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Funny Talk

Three times in my life, I’ve been made aware that my speech is not overly standard and/or literal. (Which is funny, because whenever I write I always lament my inability to use figurative language.)

The first time was the summer after fifth grade. I was off to camp, and I referred to something as “repulsive.” It was then pointed out to me that “normal” kids did not use that word, and that I, in fact, talked funny. This event presaged the beginning of a precipitous dive in popularity for me. Good times!

The next time was when I began to tutor a housemate in English the year I lived in Oxford. Paul had to stop me multiple times to ask me to repeat myself when I used an idiom or hyperbole that confused him. I tried very hard to keep everything simple and literal, and found the verbal straightjacket to be a very bad fit.

Now I can see that, with a little help from Matt, I’m visiting this habit on Simon. I can’t help but wonder when it will lead to trouble.

Sometimes, he sounds like a maniac. Like when he says, “I broke my face” if he falls. He’s passed this on to his friend Ruby, too. Ruby’s dad Greg informed me with some amusement that Ruby fell at camp and told one of the teachers she “broke my [her] face,” which resulted in no small degree of confusion on their part.

Along similar lines, he handed Matt the remote control yesterday to request “more George” and explained earnestly that “You [Daddy] have the power.” I can hear very clearly the types of exchanges that led him to say that, even as I never thought about them before.

Jessica: Matt. I can’t take this. Turn the volume down.

Matt: I can do that. [holding up remote] I have the power.

This at least might make him sound vaguely cool. Some of his other constructions make him sound more ready for a convent.

Simon has been obsessed with emotions lately. He looks at everything and tells me if it’s happy or sad or scared. It’s for this reason that we had to quit reading The Very Hungry Caterpillar. It would appear that, to Simon’s eye anyway, the beautiful butterfly on the last page looks a bit worried or scared. Two nights ago, he looked at the bees in the book Do Princesses Count, and told me that the bee was “cross.”

Cross? I would have expected “angry” or “mad,” but have no idea where “cross” came from.

Whereas I know exactly where the next old lady saying came from.

Last week Simon got a new Hawaiian shirt. When I showed it to him, he jumped up with delight and declared.  “Oooooooh. Pretty! So very many pretty colors.” Then, a day or so later, he told me around bed-time that, “I’m so very tired.”

I wondered at first where this old sounding “so very ” stuff came from. Who talks like that? I honestly had no idea until I heard myself tell an author I was “so very behind” and “so very sorry” to be running behind. Oops.

I guess he’s got time to work these out before they become a social liability.

In the meantime, the last funny thing he’s said in the past few days says more about our life than our speech. Saturday night I had dinner with my mom while Matt grabbed a bite with his friend Brian. I explained this to Simon as Matt headed out the door, and Simon looked up cheerfully and told my mom that “Daddy is going to a meeting.”

I think, perhaps, we need to get out more, as Simon’s primary reference for our leaving the house without him is when I go attend charity board meetings or preschool board meetings, one of which I had Tuesday night.

What I’m saving for another post is that he called Brian “Misses Brian”, just as he calls Ruby’s daddy “Missus Greg.” There’s only so much you can take on at one time.

One Response to “Funny Talk”

  1. Amanda says:

    My students always told me I used “really big words.” And I always thought I was dumbing it down enough already.

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