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Because some people hate burned bread

By Robin Dearing
"Do you want a biewberry waffle for breakfast?" I asked Margaret the other morning. Then we grinned at each other. 'Biewberry' is how our little 4-year-old neighbor pronounced "blueberry." Instead of correcting her or continuing to pronounce the word correctly ourselves, we adopted the baby-speak for that juicy, little fruit. We've done that over and over again, adopted the baby-speak pronunciation of a word instead of actually teaching the correct way to say something. Bill and I both still say "goss," despite the fact that Margaret left that mispronunciation for "gross" behind years ago. You can still hear us say things like, "I like lellow" — a quote from my then-4-year-old niece (who's now 9 — gasp!) when she was proclaiming her affection for the color yellow. And as Margaret is growing and experiencing new things, her vocabulary is expanding along with it. We've been continuously surprised by the sophistication of her language. Perhaps that's why we were so delighted the other day when Margaret authoritatively stated, "My friend at school is black-toast intolerant ... she can't have milk." Black-toast intolerant! Really what 6-year-old who doesn't have an allergy to milk knows the word lactose? But oh man, did we laugh about that one ... too much, however. She became angry in that she thought we were making fun of her (OK and we might have been a little, but "black-toast intolerant," it's such a beautifully perfect substitution for a word that didn't exist in her world before a week ago). Of course, that didn't stop me from repeating her grammatic gaff to everyone I've talked to since — that was until I was telling a friend on the phone and I got smacked in the back with a pink, pokey ball. When I turned around, Margaret sheepishly said, "Oops, it slipped." Followed by, "Where's my biewberry waffle?"