Someday, dismayingly soon, some twerp at the schoolyard is going to make fun of my son Tony when he says the word blanket. See, Tony doesn’t say blanket. He says blanklet which both adorable and incorrect. At five years old, Tony has fewer and fewer of these mispronunciations. He calls blanket, blanklet, accent apsent, and New Hampshire, New Hamster. These aren’t mispronunciations as much as misunderstandings.
Tony and his older brother Patrice are both in speech therapy and have plenty of the former. These impediments are also adorable but clearly need to be remedied. Already they have had pernicious effects on, for instance, Patrice’s spelling. After a recent snit with my wife, he wrote a sign that read: West Momy Evr. He did not mean that she is from the West Coast.
But blanklet is different. Tony genuinely thinks the word blanket has two ls in it. And, for what it’s worth it should. Blanklet is so much more comforting and cuter a word for something under which one can be cozy, pronounced tozy. But the world is what it is, not what we wish it to be. Blanket. Accent. New Hampshire.
As a father, I am the guardian of my sons and this includes being protective of their dignity. When I see them making damn fools of themselves, it’s my responsibility to step in and tell them, in a way that minimizes the bruising of their self-hood, tell them that they are making damn fools of themselves. Saying blanklet is like having your verbal fly down. Doesn’t matter if the underwear peeking out is breathable spunkily patterned pair of boxer briefs, fly’s still down.
On the other hand, as a father one of the central joys of having smaller children is their cutesie patootsiness. Along with disproportionately large eyes their tiny toenails and the way they un-self-conscious hold your hand, words like blanklet or New Hamster are the benedictions offered by the teensy. Soon, dismayingly soon, my boys will be teenagers. My love for them will be just as strong as today but transmuted somewhat. They will no longer be cute but gross and pimply and jizz everywhere. It will be a measure of my devotion that I’ll still think they’re the cat’s pajamas.
So it is a bit selfish to let Tony say blanklet. But I also know it won’t last forever. These rough bits of youth, like those on a stone tumbled in the ocean waves, will soon buffed away. Perhaps the correction will come by the unkind hand of a peer or perhaps by the gentle guiding hand of time, but Tony has the rest of his life to pronounce words correctly. For now, me and him are gonna go get tozy under a blanklet and dream of New Hamster.