As parents we sometimes use words or phrases we know our children will not be able to understand or comprehend, but we use them anyway, for they are just a part of our vocabulary and typical explanation of an event or situation. For example, I was recently in a store when I overheard a mother talking with her son, who was obviously preparing to buy a toy with some money he had saved/earned. As the child considered his options, he was torn between a few items, as most kids would be. She began to tell him that he only had enough money to buy the newly observed item “instead of” rather than “in addition to” his previous selection. Those two phrases were not really connecting with the kid, but they were typical phrases that an adult would use without cause for concern. It made me chuckle as I heard the mother and son try and resolve the toy dilemma, for I had only a day or two before done something very similar with Daniel.
We were on our way to run some errands, and Daniel, being the observant little guy that he currently is, realized that we were heading the direction of ourChick-Fil-A. This establishment happens to be one of his favorite places, and he can recognize it and request “fila….food.” Anytime we travel towards this restaurant, he begins to say “food,” “momma eat,” or something of the like, no matter if he has just eaten or not.
In all honesty, we will often eat there, thanks to the annual coupon calendar my mother-in-law gifts us with at Christmas, gift cards, and mailers via the company to our home, some of which contain coupons for completely free items, which you can never go wrong with.(…..pardon while I continue a shameless plug…..) I am all about eating for cheap, which is an easy feat there. Their food is cooked in peanut oil, which is healthier than other options. Also, the company in general is a wonderful establishment that is heads above any other fast-food type of store, full of clean tables and floors, as well as mannerly employees. With an indoor play place, it has also been a nice place to visit on cold or rainy days. I also know one of the managers personally, and when he is there, we get even more special treatment than what is typically offered. All that said, we love to “eat more chicken,” as their company slogan suggests.
So, as we travel down the road, Daniel beings “Eat, Momma.” I, not planning on purchasing anything that morning yet realizing that we might run long with our engagements, therefore food might fall into the agenda, respond with a “Maybe, Daniel. Maybe.” Daniel is silent for a few moments. Next, he quickly chimes in with another “Food, Momma. Eat food.” Again, I reply “Maybe.”
I do realize that he does not really understand this phrase, yet that was the appropriate reply, for I was uncertain if we would get anything. It was the only retort I could manage, albeit an inappropriate one for a toddler.
“Food, peas Momma.” At least now he was using his manners (peas=please). My response however, was the same “Maybe, Daniel” as before. Finally Daniel responds “No, Momma, no BABY. FOOD,” almost as if I was not getting his request. Chuckling from his response, I, again, reply “Maybe.” “Mom! No Baby! Eat food.”
Being that now I could not help myself from using the phrase and hearing him try and correct me on my listening abilities, I say “maybe” to him again. Exasperated from my comments, Daniel changes his request….”Snack?”……A phrase to which I cave. “Okay, Daniel, we will get some food.”
And to make me fall even more in love with him, Daniel, in a high pitched voice proclaims, “Yeah! I excited!!! Food!’ as he clutches his hands into little fists near his smiling face.
Moments later, the boy held a .89 cent order of hash browns in his hands, and my heart began to become just as full with happiness as his tummy was becoming full with yummy food.