Wednesday, April 25, 2007


At dinner, Mike started the conversation with "tell Mama what you learned at school today."

Proudly, Clay yelled "Messatorfamus!"

I looked to Mike for an explanation, and he said "metamorphosis." Of course.

"Yah... it's when you CHANGE! Like a butterfly!" (Clay flaps his arms).

And so it begins...

For all of my life, I've taken good natured ribbing about my vocabulary. As a child our neighbor, Mrs. Linton, would comment about the words I'd come up with, and as a teenager, my mom would joke that I was '14 going on 40'. Later in high school, I distinctly remember being teased mercilessly by my friends when I said something was 'trivial'. Oh the peals of laughter! They all thought it such a very big, 50 cent word, and couldn't believe that I would use it. Embarrassed and a little ashamed, I questioned whether I was using my words to puff up my self importance. My friends certainly made me feel so, and I took the laughter as an attempt to take me down a peg or two. Fortunately, we were out for pizza, so I could take comfort in food. Don't like my words? Screw you, and pass the pepperoni. I traded my 50 cent words for 50 dollar hips.

Although I marvel now at how much that innocent incident affected me (I truly believe my friends meant no harm), I recognize that it did so in a profound way. After that, I remember just wanting to fit in, and so the pendulum swung in the other direction. I avoided lofty language. I may have been on the debate and forensic team, but it was just a cover. I found solace in my prepared notes. And without them, I quickly found myself grasping for the right words. By the time I made it to college, I convinced myself that my words and writing were inferior. Can't win for losing, eh?

So today, I have two little boys, and I refuse to talk down to them, often with comical results. Clay's in the 'Why?' phase (will the questions ever stop?), and I will beat my head against the proverbial wall to give him a sensible answer, long after Mike has given in with a 'just because!'. Case in point, this morning's explanation about the phrase 'Spring has sprung', which I FULLY admit is a path I stumbled down. Clay wanted to know what the phrase meant. Here's what I told him:

"It's a play on words."

(Confused look from 3 year old.)

Trying again, I said: "You know how some words have two meanings?"

Gamely, the boy nodded tentatively. I could see he had no idea, so I tried to elaborate.

"Like, spring means the season with all the flowers, but it also means a curly wire that goes 'boing'!"

I'd lost him. I tried again.

"Like Drew's exersaucer? The legs have springs in them so he can bounce up and down?"

I'd better wrap this up. I'm losing him fast.

"So when we say 'spring has sprung', we mean the season SPRING has popped out, like a SPRING popping. Get it?"

He said he did, but I think he was just humoring his old mom. Either that, or he just wanted to get back to his cars. But at least I tried, and to be fair to me (and hey, we HAVE to be fair to me), this is the boy who told his classmate that her throwing her jacket in anger wasn't appropriate. So, it was fairly logical that I thought he could grasp the concept of a double entendre. Right?


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