the other day, driving to pick up our new raw milk share, we once again passed the small farm one town over that houses a few llamas. both kids were eagerly anticipating the llama sighting and we talked about it for several minutes leading up actually passing the farm. the pea tried out making several different sneeze like sounds and asking, “dat what llama says?”
“i am not certain,” i continued to insist. “i am not sure exactly how llamas sound. but i do know that sometimes when they are upset they make a noise. kind of like when ivan is upset that castle james is playing too rough and he hisses at him.”
“llamas hiss?” the bean asked.
“not exactly but sort of, ” i hedged. not fully remembering if llamas hiss or spit and also not certain i wanted to offer spitting as a form of communicating upset.
“why do they do that?” he continued.
“only if they are upset – then they do it.”
“why would they be upset?” he pressed on.
“hmmmm, i wonder. i am not sure,” i admitted. “why don’t you ask them?”
“but llamas don’t talk english,” he told me.
“no, they don’t speak to us in english. not in words like we speak to each other most of the time. but if you want to know something from them you can ask them and then listen quietly and you will be able to hear something. you will feel them answering you. you will know.”
i ran out of the language that felt appropriate to express the idea of listening to the llamas so i just fell quiet. and for awhile the only sound in the car was the occasional gutteral sneeze like llama noise that the pea had invented. then i spoke up, “we are almost there. just a few more houses to pass and we will be at the -”
“SHHHHHHHHHHH!” bean yelled at me. and then more quietly, “shhhhhhhhhh.”
“sorry,” i started. “i was just trying to tell you -”
“shhhhhhhhh!” he interrupted me again. “shhhhhhhhh. you need to be very quiet because i am listening for the llamas. i am trying to hear them.”
thump thump. my heart. he is listening for the llamas.