The Neenee of the Heart
January 25, 2008
When you have a speech-delayed kid, you will be constantly warned not to imitate their pronunciation, no matter how adorable it may be. When they butcher a word, you are supposed to model the correct pronunciation. You will be told this is very, very important. I have a very, very hard time remembering this.
"Buddy, do you want some muck?" I ask while pouring the milk.
"MMMMMMUCK!" he shrieks and nods his head.
"If you are a good boy, I bet you'll get a baboonay," I tell him at Trader Joe's.
"Yaaaay baboonaaaay!" he shrieks and eyes the balloons at the register.
When I tuck him at night, he asks for his neenee.
"Of course Mama will turn on your neenee," I say just before pulling the string on his favorite music box. That one is probably my favorite, since he calls ALL music -- instrumental, vocal, Snoop Dogg -- neenee.
Jason (who gets nagged with more child language development bullshiteese than anybody in the world -- "Stop! You're playing the Director Role! That's not the Tuned-In Parent! You're not O.W.L.ing it! Observe! Wait! Listen!") hears me do this and raises a silent, judging eyebrow.
"But it's so cuuuute!" I whine. "And his friend Max talks in paragraphs but still calls squirrels zaaaas because Julie thought it was funny and never told him that they aren't really called zaaaas and it's also so cuuuute!"
"One word," Jason says. "GUCKY."
When I was a very little girl, probably a toddler, I called poop "gucky." Like...yucky. But...gooey. I don't know. My parents and siblings thought it was so cuuuuute and started using it all the time. Nobody went poop, we all went gucky.
The problem was, NOBODY TOLD ME I MADE THE DAMN WORD UP. Nobody, that is, until I used it in front of other kids. IN THE FIRST GRADE.
Not cute. Try mortifying.
Yesterday I was out shopping with Julie and Max (who cheerfully informed me that "Mas went Grandpa's house a couple days, um Amy? After baby brother come we go to California for good yaaay!" and it suddenly took all my strength to not collapse in a sobbing puddle in the men's department at Nordstrom because baby brother is due in two weeks and I have not yet been able to permanently affix myself to Julie's ankle while wailing DON'T LEAVE MEEEEE, but I'm working on it. I just got this new kind of glue off an infomercial.).
Noah heard the piano playing as we passed the escalator. "Uusic?" he asked.
I sucked in my breath and put my hand over my heart -- no! not uusic! neenee! call it neenee! -- before answering by the book.
"Yes Noah, music. Pretty music. Let's stop and listen to the music."
"Uusic," he said again, happily.