The obvious topic for this blog, in my mind, is to talk about schools’ decisions for the fall and what COVID-19 is doing to parents everywhere. But I’m going to resist that temptation because whatever I say is bound to get me in trouble with somebody – either the must-go-backers or the stay-at-homers.
So for this blog, I’ve decided to stay apolitical and stick to language that’s safe. The funny kind. The language of children. For this semi-pro writer, it’s been such a hoot to watch my three young sons (4 and 2-year-old twins) take the English language out for their first spin, and see what they come up with. Some people track first steps. I want to remember precious little phrases.
You don’t have to try hard to remember the best ones. Take for example, my former colleague Tom Stinson. He was a co-worker of mine when I was a sportswriter for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He is a funny guy, a terrific writer, and a wonderful dad. I remember having dinner with him and his daughter one spring training in Kissimmee, Fla. At one point, his daughter asked him if he needed something – maybe it was ketchup, or salt and pepper, or something – to which he replied: “Not no more.”
The two of them busted out laughing.
Stinny, as we always called him, has another daughter. Apparently when she was younger, maybe 4 or 5, their family was out somewhere, I can’t remember if it was a restaurant or church, but at one point, she started digging in her nose. Trying not to make a big scene, Stinny leaned over and asked her quietly, “Do you need a tissue?”
“Not no more,” was her response.
It stuck. In their family lore and in my head. Here I am, 20 years later, still talking about it. Every family has its own funny stories about words and language development. This blog is my chance to document some of ours. (Some moms journal or scrapbook. I blog. LOL.)
Here’s my running list so far. We’ll call it the Walton Family glossary.
Mom-itor. (as in monitor) Noun. Baby monitor. In our household, the audio devices you put in your kids rooms to monitor their behavior and needs are called mom-itors. The word was coined by my 4-year-old Wade. It makes total sense, right? Mom is usually the one on the other end of the line, rolling her eyes at requests for more water or complaints that “my paci dropped.”
Slow-down bump. Noun. The mound of asphalt strategically located on residential roads designed to make drivers slow down. Synonym: speed bump. I’ve come to believe “slow-down bump,” which Wade came up with, makes much more sense.
Sleekin’ Bag. Noun. Sleeping bag, as in the warmly-lined zip-up bag for sleeping outdoors. My son Johnny, 2, was overjoyed when Santa Clause brought him a new “sleeking bag” on Christmas day. Seven months later he uses it every night and likes to ask me to pull up his “sleeking bag” when I’m tucking him in.
Kamote. Noun. Remote, as in remote control. Sometimes even when you’re 2, you are asked to participate in the mad search. Everybody knows what you’re talking about when you frantically ask “Where’s the remote?!” even if in their minds they hear “kamote?!”
Next by you: Preposition. Location of an adjacent seat at the table. Grandmothers and favorite aunts often get this request: “I want to sit next by you.”
Seg-a-ments. Noun. Portion of a children’s TV show, usually 15 minutes long including commercials, which parents might use as leverage before bedtime. For example, “If you clean up the playroom now, you can watch two ‘seg-a-ments’ of Paw Patrol.” Or it might be, “We ran late at the swimming pool, so there’s only time for one seg-a-ment of Paw Patrol.” Synonym: segment.
Memis. Noun. (As in penis.) A certain male private part. The Walton boy who coined this particular pronunciation shall remain nameless for blogging purposes. But for family stories on down the line? We all know where to look and who will be blushing. But darn, if it isn’t the cutest, funniest thing. Unfortunately for him, that’s one I’m going to remember with or without a blog to remind me. All I can say is he’s in trouble at his rehearsal dinner!
I’d best cut myself off with that one. Please feel free to share some of your favorite family phrases with us in the comments below. I think we can all use a good belly laugh!