My toddler, Matthew, is obsessed with the movie Cars at the moment. Several times a day, he gets this look about him, like he's just remembered something very important, and begins his drone... "cars?" ... "CARRRS?" ... "CARRRRRS?!!" And if he can locate the remote control he'll grab that and thrust it at me enthusiastically, to emphasize the urgency of his request. (Lucky for me it's Cars and not some awful kids show designed to torture parents... like Barney.)
Besides the movie, our house is filled with Cars-the-movie merchandise, toy cars, parking garages, ramps, ride-on cars and other car-related things. Cars are literally everywhere we turn. I can't open a kitchen cupboard or put on a shoe without finding one. So the word cars is probably mentioned - oh, maybe one hundred times a day.
With all the talk of cars, we've noticed Matthew is developing an English accent, like me. He doesn't say "carrrs" (with a heavy R), he says "cahhhs". It's cute, but I don't want him to develop a British accent. Because what happens when he goes to school and doesn't sound like the other kids? What if they pick on him for having a strange accent?
I worry about these things...
So a few weeks ago I started to rethink the way I say certain words to him. Like, yep you guessed it, "cars". I began to stress the R. CaRs. Even though it made me cringe to hear myself say it. Then it was "tomato" - from "to-mah-to" to "to-may-to". This received quite a few raised eyebrows.
Then I thought about "banana"... "ban-ah-na" to "ba-naa-na". I tried it a few times but the sound of me saying ba-naa-na was farcical. If you've seen the movie Traffic - the one where Catherine Zeta-Jones attempts an American accent - it was kind of like that. A bit disturbing really.
And then there's "water", "bottle", "bath"... It goes on and on. By this point I would have sounded part Irish, part American, part Jamaican. So I stopped the silliness. It was pretty ridiculous, after all. Matthew will have to learn his own language. Maybe it'll take a while to get it right. Maybe once he starts pre-school next year he'll acquire more of a Canadian accent... Maybe if he listens to his Dad enough...