Babyslang Miscellaneous


Henry is well known for his stubbornness – which has shown up in force every time we tried to enroll him in swim lessons. This kid HATES getting his head wet, hates getting his hair washed, hates getting splashed in the pool, and has run down the clock during countless swim lessons by simply refusing to participate and trying to talk his way out of actually doing anything.

After yet another progress-free summer at the Elks pool, having to constantly keep an eye on him, while he clung to the side of the pool, resolutely refusing to get his head or face wet, and refusing to even try to float or doggy paddle while his peers were splashing and swimming away, I decided to try, once more, to get him to learn to swim. He started weekly classes a little over a month ago at an indoor pool nearby.

Finally, slowly but surely, our man Henry is making progress! He has done more swimming and splashing in the past 6 weeks than the entire previous 7.5 years of his life! Each week on our drive to the pool, I give him a little pep talk, we talk about what he’s learned so far and how great he’s doing, and wonder what sorts of things he’ll be learning. We chat about his nervousness, and the fact that even while nervous, he exceeds his own expectations. He’s gotten a lot more comfortable with floating on his back, he can hold his breath, he puts his head underwater, he tips off the side of the pool and swims to the instructor, and he can alternate from back to front floating on his own.

He did so well last week, and was so excited to report his fantastic lesson to Dad-o and Finny that he requested that the whole family go to today’s lesson so we could all witness his progress. So we all headed out to the pool, and the Nack Family Cheering Section was in full force while our man demonstrated his prowess. He did great, and Dad-o and Finny could hardly believe he was voluntarily putting his head and face in the water without complaint. A great day for Mr. Henry, capped off with a family lunch and ice cream for dessert.

Transient Witticisms

Transient Witticisms: Slingin’ the Slang

  • Rookie dad-move: Acknowledging a bad word heard on the radio. Immediate aftermath: “Hey Finn, let’s chant ‘Badass.’ BadASS, BadASS…!!”
  • Finn’s decorated our street-facing window with math equations—in Spanish! So proud.
    He’s also added the word “mofo.” So, ehhh…
  • Finn appeared by our bed this AM with a clipboard, marker, & inexplicable Freud accent. “Do you vant your day to start vith ‘no’ or ‘yes?’”
  • Finn cocks his head in curiosity at saline sinus spray. “I would call this ‘Nose Champagne.’”
  • Finn introduces his new red lion to my childhood Red Kitty: “It’s your brother from another mother!”
  • “Dad-O, what about ‘ridunkulous’?” asks Finn. “It’s more ridiculous than ‘ridonkulous!'”
  • Asia intrigues Finn: “Those planets have a lot of ‘knees.’ Japa-knees, Chi-knees… And Germany has only one ‘knee.’”
  • “Dad-O, you shouldn’t draw graffiti on things,” admonishes Henry. “That’s called ‘fertilizing.'” (Er, “vandalizing,” son. :-))
  • Our friends’ 2-year-old calls fish “glub glubs.” Finn’s intrigued: “Does he call sharks ‘killer glub glubs?’”
  • At 7:38am Margot is teaching the boys the proper use of the term “buzzkill.” I love my family. 🙂
  • Finn: “Why is it ‘pee’ and ‘pull’—’people’?”
    Henry: “Yeah, what do people pull?”
    Finn: “Your leg!”
Transient Witticisms

Transient Witticisms: Nacksnaxx

  • I catch Henry holding his sandwich over the warm vent. “I’m making a grilled cheese,” he explains.
  • “Dad-O, I’m giving you an example,” says Henry. “Like when you walk by the food court & they give you a chicken example.”
  • I’m trying to explain Easter being a “movable feast” when Finn breaks in: “Yeah yeah, a movable candy feast, I get it.”
  • After listening to a war photographer, Henry tells his sock monkey, “Bruce ate a BBQ monkey leg—but don’t worry, it wasn’t your family.”
  • Finnster, emerging from raiding the snack cabinet: “Look, Dad-O, I’ve got a Finny-positive chocolate chip Z Bar!”
  • I told the boys about KitTea, a (real) proposed tea house full of gatos. “No, Dad-O!” said Henry. “We don’t want to eat cats!!”
  • The boys have set up a lemonade stand out front to sell homemade “puke” for $3. (“I can’t believe no one is buying our puke!!”)
  • “Mom-O, you know what’s fun about your dad?” asks Finn. “He’s fun to be around, and he makes SUPER delicious buttered popcorn!”
  • “We get to eat the pot tonight!” a preschooler just told me. Er, that’s potLUCK, son.
Transient Witticisms

