We are walking through Goodwill, on a mission to find shirts for the boys– she in the cart, I walking. Her polka-dotted rainboots swing in rhythm as she tips her head side to side– a seated dance to the oldies station playing over the store’s loudspeakers. She likes oldies.

We weave through the many people crowding the main thoroughfare; they seem busy for a Sunday. I find the aisle I need and we swing down it, finding ourselves surrounded by clothes. “See kah-woves?” she asks. This is the theme of her life right now– the continual questioning. It’s not enough that she sees them. She must point them out. She must ask if I see them too. I must answer or she will ask over and over again.

“See kah-woves?”

I do see the clothes.

“See shoots?”

I see the shirts. Do you like this one? It’s blue.

“See payunts?” (Sometimes she sounds like a little southern belle.)

I see the pants.

“Gaycie have payunts?”

You do have pants! I have pants too. Mine are blue. Yours are pink!

“Uh-oh! Boots fall down?”

They are too big, the shiny, polka-dotted rainboots I bought on sale over the internet. She loves them anyway. I put the boot back on her foot. We discuss the clothing options before us (bleak) and give up on the shirt quest. I turn to the baby-and-toddler rack just in case something amazing is hanging there.

“See duhwess?”

I see the dress. It’s too little for you.

“See fow-wohs?”

Oh, yes. That shirt does have flowers on it.

“Is pwitty?”

Very pretty.

“Have it?”

Nope, you can’t have it.

“Uh-oh! Boots fall down?”

Everything is a question. Even when it’s a statement. A woman walks by, in a denim jacket and short gray hair.

“See Gweema?”

That’s not Grandma.

“See Gweema?”


“Gweema bye-bye?”

Yes. Grandma is bye-bye.

“See bafwoom?”

No, that’s the changing room.

“See bafwoom?”

No, sweetie, it’s a changing room.


She likes to argue, and she continues to ask if it’s a bathroom with a laugh in her voice and a naughty little sparkle in her eye, until finally I push the cart past the open door and show her inside.

See? No potty. Just a chair.

“Uh-oh! Boots fall down?”

When did she learn the fine art of subject-changing? I push her to the back of the store, by the books and picture frames and dishes and toys and lamps and candles and baskets and Christmas decorations and clocks and mystery items. She chatters all the way.

“What’s dayut?” she asks, over and over again. I answer over and over.

A fork. A light. A book. A clock. A pumpkin.

I stop several more times to adjust her dropping boots. She calls several other women grandma, and I hope they can’t understand her (especially the one who looks to be about my age).

“See bear?”

I see the bear. You don’t need it. You have a bear at home.

“See poon?”

Yup! It’s a spoon.

“See nudder one poon?”

There is another spoon. There’s lots of spoons, see?

“See tuhwee?”

It’s a Christmas tree. You’re right.

She never stops. People smile at her, at me. She gets shy when they talk to her, but as soon as they look away she’s back to chattering up a storm. I think about this as I push her past the women’s clothing (“see duhwess?”), past the dressing rooms (“see bafwoom?”), past the footwear (“see SOOS?”). I think about it as I lift her from the cart, adjust her boots again, raise her hood over her ponytail.

I think about a year ago, her fat round cheeks and big round eyes and pink round glasses and her barely-growing-in hair, just long enough for an antenna-like pigtail sticking straight up. I think about her, two years ago, damaging my ribs with her feet.

She’ll be two next week.

I’m so glad I have her.

On In Around button


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