Hock rots. Puggled nose. Eye gron gree. Up up ter.
These are just a few samples of the first words used by our offspring. When the Seanster needed to blow his nose, for instance, he told his mother that his nose was puggled. It was a short jump from plugged so it was easy to figure out, and it was so endearing that both B and I started using puggled instead of plugged. The word has stuck with us to this day, as has Sean’s stated desire to satisfy an empty stomach: Eye gron gree.
Helicopters are up up ters. The first six months or so after Tim started talking were spent endlessly reciting nouns. He pointed at everything, everything and asked, “Whatsa?” Talking to him during those six months was like reading a dictionary out loud. One day he pointed at a helicopter and asked, so I told him. His rather fitting version came out up up ter. On the rare occasions when a helicopter appears in the sky, either B or I will almost always enthusiastically announce it to the other by pointing and shouting “Up up ter!” – usually drawing quizzical looks from passers-by.
Hock rots goes way back, and in our house only I use it, which is fitting because it originated with me, although I didn’t know that until a year or two ago. For the longest time I thought it was German or Czech or maybe even Polish, because my parents and their parents used to babble to each other using a mash-up of words and phrases from those languages, either to talk around the kids or just because, so naturally enough I thought hock rots must have been one of those words. On the few occasions that I wondered how it was spelled, I imagined it was something like haakrautz or hocrocz, but I was never able to find it in any dictionary no matter how many different variations I imagined. I always knew what it meant, though. That was never a secret. Whenever I started to hiccup, Mom or Dad would ask me, “Got the hock rots?”
Not long ago, after she described something using a smattering of German, I asked her about hock rots. “Where’s that word come from? I’ve never been able to find it.”
She laughed at me. “It came from you!” she said. Like Timmy’s up up ter, I mangled hiccups into hock rots, and Mom and Dad kept using it. I don’t get the hock rots much any more, but B does, so I still get to use it.