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The Language of A Family

A few weeks ago, a friend I grew up with said he could use some windshield time.

“Windshield time?” I asked.

“Yeah, that’s what we say when we’re in the mood for a long drive,” said his sister.

It got me thinking about the development of language in our house, our own personal twist on the dictionary.  BBs, Mr. Peanut Butter Cup, DogDog, withgether, uppie.

Like most families, we’ve got our own personal shorthand for everything from blankets (in our house, BBs are fuzzy quilts not ammo) to firetrucks – the boys call out “Daddy!” whenever they hear a siren.

Most of the additions to the family dictionary have come from Axel, either nicknames or his mix-ups.  If we need some lumber,  we all go to Home Dinko instead of Home Depot.  We play cowguys, instead of cowboys.

Now, as Jonas starts to throw words together and chat up neighborhood squirrels through the sliding glass door, we’re getting a few more.  Most of them are baby mispronunciations, which I can’t resist repeating -   hi-eeee!!, shouted out like a wee valley girl when we’re playing Hide And Seek and he pops his head around the corner; cheese, which he lisps out with a clenched jaw and a Spanish accent whenever he glimpses a camera or iPhone or a block of cheddar; an aggressive sniffle and point at his nose whenever he wants a tissue.  We’re keeping Kleenex in business, with all the nose wiping and tissue tossing Jonas is doing these days.

Wawa refers to all beverages, even his father’s beer.  Mama in one tone refers to me, and in another tone refers to all adult people who he loves, including his father.  Especially his father.

On Christmas Day, we went to visit Sean at the fire station and, just as Sean was about to whip up the cream to go along with his homemade apple pie, they got a call.  About two thirds of the crew headed out, but one of the truck’s crews stayed put.  Jonas, confused by the rapid disappearance of six grown men down a fire pole, wandered around the kitchen, inspecting all the remaining guys wearing blue pants just like his father’s one after the other.  At each one, he looked up and calling out, “Mama?”

When he still couldn’t find Sean, even after double-checking all the legs covered in blue, he put his hands out to the side, palms up, in the classic where’d-he-go pose.  “Mama?”

We’ll see if that one catches on.

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