Let’s set the record straight. I am not a gratitude-journaling, baby tooth-saving, hash tag-blessed kinda gal. But I am sentimental in my own way, and that means I will defend my right to let my kids mangle the English language until you pry this “tune-up fish sandwich” from my cold, dead hands.
I am launching perfectly lovely children. I have taught them how to walk, talk, read, and write heartfelt “thank you” notes. But I’ll be damned if I’m going to correct their crazy talk. I have earned the right to cherish every last malapropism and invented word. And yes, I said “last.” Because I am in possession of one teenager and one little kid, so I know there are “lasts.” Which is why I intend to savor this brief period as long as I can.
Ever since my daughter began to speak, my family has learned to heed the venomous look from me that means: do not correct her. Not even when she complains that I get too much “urine” on her face after I kiss her goodnight, because she forgets the word “saliva.” I think.
If you ask me, parents should never correct their kids’ speech mistakes, and here are ten reasons why:
1. Kids are sitting on million-dollar ideas, but if we always correct their speech, we’ll never profit from them. I am reluctant to inform my daughter that the device used for adding up numbers is not, in fact, a “cockulator.” That is a different device entirely, and thanks to my daughter, I am now off to the Patent Office.
2. Pronunciation mistakes go a long way towards perking up tedious children’s books. When my daughter inexplicably drops the final “n”s from words, a Tinkerbell book featuring lots of “barns” and “horns” sounds exactly like a Bukowski novel.
3. Those same mistakes also shame me into exercising and dressing better. “Yoda” pants? My daughter really thinks I take her to school and then go off to “Yoda” class? Maybe I should find a class where I stagger through a swamp at nine a.m., hoisting Yoda on my back and sweating my ass off, but let’s face it, I’ve never even been to a yoga class. I just like the pants.
4. Sometimes our children’s versions of words are just prettier than the real ones. It’s not very evolved of me, but I’m not super comfortable with the word “vagina,” so my daughter’s misunderstanding of my mutterings produced the term “Chinatown” instead. And for that I’m grateful. And more body-confident!
5. And sometimes their versions are just more interesting. My kid’s revelation for today:
“H-A-S-S-L-E?! This book is called The Homework HASSLE?! I always thought this was called The Homework Asshole!” Which honestly sounds like a much better book about the self-righteous Berenstain Bears family, anyway.
6. Kids’ swearing is more appealing than ours. When I see that raccoons have gotten into our garbage can and strewn trash all over the sidewalk again, I blurt: “Oh, those . . . ” And my five-year-old finishes: “ . . . futting rattoons!”
7. Mispronunciations lend a Tarantino edge to elementary school drop-off.
Worried kid: “If we’re bad, will our school execute us?” Wait a minute, did she mean “expel”? Or is shit going down at Circle Time that I need to know about?
8. Misspellings save everyone time. The hand-written gift tag stating, “I hope you lick your present!” Why yes, I will lick my present, thank you very much! And after such a display of gratitude, I’m assuming I don’t need to send a “thank you” card.
9. Sometimes children’s logic is iron-clad. Naturally, your shoulders are called your “shirtles.” They’re where you put your shirt. Duh.
10. Eventually, the kids will start to self-correct:
Daughter: “We’re learning about ramen noodles in math!”
Me: “Ramen noodles? Like counting them?”
Daughter: “Nooo, old-fashioned ramen nooderals! Wait, what are nooderals?”
Me: “I have no—”
Daughter: “ROMAN NUMERALS!”
Yes, the kids will eventually self-correct, but it’s going be a pin-drop moment at a college party when my youngest finally learns that the real term for drinking something fast is not “jugging.” It ain’t gonna be on my watch. Because her crazy-ass wordsmithing is “vantastic.” And it is so futting fleeting.
This original piece by Janice Ricciardi was written exclusively for In the Powder Room, a division of Hold My Purse Productions, LLC. Featured image © depositphotos.com/halina_photo.