Why is it that when children mispronounce something they take the most innocent, innocuous word and turn it into something either rude or mortifying (when said in public)? Take my son, for example, when he was learning the trials and tribulations of the English language (still in progress) he decided that the word 'clock' would be so much better if he left out the 'l'. "Look!" he'd say at the top of his lungs in the supermarket "C***!". "Yes Honey" I'd say even louder as the heads swivelled towards us "a cLock! Good boy for saying CLOCK". Mortifying.
However, as I write this I am almost ashamed to say that when I hear other peoples children doing the exact same thing I find it hysterical. Like bite-your-lip and dig-your-finger-nails-into-your-palm to stop from laughing out loud, hysterical.I often end up rocking with silent laughter pretending to find the nearest poster or magazine incredibly interesting. One memorable example was my niece who had just learnt "Old MacDonald had a farm" and would sing this at the top of her lungs. Only problem was that she would leave the 'se' off of 'horse". So she would strut around town (and by 'town' I mean kindy, home, the park) singing "Old MacDonald had a hor" for everyone to hear, much to my sister's horror. I almost lost it when she came to "with a hor hor here and a hor hor there, everywhere a hor hor". Seriously, you can't make this stuff up. The funniest part for me is the look of horror on the parent's face while forcing a smile at the gawking strangers as though they had misheard and it is totally normal for a parent to stuff a sock in their child's mouth.I'm sure my inappropriate laughter is going to get me in trouble one day. That's why there is no photo of me with this column.
There can also be issues with miscommunication as apposed to mispronunciation. When my niece was 2 she developed an obsession with frozen berries.Every time she came to my house she would plead to have some frozen berries.As these berries stain and children are notorious for thinking that their mouths are located in their ears, cheek, forehead and nose, my sister used to tell her that "you can have some berries but you need to take off your top/dress/pants first". Shortly after this my sister was married. At the rehearsal with all the in-laws present (not to mention the Priest) my niece asked me if she could have some berries."Not now honey" I said motioning for the Priest to continue.To which my niece replied at the top of her lungs "please! I'll take my clothes off!! I always take my clothes off for you!!".So I am now convinced that my sisters in-laws look at me sideways. The worst thing is I get totally flustered and wildly try to explain that this is all a very innocent and slightly humorous misunderstanding, all the while turning redder and redder and (I'm sure) causing the Priest to think about taking me on as a special assignment.
The latest mispronunciation with my son came when I was trying to get him into some warm track pants now that its cooling down a bit.My toddler loves to run around in the freezing cold as though he is in the Bahamas and any attempt to rug him up is met with a tiny cyclone of exploding emotion. I found some lovely Bonds rainbow striped leggings and decided to give it another go."Look!" I said, ramping up the enthusiasm "these are your cool new pants! They are all stripey and are made by magical tiny little turtles!
Well I'm happy to say that it worked a treat and he loves his pants.The downside, however is that he now walks around, tugging on his pants telling everyone about "magical tiny diddles". Oh dear.
Deborah Johanson is a nurse and mother, and lives with her husband and their two children on Auckland's North Shore. Deborah shares her Maternal Journals with OHbaby! in association with Tiny Turtles.
Click here for Deborah's first entry from her
Maternal Journal, The F Word.