Last week, as I was giving Kieran a bath, he held up a plastic fish and said, "Look, Mama, I caught a whoffer!"
"I think that's a butterfly fish, buddy," I said with a smile, soaping up the washcloth.
"No, Mom! It's a WHOFFER! I caught a WHOFFER!" he insisted.
I remember when Natalie and Connor were the ages Teyla and Kieran are now. I only had two kids, and being a SAHM, I was with them every moment of every day. We went to the grocery store together, to the park together, to the library together. There wasn't anything in their lives that I didn't experience with them.
So when Natalie would say something funny, I could reach back into the recesses of my mind and say, "Oh! She's repeating a line from the children's hour at the library this morning." And when Connor would step into our pontoon and parrot, "Life jackets! So we can be safe!" I knew it was Dora.
And then, Natalie turned five and went to kindergarten, and let me assure you - having your oldest go to school is a seismic event. In the blink of an eye, her circle shifted away from the constant overlap with mine. I wasn't a part of everything anymore. She started to create her own world, separate from me, with her own friends and her own memories and her own experiences.
I could no longer interpret every phrase or figure out the seed event that grew into such a flowery story.
It hit me like a sucker punch. I didn't see it coming.
So last week, when Kieran kept insisting, "It's a WHOFFER, Mama! A WHOFFER!", I searched through the storage cave of my mind and remembered a Backyardigans he'd been watching earlier that day. It details Tasha, the fisherwoman, attempting to catch a whopper.
"OH! Is it a WHOPPER, buddy?" I said with sudden recognition. "Like what Tasha caught?"
He grinned in dismayed relief. "Yes, Mama. But not a whopper. A WHOFFER!"
OK buddy. You can call it what you want. I know what you're talking about.
For a few more years anyway.