LIFE’S BIG REALIZATIONS happen in life’s small moments. I’ve said it before, I’m saying it again, in all, I say it a lot. Here’s the proof: My daughter has a low-grade cold. We’re just done buying cough drops. This is not the huge moment, and neither is the next one, which is that as the traffic light changes from red to green, and she shows me the cough drops she has purchased, I state that at least they are not the “gakky” kind. And it happens. The big one.
“Is that a real word?”
Uh-oh. This has never come up. Thirteen good years of parenting are flashing before my eyes.
“Why do you ask?” Bad ploy. Bad, bad ploy. Any parent knows better, and yet every parent pedals and backpedals, and right at this moment my emotional tricycle is spinning out of control.
“Is it a real word?” She is pressing on, regardless.
She sniffs. But do not mistake this as sniffing from the cold she has. This is the other kind of sniffing, the bad kind, the kind that detectives, criminal defense attorneys and British solicitors get to employ, that sniffing reserved for people who already know the answer to the question they just asked.
“What about ‘jats?’ Is ‘jats’—as in ‘jammy-jats’—is that a real word?”
“Well, I mean, my sister and I, oh, huh, and your uncle Gary—and Daddy use it.”
“Harry used it,” I say, trying.
“Harry was a cat.” I can’t help notice that the words have now taken on a vaguely projectile quality.
“Yes, well, absolutely everyone else I mentioned was a person.” What I think is charming is how if you look closely, you’ll see that I’m actually still expecting this to go my way.
“…and I used it in front of my friends the other night at the sleepover,” she said.
She’s was 13 when she asked this. And that was not the first warning I had gotten. There had been others, all ignored, that she expressed in her great wish that just sometimes I’d walk a more linear path with the real and what is.
Maybe she’s right. Maybe she deserves better. After all, Margaret has complained about my imagination for years (though please note above that she, too, calls pajamas “jammy jats.” Uh huh). And, as I admitted in a recent post, Margaret’s childhood Eeyore to my childhood Tigger grew up only to be her adulthood Kanga to my adulthood Tigger, meaning that only one of us has changed all that much. Hmmmmm. Maybe I should button up and straighten up and fly right. Maybe, just maybe I should.