Baby vocabulary

Kids say the darnedest things, and teaching your child to speak is sometimes better than stand up comedy. Children have the strangest ways of taking basic words and somehow making them harder. Some words can cause embarrassment, but some are so cute you can’t bare to correct them. Some gems even become incorporated into family dialect.

Here are just a few words I picked from my baby and other random relatives. Feel free to add your own.

1. Comfiu: for some reason, this was considered the appropriate way to say perfume.

2.Oof: this was one of my baby’s first words, and I think it was quite smart. When you squeeze the plastic bottle to get its contents out, it makes a soft ‘oof’ sound, and my baby made this the generic name for lotion.

3.Confuse vs Refuse: for the longest time, my baby simply could not tell the difference. It only went one way though, and she would scrunch her face and yell about the neighbour who has ‘confused’ to give her back some toy.

4.Potato vs tomato: I will never get over this one. Even after showing her a spud and having her spell it out syllable by syllable, she would still look at the peels and call it a tomato.

Me: Sweetie, what’s this?

Baby: Tomato.

Me: No baby, repeat after me. Po…

Baby: Po…

Me: Tay…

Baby: Tay…

Me: Tow.

Baby: Tow.

Me: Potato.

Baby: Tomato.

She was 19 months, not old enough to be sarcastic, so I will always wonder what that was about.

5.Besturb:This usually occurs when the neighbor boy pulls her hair. “Mum! Tell him to stop besturbing me!”

6.Manya: This one comes from another baby close to me, and apparently, is far easier to pronounce than its actual name – nyama.

7.Monyo: From the same baby as above, except this time, it was used in reference to a certain washing detergent – Omo. By extension, it now refers to anything used for washing clothes. Apparently branding works equally well for babies.

8.Atifit et al: This was one baby’s baptismal name for Steven. Jeniffer became ‘Alifuaf’, Frederick became ‘Beledick’, Mami Big became ‘Kipiki’. With this child, it was best not to introduce yourself.

The darnedest things that kids say are not restricted to the words they cook up. Sometimes, a child’s reasoning skills can surprise you no end. One particular last born noticed that he could get whatever he wanted by chanting certain words. Actually, he noticed that when adults chanted said words, everyone would do what they were told. These words were ‘leave him alone’ and ‘give the baby’.

In his infinite wisdom, the baby decided to use the magic spells for himself. The next time his elder brother snatched away his toy, the toddler yelled, ‘Give the baby! Give him!’ The bigger boy was too shocked to refuse. Another incident elicited the words ‘Li-li-low. Li-li-lo!’ which was his way of saying … well, I’ll let you figure that one out.

Fictional babies are often as fun as real world ones. In the early nineties, Walt Disney produced a show called Dinosaurs which ran for three seasons. By far the coolest part of this show was Baby Sinclair. Like my story of potato-tomato, Baby Sinclair had major issues saying the word ‘Daddy.’ He much preferred to say ‘Not a Mama.’ So one day, after an extensive grilling session with his dad, he breaks into song with, ‘Daddy, daddy, dadadee daddy, daddy *pause* Not a mama!’

The famous ‘and then’ trope from the movie Dude, where’s my car originated with Baby Sinclair, and after any piece of mischief, he would yell, ‘I’m the baby. Gotta  love me!’ Baby Sinclair scariest trait is being oblivious to danger.Just like our own babies, he will fall off a high chair, play with a match, or perform some other task that would whiten his mother’s face, only to giggle and scream ‘Again!’ There has to be some way to show babies the difference between danger and fun, but clearly, it’s a skill that carries right into teenage.

A child’s honesty probably causes parents more grief than anything else. Like when she says, ‘Mummy says she’s not home,’ or, ‘Mr Samson, Daddy says your nose is too big.’ There’s no way to beat this, as you never know when your children are listening, so it’s best to grow a sense of humour and practise quick comebacks for when your child tells the teacher what you said [or did] last night.

What kinds of mischief have your little angels caused? We’d love to hear about it. Tell us in the comments section, and we can all laugh together. After all, sharing is caring.

PS: There’s a latent gene built into every woman’s psyche, and it’s activated by childbirth. When you were little, you would turn into goo as your mother told embarrassing stories to guest at family functions. Well, look who’s talking now …

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