When I was a kid, I told my mom a friend got exploded from school. She was surprised. “That’s a little harsh,” she said.
Such mix-ups are called malapropisms, the misuse of similar-sounding words that can bring a delightfully humorous outcome.
Here are a few classic word blunders from kids. “I helped my dad in the garage. He let me hit some nails in with his hamster.” Ouch. Poor hamster. That’s not a nice way to go.
A proud niece said, “Auntie Mary will be having a baby in March because she is stagnant.”
Kids learn interesting things in school. Like this: “In geography, we learned that countries with a sea round them are islands and ones without a sea are incontinents.”
This is from an essay: “In wartime it was safer in the country. Children who lived in big cities had to be evaporated.”
Kids get their merds wixed up and it’s always nice to be around when it happens. “When you write a story,” said one, “you should do a daft copy first. Then you can change it round and make it sound better.” I’ve written a few daft copies myself.
This from an eight-year-old: “When you are writing, if you don’t want to use a full stop on a sentence, you can use an excitement mark instead.”
Equally entertaining are children found guilty of TMI, or Too Much Information. A little girl said, “My uncle shouts at my cousins and makes them do chores. One day they are going to be policemen and policewomen so they can put him in prison.”
Another little girl said, “I sleep in my bedroom. My brother sleeps in his bedroom. My mummy sleeps in hers and Daddy’s bedroom but Daddy sometimes sleeps on the sofa with our dog. I think this is because he growls like a dog when he is snoring in his sleep.”
An adult asked a little boy whose mother was expecting, “Do you want a boy or a girl?” The boy attempted to parrot his parents and said, “We don’t care if it’s a boy or a girl, just as long as it’s wealthy.”
I, too, am guilty of inserting words and thoughts into conversations. Sometimes it’s funny. Sometimes it’s belittling or demeaning. One of my prayers lately is that God would help me use words that build something noble.
Proverbs 25:11 says, “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver” (English Standard Version).
The right word at just the right time is a work of art. Just ask Mary. She always knew she was different from the other kids, and she hated it. Hated their teasing about her physical features. Hated being different. Hated that she could barely hear with one ear. Then she entered Mrs. Leonard’s class. Her teacher was kind and gracious; she smiled a lot. This was the 1950s and teachers routinely administered an annual hearing test. During that test, Mrs. Leonard whispered softy into Mary’s good ear while Mary pretended to plug her deaf ear. The teacher whispered seven words that Mary heard clearly. Words she held onto. Words that changed her life. “I wish you were my little girl.”
Apples of gold in a setting of silver are words fitly spoken.
Words such as: “Way to go.” “Thanks for your friendship.” “You brighten a room.” “You just made my day.” “If I knew it was gonna be this good, I’d have married you in high school.”