I’m constantly defending my choice to move to New Jersey to my friends who don’t live here. I say that the housing and school options are good. We have great grocery stores and restaurants. The people are cool. Plus, Jersey is culturally diverse.
Sure, we have real-life Snookies and Situations in Jerz. I don’t deny that. While I’m not worried that my kids will grow up to be Jersey Shore hooligans, I am worried that they’ll sound like them.
My kids have Jersey accents. They don’t use the word mirror. They say, “Mirrah.” They say words like, “Cah,” “dawter” and “dawg.” They skip their consonants, saying, “Mih-ens” and “kih-ens” instead of mittens and kittens. They pick this stuff up at preschool, not at home. I’m from Kentucky where the theater is a “thee-a-ter” and cement is “cee-ment.” I’m not saying my southern drawl is better, it’s just different.
I sigh when I hear them clip the r sound. I worked so hard to get rid of my accent (mostly). I didn’t like it when New Yorkers made fun of me in college. I didn’t like sounding like a hick. Maybe one day they’ll be embarrassed to sound like they’re from down the shore. Or maybe not.
I hoped my kids would pick up their father’s perfect Westchester dialect. But so far, they haven’t. They don’t ask me, “What did you think about that, Mommy?” Instead, it’s, “Whatdju think, Mom?”
I choose to find it endearing in a colloquial way. So my Manhattan friends can go ahead and scoff. My own parents shake their heads at my little Jerseyites. Slowly, I’m learning to love my youngins’ East Coast accents–just as I’ve learned to love my decision to raise them right here. I guess it’s just one more thing about Jersey I’ll have to defend.