Bothering with Words

I am currently taking an online creative writing class, taught by Alice Bradley (of Finslippy). Our assignment for the weekend was to pay attention to conversations, so that we can get better at writing dialogue. I never got to a coffee shop to eavesdrop, but I did get some choice snippets from Owen, who speaks incessantly.

1. This morning, 6:15 am:

“Mummy, remember when Layla slept over?”

Confused, groggy, half asleep: “Layla has never slept over.”

(Then I remember: the last time she was here, Owen had a nap and Layla played by herself – that’s likely what he meant.)

“Yes she did. And remember when we had a fire and we were so good and did not touch the fire.”

“I do.”

“Because fire is hot. And I did not touch the fire and Layla did not touch the fire. We did not touch that fire.”


“Because you can never touch a fire.” Wags his index finger. LONG pause. “Never.”

2. Breakfast, 7:40 am:

“Owen, after breakfast, are you going to help us fix the sink?”

“Yes, I will. We have to plumb the sink because it’s leaky.”

“Plumb the sink. That’s good!”

Duncan and I go off on a tangent about plumbing, plomberie, Latin, and lead pipes. We’re so fascinated with words, us two.

“I am going to get my screwdriver and plumb the leaky sink. Because the sink is leaky. And we can’t have a leaky sink. So we have to plumb it.”

(Do you see how his conversations go round and round in the same circles? He is nothing if not thorough).

3. Later, at the toy store, 12:15 pm:

Owen is playing trains.

“What’s the name of this engine?”

I read the bottom of the train: “Colley”

“No. It’s Coffey.”

“No, Owen, it really is Colley. Look. Those are Ls.”

“Well on Chuggington, it’s Coffey.”

“OK, but it says Colley on that train engine.”

“Mummy, stop it. You’re bothering my words. You have to stop bothering my words. It’s Coffey.”

It is not worth the bother to argue with a three-year-old, I decide. I stop bothering his words, but I repeat them in my head, over and over, because his words, his sentences, his ideas – they are absolutely worth bothering to remember and record.

2 comments on “Bothering with Words

  1. Rebecca Wilson on said:

    so true, that last sentence!

  2. Mary-Ellen O'Neil on said:

    Indeed they are! I don’t ever want to forget his 2 year old order on a walk. “Nana stop!” “Why Owen?” “There is a STOP sign, can’t you see?” (It is on the corner for ongoing traffic and we are just turning the corner).

    OR the 2 year old’s
    “Red means stop. Yellow means slow down. Green means go. Blue means coffee”

    OR same boy on his second birthday at Park Safari when he sees a Rhino urinating…
    “Stinky stinky diaper!!!”

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