An unfiltered fire hose of flaming condemnation

Regional differences

Leta is looking for a tiny shoe that belongs to a particular Polly Pockets set we bought her for Easter which, first of all, is already an impossible endeavor. I don’t think the CIA could find that shoe, and I have a hard time understanding why they even create shoes for Polly Pocket figures anyway. Have you ever seen them? Imagine a miniature Barbie. Smaller. Smaller than that. So imagine the feet on that smaller than smaller than a miniature Barbie. Right. Tiny. You can’t even see the feet without a microscope. Now imagine the shoes that fit on those microscopic feet. Keeping track of those shoes is like keeping track of an individual piece of dust. EXCEPT MORE MADDENING.

She keeps asking Jon, “Did you sawl it?”

And he keeps going, “Have I SEEN it?”

Naturally, this has the exact opposite effect that he intends, and she starts screaming bad grammar even more vehemently: “DID YOU SAWL IT?”

“Leta,” he says with a calm, assertive tone that The Dog Whisperer recommends you use with disobedient dogs. Except Jon has never used this tone with Coco and instead prefers the DIE! DIE! DIE! approach to conversation. It involves a lot of tearing at his hair. And using inappropriate words in front of our impressionable four-year-old daughter who just yesterday used SHIT in proper context. I should probably add an OOPS to the end of that revelation, but I’m less embarrassed by her cussing than I am proud that she is figuring out the subtleties of language.

“SAWL is not a word,” he says to her firmly. “It’s SAW. SAWWWWWW.”

She remains unimpressed and, on the verge of emotional collapse, yells, “DID? YOU? SAWLLLLLLLL? IT?” Because she isn’t interested in this little grammar tutorial, DAD, and look! YOUR PROPER USE OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE HAS DONE NOTHING TO HELP HER FIND THAT SHOE.

“Jon,” I say trying to step in and ease the tension a little bit. “I’m the English major in this house, and right now I don’t care that she’s saying SAWL. Why do you care so much?”

“Ohhhhhh noooooo, NO YOU DON’T,” he shoots back. “Have you ever listened to the way you pronounce C-R-A-Y-O-N? THAT’S WHAT I THOUGHT.”

“What does that have to do with this?”

“It means that if I leave you in charge of teaching her how to speak we’ll have to hire a translator to follow her around so that she can communicate with the world.”

“But if you’re in charge of teaching her how to speak—”








Internet, I love my husband, I adore him even, but he should not be surprised this afternoon to find that all of his underwear has been put in the freezer.

  • CarolM

    I ABSOLUTELY LOVE IT!!!! The ongoing pronunciation argument at our house revolves around “Don” – male name, “Dawn” – female name, and “dawn” – when the sun comes up. THEY DON’T ALL SOUND THE SAME!!! Unless of course you are my husband and daughter – ARGH!!!! I completely understand AWWWWW, AWWWWWW, AWWWWW!!!!!

  • Angie

    Well.. my daughter used to say all kinds of words wrong. And I loved it. What irritated me is when the in-laws would try to correct her. Now she is almost 9 and she says them just fine. Now my son who is 6 has one thing he always says wrong. I haven’t figured out why….but he insists that the incredible hulk is really muh-hunk. What kind of birthday do you want? MuhHUNK! I want a MUHHUNK toy, I want to go see the new muh hunk movie! ETC. I should record him saying it so when he is older I can play it for his girl friends. LOL.

    Thanks for the laugh!

  • Ahhhhh Jon, whatever happened to picking your battles? If I correct every single grammar mistake that my children say, I would probably loose all my hair.

    Oh, Jon you will think about this moment tonight. In bed.

  • In my day, Polly Pocket’s shoes were attached to her body. Because seriously, WHO NEEDS TO CHANGE SHOES THAT TINY? It’s not like they wear out!

    Also, no one will blame you for putting his underwear in the freezer. You could probably get away with throwing the clogs in there too…

  • sbk

    Did you check Coco’s, uh, leavings?

  • If it’s hot out, underpants in the freezer can be quite refreshing.

  • Did you soak them in water first?

