I will defend my right to let my kids mangle the English language until you pry this “cockulator” from my cold, dead hands.
I am not a gratitude journal, #blessed!! kinda gal. But I am sentimental. I have taught them how to walk, talk, read, and write heartfelt thank you notes. I am launching perfectly lovely children. But damned if I’m going to correct their crazy-talk. I have earned the right to cherish every last malapropism and invented word. I am in possession of a teenager and a little kid, so I know there are “lasts” and I intend to savor this brief period as long as I can. My family has learned to heed the venomous look from me that means: do not correct her. Even when my youngest complains that I got too much “urine” on her face when I kissed her goodnight. Because she forgot the word “saliva.” I think.
1. They are just sitting on million-dollar patent ideas:
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.
2. It perks up tedious kids’ books:
When she inexplicably drops the final “n”s from words, a Tinkerbell book featuring lots of “barns” and “horns” sounds exactly like Bukowski.
3. It saves everyone time:
The hand-written gift tag stating, “I hope you lick your present!” Well, yes. Then no thank you card needed.
4. It shames me into exercising and dressing better:
Yoda pants? She really thinks I take them to school and then go to YODA class? Maybe I should find a class where I can stagger through a swamp, hoisting Yoda on my back at 9am. But I’ve never even been to a yoga class. I just like the pants. I’ve got to go to yoga. Or start wearing real pants.
5. Because eventually, they self-correct:
Delilah: “We’re learning about ramen noodles in math!”
Me: “Ramen noodles? Like counting them?
Delilah: “Nooo, old-fashioned ramen nooderals! Wait, what are nooderals?”
Me: “I have no…”
Delilah: “ROMAN NUMERALS!”
6. It’s just a prettier word:
It’s not very evolved of me, but I’m not super comfortable with the word “vagina.” Her misunderstanding of my muttering produced the term “chinatown” instead. And for that I’m grateful. And more body-confident!
7. It’s more interesting than the correct word:
Tonight’s revelation: “H-A-S-S-L-E?!” I always thought this book was called The Homework Asshole.” Doubtless, a much better book about the self-righteous Berenstain family.
8. Her swearing is more appealing than mine:
Seeing 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!”
9. It lends a Tarantino edge to elementary school drop-off:
Worried kid: If we’re bad, will our school execute us? Did she mean “expel”? Or is shit going down at Circle Time that I need to know about?
10. It makes me appreciate “sibling preference” at school admission time:
At her Kindergarten interview, they asked my daughter, Delilah, what her first name was. They lobbed her an easy one. But she was confounded by the term “first.” She knew her name, her middle name, and her last name, but… first? So she went with “Lucy.”
Soon enough, kids will self-correct, but it’s going to be a pin-drop moment at a college party when my youngest learns the real term for drinking something fast is not “jugging.” It ain’t gonna be on my watch. Because her crazy-ass word-smithing is “osum.” And it is so futting fleeting.
Janice Ricciardi is an exotic Canadian, married to a New Yorker, raising daughters in San Francisco. She used to talk on the radio, but now finds herself writing kids’ names on bananas with Sharpie and vetting the American Girl book about periods.