A halzoona* lived with us for five days this week. We found it on a rosebush, put it in a bug container with some lettuce and a cucumber slice. Moona, chin on her hands, observed our new mollusk friend for a few minutes then asked, "How does the snail eat?"
This was a question after my own heart. We packed up, grabbed some pretzels and raisin boxes to keep the baby quiet, loaded ourselves into the minivan and headed to the library. For the first time, I didn't have to threaten and coddle and bribe while I located a book. Moona watched intently as I searched for books on snails. When I pointed to the right one, she pulled it out and her face lit up. "A snail!" she exclaimed.
Kiddo, you don't know how long I have been waiting for you to have an attention span.
We sat amidst a pile of snail books until Buru finished her raisins and pretzel sticks and of course started whining. We picked a few out and came home. The snail stayed with us for a few days until it stopped moving and I was afraid it was dead from a cucumber binge. So we let it go. Moona, narrates the story in her own words, with lots of thoughtful pauses in which she asks me what comes next, then answers her own question:
"Al-halzoona jalasat ma'na fi baytina. Thumma man? Akala khas wa khiyar thumma nam. Thumma man? Thumma qulna lil halzoona: la, hadha laysa baytuk. Baytuka fil hadeeqa ma ummuk. Thumma man? Hadha baytuna, wa baytuka fil hadeeqa. 'Salam 'laykum halzoona. Salam 'laykum fi baytik."
"The snail stayed with us in our house. Then what? It ate lettuce and cucumber then it slept. Then what? Then we said to the snail: no, this is not your house. Your house is in the garden with your mother. Then what? .... This is our house, and your house is in the garden. Salam 'laykum snail. Salam 'laykum in your house."
*Halzoona is fus-ha Arabic for snail. I think. Maybe. At least it means snail in our house.