Transient Witticisms: Anger Management

  • “Make me breakfast or I’ll smash your crotch off!!” MAN do tantrums suck, but they can produce some unintended comedy.
  • “Dad-O,” announces Finn, “if you don’t give me more sushi, I’m gonna gun you down!” Aaaand, maybe less NPR listening for somebody.
  • “This is as high as I go,” yells a flustered Finn from play equipment, “and I don’t wanna fall, so I don’t need to catch a bunch of crap!!”
  • After a contentious morning Finn started poking my arm. “I’m pushing your buttons!!” And how!
  • Margot to Finn: “You’re disrespectful.”
    F: “You’re disrespectable!”
  • Bareheaded Henry glowers at me: “Hmmph! I’ll just use my frown as a hat!!”
  • A morose Finn sulks out of his room, post-timeout, carrying a homemade banner: “FINNEGAN SUCS.” Ay, dios mío…!
Transient Witticisms

Transient Witticisms: Music edition

Man, I’ve been totally neglecting this category, so let me set about fixing that. Today’s edition: Music.

  • “Dad-O,” asks radio-listening Henry, “are ‘musicians’ real? And do they really pull rabbits out of hats?”
  • Henry: “Dad-O, what is ‘heavy metal?'”
    Me: “Oh, stuff like ‘Breaking The Law’ & ‘TNT.'”
    H.: “Oh! Heavy metal is good for me!!”
  • Listening to Lorde’s “Teams,” 4yo Henry says, “She actually takes her hands off & throws them up in the air!” (I’d be kinda over that, too.)
  • From the back seat this morning: “Dad-O, could a baby duck fit into a can of beer?” I guess the Pixies bring the weird out of Henry. #age4
  • 80’s rocker nomenclature baffles young Henry.
    “I guess he must love watermelons.”
    “John Cougar Watermeloncamp.”
  • Henry, singing: “We built this city…”
    Me, chuckling: “What would Mom-O say if she heard you?”
    Henry: “G__DAMN it!!”
    (M.: “He’s not wrong.”)
  • “The Rolling Stones?” Henry’s intrigued. “Do they sing quarry music?” Rock on, little man.
  • Upon hearing Neil young’s Harvest Moon, Henry says “I think this is an old prospector making train track music.”
  • I hear crooner Finn mashing up José Feliciano & Joy Division’s “Love Will Tear Us Apart”: “Feliz Navidad, aaa-gain…”
  • I make the mistake of turning on KFOX in the car. From the back seat the boys immediately yell, “What Does KFOX Say?? Nya nya nyah nyah…!”
  • My reciting of Public Enemy lyrics leaves Finn shaking his head. “I’m a white man, and I’m not familiar with anything Dad-O says!!”


gibberishTrue to form (and genetics), our lads coin a lot of new words and phrases while going about their daily business. Here’s a little sample of what they’re talking about these days:

Side Managers: noun. Each guy chooses a side of the shopping cart to hang off of, while (of course) reaching out and touching EVERYTHING in our path as we wind through the aisles.

Frescals: noun. Somewhat indeterminate. Applied to lots of items at the grocery store, and pronounced with super-zesty rolled R’s, while being the most interesting side managers in the world.  “Frrrrescals! You’re a frrrrescal! That’s a frrrescal!”

Scalliptions: noun. Also indeterminate. Applied to many items, people, behaviors, and actions. “These scalliptions are making me thirsty! Watch out, I’ve got a scalliption reserved for you!”

Itsy-bitsy-bitey-bo: phrase. Finny’s re-styling of some of the lyrics from Lorde’s “Royals” song. I believe the real lyrics are “it don’t run in our blood.”

Hom noms: noun. Crackers or cookies. Onomatopoetic – this is the sound a kid makes while eating delicious snack food.

