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8 Things I Never Said When I Was 5

02/06/2015 11:50 am ET | Updated Apr 08, 2015
Nicki Gilbert

Most days draw to a close with a sigh of relief, a glass of wine, and a few quiet minutes remembering the funny, outlandish, infuriating somethings one of my kids uttered at some point during the day.

Maybe it was a word they know they shouldn't have said: the surprise "b*tch" which shattered like glass as it dropped from my girl's pale pink lips. Or a question that is comic in its beyond-his-years wisdom: "Mom, isn't it illegal for people to get married as young as you and Dad did?" (We were in our early 20s.) Sometimes it's a tiny, barely noticeable mispronunciation that is so addictively delicious I subtly ask them to repeat it throughout the day: jeams instead of jeans, pinktails, pagina for vagina.

These words, questions, and phrases "out of the mouths of babes" are always noteworthy for their hilarity, shock value, or unexpected insightfulness. But lately I've been paying attention to my 5-year-old's language for a different reason.

It's not the way I spoke back in 1979.

1. "Scroll." As in, "Mom, just scroll down and choose the Ninjago movie at the bottom." When I was 5, scroll was a noun, not a verb. It referred to a decree written on ancient, rolled-up parchment paper and read to the villagers by a man on a horse. Also I didn't really know that word, because I was 5.

2. "TV Guide." I grew up in South Africa, where we first welcomed television in the mid-'70s. We had one channel. It broadcast the test pattern pretty much all day, until it was time for the news at 8 p.m. No need for a TV guide. Which is how all my children have learned to read.

3. "Sweet." My post-millennial boy is the youngest of four. Not only has his vocabulary evolved for the 21st century, but he also speaks the lingo like a teenager.

Me: "Jed, you have soccer practice after school."

Him: "Sweet!"

4. "Doh." I do know The Simpsons is not considered appropriate viewing for a 5-year-old. But with two brothers way older than him, he blew right by Thomas and Curious George; even the evil Caillou didn't stick around for long. And yes, I know it's not Bart he identifies with. It's Homer. I pick my battles.

5. "Sushi." One of his first words. I was 25 before I delicately tasted sushi, and even then it took over 10 years before I'd eat more than an avocado roll. The only fish I ate at 5 was minced within an inch of its life and stuffed inside a stickful of breadcrumbs. This guy requests sushi for dinner on a weekly basis. Sometimes I feel like my grandmother with my confused brow and wrinkled nose.

6. "Buenas tardes. Mi nombre es Jed y tengo cinco anos." (Good afternoon. My name is Jed and I am 5 years old.) He speaks basic Spanish and Hebrew with perfect tense and accent, and I happily admit this has nothing to do with the 21st century and everything to do with an ability to learn languages quickly. What is different is the opportunity and accessibility to learn so many languages from such a young age.

7. "Appropriate." My kids span a range of eight years. They all have a lot to say about what they consider to be "appropriate" viewing, outings, bedtime, speech, food, tone, and activity for each other. The youngest usually has the loudest opinion of all. I had never heard this word at his age. Obviously we're not doing the best job enforcing it (see No. 4).

8. "I'm having a really bad day." Since I'm the one who determines exactly what it is he does most days, I accept responsibility if it's a bad one. And, being the 2015 parent I am, I encourage him to articulate how he feels when he feels it: "Use your words." He used them very loudly and very clearly on a crowded train recently, which caused raised eyebrows, a few blatantly disapproving glares thrown my way, and a lot of understanding chuckles. Five-year-olds have always had bad days. But now they talk about them.

When I was 5, it was a different decade, a different era, even a different world. I hear these new-sounding words out of the mouth of my babe, and I appreciate just how far we've come from rotary dialing and meatloaf for dinner.

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