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…and a smile!

September 25, 2009

Over the summer, I inadvertently introduced Lil B to a phrase that is required to be known, properly used and applied often in conversation. Sometimes, however, opportunities for growth present themselves and it becomes imperative for a parent to seize these moments. You know, all in the name of social development.

And so it was that we were spending the last few, precious moments wrestling and tickling and having really important conversations about boogers and booties one Wednesday evening before his dad came to pick him up. Call it symbiosis or just lovely happenchance, but somehow, over the giggles and cringing, we looked at each other and said, at the very same time, “Hey! Stinky pants!”

Let me pause here to underline the fact that our summer discussions really did include topics that included how blood clots work, whether pets and people occupy the same heaven, the merits of meditation and (one of our favorites), why high-fructose corn syrup is a tool of the devil. OK, back to the whole stinky pants thing.

Of course, I did what I imagine any Gen X-fearing parent would do in this situation. Without any hesitation, I blurted out a little too loudly, “JINX! Buy me a Coke!”

And then I realized that a) my son had no idea what I just screamed toward his face, only inches away from my own, 2) he is not that sure what a Coke even is, and c) I had completely silenced a conversation about body fluids and smells…with a 4 year old. The confluence of minor miracles was almost too much for me to take.

Fortunately, Lil B is used to me saying crazy shit. He’s also used to asking 5,000 questions about the minute details and lexicography of said crazy shit. Finally, he’s pretty brillant at co-opting the crazy shit into his own preschooler patois. It’s kind of like how some kids find a tube of lipstick and use it to affix glue to faded construction paper.

In this moment, shook his head and said something else he made his own a long time ago.

“What the — ?!”

“Jinx! Buy me a Coke,” I said quieter and more meter. Then, I explained what the phrase meant. Or tried to, at least, in a way he’d understand. Eventually, I just ended up telling him it was something silly to say, or cool, or maybe even a little crazy.

He nodded, let the wheels turn for a few seconds and then went back to the business at hand.
That seemed to be it, for a week or so, anyway. Then, in a conversation about day camp or Michael Jackson or some-such, we said said something simultaneously.

“JINKERS!,” Lil B yelled out a little too loudly. With a huge grin that revealed his adorably gapped teeth, he went on, “Buy me a…ummm….what was that thing again, Mommy?”

“Coke,” I said just over a giggle. “A Coke.”

His eyes wrinkled up in confusion.

“Like a Diet Coke,” I explained. “Like Grandma’s favorite drink.”

He breezed past it.

“Well, I do not want a Coke. I am not allowed to drink Diet Coke. AND…it’s spicyyyyy.”

I tried to tell him it was just a phrase, but he wouldn’t have it. He didn’t need my nonsensical explanations for this nonsensical saying with no clear ramifications or rewards. He just needed to make it his own.

“Mommy! Say it again!” he demanded. He is the king of do-overs. There’s really no way to get around doing it.

I said whatever it was that we previously said at the same time, and just off-tempo, he said it too.

“JINKERS!,” he cried out once again. “Buy me a juice box!”

With a flash of the unevenly spaced teeth, he told me he was very proud of his tweak to the seemingly age-old saying.

“Good one,” I winked, trying not to let my mix approval be overruled by my sarcasm. “Good one, honey.”

In the weeks (months now?) since, Lil B has not stopped delighting in every opportunity to stake his claim on a jinxed sentence, demanding the non-high-fructose corn syrup version of a Capri Sun for his cleverness and timing.

What I love most is that he begins it all with a word of his own, one that sounds more like a decrepit cat’s name than a 70s phrase.

“JINKERS!”, he called out to me just last night when we both heard the doorbell ring and responded, “DADDY’S HERE!”

When the giggles died down, he continued the rest of his own phrase while I held tight to his tiny torso.

“You know what’s so great about that JINKERS! thing, Mommy?”, he asked as I kissed his cheeks and zipped his sweatshirt.

“What, lovey?” I smiled.

“J-J-Jinkers begins with a J!”, he said, full of glee. “J-J-Just like j-j-juice box and…”

“Good one, honey,” I smiled bigger, squeezed tighter.

With that, he was off, grabbing his oversized backpack and running downstairs to wave his light saber at his waiting father.

I followed him down, carrying the bag full of toys he needs to have with him but will not play with in the 24 hours he is away. With the heavy outside door propped open against my leg, I knelt down to hug him one more time.

“Goodnight, I love you,” he rattled off and I whispered in perfect time. We acknowledged it only in a momentary shared smile.

“Jinkers,” I whispered into his hair with one last kiss.

And I hoped — I prayed — that the words never change. That, please God, he never stops saying it that way

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