Monday, November 8, 2010

Little Lessons in Vocabulary

Tiny Man ran through the kitchen, bulleted into the dining room, and clocked his head on the dining room table. I wiped away his tears and gently cautioned him about cracking his noggin.

“Like Humpy Dumpy?” he asked.

Don’t you just love the things children say? My daughter, at ten years old, still confuses syllables and invents words. Her vocabulary list includes the following:


Pablo Piccasillo (Picasso)

Tooken (as opposed to taken)

Celia Cruzz (She rhymes the last name with fuzz, but Cruz should sound like cruise.)

She also likes to pass on her wisdom to me, which yesterday was this juicy prize: You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him lead you to water. To tell you the truth, I think not only is she right, but this one is more precise in meaning than the original expression.

My son used to say something like chismomus. We did not know what chismomus was. After months of scratching our heads, we finally figured it out—transformers--the toys. He has also asked me for tassee (coffee) and most recently, wanted to know if something was attend (pretend). Last night, my husband sat at the table and translated a whole series of expressions for me, a curious irony since I am around Tiny the most, but this must mean that step-father and step-son are on the same wavelength.

My husband’s own girls used to pray at the dinner table, “Goddess bless.” Know one knows why. I still love how in a version of grace an in-law’s children sing, the little ones pipe out, “God’s our man! God’s our man!” Surely God blesses any child who diligently makes an effort to say grace before meals especially considering that child’s still maturing tongue and facial muscles.

My absolute favorite blundered words have to be my daughter’s accidental profanity, which she never failed to scream out in excitement in a public place. When she was about two, her father and I held her as we rode the down escalator in the Tampa International Airport. On the carpet, designers have emblazoned manatees among other things. My little girl saw fish-like qualities in the manatee at the foot of the escalator, and because she had a habit of reversing word sounds, pointed and yelled, “Shiiiittt!” at the top of her lungs. God forbid a firetruck round the corner. For that, she would shake her fists and holler, “Firefuck!” Fortunately for us, people were largely understanding when the errant profanity broke loose. But I would have to really work to stop my own laughter before explaining the original intentions of our little lady.

I can already imagine the comments and emails I’ll get about this topic. Send me your vocabulary list and I’ll post the best ones.

1 comment:

  1. "Goddess bless" was a morphing of "God please bless" that was just too cute to correct. God has no gender anyway, right? And "God's our man" was the shape that the three notes of "Amen" took at the end of that sung grace.

    And there is of course the evil "undertoad" that will pull you away in strong surf.

    But yeah, most remarkable was my ability to understand tiny man's meaning the other night when it kept escaping his mother's comprehension. Even I was surprised at that.


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