  • Underwear in the freezer! How passive aggressive of you – I LOVE IT!

    My 6 year old son is autistic and has an unimaginable ability to use the English language like no other 6 year old child can.

    Last summer we had to stop walking through town because whenever he got upset with me he would scream “YOU FUC#ER” – VERY loudly. People would stop, jaws dropped, completely and utterly shocked that a child would speak that way to his mother and that she would completely ignore it.

    How he ever learned to use that word, in that context is beyond me.

    Children never cease to amaze me.

  • Dooce, let me start by saying I have the love for you, your blog, and all that is DOOCE.

    I do believe, however, that the toy you and your readers are referring to are ‘Fashion Polly'(A sort of Polly Pocket spin-off). There was many a sad Easter or Christmas at my house when ol’ Santa or Mr. Bunny would surprise my sister with Polly Pocket only to find out that the dressable Polly’s are of another species entirely.

    My sister once stuck a tiny Polly shoe up her tiny nostril. Would have made a good blog, I’m sure.

    Mattel has had some recalls lately. My office is located near their corporate… There is apparently lead in everything that is fun for kids. Just a heads up ~ Polly’s were affected as well. Well, we all played with these toys growing up, and we turned out alright…

    Take care, Heather!

  • I have to say, I am also with Jon on this one. How do all these people think that their kids “grow out of it” if not by being corrected when the situation arises?

    Of course, I also take note that my human visitor test below says “Mr nitpicking” and I have to wonder if the universe is saying, “Jon, please retrieve your undies and keep quiet.”

  • Anne Cunningham

    What color is that shoe she is looking for? I raised three daughters, the last one is 15. Two are grown and gone. We moved out of our big house years ago and have downsized many times since then, and I swear I still come across Polly Pocket shoes and accessories!

    There is probably a Polly Pocket replacement website, so you should ask them if they “sawl” any of her shoes on their inventory list.

    Or maybe there’s a children’s toy black market where there’s another little girl who will trade just the right Polly Pocket shoe for a the second wine glass she needs for her Barbie kitchenette.

    Too funny. … and your prior post yesterday, about Leta’s launch into four-dom was your best yet.

  • So crayon is “crown?” Because just today, the dental hygienist was talking to me about the “crayons” on my teeth, and I was totally confused. I nodded and smiled and then looked like a total jackhole when she said, “Did you get them done here?” Scrambling ensued while I to figure out what she could possibly mean by crayons in my mouth. Crowns. Duh!

  • Mariam

    I ran this one by my linguist husband and here’s what he had to say regarding Leta’s use of “sawl”:

    The verb [see] is an irregular verb in its past tense form [saw] and its perfective participle form [have seen]. Children learn irregular verb forms around the age of
    four or five. Correcting them will not help, this is something they just learn. What has happened here is that Leta has tried to regularize the verb with the productive past tense morpheme [-ed]. This would give us either [seed] or if she is currently learning the irregular paradigm we sometimes hear [sawed]. This is what Leta is trying to do (produce [sawed]) but she hasn’t closed off the airflow in her mouth enough to do this. So there are two production errors here: the first is with morphology (the [-ed] ending) and the second is in trying to pronounce the
    [d] in this ending. Her tongue is moving from making an [w] sound (a bilabial glide) to trying to make a [d] (a alveolar voiced stop) but hrt mouth didn’t
    constrict the airflow enough and she produced a [l] (an alveolar liquid). Not to worry, these things correct themselves.


    BTW, he fully supports you on “crayon.”

  • Ben

    Remember the boy version? Mighty Max? Mini Max? Something like that…it’s basically the butch version of a mini girl living in a mini house with mini accessories. SO BUTCH!

  • Kate

    What disturbs me far more than Leta’s loving inclusion of the letter L is this notion:

    That Coco might eat Polly’s shoe, poop it out, eat the poop, poop it out… in a vicious cycle until Leta happens to notice a small pastel piece of footwear sticking out of a dogpile in the backyard… and maybe insist that it be recovered? Or maybe she’ll banish Coco from the family forever. Perhaps you should start a therapy savings account now / arrange a safe house for the (stinking cute) dog should these events conspire.

