Suffer the little children…
March 14, 2012
Kids say the darnedest things.
At my house, we have collected some of the new words my children coined over the years, and they have gained a permanent place in our vocabularies, sort of inside jokes, short hand ways of expressing certain things.
For instance, one of my daughters when she first experienced the scourge known to most of us as diarrhea reported to us that she thought she had “die-you-red.”
The same daughter, who seemed to have an obsession with such bodily functions, when she first experienced vomiting reported to us that she had just “spit out.” Now when anyone at our house says he is feeling bad, the first question we ask is, “Do you think you are going to spit out?”
Another daughter often heard one of us say something like, “Whenever you’re ready to go, just let me know.” In her young mind, the word “whenever” morphed into a new word, “ebber.” “Ebber” to her became a one-size-fits-all word. If we were about to leave for a trip to town, she would say, “Ebber we going, daddy?” If she wanted to know where someone was, she would ask, “Ebber mommy?” Now, when I want to know where she is or what her plans are, I send a one word text, “Ebber?” That’s all it takes.
And there are longer expressions that have become garbled over time. Once, one of the little girls was exasperated about something one of us had done, and she said that person was “just like a bull in a china pot pie.” That one apparently combined “like a bull in china closet” with the Southern delicacy chicken pot pie. How or why, I have no clue.
I am sure everyone reading this post has similar stories.
As writers, maybe we can learn something from these inventions of childhood.
When you write fiction, consider giving a character a unique word that is his alone. When a listener turns to him and asks, “What did you say?” have the character explain the word’s meaning, where it came from, why he still uses it. Have some fun with it, or make it a window into a painful experience from the person’s past.
I’d love to hear some of the words and phrases you have collected. Drop them in the comments, ebber you want.