August 4, 2009
I have a bit of a tic (my head jerks a foot to the left) that manifests itself when someone butchers the English language (I’m not as particular about other languages). I remember once talking with Elden and Kim, when Ian toddled up to us and said something cute, but mis-conjugated his verb. Kim and I corrected him in unison, while Elden backed away slowly.
Last weekend my neighbors, Karl and Caroline, hosted a neighborhood BBQ in their back yard. I sat on some rocks with other neighborhood men, talking about manly stuff, and Maddy came over to sit with me for a bit. I asked her something about her cup full of Diet Coke, and Maddy, who is generally a fine student, athlete, and scholar, said “I haven’t drinkin any yet.”
I’m a little embarrassed to say my first response (apart from my head spinning completely around twice) was to look at my fellow men to see if they had noticed.
Then I started laughing. “What?” she said?
“You said ‘drinkin.'”
“That’s a word.”
“Yeah, in retard land. Go ask your mom if it’s a word.”
So she went over to where the women were sitting (the segregation is not doctrinal, but natural). I heard her say that she used a word and that I was mean and told her she was dumb. Which is not strictly true.
“What’s the word?” asked Kim.
“Drinkin.” But, spoken alone like that, it sounded like “drinking.” Kim nodded, and I could tell she was saying “duh, of course that’s a word. Don’t pay any attention to that crank.”
So I yelled across the lawn “Ask her to use it in a sentence!” Which she did.
From where I was sitting, I couldn’t hear the sentence Maddy used, but I could tell from the way Kim’s head jerked a foot to the left (we have the same tic) and the way she looked like she had just thrown up in her mouth a little that Maddy had used the same sentence I had heard.
See, it’s the sweet little parenting techniques that make the difference.