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My ToddlerSpeak Dictionary


I was driving somewhere, I don’t remember where, but I know I was alone. I remember that because being alone in the car is a rarity and a treat. My wife, Liz, called me on my cell phone.

“The twins are asking for a blue fruit bar like Noah and Clara. What does that mean?” she asked.

“It’s a chocolate covered chewy bar. I’ll explain when I get home.”

That’s when I decided to begin a “ToddlerSpeak Dictionary”. This is a short book of phrases that are nonsense to anyone who doesn’t spend most of every day with my children. This book will be invaluable to my wife when she is home alone with the children as well as babysitters.

Here are the definitions and histories of some of the misunderstood phrases my children have used (or still use):

  • Ow.”: A ponytail holder. The name comes from the sound their older sister makes whenever Daddy brushes her hair. Usage example: “Can I have a ow?”
  • Ah”: Dental floss. The name comes from the sound one makes when using it.
  • Mmm”: Lip balm. From the sound they make when it is being applied. “I want some mmm, too.”
  • Yellow”: Urine. Example use: “I made yellow in the potty!”
  • Boo boo”: boogers. This one is important to know because having a boo boo on your hand can mean a totally different thing.
  • Practice piano candy”: Small peanut butter cups. These are rewards given to the older kids after a certain amount of rehearsal on the piano.
  • Clara’s Cream of Wheat”: Oatmeal. We had to give their older sister, Clara, ownership of the oatmeal (“No, that’s Clara’s Cream of Wheat”) because we discovered that the twins were allergic to it. When they outgrew the allergy, we used the new title to clarify what they wanted for breakfast.
  • Natalie’s Cream of Wheat”: Cream of Wheat. We don’t know why it’s not Anna’s, but she eats it, too.
  • Mommy’s Super Chocolate Milk”: This began one morning when Noah (now seven) was a toddler. He saw Mommy drinking a Carnation Instant Breakfast. He would not accept anything but his usual chocolate syrup drink for breakfast until we gave it a new improved name.
  • Chicken Fries”: chicken nuggets.
  • Chicken Fry House”: Wendy’s. For the first two years of Clara’s life, she lived on a Navy base in Iceland that only had Wendy’s for fast food. We bought her chicken nuggets and French fries the first time we visited and the name stuck.
  • Bacon House”: Any sit down restaurant that serves breakfast.

Is it important that you understand my children’s unique idioms? Not unless you are going to babysit them. The real reason I made this list is so that Liz and I don’t forget their wonderful jargon. My kids are going to grow up and stop using them, instead asking to go to “Bob Evans” or for “dental floss”. Where’s the fun in that? I hope you sit down with your spouse and create a ToddlerSpeak Dictionary for your own memories, as well.

Oh, “a blue fruit bar like Noah and Clara” is a Sunbelt brand chocolate covered chewy granola bar. It comes in a blue box and is kept in the pantry next to the Nutrigrain bars (Fruit bars). Once, I put one of these in each of the older kids’ lunches when the twins were watching. The name stuck.

©2010, Mark Phillips

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 Women, it's true, make human beings, but only men can make men. - Margaret Mead

Mark Phillips is a Stay-At-Home-Dad and freelance writer. Along with raising his four children, he is developing a franchise called “The Vacuum IS a Power Tool.” It is designed to help SAHDs maintain that which makes us men, instead of hairy Mom-substitutes. He earned a B.S. in Communication/Theatre Arts and teaching certificates in English, public speaking, and psychology from Eastern Michigan University. After six years as a high school English teacher and Director of Dramatic Arts at Powers Catholic High School in Flint, Michigan, he changed careers and became a Stay-At-Home-Dad. www.TheVacuumIsAPowerTool.com or E-Mail



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