I hear many words each day. (I am raising three girls, after all.) There are the mundane, necessary words that must be spoken to get things accomplished: “Peanut butter or bologna?” “Do you need to go potty?” “Come on, let’s brush your teeth.” There are the typical preschooler, sibling rivalry words that every parent hears: “She hit me!” “I had that first!” “If you won’t play my way, I’m not playing!” There are the spontaneous sweet words that keep me going throughout the day: “My mommy’s the best mommy!” “Me yuv-oo Momma!” “Mommy, Catherine is my best friend!”
But then, there are those other kinds of words. The ones that I take in stride at the time, but then later it hits me how strange they really were. It hits me that mine may very well be the only household around that overheard those particular words that day. And these are the words that usually are going to involve cleaning up some sort of mess, receiving a puzzled look from any non-family member that may have heard them, or simply making a mental note to repeat them to someone later so that I’m not the only one who knows exactly how remarkable my children are.
The latest example of this kind of words? Well, the other day, I heard my husband come home and the first words out of his mouth were, “Why does the dog have Parmesan cheese all over his head?” Now, I’m just taking a wild guess here, but that probably isn’t something you heard at your house this week. Even though Clay is the one who spoke those words, they do in fact refer to Elisabeth, since she was the one who dumped the Parmesan cheese all over the table, chair, and floor, and yes, unfortunately, all over poor Elliot who happened to be sitting beside her chair at the time.
There are countless examples of these words that result in a massive clean-up effort. Words like, “Um, how did these Sharpie marks get on the steering wheel and windshield and rearview mirror?” “Mom, look at Elisabeth! She got into your bubble bath!” “No, no, no…put the pancake mix down…put it..oh, no!” “Oops, we forgot to put a pony in her hair while she was eating!” “Look, we painted in our class today!” Oh, the messes I’ve had to clean up within five minutes of hearing words like those. These are the words that spark dread in a mommy’s heart. I hear them, and I know action will have to be taken, but quite frankly, sometimes I’m scared to go look. When moms hear words like these, it is truly an exercise in courage to go and deal with them.
But not all of the unusual phrases result in clean-up efforts. Some, while not commonly heard from most kids, simply happen through the course of daily play and conversation. This would include the other day, when my girls were playing outside. I stood at the door for a few minutes watching them, and Abigail was positioning Catherine and Elisabeth around the yard and telling them to stand in the typical outfielder “ready” pose she’s learned at tee-ball. She instructed them to yell, “Hey, batter, batter!” and to pretend to hit and catch the ball and run the bases. I called out to them and asked them what they were playing. I’m not even sure why I asked, since it looked obvious to me, but I was completely taken off guard when I heard the answer: “We’re playing Harvey!” the older two yelled in unison. Harvey? I thought they were playing tee-ball. But no, a few more minutes revealed that they were in fact playing Harvey Klinger, who is a random character that shows up in one episode of the Brady Bunch. You never know what you might hear my kids say while they’re playing.
They play pretend all the time, but they pretend in about seven distinct games. There’s Brady Bunch, sure, but there is also “Chelsey, Charlie, Ella,
Kelly” which used to be quite the favorite. The funniest thing overheard regarding this game was when I asked one day, “Hey, Catherine, when you guys play Chelsey, Charlie, Ella, Kelly–who are you?” Her answer: “Rachel.” When they’re playing, you might also hear things like, “That mean old Buddy Hinton–he made Cindy cry again.” “Billy, stop pushing me down!”–(spoken into thin air as she throws herself down to the ground.) “Mommy, I need to stay in my bed because I’ve been having a baby all morning.” Most of the time, I take these without a blink since I’m the only one there, but anytime someone else is around, I always feel obliged to explain to them why my kids really aren’t weird but just extremely imaginative.
Then there are those things I hear that are just darn cute. Like a couple of weeks ago when we were shopping. I needed something from one of the higher shelves and couldn’t reach it. Catherine was observing my struggles and said, “Boy, Mom. That’s so high only God can reach it!” And Elisabeth’s verbal struggles to figure out this whole “God made everything” concept. She’s been taught that God made everything, but she knows that Nanny made her new “dankie.” (blankie) So one day she said “Nanny make my pink seat,” referring to her carseat. I said, “No silly. Nanny didn’t make your pink seat.” Elisabeth thought for a minute, then said, “God make my pink seat?” I hesitated, wondering how technical I should be, but said, “Yeah, I guess God made your pink seat.” She grinned and said, “God make my pink seat, but Nanny make my pink dankie.” She thought she had one on me there, since I was obviously wrong when I said God made everything.
There are so many other phrases that mark milestones in my days, like today when Abigail came in the living room, very excited, and said, “Guess what Samuel just did!!” But before I could guess, she immediately shifted gears, got a worried look on her face, and nervously asked, “Am I allowed to hold Samuel’s arms and help him walk?” Oh, well. Better to ask forgiveness than permission, right?
Every mom is going to have moments like these, hear these words that you just don’t hear every day. The more kids you have, the more outrageous things you’ll hear. But it’s these crazy words that spice up my days, I have to admit. Whether I find myself rushing down the hall to rescue a baby, walking fearfully into the kitchen to see how much Parmesan cheese is actually still in the can, taking a deep breath and trying to judge how weird someone else now thinks my family is as I try to explain why my kid just said what she did, or simply hiding a smile and recording the cute phrase in my memory, I definitely have learned to laugh at all the things I’ve overheard.