Three conversations

I was reading Mookie the instructions of her favorite pages in Puzzle Buzz.

Mama: Circle the one with the even number of fish.

Mookie: One, two, one, two, one, two, one, two, one, two. This one.

Mama: I didn’t know if you knew what “even” meant! Do you know what the opposite is called? What do you call a number that you can’t count off by twos?

Mookie: Bumpy?

I thought that was an excellent guess. I laughed and said so, and told her the term is “odd.” That made her laugh. “That’s very odd,” she said. “What an odd thing to say.”


Last night at dinner we were talking about a kid in school, A., who is what is euphemistically called “a spirited child.” Smart, sweet, can’t hold still for five minutes to save his life.

Mama: Some kids need to move around a lot and some kids like to sit very still for a long time. You’re kind of in-between.

Mookie: I used to be more like A. In kindergarten I was. Now I like to sit still more.

Mama: Why do you think you’ve changed?

Mookie, with feeling: Old age.

I had had a theory as to the reason for the change, and had almost asked her, “Do you suppose that’s because you like to spend so much time reading now?” I’m glad I held back and asked the open-ended question instead, or we’d have missed out on that immortal answer.


For tonight’s homework, Mookie had to interview us about what countries she, we, and our parents were born in. (Friday is the international flag parade, a school tradition which kids carry a flag of their family heritage, so they’re preparing to make their flags.) The questions were in Spanish but she wrote “United States” all three times. I figured that was okay, but asked, “Do you know how to say ‘United States’ in Spanish?” She responded by saying “United States” in a convincing Mexican accent.

When I laughed helplessly, she laughed too and tried pronouncing it as if it were actually Spanish: “Oo-nee-ted Stah-tees.” But really, there was no improving on her first response. I’m pretty sure “learn how to imitate recent immigrants” is not in the school’s goals for its students.


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