One summer evening when she was four or five, Daughter-Only came in from playing outside with her brothers and cousins and some assortment of neighborhood kids. She was breathlessly excited about making a new friend. She listed this new friend's virtues in some detail--she was older and had been in Son-Two's class in kindergarten and first grade and she was so nice and had dark, curly hair.
"What's her name?" I asked, in the pause left when Daughter-Only could wait no longer to take a breath.
"Denephew," she said confidently.
"Uh, honey, are you sure that's her name?"
Daughter-Only insisted that it was. I ticked through my mental Rolodex of neighborhood names in search of one that could conceivably be misheard as Denephew and came up with nothing. Maybe it was the new friend's name. It's true I had never heard the name Denephew, but I've certainly heard stranger and less likely names than Denephew. I was pretty sure, though, that there was no Denephew who lived nearby. If some mother had been yelling, "Denephew! Time for dinner!" out her front door, I likely would've noticed.
"Are you sure she lives on our street? Maybe she's just visiting someone here?"
"No, Mom! She lives on our street! On the other side! In the blue house!"
Only then did it finally click. "Oh! You mean Denise?"
I Failed My Students
19 hours ago