Three years ago, my vocabulary was entirely different than it is today. I’m not just talking about “bad words,” which are definitely a no-no with a parroting young lady following me around, but also the words I use in everyday life. I mean, I just used “no-no” in a serious sense. Did you even catch it? If not, you must be a mom (or dad!) too. I never thought I’d be one of those moms, and yet, here I am. Mom terminology (mom-inology) has taken hold of me full-force—and if I’m totally honest, I think it’s kind of cute. Kind of.
At some point between giving birth and taking our daughter home from the hospital, word substitutions started to occur. At first, they were on purpose. No one wants to talk to their newborn in a coherent manner, right? That’s boring. It also lacks that special “Mom” feeling that I looked forward to for nine semi-miserable months. So instead, I subbed potty for toilet, “dipey” for diaper, and bunny for rabbit. My sleepy newborn didn’t seem to mind, or even know what was going on, for that matter. I took this as encouragement to continue building my mom-inology.
I’m only a little embarrassed to admit that no-no and dipey weren’t the worst of it. I started developing an entire language to share with my daughter. Snacks became “snicky-snacks” or “snickety-snacketies” if I felt like adding a few extra syllables, which I often did, and occasionally still do. The new word for kittens was fuzz-bumpkins (it rolls off your tongue, right?) and “wunchy” for lunch. I know, even for my standards, those two are a little weird.
|Our fuzz-bumpkin, who apparently loves his daddy|
If I’m totally honest about the mom-inology phenomenon, I guess I got roped in because of the feeling of closeness and exclusiveness it brings. It’s a secret code that you share with your child. Others don’t always understand it, and that makes it special. It’s something you’ve done since their weight could be measured with a single digit (jealous, much?) and it helps you pretend they’re still little-bitty-tiny (another favorite made-up term). It’s more for us parents than it is for the child. And come on, if we’re dedicating most of our waking lives to our children, waking up in the wee-morning hours, making their food, teaching them letters and numbers, and doctoring their boo-boos, can’t we at least have this? This one, small thing?
All joking aside, I understand the importance of teaching your children real words, and not made-up mommy-dreamland ones. It’s fun while they’re little, but little minds are the most impressionable. They take all their cues from us. No pressure, though, right? Sometimes, we make up words because we don’t want to use the actual ones. They seem rude, somehow. If you’ve ever made up a name for your child’s body parts, you know what I mean.
Somehow, even with all the so-called language misguidance on my part, my daughter ended up talking like a normal person. Actually, more like a person with an advanced English degree. There were times when, as a tiny toddler, she would give me a serious look and correct my usage. “It’s called a cat, or a kitten, not a fuzz-bumpkin, Mama.” This is the part where I cry a little. Not only because I’m sad she’s growing up so fast, but also because fuzz-bumpkin is my preferred term for kitties. And maybe because I’m a little worried she’s already smarter than me.