Sonechko Is Ukrainian For Sunshine


Her pinky finger outstretched, my Sonechko reaches for her stuffed puppy; all puppies should be as cotton candy pink. Yanking hard, she squeezes him through the bars of her crib and raises her arms to me. “Na rukie,” she says, which means “In your arms,” in Ukrainian. My wife is from Ukraine, and our toddler is quickly learning more Ukrainian with better grammar than I currently possess. She translates for me. My two-year-old is a translator.

“Grass, Tato. Grass,” she says when I ask my wife what the squirt was talking about. She wants to go play in the grass.

Tato. That’s me.

Tato is who I am to this little girl, and who I always hope to be, even when she inevitably shortens it to Ta. When she’s too cool for me, and doesn’t want to hold my hand, I’ll still be Tato.

When she’s off on grand adventures with friends, and seeing the world, only able to call once in a while, I’ll still be Tato.

Until then, I’m going to relish every frustrated scream because she doesn’t want a diaper change. Every squeal of glee because she’s come home and the cat is rolled over on her back waiting for a pat. Every moment I’m with her, and every moment I only hear about from her teachers or grandparents because I have to be at work, I’ll try to capture on the gossamer threads of memory.

Excuse me if I’m taking too many pictures.

I’m sorry if I’m showing you a few too many water-splashing videos.

I’m Tato, you see.

And it all feels much too fast.