Parents get their just 'buzzerts'

My aunt Lucille still hasn't forgiven my father.

It's been nearly 30 years, and bell-bottom pants have gone in and out of style and back in again, yet she's holding a grudge.

She had a nice little thing going, and he had to go and ruin it for her. How? By teaching me how to properly pronounce the letter "w."

When I was a kid, the moment I set foot inside Aunt 'Cille's house she would usher me to a cabinet where she kept an alphabet book. She would listen intently as I pronounced each letter. It was as if she was reading a page-turning thriller and couldn't wait for the plot to climax. (Somebody should have told her the alphabet hasn't changed in some time, so there was little call for suspense.) At last, I would flip past the "v" page to "w." Much to the delight of all the grownups within earshot, I earnestly pronounced this letter "badoo."

Not all the grownups were delighted. Eventually, Dad had enough of his kid being used as some comedic sideshow and taught me to properly pronounce the letter "w." Aunt 'Cille was in for a disheartening surprise the next time we read the alphabet book. And Dad was in for a glare that could melt steel.

Suddenly, listening to little Ben read the alphabet book became significantly less entertaining. My educational development proved to be a real buzzkill.

I guess my aunt wanted me to remain in a state of perpetually adorable ignorance. Hey, it worked for Yogi Berra. I was reminded of this bit of family lore recently when I heard my 3-year-old son utter a heart-breaking word: "Dessert."

Under most circumstances, "dessert" ranks among my favorite words, someplace between "vacation" and "massage." But this time the word "dessert," like the sight of a collapsed soufflé, nearly brought me to tears.

You see, until that moment, Drew always had referred to his meal-ending sweet treat as "buzzert." I sometimes made him request dessert multiple times, just to hear him say "buzzert." It was an adorable and unique linguistic quirk. And now it's gone.

I realize, of course, that he was going to learn the proper pronunciation of this word eventually. So we mustn't punish his 6-year-old sister for teaching him how to say it. (Claire is the prime suspect, although Aunt 'Cille thinks my father should be brought in for questioning. And perhaps a cavity search.)

It's just that losing "buzzert" means losing a piece of Drew's childhood. Now that he can say "dessert," he's not so much a baby anymore. And he seems a bit more average. I mean, lots of kids say "dessert." But only one - to my knowledge, anyway - ever said "buzzert."

Such is the dilemma of parenthood. We want to help our kids learn and grow, yet we hold onto their innocence as if it were a two-for-one Huggies coupon.

This is a futile fight, of course. What, Aunt 'Cille thought I would never learn how to properly say "w?" Had I proved unable to master the alphabet, how could I have grown up to annoy possibly dozens of readers with ridiculous puns and tiresome anecdotes about my children?

By the same token, I knew all along Drew eventually would learn to say "dessert." Did I really expect him, before slicing into his wedding cake, to declare he was ready for "buzzert?"

Kids are going to grow up, so we might as well encourage them to grow smart. The next time Drew masters a new word, I'm going to reward him with a cookie.

That is, assuming he has saved room for buzzert.

Submit your favorite "buzzert" recipes to Extra credit will be given to entries starting with the letter "badoo."

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