A few weeks ago, we had a parent-teacher conference at Em’s preschool. He was 19-months-old at the time and I assure you, the absurdity here does not escape me. But this is the sort of thing that happens when you combine over-achieving, uppity parents with bloated, private school tuitions. They come up with parent-teacher conferences where terms like “fine motor skills” and “sensory stimuli” are used in place of “he mashed Play-Doh” or “we found him digging through the trash.”

Naturally, I got myself worked up over this meeting. When I was a kid, parent-teacher conferences usually didn’t include the part about how awesome I was.

“Aren’t you nervous?” I asked Toby Joe on the walk over.

“Why should I be nervous?”

“Because this is a teacher-parent conference.” Like that answer alone would sum up years worth of my getting into trouble. “Oh, I forgot, you were an honorable student.”

Em’s teachers started off by saying how great he is. And I’m surprised when the tell me that he doesn’t kick them in the guts and face when they’re changing his diaper. And I’m surprised to find out that he listens to them—all of them.

Then we move on to goals.

“We’re going to work on his pronunciation.”

They had to come up with something attainable for a 19-month-old, suggesting he find Higgs boson is setting the kid up for failure.

“Is there something we can do to help?” I asked.

“Just repeat things to him—clearly.”

Toby and I looked at one another and had one of those silent conversations couples tend to have. Then he continued.

“Now, I realize that the word ‘paci’ is already a bastardization of another word, but what you’re saying is we shouldn’t find his pronunciation more charming than the real one. So using ‘bappy’ instead of ‘paci’ is doing nothing to help him when it comes to pronunciation.”

It’s not like they were suggesting that he’s slow or anything. I know they were just doing their job—possibly too well considering the age group. And I’m not at all surprised given the pressure they get from some parents. But we aren’t those parents.

“I’m not giving up bappy.” I said. “It’s way better than paci. And I’m not ready to give up datadoo either.”

And I’m certain, that after you’ve seen this video, you’ll agree.

Datadoo is going to be hard to let go of.


  1. My 10 year old son said “dee dee” for thank you. We still say it around here.


  2. Cole was just entranced watching that! Funny.


  3. I love it! Jack calls his pacifier a bwah-bwah. Not sure why b/c we always called it a pacifier. We refuse to give it the word. We’re keeping “bop-beee” for “pocket” as well. The charming words will drift away eventually so I figure why miss out on some this toddler entertainment? We’ve stayed up late -we deserve a humorous “bwah-bwah” or two!


  4. Also wanted to mention we went through the silly parent-teacher conference thing, too. I was floored when I found out these conferences existed for his age. Ours was broken down into “always, sometimes and nevers” behavior. We received an assessment sheet which states several kinds of behavior and then identifies if your child does them “Always, Sometimes or Never.”
    For example, his included:
    Can do his animal sounds: Always.
    Listens to music: Always.
    Uses a utensil: Sometimes
    He only received two Nevers and one was “Catches the ball: Never.”
    Unfortunately, Jack appears to have a lot of my genes – in which case that task may always be marked: Never.


  5. My niece couldn’t pronounce Aunt Amy when she was little, it morphed into something that sounded more like Timmy, to this day she and everyone of my family members calls me Timmy around the kids, she is 6 now, and has a 16 month old baby sister who I hope will call me Timmy too:)


  6. First of all, hello, your kid knows letters at 20 months. He’s a genus. Secondly, I’m 28 and we still use words that I mispronounced as a child like forkhead (forehead) and underbrella (umbrella). Seriously, don’t sweat it. He’s awesome!


  7. It would help if I could actually spell “genius” but I think you’re getting what I’m saying. =)


  8. Joanie: Totally got it. Actually thought you meant to do that. (Let’s go with that. You totally meant to do that.)

    My little brother (6 years my junior) could not say Michele. I am still known as “shush-sha” to my father.


  9. So much of this stuff goes too far, and yes it takes some of the “charm” away from some pretty charming years. I could give you a litany of things I used to say incorrectly (like, “Hub oo” instead of “I love you”, and our entire family still uses that particular gem), and yet…I am now an adult that writes and edits the English language for a living. So if anyone thinks I am going to try to correct my son when he says “Keee!” when he means either the cat or thank you or hello, well, too bad. I think it’s cute.

    Someday, he will be a teenager who will think I am stupid, moronic, old-fashioned, and beyond hope, so I am going to feed off all the adorable cuteness while I can!


  10. Oh, and if anyone can translate “google google nine nine” for me, that’d be great — Matthew has been repeating that for a couple weeks now, and we have no idea what it means.


  11. re-fridge-a-dator


  12. That video just about made me cry. Maybe his teachers just want to understand him better or give you something to work towards. I agree with Milissa. These are some pretty charming years that you don’t want to speed through too quickly. When my son was probably Em’s age he said ‘booka’ for spoon. We still have no idea why except that we just learned that mouth in Spanish is boca. I don’t think he ever would have heard that Spanish word, but it’s the only thing that makes sense. He also said ‘T-Up’ for a certain chain toy store and ‘Ca-coo-a’ for a chain bulk product store. We still use these names sometimes. My advice is to write this stuff down because we didn’t. I know there are other words he used to say that I’ve forgotten. Also, my daughter used to say the ‘t’ sound for the ‘k’ sound. We used to have tookies in the tichen after dinner, and I miss that : )


  13. We still say “boomps” for spoon, which is what my now 14 y.o. son used to say. My 10 y.o. daughter called water “wah-wah-gagee”, which we also still use.

    It hasn’t held them back. ;-)


  14. My younger brother used to say “I don’t matter” instead of “it doesn’t matter.” The first time I think it broke my mom’s heart, but once we figured it out we all started using it. I’m 31 and my mom just said it yesterday!


  15. Michele Chaves April 15, 2009 at 4:35 pm

    Don’t place much emphasis on what they say as having any bigger meaning. You will find a wide range of teacher opinions in the years to come. Just talk to Emory a lot, which I know you do, and his vocabulary will naturally grow.


  16. Gage is 2 years and four months and he still calls his pacifier “my moogie”. It makes me laugh so I’m not going to correct him. If that keeps him out of Harvard someday, oh well. He can add that to the list of things that he blames me for…


  17. sam datadoo is much better than sam w.

    just sayin!


  18. Yeah, Em is super duper smart! And cute. Datadoo is probably the cutest thing I have ever heard come from a toddler!


  19. Theya can say words like veterinarian perfectly but we’ll always say deedots instead of apricots.


  20. My MIL has stacks of old calendars on which she used to write the cute goofy things her babies said. ONce my boy starts talking, I’ll be doing the same!

    Datadoo is adorable. And I agree. Em is a genus. Or genius. Or both!


  21. My younger brother called me Misa because he couldn’t pronounce my name. He still calls me that, and he’s 45 years old.


  22. Like Melissa said, my thirteen year old called cereal “sas soo” and nursing was “nunu” it stuck for years! He is getting A’s and B’s now!


  23. Oh heavens, he’ll be pronouncing like a pro soon enough.. Keep the Datadoo!


  24. Wow, I’m impressed he knows his letters already. Ellie knows B and E, and I think that’s it.

    Milk is “guck” and I like it so much that I don’t correct her, but my husband does. I wouldn’t mind if “guck” hung around for a while!


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