Cancan and I made it to the gym this morning, which is always a minor miracle in and of itself. I dropped him off at childcare, had a lovely, sweat-filled hour to myself, and was briskly pulled aside upon pick-up.
“Um, ma’am, do you know what your son kept saying all morning?”
Uh oh, the Little Mimicker strikes again.
“He kept saying,” and she pauses, her voice now a whisper as she looks around the room, “‘Aw Shi, Aw Shi, Aw Shi,’…” She lets her sentence trail off and looks at me expectantly, quizzically.
I tried to explain to her that his favorite book is The Runaway Bunny, and at the end of the story, the bunny reluctantly admits defeat to the Mother Bunny, saying, “Aw shucks, I might as well just stay where I am and be your little bunny” – except that there’s not technically an “aw” in front of “shucks,” and apparently Mama Cara-Bunny thought it’d more naturally flow to add a mildly disappointing interjection. Because, I’m really not a cusser – okay, well not most of the time – so even though his “shi” sounds like “s-h-i-t” – and I proceed to spelled it out, since we were most obviously in the company of Littles – really it’s just because he doesn’t have his “uh” sound down yet.
She wasn’t buying it.
Then we got home, and nap time eventually commenced, and what book did Cancan want to read?
“Aw Shi! Aw Shi! Aw Shi!”
Not only is Aw Shi (…ahem) apparently now the name of the book, but it’s also the first word of every page.
Oh, Brilliant Buddy.
Regardless, I’ve been hit by the power of words this past week; as a writer, every time my fingers hit the keys, the choicest of words are selected. You don’t even know the love affair I have with the thesaurus on a daily basis. As a speaker, I’ll – quite literally – spend hours in study and writing and eventual practice, hearing the words and phrases I’ve written now set to speech. And this all for a finished product that isn’t generally more than 20 or 30 minutes long. Certainly now that I’m a mama, with a child who’s burgeoning in language development, I’m more aware than ever of the power of speech.
Even though I’d like to take my Rod of Blame and poke the delinquent rodent in his little bunny-buns, I’ll instead take ownership of my mouth.
Because our words – every single one of us, from the smallest of smalls to the biggest and most impressive of influencers – have the power to persuade and compel and effect, both positively and negatively. If I still donned the hat of English teacher, I’d ask my students why the choice words of Emily Dickinson pierced their hearts, or how it was that F. Scott Fitzgerald’s words so wildly became the voice of the 20’s. If, then in and with my Young Life days, I found myself sitting with a group of leaders – a group of folks committed to reaching kids for Christ – we’d probably talk about the core of human longing, that we all simply want to be known and understood. So what can we, as leaders, do to show kids that we are for them? We can ask them a million questions, because we want to know them, because we want to get them, and in doing so, we are giving them a voice. We are showing them that their words matter deeply, that they matter deeply.
And really, I wish I had it down. But I don’t, not at all.
I can still so easily be a Reactor instead of a Responder, with my mouth is the first to fly off the handle. I don’t always think before I speak, and whether warranted or not, there are people I’ve end up constantly in apology-mode to and with. And then of course there’s that tricky thing called humor: I think I’m being funny – but, Friendlies, bold statement a comin’ here – not everyone thinks I’m the funniest kid ever. My sarcasm ends up being scar-casm, and, once again, I’m reminded to love deeply and respond graciously and maybe, just maybe, mimic my words just a little bit more to the Brave Beloved next time.
So I’m still figuring it out, as we all are, I suppose. And that too is okay.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to help Little Man with his “uh” sounds. Until next time, Aw Shi!
What about you? How have your words been used powerfully, both positively and negatively? And more importantly, what’s the funniest mimic you ever heard a little one say?