The Rockwood Files: What’s in a name?

By Gwen Rockwood, newspaper columnist and mama of 3

A few days ago I did something I don’t normally do. I took two of our three kids out shopping. Typically I arrange to shop solo because little kids aren’t big on browsing and tend to suck the joy out of the whole experience. But I figured I could make the trip quick since all I needed was a new toaster.

We stopped at a department store, and I told the kids we were going in for one thing. I find that if I manage their expectations before stepping foot in the store, it cuts down on the amount of “Mom, can I have this?” activity. We looked through the kitchen department but I didn’t find the type of toaster I was looking for. I was just about to herd the kids toward the exit when 6-year-old Jack said, “Mom, I gotta go to the bathroom.”

I was immediately suspicious about his request because I’ve been fooled before. Sometimes when a kid wants to go to a public restroom, it’s less about the call of Mother Nature and more about the desire to play with the automatic soap machine and the motion activated paper towel dispenser.

“Really? We’re on our way home right now, Jack” I said. “Can you wait until we get home?”

He shook his head vigorously which told me I’d better find the bathroom in a hurry. We power-walked across the store to the bathroom and Jack disappeared inside. While 4-year-old Kate and I waited outside the door, she started doing the all-too-familiar potty dance and said “I gotta go potty, too!” So as soon as Jack came out of the bathroom, I sent in Kate.

When Kate emerged from the bathroom, I doused all three of us with a generous amount of hand sanitizer and we headed toward the door. But on the way, I saw one of my favorite words out of the corner of my eye – SALE. And the word “sale” might as well be the word “stop” because it’s sure to halt any progress a bargain-loving woman was making toward the door.

“Kids, let’s stop here for just a minute while I look through these pajamas on sale,” I said.

The kids pounced on the opportunity to look for something on the sale rack that they liked, too. Jack quickly found a Super Mario Brothers sweat suit and rejoiced when I approved his choice. Kate asked for a paper-thin nightgown that was sure to shrink or disintegrate in the dryer, so I turned her down. I pointed her toward a rack of warm, zip-up pajamas with built-in feet. She found a pink one with polka-dots and a pig on it and held it up for my review.
“Yes, that looks much warmer,” I said. “You can get that one.”

Kate danced down the aisle toward her brother, waving her pink, pig pajamas at him. “Look, Jack! I’m getting new pajamas! Kate-pot!”

Thinking I’d misheard her, I turned around to face her and said “What did you say?”

“Kate-pot!” she said again in a sing-song shout, smiling broadly as she held up her new pj’s.

“Jack, do you understand what she’s saying?” I asked, hoping he could translate for me.

Jack rolled his eyes and motioned for me to bend down so he could explain it. “She thinks it’s the same thing as jackpot. You know… jackpot, Katepot.”

I laughed out loud when it all finally clicked. Kate had borrowed one of her brother’s favorite phrases and customized it for herself. Suddenly “Kate-pot” made perfect sense.

As we walked through the parking lot with our shopping bag, I was glad I’d brought the kids along for the trip. We all found something we liked. We got a good deal. And Kate taught us a brand new word. I felt like I’d hit the “Mom-pot”.

Gwen Rockwood is a mom to three great kids, wife to one cool guy, a newspaper columnist and co-owner of To read previously published installments of The Rockwood Files, click here.


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