I was making grilled cheese sandwiches for my children the other day, when I made the classic opera parenting mistake of enunciating my words a little too clearly. “Ok,” I said happily, “your grilleD cheeses are ready!”
“Why did you call them grilleD cheeses?” my daughter asked me, clearly annoyed that I do not know as much as she does. She just turned seven, and she has it all figured out.
“Ummm, because that’s what they’re called,” I informed her, slapping the sandwich down onto her plate.
“No, they’re called grillcheese sandwiches. It’s a compound word.” She then stared straight into my eyes, daring me to defy her, lest I start an argument that would last for all of lunch. Alas, I could not let such absurdity stand, so I had to correct her.
“It’s not a compound word. It’s two words. Grilled. Cheese. Grilled cheese sandwiches.”
“No it’s not!” she said, laughing at my incompetence.
“NO RUBY!” shouted her younger brother, unable to keep out of a conversation in which there might be a slight chance that his sister was wrong about something, “it’s girl…cheese…SANDWICHES!!!”
“Edward!” shouted Ruby, “It’s not GIRL cheese sandwiches!”
“YES IT IS!!!!” shouted Edward, banging his spoon on the table. The spoon was not for the sandwich, but for the tomato soup that went with it. And I assume we all agreed that it was called ‘tomato soup,’ although the subject never came up.
“Daddy! Tell him they’re not called GIRL cheese sandwiches!”
“No, they are called grilled cheese sandwiches.”
“No! Grillcheese sandwiches!”
“NO! GIRL CHEESE SANDWICHES!”
“No! Grrrrr Cheese sandwiches!”
And then it really got out of hand, because Edward informed us that his sandwich was actually a hot lava cheese sandwich, so Ruby told him that hers was a banana cheese sandwich, and I made them compromise and so we all called them hot lava banana cheese sandwiches for the rest of the meal. The next day I jokingly referenced the hot lava banana cheese sandwich to Ruby again, to which she replied, “Yeah, but you know they’re really called grillcheese sandwiches, right?”
And she’s only seven…