Little Bwian Peowson
Have you ever wanted to go back in time, get down on your knees, and give a big hug to that needy little kid who was you? If you're a woman you would hold yourself to your bosom. If you're a man you would at least soften that manly chest armour you usually offer to people in place of a hug. You would hold your younger self close and say quietly, "It's going to be alright, you know. Trust me. It'll be just fine."
When I was a little boy I had trouble pronouncing my r's. I was Bwian Peowson, my fathow wooked in wetail and my mothow was a newse. Once I tried to tell a friend's mother about my Great Aunt, Gladys Sharpe, who was a bit of an icon in the nursing profession for having created the Bachelor of Nursing Degree and bringing nursing instruction into the universities. But all she could hear was Gladys Showpe. Again and again I tried to get it right and again and again she couldn't make out what I was saying. "Gladys Shop?" "No, Showpe, Showpe!"
When we moved to Montreal a kid in the playground asked me where I was from.
"Vancouvow," I said. He looked over at me and frowned. "Does everyone talk like that there?" No, just me. And I might have worked it out for myself by then except that a teacher, trying to be helpful, suggested I roll my r's, bringing my tongue to the front of my mouth. Great, now I was Scottish!
It wasn't until the summer before grade seven that my parents had pity on me and took me to a speech therapist. Entering your teens is hard enough without sounding like a cartoon character. She listened to me for about ten minutes and then made a radical diagnosis. "Try putting your tongue in the back of your mouth." I did. Ar. Ar. It worked like a charm. Arrrrrr! I went from being a Scotsman to an Irishman in a matter of seconds. Now every day could be "Talk Like a Pirate Day!" This was going to be brilliant!
And it was. It does work out alright, all of it, even though people sometimes still say they detect a bit of an accent. Am I Irish, they want to know? You bet I am! AND I'm a pirate too. Ha-harrr!