Tuesday, October 23, 2012

What Are Your Kids' Favorite Words?

Last night, my son looked at me and asked me what my favorite words were. I told him I didn't know even though I totally do know. I just can't say them in front of him. Once in really bad traffic, I said all of my favorite words and then the kids told their father because they're a bunch of damn tattle-tales. They're lucky that they're so cute and that I love them because that's not even cool.

And then of course, last week Mini dropped the F-bomb and I got in trouble. But whatever - moving on.

So I asked my son to tell me his favorite words and he got very excited and said:
  • Kerfluffle
  • Flicket (not actually a word but whatever)
  • Pie
This is funny to me because - kerfluffle? That's awesome. It means "disturbance or fuss". IT IS PERFECT. Flicket may not be a word but when he was describing it to me he made a motion with his fingers like he was flicking a booger across the room and I was like "YUP, that works. It can stay."

And pie. In any given conversation that my two older kids have, the following three words will be spoken: "I like pie." They'll just walk into a room and start saying that to each other. They'll have a whole conversation that is comprised of only that sentence, over and over again.

I have no idea. They're a bunch of weirdos.

Then I asked Mini. She was like "Oh. Dat's so easy." and then said:
  • Poo
  • Pee
  • Clean
Does anyone else see some dissonance in this selection of words? Yes. I thought so. Mini found the whole thing hilarious and watched my reaction with a sardonic expression on her chubby face, with one small brow raised. She then smirked and walked away, as if to tell me - You wondered if I understood the irony. You are an idiot, Mommy.

So then I asked Thumbelina. She said:
  • Unicorn
  • Fluffernutter
  • Great Scott! (also not a word but for the purposes of this conversation an exclamation will suffice)
I have to say, these words are so perfect for her. On the one hand she remains (at nine years old), as sweet and sprinkled in fairy dust as ever. But she has also developed a certain mad scientist quality to her.

She enjoys doing advanced math. She creates potions that we are not allowed to touch, even when (especially when) they begin to turn rancid or grow mold.

And fluffernutter? It can be used as an expletive, as an affectionate nickname, or to describe a somewhat disgusting sandwich that Elvis might have enjoyed. It's versatile and awesome. So honestly, these three words describe her perfectly.

Then I decided to tell them my favorite words (that are OK to share with small people):
  • Pants
  • Sleeping
  • Home
Working backwards, "home" is my favorite because it's where ever they are. It's the place I most want to be. I also really love the word "sleeping" because I haven't consistently done it in about ten years and also it means that when the small people in my house are doing it, I can finally sit down for a few minutes.

You already know that I think "pants" is the funniest word in the entire world. I explained to my kids that the word "pants" is so powerful that you can combine it with other words and make them better. I gave a couple of examples:
  • Kitten becomes kittenpants.
  • Pudding becomes puddingpants.
  • Turd becomes turdpants.
Then Thumbelina was like: "Yes. But you can also do that with the word "britches" and I really think that makes all those words way funnier." Then she said: "KITTEN-BRITCHES. Pudding-britches. Turd-britches. Do you see what I'm saying? You should have called your Babble thing - 'Rants in my Britches'. Now THAT would have been funny."

I told you that kid was a mad genius. She's so right.

The the Cap's chimed in with:
  • Jib
  • Haberdasher
  • Flibbertyjibbet
The children stared at him as if he was speaking total nonsense. Then they burst out laughing. Of course we all know that these words are perfect for him because no one who is not a curmudgeonly septuagenarian grandpa would ever even think about saying them out loud. And yet, they are the Cap's favorites.

This small adventure reminded me of all of the words the kids used to say when they were very small. And how they captured perfectly who they were, at that moment of being little. My son at about age 3 would scream the word "PORKCHITTER!!!" as his battle cry. And four years later, we had totally forgotten about that. I mean - how you can forget a preschooler creating the world's perfect non-nonsensical, all-purpose curse word? I need to reincorporate that word into my vocabulary immediately.

