“Mom, could you make me some Cock-a-doodle soup?”

“Some what?”

“You know. Some Cock-a-doodle soup.”

“Oh…Cup-o-Noodle soup?”

“Yes. Some Cock-a-doodle soup.”


Well, of course I made my darling four-year-old some Cock-a-doodle soup. I boiled up a pot of water right there on the spot, so excited to say the words “Cock-a-doodle soup” again. How fun is that?

I’ve decided these childhood vocabulary slip-ups are one of motherhood’s simple pleasures. I can’t stand to correct them. They add so much color and spice to what could easily be just plain, blah, boring soup.

For example, we have “girl cheese sandwiches” at our house. If you’re really hungry you can have a “woman cheese sandwich,” but you have to finish the girl cheese first.

Forty years ago my oldest brother misheard the word automatic to be “auto-magic.” After all, supermarket glass door, garage doors, elevator doors, traffic lights– are all magical to a small child, right? Well, the magic stuck. To this day my own little ones will describe the hand faucets in public bathrooms, you know the ones with the teeny sensors instead of twisty knobs, as being “auto-magic.” It’s like sprinkling a bit of Pixie dust in mundane places you’d rather not be.

Just this week I have been asked how to spell “Table of Continents” (and it was not for a geology assignment), and if I would please share my box of Ginger Mints. Why does the Junior part of my Mints sound so dull and flat now? Ginger’s so much more fun to say. Ginger. Ginger. And I think my four year old may be on to something–they really should make a ginger flavor. Mmmm…ginger dipped in chocolate… (Now that’s another post.)

And it’s not just children who mishear things. It happens to us adults too. My good friend belted out what she thought was the title classic “One Ton Tomato” for years until quite recently. It’s hardly her fault–I’m not sure how many Americans know what a Guantanamera is. But every time I hear the tune while standing in an auto-magic elevator, I can’t help but giggle as I picture a tomato the size of an elephant perched on top of a piano and wondering why this ultra-suave latino is serenading it.

My mother thought her granddaughter was saying “Big Ol’ Cup. I want my Big Ol’ Cup!” So she retrieved a very large drink for the little miss before she realized she was saying “Big Girl Cup” a.k.a., not a bottle.

It’s amazing what we think we hear. Which is why I want to be very clear with my children on a few particular subjects. I never want my compliments and praise to be misinterpreted as animal sounds or worse, bypass their ears completely and come across as a Peanuts Gang adult–mwah mwah mwah mwah.

I want them to know how much I love them, how much God loves them, and how important it is to love others. (You know the song and scripture “Love one another, by this shall men know ye are my disciples…” Well, I used to think “Shallmenow” was one word and it must be closely related to the marshmallow. When you’re six you’ll do anything to tie candy into a Sunday School lesson.)

I want the rules of our house to be clear. I want a feeling of unconditional love to never come across as muddled. I don’t want them to miss the true meaning of life, even if we are mixing up the meaning of a few words here are there.

So when I say, “Guess how much do I love you” and instantly they stretch out their skinny arms and yawn, “Thiiiiiiiiiiis much!” I can’t help but smile because their response is, well–