“What do doin’s means?”
I look up from my email. The five-year-old, the preternaturally confident Golden Weasel, as I have taken to calling her, takes another bite of mini-wheats as she waits for my reply.
“What…wait, what?”
“What do doin’s means?” she asks again.
I don’t know how to answer this. I suspect a trap.
“What what, sweetie?”
“What do doin’s means?”
“I…I’m sorry, buddy, can you ask me that again?”
“What do doin’s means?”
“What does—“
“No. What do doin’s means?”
“No. What do doin’s means?”
“What do doin’s means.”
“No. What do doin’s means?”
“What do doin’s means?”
“No. What do doin’s means?”
I am at a loss. I haven’t been this unable to understand her in years. Fortunately, just then Top Management walks in.
“Oh, good. Can you ask that again, please?”
“Sure. What do doin’s means?”
I watch Top Management’s face as she tries to process this. It’s delightful.
“What…what does—“
“No. What do doin’s means?”
“What do doin’s mean?”
“No. What do doin’s means?”
“What does—?”
“No. What do doin’s means?”
Through all of this, the Golden Weasel is remarkably calm and unflustered by her parents’ stupiditity, not even the least bit frustrated by their inability to understand basic English.
By now, several sisters have gathered around to try to help decipher.
“What what?
“What do doin’s means?”
“Do doin’s?”
“No. What do doin’s means?”
“Okay, wait. Where did you get this question? Is it something I just said?”
“Is it…” Top Management looks at the computer, which is running through the morning’s playlist. “Oh! Is it something you heard in the music? Do-do-do?”
We look at each and shake our heads. We’ve been doing the parenting thing a long time, but this one’s new and neither of us can figure out where to go from here.
“What does doin’s mean?” Top Management tries yet again, hoping to somehow force the question into some sort of syntax.
“No. What do doin’s means?”
I start laughing and Top Management just shakes her head helplessly.
Finally, the Golden Weasel realizes she’s dealing with very unbright people and is going to simply have to take matters into her own hands.
“What…do…you…do…in…meetings?” she says slowly, eliminating all contractions from the original sentence. I have the sense she’s wondering if we’re really fit to be in charge of young children.
“Oh!” we all say. “What do doin’s means?”
“That’s what I said.”
I nod. What can I say? When she’s right, she’s right.
“What do you do in meetings? Uh…pretty much just waste time. And money.”
She looks skeptical. "Then why do you go?"
“Well,” I explain. “Back when people first started having meetings, there was no email or phone. So if people wanted to get together to talk about the problem of the new sabre-tooth tigers in the neighborhood, they had to have a meeting. But now that there is email and phones, there’s really not much point in most meetings. But by now it’s just a custom. So.”
“Oh,” she says. She nods, but the look in her eye makes it clear that she’s now wondering if any adults are really fit to be in charge of young children, if they all seem to hold with such foolishness.
“Also,” I add, realizing the best part of meetings. “Sometimes there’s food.”
“Oh!” she says, her eyebrows raising. Then she narrows her eyes as she regards me, clearly wondering why I left the pertinent information for last. I suspect she's thinking about retaining a lawyer in a bid for emancipation, and wondering how much an attorney costs. And if there'll be cookies at each and every meeting.

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