You Say Tomato, I Mispronounce Epitome…
If you're a parent, you know how rarely your kids thank you for good advice. Sure, they'll say thanks for the clothes, the car, the phone, etc., but usually not for that bit of wisdom you've dropped on them that could potentially save their life, guide them through a dicey situation, or save them from embarrassment. There are the occasional exceptions.
For example, I was floored recently when my son, Spencer, said this to me:
"Hey Dad, remember when I was a kid, and after I mispronounced a word, you told me that when I learn a new word and want to use it, I should do it here at home first, so as not to embarrass myself by using it wrong when I'm out? That was great advice."
After being revived, I thanked him for the compliment. Then I asked what prompted it.
"Well, another student was really red-faced today after he called something 'the epitome' of something. Only, he pronounced it epp-a-tome. He got mad because people giggled and poked fun at him for not knowing the correct way to say that word. I just wanted to say thanks for not letting that happen to me."
He's right, we did have that suggestion in our house when the kids were young. It was partially to save them from a red-face, and partially because I found myself covered in flop-sweat multiple times as a kid for that very infraction. As a voracious reader, I often tried to work in words that I had only seen on a page, but had never heard spoken.
The world is full of people who live for the opportunity to correct others. Dropping a pronunciation bomb in their presence is not unlike hacking yourself with a steak knife before a leisurely swim in a tank full of piranhas. Having spent time in that tank, I just wanted the kids to avoid that experience.
I love that at age 21, he will still occasionally run a word or phrase past me, just to make sure he doesn't become a pinata for an overbearing word cop. I just wish I had resources like YouTube at the time for some help.
We have it now: