We’re picking up Leta from school when I inform her teacher that Leta won’t be present in class for the next few days because we’re going on a trip. Her teacher smiles, says it’s no problem, so we turn to leave the building. Suddenly she calls out, says she forgot to tell us something, and in front of three or four other parents and their children she says, “I was reading Leta a book today, and she promptly reprimanded me when I pronounced crayon the wrong way.”
I can feel my cheeks start to burn red, and I say, “Oh?” The word cracks as it leaves my mouth.
“Yes,” she continued. “There was a character in the book who picked up a crayon, so I said the word, crayon, and she nearly lost her mind. I guess in your house it’s pronounced crown?”
As a matter of fact, it certainly is pronounced crown in my house, as it should be in the rest of the English-speaking world, but Jon nearly comes unglued and immediately points both index fingers at me. “It’s her fault,” he explains. And he’s so quick to blame me that I can tell he’s high on the idea that an independent, third party agrees with him.
“I’m from the South,” I say. “Some of us say it that way, although you could argue that I’ve gone particularly out of my way to reinforce this specific pronunciation. Because it irks her father so thoroughly.”
When we get out to the car Jon has pulled almost every remaining hair off his head, and goes on and on about how I am single-handedly messing up Leta’s education, that all of her teachers for the next 18 years are going to have to undo all the damage I’ve already done. Why? Because I taught her how to say crayon the right way. Not because of all that heroin I smoked during pregnancy. Or how I like to drop her on her head from the roof of the house. Interesting.