We're called parents, but a more accurate title for us is "underpaid translators." Because we need to take what our lying, sometimes petulant children say and convert it to something that's not so easily uncovered -- the truth. While I've gotten significantly better at it over the past few years, I won't pretend to be an expert. I still occasionally take what my kids say at face value (crazy, I know) and treat their words with the same respect as I would an adult. But ultimately, I've come to determine that children are salaciously deceptive with their language...like crooked politicians side-stepping the truth. But I won't stand for it any longer. And I'm ready to hold these liars accountable for their actions.
With that said, here are some commonly-heard kid phrases and my literal interpretation of what they actually mean...
1. "I'm not talking to you ever again!"
You'll hear this shouted at you (or one of your other offspring) when kid #1 doesn't get what he wants.
Actual meaning: I will not make direct eye contact with you for 45 seconds, at which point I will have completely forgotten about my alleged vow of silence and demand a cup of apple juice.
2. "I haven't watched TV in forever!"
I hear this all the time. "I haven't [insert kid activity] in forever!" Blah, blah.
Actual meaning: I haven't watched TV in about an hour. But since I'm only four, that hour encompasses more of my life than I can logically handle. Please hold me.
3. "I hate you."
My kids hurl this at me on a daily basis. It used to hurt, but not since I figured out the translation.
Actual meaning: I actually don't hate you. I like you just fine, but I can't stand that you aren't letting me ruin your life with my intolerable bullsh*t.
4. "I'm not hungry."
This one's fairly straightforward.
Actual meaning: I'm not hungry for dinner. Totally down for a brownie sundae, though.
5. "I saw Superman at the store today!"
Substitute any fictional character in Superman's place and you've been there. Kids claim to see things (or people) they really aren't seeing.
Actual meaning: I saw some guy in a Superman shirt on the check-out line at Burger King. I tend to jump to conclusions and exaggerate.
6. "I'm too old for Elmo."
It used to make me sad when I heard this. But now I get it.
Actual meaning: Ever since I turned six, I have this pressing need to convince you that I've matured beyond Sesame Street, but really, I will watch it when I don't think you're looking.
7. "Michael is my best friend at school."
The first time he said something like this, I instantly wanted to call Michael's parents and set up a playdate, like, that night. Then I realized...
Actual meaning: Michael and I have met exactly once, for 30 seconds. He does have a cool pair of Avengers sneakers, though, and that's really all that matters to me. In fact, his name might not even be Michael.
8. "This is the worst day of my life."
Sounds rather catastrophic.
Actual meaning: DVR cut off the last two minutes of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I'll live.
9. "This is the best day of my life."
Sounds rather significant.
Actual meaning: I ate ice cream while wearing my favorite shirt. That's pretty much it.
10. [Insert anything your child says to you between 12 and 5 in the morning]
When my first son was finally old enough to walk to my room in the middle of the night and request goods or services from me, my instinct was to give him what he wanted. Hungry? Have some food. Scared? Jump on in next to mommy and daddy. Years later, I've come to a much different conclusion.
Actual meaning: I'm actually fine. I just find great pleasure in ensuring you don't get a decent night's sleep for the rest of your 30s and 40s. But since we're both already up, would you mind grabbing me a glass of water?
Feel free to print this out and stash it in your pocket between the hours of 12:00 a.m. and 11:59 p.m. Because that's when most of the BS will come out. You're welcome and happy translating.
To continue the conversation and add your own translations, feel free to contact me on Twitter @JoeDeProspero using hashtag #kidlanguage.