How to Be a Dad

How to Be a Dad

The Bee Jay and the Spelling Code of Parents

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bee jay bird species picture

This is a bee jay.

No, folks, it isn’t actually a real species of bird. I created it for you! To begin illustrating a point, and to possibly offer a much-needed way out for any unfortunate parent who’s kid has said something like this:

    “Whu’s a bee jay wook wike? Daddy must wuvs dem. He always whispewing about dem wif Mommy. He eyebwows go up an down.”

You see, nearly every parent has used The Spelling Code around their kid, to encode what they’re saying if the topic is adult, private or secret in nature. It has it’s risks obviously.

The Spelling Code Can Be a Bee-eye-tee-see-ach

Kids learn fast. We freak out with pride and they’re stunned at our reaction. This is where the danger lies. To us, every new little thing they do can be a cherished merit badge, but they’re not likely to announce all their new-found abilities. So, if we don’t pay close attention, we’re going to find out for ourselves by getting a $700 phone bill for calls to China or by having to put out a burning oven mitt with a hastily-grabbed carton of orange juice.

It’s the same with The Spelling Code. Except orange juice can’t help you.

Kids Are Master Code Crackers

Kids are fast learners, driven by an insatiable desire to decipher and understand (in their eyes) “WTF are all these hairy giants barking about?” Just like learning any real word, they can start putting two and two together, and figure out that “dee-eye-see-kay” is the nickname for certain people.

However, The Spelling Code often has nothing to do with anything naughty or snarky. Maybe a parent just wants to avoid creating false hopes or the beg-athon they know they’ll set off by uttering the name of a favorite food, show, person or place. Or not-so-favorite. Bee-ee-dee time!

Decoding Glitches

Be mindful that some times the code cracking is imperfect. The Curious George TV show can become known to the little one as “Ess-ee-ex” if that’s when Mommy and Daddy always take their naked naps together. You get the idea. You’ve got to be careful with how frequently you spell-encode a word and when.

Kids Are Recording Devices

Remember, far before they’re able to spell or understand, like a shopkeeper’s parrot that randomly squawks “dumbass customer,” kids can create mischief with The Spelling Code by replaying what they’ve recorded.

The little one belting out “Pee-ay-ahr-tee-why” can blow a surprise, and there’re few moments as awkward as when they ask Grandma why she’s called “your crazy em-oh-em.”

Mispleling Is Double-Encryption

Sometimes you may feel like dead meat in a spelling bee. Despite feeling like you’re the dumbest tool in the bag o’ hammers, misspellings actually help to make your secret code even more kid-safe. Hopefully it’s close enough that the other adult has any chance of understanding you, but if not, you have the consolation prize of witnessing their profound look of confusion as they try to figure your mangled message.

Whatever you use The Spelling Code for, it’s safe to assume that it’s not intended for kids to understand. Pay attention and use The Spelling Code wisely. They’re clever little nuggets.


Instructional Diagrams
Get ready to L your F-ing A off.

Ell-eye-kay-ee Us on Facebook
Shhhhh. It’ll be our spelling secret.


56 Responses to “The Bee Jay and the Spelling Code of Parents”

  1. Steve says:

    Bee Jays are to be treasured. They are a rare sight indeed, but eventually do come. Some people are infatuated with these birds as well as hummingbirds, or “hummers” as they call them. They can’t get enough of them.

    • Andy says:

      It’s true. There are tons of people on the Internet who are particularly interested in this bird as well apparently.

      • Michelle says:

        Bee Jays are very common actually. You can lure them quite easily with sparkly baubles…like diamonds. ;p

        • Andy says:

          Ah! It’s true, surefire way. You know this bird well. πŸ˜‰

        • stacey says:

          I’m sorry… Even the best ones in the world aren’t worth spending $1300 on one trinket to summon one. Now if that same trinket allowed me to treasure this wonderful bird whenever I desired without complaint FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE I might consider acquiring this sparkly item.

  2. Laurie says:

    I wish that was a real bird because it is adorable! ?!Naked Naps?! is something I hope I never have to explain, the Bee Jay either for that matter..I am keeping my mouth shut around kids from now on!

    • stacey says:

      This made my wife and I both bust up… We are right there with you in not wanting to having explain ANY of this.

    • Andy says:

      I told my wife we needed a family pet and showed the picture in my post. She went “AWWWWW! so cute! Lucas would love it! He loves bees!” And that was the sound of my joke blowing up in my face.

      She continued reading and laughed her ass off.

  3. Mother Duck says:

    HA HA HA HA HA HA HA! Oh my Gee-O-Dee! I’m laughing my Aye-Ess-Ess Off! Ha ha! Nice job!

  4. Jessie H says:

    I think the only “spelling bee word” that our oldest (3) has figured out so far is o-u-t-s-i-d-e, but we spell that so the dog doesn’t get crazy excited…unfortunately I think they BOTH know how to spell it now πŸ˜‰

    • Lacey S says:

      Thinking back on how fast our dogs learned how to spell ‘c-o-o-k-i-e” and “c-a-r”… I’m not ready for this!

      We’ve been talking in foreign languages to disguise what we’re taking about – French, Japanese, German, and Spanish at home, and Farsi, Arabic and Russian at his daycare. The end result is a child who is rapidly becoming octo-lingual (especially in slang/swear-words *sigh*) πŸ˜› It may be time to try spelling soon….

    • Andy says:

      Wow. Our family dogs were dumb as nails about spelling.

  5. Karen says:

    Try having a hyperlexic kid who can read and spell before preschool starts and can crack codes fast. It can always be worse.

