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“Wrong Turns Write Life”

Most kids have a favorite stuffed animal or some sort of sidekick to share conversations and adventures in their early years and sometimes beyond.

Our daughter Cara had a soft blue stuffed Stitch from the animated film Lilo and Stitch. She wasn’t really into the princess scene when we went to Disney World. When we said she could get a souvenir in a gift shop, she chose Stitch. She loved Stitch, and he accompanied her to sleepovers and on trips.

Several years earlier, she had a new stuffed animal to give to her new brother, whom she was about to meet for the first time. It was a cute, soft, yellow stuffed chick about the size of my hand.

Our son Dominic later named the little yellow chick Penguiny. He loved penguins. We were going to get him a stuffed one, but he revealed he already had one. For Halloween, he put a white sock around that yellow chick up to its neck like a protective egg and named the concoction Penguiny.

Penguiny, like Stitch, was a part of the family, so when we took a long driving vacation out west to see The Badlands, Yellowstone, Grand Canyon, etc., the two stuffed animals joined us. Cara usually left Stitch in the car when we’d make tourist stops during the day because he was a little bigger to lug around. Not Penguiny. Dominic could clutch him in one hand, stuff him under an arm, or even put him in his hoodie pocket and go. The little fella in the white sock had the wear and tear to show for these adventures, from trails to whatever was worthy of a family photo, which could have been anywhere.

We never had a screen in our SUV for the kids to watch videos, and they were only allowed to play video games for thirty minutes after every hour of non-video drive time. So, during that hour, their imaginations would sprout out of boredom. And that’s how they invented a new language together. This foreign language was called Penguiny.

Think about how parents may try to figure out what a baby is saying when he or she is learning to talk and would ask an older sibling what the baby said because they seemed to understand better than anyone. Well, on this wavelength, a baby-type language—Penguiny—was forged.

Penguiny language simply dropped the consonants in words, so only the vowels were uttered.

“Hi, how are you?” would phonetically become, “I ow ah oo?”

The two of them became so fluent in this bizarre-sounding new language as the trip went on that my wife wanted to know what they were saying because they’d carry on conversations, laughing up a storm. So, she learned Penguiny and could understand it, but not at the level that these two would carry on.

When we returned home from our great adventure trip, I noticed how filthy Penguiny the stuffed animal was, especially his white sock err egg! There was the scuffed spot from a spill at Mt. Rushmore, another dirt mark from Capitol Reef, and so many more that he was dingy all over. I thought of the germs that thing was carrying and tossed him in with the laundry.

When little quiet Dominic saw the bright white and yellow friend come out of the dryer, he blew up!

Tears in his eyes, he yelled, “All of my souvenirs got washed away!”

By Frank Rocco Satullo, The OhioTraveler, Your Tour Guide to Fun! 

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“Wrong Turns Write Life”

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