Have a great day!
Urdle was my son Nicholas’s first word. For ages, I had no idea of what he was trying to say? I discovered the answer some months later at the Queensland Museum as we passed the Great Barrier Reef exhibit. He let out an almighty URDLE from his pram, furiously pointing at a giant green turtle on the wall. His excitement in seeing a real, albeit deceased, turtle, was evident, but there was also a clear intonation in the way he said it. “This is what I have been trying to tell you!”
I assume most parents have enjoyed the amusing misappropriation and mispronunciation of words as their children learn to express themselves. As Nicholas grew, he had a couple of gems which have become part of our family lexicon. The light switch dimmer has become the much more melodramatically named gloomer. The end of the breadstick is now the nozzle.
This type of renaming brings to my mind a book co-written by Douglas Adams, the author of The Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy. In the Meaning of LIFF, he labelled “things” that didn’t have a specific name using odd sounding place names. One of my favourites is Spofforth, not only a Yorkshire village but now the word attributed to the act of cleaning up before the cleaning lady comes. Another favourite is the Texas city of Abilene, now the refreshing coolness on your cheek of the reverse side of the pillow.
A few years ago, my daughter Camille suggested a simple re-interpretation of a standard greeting. She wanted to know why it is that we say good morning. Not really understanding where she was coming from, I explained at great length saying good morning was setting up the day with positive intentions, sort of a simple acknowledgement of gratitude, a wish for the type of outcome for the day. It is just what we say.
Camille listened patiently and then replied, a little frustrated at my urdling incomprehension, yes yes, but why good, why not say great?
Why indeed not great, why should we set our sights on an average good, why not Great! For a while she Camille tried out alternative positive affirmation adjectives. Terrific, Fabulous, Sensational, Fantastic, Amazing, but at the end of the day, or the start of the day for that matter, she was satisfied with just going from Good to Great.
So now it is part of our family culture that we greet each other with When we sit down to breakfast we first greet each other “Great Morning”, as we sit down at the breakfast table before fighting over who gets the nozzle.
It is the amazing the change that this minor linguistic tweak makes. Like FLOSS written on a post-it note stuck on the bathroom mirror that becomes invisible after a few day or two, I realised that with a lifetime of saying and hearing good morning, I didn’t really hear or feel it anymore.
So now, unlike some sugar loaded breakfast cereal, we all have a really GREAT start to our day!