Doh ya oh

baby peekRemember when your little brother couldn’t pronounce “toothpaste” but said “poosa paste” instead? That was me. When I was two. Little kids are  entertainers even without meaning to be. That’s because they are so earnest in the learning process of expressing themselves. My Dad was quite the character when assigning nicknames for his kids. My older sister Bernadette was nicknamed “Das mine” because that’s what she said when she claimed something as hers. “Jaby Jaby” was my little brother Eric’s name for his little brother Jerome because my Dad nicknamed Jerome “Gravy Baby” for his love of roast beef gravy slathered on bread. My Dad’s little brother, Bub, became Bub because Dad couldn’t pronounce “brother.” It came out “Bubber” which my grandfather shortened to Bub. And that’s what we all called Uncle Bub. His real name was Virgil Hugh Moseley. And my grandfather, always the character also nicknamed him Dick. That’s because…well I won’t go into that. Anyhow, Uncle Bub’s son Virgil Hugh Jr., my cousin, was nicknamed Dickie. Did I go off on a tangent here? Anyhow, every family has old sayings that make sense mostly only to them.

My darling wife Christi invented a phrase when she was a toddler which we all use today. It’s “Doh ya oh.” When she was a toddler and her mother handed her something like a glass of water her Mom would say “There you go.” In Christi’s little mind it was “Doh ya oh.” And we use that expression all the time.

When I worked in a school for retarded children I picked up a useful expression that at first seems incomprehensible if not downright stupid. But if you think about it the usefulness of this phrase is unquestioned. I had a helper, about 20 years old, who assisted me with such things as getting the more profoundly retarded kids dressed for bed and such as that. He loved his job, and his only reward was attention from us dorm managers. He could only speak one phrase, “Um bah” but he used it for everything and it worked! If he was excited about something we asked about like if he enjoyed the ice cream bar he he was currently slurping (as a reward for helping us put the kids down for the night) he would respond with an enthusiastic “Um Bah!” If we told him to settle the kids down so they would go to sleep he would shout to them “UM BAH!” If we asked him whether he was tired it was a muted “um bah.”  So nowadays me and my family shout “Um Bah” when we are excited about something in particular. It’s a family saying kind of thing.

All families have their “um bahs”  their “doh ya ohs” their “Dasmines” and “Bubs” and their “poosapaste”. What’s yours?


Image: Clare Bloomfield /

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