It's important to remember this stuff, I think. To keep track of it somewhere. I take their pictures constantly, trying to capture images that represent who they are and what our lives are like. But I never kept up with their baby books and the only place I write down the awesome things they say is here. And really - "here" is for me and for other mommies, not for them. But I want them to be able to remember later in their lives that even though I sometimes yelled at them or sent them to bed early or said "no" more than "yes", that we were often a happy family. A family of fluffernutters.

I hope they will remember that, and not just the parts where we all yelled "porkchitter".
(c)Herding Turtles, Inc. 2009 - 2012


  1. Love it, thank you! I just asked my kids what their favorite words are (yes, they are already up) and their words describe made-up games they play: Boo-Puff, Crunchy (just what it sounds like - a bone-crunching couch wrestling game) and Spooky. If you need a quiet five minutes to yourself, let the kiddos watch "Bulbous Bouffant" by The Vestibules on YouTube. Freaking hilarious and right up this post's alley, although you may eventually grow ill from hearing them repeat that phrase over the next 327 days.

    1. thanks I loved the video! great article too, rants in my britches!

    2. thanks for a great video! and a great article that made me laugh/cry at the same time! thanks rants in my britches! ;)

  2. This one made me cry. Especially the end. Because yes, that is it in a nutshell. :)

  3. I think my son, Andy, is destined for your Thumbelina. Such a strange little nerdy child (mine, not yours!). I think I'll try this little experiment when my munchkins get home from school today.

  4. My son has been at "I like pie" for about 5 years. What the Hell?!?!

  5. OMG - where did "I Like Pie: come from? My kids have been saying that to each other for a year or so, then erupting into giggles. I assumed it was from sort of inane Cartoon Network show they shouldn't be watching. I would love to know the original source. Anyone?

  6. quick thoughts: my 13 year old daughter signs all her text messages, emails, etc "PIE!". No, I don't know why. And my favorite word to combine or improve other words: nugget. Try it.

  7. my older son had several exclamations that have become commonly used words in our house. it's a fun way of remembering when they were smaller and less violent.

  8. I asked my 4 year-old son what his three favorite words are and he unhesitatingly responded, "Elevator, escalator, stairs." Love him!

  9. When my children were smaller, I would email updates to the family to share across the nation what was going on in our little world. I then printed those emails and put them in a binder. As they got older, and I was busier, the printing ceased. I have an email folder full of updates that need printing....and the updates come fewer and farther between. It is impossible to document every moment and I've chosen to just live in the moment! Every now and then we remember something like my boy calling it "HAMBurger King, b/c well, duh!" and my girl getting HAMItizer for her hands after being in play land. It's all good, don't beat yourself up over it.

  10. I use flibbertyjibbet as well, as a curse: "I don't give a flying flibbertyjibbet, go clean your room!!". My youngest (now 20)loved it so much he uses it often.

  11. You are just the most special mommy. You don't get creative, funny, quirky cool kids like that from nowhere. Oh, and you made me cry at the end. Porkchitter!

  12. My oldest son went thru the "I like pie" phase - randomly stating it, using it for an answer to EVERYTHING...

  13. Lydia, you honestly don't think this blog is the longest most honestly loving letter about parenting to your children? My guess is printed out copies, or some other electronic scrapbook awesome equivalent, of this is going to be treasured by all the children involved. And PORKCHITTER is awesome when you drop something on your toe. Best word ever!

  14. Whackadoodle is one of mine...as a noun...He is such a whackadoodle...as a verb, "He was whackadoodling all over the place...LOL

  15. I asked my 5 year old, who isn't feeling great today, what his favorite words were. He answered, "I love you." Awwww.

  16. I wanted to mention this, as it happened only last night, while watching the worst baseball game I've seen in a LONG while. Bottom of the 3rd inning, bases loaded, no outs = home run! My wife let out an anguished "F&@# ME!" and threw her iPhone. My daughter responded, "Mommy, why did you f&@# yourself?" and then brought her the offending smartphone.

