About this time of year, a new compound word enters my vocabulary. It’s an oxymoron, a juxtaposition of the negative and the positive, a result of my pliable volition. A product of summer’s lazy pace and possibly heat exhaustion, my standard answer to the kids’ requests becomes “no-kay.”
“Mom, can you find us a house for our new pet cockroach?”
The kids huddled around their new BFF, an American cockroach, about two inches long.
“No-kay,” I replied. I headed to our shed to find a plastic bug carrier for the six-legged critter.
No-kay is a short little word, a simple fusion of the words “no” and “OK.” But the devil is in the hyphen. That hyphen represents a sometimes complex thought process, sometimes a simple fizzle of resolve. But somehow, in a nanosecond’s time, my answer makes a complete 180 degree turn.
Let me demonstrate with the cockroach example.
The “No”: I’m not thrilled with the idea of bringing a cockroach inside the house. It just goes against common wisdom. Even under maximum security in the bug house, it seems like a bad idea.
The hyphen process: It’s an American cockroach – a big ol’ water bug. Thanks to my friendship with the exterminator, I know it poses no danger, carries no disease, doesn’t like to infest houses. It also has a cool factor: it’s the fastest known bug. (In an important study at UC Berkeley, it was clocked at 3.4 MPH. For its size, that would be like a human running 210 MPH.) The kids like it. They’ve already named it. There’s a bug house in the shed.
The “kay”: Off I trudge for the bug house. They keep the bug two days, in which I actually begin to feel sorry for the cockroach. Who knew I was capable of compassion for one of the least-loved pests? And then one morning, they take it outside and let it go. No harm done.
No-kay becomes the answer to many other questions.
Q (at 8 p.m.): “Mom, can we watch a movie?”
A: “No — (hyphen process: It’s summer. We don’t have to get up. There are weeks before we need to be back on regular schedule) — kay.”
Q: “Can we have ice cream for dinner?”
A: “No — (hyphen process: It’s too flippin’ hot to cook. Plus it has protein, calcium, I think it has chocolate chips — plenty of antioxidants in there. Technically they already ate dinner, this is the second dinner they try to worm out of me every night.) — kay.”
Perhaps the heat has caused my resolve to evaporate. Or the ringing of cicadas has produced a type of summer madness. Whatever it is, the kids get away with a lot more this time of year than usual. And it’s a lot of fun!
Overland Park mom and 913 freelancer Emily Parnell blogs at mom2momkc.com.