Banana butts: noun. Describes the very tip at the bottom of the banana which sometimes has a grayish/black spot inside. These remain uneaten by Nacks under the age of 6.

Onesies, Flatties, Granules: nouns. Descriptive names of various small Legos. Onesies are the cubic Legos with one raised bump. Flatties are the ones with no bumps that are used to finish off a surface smoothly. Granules are the zillions of small, round Onesies that populate my carpet.

Safetying-off: verb. Erecting a barrier to prevent someone from getting too close to a dangerous area. The boys like to use yarn, traffic cones, and cardboard blocks to “safety off” suspected danger zones in the backyard, basement, or living room.

Standpoles: noun. the vertical piers that support bridges.  Mom-o, my bridge is going to collapse because I can’t find a tall enough standpole!


Care for Some Breadsticks With That?

rarnchiboneFinny described a new salad he’d devised for his leonine buddies yesterday morning, called “Rarnchibone.” Of course, young Henry had to follow suit with an owl-appropriate salad called “Hoonchibone.” Recipes follow:

Rarnchibone consists of “A bunch of grapes, a hamburger patty on the top, lettuce, lots & lots & lots of berries. It’s the same for hoonchibone, but instead of a hamburger patty, it’s a mouse patty.”

#TheMoreYouKnow 🙂


Chivy Henry

Heh—I have to agree with Margot on this one:

Today’s Word of the Day from my calendar is “Chivy,” which should include the following…”see also: Henry Seamus Nack”

  1. To tease or annoy with persistent petty attacks
  2. To move or obtain by small maneuvers

Original meeting “to harass or chase”

Crazy Hen; poor Finn. 😉


Echoes of Personal Greatness

In the movie Goodfellas, a minor character is named “Jimmy Two-Times” because he always says things two times—for example, “I’m gonna get the papers (get the papers).”

I’ve thought of Jimmy a bunch lately as Finn’s clearly been enjoying his own lines—to the point that he’ll often immediately repeat them in a whisper. While recounting some anecdote he might say, “…so I told Magdalena, ‘I’m the dad!’ (‘I’m the dad!’)”

I don’t think he knows we hear it, and he just clearly enjoys mastering language, conversation, and social conventions. We’ll have to see how long it goes on. (Margot might say, “Probably forever, given the way you repeat jokes just to make sure I heard your cleverness.” ;-))

Transient Witticisms

Transient Witticisms: Micronaxx Feasts

  • Finn’s stuffed, but he swears he’ll find room for a donut: “My tummy has a garbage truck crusher-blade in it!”
  • “Dad-O, when we grow up, we’re only going to eat pasta, bacon, and Nutella!” I’m way ahead of you, boys—way ahead! #livingthedream
  • I guess we can forget about the boys getting that big Crest endorsement deal: “This tastes like being electrocuted!!”
  • Henry eyes a giant tank of horchata (super sugary rice milk), then presents me with a batting helmet: “Fill this up with it!” Best/worst idea ever.
  • “Krispies are for closers!!” — me, trying to bribe the boys into finishing their sandwiches
  • Finn befouls our sheets with crumbs, sucks them up: “I’m a street sweeper!” First time I’ve kicked someone out of bed for eating crackers.
  • We call our food-distended tummies “food babies.” Henry pats his: “I’ve got a whole food preschool in mine!”
  • “You’ve gotta lay off that Coke, Dad-O,” Finn informs me. “You’re gonna end up allergic to water!”
  • “I’m not making a mess,” explains Henry, sprinkling Oat Squares on the carpet. “I’m making dinner for the ghost in the basement.”
Transient Witticisms

