My daughter was not yet 3 when we turned in to the parking lot of our regular grocery store and she coined a new term.
"CHEE-bye, Mama!" Hannah said gleefully, pounding the front of her car seat with her little fists. "CHEE-bye!"
Since that wasn't the name of the store — or anything else that I could determine — I had no idea what she was talking about. So I did what most parents do when their toddlers say something they don't understand. I answered, "Yes! That's right!" and smiled and nodded.
A few minutes later, I pushed the shopping cart toward the dairy section. Hannah pointed to the packages of cheese and said it again: "CHEE-bye!"
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Ohhhh. Cheese buy! She was excited at the prospect of buying cheese, her favorite food, and made that clear from the moment she saw the grocery store sign. From that day forward, my husband and I no longer called the store by its proper name. It was, and remains, Cheese Buy.
Over the years I learned that most families have their own glossary of terms, collected from random phrases, mispronounced words and inside jokes. A new book by Alvin Zamudio, a Missourian and father of three, confirms the fact.
"The American Sandbox Dictionary of Children's Mispronounced English" (Reedy Press, $12.99) is a hilarious compilation of kidspeak — from "accident" (as in, "My Aunt Mary has an English accident") to "yummy bear" (the candy known more commonly as "gummy bear").
The book features submissions collected from americansandbox.com. And it is adorable. (Or as 3-year-old Macia from Bellingham, Wash., would say, "adorabubble.") Some of my favorites:
* all rotten — something topped with cheese and baked ("Mommy makes great potatoes all rotten.")
* applelucy — positively, without a doubt ("You're applelucy right, Mommy!")
* Chucky Jesus — restaurant/arcade commonly known as Chuck E. Cheese's.
* Harmonica — an eight-day Jewish holiday ("If we celebrate Harmonica, do we get more presents?")
* hiccup truck — vehicle made for carrying goods and materials
* pukeunder — long green vegetable
* tomorning — the day following the current day; often viewed as eternity ("But I can't wait until tomorning!")
* And of course, busketti (bus-KEH-tee) —long Italian pasta; also pronounced basghetti, psketti, sketty, skabetty and spunitty.
Zamudio says he hopes the book reminds readers that "some mistakes children make are better celebrated than corrected because they keep fresh in your heart the joy and wonders of childhood."