Puttachi is chewing on one of her toys and I am teaching her not to do so.
Me: Puttachi, ringna baayige haakikobaaradu. (You should not put the ring into your mouth).
Puttachi smiles, and continues chewing the ring.
Me: Puttachi, listen. Ring.. baayi.. no-no (Ring.. mouth.. no-no)
Me: Yes, that's right. Ring.. baayi.. no-no.
Puttachi: Baayi.. nonnonnnoooo
Me: Correct! you got it. Ring.. baayi.. no-no-no *shaking my finger*
Puttachi: *wags her finger* baayi... nonnooo
Me: Yes! *Satisfied, settles back on the cushions*
Puttachi smiles and puts the ring back into her mouth.
Puttachi loves the slippers I wear at home. She touches them at the slightest opportunity. I have spent weeks telling her not to touch them, that they are "Thoo... Cheee... Vakk"... and I make a big deal of washing her hands and I keep repeating it ad infinitum.
Yesterday. I am watching her play, when she spots my slippers where I have left them near the bed. Instead of jumping up and hiding the slippers, I watch to see what she will do. Puttachi goes up to the slippers, looks at them, starts to bend down, then straightens up and walks past them.
I exult. I jump up. I pump the air with my fist, and do a little jig. After I am done, I turn around and look at Puttachi, only to see her standing there, happiness written all over her face, and........holding a slipper in each hand.
Puttachi is playing on the bed, and at short intervals, she takes a couple of toys and throws them off the edge of the bed, and takes great delight in it. And then she screams for me to pick it up and give it back to her. I have been telling her for the past half an hour not to do that, I have been refusing to give the toys back to her because she threw them. I have been pretending to be very angry.... all that. Finally it looks like it has worked, she goes nearly ten minutes without throwing toys off the bed.
And then she takes a couple of toys and goes up to the edge of the bed. I am giving her piercing looks. She pauses at the edge, looks at me from the corner of her eye. When she sees me watching, her eyes fill with mischief, a huge grin breaks out on her face, and with the utmost delight, she throws the toys off the bed, and giggling with glee, she turns a back flip, lands on her back, cycles in the air with happiness, all the while looking at me. And me looking stupid with the useless stern look plastered on my face.
But really, how do you make them understand? She watches me throw her dirty clothes into the tub kept for that purpose. Sometimes I just drop it in, sometimes I throw it across the room into the tub. She imitates everything I do, and so she does the same with other objects. Amma throws clothes, I throw toys. How can you tell her the difference?
How do you make her understand that footrugs and footwear and bathroom floors can be touched with the feet, and not with the hands? How will the poor kid make out the difference? Feet-ok, hands-not ok, why?
You encourage her and clap when she upturns her box of blocks with a flourish, and you expect her not to spill a glass of water with the same action, the same flourish. How will she understand?
But even when she does understand that something is forbidden, she does it all the same, with greater delight - what do I make of that?
It will happen with time, I know.. and until then... Puttachi! Puttachi! Stop! come back here this instant!