  • Beth

    Years ago, my daughter came home from 2nd grade with a big red circle next to the word sawl. This is exactly how her father pronounces it so she saw no problem with it. We still make fun of him when he says it this way!

  • Sra

    Hope you got them wet first.

  • Anonymous

    Ha, yeah…my 6½-year-old still says ‘sawl’ and ‘drawl’ and pretty much ‘-awl’ ANYTHING that ends with ‘-aw’. It drives me crazy and I try to ignore it most of the time, but hey. Sometimes, you just gotta say something. Kinda like when the same kid uses the word “it” in the place of “that”. You know. As in “I think it we should go to the park today.” THAT. Honey. THAAAAAT.

    Oh, and this has nothing to do with north-vs-south…nope. We’re about as northern as they get (ok, not really, but think central PA) so no southern drawl here. …Or is it southern draw?

  • I think that in those books you buy (or make) to document things like baby’s first word, baby’s first tooth, baby’s lock of hair, etc – there should be a place for baby’s first swear word – it happens to everyone – and I bet you chuckled a bit! I know I would/will when it happens to me! I will chuckle and try to stifle my laughter before trying to explain why that word is bad.

  • Amy

    Too good. TOO GOOD. FAR TOO GOOD!!

  • As long as she never says irregardless.

    Or says literally when she’s speaking figuratively (“I LITERALLY died!” Um, no, you didn’t. If you did, you wouldn’t be telling me this witty little story, now would you?)

  • When I lived down south, we used to pronounce that last word as “FRAY-zer”. 🙂

  • Terri Sinclair

    Love these reminders that life, even in the Dooce household, is not perfect!

    And, am I wrong or isn’t “Dad have you saw my Polly Pockets shoe?” almost as bad as “Dad have you sawl my Polly Pockets shoe?” Just wondering…..

  • PLEASE tell me that Leta knows how to use “fixing” correctly.

    As in “I am fixing to doe-pop you, if you don’t stop it!”.

    And doesn’t Jon have any home-training, it’s inappropriate to make fun of others’ culture. Even if said culture and the language that accompanies it is utterly wrong and ridiculous.

  • Just so you know, Polly Pockets were invented by the Nazis as a form of torture for unsuspecting parents.

    However, now is a good time to teach Leta the joy of unmatched shoes.

  • AWWWWWWWWWW …….!!!
    Men and women should never marry. We are 2 different species and we may love each other, but living together? For long periods of time?

  • Being the mom of two boys, girls toys freak me out. I really want to know why they can’t make Bratz shoes removable vs having to take off THE WHOLE FOOT. Yikes!!!!

    In my culture (Spanish/Mexican-American) all the men in my family refer to it as “throwing a fart”. Example: “Oh, I just threw a fart.” Exposing your kids to different cultures is important. Teach her that and we’ll see what Jon has to say. 🙂

  • The Ferret

    Wooooow…. dig that new masthead!!!!! 🙂 Funny and clever, just as YOU always are. Little did Tessa know that her e-mail would provide inspiration for an entire month’s homepage. I love it….

  • I’m convinced that Polly Pockets were created by the DEVIL just to annoy the parents who constantly have to clean them up or search for some piece of ridiculously sized clothing article!!
    Jon sounds like my mom, she is always freaking out on my kids about grammar and most of the time they have no idea what she means either? She repeats them and they repeat her and it turns into the most obnoxious game ever!!

  • HAH, this is totally my childhood home all over again!

    My dad and I would correct my mom and sister all the time.
    Like my mom always pronounces surreal; [cereal] – actually in danish it’s much worse…

    Aparrently I adopted my fathers love for correct pronounciation…

  • LOL!
    Actually we are sticklers for speech in our house.
    When my 9 year old son emerges from brushing his teeth, his last chore of the evening, he says, “I’m all ready for bad.”
    We say, “Bad? Well that sounds like trouble.”
    When he starts an explanation for anything he says, “Wool, he was…”
    We say, “Wool? How does a fabric figure into this story?”

