Out of the mouths of toddlers
– Columns –
A couple weeks ago, I was getting ready to leave for work one morning. My daughter, Hannah, heard me pick up the car keys and sleepily yelled from her bedroom, “Love ya, Mom!” I said, “I love you, too, but I’m just going to preheat the car.”
Food is always at the forefront of my thoughts, obviously. I had just been looking at a recipe, checking to make certain I had the necessary ingredients.
We got the giggles over that and it reminded me how cute toddlers are when they first begin to talk. Hannah will probably disown me and ship me off to a nice secluded rest home for sharing these anecdotes, but she has always had a rather extensive vocabulary, even at a very early age.
Han was not quite two years old and she hadn’t been feeling well, so I tucked her into bed with me, surrounded by a mound of pillows and fluffy blankets. During the night, she woke up crying that her tummy hurt. I quickly grabbed the scrub bucket, which I had placed by the bed earlier that night, as a precautionary measure. She proceeded to vomit into it with surprising gusto and alarming velocity, completely at odds with such a tiny frame.
She, like probably 99 percent of the world’s population, absolutely hates throwing up, so she was alternately crying while rocking back and forth, in the middle of the bed, with the bucket clutched to her, dramatically sobbing, “I can’t take it any more! I just can’t take…” She abruptly stopped crying as she gazed down into the bucket, and said, “Is that bubble gum?” I laugh hysterically every time I think of it.
She was so distraught and miserable, but the tears were gone instantaneously when she spotted what she thought was bubble gum. (For clarification: it was a small piece of hot dog I had managed to coax her into eating earlier. My apologies for the graphic details, but I wanted to give you an accurate visual to explain my uncontrollable mirth.) When Hannah was two, I had wakened her extremely early to get her to the daycare center before I went to work. I was in the kitchen, gathering lunch items and making sure Han’s bag had everything she needed for the day. I hear, “Dang it!”
I quickly walked to the bedroom to see what the issue was, and she looked up at me and said, “My legs are in the wrong aisle.” Being a “big girl,” she insisted on dressing herself and being half asleep, had put both legs in one pant leg.
She also had trouble saying some “S” words. She had the cutest stuffed giraffe named Spot, but all she could say was Fot. Though it has been a number of years since she played with Fot, it’s still a treasured keepsake.
One of the funniest things she has ever said, was when she was in second grade. It was the weekend and she was taking a nap. I usually tried to watch movies that I felt were inappropriate, usually because of an occasional swear word or suggestive humor, that I wouldn’t normally watch if she was awake.
This day, I had chosen Pretty Woman, as I absolutely love Julia Roberts. I quietly sat enjoying the movie for some time, while Han napped. She came walking slowly out of the bedroom, her blond hair a mass of tousled curls, asking if she could sit on my lap while I rocked her. We were rocking and watching the movie, which I hadn’t turned off, because I thought the movie was past anything questionable that might create a negative impression.
About that time, the word hooker was mentioned. Oh, dear Lord! I immediately stopped rocking. Han continued sitting on my lap for a few minutes, lulling me into a false sense of security, as I relaxed thinking I was in the clear.
She wiggled to get down, turned to stand right in front of me and said, “Mommy, what’s a hooker?” Oh boy. Talk about sweating profusely and squirming uncomfortably, while gazing into those inquisitive, innocent, trusting baby blues. I silently had a nervous breakdown before giving myself a hearty pep talk, scrambling for a calm, matter-of-fact plausible explanation.
I finally looked at Han and said, “Hookers are girls who are very naughty.” Her shoulders slumped as she hung her sweet little head and quietly said, “ I’M a hooker.” That is in no way what I anticipated would come out of her mouth, to be honest. I couldn’t contain myself.
I laughed an extremely long time after those words were uttered. When I finally regained some semblance of control, I told her she was definitely NOT a hooker. She insisted she was because she was very naughty. I said, “No, Hookers are extremely naughty…and please, PLEASE don’t go to school tomorrow and tell anyone you’re a hooker!”
(Yes, I walked her to the classroom the next morning and explained the whole sordid scenario to her teacher to alleviate any misunderstandings. I wasn’t taking any chances.) At work, I still say, “I’m a hooker,” when I make a mistake or overlook something.
The raised eyebrows and dubious expressions are priceless coming from anyone not familiar with the story.
Once Hannah was older, we watched the movie together, and she commented that as a child she didn’t grasp the implication and she had really missed a lot of the innuendos. Not all of them, apparently.
Now that Han is older, I’m happy to report she is definitely not a hooker.