When I asked our children, who were sitting in the bathtub gazing at the whirlpool that formed as the water drained, just what they were looking at so intently, they informed me that they were watching the “wormhole.”
Ask any parent, and you will get the most marvellous 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.
Our gang called blueberries “blue bees” and caterpillars “killer pillers.” Merry-go-rounds became “mala-gala-goes” and bubblegum — it was the charming “gubble bum.”
The ever-popular spaghetti must have a dozen names in as many households. Ours is “bow-deddie.” We still call it “bow.”
Lying on a carpet one day, watching particles of dust riding on a sunbeam, our young son suddenly announced in a happy voice, “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 analysed, his older brother was overheard confidentially telling his buddy next door that his brother was going to have his pee hypnotised.
One year we took some Australian guests to visit Canada’s Banff area, including the beautiful Moraine Lake and the Valley of the Ten Peaks. Our son, 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 10 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 3,000 metres, I should imagine,” said her mother.
Lauren looked incredulously at our son-the-travel-guide who seemed quite pleased with his first tour results. It wasn’t until she started having nightmares about giant Canadian pigs was the truth 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. Rather than going to the dictionary to explain, we added classic word mix-ups like these to our own lexicon of love and parenthood.
Faye Lippitt is the author of “16 Chickens on a Trampoline” and the children’s book, “The Great Caribbean Chicken Caper.”