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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Goodbye southern, hello northern

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Whew! About time! I think my girls have finally lost their southern accent. I was sure hoping it would happen eventually, but after living here 2 years now, I was starting to wonder. However, last week my 9-year-old was playing her video game and yelled out a sentence that sounded so northern that I cheered with relief. She said the word "about" and "five" like she was a Fargo native. She asked why I was smiling and clapping and then I explained my feelings.

I guess when I agreed to move to Oklahoma back in 2004, I didn't realize how fast we'd pick up the accent. Don't get me wrong, the southern accent is great to listen to and one can't help but just instantly like someone with a southern accent, but I'm Nebraska-born-and-bred and I did NOT want a southern accent and wasn't 100 percent thrilled about living in the South as it was. I loved Nebraska and wanted to live there, raise my kids there and for Pete's sakes, talk like Nebraskans do. In fact, I didn't even know Nebraskans had a northern accent until I lived in the south and my southern friends thought it quite a hoot to hear me say the word "kindeegartn" instead of their "kinderrrgaarden." And giggled every time I said the phrase, "Oh yah." They were laughing with me, not at me ... yah right! I just told them the newscasters on TV talk the same as I do, and not like Dolly Parton, so my accent is the accepted one.

Anyways, when we moved to the state of Okie, my eastern-Kansas-born hubby felt right at home with the southern accentors, as he'd been made fun of long enough up in the north for talking like Elvis Presley. However, I was shocked at how fast my middle daughter, who was almost 2 years old, picked up the southern drawl.

I don't even know when it happened, but about a year later we were sitting at her T-ball game, sweatin our shorts off in the 100 percent humidity and hot Oklahoma wind, and my poor little girl looked at me with her red, sweaty face and yelled from 1st base, "Mama! I need a draaiink!" For us Nebraskans, that would be interpreted as, "Mommy, I need a drink!" Her southern twang slapped me straight in the face. Even though I admit that I found her comment quite funny and super cute, there was a big part of me that didn't like that she was absorbing into her southern lifestyle because "Mama" wanted her to be a northern Nebraskan, not an Okie from Muskogee.

However, by the time my third daughter came along, I had accepted the southern fate that had been given to me, and even embraced it a bit. Before she was born, when I found out she was a girl, I decided, since she'd be my only southern baby, I'd go ahead and give her two first names. You know, like Peggy Sue or Mary Lou. I didn't even worry about the southern accent she would have. It would go along with her southern name, and, boy, did she have one. For a 3 year old, she sounded like Alfalfa from The Little Rascals.

But then, after six southern years, we got the opportunity to get back to Nebraska. Hallelujah!! Back to snow, back to Husker football, and back to people who sound like me. The first night we arrived, we had to stay in a hotel and the next morning at breakfast, one sweet old lady asked, "How you folks doin today?"

Now that probably doesn't sound very strange to any of you but what I was use to in Oklahoma, would have sounded more like, "Weellll, how ya'll doin this morrrnin?" I could have laid a bear hug on that lady and all I could think was, "I'm home! Back with my peeps!" That lady, who was a total stranger, made me feel like I got a bonafide welcome home with a parade, banners and a marching band.

Again, I seriously have nothing against all the wonderful southerners out there and how they talk. I have several relatives and many precious friends, whose accents sound straight off the Andy Griffith show, and I love all of them to pieces, but unless you're born and raised in Nebraska, and then have to leave it, you'll never understand. I wanted to raise my girls in my home state and now finally get to. And, after 2 years of northern influence, they all talk like they've lived here forever, and I'm glad to be back. Glad to be back where soda is for baking and pop is to drink. Where "yep" and "nope" are common responses, along with an occasional "okie dokie."

Oh don't ya know!


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Jennifer Morgan
Motherhood Moments
-- Jennifer Morgan is the mother of three girls and lives in McCook.