Girl stands next to the kitchen table, her Tales of Famous Americans book open next to her, and grins widely as she reads aloud, “Martin Luther King loved learning new words. M.L. exclaimed, ‘When I grow up, I’m going to get me some big words.’”
While Girl gets a kick out of this statement, Niblet isn’t so sure. Wondering, he asks, “What does that mean?”
Clicking my brain to The Mommy Channel, I explain, “Basically, it means Martin Luther King understood that having a good vocabulary and knowing when and how to use words could help him out in life. If you know smart words and aren’t afraid of them, it’s kind of like, um, if you’re playing a video game, and your character runs across a brick of gold, and then his power meter gets a boost of 100 points.”
Sensing that he might be watching a show called “Mommy Bullsh**” on The Mommy Channel, Niblet gives me his patented, “Yea, wwwwight.”
“No, really, Paco. If you have good words as your weapons, it’s like your character gets seven extra lives.”
Not even pretending to buy my “aimed-at-the-six-year-old” explanation, Niblet gives me the stink eye.
In return, I concede, “Okay, no more dumb video game analogies. The point really is just that language can give you power. In your life, if you can learn and know lots of words, you’ll have an advantage. Like, if you know the word ‘verisimilitude’ instead of ‘truth,’ you could change your life. You could write something or say something that people will remember forever. Or you could get a really cool job and travel to amazing places if you have strong words propelling you. There’s no end to what you can do if you take words and make them work for you. For example, if people are ever mean to you, you can use language to settle the score. Language is better than a sword!”
Incredulous at such logic, when clearly nothing could ever be more awesome and badical than a sword, Niblet rolls, “Yea, wwwwight, Mom. Like ‘verismachiepoop’ is a word people use. Verisasupercalliemapooper!”
With this, he turns his attention out the window to the roofers balancing atop our garage, scraping away the slush as they use a nail gun to attach new shingles.
“I like those guys,” he says. “They’re doing the job without words.”