Flora: Was my first word really Bubba?
Jane: Sure was. That’s what you called Cinder.
Flora: Bubba sounds nothing like Cinder.
Jane: But it sounds a bit like Brother, right? I was always saying, “Brother loves you, Flora,” or “Let’s go see Brother,” and so you turned it into “Bubba.”
Flora: What was Cinder’s first word?
Pause. I’m still bitter.
Jane: um… Anya.
Anya was the name of our beloved Doberman. Cinder’s oldest “sister.” Anya was three when Cinder was born, and worked very hard to keep Cinder from learning to crawl or walk.
Flora: Really? What was his second word?
Jane: um… Doggie.
Flora: Really? Not Mama?
Jane: No. Not Mama.
OK, it’s stupid to be bitter about this, right? What does it matter that his first word was Anya, and the second word was doggie, and…
Flora: And his third word was Mama, right?
Jane: No. His third word was Dadda.
This is the part where I start to think I shouldn’t have written all of this down. If I hadn’t documented it, I could rewrite history, right? I’d even let “Dadda” be his first word. “Mama” would be second.
Flora: And then Mama?
Jane: Um, no. Then… stuff like “Yes.” “No.” “More.” Mama was… well, I wasn’t keeping track of first word, second word by the time mama came along if you know what I mean.
Flora: And my first word was “Bubba.”
Jane: Yup. And then Anya, and Dadda. And then Mama.
Fourth word. Not that I’m counting.
Flora: So what was Ender’s first word?
We both turn to look at Ender, who’s sitting in his car seat smearing whipped cream all over his face and spilling hot chocolate everywhere, a picture of gluttony and happiness and innocence. And I… I seize the moment.
Jane: Mama. Ender’s first word was Mama.
Flora: Oh, you must have been so happy.
Jane: Yes, yes, I was. It took three babies, but finally, I had one whose first word was…
Ender: My first word was Monkey.
I don’t want you to think that I’m the sort of person who’s capable of looking at her child with loathing. But there was a look.
Jane: No. Your first word was Mama.
Ender: No. It was Monkey.
Jane: It was Mama. I remember.
Ender: It was Monkey. Hoo-hoo-hoo-hoo-hoo.