For about 25 years, whenever I see a quarter, say “quarter” or hear someone else say it, I repeat, either verbally or internally, “key-ter.” It’s an automatic response that stops my busy mind and makes me smile.
When Tyler, my older son, was learning to talk and negotiate the world, he pronounced quarter as “key-ter,” an unexpected marketing ploy that created a tremendous financial windfall for his three-year-old coffers.
“Aunt Retta, can I have a key-ter?”
“Tyler, what is this?” — “A key-ter!”
My sister paid him quarters just to hear him say it.
Now he has surpassed the quarter mark of his life and no longer pronounces 25 cents in the same way. He rolls his eyes when we mention the story—normally after we have heard or said the word or seen a quarter, repeated “key-ter” aloud and launched headlong into the same story.
While the “key-ter” story is one he probably remembers only from countless retelling, the memory transports me back to the end of the first quarter of my life, when I had a talkative blond-haired boy who spoke with a vocabulary beyond his few years and gave my life purpose.