While we were on our way to pick up my kindergartner yesterday, my three-year old son started singing along to the song playing on the radio. He soon asked, “Is this called ‘Chew on my mind?'” “Excuse me,” I remarked, perplexed. “This song,” he insisted, “I think it has a silly name, ‘Why I go chew on my mind’!”
I laughed for 5 minutes.
He was referring to Ellie Goulding’s “On my Mind” and while Miss Goulding may have a quaint British accent to me, my son interprets the central thesis of her current pop hit as self-inflicted cannibalism. I spent the rest of the drive half laughing, half reminiscing over the adorable mispronunciations, misunderstandings, and repeat phrases of toddlerhood that we parents secretly wish our little humans will never outgrow. And since I’ve been in the throws of back-to-school (for me!) prep and running my first challenge group, today’s content calendar was still blank. Until my car ride with Paxton, that is. I am dedicating this week’s Friday Favorites post to the beloved utterings of my kids. Kellen’s only emissions consist of giggles and potty sounds, so this list will focus solely on the cute and confused kidisms of my two biggest minis.
- Kayden’s “Bah”
Kayden and Paxton were both pacifier obsessed. The attachment to a paci for Kayden was entirely my doing, though. She seemed to only sleep when nursing and, as a first-time mom, I catered to any behavior that meant sleep. Unless I planned on spending all of her sleeping moments tethered to her crib, I needed a solution. Enter binky. I could discretely trade Mommy for a pacifier and her slumber would continue. I know I am not the only mom who fought the Sleepy Monster this way and, as I’ve said before, a win is a win. A sleeping baby is win in deed.
Kayden loved her paci. She napped and slept with it and, before we knew it, we caved and allowed her to have it in the car and when playing and when waiting for dinner and…okay, she had it all the time. Again, we are not the only ones. Before we knew it, Kayden was turning one and starting to really talk and was still sucking on her pacifier whenever she could. That is when “bah” developed. We are not sure from where this word emerged, but one day Kayden kept saying “bah” whenever she requested her beloved pacifier. This word caught on quickly. Grandparents, her aunts and uncle, and close family friends all knew what “bah” meant.
A few months after Paxton was born, when Kayden was just over 2 years old and still using her “bah”, we heard “bah” for the last time. I was putting Kayden to sleep when I noticed a tear in the nipple of her beloved “bah.” I was horrified. I thought she’d choke! I quickly threw it away and searched for a replacement. Mike and I had stopped buying them in hopes of weaning her from the habit, but I was pretty sure I’d find at least one more in her room before she melted down and realized it was missing. I uncovered one under her crib (we’ve all found them there, am I right?) but soon discovered this one, too, had a tiny hole. I stood there, speechless, afraid of what to say to my two-year old. “Bah broken?” Kayden asked. Instead of looking sad, though, she looked quite serious. “Yes,” I said, sheepishly. “Bah broken. Bah go in garbage.” And before I knew it, she had grabbed her last pacifier out of my hand, marched downstairs, and threw it away in the kitchen trash can. No tears. No yelling. No longing for “bah” from that moment on. Kayden got it.
Kayden is like this. When she is ready, stuff happens. I remind myself of “bah” often–like when we struggled with potty training or when she has gone through phases of climbing into our bed at night. Before long, she’ll be ready, just like with her “bah”. And just like that, whatever is supposed to happen just happens because one day she decides it’s so. “Bah” helps me to not worry about her so much. She can handle big decisions and life’s many stages. When she decided one night this summer that gymnastics wasn’t for her, I knew that even at 4, she meant it, so we stopped. She just gets life somehow. She understands when a decision has to be made or a move has to be made, you just do it. I so admire her for that.
2. “Nong nong”
If I gave you one hundred guesses, I don’t think you would figure out that “nong nong” is what we called yogurt for the longest time. This was another Kaydenism. No part of the word yogurt even closely resembles nong nong, but that’s what Kayden called all varieties of the dairy product–be it Gogurt or Greek yogurt or frozen yogurt or whatever.
Just before Kayden turned one, Mike and I were in our good friends’ wedding. As chance would have it, the ceremony and reception were going to be at a country club very close to my in-laws’ house, so all of the groomsmen got ready and had their photos taken there. Aside from one groomsmen forgetting to bring his rental shoes and some delay in their food delivery, the main highlight (well, that the guys were willing to share with us ladies!) was of Kayden walking around her grandparents’ house requesting “nong nong”. No, this wasn’t some new-fangled Asian fusion food I found at Whole Foods. No, this wasn’t some Bachelor party-esque nonsense innocently escaping “from the mouths of babes”. “Nong nong” was Kayden’s favorite snack: yogurt.
3. “Blankey fall down me!”
If you ask Mike what Kayden is good at, he’ll give you a wonderful, Dad-doting list. She’s quite smart. She loves her brothers. She’s responsible about wearing and caring for her glasses. She is a pro at stall ball. Stall ball? Fellow parents know exactly what this is. It is the 10-minute routine turned 45-minute marathon more colloquially known as bedtime. Somehow, there is no thirst like the thirst that strikes a child when a parent says “good night” and no story that is satisfying when read only once. According to my husband, and I can’t really disagree, Kayden has mastered the act of stall ball. She always has to tell us just one more thing–which is usually eight things–or she has suddenly remembered a dream she had three weeks ago that we MUST hear now or she can’t decide if she wants to stay in her top bunk or join Paxton in the bottom bunk and only seventeen rounds of rock-paper-scissors while solve said dilemma.
This stall ball skill developed rather early. Mike and I may have to take some of the responsibility for her professional status of late because it was so damn cute when she started. One night after we said prayers, read a story, and I sang The Killers’ “Dustland Fairytale” to her, Mike and I were waving to her at the door when she sat upright and said, “Ooh my blankey fall down me!”. It was the most hysterical and unexpected thing. We both laughed so hard that soon Kayden was laughing. We tried getting her back down and adjusting her tiny little blankey over her tiny little body, but she continued to sit up and yell “my blankey fall down me!”. This went on for months. Months. But, like “bah” and “nong nong”, one day Kayden decided she was old enough to do to bed without blanket dramatics. Don’t get me wrong; she is still stall ball MVP. We have plenty of bedtime dramatics. The cute and well-meaning “my blankey fall down me” just isn’t part of it anymore. Sometimes, though, Mike or I say it out of the blue. Just because.
Paxton made me cry a few weeks ago. No, he did nothing wrong. Instead, he asked if he could have more water at bedtime (he’s learning from his sister for sure!). I wasn’t sad that he, too, was in on the stall ball game. I wasn’t annoyed that I had to go downstairs to refill a water cup I swear I filled five minutes before. I cried because he said “more” and not “morn.” Paxton is three and since he could talk, he has always said “morn.” This, like Kayden’s “bah,” became used among our entire family. I would ask Pax if he wanted “morn” grapes or “morn” Legos or “morn” cuddles. This was the word I hoped he would say forever. We never corrected him ; we used it right along side of him. He believed in this word and in its meaning and this belief was so pure and honest. I wanted that naivity to last forever. Or, at least until he started kindergarten.
Just last week, Kayden also noticed Paxton suddenly pronounced “more” correctly. “Aww, Bud, you’re getting so big!”, said the 5-year old to the 3-year old. Yes, he is. Yes, both of you are. And sometimes my heart just can’t take it.
I have to thank Mike for reminding me about this one. Paxton was a late talker. He’s a boy. He’s the second. His sister does all his talking for him. That’s what real grown ups–you know, our parents or doctors or people who’s kids don’t still eat their boogers–would say. We were worried, though. Kayden seemed to come out talk in full, thoughtful albeit mispronounced sentences; Paxton hardly said Dada or Mama. But he said “dey” whenever he meant yes. And, if I do say so myself, it was adorable. When I was little, I can recall my mom and I joking that my younger brother had a French accent. He called his blanket his “ooh-vwanky” and napkins were “napcuums,” like vacuums. Paxton’s “dey” was similar. It seemed other, almost foreign. He doesn’t use it anymore, but his dialect remains his own. He just annunciates in a particular, measured, and occasionally sing-song, ultra-sweet way that only he can deliver. I swear he is one-part 70-year old retired investment banker sitting on a rocking chair in Georgia drinking sweet tea and one part cartoon character of a full-hearted little boy. His voice and his observations are somewhere in between.
