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Choice Word Choices

Xanthippe from Guillaume Rouillé’s Promptuarii Iconum Insigniorum
Wry wit helps with mothering..
If we were discussing someone whose behavior was dubious,
We might play at upping the ante. “She has a mind like a steel trap.”
“One rusted shut”
“It snapped on nothing long ago, but she hasn’t noticed since.”

I got tongue-sharpening lessons from my grandma. If someone was not the sharpest knife in the drawer,
She’d shake her head and mutter, “It’s a sad thing when cousins marry.”

Such banter gets tricky, though. Moms are supposed to set an example.
Teach our progeny to see the other point of view. Take the higher road. Use language fit for all ears.
Not get so carried away with insults that you say things about or to a person that are only funny if you’re not that person. Mean things you say that come to haunt you, like Marley’s ghost. Only more often than Christmas.

Once, when my oldest was in fourth grade, he and some neighbor boys kevetched about two girls.
The boys, including the girls’ brothers, solemnly concluded these girls were ... bitches! Chuffed, they gaffauwed about it for quite awhile afterwards.
Or so I was told by the mother of one of the girls, whose sings-like-a-canary son had blabbed all.
My son was downcast. He felt bad that the girl knew he’d said that. Also, that he’d got caught.

I’d seen that girl strut her mean girl stuff. I didn't mind him letting off steam without trying to rub it in her face. As she cheerfully had done to others.
People do judge each other – far more than just fourth grade boys. 
Also, the snitch’s mom hadn’t suggested that her own precious angel darling had even been a wee bit remiss in telling tales. He'd called his sister a bitch in private and to her face. For which I was supposed to let my son "have it?" Deary me.
My wroth at my boy was well quenched even before I summoned him. Discussing discretion, wiser friend selection, might have been enough. 

Still, I taught him three words: Xanthippe, termagant, and shrew. Words hardly any grade school kids know. In fact, words that possibly very few grade school teachers (or neighborhood moms) know. I only knew them because my grandmother studied the classics. 

“Why say what people won’t understand?” he asked.

“Because you can say what you think without a hassle. Because you can smirk inside that you know what others don’t.”
“I especially like Xanthippe because you purge much venom with each syllable. Try saying each with a menacing pause in between.  Xan - Thip - E." 
"Hardly any words start with X, so all should be treasured. Yes, the word’s ‘history’ is surely more sexist than true. But [air kiss], a great word.”

“Use it in a sentence.”

“Be discreet in who you say what to so I never again hear from that Xanthippe down the street.”
And I never did.

For April 24, write a poem with at least one simile like those found in film noir.

Author’s note: Xanthippe was Socrates’s wife. She was significantly younger than he. Socrates reportedly said she was the most disputatious woman in Athens, which is what he liked about her. Others offered differing accounts.


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