“O M my G!! Mommy, you totally have to look at what Batman is doing! It’s so cool!”
It’s official: I’ve rubbed off on my child. My lingo is, like, totally birthed in Valley Girl land, … except I’ve never been a Valley Girl. I may be a bit ditzy, and I’m definitely blonde, but this girl grew up as a military brat … which is far, far away from this so-called Valley place.
I remember the first time I ever heard the word, “like” used inappropriately. My family had just moved from San Antonio to Houston. I was in the eighth grade, feeling awkwardly out of place in a new middle school, trying to meet new people and make new friends. Oh, yeah, and I’m pretty sure I may have still had an afro. … No, maybe I’d grown that out by the time I moved to Houston. Otherwise, who would have talked to me?
Eesh! Like, I was totally rocking all sorts of gnarly hair back in the early 90’s, dude. But, still, a few people thought I was cool enough to bother approaching.
“Oh, hey. Like, you’re the new girl, right? That’s, like, so totally cool. It’s, like, nice to meet you! Would you like to sit with us, … like for lunch?”
I love meeting new people, and I love making friends. But, for the first few weeks, it was hard to understand the lingo. I quickly learned this is what is known as “Valley Girl” speak. Because, like, apparently some girls in someplace called The Valley, like, totally speak like this, because, dude, it’s, like, totally the cool thing to do. Except, I didn’t know where The Valley was, and I didn’t understand why the word “like” was thrown around so much.
Due primarily to my personality, I began using certain terms as a joke. I remember several situations in which my dad and I discussed why the word “like” was used as much as the word “umm.” I’m sure most of you remember that it’s in my nature to analyze situations, otherwise, why blog? Therefore, I began throwing the Valley speak around in my normal witty commentary.
Like, can you tell?
Except, over time I forgot why I began mocking the lingo. I began using Valley Girl speak in my normal, every day verbiage. It leeched in, took hold, and fermented right into the depths of my brain. And there it stayed, even after I became a (cough) thirty-something (cough) mom.
Dude, like, crap.
It doesn’t help that I’ve never baby-talked my child. I add in cute nicknames, and will repeat back words that he chooses to say in a cute way. The way he calls milk “mo,” or stuffed animals “stuffies,” for example. I’ve never fostered weird words, or told him his itty bitty wittle tushy was just so pinchably sweet. Although, it totally is. Any lingo I use around Tiny Tot I had already held in my lexicon, pre-child.
Had I focused on speaking baby talk, maybe I would have circumvented the Valley-ese from his dialect. Maybe he would have the vocabulary of an almost five year-old, instead of a 16 year-old. Maybe he wouldn’t say the word “totally” so much. Or, maybe not. After all, I am his mother, and I spew forth random comments without thinking of how they might affect his language development. I have always believed children learn to assimilate words based on inferencing skills. How do children grow to know any word, including basic vocabulary, if not figuring out how the word works in their world, with our language?
Tiny Tot, therefore, has gotten the good with the bad. He’s gotten my adult speak in his tiny world. Plus, it is also a source of pride when he uses a three-syllable vocabulary word correctly, or puts me in my place with his higher-level thinking skills. All of which came from my refusal of separating adult speak from baby talk. I mean, hey, it totally gives me something to write about … other than boogers and poop.
So, along with his amazing brain skills comes the Valley Girl-ese.
Which might be, like, totally okay. I’ll just have to see.
And, if nothing else, I can start a Valley Girl jar–like a Swear Jar, for our Valley speak.