Listening to What We Hear

Yes, I was eavesdropping; it was temptation talking.  Sometimes my curiosity is so strong  it just takes over, and I eavesdrop into other people’s conversations.  While others may crave gossip, have a  need to enliven their dull existence, a hope for a chuckle, a bit of information, a new line or a joke to tell, I’m  a Moms-dropper.

I like to hear how other mothers talk to their children.  Mom’s-dropping helps me become a better mom; I garner perspective from which I can compare how I am doing as a mother.  I have discovered that some moms handle their kids with humor, others anger, and some with disinterest. Often their tones, inflections and facial expressions say more than the actual words.

The other day I was just listening ( yes, my back was to her) to a Mom’s “laundry list” -  what she and her daughter were going to accomplish that day.  Not too exciting until she said something that made me stop in my tracks.  The conversation was actually quite lovely, the verbal discourse a sharing of ideas. Until… until this lovely parent told her child that after the supermarket they were going to go over to the “li-berry”. The little girl parroted the mothers words verbatim ” the li-berry?” , and this woman repeated again ” Yes honey, the li-berry. So we can get you some books to read”.

Very slowly I turned to get a look at who could not only use but reinforce such incorrect use of the English language, and to an impressionable child no less! The woman was smartly dressed, well-groomed and appeared to be fairly well off ( she truly sparkled with jewels).  She saw me look at her, and smiled.  I could not return the grin. It took every ounce of my being not to shout ” LIBRARY” the word is “LIBRARY”.

As a parent ( and former teacher), I often listen to children mispronounce words. They are young, repeating what they hear and occasionally kids just like to make up their own dialects. Sometimes it is adorable and although we love to hear the mispronunciation, as an educator it is our job to correct and model.  My own daughter used to murder songs she heard at school. At first it was awwwww, so cute. Then I realized she actually had the wrong pronunciations stuck in her head. After the third time of hearing  “Blah,Blah blacksheep have you any coal?”,I had to put my foot down. It took months. Every time she would sing the wrong words I would correct her and try to get her to sing the right ones.   She had self conditioned to sing words incorrectly.

Had this parent been conditioned as well? Had her mother thought “awww so cute” everytime she said “li-berry”. Don’t people realize how uneducated they sound when they speak incorrectly? My other daughter when corrected will say ” but I LIKE saying it that way”. I try and try to explain that people will think she is not so very intelligent if she continues to mispronounce words. She just smiles and laughs. But I don’t give up. I am vigilant. My daughter will not become a Mom who says “li-berry”- ever!


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