Sally came home with a handout from her fifth grade teacher, Mrs. Vermeeren. On the top of the page was one large bold and centered word: “Poetography.”
Mrs. Vermeeren explained in the handout that she made up the word “poetography” by blending poetry and photography, telling her students that this is “a word that will stretch you creatively and help you tap into your artistic potential.”
She went on to describe the year-long assignment that blends photography and words: “I expect you to think of yourself as an artist, as a writer, as a photographer, as a creative force to be reckoned with and then act accordingly. I expect you to do the work without worrying about whether or not it is right or wrong. I expect you to listen to yourself.”
With poetgraphy, Mrs. Vermeeren had made not only a wonderful assignment, but also a portmanteau.
Our everyday language is filled with portmanteaus. Take “brunch” for example – a meal and a word that combine breakfast and lunch – or the motor hotel, or “motel,” which became popular when car travel exploded with the construction of the interstate highways.
“Paratrooper,” “Chunnel,” “televangelist,”” email” … the list grows every day.
For moms, who need every second they can get, these new words are real time savers. I came up with a few portmanteaus of my own, for mothers everywhere.
Take the “slaby.” A slaby (sleeping baby) should never be disturbed. When it’s getting too loud in the house, and the baby is at risk of being awakened, we do not have the luxury of using superfluous syllables. Think how much time it would save to say, “Shhh, slaby,” rather than the entire cumbersome, “Shhh, the baby is sleeping.”
There are dozens of household terms that are begging to be connected. Although we have a bathroom for the kids, they prefer using ours to brush their teeth, shower and do their business. It is the second most used room in the house after the family room. Really, it’s a family bathroom, a “froom.” All I would have to say is go hang your towel in the froom, and they will know which bathroom I am talking about.
Now, the towels I speak of are usually on the floor of their bedrooms, along with laundry that should be in the hamper, books that should be on the shelf, and games that should be in the closet. Much of the time, when I walk in their room, I am met with a “flaster” – a floor disaster. Instructing the kids to go do flaster control is a more specific and shorter way of saying, “Clean your room.”
Another habit I have been trying to get the kids to incorporate into their daily lives is removing the lunovers from their backpacks each day. These lunch leftovers consist of the little containers I need back to wash and reuse. In other cases the lunovers are not contained. Backannas are the worst. When will I learn that bananas in backpacks don’t work?
My favorite new portmanteau I invented has got to be the “hommy.” Happy + mommy. For example, knowing I am sending Sally into Mrs. Vermeeren’s classroom every day, a teacher who shares her passion and gifts with my kid, is definitely reason to be a happy mommy. And when there’s a hommy in the house, the house is happy.