Anyone who has ever been around preschoolers for any length of time knows that the under-five set have their own vocabulary. That is to say that they’re not satisfied with words as they’re commonly pronounced; they either butcher the words in a way that sounds better to them, or they make up their own words to replace the correct phrase.
Take, for example, some of the following “improvements” my own children have made to commonly known words:
Pasketti: SpaghettiPidow: PillowYum-Yums: M&MsBoo Bocks: Garth BrooksKangaroo Sore: Canker Sore
These changes to our language might give you a grin and make you puff your chest out with pride at your child’s creativity, but sometimes they get you into trouble. Take, for example, the situation my husband got into with our daughter, Amber, when she was about three.
Amber had a very extensive vocabulary at a very young age, but there were some words she just liked better for certain objects. For some reason, she had decided that all camisoles, tank tops and braziers should be called “boobies.” Probably one of us should’ve corrected her, but – to be completely honest – I was that mother whose buttons had popped with pride at her child’s creative use of the English language. No way was I going to correct her, when every time I heard her misuse a phrase I got a little giggle!
Amber was about three and it was on the eve of my birthday when my husband, Troy, had decided to take her with him to shop for my birthday gift. This was a fairly big event for both of them. Daddy didn’t often take Amber out shopping (the reason for which he would soon be reminded), and Amber was excited to pick out my birthday present. They had decided to peruse the housewares department of the local department store. I’m sure I must’ve requested some silly kitchen gadget I would never use (as usual); a new bread machine or a new coffee pot, maybe. Who knows? I’m alway requesting the latest and greatest kitchen gadget to help me pretend I’m domestic.
At any rate, en route to the housewares section of the store, Troy and Amber passed the lingerie department. And what should Amber see but….braziers and camisoles and slinky nighties…OH MY!
“Daddy,” she said just loud enough for the closest twenty-five people to hear her, “I want boobies.”
Troy, always the trooper even in the most embarrassing of situations, looked down and whispered, “Not now. We’re here to buy a present for Mommy’s birthday.”
“But I want boobies, Daddy!!! I want boobies!”
“Shhh…not right now, Amber. We’re here today to get Mommy a birthday present,” he carefully responded, very likely looking over his shoulder to see who might be paying attention.
“But, Daddy!!! I. WANT. BOOBIES!” Amber wailed.
The situation was beginning to escalate and they were beginning to draw a crowd of curious onlookers. Amber was becoming noticeably more distraught and I’m sure Troy was becoming increasingly more uncomfortable. After all, Troy isn’t really an extrovert and doesn’t like to be the focus of attention. And, seriously, how does a 30-odd year old man explain to a group of nosey onlookers that his three-year old doesn’t really know what she wants?
In the end, I don’t recall getting a birthday present from housewares that year. Actually, now that I think about it, I don’t think Troy takes the children shopping for my gifts with him anymore, either. But I do recall being on the receiving end of a stern lecture regarding the importance of teaching our children more commonly accepted words for objects. But really, where’s the fun in that?
Oh, and for the record? Amber’s now 16 and – though she no longer refers to camisoles, tank tops and braziers as “boobies” – she’s never been able to accept the fact that a “kangaroo sore” is not the correct term for those little sores you occasionally get in your mouth.
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