Language acquisition fascinates me. The ways in which small people hear, process, and develop language twinkles with neuroscience and social acclimation. It’s different from the process by which adults learn multiple languages, and by nature of the subject’s biological needs, simply adorable.

Since he crested his first year, Butter has used the word “dato” for “that.” Peanut was a “dat” kind of guy, and I couldn’t quite figure out why the younger guy added an “oh” to the end of his word. But he has done it for other words, too, so I just chalked it up to a lingual quirk.

But last week after he asked me for “dato” and I gave it to him, he said, “Dato kay, Mommy.” I figured out that, because of an infant and toddler’s basic “uh-oh” relationship with objects, physics, and social expectations, more often than he’s heard “that,” Butter has heard “that’s okay.”

So his concept of “that” is framed by how it exists in this moment. Dato just is. Dato kay is fine.

Made me smile a little Foucaultian smile about the parameters Butter uses to bound his reality. In an The Order of Things kind of way, I’m rather impressed that our family has taught this little person to see those two categories: thing, thing that is okay.

Hope we retains that as he ages. Heck, I hope I do, too.