Kids (and parents) say the darndest things

Three children sit on a couch

Nearly two years ago, I wrote this column with almost the exact same headline. The idea for the original piece came to me after I started amassing a ton of funny “Jackson-isms” in an iPhone note that were uttered by my then-3-year-old with a burgeoning vocabulary. A lot has changed in those almost two years, but I still keep a note capturing Jackson’s quips — and a comparison between the two makes the communication I was having with my kiddo two years ago seem a bit more quaint than that of today!

It’s not just youngsters who blurt out some oddball comments over the course of a day; I’ve found myself (particularly when I’m solo with three children under the age of five for prolonged periods!) being jarred by some of the things that come out of my mouth. Before having kids, I certainly wouldn’t have expected to say the sentence “Put your penis away” as many times as I do every day. 

So, here’s a look at the weird and wonderful way these moms and kids are communicating, starting with my almost-5-year-old: 

I’m scared of aliens, monsters and pugs.

At this age, Jackson is very honest, very matter of fact and very random. I get the aliens and monsters — he sleeps with his blanket entirely over his head every night because he thinks some type of night creature is going to get him. But the pugs? No idea where that came from — or that he even knew what pugs were! And when I questioned him on it, he breezed right onto a new subject. I’m learning that, at this age, you kind of have to just go with the flow.

My spaghetti tastes like reindeer fur.

This was another out-of-left-field comment that stopped me in my tracks after I asked Jackson how his dinner tasted. A preschooler’s creativity knows no bounds. And he will use every ounce of it to try to get out of eating his meal.

“Flat penises” and “stretch pasta”

Jackson is at the fun age where he has a robust vocabulary and sometimes talks like a wizened old man; throughout the day today, he dropped phrases like “Of course, you silly goose” and “You need to just chill out, Mommy.” But he also sometimes can’t find the words he needs — and so he gets rather literal to come up with them. 

When watching me change the twins’ diapers recently, he asked about Avery’s “flat penis,” which I think will now forever be part of our household lingo. And when trying to figure out the difference between spaghetti and macaroni as his proposed dinner options, he told me he preferred the “stretch pasta” (spaghetti), which is now its given name. 

Can it rain on a birthday party? 

Last weekend, on the way to one of Jackson’s friend’s birthday parties, while looking out the car window at the building clouds, he quietly asked this question. It was a pool party and he was nervous he and his friends wouldn’t be able to swim in the bad weather. It made me chuckle how sweetly naive I forget that he can sometimes be. 

Were we at home doing stuff the day the Liberty Bell cracked? 

Just like his still-budding understanding of weather and science, Jackson’s grasp of history is still developing. After a visit to Center City and a stop by the Liberty Bell, Jackson was preoccupied with what we were doing the day it cracked and couldn’t fully grasp the passage of time and our non-existence hundreds of years ago.

Do volcanoes get mail?

A valid question. Along the same lines of Jackson trying to piece together things he knows with those he doesn’t was today’s zinger: Did dinos have a Jesus dino too? I was a bit flummoxed. 

Do you not want the other moms to know about your eight arms? 

Probably two years ago, after complaining I needed more arms to get things done around the house, I jokingly told Jackson that, when pressed, a mole on my wrist actually sprouts six more arms. Time after time, he forces my finger to the mole (it only functions when I press it, of course!) and I exaggeratedly jump around and knock him down like arms just shot out from my sides. Recently, he was curious why I hadn’t unveiled my superpower arms in front of his friends’ moms. All along, I thought he too was just playing along with me, so I was floored but found it incredibly endearing that he actually believed me.


Two moms, each holding one child in.their arms, as a small child stands in front of them.

I love keeping track of the silly and serious things Jackson says because they provide such a snapshot of who he is as a maturing little person. Just two years ago, everything was “Why, why, why?” and today, his curiosity has gotten so much deeper, as has his understanding of the world around him. While his words are a window into the little boy he’s becoming, the things Ashlee and I sometimes find ourselves saying are just as enlightening about the type of parents we’re evolving into (and also the chaos that exists within our house!). 

Why would you think it’s a good idea to put a toothbrush in your ear? 

Sometimes, the things the kids do just baffle me so much that I have to question the obvious — like why Jackson would be mining in his ear with the pointed end of his toothbrush. I know I’ll rarely get a coherent answer, but I often find myself so stumped by their outrageous behavior that I try to reason with them like they’re rational adults. 

If you’re in the fridge, you can’t come on a walk.

Sometimes I take another tactic and accept the outrageousness. For some reason, the kids are drawn to the inside of our fridge like they’re the magnets that hang on the outside; the second they hear it crack open, they flock and try to climb inside. I can pull the babies out (though usually once I pry one out, the other squeezes through to try to pull open the veggie bin or throw all the first-shelf food on the floor) but, this time, I gave up on wrestling Jackson out and went about getting us ready for our walk (knowing his monster fear wouldn’t let him stay in the kitchen solo for too long!).

Spit the dog food out. 

Avery is on a feeding tube and her feeding therapy has gotten her to the point of eating a few bites of a graham cracker or veggie straw a day — but she will inexplicably shove a handful of dog food in her mouth every time I dare to take my eyes off her. 

Stop licking the toilet.

Children are gross; there’s no two ways about it. 

“Avery’s eating LEGOs.” That’s OK.

When Jackson was a baby, I couldn’t have even conceived of letting him within arms’ length of LEGOs for fear of his choking. That Jackson recently tipped me off that Avery had popped some in her mouth and I wasn’t moved to stop her (I was elbow deep in August’s diaper blowout) is a testament to how differently the first child is treated. (In my defense, they were long LEGOs she couldn’t have swallowed and I was five feet away!). When you’re outnumbered by your kids, you’re constantly triaging who needs your attention at that second — and the poop explosion took the cake here.

No penises at the dinner table. 

Actually, breakfast, lunch and dinner table. It’s a constant. 

Take the bungee cord off your neck. 

Not a day goes by that I don’t correct one of the kids for doing something magnificently dangerous. “Don’t shoot darts at your brother’s forehead.” “Stop hanging on the blinds.” “Take that phone charger out of your mouth.” As monotonous as I probably sound to them in my exhausted resignation, they never cease to surprise me! 

I plan to keep my iPhone note of Jackson-isms going and expand it to include the twins as their vocabulary grows — because as much as modern-day parents may capture loads of photos and videos every day, it’s those sometimes silly, sometimes eye-opening things that fall out of their mouths that we often forget as time goes on. And I don’t want them to fall through the cracks. I’m a big believer in every person having their own unique voice, and even the littlest among us have a story to tell.