When I was little, probably seven-ish, like a lot of kids, there were a few words that I couldn’t pronounce properly. Somehow, it was all tolerated until the day I adopted Barbie’s younger sister, Skipper. I couldn’t say “Skipper.” It came out more like “sipper”. A call to action was issued and Dr. Johnson, the family pediatrician was consulted. (Dr. Johnson’s sage advice had worked wonders when I was two and had a vocabulary of about ten words plus “dawg” and called any thing remotely resembling – and remotely resembling included horses, cows, motorcycles and the occasional fence post – “dawg”. I will never stop feeling indebted to him for questioning my parents “Why don’t you just get the child a dog?”)
After the doctor’s visit, I was given a hand-held mirror and Daddy and I had “Skipper” sessions in the little yellow bathroom off of my parents’ bedroom. First, I watched Daddy’s mouth closely while he said “Skipper,” then using the sink mirror and hand mirror I tried to mimic my father’s tongue placement while saying “Sipper”.
They had a different therapy when I got up after bedtime saying I wanted something to drink. My pronunciation of “thirsty” sounded more like “Thursday”. In response to my “I’m Thursday”, Mom and Dad would sit mirthfully on the couch and tell me what days of the week they were that night. This was especially irksome in view of their Virginian accents. My dad’s was especially pronounced – no pun intended. He answered the phone “Yellow” and when he was fearful he was “a Fred”. At some point I would stomp my foot and get it right or rephrase it.
Why “Sipper” caused concern and “Thursday” caused mirth, I cannot tell you. Their tired joke of the days of the week did annoy me enough that I managed to squeeze out a “thirsty”. Call it annoyance therapy, but it worked.
Now that I’m in my forties and my parents are gone, I look back upon the Thursday episodes more kindly. Wouldn’t it be fun if I could place a call to Heaven?
“Yellow Daddy? I’m a Fred I’m Thursday.”
© Laura Hedgecock 2009