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Cheeky Mama: A candid, misguided talk about crack(s)

Hannah Jo is very expressive. She talks a whole lot. She is able to explain her day at school and sometimes she can even articulate why she is having a tantrum.

Her attention to detail is crazy, too. Hannah Jo made the comparison to a bobby pin that you place in the hair to her dad’s name, Bobby. What little kid can do that? I just think she is brilliant!

While talking, she uses her hands along with a variety of facial expressions. Verbally or nonverbally, her modus operandi is to definitely get her point across. Her skills certainly are not perfect, but boy does she try.

FaceTiming with daddy always is a treat. Being flamboyant with words and actions makes us both laugh. She will be telling a story and talk for so long that it trails off to nowhere. She even has the sense to realize she is not making any sense, so she’ll say, “I am done talking.” Thinking about it makes me smile.  

Hannah Jo is so expressive that it can catch me off guard. Not knowing what she is about to say can be startling. A minority of parents might think it’s appropriate to tame that gusto to save us from embarrassment. I don’t want to break her spirit, however, so I have learned to roll with the punches.  

While we were leaving Target, Hannah Jo tripped over an uneven sidewalk. She landed on her knee, and I braced myself for a cuss word. With grace, she just cried. She begged for a Band-aid and cried a little more.  

I thought she had calmed down, and we were done with the episode.

As we started making our way to the car, Hannah Jo yelled, “Mama, don’t do crack!”

All the people in the parking lot were staring at us. I didn’t know what to say. I was so embarrassed I started laughing. I had no idea what she meant until Hannah Jo pointed to the uneven pavement. Focusing, I literally was walking on a crack in the cement. Trying to translate, I am assuming she didn’t want me to fall like she did. Not having the words to say, “Don’t step on the crack,” she said, “Don’t do crack.”

Collecting myself, I shuffled her to the car.

I asked her to repeat with me, “Don’t STEP, don’t STEP on the crack!”   

I couldn’t believe what she said. As I was putting her in the car seat, she said, “My knee still hurts. Can I have a hug?”

My sweet little girl went from yelling “don’t do crack” to “I need a hug!” Although she is smart as a whip, she still is so innocent. Expressing her emotions, concerns and knowledge is only getting better. I know her gusto will get her somewhere someday if I continue to guide her. Until then, I will brace myself for her honesty and limited terminology.

• Becca Hirst is a proud DeKalb resident who writes about her life as a working mother. She hopes to bring more enjoyment to and less shaming and judging of herself and other mothers. Contact her at 

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