Raising Richmond: Speaking the language of family

You know, sometimes “poop” can be a good thing.

Editor’s note: Kelly is off this week, so RVANews’s own Nathan Cushing is here to offer some insight into life as a newish dad.

We didn’t have a remote control. We had The Power.

No, I wasn’t raised in a family of TV-loathing Luddites who dressed in tattered cloaks and conjured the mystical forces of The Universe.

We liked TV just fine (probably more than we should’ve), and throughout the years we hoarded the remotes to prove it. But we never called it a remote, or remote control, or even the clicker. We called it The Power.

Like many boys that grew up in the 1980s, I loved He-Man. I especially loved when he turned from Prince Adam into He-Man by simply heaving the Power Sword into the air and issuing the proclamation: “By the power of Grayskull…I have the power!”

As an avid viewer of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, I saw that sword-raising scene a lot. So did my dad, and it left an impression.

I don’t recall the precise moment, but this is what I think happened: there was bickering. Dad wanted to watch something on TV, Mom wanted to watch something else, and I want to watch something completely different (probably He-Man). My dad grasped the remote control in his hand, lifted it above his head and declared, “I have the power!” before changing the channel and settling the matter.

From that moment, however that moment actually played out, the remote control became The Power. The name became so commonplace (we sill use it today) that I’d sometimes forget just how goofy a name it was. Once at a friend’s house, we were watching TV and I wanted to change the channel.

“Where’s the power?” I asked.

“The what?”

The Cushing Dictionary may not be an Oxford-like tome full of knick-knack words and phrases, but it contains the lexicon of my childhood and family. Both my younger sister and I, when we each began babbling as babies, called a body of water “yai-yo.” Even into our teens, my father would occasionally use the term when we’d pass by a lake, ocean, or river while driving in the car. None of us flinched. He was only pointing at yai-yo.

Most of my additions to the family dictionary came early in life. I called my security blanket my mag-goo, the pacifier was my fow-fow. Taken together, most words in the Cushing Dictionary either sound like gobbledygook or seem odd, but it’s ours.

— ∮∮∮ —

Words are still central in my life now with my wife and daughter. For instance, my wife and I often refer to our two cats not as cats but as our bears. Most of the time they’re just our bee-bees.

As with most couples, my wife and I have developed our own lexicon of love. Before marrying, we started calling each other booboo, my wife’s playful derivation of the more common boo used to signify your significant other.

It’s a playful term, booboo, but a loving one too. In the dark moments before a movie plays in a theater, my wife may reach for my hand. “Booboo,” I’d whisper, as I clutch it.

While not having died out entirely, booboo has since been replaced by a more…how should I put this…scatological-based affection.

While strolling through Baltimore one day, my wife pointed to an incoming pile of dog shit.

“Poop,” she said, warning me of impending doom.

“Booboo,” I cooed.

You see, I thought she said “booboo” to me, and I was merely responding. The mix made us laugh days after it happened. She would say “poop” and I’d respond with “booboo.” Then, somehow, poop took over entirely. It may sound like a crass pet name to you, but to us, poop is the sweetest thing ever.

— ∮∮∮ —

If you’re serious about expanding your family dictionary, have a kid. Ours, of course, became designated Baby Poop soon after arriving, but most of the time she’s called Baby Girl or Sweet Girl. Sometimes she’s Batman.

That came from a clip of Batman: The Animated Series when Batman, while driving the Batmobile, became annoyed with Alfred, who communicated some sort of concern from the bowels of the Batcave. Alfred really touched a nerve. So much so, the Dark Knight hissed “Batman out” before hanging up on him.

That particular reaction from the Caped Crusader got a chuckle out of my wife. One day, after our daughter fell asleep in her carseat, my wife said: “Batman out.” And now every time our daughter dozes off in her carseat, one of us will inevitably repeat the phrase.

I’m sure words and phrases will become more important in our family when my one-year-old’s vocabulary stretches beyond her utterances of dat and ball. Yet so much of her life, and ours, will be documented on our family Photobucket and through Instagrams. And yes, there is some truth in the idea that a picture is worth a thousand words; I’ll always love looking at pictures of my daughter, my wife, and of us as a family.

But pictures only say so much. Sometimes words have the power.

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Nathan Cushing

Nathan Cushing is a writer, journalist, and RVANews Editor.

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