The Latin word for misstep is lapsus, I tell her,
La-zoo-lee, my daughter shrieks.
Me: No. That’s LA-pis la·zu·li, a metamorphic rock.
Her: No Mom, caterpillars do metamorphosis to get their wings! Not rocks.
Me: How clever. Let’s start again.
Her: I want to do homophones now.
Me: You can’t be homophobic in this house!
Her: Ha Ha Mom, feeble. (giggles) Um. How about: I need to get packed.
Me: Really! We had a pact that you would pair up with your brother for that.
Her: Tell my père to pare me a pear. So there. (laughing hard now)
Me: Nice. Last one now. Try: There’s too much dependence on coffee today.
Her: Mom, you’re so weird. That’s a movie. The Dependents.
One of my favourite times with my young, extremely verbal daughter was to play this unstructured word game, which developed organically as she asked questions about the function and meaning of words. There were no formal rules. The game was based on silly, rudimentary word appropriations that could go on for hours. In the car, at bedtime, in a grocery store, with lots of shrieking and scolding on her part. Today, she is a spoken word poet who reads incessantly and writes beautifully.