Cake? I WUV Cake!

Speaking the Language of Our Grandkids

Rob Reid, design by Janae Breunig

Late this past winter, a storm dumped 11 inches of snow on the Chippewa Valley. Eleven inches that quickly melted due to abnormally high temperatures. Three days after the snowstorm, I stood alone in my driveway, looked at my yard and said aloud, “Where dit go?” I am a 61-year-old father of four grown children, grandfather of four, I have a master’s degree under my belt, I teach future teachers at a state university, and I said, “Where dit go?” Not “Wow, that melted fast” or “Better get my lawn-mower tuned up” or “Global warming is a real danger.”  No, I said, “Where dit go?” And as I said it, I raised both eyebrows, lifted my hands, and shrugged my shoulders for physical emphasis. Like a kid.

You had to be there.

There are certain words and phrases my wife Jayne and I have picked up from our children, and even now – long after they’ve grown up and left the house – those cute little kid-speak expressions still shoot out of our mouths. “Where dit go?” is one that all our kids said when they were little. When our son Sam was a toddler in his car seat, whenever we would cross a bridge, he would point and say, “River here, river there.” We thought it was so cute and brilliant of him to make such an observation. Now, without fail, we drive over a bridge, no kids in the car, and say to each other, in rote fashion, “River here, river there.”

Today, we gleefully pounce on words and sentences our grandchildren say. When grandson Parker was q years old, he told his grandmother, who was heading up the stairs at a fast clip, “Swowee, Grandma. Swowee!” He had taken his own parents’ instructions to go up and down the stairs slowly and carefully, and decided to pass this safety tip to his dear grandmother. Now, when I am driving and I hit a curve at a speed faster than necessary, the two of us will quietly say, “Swowee! Swowee!”

While waiting for a particularly long light to change, I quietly chant, “MY turnnnnn ... MY turnnnn...” When grandson Wesley was learning about sharing, his mother taught him to be patient and “wait his turn.” Wesley took that to mean that if he said “MY turnnnnn” enough times, he could immediately have the toy the other child was currently playing with. I have since squirreled that phrase to the back of my mind to have it emerge when necessary as a magical incantation to speed up the traffic light.

Jayne and I spend a lot of time outdoors, and we frequently spot a “ball-deagle” in the sky. We used to spot “bald eagles” until grandson Harry put his own spin on the species. We two adults think it is too cute to pass up and we giggle like idiots when it is just the two of us, again sans kids, and spot a “ball-deagle.”

Not all the fun phrases the little ones in our lives spout catch on. We laughed when daughter Laura told us that she was waiting for Wesley to stop saying “Neck-flix” instead of Netflix. I never once afterwards said to anyone that I was going to see what’s on “Neck-flix.” A person can handle only so much cuteness.

Our favorite phrase, however, was another Wesley saying. When he was 2 years old, Jayne introduced him to our backyard neighbor, Kay. Right away, upon hearing her name, Wesley said, “Cake? I WUV cake!” Today, every single time Jayne sees cake, she says, “Cake? I WUV cake!”

Is hanging onto these childlike phrases a form of nostalgia?

Is it a way to connect to our loved ones?

Does it keep us young at heart?

I wuv to think so.