Whenever the Toddler picks up a new phrase, he starts experimenting with it to determine its appropriate context. A sad one we had recently – which I mentioned here – was “Goway”. He used it to get me to move aside, or to stop interfering with his projects. I tried to introduce more appropriate language for each of these situations with some success, only to be blindsided by a new use for the offending phrase. I had told the Toddler off for something – drawing on the table, pulling Fat Cat’s tail, ripping the pages of a favourite book, something like that – and made it clear that if this happened again he would go onto the Time Out chair. He sat hunched up on his toy aeroplane and summed up my speech for me: “Goway S.”

“No!” I exclaimed, “Not go away S! I love you, I don’t want you to go away. I just want you to stop [using DVDs as shoes]. That’s all.”

His latest new phrase is much more fun. It’s “Phlew!” [phew, but I’m sure you spotted that]. His use of it is original but generally accurate enough. Here are two recent examples:

1. The Baby is screaming in her bouncy chair while I run around trying to find socks, coats, shoes, snowsuits and bags to go out for the afternoon. The Toddler is keeping himself busy rearranging Story Corner with mixed results. There are books everywhere and all the cushions are scattered around the room. I come back in with his outdoor wear and announce, just barely managing to keep my cool, that it is time to go to the Children’s Centre.

“Oh phlew!” the Toddler says, abandoning his interior decorating project.

2. I am baking pancakes for lunch. In good Dutch tradition I start with savoury toppings, so I serve the Toddler a cheese pancake. Not my best effort ever, it is slightly too crisp and not cheesy enough. He picks at it half heartedly and as soon as I go back into the kitchen to bake more, he abandons his plate and gets back to playing. I come in with the second pancake and a squeezy bottle of Dutch syrup.

His face lights up. “Ah! Syrup! Phlew!”

He’d obviously been worried that the whole pancakes-for-lunch idea was going to be a wash out, but what a relief! Mummy has delivered the goods after all.

3. The kids and I have come home from a trip to the supermarket. It is 5pm – that infamous time of day when normally very charming children shatter glass with their screams and empty bookcases in disgust at dinner being tardy. My husband comes out to help get the kids and the shopping in. I gratefully leave him indoors with the children while I go out to get more bags. I come back in. The Baby is crying and the Toddler is jumping on the sofa. He jumps off and runs up to me.

“Oh phlew! Mummy back!” he says.

“He is expressing the sentiments of the entire family,” my Husband sighs.

“Phlew” now joins the ranks of the Toddler’s other favourite phrases, which include:
“Oh bovver!” – “Dear, dear” – “Goodness me!” – “I did it!” – “Come back here” – “Come and see” and “Oy!”


3 responses

    • Wonderful. Those words give a great insight into how they are trying to make sense of the world. We have a whole vocabulary of toddler-isms that we now use almost without irony in everyday life, like “anotis!” for “there it is!” and “sossy” for “sorry”.

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