I wrote this short story for the dutch newspaper NRC. The newspaper prints 120-words long stories from its readers every day. The stories are called ‘ikje’ (‘ik’ stands for I and ‘je’ is what the Dutch people uses for making a word cute). An one ‘ikje’, most of the time, readers tell funny anecdotes they experienced. Since sometimes the story published by the newspaper are poor, I thought to write a short story about one of my little girl’s pearls, in dutch.

Ik praat alleen Italiaans tegen onze dochter van 2,5. Zij snapt alles, maar antwoordt alleen in het Nederlands. Zij leert nu haar schoenen zelf aan te doen, maar doet ze nog vaak verkeerd om. Om haar te helpen, laat ik haar zien dat de vorm van de schoen de lengte van de tenen volgt. De ‘alluce’ (grote teen) komt in de lange kant van de schoen en de ‘mignolo’ (kleine teen) in de korte kant. Ze herhaalt de namen van tenen en trekt de schoenen aan. Als ze de dag daarna haar linkerschoen aan haar rechtervoet probeert te doen, vraag ik in het Italiaans: ‘Hoe heet deze grote teen?’ ‘Lamp’, antwoord ze zonder twijfel. ‘La luce’ is Italiaans voor licht.

If you do not read dutch, the short story is about when I was teaching our daughter Fay, 2.5 years old, to wear her shoes properly. Fay systematically tries to wear the right shoe on the left feet rather than on the right one. Fay is primarily Dutch, but being also half Italian, I speak Italian to her. Since telling her to just do the opposite was not working, I tried to show Fay that the shape of her feet resembled the shape of the shoe. So the big/long toe (‘alluce’ in Italian) sits on the long side of the shoe and the small/short toe (‘mignolo’ in Italian) on the short side. I helped her setting her shoes properly and the day passed. The day after, while Fay is struggling to wear her left shoe on her right feet, I thought to determine whether at least the name of the toes stuck. So I ask what is the name of the big toe. ‘Lamp’ answers Fay promptly and proud. ‘Lamp’ is dutch for light (or lamp), which in Italian is ‘lA LUCE’. Brilliant! My 2.5 years old translator, betrayed by her father’s (poor?) words articulation. To my surprise, the story was not published.


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