Monday, September 24, 2007

The Joy of Diction Begins Early

by Julia Buckley

I blogged at Mysterious Musings yesterday about my son's gift for writing. What I have realized recently is that, like me, both of my boys take a certain joy in words and the way that they can express their individuality through the language that they choose.

Here's a recent example. I overheard my seventh grader telling his friend that a boy in his science class had asked him (my son) for the answers. Ian had responded that he most certainly would not give his. I, nosy mother that I am, interrupted here with my concern that a boy would ask for the answers. Ian shrugged dismissively. "He's just annoying, Mom. He's an oily turd." And then, after some thought, he added, "He's a moist foot." I happen to know the boy in question is none of these, but I was impressed with my son's precise diction--with his attempts to convey a feeling with specific words.

My younger son impressed me equally recently with his description of a bright night sky: "Mom, look! The moon looks like a toenail clipping." And it did look like that--just like that. They have the instinctive desire to avoid cliche descriptions and go right for the honest response, which is often a surprise.

Today both boys were playing Playstation, despite the fact that it was beautiful outside for the first time in ages. I expressed displeasure with their indoor game, and immediately my nine-year-old began to complain. "We're almost finished with this level," he said indignantly. "Why would we stop when we've almost beaten the game?"

Ian, more savvy in the politics of manipulation, said, "Graham, don't! If you want to finish playing we must appease the Mom-god, not anger her."

That's my eldest son in a nutshell. Later he made up an "appeasing the Mom-god" dance, which involved some solo hopping and then some collaboration with his beagle, who is ever willing to jump.

Underneath my disdain for their sass, however, is a joyful realization that they are young poets--that they will use their words to describe their worlds, to understand themselves, to control their destinies to the extent that they can be controlled.

They are writers at heart, and I can only be proud.


Sandra Parshall said...

Julia, you're not the only one who's impressed by your sons' precise language. I love the toenail clipping simile. And calling someone a "moist foot" -- what a great putdown! Yes, you have a couple of young writers there.

Joyce said...

I agree with Sandra. Very impressive!

Julia Buckley said...

Thanks. Since I love language, it's always the clever language that I respond to most positively. Maybe they've picked up on that. When Graham told me one day he thought my repeated question was "rhetorical" he was of course trying to avoid discipline, but I was so impressed by the vocab I basically let it slide. :)