My kids have been obsessed with palindromes lately. In case 7th grade English class is as far back in your memory as it is for me, a palindrome is a word that is spelled the same forward as it is backward, like race car, kayak, level, or tattarattat. Their absolute favorite one to say though is “mom.” They like it so much they have been known to scream it from every corner of the house, chant it to me while I’m on the phone, and whisper it in the middle of the night, clad in pjs from my bedroom door. I’m telling you, they really, really love to say that word.
It’s just three letters, one simple syllable. Sometimes when I’m distracted and they are uttering that word to me, they will resort to spelling it just in case I didn’t quite catch what they were getting at. “M-O-M!” Why yes, I do have quite clever children. I’m anxiously anticipating the day that they will all be national spelling bee champions.*
Astonishingly, all children seem to have this innate ability to take that little palindrome and constrew it to have an abundance of meanings. This not only makes “mom” a palindrome, but also a homonym. (Many thanks to Coronavirus and home school with my 7th grader for teaching me so much!)
Here are a few examples of the multiple meanings of our lovely little palindrome/homonym that my children (and I imagine yours too) have come up with.
Mom! Mom! Mom! Mom! Mom!
Often heard over loud and incessant knocking at the bathroom door right as you step in the shower.
Better dry off quick and get those clothes back on because all chaos has broken loose. Your child has either just put a bead up his nose or his brother is running loose around the house brandishing an uncapped perminant marker. In fact, just ditch the clothes. A towel is all you have time for. Come on, you are a mom. For pete’s sake, who said you could shower?
Usually accompanied with an eye-roll and/or an “uh” at the end.
Congratulations! You are the most humiliating human on the face of this planet. Often used in public places because that’s where you excel at being embarrassing.
Either someone just spotted a spider on the celing or a limb is no longer attached to a body.
Mo-um. (Not to be mistakened with mo-om)
Could be used in reference to your lack of knowledge about the computer. Or of a sport. Or of a band instrument. In summary, you just pretty much have the brains of an ape.
Ok. Deep breath. Something is broken. Most likely it is a very valuable object. Possibly an heirloom. Sadly, it definitely cannot be replaced.
Tone is friendly. Said quickly and usually as two or more children run through the kitchen.
This is the signal to check hands. They probably are holding snails (or, heaven forbid, a snake) and are making a break for their bedroom to relocate them to a new home (aka said bedroom). The “hi” is simply a distraction from the matter at hand.
You are about to hear a confession. Their conscience is eating them alive, and their future hinges on this moment. Your response to this will shape their exhistance from this day on. No pressure.
Also known as the stalling tactic.
Typically the time will read around 8:30pm, right after you’ve tucked everyone into bed and are thoroughly looking forward to reading a book or watching a show.
Brace yourself, you are about to be bombarded with 3.2 million questions. Bedtime? Haha! Nice try.
You are about to hear every single miniscule detail of the world’s next greatest inventions. From lazer cutting lawn mowers to teleportation, this is big stuff. No need to stop your chores, they will happily follow you from room to room for hours. A periodic nod and “uh huh” should suffice.
Sharp and crisp, only one syllable.
You’re distracted and they are pulling you back to reality, maybe at a stoplight because you just looked down and it’s already been green for two WHOLE seconds. It could also be after they’ve utilized the “Hey, Mom!” homonym and have been discussing for the last 47 minutes the highly engaging topic of which Jedi planet would be the coolest place to go on vacation. They have stopped mid-sentence to ask you a question, and your response was NOT appropriate. I.E. they might ask, “Which planet would you choose, Mom?” to which you might respond “Wow, yeah.” Naturally, “Mom!” would be their reaction.
And then we have this. This is the reason that you decided to give life to this little human. This will probably be preceeded by a little body plopping down into the kitchen stool while you are making dinner. You will hang on their every word, and you will likely look at them and notice how their little face is just so perfect, how their freckles are so darn cute, and you just really like the person that they are. You will undoubtedly feel an overpowering sense of love and gratitude for that child, that they say the word, “mom,” and that when they do (no matter how), they are talking about you.
It’s pretty awesome to be associated with such a versitile, amazing word. There really isn’t any other word out there like it. Happy Mother’s Day!
*And for the record, my children unfortunately inherited my spelling genes, guaranteeing they will NEVER make it to any spelling bee of any sort in their lives.