Parents nickname the hell out of their children. One blogger‘s nicknames for her son Zeke include the nauseating and unoriginal (“Honey Bunny,” “Pumpkin Pie,” “Pookie Pie”) as well as the humorous and salty (“Captain Crap-My-Pants,” “The Boss,” “Slobbersaurus Rex”). Once past the pants-crapping stages, kids themselves are prolific and nasty word-maker-uppers. In my Catholic grammar school, our most memorable nicknames were “Crud,” “Dorko,” and – unfortunately for one little Catholic schoolgirl – “Steak-umm.” I was a summer camp counselor for eight years, and a mischievous camper named Lyla gave colorful names to everyone she encountered, including “pizza breath,” “chicken weirdo,” “trash head,” “weirdo breath,” “breath head,” and the vivid and somewhat delicious-sounding “potato wing.”
But parents and kids have some competition in the contest to insult parents and kids: the childfree movement – which glorifies the non-begetting life – has been an Oxford English Dictionary unto itself in the new-word department, coining a metric boatload of creative, caustic and controversial breeding-related terms. While there’s enough going on in the childfree scene psychologically, politically and demographically to keep a fleet of research universities busy for donkey’s years, I’m only going to focus on their vocabulary: terms such as baby rabies, bratzilla, diaperwhipped, crib lizard and crotchfruit.
Understandably, most parents brim with something less than joy when discussing the childfree. New Oxford American Dictionary editor Erin McKean speaks for many when she says, “Nobody is literally forcing folks to have babies, and until that happens, maybe the ‘anti-breeder’ rhetoric could be toned down a bit?” But the childfree scene isn’t homogenous. Gretchen Caspary – childfree and a Senior Research Associate at the American Society of Pediatrics – says, “… most of us do like children, and a few of us (myself included) even love being around children . . . I and many like me have chosen not to parent, and we are happy and comfortable with our decision. There is also another segment of the childfree world that is vociferously and – in my opinion, ludicrously – anti-child and anti-parent.”
Perhaps those are the segments where a term like “fleshloaf” – a yeasty name for an infant – was baked, though a nasty word doesn’t necessarily have a nasty intent. Like all slang, childfree lingo serves to bond the group and lighten the mood. David L. Moore, an IT professional and childfree organizer in Australia, says, “The childfree often feel frustrated, as everyone does. These words are a specific reaction to the specific frustration. They make us laugh, which helps relieve the frustration, I guess.” These frustration-relievers include:
If “ticking biological clock” sounds like a trite way to describe baby lust, maybe you’d care to call it “baby rabies.” As anyone with a parent of their own knows, it’s also possible to have “grandbaby rabies.”
A British word for a kid dating back to 1945 – before that, it was military slang for a novice, trainee or other newbie. Until the childfree crowd got hold of it, “sprog” didn’t appear to have any negative connotation.