The following conversation took place when my wife J- was fixing up my 4-year-old daughter M-'s hair one night before bed, as she and M- both complained about how tangled it was:
Me (pointlessly defending myself): We were running late, and I forgot to bring a hairbrush with me this morning, so her hair looked like a rat's nest... I had to just comb through it with my fingers and pull it back into a ponytail.
J- (about to share a story of mild mortification under the firing-squad gaze of Other Mothers of Daughters, after she'd had an "all-ready-to-go" daughter in a tutu packed into the car by her husband): Yeah, I could tell, at dance class...
M- (cutting in, as she realized we were talking about her): Don't call it a rat's nest!
Me (realizing it didn't sound very nice, after she'd uncharacteristically decided to pay attention when adults speak): That just means how it looks-- it wasn't your fault.
M- (not comforted at all): Don't CALL it that.
Me: Would it be better if I called it a (dementedly happy voice) "squirrel's nest!"?
M- (probably more frustrated): Don't call it a nest at ALLLLL!
Note: I made no promises. I calls 'em like I sees 'em.
You may enjoy my previous M- conversations, J- conversations, and (7YO son) D- conversations.