Children sometimes say the funniest things. They make up their own words. They mispronounce words. They string lots of words together to make one word. They get letters and sounds mixed up. Young children learning language are so incredibly inventive and creative, and they often make us smile!
Our eldest son used to say 'pinkink' for 'picnic', and it's still a word we use in the family today. Our youngest son used to say 'goatcar' instead of 'gocart'. Every family with young children has a whole bunch of these words that are special (perhaps even unique) to them.
With the passing of time, the child's pronunciation gets better (or, should we say, more conventional) and the stream of wonderfully creative words starts to disappear.
There's a magic age, between about two and four, when children start to say lots of these fabulous words. The little ones are learning language (or languages), both in terms of the muscle control they need to make certain sounds and, at the same time, acquiring new words to build up their vocabulary. Children sometimes mix up letters, struggle to make certain sounds or they have no existing word for what they want to say. The result can be a fantastic new word! For the avid 'things my kid says' collector, this is a time to be cherished; listen carefully and keep your ears sharp!
If you start to make a list of these early language words, you'll find there's a surprisingly large number of them. Some of the words are only used once or twice and they're quickly replaced by the 'proper' version of the word. Sometimes a particular word can persist for years, and can even be adopted by other members of the family.
If you don't record these words, they're easily forgotten! One of our favourites is 'Jelly Grown Ups' (said as one word), used by our youngest son to distinguish jelly baby sweets from other jelly (non baby) sweets.
So how can we make sure we don't forget the 'things my kid says'?
It's easy. You just have to decide to do it and get a (little bit) organised.
Get a little A5 notebook or put a blank sheet of paper up on the fridge. Or start a note on your mobile phone. The important thing is to have somewhere where you'll record all the words together and to ACTUALLY DO IT. Record each new word and its meaning as soon as you can after you've heard it.
Once you've written down new words a few times it starts to get easier - you just have to make that initial effort and make recording the new word easy. Separate, scattered notes jotted on little bits of loose paper doesn't work because they're too easy to lose. If you want to get really advanced, record the date as well as the new word.
It's surprising how easy it is to forget some words if you don't write them down quickly. This is partly because there might be another new word along in a minute (and before you know it you're twenty words behind!) and it's partly because we all live busy lives with lots of other things to remember.
These childrens words are worth remembering because they're part of your child's history, they're great fun to look back on and they can remind us of other things too.
We used to live in a town house with a ground floor and two upper floors, so stairs were quite an important part of our lives. Our eldest child used to say 'uppastairs' to mean either upstairs or downstairs, depending on what floor we were on at the time - it's a word that doesn't quite have an equivalent in the English language, but it's a reminder of our time in that house.
We had the idea to make crossword wall art of our children's quirky words, where their words are the crossword answers and the real meanings are the clues. We've designed a couple of styles. One is 'slightly wobbly' - all the answers are in bright colours and slightly askew (to mirror the fact that the words themselves are slightly askew with the English language). The other is a more classic style - neater and tidier.
These crosswords are one of our favourite types of crossword to design for customers. There's always something on each one that makes us smile. There's also usually something that leaves us utterly clueless about what it means - but that's part of the beauty of these memories. Clueless to us, maybe, but obviously very meaningful to the child who said it!
Things My Kid Says wall art is a great gift for grandparents, who often miss out on some of the gems of language uttered by their grandchildren. It's also a great gift idea for a family to themselves - it's a family keepsake that can even be used to remind the children themselves, when they're old enough to see the funny side of some of the things they used to say.
If you have any words that your child says (or used to say), please share them by adding a comment to this blog post! Don't forget to tell us the meaning as well as the word!