Jesse Hayworth
Jesse Hayworth


Jesse Hayworth

As a writer, I try to avoid too much in the way of dialect. On a good day, I treat it like a pungent spice, adding just enough to flavor things, but not so much that it distracts from the other stuff that’s going on. On a not-so-good day … let’s just say that editing is my friend.

In TV and movies, I find that dialect can be jarring, especially when it’s done wrong. Like when supposed locals in a Boston-set crime drama talk about taking ‘the 95′ (we take ’95’) or ‘the Massachusetts Turnpike’ (it’s ‘da Pike’). Ahem. I’m looking at you, Rizzoli & Isles.

Closer to home, though, I’ve been getting my own object lesson in dialect, in the form of now year-and-a-half-old, horrifyingly verbal Wallaby. In other words–don’t say something if you don’t want it repeated!

Like the other day, when Arizona comes into the kitchen, looking quizzical. “Did he just say ‘corn on my crotch’?” And I blink innocently, hide the remains of kiddo’s lunch behind my back, and say, “Hm. Don’t know where that could have come from …”

Or when Wallaby says “Goodness sakes!” as his blocks collapse on him. (That’s straight from my mom, and makes me laugh every time I hear it.) Or, well, a few expletives that will remain deleted, and are currently being policed as best we can.

Then there’s the “Nope.” Yes, our son has gotten quite good at the “NO!” of toddlerhood, except that he picked up my version of the phrase. Which is somehow both more adorable and more annoying when you’re on the receiving end from your little cherub.

Me: Okay, dude. Five more minutes and it’s bye-bye playground!

Wallaby: Nope.

Me: That wasn’t an option.

Him: Op-shun. NOPE!

Yep. I’m in trouble, but laughing as the mad descent begins. It all makes me much more aware of language (his, mine, ours, the writing), and how we sound to ourselves and each other. Will it make me a better writer? I couldn’t say. But I have a feeling I’m going to get a whole lot more creative with my non-curses over the next few years.

So help me out, JauntyFriends. What’s your favorite non-curse curse, or out of the mouths of babes story?



13 thoughts on “Watching my mouth!

  1. Danielle says:

    Sweet Naked Baby Jesus! But you MUST have a very Southern accent to pull it off.

  2. Kate Sparks says:

    My grandmother would say shister doobie hobby scotch. quickly… this was after at 2 years old repeated ‘shxt’… to my dad who looked at my grandmother and said ‘you know where she got that one?’

    1. Hahaha! I think I would have enjoyed your grandmother 🙂

  3. Dawn A says:

    I worked in a preschool for years, so I either made up jibberish words or I would say fudgesickles, flibbertygibbet, holy frijoles or good golly miss molly.

    1. Ooh, I like holy frijoles!

  4. Shana Galen Shana Galen says:

    Oh, my gosh. So many! Kids really do say everything we do. And you have to be careful what they watch. I let my daughter watch a show for upper elementary kids the other day and one character said, “Boys are idiots.” Later she told me “Daddy is an idiot.” Um, no. We don’t say that about daddy–or anyone! Lesson 1 in not saying everything they say on TV. And we won’t watch that show again.

    1. Whoops! Yes, I’m already finding some ‘oohhhkay, we’ll be turning this off’ even in supposedly safe nursery rhymes. Ah, well!

  5. That “goodness sakes” must be adorable!

    My daughter is 8 now, and she fusses at me if I, um, say something I shouldn’t. I always apologize when I do and I tell her that she’s right, there are some words that we shouldn’t say. (It is difficult to remember this when you conk your head really hard on a kitchen cabinet.)

    I did a better job of policing myself when she was a toddler. One thing she picked up was “How sad is that.” We said it when something disappointing happened, and she picked it up. That helped her put a name to her feeling, maybe? Anyway, it was pretty cute.

    1. Awwww. I like ‘how sad is that?’ I may have to borrow.

  6. Today’s note to self: do not refer to diaper rash as ‘baboon butt’ anymore.

  7. Eileen A-W says:

    When I started a swearing jar to clean up my preteens language they came up with a few good ones. Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, fudgiscicle are a couple of my favorites as is Smurf. Those are all I can think of right now.

  8. Lorelei says:

    I’ve used -Oh, sugar!!! ( 🎶Da-Na-Na-Naa-Na Na!). That’s an oldie. 😉 Gosh, it’s been so long since my kids were little, I can’t remember any others.
    *Goodness sakes* Cute!😄

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