We were all driving home from a grocery shopping expedition last weekend. Even the geek had been pried away from his beloved computer tweaking and was only reading one book and talking on one of his cell phones giving us his full attention.
"What does ish mean?" Daughter said.
"Sorta." Son said.
"Well, in a Dr. Who episode, -Ish was a sentient word which was trying to remove all meaning from language, but thanks to Dr. Who's transgalactic babel masters, language is saved and -Ish is sent into conceptual space with the longest word in the world and the man who loves that word. And Dr. Who gets into trouble over money." Geekdaddy said.
"It's a suffix meaning somewhat or about or reasonably. Like if you're going to meet someone, you might say that you'll meet them around nine-ish. Or you might be just a little hungry, so you say you're a tad peckish." I said.
"So, if you're really hungry, you're peck?" Daughter asked.
"Maybe that's not the best example. Can anyone think of a better one?"
"Butterdish." Son said. "Like my toast is when you put the butter on it in that thin little layer that sinks into the bread and it's like eating saltines. It's not buttered; it's buttered-ish."
"Well," the geek said, looking thoughtful, "That last VW van I had was so decrepit that it was just van-ish."
I tried to get things back on track. I really did.
"How about new-ish? You know, not brand new, but pretty new."
"I have one," Daughter said, "How about sweet-ish?"
"Right," I said, "Not really sweet, but sort of sweet. That's a good one."
"No," she said, "I mean from Sweden. Swedish."
"Well, that's a word, Sweetie, but it's not an ish word."
"It has ish on the end."
"But the ish isn't the ish that means somewhat or about or reasonably. It's the ish that means of a nationality or the language of that nationality."
"You didn't say that when I asked you what ish meant. That's cheating."
"It's not cheating. I just didn't mention that meaning, because I thought of the other meanings first. I would have gotten to it."
"You didn't mention the Dr. Who episode either," Geekdaddy said, "I can't believe you missed that one. It's a classic. They almost found the transcendental word."
"Is that something to do with braces?" Daughter asked him.
"It's philosophy," Son told her, "It's where they lock you in a room with hundreds of other people all weekend and take all your money and you can't pee unless they let you. But they teach meditation so you don't care."
"There's a little more than that to Transcendental Meditation," I said, "True, it costs a lot of money, but a lot of studies have shown that it can relieve stress and even lower blood pressure. There's something to it."
"What kind of medication do they give you?" Daughter wanted to know.
Before I could set her straight, the geek was off on a rambling discourse about some guy named Swami Suityurself, or something like that, that he met at a geek convention in Dallas. He said the guy was really impressive. Everyone at the convention was signing up for his courses.
"They had Transcendental Meditation courses at a computer convention?" I asked him.
"No, he was a Skype tech. Or maybe he worked for Google Adwords. I dunno. But he was good."
"What does this have to do with Transcendental Meditation?" I asked.
"Or ish?" Son asked.
"Or the other ish?" Daughter asked. "And who is Dr. Who?"
Suddenly, I felt reality slipping out from underneath me, and I knew that the next sentence uttered was going to be someone asking who's who.
"Who's who?" the geek asked, looking up from his cell phone which he was programming to play lawnmower engine sounds as a ringtone.
"She wants to know about Dr. Who," I said, "And you can tell her as soon as we get home."
"Ha!" he cackled, as we pulled into the yard, "Tell her? I'll do better than that. I'll show her the -Ish Episodes. I'll even let her wear my Dr. Who scarf while we watch. And you say I'm not into unschooling."
He went off to find the Dr. Who episodes and I sat down on the back deck to do some Transcendental Medication with a glass of Riesling and ponder whether it's possible for unschoolers to have substitute teachers. After a few sips, I decided that it was not only possible, but admirable.
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Lill Hawkins lives in Maine and writes at News From Hawkhill Acres. It's a mostly humorous look at home schooling, writing and being a WAHM, whose mantra is "I'm a willow; I can bend."
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