I grew up in Memphis, Tennessee, but I've been out of the south for almost seven years. And even though all but Silas were born in the south, my younger ones tease me relentlessly about my southern drawl.
"I am going to drive y'all home today," I stated on the way to school last school year. The statement was innocent, harmless. That's when the attack came, unprovoked. "Dri-ive yawl. What is dri-ive yawl?" asked Cory, my then nine-year-old.
I spoke more slowly--easy for a southerner, but he still didn't understand.
I broke it down for him. "I am going to drive you all. Y'all means you all, as in all of you. I am going to drive all of you home from school today." He got it.
"Mom, why don't you pass that car in front of us?" 13-year -old Mary asked me just a few months ago as we poked along the winding road.
"There's a double yellow line," I said.
Again, an unprovoked attack came from the back seat as cackles filled the car. "A dubble yella li-ine! What is a dubble yella li-ine?"
And just this morning, six-year-old Dorothy mimicked the way I turn one syllable words into two syllable words. I explained to her that, for a southerner, there are no one syllable words. We really can't help it.
"Maybe one day you'll talk normal," she said.
"Some day we might move back to the south, and y'all will be the ones who talk funny," I sometimes warn my children.
Unlike a southerner, they never hear past the "y'all".
Dorothy--a future southern belle? (picture by louisalarson.com)