Mihiretu, like four-year-old boys all over the globe, is obsessed with bodily functions, particularly those that happen south of the belly-button. The phenomenon he likes best, it probably goes without saying, is farting. It is, as he's taken to saying lately about almost everything, his "fav-it".
If that boy smells something even a little bit funky, his nose is immediately in the air and the interrogation begins.
"You faht, Mama?" he'll ask, eyeing me suspiciously.
Generally, the answer is no.
"What tha 'tink?" he'll insist, waving his fingers in front of his wrinkled nose. "You faht, Lana?"
And so it'll go until finally, under pressure, somebody will fess up, if only for the sake of changing the subject. Mihiretu will then insist that the offender say excuse me, something he's not in the practice of doing himself.
The other day we were having a visit with extended family and friends. A senior member of the group, whose identity I'll protect, happened to let one slip as he crossed the room, a practice Ben calls "crop-dusting". You could almost see Mihiretu's ears pivot on his head.
"You faht?" he asked, delighted, as he pointed a finger vibrating with joy at his elder.
The kind man in question chuckled, shook his head and said, "Well, I guess I did."
"He fahted!" Mihiretu gleefully announced to the assembled crowd. "Tha guy fahted!"
"Everyone farts," I said, pulling him on to my lap, resisting the urge to clap one hand over his grin.
"You faht," he said, turning to me.
"I fart," I said, all eyes on me. Hi, I'm Liz and I faht. Hi Liz!
Then Mihiretu performed his latest trick. His body tensed and then I felt and heard a Bronx cheer from below. Mihiretu looked up at me proudly.
"I faht," he confided.
I can't speak to his genetic lineage, but adoptively speaking, he comes from a long line of flatulators. My father was in the habit of lifting one cheek at dinner and letting one rip, the presence of my teenage girlfriends not withstanding. "You want me to explode?" he'd ask grumpily when I protested. I didn't dare say that, yes, an explosion, however gory, might be preferable to the mortification caused by the symphony that accompanied every meal.
In the first days of my marriage to Ben, though we had been living in sin up to that point, I declared that he must step outside the marital bedroom if he felt bubbles coming on, a rule long since repealed. The thought of spending the rest of my life in a stink not of my own making was enough to make me tearful. Clearly I was not used to the idea of marriage.
The other day, at our gathering, dessert was served. It seemed we had made it past the hot topic of farting.
Just then someone's rubber sole made a sound against the wood floor.
"Gan-ma," he crowed, rounding on Ben's mom. "You faht?"
Then, brown eyes narrowing, "You didn' say 'cu me."