One time I was drinking tea while holding Kendi on my lap. I hate doing this because tea is hot and Kendi (as are many babies) is unpredictable. Anyway, she did one of the things I thought she might, and reached out for my cup. I told her, ‘liet‘ (hot) and put her hand on my cup for her to feel the temperature. She winched after about a second. I repeated the word and put her hand on the cup again. When I did it a third time, she withdrew her hand before I put it on the cup.
The lesson was learned.
‘Liet’ to Kendi means an uncomfortable, painful feeling on her hand.
I’ve seen my cousin do this with my nephew. It was with an iron. But it was too late, he had already gotten burnt by the oven the previous week. He had just started to crawl and would pull himself up on furniture, walls, anything he could get his hands on. This one day, he crawled into the kitchen and we all didn’t notice him (he was really short and close to the ground). He leaned on the cooker to stand and started to scream. The oven was on so the oven door was very hot. He didn’t understand what was happening so he didn’t pull away his hands. They got burnt and blistered and he cried till he fell into a fitful sleep. It was the saddest thing I had ever seen.
So, back to burning him with the iron. Mo put him in her lap, turned the iron on and said, ‘hot’, licked his finger and put it on the iron. She only had to do it twice as well. And the lesson stuck.
That process filled me with so much anxiety for two reasons:
1. The poor child, he didn’t understand why he was being subjected to pain (albeit, it was minute amounts, but pain all the same.)
2. The poor child, something one day might actually really hurt him.
So, I decided then that that was a really good idea. I don’t need Kendi to burn to learn a lesson about what is hot. I need to be able to yell out ‘liet‘ and she stops dead in her tracks.