Wordsmith in Training

My son, Short Stack is at the full fledged “tape recorder” stage of his life. Anything said or any sound made with in his earshot is more than likely to come flying back to you, but in a higher and squeakier register. Often, letters will be substituted here and there as he makes his first attempt, but more then not, he gets it right on the first try.

Fairly early on, I realized that a lot of the words that we teach kids work against them in the long run. Why would you teach them “horsie” when it’s a horse? Why get them to say “din-din”, when it’s actually dinner? “yummies” instead of snacks, “duckies” rather than ducks, “Nukular” instead of nuclear. Mr. Presidentman can’t even get that one right.

Not to say that there aren’t some words that he slaughters on his own. “Banana” becomes “banna” when left to Short Stack’s interpretation. The same with a crane being pronounced “train”, which can add a certain level of confusion to conversations with him. But, here’s the thing; Action Girl and I correct him with his pronunciation when he gets it wrong.

It’s really hard to do sometimes. Some of the things that come a-tumbling out of his mouth are somewhere just beyond amazingly, heartstoppingly adorable and you feel kind of like a monster telling him that it’s not an “ExcaBAtor”, but an excaVAtor. If you ask him what the excavator does, he’ll tell you that it “doops”. We love hearing these kid-isims but helping out with saying things correctly has, I believe, helped him expand his vocabulary very rapidly. Words don’t scare him.

A few weeks ago, Short Stack, his Grandfather and I were at a new playground. It was mostly set up for bigger kids so it was a bit tricky finding stuff that he could play on. Naturally, he was drawn directly to the stuff that made my heart stop. One such piece looked for all the world like the reclining, undulating spine and ribcage of a Playgroundosaurus. It was set up close to the ground and was intended to be walked along. Understand, I’m not one of those “tear out the teeter totters and merry go rounds” type of parents. This bit however, was made of welded pipe and obviously intended for children with a higher level of dexterity than your average two year old was likely to muster.

“I don’t know about this part, Buddy. It looks pretty lethal.”

Naturally, and much to the entertainment of the other moms there, Short Stack spent much of the his remaining playground time pointing out the offending play equipment to other folks and exclaiming, “I don’t know… Dat’s pretty lethal!”

I’m still working on “that” rather than “dat”.

This interesting little experiment that I’m running with my obliging child is a reflection of my own experiences when I was a knee biter. My parents taught me proper, common and sometimes, not so common words. As a result, I could carry on a conversation with an adult when I was fairly young. It had serious benefits.

Having the ability to speak well and articulately is a wonderful way to get what you want. You can make a logical case for it and preset your side of the argument in a thoughtful and organized manner. It helps avoid confusion and frustrations and, hey, it helped get me a ten speed bike when I was in fifth grade!

It’s also fun at parties… “I think Dad is full of Hooey” coming out of a two year old, is rather bemusing.

The best part, from my perspective is the surprised reaction from other adults and the obvious pleasure that Short Stack derives from knowing that a word he used gets a positive and unexpected reaction.

His current list of “My God! He knows what that is?” words are…

Wheel, (…versus the tire. The wheel is the metal hub)
Bachelor Buttons,
Neon Tetra (in the fish tank)
Portcullis, (he has a toy castle with one that you can drop on unsuspecting finger puppets)
Stabilizers, (on the sides of his toy backhoe)
Front-end loader.
and most importantly to me, “May I please have a ____”

That last one makes me beam every time.

So, Senior Statesman-to-be or seriously articulate lobsterman; I don’t really care what career he chooses. Just so long as he can say NU-CLE-ER.

That’s all I ask.

Snarky Post Script-
I refer you here to Merriam-Webster.

Apologies to those offended. 😉

6 Responses

  1. Adorable post:) Enjoy these times before he grows up. They do that pretty fast.

    I’m vividly aware of how fast he’s changing. There have been a couple of missed recording opportunities that will never come around again. That being said, I’m loving every minute of having him around. That, and I have Lulu Belle to look forward to!

  2. My father was a doctor; so when I said I got kicked in the balls, he’d say “you got kicked in the testicles”. I knew my scrotum from my testicles at age 4! 🙂

    Always good for impressing the playground set!

  3. when I was very young, my father would take my brother and me for drives. We learned early on the very important expression: “Son of a bench.”

    My father never corrected us.

    My wife had a similar experience! When she was a kid, she thought that one particular expression talked about knowing where “the bear ‘sat’ in the buckwheat”. Sometimes, as a parent, life is merciful to you. Then one day you slam your hand in a door and your kids learn a whole new vocabulary.

  4. Ahhhh…but here’s the real question. Does he say pee-oh-knees or pea-a-knees?

    “oh”, naturally!

  5. My mother-in-law, whose hometown in OH has a yearly peony festival, swears it’s pee-a-knee. They ridicule me frequently. Now at least i know another yankee has my back.

  6. “…reclining, undulating spine and ribcage of a Playgroundosaurus…” love the image this creates in my head (why didn’t they have these when I was a kid?).

    Do you watch Letterman? His Famous Presidential Speeches makes me cringe (and laugh) every time. Bush’s pronunciation of nuclear … ugh, more spinal cringes! It makes me crazy that he can’t string a coherent sentence together without a speech writer. I’m glad Short Stack (and my Scout and Lil’bug) are more articulate than that! How sad is that, though.

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