Transient Witticisms: Microtunes Edition

  • Mischievous Henry starts edging out of the crosswalk: “Dad-O, I’m ‘Break-in’-the-laaaaw, break-in’-the-laaaaw!!'” (Judas Priest, Age 4. :-))
  • The Barenaked Ladies come on the radio. “This is a dork singing!” declares Henry.
  • “I don’t think these guys are Talking Heads, Dad-O,” says Finn. “I think they’re just Talking Scalps.”
  • Finn: “Why are they called ‘U2’?”
    Me: “Well, I dunno. The U2 was a cool airplane…”
    Finn: “Was Bono homeless & did he sleep in the airplane?”
  • Listening to “Baby Did A Bad Bad Thing” with the boys. “Why did the baby do that, Dad-O? Why is he so naughty?”
  • Finn’s singing Styx’s “Renegade”: “The meter maid, who had it made…” #misheardlyrics
  • The lads are listening to The Clash:
    Finn: “Henry, the casbah is a desert castle, and the jet fighters rock it with bullets.”
    Henry: “Yeah, from their lungs!”
  • Finn’s relating to “I Shot The Sheriff”: “It’s like when Jacobo attacks me at school & I kick him in the face. That’s self-defense for me!”
  • On an airplane: “Dad-O, I thought I saw Johnny Cash out on the wing,” reports Finn, “but it was just the winglet.”
  • Listening to the boys’ a cappella duet of “Crazy Train” as they play Lego trains, I feel kinda great about my parenting. 🙂
  • Finn’s morning musical request: “How about the banana song by Barry Elefante?”
  • Blasting “Sledgehammer” while your 3yo jumps around, “dancing” & randomly hammering things, is a terrific morning kickoff.
  • The boys keep donning underwear outside their regular clothes. I explain that’s only for crazy old ladies, like Madonna.
  • The boys have renamed themselves “Lynyrd Skynyrd” & “Billy Idol.” In related news, I really need to expose them to better music!

A Teriyaki Salami Carnival

Little G-Man’s been taking his vocab to new levels lately, but not without hitting some rather amusing potholes. Recent developments:

  • The boys have learned about omnivores, herbivores, and carnivores at Pasitos lately. Now when Henry sees a temporary gathering of rides & attractions, he says, “Look, Dad-O, a carnivore! [carnival]”
  • They’ve heard that our friend Juliana is a talented singer. “Dad-O, I think she’d be good at singing teriyaki [karaoke].”
  • Near the beach the guys note warning signs that explain how to flee a giant wave. “See, this is the way we’d go to evacuate from a salami! [tsunami]”
Transient Witticisms

Transient Witticisms: The Return!

Boy, it’s been ages since I updated this category. Without further ado, here’s the first of several installments of the lads’ sayings from the last year (!) or so.

  • Animals:
    • “Dad-O, I’m a new superhero called Bat Saber—like a bat lightsaber! He crushes old people who don’t like bats!” (Henry adds, “Yeah, and I’m Rain Man!!” #VerySpecialPowers)
    • “Dad-O, do pirates sometimes have to get blasted by otters?” Um, otters? Took me a while to realize he meant SEALs (specifically, Navy ones).
    • “Dad-O, those cats want to fill up our sandbox with poop,” says Finn, “which I call ‘butt presents.'”
    • I dreamt that our boys—like bats—navigate by echolocation. They were ceaselessly repeating “Mom-O, Dad-O! Mom-O, Dad-O! Mom-O, Dad-O!”
    • I let the boys watch nature videos unattended on YouTube this morning. It’s all fun ’til a croc bites off an antelope’s hoof!
  • Legos
    • Finn describes his birthday wish: “Well, it’s a really expensive Lego set for teenagers…” He tells me that to save up, “stop buying food”!
    • In the fall Lego time spontaneously turned political: “Dad-O, this is Obama. ‘Come here, Romney, gimme your butt cheeks to kick!'” (Unprompted!)
    • I offer Henry some Lego-ing help. “No, I can do it,” he says. “It’s a little be complicated for dads, but not for kids.” (Maybe true!)
    • “Dad-O, this is my Lego chase truck. It was chasing a bird, which turned out to be Henry’s hand, which made off with a Lego sailor hat…”
    • “The hand-bird was carrying the hat on its thumb.” Good to know!
Babyslang Transient Witticisms

