Years ago I saw a segment with Steve Martin - "Teaching Your Children To Talk Wrong". Although not his most famous routine, it was one that I found to be his funniest. When I had children, I set about doing just that! It was fun, it was entertaining, it was interesting to watch them wrap their limited experience around the concept.
How does one teach their children to "Talk Wrong"? It is simple really. All you do is take one of the small, baby babble words they use everyday and use it too.
With my oldest daughter it was Kikity Kat. I must admit, she was very bright. It didn't take her long to figure out the Kikity Kat was, in truth, a kitty cat. The day I discovered this revelation on her part was a sad day for me. Very sad indeed as she refused to play along. She would not allow me to repeat after her. It was always, "Mommy, what is it really?" She questioned to the point of me feeling absolute distrust on her part. To this day I just don't understand. Where did I fail.
Hija Primera must have clued her sister in on the evil game as Segunda never uttered a word until she could speak in complete sentences with a preciseness reserved for a professor of phonics. Not just complete sentences, but sentences packed with three and four syllable words! Where is the fun in that. A child that is quiet until they are six years old, save the occasional bleat or whinny. No, I am not kidding. This child wanted to be a horse when she grew up. Her animal sounds were so convincing that creatures large and small would answer! Cattle were lowing right along with her. Horses would stop their grazing and run to the fence to see the small human that spoke their language. Cats would meow, dogs would bark, Segunda would answer in kind. Then, one day...She spoke! And. Never. Shut. Up.
Then along came Hijo Segundo! Another opportunity to excel in the art of parental mis-guidance. I waited the first year as he learned the basic sounds. Then, as he uttered his first words. The normal Mama, Dada, and mundane words for his day and needs. Then it happened...Da Da Da Dumm... "Look Mommy! A hoe hopey!" He shouted pointing at an antelope. There is was! The perfect thing to teach him to say wrong. From that day on it was Hoe Hopey. Not antelopey, not Hoelopey, but Hoe Hopey! Always said with delight and exuberance. This went on for years...and years...and years.
Tonight I found out just how long his belief that antelope were Hoe Hopeies went on. He was 18! All I could do was fall over in fits of laughter. Tears running down my face, legs crossed to alleviate the urge to...well, you know the result of hysterical laughter. As it turns out, he was driving home with his brother and his girlfriend. They turned onto our country road as a large herd of antelope ran in front of his 4-runner. "Look and all the Hoe Hopeies!" He said with delight and exuberance. His brother thought nothing of it as that is what we always called them. His girlfriend on the other hand, hadn't gotten the "Talk Wrong" memo. "What are you talking about?" she asked him in puzzlement (she had no sense of humor that girl). "The antelope?"
And I was busted. The child/parent bond was shattered. I was evil. From that day on he asked his father things. Everything from how do you get to Denver from Cheyenne to how much salt to put in a pot of water for pasta. I was unworthy.
Was this Grand Canyon of a rift worth it? Hell Yes! Steve Martin, you are my hero.