Faye Lippitt is a Canadian journalist living in Grand Cayman with her husband Greg. Together they raised six children in eight years, four of which arrived in pairs. To keep her head above water, Faye began writing about the crazy things the children would say and do, and these became the source of her book, “Sixteen Chickens on a Trampoline.” Excerpts are printed on a regular basis in The Cayman Reporter.
One year our young son suffered an ear infection, which greatly reduced his hearing capacity. Coincidentally, I came down with laryngitis. Talk about your basic failure to communicate. When he asked, “What’s for snacks?”
I said, “Popsicles.”
“Hot pickles?” he replied, somewhat tentatively.
“Popsicles” I croaked, to a puzzled little face.
With this piece of misinformation he marched off to inform a bewildered Dad just what Mom had concocted in the kitchen this time.
“”What the heck are you feeding them now?” came the yell from the living room couch.
Popsicles have remained hot pickles to this very day.
When I asked our children who were sitting in the bathtub gazing at the whirlpool formed as the water drained, just what they were looking at so intently they informed me that they were looking at the “wormhole”. Our gang called blueberries “blue bees” and caterpillars “killer pillers”. Merry-go-rounds became “mala-gala-goes” and bubble gum the charming “gubble bum”. The ever-popular spaghetti must have a dozen names in as many households. Ours is “bow-deddie. We still just call it bow.
Ask any parent, and you will get the most marvelous assortment of unique words and phrases created by their children or grandchildren. A child’s oral interpretation of an object or idea is often so fresh that it endures forever in the hearts and heads of their loved ones. These are living words; words packed with meaning and memory.
I love the memory of Charles lying on the carpet, watching particles of dust riding on a sunbeam, and suddenly saying “Hey Mom – look – sun blasters!”
Sometimes the phrases children garble to one another are the best of all. Upon hearing that we were taking one of their younger sibling’s urine to be analyzed, his older brother was overheard confidentially telling his buddy next door that his brother was going to have his pee hypnotized.
One year we took some Australian guests to visit the Banff area, including the beautiful Moraine Lake and the Valley of the Ten Peaks. Our son Eddie, then five, rode in their car with their five-year-old daughter Lauren. En route he announced to his contemporary that we were all going to the Valley of the Ten Pigs.
As we stood there gazing at the lovely scene, Lauren asked her mother,
“Where are the ten pigs?”
Since Aussies pronounce pigs and peaks in a similar way, her mother just waved in the general direction and said,
“Right over there, across the lake.”
How big are they Mommy?” came the worried reply. “Well over three thousand meters, I should imagine” said her mother.
Lauren looked incredulously at Eddie-the-travel-guide who seemed quite pleased with his first tour results.
It wasn’t until she began having nightmares about giant Canadian pigs that the truth was sorted out.
For friends of ours nail clippers will never be the same since they sent their wee daughter to fetch them. She came back with nipple clappers.
My sister’s son whacked his elbow, started to howl, then stopped and gazed first at his arm, and then at his mother with a look of amazement.
“Now I know why they call it the “ow bow!” he said.
Perhaps in cases like this, rather than going to the dictionary to explain, one should get a blank page and start their own dictionary.