WHAT IS BEHIND THE WORD?

2016-01-31In_slaap_gesust'_Rijksmuseum_SK-A-2378I like the word “lap.” It’s short, and it combines the softness of “l” and the explosiveness of “p”. I began liking it for its exotic nature when I came across the word while learning English at school. The word sounded exotic because it had no exact equivalent in Ukrainian. The phrase “the boy was sitting in his mother’s lap” was translated into my native language as “the boy was sitting on his mother’s knees.” I also savored the wit of an English riddle “What part of your body disappears when you stand up?”, the answer to which was “lap.” The word “lap-dog” was for me a small, friendly, loving, floppy-eared creature which was lapping milk from a plate. When I grew into English, I recognized the positive connotations of “living in the lap of luxury,” of an opportunity that “drops into someone’s lap,” or a job that can also “fall” into it.

Quite recently, in our digital age, I read a motto over the entrance to a bookshop: “There is no app to replace your lap. Read to your child.” Yes, those were happy moments when both of our kids were sitting in their parents’ laps, and my wife and I were reading to them stories and fairy tales, showing them pictures and teaching them their first Ukrainian letters and their first English words. Later, after that “prime push”, they entered schools, they travelled widely, they wrote dissertations, they had interesting jobs…

Now, when we talk with our children so far away from us, and see their warm eyes and smiles, we still feel them sitting in our laps…

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