The Lad: a phrase book.


April 6, 2014 by Dadinator

Kids say the darndest things, right? It was a TV show, so it must be true. They have strange mispronunciations and a kind of verbal shorthand that makes parents go “awwwwwww”. Well our boy never really did it. He used to say “Oc-copter” for Helicopter, but that’s it. He never called a cat a “miaow miaow” or a car a “broom broom” or counted in a funny way or said “Pasketti” (I did that, I’m told) or anything like that. I have no idea why exactly, but in some ways I feel slightly jibbed as a parent as I don’t have funny stories about what he says.


My son does have a talent for odd catch phrases. It’s like he has his own little set of idioms that he bandies around – and I want to record these for posterity. Thus this post and thus the following 8 phrases my boy uses to communicate and make sense of the world around him. Some are odd, but they all have their own logic behind them that, as much as anything can, paints a clear picture of my little Lad. Enjoy

1: “Oh La-ad…..”

He and I have a special way to communicate. We use the chorus of “Mandy” by Barry Manilow to communicate. This is the song:

Now let me explain. I have sung the lines: “Oh La-ad, you came and you found me a turkey, on my vacation away from workey” many many times to my boy. It’s a line from The Last Temptation of Homer, an episde of The Simpsons – I know The Simpsons far better than I know Barry Mannilow. I fact it took about 4 minutes googling to find both the real title of the song and that it was by Barry Manilow… And that it was called “Mandy”…

Nowadays he inserts his own words to describe how he is feeling and what he wants. Here’s an example:

Me(sung): Oh La-ad

Lad(sung): You wanted to eat a rice cake, but dad said it’s dinner time soon.

Or something like that. We get somewhat funny looks when we do this in public.

2: You need to be patient

The Lad often talks to himself in the second person, like he’s reminding himself of things. “You need to be patient” is a phrase he has learned by osmosis from The Mamanator and I. This probably tells you a bit about our conversations with our boy….

Recently he was at the doctor’s surgery with The Mamanator and he clearly wanted to climb up the doc’s desk, pull out all the cables from her computer and try to either eat them or stick them in his ear. He once pulled a computer’s power plug out of the wall in a doctor’s office, so we aren’t being paranoid. We know full well what he is capable of. Anyway, the Mamnator prevented it from happening again. Once he had been put on the ground and told it was not on he looked at his mum and said loudly “You need to be patient”. The doctor nearly wet herself laughing, and asked The Lad “have you heard that a few times?”. He has. “You need to be patient” is often paired with “you need to wait” or “you need to wait your turn”.

NB this phrase is often immediately followed by a DEFCON 7 tantrum. So his idea of patient and our idea of patient might not quite align, gentle reader.

2: I don’t think that’s a very good idea

This one has a long back story that stretches back to our pre-kid days. My wife and I are Greek Theatre nerds, and it comes from that. Greek theatre employs a chorus. They’re like a crowd scene. They look at what’s going on, comment on it and generally whine a lot without contributing to the plot. Once long ago I helped stage a highly abridged version of a trilogy of plays called “The Oresteia” by a guy called Aeschylus. Our aim was to try to contract this story as much as possible, performing all 3 1.5 hour plays in 5 minutes. Our chorus spent most almost the entire performance chanting “I don’t think that’s a very good idea” in a deep voice to the main characters, and being promptly ignored. This is a pretty good summary of the role of the chorus in Greek Tragedy by the way.

So at some point in the recent past I started chanting “I don’t think that’s a very good idea” to the lad. And now he’s doing it to himself when he realises or is told that something might not be a good idea (picking up a kitchen knife, touching the oven, climbing a book shelf – you know, the usual). He uses more of a robot voice to say “I don’t think that’s a very good idea” to himself… Before going and doing it anyway.

3: The ball bumped into the Tombilboo Tree/The Pinky Ponk went PONK!/Upsy Daisy’s asleep!…… (insert any number of permutations involving the characters of “In The Night Garden”)

I don’t get that show. I used to love it’s sleep-inducing effect on my boy, but that was a long time ago…. Today I find the best thing about it is that the narrator is Derek Jacobi, and he is so cool he has played both The Master recently in Dr. Who, and Claudius, the emperor of rome (that was a long time ago, Patrick Stewart was in it – wearing a wig). The rest of it is tedious, trite and brain numbing. I guess that’s why it works as a bedtime show for little ones, it puts the brain to sleep. It consists of a bunch of doll/puppet like characters engaged in such hijincks as losing and finding stones, riding vehicles, getting lost, having their pants fall down etc. etc. etc. The plots are vapid, infantile and repetitive.

