It started so innocently.
“Auntie Em, do you know that one time I made stone soup?” I stopped washing dishes and looked down to see my 6-year-old niece staring up at me, a wide gap-toothed grin on her small, food-flecked face. “Wow, I didn’t know that,” I replied, thereby unknowingly opening the gates for what would become a 15 minute description that left me both very entertained, and, if I’m being honest, a little scared for what my future will likely hold.
“Well, yes,” she said slowly. “I did. I did it in school. Do you know how I did it?” She does a half spin on one foot as she asks this, and whips her pony tail around so it intentionally slaps her in the face.
Recognizing I’d already taken one large step down a rather slippery slope, I eyed the clock to calculate how much longer until we needed to shuttle her to school, and then cautiously replied, “No…”
“Well, first you have to get rocks from outside. Then you have to clean them. Then you have to clean them, like, really really really really reaaaaaalllllly good.” At this point, she drops her head and looks at me in a very serious way, her brown eyes as big as saucers, apparently trying to convince me of how important that last ‘reaaaalllllly’ really was.
“I see,” I say, with a little drama for effect.
“Okay. After you’ve, like, cleaned them, realllllly good, you, um, you can, like, um, well then you add the veggies.” She says this last word three full octaves higher than the others, and stirs her stick-thin, tan arms around with such dramatic motion, her whole body rotates at the waist. I’m not sure if she’s skipped a step, or if she’s decided to pantomime the rest of her stone soup presentation, but I nod my head and allow her to proceed, which she does, and after approximately 15 body rotations, I deduce she just likes making her dress spin around her legs.
“Okay, add the veggies. Check!” I offer up after her gyrating comes to a stop.
“WAIT!” she yells, throwing a hand up as if to stop me from walking into a busy intersection at rush hour. “No. Auntie Em, first you have to CHOP the veggies. I chopped the veggies by myself. I chopped them at the skills station. I chopped them at the skills station with a knife. I chopped them at the skills station with a plastic knife. It was the only knife in the whole school.” She seems to be very proud of this, so I give her a big thumbs up, and watch her as she begins fiddling with the strings on her dress. She ties them, and unties them, and twirls them around, and for a second I think that is the end of the story, and then in a flash she drops the strings and resumes her story.
“After you, um, chop the veggies, you put them in the soup. You have to put them all in the soup…”
Nothing. Silence. Again I wonder if that is it, but it turns out she’s looking for me to acknowledge the importance of adding all the veggies.
“Okay, I got it. Add all the veggies,” I say.
“Okay, after you add alllllllllllll the veggies, you cook it overnight. Do you know how we cooked it overnight?” she asks. Before I can even venture as guess, she jumps into the air with the enthusiasm of someone in the old-school Toyota commercials, and yells “A CROCKPOT!”.
Having reached what I thought was the end of the story, and looking again at the clock which now indicated we had just 6 minutes until departure time, I gave her a hug and began to say “Good job…” but was interrupted by a very stern look.
“Auntie Em! I’m not done!” she howled at me. I apologized and urged her on. She stopped moving, took a visibly deep breath, and started out again, in a very serious voice.
“Wellllll, after it was done I shared mine with my buddies. I have two buddies. They are boys. One is a boy. Two are boys. Some people have girl buddies. Some have a girl buddy and a boy buddy. I have a boy buddy. Actually I, um, I have two boy buddies…”
At this point, I did the mean grown-up thing and interjected that she had to go to school soon, and as she skipped down the hallway to retrieve her backpack, I had to laugh. On one hand, this string of uber-informative babble was hilarious. But on the other… oh boy. Let’s just say I think I’ll try to appreciate my two-year-old’s two-word sentences just a little bit longer.