I noticed one yesterday as I perused the site for some interesting reading, where a poster was looking for examples of family jargon. Going beyond just the average inside jokes, the poster wanted to learn more about the origins of the terms, and if outsiders would be clueless hearing them used in the average dinner conversation.
There were over 100 responses, some of which were downright hilarious. And it got me to thinking about our own family jargon that I grew up with. I'll explain some of them to you.
A lot of family jargon comes from kids who make up words or have trouble with pronunciation. As long as I can remember, the clothes you wear to bed in my family have been called "nighty-suits." The true origin is lost in the hazy mists of my memory, but I'm guessing this came from my mom's own childhood. And my mom still uses this phrase today.
We've all been there - Mom would get tired of figuring out what to cook the troops for dinner. Or we'd have some leftovers, but not enough to serve the entire family for another meal. So Mom would call for a Scrounge Night, and we could dig whatever we wanted out of the fridge or the pantry to cook for ourselves. It went without saying that the meal had to fulfill certain nutritional requirements (i.e., cookies are not a meal) but as long as we reheated it ourselves, we could enjoy it.
Every summer, my grandparents would meet my parents halfway between our house and theirs, and my sister & I would get in their car and go spend a week at their house. Usually our cousins would meet us there to hang with us that week. Many years later, I learned that it was informally called Camp Grandma by our parents. We had waterfront activities just about every single day. Also, we did arts and crafts. Often there were cooking lessons. Also, we went to see the outdoor amphitheater performance of "Oklahoma!" near their home. Grandma even enforced a "naptime" every afternoon. And if the trip coincided with July 4th, we walked down to the river to see the city's fireworks show. Later, my sister & I used "Camp Grandma" to refer to our own parents caring for our cats while we were out of town. I don't think they had to enforce naptime, though.
SCHOOL FOR THE GIFTED
Based on the Gary Larson cartoon here, my sister and I make the same gesture and repeat "School for the Gifted" whenever we do something really dumb. Sometimes we just do the gesture, without saying the words.
COOK IN THE CAR
In my mid-twenties, I moved back in with my parents after ending a long-term relationship out of state. I worked downtown and commuted about 45 minutes back home. Sometimes I'd offer to pick up dinner on the way home. My parents would call in and I'd stop to pick it up. And just as often, my dad would pick it up. On one of those occasions, we discovered just how many times we had called a particular Chinese restaurant for takeout. As my dad came in, the hostess greeted him, "Ah, Mr. Brown, you cook in the car tonight?" We all loved the idea of "cooking in the car" so much, that's how we refer to all takeout food.
Please please please contribute an example of your own family jargon in the comments! I'd love to hear more.