  17. Are we related? Mine are: F*ck, Pants, and Kerfuffle.

    This post totally made me tear up. It's so beautiful! I must start recording what Chloe says! I wish I had recorded all her little firsts :(

  18. Both of my kids favorite word is "underwear", because we are all very mature at our house.

  19. My 3.5 year old, Pop, will not answer "What is your favourite..." questions. I think he feels he's locked in forever if he answers. And this question's response was, "No Mommy. I not talking. I need go to the bathroom" and later, "No Mommy. The Trouble-truck is broken and I have to fix the track". Snap, who is 17, said, "plethora" and "myriad". I'm with her on myriad, but plethora sounds vaguely dirty. With feathers.

  20. My son ends every sentence in "Pop". It's like his pig-latin, or something.

  21. Oldest girl (6): Butterfly, Fairy, Rabbit. Only boy (4): Thinking. He refused to add any other words to that. He seems to think he covered them all with that one, and I can't really argue with him. Next girl (2): Charlotte (Her first name). When asked for another, she started pouting and said, “My not know it.”

  22. I don't think the kids understood this activity. I had to coach them that we were not naming our favorite foods or what kind of toys we want. We have:

    Girl: owl, toy, and cat

    Boy: lego, pokemon, and animals (he stressed that the plural is IMPORTANT)

    Me: swank, booyah, and sheisnehickel (Okay, it works like this: Some of my ancestors came from Switzerland, which had a fair mix of French and German language. As they got older, after their immigration to America, they would get words kind of muddled and wrong. So they made fun of each other about it, like you do in that situation. "Sheisnehickel" was their adjective that, more or less, meant "shitty", and usually referred to a mixing together of French and German in one word, ie: "There you go with your sheisnehickel French again." Technically, it is probably not a word, but it evolved into one by getting used a lot, and is a great way to avoid noticeably swearing. Worst case, the kids learn a German swear word. Presto, they're cultured!)

  23. I'll have to ask Voldemort when we get home. Last time I asked, he said, "anthropomorphism." Which is why I shouldn't let his father teach him random new words I can't spell.
    My favorite words are defenestration and ostracize. Although I'm also very fond of plethora.

  24. Flicket is a real word! Ok, it's actually someone's name, but still....it is an author who wrote a book called (how perfect is this?) Nosepicking for Pleasure

  25. My 4 yr old dd said "letters, fabulous, and happy" and my 2.5 yr old ds said "car, woody, and penguin" yup....

  26. My almost 2yo boy: puppy, monkey, and WaTouJi (bulldozer in Mandarin) although "pizza" is becoming a new contender.

    The "I like pie" thing is a sarcastic way of withdrawing from conversation while implying that the other party is an imbecile.


  27. My almost 2yo boy: puppy, monkey, and WaTouJi (bulldozer in Mandarin) although "pizza" is becoming a new contender.

    The "I like pie" thing is a sarcastic way of withdrawing from conversation while implying that the other party is an imbecile.


  28. When my son hit 4 he started saying "What the hecks!" every time he got mad or frustrated. He's 9 now and it still makes regular appearances in our household.

  29. Oh I LOVE this! I'm totally going to ask my boys what their favorite words are this afternoon. Though I cringe just a teensy bit when I think of what my 3-year-old sailor-mouth is going to say!

  30. Also the adjective "fancypants," as in (in the voice of my 3 year old), "My jacket is fancypants, my gloves are fancypants, and my hat is fancypants: they all match!"
    It's so much better than just saying "fancy."

  31. My 3 yr old Anthony's new phrase is " Damn...thats tricky 100!" Damn he picked up from the teenager..100 because he learned %100 is the best & tricky is still a mystery!

  32. A friend's little boy loves a Hawaiian word "Lilikoi." It appears in the children's picture book "On My Way to the Lilkoi Tree." Hawaiian words are silly sounding to say the least. Oahu, Maui, Honolulu, Waikiki etc...

  33. I like pie was a skit in the 90s by Amanda Bynes on "The Amanda Show"




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