Tuckered Out

After breakfast Ingrid and I usually have a little reading time on the couch. Last Saturday morning, we read, among other favorites, Beatrix Potter’s The Tale of Tom Kitten.

Recently Ingrid’s gotten the hang of asking about specific words she doesn’t know, often to my befuddlement. You know Mem Fox’s Time for Bed? Good gracious me, says the big snake to the baby snake. You’re still awake. Ingrid plants her hand on the page to keep me from moving on. What does gracious mean?

Anyway, Beatrix Potter wrote Tom Kitten in 1907 and it’s surprisingly appealing, still. (Except when Mrs. Tabitha Twitchit smacks her naughty kittens for losing their clothes. We skip that.) But it includes a few words that aren’t exactly in daily use in our house. Ingrid asks about all of them. Burst I could handle, no sweat. Pinafore, ok, I have a rough idea. Tucker, though, when Ingrid asked about it Saturday, sent me for the dictionary.

Turns out it’s a ruffly thing that women used to wear around their necks, which is why you can’t tell from the illustration what it might be; to the untrained, twenty-first century eye it just looks like part of the pinafore.

Even cooler than finding out what a tucker is was introducing Ingrid to the dictionary. Don’t tell anyone this, but I’ve been known to read dictionaries. Especially the “regional usage notes” and such. Mmm, love that. So much that a couple of years ago for Christmas A gave me the first two volumes of the Dictionary of American Regional English. Best present ever. So it was pretty neat to sit next to Ingrid on the couch with her little feet pointing off the edge of the cushion and the big book spread across both of our laps, finishing up my cup of tea and turning those thin pages. She was impressed with the size of the thing and all the little illustrations and the big shiny letters on the finger-tabs cut into the edges of the pages to mark each section. A moment for the baby book, for sure.

But apparently not quite memorable enough for my seive of a brain: This morning after breakfast Ingrid toddled up to the couch waving our copy of Tom Kitten and saying Want to look for tucker! Thinking she meant Tucker, I heaved myself off the couch to search the shelf for the latest Leslie McGuirk book we’ve checked out from the library. When I handed it to Ingrid, a tantrum started to brew immediately. She shook her head, teared up, and whined No, no, no!

This is Tucker, I said. Didn’t you say you wanted to read Tucker? More tantrum. Several fruitless exchanges. Finally I extracted from her: Tucker in the big book. How painful is this to read? We went through at least two more rounds of non-communication before I figured out what she really wanted to do was look up tucker in the dictionary again.

And so we did.

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