  6. Christina says:

    That is such a pretty bird!

    Our “spelling it out” is saying the word backwards most of the time…

    The rest of the time, we just don’t try to encode =p

    Call us open, free spirits. Hippies, if you will.

    The truth is, we are just careless o.o

  7. Corina says:

    We both have the luxury of speaking 4different languages. Here in tiny holland it’s common to at least speak 2or3. But… Thanks to Dora, who speaks English on dutch tv, my kids start to understand some english words as well. O well, i guess we’ll just have to spell more πŸ˜‰

  8. Tanja says:

    Oh, you poor people πŸ™‚
    In Denmark parents just turn to speaking English when trying to communicate in front of curious toodlers. Once they learn English, we shift to German or French. By the time they are able encode those languages too, they are old enough to figure things out anyway, and they are too embarrassed to care at ALL πŸ™‚

  9. Jeremy Kelly says:

    Thats why I tend to use phonetics to spell. It annoys the wife, but it helps.

  10. Shawn says:

    pig latin?

  11. Evonne says:

    oh we have so been there! that awkward moment when you ess-pee-ee-el-el something out only to have the little cherub join in your conversation knowing exactly what you were talking about. Hmmm, time to invent a new code me thinks!

  12. Michelle says:

    I LOVED this post. I had a friend whose husband swore like a sailor. She convinced him to spell-swear in front of the kids. One night, round the dinner table (surrounded by family and friends), he dropped the f-bomb. Flustered, she said, “HONEY! D-O N-O-T S-A-Y *fuck* in front of the kids!”

    Fail, mama! haha

  13. Susie says:

    This is exactly how the Code Word System came into play. It takes a bit longer for munchkin to unravel what precisely we mean by the Juvenille Gadgetry Location, or the Frozen Dairy Acquisition.

    • Andy says:

      Exactly. If you use the Spelling Code along with the Vocabulary Code, you’re not just talking behind your kid’s back right in front of them, you’re also EDUCATING them. Win!

  14. Dana says:

    Great article – and so much to think about! However, in the future, please remember that “h” is spelled “aitch” – not “ach” which would be och or ache…which is what you have when you don’t get your BeeJay *snicker*

  15. Nicole says:

    When I was younger… my parents always used to spell around us. I got smart and after I learned how to read (at about 4), I stopped asking what words meant. I kept quiet and knew what my parents were talking about.

    • Andy says:

      Smart! I’ve seen my kids knowing eyes watching us talking some times and suspected this. Which is stupid, because I can remember doing it as a kid.

  16. Fran says:

    My husband and I had to stop playing the spelling game pretty quickly. Our budding genius/geek/nerd son was faster at deciphering the spelled words than my husband by kindergarten. lol

  17. Jenae says:

    Yes, spelling is all fine and dandy unless spelling the word sounds like the word. My kids is crazy obsessed with eating ice (weirdo) so when confirming with each other that ice is an option we must say “frozen water” because eye-see-ee pretty much sounds like ice.

    Also there are some words that are just too dang long to spell out- and my focus on how it is spelled derails my train of thought. So code word it is. Ex: Cucumber=pre-pickle. I can’t think of our others. Gosh Motherhood makes me stupid…

    • Andy says:

      It’s true. Anyone who spells out something like trampoline is just showing off. I used the word switches too but I call that Vocabulary Encoding. I like your style though, it’s clever. Motherhood hasn’t taken it all away. πŸ˜‰

  18. Too easy. Sign language. Of course line of sight of the rugrat must be considered.

  19. Daniel says:

    My Wife and I use code words. Ice cream for sex and Cookie for BJ/LJ. It usually goes like this. “Is it possible to get some ice cream later after the boys are asleep?” or “I’m in the mode for some ice cream.” That way if the boys ask for ice cream they will always be thinking we mean the dessert and not the other. This has worked, so far….

    Or try to use a word, words, or phrase that the kids know already and associate with something else boring.

    “Honey should we water the lawn tonight?” You know something they won’t ask questions about, cause it sounds boring.

  20. Marilyn says:

    We talk about doing a “rain dance”. Or just say casually, “Hey look, it’s raining.” In Oregon we get rain a lot. πŸ˜‰ Or, “Should we go downstairs for a while?”

    • Jesi says:

      That reminds me of the time I texted a friend of mine who worked with my (now) husband and me to tell her to tell him to “bring a raincoat” when he came over that evening. I underestimated her naivety, apparently, because she reportedly hollered across the restaurant to him “Hey, Matt! Jess says you need to bring a raincoat tonight, but I don’t know why because it’s not raining!”

      I learned quickly not to use innuendos with her ever again…

  21. Lexi says:

    Ah, yes. When the spelling becomes its own word.

    When my son was 3 or 4, he would come up and ask if we could go to the P-A-R-K. Yeah….that worked out. Heh.

  22. Lynn says:

    We use piglatin. Problem? I’ve been speaking it since I was a teenager, since our family uses it as a kind of joke. My husband is somewhat slower with it, so between the two of us there’s a lot of head scratching on both sides. But it works great! Needed this laugh today. Great post.

  23. Josie says:

    Okay!! I have a little two year old girl and we HAVE TO spell since she was a 9 or 10 months old. She’s so cleaver.. now we just use the backwards spelling but i think that very soon we have to find another way to communicate bcos she’s already understood when we say ‘preparala la “che-le”‘ (that mean make her milk, or something like make her lk-mi) She turns so mad when we dont do it fast!!!. Regards from MΓ©xico!!!

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