Acquiring That Turn-of-Phrase

Today, Gigi is getting a leg up on her birthday plans. (Her birthday is not until November 25, but it never hurts to sketch out the details early.)

She says (and I quote – exactly): “The most important part is guests…it will be both boys and girls because I like both kinds of people.

Next is the cake. It should be a Dora cake with a lot of pink and purple swirls but no nuts.

If people don’t want to come, that’s okay. Better luck next time.”

I’m pretty sure the “no nuts” comment stems from the oft repeated no-nuts policy (in both the verbal and written format) that reigns over my children’s lives at school, as well as at home as they watch the elaborate preparations I make before a play date in our home with a child who has a nut (or other food) allergy. I live in deep fear of those play dates where the epi-pen accompanies the guest child. (Please God, let me have enough emotional strength and be of enough sound mind to effectively jab the child in the thigh with the pen-needle if it should come to that. To make sure it doesn’t come to that, I have already scoured the kitchen up and down, inside and out, so no nut residue remains on any surface. The jar of peanut butter is hidden within the depths of my fridge. I’ve researched all emergency phone numbers of the visiting child’s parent(s) in the school directory beforehand, and the piece of paper on which those crucial numbers have been written in bold black Sharpie ink, has been carefully taped to the wall behind the kitchen phone console.)

As for the provenance of the “Better luck next time” phrase into my three-year-old’s lexicon, I have no bloody idea. I often marvel at the origination of a phrase or fact, something informed which suddenly pops out of the mouths of one of my offspring. A tidbit they’ve picked up on their own, based on their own singular sets of experiences and resources…quite separate from my influence and direction…something they have come to understand WITHOUT me. “Where did you learn that?” I’ll ask, grasping at control, trying to understand exactly how the knowledge was absorbed into my child’s brain. Frequently the answer is, “I don’t know.” Like love, an artist’s pure gift to draw, to sing or to dance or the inner workings of the human brain…much of the growth and maturation of each of my children has nothing whatsoever to do with me. Their journey is a singular one and it remains a mystery…a beautiful mystery.

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