Transient Witticisms: The United Steaks of Apostles

  • Food:
    • “Dad-O, I wish we lived in the United Steaks,” declares Finn. “Leo & I just *looove* meat!”
    • “Dad-O, I don’t like McDonald’s pickles.”
      “But you like other pickles, right?”
      “Yeah, but McDonald’s pickles are made in China.”
    • Margot: (squeezing Henry’s toes) “This little piggy went to market. This little piggy stayed home.”
      Henry: “No he didn’t!”
      Margot: “He didn’t? What did he do?”
      Henry: “He went to Mojo Burger! And this one went to the pizza place!”
  • Hair:
    • “My hair got in my eyes, Dad-O,” reported shaggy Finn, “but I just put Leo on my head [he demonstrates]. He’s my hair clip!”
    • Finn, trying to stall bedtime: “Dad-O, here’s a deal: go cut off your whiskers & do your homework, then come back and cuddle with me.”
  • Science:
    • Halloween fun with the tots: Margot: “What if grandma & grandpa were ghosts?” Henry: “Nooo! They have to be humans! (Silly Mom-O.)”
    • Morning science questions: Finn: “Dad-O, why is Santa octurnal?”
      Henry: “Yeah, like bats & owls & apostles?”
Transient Witticisms

Transient Witticisms Music Edition: “Police Navidad” & More

  • G-Man:
    • “‘Steely Dan?'” Henry’s incredulous. “What do they steal?”
      Me: “No, ‘steel,’ like metal.”
      H: “Why do they steal metal??”
    • Hen, on hearing some hip hop: “Rap music?! Turn that off!!” He then cries ’til we give in & turn on Johnny Cash.
    • Henry is mashing up “Peanuts” with Peter Gabriel. “Shock the Lucy to-night!” he sings.
    • Henry’s midday requests: Some soup, Dave Brubeck, and a nap. #MyBoy
    • Henry asks me to explain a Taylor Swift breakup song.
      Me: “You’ll understand when you’re older.”
      H: “Maybe I won’t want to understand…”
  • Finnster:
    • “I can easily make this girl’s voice with my body,” says Finn of Ellie Goulding. “I can’t make that Axl Rose stuff, though.”
    • From deep within a pile of Lego forest police loot, Finn’s begun to sing: “Police Navidad!”
    • Finn’s singing his bizarre version of Rudolph: “…You might even say it blows!” (He calls the character “The Ol’ ‘Dolph.)
    • “Dad-O, when i grow up I want to be a policeman who acts like a ninja,” Finn tells me, “but not a bad cop like that Sheriff John Brown.” [from I Shot The Sheriff]
    • I hear Finn singing: “‘…so call me maybe.’ Oh Dad-O, that song gets stuck in my head! I sing it at preschool, I sing it everywhere!!
  • The boys on “Dirty Deeds”: “AC/DC sound like pirates!” Of the Ramones’ “Sheena”: “These guys are old warriors! They’re berserkers!”
  • I imagine our always-underfoot kids singing like the Scorpions’ “Rock You Like A Hurricane”: “HERE I am!! (bom, bomp) FORM a human bar-i-cade!!”
  • The boys are becoming a bit “pants-optional.” I now sing to them some modified Beatles: “Hey! You’ve Got To Hide Your Butt Away.”
Babyslang Transient Witticisms

Transient Witticisms: The Verbal & The Physical

  • Language:
    • “Dad-O, why is ‘Leonard’ part ‘nerd’?” asks Finn.”
      Yeah,” adds Henry, “and is ‘Peter’ made of poop? ‘Pee-turd!'”
    • “Ah-froot-erzayn, Dad-O,” Henry tells me. “That’s how fruit says Auf Wiedersehen.”
    • Finn: “What’s the English word for guacamole?”
      Margot: “Guacamole.”
      Finn: “What’s the Spanish word, then?”
      Margot: “Guacamole.”
      This is blowing his mind. 🙂
    • Finn explained family slang to his teacher today: “My dad calls me ‘sucka,’ and I enjoy it!”
    • “‘Damn,'” says Henry, quoting his mom, then explains: “She’s talking about a little wall that holds back water.”
    • Henry: “Dad-O, let’s give that road a hit!”
      Me: “…?”
      Finn, translating: “He means ‘Let’s hit the road!'”
  • The human bod:
    • I’m not sure the boys drew the right lessons from “The Little Engine That Could.” “Dad-O, we’ll grab those mean engines & pee in their funnels!”
    • Henry spies me from the bathroom, his eyes twinkling: “I’m gonna use my large intestine!” Thanks for sharing, buddy :-P!
    • We got an eyeful of elephant anatomy at the Oakland Zoo. “That guy must have a *really* big large intestine!” observes Henry.
    • Finn’s resisting independence: “I’m not gonna poop by myself at kindergarten, or in high school, or even in *college*!”
    • “I’m pretty sure I popped out of Mom-O as a 3-year-old,” says Finn, “’cause I don’t remember being a 1- or 2-year-old.”
Babyslang Transient Witticisms

