Was she making the already casual "yep" into a diminutive? Did her little toddler brain somehow get that putting "ie" on the ends of words makes them cuter? Maybe it was just her own odd little made-up word.
But then the other day, as she toddled through the house while calling Mama? Mama? Mama! (as she is wont to do) and I heard myself respond Yes? Yeah, Bea? Yeah, Bea, I'm here (as I am wont to do) - it finally hit me. Yeppie is Yeah Bea. It is the reassuring response she gets every time she calls my name as she ventures farther and farther afield. It's her toddler sonar. Mama? -Yes. Another step. Mama? -Yeah, Bea. Four more stairs. Mama? -Yeah, Bea. Top of the stairs ... then a hurtling chest-first veer into her big sister's room, where she finds chapstick and jewelry and stickers and becomes quiet in her focused destruction.
Yeah, Bea. It's okay. Keep going, keep coming back. I'll be here waiting for you.
Her language is exploding; her cognitive breakthroughs astound us. With every new word she acquires, it is as if the world becomes sharper, brighter, more vivid and alluring. Everything has a name; everything is more extraordinary than she ever supposed! Tonight she identified the backs of some children in a book we were reading, then wanted to rub all of our backs. Back, back, back! After we said our goodnights I brought her upstairs, where we settled into our rocking and nursing and singing routine. She kept pulling off, looking at the door, looking at me, and smiling. After awhile, she lifted her top arm and waved towards the door, pulling off to smile and say Night night, Papa, and then turn back to nurse. It was as if she was putting it all together: even though we're in a different room, I know Papa and Gabriel and Frances are still downstairs, and even when I sleep, they are nearby. How about that, Mama? Isn't that terrific?
Along with all her new understanding and independence - her utter delight in running away from me - has come unprecedented fear and anger when I leave her. The agonies of separation anxiety are nothing short of awful, for everyone involved. I never leave the house unaccompanied by screams of protest. We are in the thick of extraordinary, fascinating, delightful rapprochement - and it can be harrowing. (Especially when faced with coming up with a new child care arrangement when work resumes in about five weeks - oh dear, oh dear - but that is for another post).
Mike thinks yeppie is, in fact, yes please. It might be. It might be yeah, Bea and yes, please, depending on the context. She is that smart, that subtle! Or maybe the manners/social cues part of her brain is starting to come into focus and the phrase is shifting in meaning. Things happen that fast around here. A sixteen month old person is a wonder!