The Lad loves it. So much so he will casually tell people about what the various characters are up to for absolutely no reason. “The Pinky Ponk bumped into the tree” he’ll say when I ask him to eat more breakfast. “Upsy Daisy is in bed”, he’ll say as we walk down the street. “The Tombliboo’s trousers fell down” he’ll announce to his friend as they drive play cars together. I’m sure it enriches all our lives to know about the details of a bunch of costumed characters who can’t talk.

4: “The Power’s gone” or “It’s run out of batteries”.

I know where he picked that one up, it was us.Did you know that sometimes TV’s can run out of batteries? That the power can just suddenly “go” from all kinds of devices? Phones, tablets, things that make annoying noises etc etc etc…. “We can’t” is so much easier to say than “we won’t”, beleive me I’ve tried “we won’t” before. “We’re not watching TV because Daddy said no” quickly changes into “yes yes, the power’s gone” in the face of sobbing. It’s an easy out, but I’m sure it’s one many parents use. Right?

Yeah. I know. We’re terrible.

6: “He smells nice”

I’m checking nappies. You know what that means – well parents do – a combination of sniffing and foraging through your child’s crotch to determine if they need a change or not. It’s all pretty standard untill I declare he smells of something , poo or pee or he just plain stinks.

I am immediately rebuked with the assertion “It smells nice!”

It does not, in fact, smell nice. It smells like an abomination.

7. Once upon a time there was a boy….

He likes to tell stories about himself. His best one so far went like this:

“Once upon a time there was a boy called The Lad, and he needed to be patient. Then he ate some eggs. The End. I want the television”. But he’s told many others. You’ll also noticed how these phrases cross over.


This one is always said in all caps. Every single time. In the past we consoled our mid-tantrum boy by telling him “Yes, yes it’s very hard. You’re two”. So being a word sponge our boy has decided he doesn’t need us to say it to him, he’ll do it himself. So now this phrase is only ever uttered at the height of his emotional distress because he hasn’t been given another apple to take two bites out of and throw away, because the TV isn’t showing the show he wants or because the time taken between his request and its fulfilment has been greater than zero seconds.

We no longer tell him that he is two. He seems to know that he is very very TWOOOOOOOOOOO!.

The Lass:

I thought I would mention some sounds The Lass has been making recently, and attempt to interpret them for you, dear readers. She has a slowly developing vocabulary of gurgles and chortles which I’m sure will one day form a language like our human language. But not just yet….

Ba ba ba ba ba ba ba…….. ba ba ba….. ba

I think this translates to something like “Oh, this is interesting I think this is interesting, isn’t it interesting?” She tends to say this one to herself while she is trying to move/roll/pull herself through the world, experiencing it in a new way every day.

Wyfff baaa psssst…

I think this translates as “Why doesn’t milk come out of this chest? And whats with all the hair. Maybe if I head but it enough it will start to give me milk”. It’s something she says as she head buts my sternum, presumably trying to find the tap for my non-existent milk supply…

He he he haaaa heeeeeeee!

This means one thing: Yaaaay! The Chosen One is amused with me!. The “Chosen One” is The Lad, my little girl is besotted with her big brother. There is no one in the world who can make her smile as wide or her laugh as loud.


I think we are cultivating a healthy eccentricity in our two children. If you ever meet either of them in a dark alley, at least you’ll have an idea of what they are saying.

Do your children out there speak in bizarre catch phrases? Share and share alike! Make me feel a little less weird.


2 thoughts on “The Lad: a phrase book.

  1. Haha this amused me greatly 🙂
    The Little Mister used to have his own language for a lot of things. I wish I’d written more down. He still calls the air con a “gog ock” even though he’d have to know how to say it correctly. It’s his own special word.
    I’m just excited that after months of “no”, he’s started saying “yes”!
    He calls easter eggs “bunny chocolate” and he’s seen AFL ads on the TV where a song repeats “the boys are back”…he just randomly runs around the house singing, “Theboysarebacktheboysareback”. He’ll see little girls at the park and call them ladies. So cute haha.
    I just love seeing the world through his eyes (and ears)!

  2. mikecbay says:

    Oh man. I was at Repco the other day, and when the attendant asked if I needed any help, my eldest son replied, “My daddy dropped the car keys down the drain!” Of course, embarrassed, I had to say I actually did not, and then I cursed Peppa Pig under my breath.

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