Friday, January 16, 2009

my ESL degree comes in handy

Isaac and our next door neighbor, Mrs. Johnson, have what you might call a symbiotic relationship. She likes to give out chocolate; he likes to eat chocolate. Creatively subtle conversations about how we like to limit treats, my dental bills, our family history of diabetes, haven't really made an impact.

I get complete agreement, but ultimately, what she as an 80+-year-old widow who never had children of her own and is an ocean away from her Austrian family likes to think of as “once in a while” and what we as parents having to share close quarters with a scheming sweet-tooth wielding almost-4-year-old consider so, are different.

She piles treats into my arms, onto holiday plates. Things she's made (lemon bars. Mmmmm.), or things that her niece in Salzburg has shipped over for her favorite aunt: “Schoko-Bananen” - chocolate-covered banana-flavored cookie things (barf), or the squares of German and Austrian chocolates shot through with almonds and hazelnuts.

The other day Isaac was digging in the front yard speculating on which kind of dirt might keep away the gopher while I ran in the house for something or other. Before I could get back out, Isaac came barreling in to tell me that “Mit Johnson wanna know if I can hab a tookie, tauz me wortin so hard.”

I sighed, resigned. “I suppose so,” I told him. And out he went like a flash.

A minute later I came back out and found Isaac and Mrs. Johnson in deep discussion. “He can't have a cookie?” she called to me with great umbrage.

“He can have one,” I corrected, surprised.

“He said you said 'no.' Okay, let me get him something.”


“Isaac, did you tell Mrs. Johnson I said 'no?'”

“Me toad her 'poze toe.'”

“'Poze toe?'”

“Yeah, you said, 'Poze toe.'”

“Oh, yeah. I guess she must have heard you say 'no' instead.”

“Yeah,” he said, nodding thoughtfully, “Tauz Mit Johnson speat Wing-gwish dit-went-wy den us do.”

“She 'peat Wing-gwish,” he added again generously, “jut dit-went.”

“Yeah, that must be it, Iz.”


bobbie said...

Mit Johnson mus be a nice neighbor!

Rita Anne said...

Wuv it! Wuv it!
And yes, she must be.

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