Some new nicknames I have for the kids’ feet have gotten me thinking about the many ways we parents refer to our children. Punkernoodle Two’s just started walking full time (she’s 14 months now) and so her feet are a major focus in the household. A few weeks ago we really got focused and vowed to get her out of Robeez and into proper shoes, in time for her transition to the toddler room at school. She hates shoes, probably because her feet are so pudgy she doesn’t really fit well into them. We are on our third test pair, ridiculous given the cost of baby shoes and the impossibly little time she’s actually worn any of them. A few days ago, after weeks of fitful dreams where I am desperately trying to squeeze her footsies into shoes in time, I suddenly figured out what these little feet of hers remind me of: Marshmallows. So I’ve been calling her Marshmallows-With-Toes. Good enough to eat, but very gooey.

Coincidentally, I’ve also been thinking a lot lately about Punkernoodle One’s feet. She turns 3 next month, and I think she’s in the midst of a major growth spurt. Everything about her is becoming long and lean – what once was pure pudge and then, later, still-respectable toddler chub has morphed into sleek, stubborn muscle. She reminds me of a bean pole. In light of the baby’s new marshmallow moniker, I have nicknamed the older one’s newly stretched-out feet Silver Cohos (think salmon). I dunno why, they just seem like long swimming salmon to me, flitting through the water searching out new feeding grounds.

This weekend Punkernoodle One jokingly called me and her dad “Loveys,” a term I use for the kids. One of dozens of terms, in fact, that I’ve labeled them over the past three years (or almost four years if you count, properly, the first pregnancy – during which I referred to the growing fetus as a walnut, peach, plum, etc. etc.) I’ve called them boobies, boos, pumpkins, noodles, chickens, Lola Granola, Coconut, boogers, nuggets, bugs, monsters, monkeys, muffins, mamas (that one defines explanation, since they’re clearly not changing MY diapers), and of course, Punkernoodle. That was invented by Lukas when Punkernoodle One was a baby and, clearly, exploded from there.

The nicknames, like most parental terms of endearment, have no real rhyme or reason. They come out of nowhere, emerging organically while, for instance we are cooking dinner. Pasta? Well then, “little meatball” might be the name-of-the-week. There does, however, seem to be a well-defined food pattern. Do we worship our children as we do great food? Is it that they infuse our lives with some tasty, indescribable joy,  regular tidbits of tediousness and crumbs of chaos notwithstanding?

Who knows. And who knows when we’ll stop this madness. Will I refer to my girls only by their given names by the time they turn 10? 20? Maybe when they have babies of their own whom I can torment with weird references? Not likely. What was that my own mommy called me just the other week? Was it … gulp … (blush) … little sweet potato…?

Who, me?


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