I absolutely HATED the movie A Christmas Story as a kid.

Maybe it was because my Grandparents always had it in the VHS player, all too eager to cue up EVERY time we came over, regardless of whether it was July or December.

Or, maybe it was because it is THE MOST DEPRESSING MOVIE EVER MADE.

However, there was one part that I always found fascinating: The Decoder Ring.

My Decoder Ring

I always wanted to be a detective as a little girl. In fact, there was a period of time where I insisted on being called “Carmen Sandiego”.

(I don’t remember exactly when that occurred, except that it immediately followed the time period where I answered to the name “Nancy Drew”.)

Ovaltine Decoder RingSo, the idea of a decoder ring always fascinated me.

And now., I find myself a grown woman – a Mommy, a wife, with an accounting degree (just as exciting as “Detective”, don’t you think?), but I still have a thrill run down my spine whenever I solve a mystery.

(You might have already noticed my penchant for mysteries from The Neighborhood Mystery, The Perfume Mystery, The Magically Appearing Water Mystery, The Blue Light Mystery, or The ALDOT Mystery.)

Luckily for me, there are many mysteries to be solved when a toddler is underfoot, so even though my life may appear unadventurous on the outside, I can still convince myself that there are mysteries to be solved! Crimes to bring justice to! Puzzles to figure out!

And, I have had TWO spine-chillingly thrilling solved mysteries in the past couple of days, so obviously, I am one happy detective.

Case Closed #1: The Case of the Unfounded Hate.

I am pretty convinced that toddlers rarely say anything that is completely random. Nearly everything that they come up with is based off of some sort of prior frame of reference that someone has taught them.

Due to this belief, I was quite worried (and a bit mystified) the other day when Ali told me in her cheeriest, most endearing voice that she hated me.

But then, this morning (two weeks after the original hatred incident), it all came together.

I went to get Ali out of bed this morning, and again in the most sweet, cheery voice, she said, “I hate you calling me, Mommy!!”

“What, baby?”

Clear as a bell, again, “I hate you calling me, Mommy!”

“We don’t say hate, honey.”

Look of utter confusion.

Besides her reaction, something just didn’t seem right – that sentence sounded very familiar.

And then it clicked – she was quoting me. Except that she was just mispronouncing a VERY important word.

Background: She likes staying in bed for a while after she wakes up (if I come too soon to get her, she asks me to go away and close the door). Eventually, she starts saying in a quiet voice, “I’m ready to get up now, Mommy.” I hear this cue on the monitor, and go get her. I often greet her by saying in a cheery, sing-song voice, “I heard you calling me, Ali!”

And that’s it.

Decoder RingLine up the decoder ring, and:

Ali-nese: Hate

English: Heard.

Wow. All that time, she was just telling me that she heard me.

Life makes so much more sense now.

(And, if you want to experience this for yourself, I recorded it tonight. Just ignore the mess in the background, and my annoying and incessant efforts at trying to get her to say the same thing over and over.)

Case Closed #2: The Case of Tessa and the Snot.

Remember Ali’s observation that Baby Tessa was older than her snot?

Well that one definitely pushed the limits of my Theory on the Unrandomability of Toddlers. So it kept nagging at me.

What was the connection between Ali’s snot and Baby Tessa?

And then, laying in bed way past the time I should have fallen asleep (which is when I come up with everything of any importance), it hit me: The day that Tessa was born, Ali was getting over a cold. She had been telling everyone at the hospital that she “was a little snotty”, and I didn’t allow her to get close to Baby Tessa because of that.

(At which point, she asked me, “Because Baby Tessa will get me sick?”

“No baby, quite the opposite.”)

Anyway, she was remembering that she had been “A little snotty” the day Tessa was born, and so she associated the two together.

And THAT’S how Tessa got to be older than Ali’s snot.

Now that I’ve solved these mysteries, it’s time to go throw back my strawberry blond hair, kick back and celebrate with my best friends Bess and George and my boyfriend Ned.

And if they’re lucky, we might invite The Hardy Boys over.

– Rachel

– Nancy

17 thoughts on “Gumshoe, Mommy Style.

  1. Love it! I wanted to be Nancy also. I mean, did the girl have the life or what?

    One time I disciplined James over and over because he would not say thank you to me. I thought he was just being disobedient, but turns out he was saying it, just all wrong, and I didn't realize it. Mommy guilt, big time. I still cringe when I think about it.

  2. Love the story! I was a huge fan of Nancy Drew and Carmen Sandiego. I am glad you were able to solve the cases.

    I don't the Christmas story movie either. It is very depressing.

  3. I love the way you solve mysteries. Plus I was really confused about the word hate also. We knew there was an answer and as always Nancy Drew found it.

  4. I love a Christmas Story. Probably because I saw it for the first time at the age of 23 so I'm not tired of it yet. I love the way kids relate things to other things. Joe is the same way, but I can't think of an example right now!

    Also, you are amazing. That's all!

  5. I'm not a fan of "A Christmas Story" either. I saw it for the first time about 3 years ago. I don't get why it's so popular. My husband loves it. He would have the leg lamp if I'd let him.

    Also, you forgot the "what's that smell?" mysteries. Those are always fun.

  6. My favorite part of the video is Ali asking to see it while you're in the middle of recording. My 2-year-old does the same thing.

    However, she has also become fond of telling her big sister, "I don't like you." There's no questioning what she's saying — and worse, she seems to be doing it just to aggravate her sister.

  7. Wow ~ what a mystery. I'm not sure I would've figured the 'hate'/'heard' dilemma out. Good work, detective!

  8. That video was too cute! I think my husband is like Lianne's husband. He actually found a leg lamp and wanted to buy it! He loves that movie. I saw it for the first time last year and didn't really care for it. I'm not so sure what all the fuss was about.

  9. I'm glad she wasn't really saying hate! I do that all the time…trying to solve the mystery of what-the-heck-is-Kariya-saying. At least it's only a few words as opposed to everyone else not understanding ANY of her words. :)

    I have never seen the Christmas Story…it's a classic, I know, but for some reason I've just never seen it. This post doesn't really make me want to remedy that situation. :)

  10. Ha! You do love a mystery don't you :)

    I loved that video, so cute. And she was definitely not saying "heard" lol

  11. Good work, detective!
    I loved "Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego", we watched it a lot in school.
    So glad you were able to solve these mysteries!
    I think every parent should read this post and come to the realization you did that everything a toddler/preschooler/child,etc say has meaning. I think sometimes adults don't put enough stock into what kids say.

  12. THANK YOU! I really have never liked that movie and I don't understand why so many people love it so much!
    I also loved hearing your detective stories. It really did sound like Ali was saying "I hate you." I am so glad you figured that one out!
    I agree with you that even the most random sounds have meaning for kiddos.

  13. I use to LOVE Nancy Drew books & the Carmen Sandiego computer game! Although I've never made anyone call me that….maybe I should try that now! Anyway, I can see how she got Hate…that's too funny!

  14. Way to go, Miss Drew! Hate vs. heard – too cute! All that reading as a kid has paid off, huh? We've got lots of mysteries here, too – wanna come check them out? At least I know why Esme wants to hit me in the head with a washcloth and kill me.

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