Ampervant - The Magic Onions


I must record this story of Teddy’s. It is one of those little family anecdotes that you think is so precious you’ll never forget it. Yet, when I try to remember something similar that Kitty did, all I get is a hazy fog of memories just beyond my grasp. The whisper of time soon becomes a clanging, crashing clutter of days, months, years and these little things get lost forever. Not this one, not now!

Teddy has always been a good sleeper. Not a good talker, our boy, but a great sleeper. When he falls asleep, he usually stays asleep until morning. That is why, about 6 months ago, it was so surprising when he appeared in the lounge many hours after he had been put to bed.
I looked at him and said… “What are you doing awake?”
He replied… “Teddy want ampervant.”
I asked… “What do you want?”
He repeated… “Ampervant.”
Hmm, I thought, what on earth is an ampervant as my brain searched for an answer?
Teddy looked at me expectantly, waiting for me to find this ampervant.
I said to him… “Where did you put your ampervant?”
He pointed to the sofa. I picked up the cushion… “This?”
“NO!” he replied harshly… “Teddy WANT ampervant!” Oh no, I thought nervously… I could tell we were nearing a scene after which falling sleep again would be difficult for Teddy if this elusive ampervant wasn’t found quickly. Usually, I would have asked Kitty to help me (she talks ‘Teddy’ really well) but, alas, she was asleep. I decided to try A Good Man.
I went to him in his office… “Teddy is awake and he wants his ampervant. Do you know where it is?”
“His what?” was his reply.
“His ampervant” I repeated.
“What’s an ampervant?” A Good man asked. Hmmmm… no help he’d be.
I returned to Teddy and explained that I didn’t know what an ampervant was. He looked at me with surprise and repeated, as if I had lost my senses… “Am per vant!
“Do you know another name for an ampervant?” I asked, hopefully. He thought for a moment and then he answered… “Dumbo”.
Ahhhhhhh… ELEPHANT!
I found the (unimportant-until-now) elephant in the heap of stuffed animals in Kitties room and Mr T returned to bed and went to sleep almost immediately, hugging the ampervant happily.
Since then, we have found every opportunity to make him say “ampervant” – it has tickled us pink to hear him say it! We have delighted in his so-sweetly mispronounced word.
Then, yesterday, while reading a book we came across a picture of an elephant. I pointed at the picture and asked him if he knew what ‘that’ was. He replied… “Elephant”
Thus ends the “Ampervant” Days of Teddy’s life.
I love you, my sweet blue-eyed baby boy.
Blessings and magic,
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Donni Webber is the mom behind the popular natural living Waldorf website and blog, The Magic Onions - where the magic of nature and the wonder of childhood collide to make each moment a precious gift. She is a photographer, writer, crafter, wife and mother of two inspiring young children. Her work has been featured in many popular publications, including HGTV, Better Homes and Gardens, Disney and Apartment Therapy.

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  1. Adorable!! Thanks for the morning giggle!

  2. they grow too quickly don’t they. My wee girl and i shared a bowl of mac and cheese for lunch today :)

  3. I am a newspaper columnist and wrote this one a few years ago when my now 5-year-old was learning to talk:

    What was I supposed to think when my son started asking for badger jerky?
    Was he already itching to try out some wild game? Where would he have heard such a thing? What on earth is badger jerky?
    But there he was, day after day, week after week, mentioning badger jerky out of the blue. I struggled to understand what he wanted, but I just couldn’t do it.
    From the very moment a child is born, he wants to be heard. From the very first cries to the adorable gurgles and coos to those long-awaited first words, baby talk is a fascinating language, and sometimes it can be difficult to decipher.
    Very small babies communicate through a variety of cries, and observant parents soon learn the difference between cries of hunger, discomfort and exhaustion. A baby’s crying is often a source of annoyance for some, but it’s just the only way they have to tell us what they want to say.
    Soon after they’re born, babies start to notice the world around them. They recognize their parents and other people and things that are familiar, and then they start making other noises, and eventually you get the oh-so-beautiful baby belly laugh out of them.
    From then on, you prompt: Say “mama,” say “dada.” People compete to be the first to be verbally recognized. The baby complies, babbling mamamamamas and dadadadadas with a few gagagagagas thrown in for good measure. It’s unmistakable, though, when that first, clear word comes through.
    Logan gave his Dada the first word, and then after a week or so, threw me a Mama, like a much begged-for bone. After that, not much, and he kept up his vow of silence for quite some time. I wasn’t really worried because I could tell he was processing things in his head and would just start talking one day. And he did.
    One morning, when I was scrambling some eggs for breakfast. Logan was attempting to climb my legs as I cooked and I kept shaking him off. Finally, exasperated, I said “Logan, honestly!” He looked at me and said “Oss-lee! Oss-lee!” and from that day on, “honestly” was part of his vocabulary. “Seriously” soon followed.
    Now he is talking more and more every day. Sometimes it takes some detective work as he learns how to pronounce words. It took me about 15 minutes one day to figure out what on earth an Aggawood could be. It was the first thing he said that day, within seconds of waking up. He kept going to the toy bin where his little cars are kept and then he’d come to me and say “Aggawood?” I finally figured out he was looking for the Escalade he had taken to bed with him. I located it under the pillow and patted myself on the back for solving the mystery of the Aggawood.

