Sometimes you just need a new word to describe something and there is no one word. Like, what is that word again, for someone who has a small vocabulary? [Just joking there, but we definitely need a word for that, and a word for the times when you need a new word for something.] Without that perfect word you have to improvise or give long, inelegant explanations. Sometimes you can borrow a word from another language, and sometimes you just make one up. The new word, sootsie (rhymes with footsie), has made life around our house much easier in the past week, so I thought I’d pass it along and see if anyone else benefits from its use.
My friend Robyn’s son, Max, age 4, made it up. She said when he is wriggling and writhing because he has to go to the bathroom, she’ll say, “Do you need to go to the bathroom?” and he’ll say, “No, Mom, I’m just sootsie.” And then he’ll go to the bathroom.
Now I know if Kadin is wriggling and writhing and I dare ask him, “Do you need to go to the bathroom?” he’ll deny it straight out and will then put off going to the bathroom for at least another two hours. I try to bite my tongue, but it is so hard to stay silent when you see an obvious need. When it gets to the point that it bugs me, it’s got to be bugging him. I’ve tried to reason with him, telling him it is not good to hold it, that it hurts. I’ve tried to tell him funny stories about how his pee is saying, “I want to come out, let me out!” But all to no avail. Four-year-olds don’t like to be told what to do and don’t like to be reminded that they aren’t all knowing rulers of the universe. They make you pay for that.
But now that we have this word, everything has changed. Now, I can say, “Are you feeling sootsie?” [The first couple of times I used it on myself, said “I’m feeling sootsie!” and did that distinctive sootsie dance. He was amused.] With “are you feeling sootsie?” there is no implied action, no “go to the bathroom” part. It is just acknowledging how he feels and how he is acting. “Hey!” he’ll say, giggling, “I’m sootsie!” and then he’ll run off to the bathroom. Giving it a neutral label was all we needed. Language is magic.