When Drama was tiny, she had a passionate love affair with her pacifiers, which led to a (still present) issue with her palate and, in turn, her pronunciation. More than a few people told me that I had to get rid of the pacifiers when she turned one. I managed to get rid of the bottle when she was about 14 months old (no small feat, I tell you, seeing as the child had been so completely spoiled by her nanny in Chicago that she was "unable" to hold her own bottle or sippy cup). The pacifiers were another matter. You may recall that I am an admitted Sleep Whore. I will do whatever I have to do to secure extra minutes of sleep. And though Drama, relatively, is my Good Sleeper...I had nothing to compare her sleeping to and still wished she would sleep longer, even though she had a 6pm bedtime and a 7am wake-up (I know, I know! I'm confessing to my idiocy here!) I received as a baby shower gift these adorable little pacifiers (the Soothie kind that they give at some hospitals in the US), attached to a small beanie-baby type stuffed animal. The brand name of this ingenious invention is Wubbanub, and I mention it here because they are amazing. They are heavy enough that they rest on the baby's chest and don't pop out and roll into the corner of the crib or the carseat and by 10 weeks or so, Miss Drama could locate her paci and pop it back in her mouth. Looking back, it allowed her to self-soothe from an early age...and is obviously a big reason why she slept so much better than her non-paci-using baby sister. But that's another Oprah. Anyway. Miss Drama had 2 of these ingenious little guys, lovingly (if not creatively) called Duckie and Puppy. They were, DUH, a red puppy and a yellow duckie. I had a stockpile of no fewer than 4 extras at all times. Trouble is, they are infant sized pacifiers. And Drama used them to fall asleep until she was three and a half years old. You might have noticed that my general over-riding parenting policy is "Do What Works". And though I tried to get rid of Duckie & Puppy numerous times...I always caved and gave them back to her because (we had a long flight to the US coming, she's facing a hard transition, her baby sister is coming, I'm too tired to deal with her not sleeping, insert any other excuse here) I was too lazy to deal with it. Eventually the Paci Fairy came to our house, took Duckie and Puppy to give to new babies who need pacifiers, and left Miss Drama a puzzle and a new stuffed animal to sleep with. We had 2 rough nights and that was it.
So back to the speech thing. Up until the interference of the Paci Fairy, Miss Drama had a rather pronounced overbite. In fact, it was so big that she couldn't say "F" or "V". She literally could not bring her bottom lip to her top teeth. So, for a long time, though she had a huge vocabulary and spoke early and mostly clearly...she said things like "Don't make Sunny Saces at me!" and called her best friend "Aza" instead of "Ava". So, in our house, we still say "dont' make sunny saces at me". Because it's funny. But I know it would mean nothing in any other environment.
Trouble used to have a pretty major issue with her s-blends. She could speak pretty well but any word that began with "S" and another consonant, she'd just not say the "S" or she would replace it with another sound. Skirt became "Kirt", Snack was "Nack", and inexplicably, Smell was "Pell". Literally overnight she figured it out and started speaking clearly with proper s-blends last summer....but we still sometimes say "kirt" for skirt. Again, because it's funny.
We also have the added hilarity of having lived in two countries where we don't speak the local language fluently, but we'll adopt some local phrases or words into our Family Vocabulary. My kids still use the French Little Kid Vernacular for naps and loveys. A Nap is a "Dodo" (short for Dormir, to sleep in French) and a lovey or favorite stuffed toy is a "Dou-Dou". I have no idea where that came from but all French-speaking kids call their plush Dou Dou. My mother in law always confuses "Dodo" and "Dou Dou"...and my kids truly don't understand why she is confused. They also don't know the American phrase Doo Doo, so they don't get it when people think they are talking about poo. But put us on an airplane in the middle of the night and my kids will be crying that they can't fall asleep without their Dou Dou...and you'll see us get some really wacky looks from fellow passengers. In addition, both girls are going to school in bi-lingual programs now. Mandarin and English. I don't claim in any way that either of them either speak nor understand Mandarin...but they have picked up some phrases. Lately, Drama has taken "Ai Ya" as her go-to catchphrase when anything isn't going her way or she's troubled. It's kind of the Chinese equivalent to "Are you kidding me?" or "Oh Come On!". And she says it with the funniest Chinese intonation.
And like EVERY family, we all use favorite phrases from movies, TV shoes, or just plain making fun of silly things we've said to one another over the course of our lives. Here is a list of my current favorite things that are part of the Circus/Broccoli Family Language:
- "I just want you to Love Me, Jason": to be used at any time you want attention or want to call out somebody for being a big baby and needing attention. Original Source: Made for TV version of The Bourne Identity starring Richard Chamberlain & Jaclyn Smith. Line delivered by Jaclyn Smith's character in a moment that can only be described as overacted and hilarious.
- "Oh, do you need some Voss water, too?": used to point out how spoiled and entitled our children are. Original Source: Grown Ups staring Adam Sandler. Referring to Adam Sandler's character's painfully spoiled children ordering Voss Water at a hole in the wall BBQ restaurant.
- Any and All Homerisms from The Simpsons. Too many to reference. Starts with "D'oh" and runs the gamut to "You'll Only Incur More Wrath!" If you don't watch The Simpsons, I cannot even begin to explain why this is funny. But trust me, it's SOOO funny. Our speech is also peppered with Mo-isms, Apu-isms and Bart-isms.
- "I'm Fiwsty". Trouble still can't say her "Th" and "R" sounds consistently. We just think this is cute. It is used to indicate thirst.
- We call the color yellow, Banana. Trouble took to this at about 18 months old and I get it. If an orange is the color Orange...then yeah. Yellow is Banana.
- I tell the kids that I'm going to Eat them for Dinner. I am not a cannibal, nor do I like biting. But sometimes my kids are so cute that I honestly want to dip them in some sauce and eat them.
- This leads directly to my telling them that I'm going to Squeeze them like a Bunny or sometimes "Easy, Lenny". Obviously, a reference to Of Mice and Men when Lenny loves the little bunny so much that he squeezes it to death. The latter is a Friends reference to the book.
- Which leads me to Chandler-isms. I LOVE the TV show Friends. I have seen every episode multiple times. I would watch it 3 times a day, and though the fashion is dated I still laugh out loud. Chandler is hilarious...and I quote him regularly. His delivery has changed my delivery. I mean, could he BE any more sarcastic?
- The Husband uses ESPN Sports Center catchphrases. A Lot. And now the kids use them and I'm pretty sure they both have no idea what they mean but they also dont' know they are quoting from a sports show. "From Way Downtown, Bang". Meaning you came a long way to make that point.
- And my most favorite are the things that Trouble comes up with that make no sense but are just funny. I think deriving from a combo of the Bunny thing and the I'm going to Eat you thing...when we tuck Trouble into bed these days, she tells us Good Night like this: "See you in the Gingerbread, See you on Vacation, See you in the Bubble Gum.....Chomp!" The last word is not spoken, it is almost snorted. It's Circus Dad's version of "eating" the kids. And I don't know what it means but she says it really fast and it makes me laugh every time. Almost hard enough to forget that she's surely going to sing for another half an hour, and be awake in about 6 hours.
So, what Language does your family speak? Do you mix Portuguese and French? Did your grandfather say grace a funny way and you still do it that way? I think these awesome little things make each family individual and special. And Crazy. And I HEART crazy.