    There is still the issue of the Gophodder Guck. This one has been going on for weeks. I know “guck” is “truck” but other than that I have no clue. I looked at him one day and said “Baby, I’m sorry but I don’t know what you are saying” and he gave me a look and enunciated very carefully “Gah-Pah-Der-Guh-K!” Like I was the dumbest person on the planet. Maybe I am.
    I also haven’t figured out what Nigook Dowbins are. I am pretty sure Dowbins are jelly beans, but Nigook is a flavor I don’t know.
    But eventually, everything will fall into place and I will learn what my baby has been trying to tell me.
    Badger Jerky, by the way, is no longer lost in translation. It became clear the other day, when he was asking for it and I was giving him blank looks.
    “Boat on top, mama,” he said.
    “OH!” I exclaimed, as the lightbulb popped on over my head.
    I walked to the toy bin, and retrieved the Grand Cherokee.
    The one with the boat on top.
    Logan smiled.
    Finally, she got it. The Badger Jerky.

    Oh, and I eventually discovered, “Nigook Dowbins” were “Yogurt Jellybeans.” We’d had some yogurt-covered raisins he thought were jellybeans. Ha! :)

  4. I would say that I miss those days (though we’re approaching them with the Imp) but my almost-eight-year-old Elf still does it. Only, he’s mispronouncing things he’s read. My favorite is “mechanical” which he says as machine-ical. I can’t get over how cute it is. (:

  5. So gorgeous! I remember my eldest enthusing about the school getting New Rhinos – after much conversing and questioning it was revealed they were Unrinals :-) I have written all these things from my children in a memory book so they are never forgotten.

  6. this is a delightful story! It brought a smile to my face this day when everything has seemed to go awry.
    Our little boy liked to say “croco-donnel” “porcu-fine” and “stunk” (skunk.) It also makes my heart ache a bit when he rectifies his pronunciation months down the road. To be cherished for sure.

    Thank you.

  7. That is adorable! I just love when they mispronounce words… makes everything sound so cute!

    My son used to call his Nerf gun Nerb. We were trying to explain that it was Nerf with an F. He looked at us very sternly and said: No. It’s NerB. With a 2!
    I almost fell off my chair laughing, I will never forget that!

    Stephanie xx

  8. Once my 2year old daughter came into the house and said that she was playing with JJ. “who’s JJ?” I asked. “oh, he’s the little man in the backyard that wanted to play with me”. I run to my backyard. She shows me an industrial sized staple left behind by the construction crew. “Here he is!”

    JJs and High-jamincos. (the later turned out to be flamingos)

  9. Too precious! My little boy just loves mooses, he also wakes me in the night and many times around 4 or 5 in the morning looking for his little moose, who eats, sleeps and does everything else with us. I managed to capture a little conversation he had with his brother when he was little that I love so much… and many more. I still get the woks instead of rocks!

  10. mmmm…i love this. it tugs at my heart strings when i realize my little one has stopped saying one of his sweet little things. so many times has something randomly become the must have moment of the (usually bedtime) hour! too funny.

  11. We have a little one struggling with “posquito bits” this summer :)

  12. Loved this. The post and the comments made me laugh so much – I teared up. My 2 yo also says lots of mysterious things. Our current favorite is a song she sings constantly – Baby Vooga. It turned out to be a song about a baby beluga :)) Also her songs morph from ABC into Zoom-zoom-zoom and into Twinkle, twinkle little star – all in 15 seconds :))

  13. so sweet! my 6 yr old little girl used to call ketchup “papash.” she called it that until she turned 3. we were so sad when the papash days were over. my son calls motorcycles “cycle-bikes.” i am dreading the day when he corrects himself!

  14. That is the sweetest thing, I love the aftermath of deciphering kid talk, we always have a good laugh as well.

  15. Lovely story. thanks for sharing.
    My youngest was very delayed in speach and used signs a lot. One day he asked for a “gwingwin” and got really upset.
    I aksed him to sign it and he wobbled from foot to foot with his hands at his side????
    After a lot of frustration he started to sing the tune to “wallace and grommit!”
    I still didn’t understand but put the dvd on.
    Eventually Feathers magraw appeared on the telly and he started to shout “gwingwin” again…..

  16. It was a sad, sad day for me when Maddie said “Girl” instead of “Gril”.
    Thankfully, we have lots of other literary treasures.

  17. This (and all of the other misunderstandings in the comments)is so cute. I teach kindergarten and totally understand how frustrating it is (for both parties)!

  18. Thank you for sharing this sweet and simple story. It reminds me of the reason I began writing my own humble little blog nearly three years ago. Inspired by a quote, “I shall write it down so as to never forget it”, and my own fear at losing these precious memories in the fog of intense sleep deprivation. Sometimes I lost sight of that reason, and get caught up in my own thoughts, recipes, and craftiness. Thank you once again, for reminding me of my true inspiration…

  19. Ha Ha Ha! :)
    Kisses to Teddy!

  20. My son has a speech issue and I have been in this exact position so many times! It is so frustrating when you can’t figure out what they are asking for, and you know it stresses them that you don’t understand, so you fake it until you figure it out, but sometimes you don’t figure it out. And when you know what it is and it’s SO funny you make them say it over and over and suddenly, it’s gone. It’s bittersweet. You see their speech progressing and you cheer, but you say goodbye to his “ampervant” or my son’s “mag-e-rine”

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