By popular demand: Emisms from the past

2010 em cowgirlEmism (EHM-iz-um): A quip or quote from my daughter Emily, written for posterity.

Well before blogging was within my line of sight, I frequently emailed stories of conversations with Emily to my family and friends. Since starting the WordsnCoffee blog just six weeks ago, I’ve had several requests to bring back tales from her toddlerhood (and beyond). Here are four shorts I dug out of my email archive for your enjoyment. — Kate


Short-lived contentment (age 3)

After watching “Polar Express,” I talked with Emily about how some children don’t get much for Christmas, like the little boy in the movie who was so thrilled just to get ONE present. Emily looked at her gifts under the tree and said, “You don’t have to get me too much, Mama. I already have SOOO much. Thank you.”

The next day, I was bragging about this response to my sister, who replied with a healthy dose of sarcasm: “Well, if you get THAT to stick with her, you get the Mother of the Year award.”

Moments later, I went to check on Emily, who had her bedroom door closed. There she was, hiding her Christmas unopened presents, one under the covers and another hiding behind her teddy bears.

No Mother of the Year award after all.

One day a week, please (age 4)

One day while driving the 12-mile commute from school to our home, I asked Emily what she learned about that day.

“I don’t feel like talking right now,” she replied. But within a moment, she had all sorts of things to say, and she talked non-stop until we took our exit from the freeway. The topic eventually came to her wanting to have a crab for a pet: if it was a boy she’d name him Mr. Crab and if it was a girl, she would dress it in ballerina dresses.

She asked if I thought she could have a pet crab and I began to explain that a person has to really think about what kind of care a pet needs…

“Mom,” she interrupted, “you talk too much. I only want you to talk on Mondays. Okay, please?”

An unbelievable teacher’s report (almost 5)

Emily received her first progress report from her kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Dye. It said, “Emily is such a sweet little girl. She is doing very well academically. She has made lots of new friends and is adjusting well to kindergarten.”

I was proud. I put my arm around Emily and said, “Do you know what this says? It says ‘Emily is such a sweet little girl’…”

I paused to look at her and before I could go on, she said, “Mom! Tell me what it REALLY says!”

True confessions (almost 5)

When Emily was in kindergarten, I packed a lunch for her every day. One week, I began including one of those oatmeal cookies with the cream center, along with her fruit, ½ sandwich, carrots and juice. When I noticed she was coming home with the fruit or the veggie left, she would say, “I didn’t have TIME to eat my fruit.”

“Eat your fruit and veggies FIRST and if you have time, then eat the cookie,” I instructed.

The next morning as I zipped up her lunch bag, I said, “Okay, I put a hidden camera in your lunch box and I’m going to watch and see whether you eat your cookie first.” Her eyes widened with horror.

On the way home from school later, I said in a suspecting tone, “So, during lunch today…”

She gasped and exclaimed, “You saw me eat my cookie first?!”


I love the Spanish word “solidaridad,” translated “solidarity.” I first experienced the word—in its spoken form as well as its tangible manifestation—while visiting poverty-stricken villages in El Salvador back in 2001. Sister Fran Stacey talked about her neighbors’ commitment to one another as though witnessing it had changed her life. (It had. She stayed and became a Salvadoran citizen.) I saw this solidarity when the people shared stories of how guerrilla warfare had torn their families apart. I saw it as they came together to rebuild homes after Hurricane Mitch nearly washed them away. I saw it as they—as many as could fit in the back of Sister Fran’s Toyota truck—traversed to the hospital with a friend in the middle of the night to ensure he would receive treatment for his kidney pain even though he couldn’t pay for his care.

“Solidaridad” was one of the few Spanish words I never forgot.

Recently, I heard that beautiful word once again, in the unlikely circumstance of a conference call. Mark shared a harrowing story about his 7-year-old daughter and her friend having gone missing. He’d gone to pick her up at her friend’s house and the mother was surprised to realize she didn’t know where the girls were. Ten minutes turned into 20, and they began scouring the neighborhood. Soon, worry set in. Mark, who had never visited this area before, found himself knocking on doors and asking total strangers if they’d seen two little girls. At every home, people responded by putting on their shoes, leaving whatever they were doing, and joining in the search.

Two hours later, crews found the girls deep in a ravine, more than a mile through the woods from where they’d started. They were fine and there had been no foul play, except that of two young adventurers wandering too far from home without an adult.

After Mark came to terms with the panic and its ensuing resolution, what struck him most was the solidarity of the residents in this area. It didn’t matter whether they knew the girls. What mattered was that everyone joined the effort to find those children before any harm came to them.

By and large, it seems we are pretty good at acting in solidarity when there’s a crisis. Natural disasters and acts of violence, freak accidents, major tragedies and missing children have a way of bringing us together. We’re quick to make a financial donation or mobilize a response team, especially if we can do it online. If we could manage to celebrate successes together more, share more of our hoarded resources, care more about the “little” things in other people’s lives … that would be true solidarity.

Let’s put on our shoes and join that effort.