Thursday, January 5, 2012

My Personal Parakeet

When I was a little girl, my grandparents had a pet parakeet named Parker. I was fascinated by the fact that he could talk, but I was even more fascinated that he sounded just like my grandmother when he did. He would say, “I love you, Parky Metaaaaahf” with exactly the same accent and inflection that my grandmother used when she said it to him.

Now that I have a child who can talk, I find that I have a parakeet of my very own. I’m discovering vocal tics that I never knew I had, when they come out of the mouth of my son. I never noticed how often I use the word “actually” until one day when my husband asked my son if he was enjoying his milk and he replied, “Actually, it’s juice.” I had no idea that I said, “uh-uh-uh” instead of “no” until my personal parakeet began echoing it back to me.

Of course, the flip side of that is that I need to be careful of every single word that comes out of my mouth, because I never know when it will be repeated. I had the kids in the car with me the other day when another car cut me off and I blurted out, “Geez!!!!” Without missing a beat, a little voice from the back seat echoed, “Geez!!!” and I was suddenly very thankful that I’m not generally a swearer. And I immediately made a silent vow to make sure I’m not EVER a swearer.

Since my son looks exactly like my husband with no hint of me whatsoever, it’s nice to be able to at least hear myself in him. Not only do I hear my own vocabulary from my son, I hear my own accents and inflections. When he says, “Oh, too bad,” or “That’s okay” in a calming voice, I recognize my own soothing intonation. When he referred to one of his trucks as a “car carriah”, I knew it was time for me to curb my New England accent a bit.

But when he tells me, “I love you,” with my husband’s voice and inflection, that’s okay, too. I happen to really like hearing those words in that particular voice and inflection, no matter which of my boys is saying it to me.

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