When I was in school my history teacher would chastise me for using capital letters with neither care nor caution. I was consistently in the habit of making things far more important than they were. It was in this manner that the most important thing in my study of Mecca was not the prayer but the Mat, that the Holocaust took place over Many Years and that Henry VIII had many Wives. By the time I got to college I had managed to get that into check (ahem) but quickly adopted the habit of creating new words out of old ones which I was reminded of yesterday when we voted in a new Pastor with unanimity - the pronunciation of which sent me into a tizzy over whether the word existed.
Now it may just be that my vocabulary has decreased over the years simply by virtue of no longer being in college. Or it could be Maine. Or it could be both. Nevertheless I find myself on most days wondering where the words have gone and re-reading The Phantom Tollbooth in the hopes of discovering them. Perhaps my resolve to read more, part of that being to read well and avoid the next Twilight plague that 2011 might bring, may aid the recovery of my vocabulary.
I have spent many years lamenting the fact that my children would grow up with an American accent and not the cute twang of the Mary Poppins kids, I am after all the only Brit they will hear most of the time. As Toby develops his own vocabulary I have come to realize that this no longer matters to me. I love his little voice no matter the emphasis or tone.
At the moment he is rather mono-syllabic. With the exception of "juice" "car" "truck" and "dad" he is king of the one-time-only word. He finds a word, uses it, realises he now possesses the word and then doesn't use it again, choosing instead to play with other sounds. Last week he ate a banana and looked for Grandma quite clearly but nary a peep of either since. Then the creme de la creme that sent me into minor heart failure on Friday evening. I had just finished reading yet another installment of Curious George for him, turned on his Ipod to Maxwell's Silver Hammer, gave him a goodnight squeeze and hug while uttering the ever loving "Goodnight Toby, I love you" when to my surprise he responded. A confluence of sound and syllable combined with a mother's ear produced "I love you too" from the lips of my sweet fifteen month old boy. I don't expect to hear it again but my goodness this mother's heart jumped into her throat.
I hope that enough showings of British Cartoons and 70s sitcoms will imbibe Toby with the vernacular that he will not grow up with. As for me I will return to my couch and take in the comedic stylings of Penelope Keith and Richard Briers rediscovering words seldom used and long forgotten.