That Wonderful Language of Toddlers

Shannon, Ivy, Jenni, Jack, and SethYesterday I read a blog about the wonderful language of toddlers.  She’s absolutely right!  (read Texana’s Kitchen) I loved the inventive language that my five children created.  They had special names for their favorite foods, for their toys, and sometimes for family friends, names you hoped they wouldn’t repeat in public.

Yes, there were 5.  The oldest, a boy, produced the coolest games for his siblings to take part in.  He also had a special knack for sounds.  First it was a simple karate-type sound, the ones you make if you’re about 7 and trying to sound like Bruce Lee, you know?  The “ayyy-waaahh” sound?  Then for a while it was “psyche”, drawn out into two or three syllables; the list of his “words” grew to about 25 by the time he reached high school…

Then the twins, boy and girl, were a year younger and worked in tandem with the youngest set of twins, two little girls, 22 months younger.  The games that they invented to play when amusing themselves were the most interesting:  Space Pup was a hero-based game, but my favorite was The Grand Egg (a blog for another day).

We had our share of the typical “hang-coater” to hold our t-shirts in the closet; meatballs and bisketti with tomato sauce; and our own family ‘coined’ words like Swamp Water for mixed fruit juice (that frequently turns a yucky muddy brown when grape juice and citrus are involved), and the Pacmans that we would occasionally have for a quick supper:  mind you, it was back in the feed-everyone-for-a-buck-and-the-heck-with-nutrition-days…

Take five slices of bologna, use a large drinking straw to poke a hole just off-center, split about 1/2 inch from the edge of the slice for a mouth, toss into a hot iron skillet, and as they shrink a bit and curl up, voila, you have a Pacman face complete with smile.  Flip to complete heating for about 30 seconds more, then toss onto mayonnaise-covered bread for an easy (and greasy) open-faced sandwich loved by all our tiny ones. (We were simple folk and easy to please…after all, this was back in the mid-70’s),

Then there was the “Friggible-did game.”  Invented by their Dad during play time:   he would pretend to have a puppet-hand–you know, touching thumb to the four fingers as if you had a puppet pulled over your hand and were making it talk–and as he picked imaginary “things” out of the air with this puppet-hand, he would say, “ere you go, here’s a Friggible-did”.  I have no idea what a friggible-did is.  But we had lots of them, and the kids seemed to be delighted and terrified of them at the same time.

A treasured memory of mine was a trip to the “5 and 10” or our 1970’s version of Walmart, so the kids could spend their allowance. The oldest, Jack, purchased feathers to help him in his constant arrow building (he was a skilled bow and arrow maker from the age of 4 or so).  Seth, his younger brother, would purchase Garfield books or playing cards for a game with the other twins.  His twin Ivy liked cotton candy and purchased those little foil packets that tasted nowhere near what actual cotton candy is supposed to taste like.  Little Shannon, the youngest twin loved lemon salt and if I didn’t watch her, would buy packets of it to empty onto her palm and then lick from her hand along with all the germs they warn you about now. Shannon’s twin, Jenni was a tad shy.  I mean, actually, saying she was shy was like saying the moon is “far away”.  Jenni would panic if I asked her to simply walk up to the counter at McDonald’s and order an ice cream cone.  A trait this extrovert simply couldn’t relate to at the time.  But since those days, I’ve come a long way, I’d have compassion on that little girl today if she hesitated to try new things.

So on this occasion when asked to select a toy or treat and purchase it by herself, she got all agitated, and hung back from the others when they checked out with their treasures.  I wandered through the tiny store in search of her, and found her stressing out–as much as a four-year old can stress.  I asked her what was going on; and she BEGGED me to take her selection, a small book of paper dolls, up to the cash register for her.  She knew the rules, she had to go through the motions herself.

As she begged, in obvious distress, she said in that precious little, pleading voice:

“But Mommy, why won’t you take this money and pay the lady at the castrator for me?”

This is what actually turns mothers gray.  The super-human effort not to fall down laughing at the priceless sincere “mis-speaks” of their children.  So at that point, I simply had to.  I acquiesced, and paid the lady at the castrator for her, and gave her a much-needed hug.  Lessons in independence could wait for another day.

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