Words, words, how I love words.
Words can be bombs and balm, deadly serious and ridiculously silly.
I was infatuated with words long before I formed by first shaky letters on a Big Chief tablet and the passing of time isn’t dulling my fascination. It just morphs and adjusts to the stages of my life. For instance, one of the wordy joys of the past few years has been exploring their power with my grandchildren.
Emerson Ann is my oldest. She’s five now and we’re still playing a game we developed quite by accident, only now we play it with her little sister Carlisle. Our game was born a couple years ago when Emerson became preoccupied with a three-letter word that has been known to try the patience of munchkin loving parents and grandparents everywhere. “Why?”
I realize all children ask why. Please trust me when I say Emerson took it to extremes. Her why knew no limits. For someone who adored my interviewer and loved the power of communication, I was surprised to find myself losing patience with the “why’s.” I was looking for a way to diffuse my frustration when I had an epiphany, Emerson didn’t really give two hoots about the answer, she was in it for the conversation. She wanted to exchange words. Period. With that, I was all in, too, and our game was born. No longer do I try to compose a reasonable answer to “Why” and it’s that much more fun when I don’t.
“Keggie, why aren’t the fish biting?”
“Because, Emerson, they’re playing doctor with the turtles.”
“Keggie!” Emerson grins. “Fish and turtles don’t play doctor, kids do.”
“Oh– that’s right. Kids play doctor because they like to eat worms.”
“No, Keggie.” Tons of giggles. “Kids don’t eat worms, birds do.”
“Oh, I’m sorry. I remember now, because birds drive tractors.”
And on and on it goes. Welcome to our world. The less sense our game makes, the more fun it becomes for all of us and I can answer why ’til the cows come home without the slightest irritation.
Grant Thomas, my oldest grandson, isn’t into the why game. Grant is an imaginative, budding artist. He loves to draw and he likes to think about big words and say them aloud, repeatedly, the bigger the better. “Disgusting” is one of his new favorites. He applies it generously and sometimes in context.
One morning last week, Grant and I were on the back porch tossing around big words when I got a peek into Grant’s five-year-old mind that I can’t quit thinking about.
I had told Grant about a cool word, “Spectacular.” Grant agreed that it was a good word and then he told me that spectacular was silver. I paused and asked my grandson to repeat that. He did. I asked Grant what color disgusting was, and he told me quickly that disgusting was gray. Whoa.
Suddenly, I felt like Emerson. I was bursting with questions. I interrogated Grant on a number of words and he told me without hesitation what color he saw each word in his head. Just so you know, remarkable is multicolored.
Grant sees words in color.
I still don’t know what I think about that. In a wonderfully ironic twist, I find myself speechless.
What say you?