“Mommy, look, the sky is all blue and white,” my first-born says a decade ago while buckled in her booster seat in the back of the car on the way to preschool.
I glance in the rear-view mirror and see her stretching her neck to see more sky, the sun splashing on her little brunette bob haircut that frames her face like Dora the Explorer, her favorite back then.
“Yeah, those clouds sure are fluffy aren’t they? I wish I could have one as my pillow,” I say.
“Me, too,” she says.
“How do you think we might get one?” I ask.
“Hmmmmmm. I think I might need my stool,” she says.
“Hmmmmmm. I think so, too. I say.
Apparently the latest New Year’s trend is to choose a word of the year instead of resolutions that set us up for failure. So I’ve decided—in honor of that inquisitive little moment of infinite possibilities lodged in my memories and recorded in my journal—that my word of the year is going to be Hmmmmmm.
I bet some people think Hmmmmmm isn’t a real word. Well, I’m happy to report that Hmmmmmm is an official member of one of the eight parts of speech in the English language, known as the Interjections.
If you don’t know what an Interjection is, don’t feel bad. Lots of people don’t. I was an English major and I had to look it up again. Language gets a little tricky sometimes, so to help me keep it all straight, I like to compare those eight parts of speech to high school cliques.
Let’s start with The Nouns and The Verbs.”The Cool Kids.”
♦Nouns are the “Class Leaders.” They’re the ones that get elected to student council and take action! Sometimes they get a little too formal and proper for my personal taste, but without them, let’s face it: we’re a bunch of nothingless nobodies going no place.
♦Verbs are the “Athletes” (of course) running circles around everyone, except when they fall asleep in class.
♦Next up, the Adjectives. They’re the “Beatniks” or “Hipsters,” depending on which decade we’re talking about. They attend poetry readings in caves and lure the straight-laced Nouns with their flowery, thrift-store fashions and witty banter. You have to watch your back around them, or they’ll cast a spell and turn that shiny new car you just got for your 16th birthday into a rusty old green antique.
♦Adverbs are the “Environmentalists,” marching around the hallways with signs advocating change, trying to get those letter-jacket wearing Verbs to slow down or wake up, or at the very least, recycle their empty bottles of Gatorade more diligently.
♦Pronouns are the “Intellectuals.” The true cool kids. They can do everything the Nouns can do, but often do so in disguise, because they prefer to keep a low profile.
♦Prepositions are the “Techies.” They team up with Nouns to keep things orderly and explain to all the others when, why, or where something is taking place. For example, the new kid might tap a Preposition on the shoulder and ask, “Could you please tell me where the lunchroom is?” The Preposition would then respond in a kindly fashion: “It’s around the corner, across from the computer lab, but hurry or you won’t make it on time.
♦Conjunctions are the “Social Butterflies.” They’re the glue that brings the school body together, getting everybody to put their hands in the air AND do the wave in unison at pep rallies, despite all the differences in status.
♦Last, but not at all least, are the Interjections, otherwise known as the “Drama Kids.” They wear their emotions and feelings on their sleeves, good and bad,live in the moment, and have really cool names. Aha!! Ooh-la-la. Whoah! Yipee! Yummy! Ewwww! Gadzooks! And of course, my BFF—Hmmmmmm.
Actually, now that I think of it, some of them might be foreign exchange students.
Interjections may not be as essential to the clarity of a sentence as the other seven parts of speech, but they’ve got heart. They inspire us to express ourselves, stay engaged, and look up at the sky and fluffy clouds and imagine the heights we could reach if we had a little pink stool. Hmmmmmm.
Whichever group your word of the year fits into, I hope your 2016 is filled with lots of inquisitive little moments of infinite possibilities to brighten your days. Happy New Year from Hmmmmmm and me.
I’m Julie Jo Severson, mom of three and freelance writer. I launched this blog Carvings On A Desk in 2015. It’s where I connect with my own voice, write the stories down, and doodle about past, present, future clinking glasses and making peace. To see my other recent posts, click here.