When I was around three years old, I have a very clear memory of standing in line with my brother and sister at Arthur Treachers. Do you remember Arthur Treachers? It was a fast food fish and chips place. Let that sink in for minute. Fast food fish. Let me say it again. Fast food fish and chips.
I actually don't remember the food at all, what I do remember is this: I saw a rather large lady waiting on line and I marched right up to her and said, "Hello Fat Lady!" in the sweet and innocent way that only a toddler can muster. The woman was flustered and my siblings were embarrassed and apologized profusely and hid me behind their legs as if hiding my presence would somehow absolve me of my verbal infraction.
Fast forward, 30-plus years and I was standing line at the butcher. My girls had the run of the place and were essentially asking for every random jar of pickled cabbage (because it's pink) and swiss wafer cookies (because it's chocolate). I kept shaking my head no, and silently prayed that they wouldn't knock over any of the displays that were all within their reach. A group of elderly people suddenly filled the store and I was getting the "looks." As a parent you either get those "aren't they adorable and precious?" looks or you get the "kids arent' behaved at all these days!" I was getting more of the latter.
HT pointed excitedly at one older gentleman. She was crouching and jumping and pointing. The larger the gesture directly correlating to how excited she was.
"MOMMY! PIRATE! MOMMY! PIRATE! YOOK, MOM! A PIRATE TANDING OVER TEAR! PIRATE IN DA STORE!"
There, by the door, was an elderly man wearing an eye patch. To HT, when you see an eye patch on someone, you are seeing a pirate. Even without the parrot or wooden peg leg or boat, HT saw a real, live pirate in the flesh and was beyond excited. And I was beyond embarrassed. The more I tried to quiet her, the more excited she got. She couldn't understand why I wasn't jumping and pointing and she only got louder, as if I couldn't see the pirate standing in the crowd of ordinary people. I apologized quickly and explained that some people wear eye patches like mommy wears glasses. I took my order and hurried out the door.
On the ride home, I fielded lots of questions about pirates, eye patches, blindness and politeness. HT didn't cry but she was confused. Here was a girl who was excited about using her words. In the store, she saw a man with an eye patch and then her mind compared that image against all the other pictures of men. She saw eye patch and thought "PIRATE!" What kid wouldn't be excited seeing a pirate in a New Jersey butcher store? As a parent, it's amazing to watch your child's language grow. Every word and experience expands that child's universe; a plant becomes a flower, which becomes a yellow flower, which eventually becomes a marigold.
The lesson of the day became, "It's not a pirate unless you see an eye patch, parrot, peg leg and a skull and cross bones flag and a ship. 1 out of 5 does not = pirate."