, and then Teta asked me, was it was possible I had made this jam, it had such a nice smell and what was the recipe? Teta, here’s the recipe for you - it goes well with rohliky too.