“Mommy! I’m a bidj! I’m a bidj!”
She’s smiling and giggling, squirming excitedly in her car seat.
“What?” I ask her, trying to buckle her in while she’s squirming.
“I’m a bidj!”
Right then I stop what I’m doing and mentally play back what she just said. Did my darling little curly haired 2 and half year old just refer to herself as a female dog?
“You’re a what?” I ask her, plastering on my patient mommy smile.
“A BIDJ” she shouts with great enthusiasm.
“What did she say?” my husband stops putting things away in the garage and comes around, having over heard her. He had a look of grave concern. “She can’t mean that, right?”
Of course instantly we are mentally blaming the other for our daughter’s sudden language acquisition. I’m thinking this is his fault—no doubt he’s called our own female dog this in front of her. He’s thinking my recent outbursts of an occasional “s” word lately indicate that I’ve been slipping in the forbidden language department. None of this do we speak out loud, we merely shake our head.
We decide against addressing the word with our youngest directly since we’ve learned that any strong response would most likely result in the word being shouted out at every inopportune moment. I could just see her proclaiming herself “a bidj” every time I dropped her off at the church’s mother’s day out program, her pre-K teacher’s smile fading as the rest of the two year olds in her class promptly shouting that they too are “bidjes.” No, I’d just smile and pray that this was only a car seat declaration.
This goes on for a week, until our six-year-old solves the mystery. We’re on our way out for a day of errands.
“I’m a bidj!” she tells her big sister with great delight.
“That’s right, you’re a bridge,” her sister replies with a bored air.
“What? What did she say?” I almost leap out of my seat.
“She’s a bridge. See?” Her sister gestures to our toddlers socks.
Sure enough, my two-year-old’s little chubby legs are perched on the console in front of her car seat, toes stretching out to reach it, forming a bridge.
I am definitely looking forward to her acquiring that R sound. The subtle nuances of language acquisition are not easy to explain to perfect strangers in the grocery store who look like they’ve got Child Protective Services on their speed dial.