  • Is the Utah accent that bad? Should I be grateful that I’m in California and the only thing that interferes with my children’s ability to speak properly is the inclusion of “dude” in every sentence, phrase and fragment?

  • Briana

    Eh, Leta’s four. She’ll figure it out. Someday soon, she will be at that age where she makes fun of the way John speaks. I don’t have kids yet, but I sure had fun making fun of my parents as a teenager, especially when I discovered that “wash” shouldn’t be pronounced “worsh” or “fresh” as “fraysh”. Lovey Kansas accent my mother’s got!

  • I vote you wash it all with a red sock first, THEN stick it in the freezer. Still damp.

  • how come i hadn’t thought of husband underwear in the freezer before?! good thing he doesn’t read this blog, because he’s going to be in for a nice little surprise the next time he pisses me off 🙂

  • Maria

    I still at 28 say sawl to irritate my mother. The look on her face when she says “Maria Dawn it is SAW not sawlllllllllllllllllllllllll” is hilarious.

  • I think you outta chuck one of those Polly Pocket shoes his way and then holler at him, “Betcha didn’t seed that comin'”

    Sawl is better than ain’t. And crayon is totally forgivable. At least she’s talking, right?

  • amyd

    Wow. Thank you #63, Mariam, for that great explanation.

    My mom never bought me shoes for my dolls. So I’m fully with Leta on this one. I don’t care if it’s SEEN, SAW, SAWL, SEENED, or SAWEDLED, just find the kid her shoes!!!1

    Unless they’re tiny Crocs. Just because I love you, D. No tiny Crocs.

    (hey, my captcha is Gallagher and April!)

  • He sounds like a treat.

  • This made me chuckle, more because I learned about this in my linguistics class last semester. About how parents try to correct their children’s grammar whether it be past tense, present tense, gerund, etc etc.. but the children just WON’T correct it and they never will until they get a bit older and realize themselves they’re doing it wrong.

    PS: Back when I was a kid (not so long ago haha) Polly pockets didnt even have feet to put shoes on! They were the size of a fingernail and painted plastic. What have they done?!

  • Seriously, these posts are the reason I fell in love with you. The very first post of yours that I ever read was the one about Wii starbits on Mario Galaxy, and I called my husband and said, We are moving to Utah because I just found my soul mate.

  • If she’s still using SAWL in college, than you have problem.
    Right now it’s just freakin’ adorable and FUNNY. You should def video tape her as these are moments you’ll reminisce about once she is saying things like, “I need my space!”

  • From one English major to another…Polly Pocket is a raging bitch, isn’t she?

  • Just tell Leta that Miss Pocket has decided to go Bohemian and she feels suffocated by shoes. She’s a smart girl she’ll get it

  • Just don’t let her say, “I seen him the other day at the park.” *nails down the chalkboard*

  • frankly, that’s ingenious!
    thank you.

  • I just recently cleaned the shower floor with my husband, Candy Ass’, toothbrush.

    And yes, you read that correctly: I CLEANED THE SHOWER. See. Small miracles do happen.

  • This is why I took lessons to rid myself of my Balmer, Merlin accent.

  • Tonya

    Ahh, Polly Pockets. With two little girls, we have had more than our fair share pass through our house. And my youngest has had a piece pass through her BODY. Yes, she pooped out a Polly Pocket bathing suit bottom when she was about a year old. I take great pleasure in vacuuming up Polly’s shoes and other small accessories. I’d vaccum her up if I thought it would not tear up the vacuum.

  • Leslie in Toronto

    Oh, the laughter! Full on belly laugh (and maybe followed by a small snort) at the thought of you putting his underwear in the freezer.

Heather B. Armstrong

Hi. I’m Heather B. Armstrong, and this used to be called mommy blogging. But then they started calling it Influencer Marketing: hashtag ad, hashtag sponsored, hashtag you know you want me to slap your product on my kid and exploit her for millions and millions of dollars. That’s how this shit works. Now? Well… sit back, buckle up, and enjoy the ride.

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