Tell about a time your child embarrassed you in public.
As an infant, my daughter Ryan was very chatty (and some things have never changed). She’d sit on my lap and tell long, animated stories, complete with extravagant hand gestures. Of course, at six-months-old, her words were unintelligible (I always say her first language was 'Ryanese'). That changed, however, at eight-months, when she uttered her first completely non-gibberish word. It wasn’t ‘mama’ or ‘dada,’ though… it was Tucker. Tucker was our dog. When she said his name, she was sitting in her high chair, tossing Cheerios at his head. At the sink, I whipped around, certain I was hearing things. Then she looked at me, pointed at him, and said it again, plain as day.
I nearly fell over. It certainly wasn’t the last time she would astonish me with her vocabulary. She has always had an affinity for words – especially big words – and, most often, she gets them right, both in context and pronunciation. Sometimes, though, her gaffes and mispronunciations are cause for giggles.
But not the time I’m going to tell you about.
There was no giggling that day.
Not by me, anyway.
She was about a year old. We were in Barnes and Noble – one of my favorite places on the planet. Because she wasn’t quite walking on her own yet (and because I didn’t want to re-shelve every book on the bottom two shelves of every aisle we were in), I was holding her. As we neared the children’s section, she got excited.
She was doing that baby-bounce thing very little ones do when they can’t contain their glee and pointing excitedly to a wooden cut-out hanging from the ceiling. It was Beatrix Potter’s Jeremy Fisher.
Remember Jeremy Fisher?
Then, as clear as a bell, loud enough to be heard on the other side of the store, my sweet, angel-faced baby yelled,
I stopped short, praying it was a one-time outburst.
No such luck.
More bouncing. More pointing. More yelling.
Louder this time.
“FUCK! Mama! FUCK!”
Everyone within earshot had stopped by this time as well, and were craning their necks around and over shelves to see my sweet, angel-faced, utterly foul-mouthed baby.
By now, I was dropping the F-bomb, too… in my head. Out loud (and loudly), I said,
“Yes, Ryan, that IS a frog. Frrroooggg!”
“FUCK, Mama! FUCK!”
Mortified, still mumbling clearly useless drivel about frrrrooooogggggs, I bolted out of Barnes and Noble. Without buying a thing.
(Which might have been a first.)
For the record, she got truck right on the first try.