At the start of the new year, Paxton began attending preschool three days a week. His teachers regularly tell me they forget he’s three. He talks so well! We have real conversations. We can understand him better than many of the other three-year olds. I wonder why I worried so much. He really has come a long way. But do I miss his little Paxisms? Dey.
6. “My Bubbos”
Like my brother, Paxton has a special name for his blankets. Yes, his blankets. Paxton legitimately sleeps with 12 blankets–mostly receiving blankets–that he’s had since he was a baby. This collection of cuddlies is better known as “his bubbos.” When he first started really talking, we swore he called them his bubbles or something like that, but “bubbos” it is. Heaven help us if even one is downstairs at bedtime or, even worse!, in the washing machine. He will tell you exactly which one is missing. He has named them after their design. He has monkey bubbo and elephant bubbo and puppy bubbo and…you get the idea.
He has three Aden + Anais muslin swaddling blankets that are without a doubt his favorite “bubbos”. These all traveled with us this summer when we took our first real family vacation to Disney World. I kept one bubbo in my bookbag at all times in case Pax needed the security, but for the most part, the excitement of park-hopping and character dining allowed for his bubbo to remain safely tucked away. On the fifth day of our seven-day vacation, though, giraffe bubbo emerged while we awaited a transfer from Animal Kingdom to Blizzard Beach. Ten minutes into our water park adventure, a giant Florida sized storm erupted and we were forced to take cover. For two hours.
This turned out to be awesome: we waited out the storm when hardly anyone else did and had the park to ourselves when it reopened. This turned out to be terrible: 5 minutes into that 2-hour wait we realized we left giraffe bubbo at the bus stop back at Animal Kingdom. Paxton was devastated. He wears his heart on his sleeve. When he is pleased with something, he is beyond overjoyed. When he is displeased, he is heartbroken. Every. Time. A lost bubbo and a gigantic thunderstorm created pretty massive heartache in our blonde little guy. We eventually convinced him that I got a call from our hotel and giraffe bubbo would be there waiting for our return and we refocused his attention on the many water attractions he’d eventually be playing on. Yes, his heartache would–and did–return when we would get to the hotel, but as parents you do what you can to survive.
Our story grew when we returned to NJ from our Florida vacation just in time for September. We convinced Paxton that another little boy who didn’t have 12 bubbos actually asked our hotel if he could have it and they gave it to him. He only bought that story until October. By then, we had to tell him that the characters actually had his bubbo now and when they were finished with it, they would mail it to him. Christmas morning brought unexpected sadness when, unbeknownst to us, Pax expected to find giraffe bubbo under the tree.
It wasn’t until a week or so later when a package arrived at our front door with a letter from Mickey and the Gang and a brand new (you bet he noticed!) but identical giraffe bubbo. All is right with Paxton’s world again. And all will remain right in mine as long as he still calls these his bubbos.
Our kids are only kids for so long. It is the lapsing of these kidisms that hits me most. These are memories unique to our very own, most precious little beings. Our Kayden had her bah and her nong nong and stalled every night with blankey nonsense. And now she’s in kindergarten and wearing glasses and spends every waking moment playing school and just being sassy. Our Paxton could only say “morn” and “dey” and and still cuddles his 12 bubbos every night. But now he’s in school, too, and has a new best friend every day and is the proudest big brother there ever can be and just feels all the feels all the time. I’ll hold onto these memories and embrace all that is ours–every sweet habit or gesture or word particular only to our child–among the chaos of everyday life. As a mom, that’s all I really can do.