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What Is Your Family's Lexicon?

Mar 25, 2013 | Updated May 25, 2013

When my husband mentions an article in a "mazagine," I don't bother correcting him with "magazine." If he asks me if I need anything at "Fee Hee," I may note that we are out of milk so please pick some up when you are at Super Fresh. I suggest we have "hangibers" for dinner, and he takes the hamburger buns out of the freezer.

These are three words from our family lexicon, invented by our children when they were very young and stumbling through a new world of language acquisition.

We have let the children go. But not the words they left behind.

"Lolo" was Cheerios cereal and "Bee Lolo" was Honey Nut Cheerios, coined with great logic by my 1-year-old son. After all, there is a bee on the box. Makes sense, right?

As an alternative to cereal, there was always an "omelick" for "brefix."

I remember our son coming home from pre-school one day, crestfallen. "What's wrong?" I asked as I unpacked his book bag. "Wasn't this the day you were having a French breakfast in school?'

"We did," he mumbled. "But when I said 'Yay, we're having a French brefix', everyone laughed at me."

I felt a pang of guilt. Was I a bad mother for not having corrected him earlier, gently articulating for him the proper pronunciation of the word? Might I have spared him the humiliation, especially in front of his pre-school crush, Caroline?

I took the sentimental route, forgoing linguistic integrity in order to hold on to his sweet malapropisms for as long as possible.

And it happened again. I picked him up in the carpool line, eager to hear about his day. But his face was darkened with anger as the carpool assistant strapped him in the car seat.

We pulled out of the line, and he let me have it.

"Mom. Why didn't you tell me? Everyone laughed at me!"

"What, honey? What did you say?"

"I said please give me the green crown."

"So? I don't get it."

"It's CRAY-ON!" he exploded.

If we weren't having "hangibers" for dinner, our youngest might request "bazanya" (lasagna) or that old family favorite, "pisketti." At snack time we might have "bow wow pips" (bagel chips) or "Wheat Fings" (Wheat Thins), as our middle child used to say.

The middle child was the one who pounded her high chair tray as she intoned "Ah be gah" over and over. What is that, we wondered? We wiped the applesauce off her face and hands. "Ah be gah!" she squealed, raising her arms.

We finally got it. "Ah be gah" meant "pick me up."

When our son and my father took walks on the beach, my son would exclaim "cwab cwahs!" as he picked up remnants of the crustaceans' corpse. I assure you that I don't order "cwab cakes" when we go out to dinner, but I think I've come close a few times.

And isn't it the oldest grandchild who determines the names of his or her grandparents?

"Say hi to Nana and Grandpa," we would tell our first-born when my parents came to visit. On one of these occasions he looked at them intently, and pronounced, "Nan-Nan and Pop-Pop." And so they remained forevermore.

When my son was about two and-a-half years old he spent a weekend with Nan-Nan and Pop-Pop, who were never too tired to play with him. But for a few hours on this particular Saturday, Pop-Pop wanted to watch his favorite football team on TV.

Our little boy missed the attention from his best pal, and asked him repeatedly when they would play together again. "It's almost over," my dad told him. "Just a few more minutes."

He tried to be patient. But for a 2-year-old, patience does not come easily.

He half-heartedly looked at his books and his toys. They just couldn't compare to the fun he had with Pop-Pop. He probably kicked a chair a few times, too. When he just couldn't take it any longer, he came up with a plan.

Planting himself right in front of the TV, he said forlornly, "No more but-ball." It worked, and this became an instant family classic.

When the kids would fight incessantly, and our threats, I mean admonitions, did nothing to stop the madness, we would summon them to a family conference. However, one of the kids called it a "family concert." Ever since then, we've referred to them as "family concerts la la la."

What words are in your family lexicon?