The kids were not behaving. Not unusual. It was about two minutes until the school bus would arrive to pick them up. They had no shoes or socks on, no homework in their backpacks, and their teeth were yet to be brushed. And there was no indication, after repeated coaxing and pleading, that they were about to do what needed to be done. That’s when my wife raised her voice, and began counting, “ONE! … TWO! … ” And just like that, the kids all hopped to it and quickly got it all done and were out the door.
Why? Because my wife was counting? What would happen if she had gotten to “THREE”? We don’t know, because we’ve never gotten to three. This mysteriously effective threat is something we began to refer to as “THREEMAGEDDON.” It’s a cross between armageddon and the number three. “Threemageddon” was one of many words we parents needed, but never had.
On another occasion, my son was looking in the mirror, admiring the gap in his mouth where his upper-right bicuspid used to be. In his left hand, he clutched a dollar bill that was given to him courtesy of the Tooth Fairy. It was then I realized he wasn’t marveling at the missing tooth, but counting his remaining teeth. “What are you doing?” I asked. “I’m trying to figure out how much money I can get if I knock out all of my teeth.” he replied. As much as this disturbed me, I was also very amused. I thought right then and there—there should be a word for that—a cross between the words “Orthodontics” and “Entrepreneur.” And thus was born, “ORTHODONTREPRENEUR” (ORR-tho-dahn-truh-prehn-ORR) noun: a child who is interested in knocking his own teeth out in the interest of a hefty payday from the Tooth Fairy.
These kind of scenarios led me to write The KidDictionary: A Book of Words Parents Need But Don’t Have. In it, I attempt to provide terminology to terminologize even the most obscure notions, actions, and states of being associated with children.
Some words in The KidDictionary are a combination of two or more words. Some are just slight modifications of existing words. Others are just flat-out made up because they sound appropriate to the thing, action, or idea they describe. Such as “SNOOT.” To “Snoot” is to suck in, rather than blow out when you’re blowing your nose. Kids don’t seem to get the concept of blowing their nose. So they snoot.
I was preparing to vacuum our minivan, a ritual I get around to every three or four years. When I lifted out the car seats, the volume of gunk and crumbs and litter and debris was astounding. I call that mess of stuff “KIDDLES” because there’s currently no other word for it. Except gross.
Once I got started the vast quantity of child-related phenomena in need of words started pouring out uncontrollably. It was like opening the floodgates (or severing an artery). The aftermath in the cutlery drawer when you let your three-year-old empty the dishwasher is a “SPOONAMI.” The site on a child’s body where you placed a bandage when they got hurt, though did not bleed is an “INVISIBOOBOO,” and so on and so forth.
Other examples of words brought to life in The KidDictionary: A Book of Words Parents Need But Don’t Have include:
WISHJACK (WISH-jahk) v.: To maliciously blow out the candles on another child’s birthday cake.
MONOPOLOOZE (mo-NAH-puh-looze) v.: To intentionally lose a board game to an unsportsmanlike child.
SLEDENTARY (SLEDD-en-tehr-ee) adj.: A child’s state of being so bundled up to face the winter elements that they cannot move.
INVISIBOOBOO (in-VIZ-uh-boo-boo) n: The site on a child’s body where you unnecessarily applied a Band-Aid to appease them when they got hurt, though did not bleed.
After I’d built up a large cache of these words and their respective “KidDefinitions,” I went through my voluminous store of photos of family and friends and found pictures that could serve to represent each of the words. The beauty of this book turned out to be, not just finding the humor in these child-related situations, but in capturing the essence of interactions within the all-too-fleeting time we have with our children. The situations that The KidDictionary outlines are for the most part ones that most everyone who has kids in their life can relate to. And even children, who are probably more aware of their idiosyncrasies (and ours) than we give them credit for, are proving to be an unexpected part of the fan base. And the book is a nice way to help these memories live on forever. For as we all know, the time spent with our children certainly does fly by. Except when it doesn’t.
By Eric Ruhalter