Transient Witticisms: Sewage plants, buttcheeks, and fuhgeddaboudit

  • “Dad-O,” says Finn out of the blue, “I think New Yorkers speak a language called ‘New.'” Cue discussion of ‘fuhgeddaboudit,’ ‘badabing,’ etc.
  • “Dad-O,” whispers an excitedly conspiratorial Finn, “when it’s just boys around, let’s say ‘buttcheeks,’—just not when Mom-O’s here.” (“Yeah, buttcheeks!!” adds Henry.)
  • Half asleep on his feet, Henry uses the bathroom & says “Auf Wiedersehen, pee pee.” Endlessly surprising, these guys…
  • “Dad-O, why is it a sewage treatment ‘plant’?” asks Finn. I explain that auto plants make autos, etc. “Oh,” he says, “so the sewage plant makes poop!” 
  • Homophonic fun with the big guy: “‘Dye’? Does it go into your clothes and make the grayness, like, die off?” Well yeah, kinda!
  • Finn claims the sitter let them watch “Pee-pee-est Kids.” Took me a sec to decode: ah, “PBS Kids”!

The New Western Canon

Finn’s recently taken an interest in “writing books,” his at-school technique of stapling together a few sheets of paper, then scribbling down some random marks. The other night he took me on a tour of his oeuvre:

“This one,” he said, pointing at a blob-covered set of sheets, “is called ‘Donde Estan Los Dots?’ And this one”—a bunch of lines—”is called ‘Donde Esta El Sharp Thing?’ And this one,” he said with great pride, pointing at yet more randomness, “is called ‘The Terrifying Pig That Split Me In Half With A Cross-Tie.'” I’ll admit, I did not see that last bit coming. 🙂

Transient Witticisms

Transient Witticisms: Finnspañol & More

  • Español:
    • Breathless Finn runs in sounding like he’s cracked the secret to cold fusion: “Dad-O, there’s even a Spanish word for ‘Spanish’! It’s ‘Spañol!”
    • “El cerdo!” says Finn out of the blue.
      “Yeah, and what’s el cerdo?” I ask.
      “A pig who speaks Spanish!”
    • Finn wonders about our friend’s “Ram jeep.” “What’s a ‘Durango’? Maybe it means ‘ram’ in Spanish.”
  • Gluteus Minimus:
    • Lego time spontaneously turns political: “Dad-O, this is Obama. ‘Come here, Romney, gimme your butt cheeks to kick!'” (Unprompted by me!)
    • “Dad-O, what was that shadow?” asks Henry. “Well, was it itching its butt?” asks Finn. “‘Cause then it was me.”
    • “Henry!!” yells Finn. “If you don’t stop that, I’ll kick your butt! [pause] Dad-O, kick his butt!!” (I’m just hired muscle.)
  • Questionable parenting:
    • I probably shouldn’t have told Finn to “get out of my junk.” He now lowers his head & runs yelling, “I’m aiming for your *junk*!!”
    • I confront stick-wielding Finn: “Were you aiming for my head??” “No,” he says sheepishly. “I was aiming for your crotch.” (That’s not better!)

Watch out for flying Whittle Boards

The other night during T.A.L.B., Finn reminded me that we like our stories to involve policemen rappelling down from helicopters. “Can we talk about the whittle boards?” he asked. I was kind of baffled, and he attempted to clarify: “Yeah, you know, whittle boards. Whittle boards, like this!” and began flapping his wings. Ah, Little Birds! He said, “Now every time I want to hear about whittle boards, I’ll just flap like this!” You’ve got a deal, son. 🙂