Becoming a mom has certainly changed my life. But what I’ve noticed lately is how motherhood has changed the way I speak. My parenting style involves a lot of teaching. Unless I’ve really been beaten down by my darling little boys and their unyielding precociousness, you’ll rarely hear me say, “Because I said so!” No. I explain—hoping they will glean some gem of information or at the very least move on from the discussion. And then there are just words that come with the territory: sometimes it is specialized language from a kid place or situation or other times it’s knee-jerk language coming from the depths of shock. Here are a few strange things I never dreamed I’d say.
“Caterpillars don’t eat acidophilus!”
My three-year old was trying to stuff a pink acidophilus wafer down the gullet of a captive caterpillar. If you don’t know, acidophilus is for gut health and it gets rid of excess yeast. Call me crazy, but I hypothesized that the poor thing wasn’t suffering from such an ailment. It needed to stop.
“Stop calling it a butt.”
Ah, Anatomy. I had to take my three-year-old to the OB for my last appointment before the baby was due. This of course was a head-in-the-lion’s-mouth examination, so to speak. My son sat there very quietly, which was a sign that his mind was filling with wonder. When it was done, I rolled my gigantic body off the table and slipped on my enormous panties-for-two. Then my son said, “What that man doin’ to your butt, mom?”
I laughed and told him that he had to make sure the baby was ready to come out. He screwed up his face and said, “Outta your butt?”
I told him no, out of my tummy. He wasn’t satisfied and asked again, “But what he doin’ to your butt?”
I don’t know, maybe it was the pregnancy hormones or the on-going heartburn, or the trepidation of what my body was about to endure (the first time wasn’t pretty) but the word “butt” started to gnaw at me. I mean, show some respect by at least calling it what it is. Butt? Not flattering. I snapped, “It’s called a vagina, okay? Stop calling it a butt!”
He was quiet as we walked out to the car. As I strapped him in he asked, “What he doin’ to your china?” Sure, call it a country, whatever.
“Yep. He sounds like a goat.”
My two sons, one three and the other a week old, and I were waiting for the elevator to open. Suddenly the newborn started to cry. I cooed and told him it was okay, we’d be moving soon. But that didn’t help of course because he didn’t understand English yet. Soon other people started to gather. My three-year-old looked at the baby with disdain—and why wouldn’t he? The thing kept waking him up and it never wanted to play and it made his mother act like a crazy person. I privately cursed the elevator and ignored the crowd that wasn’t ignoring the loud and oddly quick, rhythmic infant cry, not to mention the shade of purple the strain was beginning to force upon his sweet face. One woman said, “Oh what’s the matter? How old?” (Using the ironic non-gender vernacular that says to the mother “I have no idea what sex your baby is so I’m going to cover up that embarrassing fact by using a cliché that in fact means, I have no idea what sex your baby is.)
I told her he was a week old. She noticed his big brother. She shouted over the spasmodic cries and told him how special it was to have a new baby. She loudly asked what he thought about all of this. My son looked her dead in the eye and told her with disgust, “He sounds like a goat.”
Yep. He nailed it. I let out a healthy laugh. The woman did not.
“Yes, I’ll have a matcha snow bubble with half boba please.”
That was an order for a drink at an Asian-style tea house called Lollicup. Matcha is a type of green tea, snow bubble means with slushy milk and boba is black tapioca pearls that they sink at the bottom of the drink and you have to suck them out with a fat straw. My kids love the place, so we frequent it often. But let me tell ya, I used to dread going there because I felt so foolish ordering. I couldn’t get the names right for the life of me—or the pronunciation of boba. It’s boa-bah. Not to be confused with Boohbah, which I did. Boohbah is that weird children’s program on PBS with the furry dancing oompa loompa aliens—not slimy tapioca nuggets you suck from a snow bubble. Got it? Me neither.
“Is our son possessed?”
It was Easter time at the local church preschool. The teachers had prepared a special Easter presentation for the parents. We were thinking secular Easter—you know—In your Easter bonnet/With all the frills upon it… What we got was a little more than we bargained for—five-year-olds pantomiming being nailed to the cross. Yeah, that was a fun discussion afterwards. Anyhoo, luckily my child was three so he didn’t have to re-enact crucifixion (and we moved to a new school shortly thereafter—so he never had to). He sang with his class a song called “God Our Father,” which is sung to the melody of Frere Jacques. This was a song that we were familiar with because he had to sing it three times a week, since it was a prayer of sorts, was required before eating lunch, and we would catch the class singing it from time to time when we’d drop in early. So he was up there, clean and polished with his angelic face and cherub cheeks. The teacher played the piano and the children readied their hands for the accompanying hand jive—except for our son. When they began to sing, suddenly, a sneer fell upon his upper lip and he gave the audience the stink-eye. My husband and I looked at each other askance and I asked if our son was possessed. We gave our boy an exaggerated smile, mimicking the happy children in his company to encourage similar behavior. But he wasn’t buying it. He sang his song of praise like an evil Elvis. We were all shook up, but got over it when we found out he had a rock in blue suede shoes. Okay that was a lie. There was no rock.
“Did he really just say that to Santa Claus?”
And I’m not talking about my son’s sneaky request that Santa give him a toy gun—a much-debated subject at the time. Santa was kind enough to get a visual clue about the gun, which was a head shake from me spelling N-O. Santa moved on from that and gently asked him what else he’d wish for. He told good old Saint Nick that he wished he’d stop spitting on him.
“Did he really just say that to Santa Claus?”
My husband confirmed it. What can I say; the poor guy had a say-it-don’t-spray-it problem; so glad my kid felt it necessary to break it to him. My eyes told Santa that I was sorry for my impolite son because my mouth was frozen in shame. Santa warmly smiled at me and asked my son what kind of gun he wanted.
“No one wants to know about my bowels!”
I was buying sheets with my three-year-old. An attractive clerk was checking me out at the register (and otherwise). I was talking about thread count. Then my son chimed in, “I have to go poo.”
The clerk smirked. I blushed. “Okay, honey. We’ll go in a sec.”
The clerk told me how much I owed. My son queried, “Do you have to poo too, mama?”
I rolled my eyes. The clerk laughed. My son pressed on, “Oh, you went?”
I was dying.
“Oh. You should poo, huh? You feel better.”
Why I felt compelled to continue this conversation, I don’t know, but I yelled, “No one wants to know about my bowels!”
I snatched my receipt and hung my head. As I pushed my GI-doctor-in-training away in his stroller, the clerk called out to me, “The Ladies’ Room is in the Southwest corner.”
“Thanks, I don’t have to go!”
“For your son, I mean.”
Oh yeah, him.
I could go on, but I won’t. Nuff said for now. You get the picture: kids take over your life and your mouth, but we love ‘em anyway. Please feel free to share the strange things you’ve said.