I love how kids talk. Kid speech is made from a simple formula that is one part adult language plus one part imagination. It is directly reflective of the understanding of the world around them. From simple figures of speech twisted by their innocent lack of knowledge of the world to complete statements that give you a little glimpse of their world, when kids talk you are in for a treat, for certain.
When my daughter began singing all the usual children’s songs and nursery rhymes, I always got the biggest kick out of her singing the “ipsy dipsy spider”. What a truly dippy spider to want to go back up a drain pipe that had only just washed it away! And did you know? All these years, I had thought they were just spelling the name of some dog named Bingo. I had no idea we were singing “ich-ich-ich-e-o”!
The recent Disney movie series “Pirates of the Caribbean” has brought me joy both as a parent and even years back as a social worker. Once, when I was transporting three little boys through some of the worst Seattle traffic, the youngest broke up the tension by asking the other two “have you guys seen the movie “Pirates and a Can of Beerin’”? My eldest even got in on the action after a recent trip to Disney World when she began singing “ho-ho-ho-ho a parent’s after me.” Makes so much sense having just gone through ten days of what she could only have seen as her parents’ endless attempts to keep kids rounded up!
Like I said above, I also love when children give us those brief glimpses of how their growing minds are making sense of this great big world. My children know that when I stop for a latte, it’s not because I need my morning 16oz. It’s because, mommy needs to get rid of her “cranky pants”. And for the everyday human condition, be advised that when you sneeze you say “hup-tew” and you use “tew-qips” to clean your ears. I remember once having two foster children in my home who sang their ABC’s two completely different ways. One separated “M” and “N” in the alphabet by singing “L-M-O-P” and then adding “Y-N-Z” at the end. The other sang the song in its traditional fashion with one small twist being “H-I-J-K-I’m a little “P’”. The funny thing was that neither of them noticed the other singing it a different way.
We can also learn from kids when we hear the inconsistencies between grown-up reality and their interpretation thereof. I have always known that I can, at times, talk a little fast. When I do so, my words become somewhat unintelligible if one is without an understanding of the context in which I am speaking. This fact was perfectly illustrated to me when one of my little ones began calling our local grocery store the “squishy store”. (If you don’t understand the connection, begin thinking about ten things at once, only one of which being your grocery list. Now say “grocery store” five times fast… Now you’re with me!).
For the remainder of this blog post, all grammarians should click away. I assure you that nothing I say from here on will be to your liking. Rather than risk the upset, I recommend clicking over to Stephanie’s post and commenting to her why you still use plastic cutting boards.
Okay. For the rest of you, let me pose this challenge… Instead of having such rigid structure around your speech, why not use some words of whimsy to bridge that little divide between reality and imagination? I have done my share of public speaking, and know that using silly wordisms isn’t appropriate for all situations. I also understand that it’s important to teach and model proper grammar. What I am merely suggesting here is that we incorporate “words of whimsy” that are reflective of childhood nostalgia. Incorporating these words into our everyday language might just steal back some of that wonderment that we lost when making the leap into adulthood. Doing so allows us to season life with color and fun enjoyed by adults and children alike.
What are words of whimsy? Not baby talk, but real-deal, all the way grown up words. Any words, really. To make a tiny transformation toward whimsy, do what Mac does and add “very” to everything. I love it when she is so excited in agreeing to something that she just can’t help herself but to use the term “very, yes!” When you become more comfortable with the idea of using words of whimsy you can begin taking words that already exist in our vocabulary and then changing them slightly to add more meaning and color. As an example, Buddy the Elf uses the word “purpley” to compliment a woman wearing a pretty, purple dress. It’s always fun to add the “e” sound to the end of any word. A friend of mine likes to make things very “glittery”. She also happens to be a cheer mom which gives new meaning to the word “cheery”. Between you and me, sometimes when I walk into a room full of sunlight, I can suddenly become very “singy”. Also, just as cheeks are “rosy”, a pretty garden can be very “gardeny”, with tomatoes that are tomatoey and pesky sticker bushes that are very “stickery”.
I also love using words that my family, friends and I make up on the fly. When shirts are very frilly, or lacey, or flowery, we comment that they’re “floofery”. NOTE:“Floofery” is an identical cousin to the word “fluffery” as they mean exactly the same thing. I live in a household with a toddler and a baby, where food and sticky stuff can be found in any number of places. It’s not uncommon for someone in my house to describe an arm of a sofa, or the floor or a toy as “sticky-jickeys”. When we fall down it’s called taking a “tumble bumble” and when we drop something, it’s called a “pumble-bumble”. Sometimes we can wink at the most frustrating situations by saying we’re getting “befuttled”. One of my most favorite words of whimsy is used when we are loving one another in some way or showing our “heartliness”.
When beginning to incorporate words of whimsy, it’s more than okay to borrow from the terminology of others. I know I have! In my home, we use our “thinking caps” to concentrate and “listening ears” when paying attention to someone. If we’re using a little bit of something we’re using a “smidgin’”. When something’s awesome, it’s “supa-dupa” and when we get all dressed up or are fancy in any way, we are showing our “fabulocity”. Using words of whimsy can be especially helpful in matters that are less than fabulous. You’ll quickly notice that it’s hard to stay too befuttled about something when venting with the word “fuzzbuckets”. When I was working for CPS, I would describe the oddest behaviors as “funktified”.
If you’ve made it to the end of this blog post, I thank you for not writing me off completely. You’re well within your right to be thinking to yourself “Bectoria, this is sheer nonsense”. To which I would say very truly yes! For what is whimsy if not for a little nonsense? I truly believe that to get to the meat of life, the very best parts, we must not take ourselves too seriously. If you agree with me that all of life could use a little whimsy and humor, then embrace the tomfoolery of it all and begin incorporating your own words of whimsy into your everyday life. Chances are that in so doing, the sheer wonderment of it all will bring out a smile in everyone you encounter.
Writer’s Note: I’d love to hear stories of the words of whimsy you and your loved ones use in your everyday lives either already or as a result of this blog post! One thing is for sure, they’ll be just as supa-dupa as the imaginations that thought them up!