“Hey Dad, you still want to get some ice cream?” I blurted out trying to rouse him from his nap and make the most of our visit. “Ice cream?” he sleepily repeated, but did not register. A few minutes later. “Alright, Dad, what do you think, you up for your 2nd road trip of the day? Ice cream?” “YES! Let’s go for ice cream!” “ROAD TRIP!” I responded with giddy excitement.
I dressed my Dad in his coat and hat. Megan got his walker and carefully supervised his slow and steady walk to the car. I buckled him up while my Mom and Megan settled in the back seat. “Ice cream, here we come!”
We pulled into the parking lot of Sundaes.
“What does everyone want?” I asked my passengers.
“I’ll have a small mint chocolate chip in a dish.” my Mom said. “I want a small soft serve vanilla in a cone.” my Dad chimed in.
“What do I want? Do I want soft serve vanilla with sprinkles or hot fudge?” Megan wondered out loud.
“Sprinkles?” my Mom laughed. “You mean jimmies?” my Mom said to Megan.
“Sprinkles, jimmies…whatever!” Megan laughed.
Reviewing the order before I exited the car, I said “Mom, small mint chocolate chip in dish, Megan, small vanilla dish with hot fudge or sprinkles?” “Hot fudge!” she finally committed from the back seat.
I turned to my Dad beside me, “Dad, small vanilla…” he cut me off and independently repeated his order, “Small soft serve vanilla cone with…” he paused “with…” pause again. I waited. He lifted his hand and made his stiff fingers wiggle “with, with, with those brown dots. Small vanilla with those brown dots.”
“SMALL BROWN DOTS??!!! I busted out laughing, you mean sprinkles???!!!” “Yeah, yeah, sprinkles!! Those brown dots.” At that the four of us were howling and cackling through our teary eyes. By the time I had pulled myself together to actually order, my stomach hurt.
I love words and language. I love hearing kids use language approximations. I love to watch language develop an grow in children. But this weekend, my Dad taught me, that no matter your age, where you are in language development or decline, unique, creative, meaning filled approximations are call for celebration.