“Does Mama look big?” my wife Yael asks.
Now I know there is only one proper reply here, but it’s not me being asked.
We’ve decided to tell our 3-year-old, Ravi, that we’re expecting, and it’s her turn to take the bait. Our family and friends warned us: Wait until the bump is big enough lest you receive endless “Are we there yet?” questions from our loquacious little one.
“What do some mamas have in their bellies?” Yael prods.
“Babies,” Ravi replies, well prompted, already having passed her fair share of pregnant mamas in preschool.
“Well,” says Yael, “Mama has a baby in her belly.”
“Nooo…” Ravi says smiling, wondering. “Real or pretend?” she asks.
Real or pretend? Now, when did our toddler learn how to differentiate between multiple realities? Then again, Ravi has been expanding my own vocabulary recently, so maybe I shouldn’t be too surprised.
“Take the pith, Tati,” Ravi said recently at breakfast, peeling an orange and handing me her leftovers.
“You mean pit,” I assure her, reading a magazine.
“No, pith, Tati.”
“Ravi, you mean pit; what you’re handing me is the white, stringy—”
“Avram,” Yael interrupts, “she’s saying pith, p-i-t-h.”
I consult a dictionary immediately. “Pith,” I read, “1) a soft or spongy tissue in plants or animals in particular. 2) The essence of something.”
“Well,” I say to Yael, “I’m familiar with the second definition.”
Yael smiles. I laugh. My 3-year-old just taught me a new word.
“Real,” we say to Ravi together.
“Can I touch it?” she asks.
Ravi crawls over and gives Yael’s bump a kiss.
Yael and I have tried getting pregnant for over a year now, so we were excited to share the news with Ravi. And Ravi has been excited to share the news with her community as well.
“Is it true Ravi’s having a sister?” Ravi’s teacher asks me at dismissal.
Surprised, I explain we’re waiting to find out the sex of the baby.
Unfamiliar with a gender binary, Ravi is certain that she will be a big brother (she’s told us so) and that the baby will most definitely be her sister. No ifs, ands, or buts. We’re working on these great expectations.
Hanging by our nightstand now is a recent sonogram. A tiny hand can be seen, with five unique fingers spread wide, waving.
“Good morning, baby in the belly,” Ravi says after crawling in bed, waving to the picture.
“Good morning, Ravi,” we reply.
And then, just on cue, her one last question: “Is the baby coming today?”