but you never seem to run out of things to say

We have guests over at our place today, some relatives. They have three daughters, one of whom is an 8 year old named Somiyya. Somiyya is driving me crazy, and that’s a fact. The Human Development major within me can’t help but wonder if she has ADHD.

“So why does Somiyya dislike climbing up the steps of her schoolbus, or on the jungle gym at the park?” asked her father when I carried a jug of cold water out to him and my father as they sat in the shade of the fig tree on the lawn.
“Maybe she’s afraid of heights,” suggested my dad.
“She probably just wants attention,” I said snappishly, in a sour mood from having Somiyya following me around nonstop and clutching at my hands and calling after me in whining tones. Clingy people make me impatient rather quickly, and even cute children get excused only to an extent.
Her father chuckled good-naturedly, while mine explained cheerfully, “I told him you’re a Human Development major, so he should ask you, since you would have all the answers, Yasminay.”

Every two seconds, I hear Somiyya yelling, “Apa? [What she calls me.] Apa, where are you?” and then, triumphantly, “There you are! I was looking for you! Where were you?” The child is killing me. Luckily, my sister has so much more patience at being a generous, compassionate hostess.

“Apa!” Here she comes again, holding a water bottle this time. “Do you want some water?”
“Sure,” I say with some amusement.
“Okay.” She turns and leaves the room, still grasping the water bottle in her hands.

And here she is again with two of our fancy glasses, each filled with about an inch and a half of water. “Here you go!” She presents me one glass rather proudly.
“Did you fill these up yourself?” I ask, touched in spite of myself.
“Yes.” She clinks her glass against mine, says, “Cheers!” and downs the contents, after which she picks up a book off my bookcase and yells, “I read this in high school!”
This is especially hilarious in light of the fact that the book she chose is Imam Abu Hamid Al-Ghazali’s Dear Beloved Son.

The child is all over the place, from my desk to our closet to the dresser, from my bed to the wall hangings and paintings to the bookcases, from the floppy disks to the photo frames to my sister’s stuffed penguin lying around here. Every other question she asks is, “What’s this? Huh? What’s this?”, followed closely by, “Can I keep this?” I don’t think I’ve ever before said “No” so often in one day. I’ve also never before been aware of how much stuff I have in my room. The kid is killing me, did I mention?

“I like your cell phone,” she said meaningfully.
“Thank you,” I said politely, moving it closer within my own reach. “I’ve dropped it lots of times. See all the scratches?”

Right now, she’s sitting behind me, oohing over the contents of my sister’s jewelry box. She just tried on a couple of rings and extended her hand, palm outward, to better view her fingers, exclaiming, “Look how good it looks on me!”

Next up, delving into the eyeshadow from the makeup case: “Can I try these on?”
“No,” I say firmly.
“But I will look fabulous!”
I better take this all away from her before she starts drawing with the mascara.

“I’m a queen!” she says. “You could boss me around if you wanna.”

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