I have been bewping for the past few weeks. Bewp–a nonsense word–roosted in my brain weeks ago. This simple syllable bursts out of my idle mouth and mind continuously.
Why do I say bewp?
Imagine an insufferable itch. Once you say “Bewp”, it goes away.
When Tourette’s and autism are part of your life, vocal tics can be quite jolly but not everyone else is in on the joke. And it is a joke, an “in thing,” a single word that word sets neurons afire like Shakespeare or the catchiest tune.
Think of a song, haunting you long after you heard it, and condense its melody into a word. This is also bewp to me.
Bewp pleases my mouth muscles. Which delights more, the b’s bilabial stop that feels like a kiss? The yodeling long u? Or the plosive, spitting, p? All three, please! A circus for my teeth and tongue.
With proper intonation, bewp conveys every emotion. Bewp is a festive word to punctuate the joy of sunny days and happy feelings.
Bewp is also a moody, melancholy, utterance; fit for rainy days and misty mornings.
Perhaps bewp is most of all a nighttime sound, filling my head instead of sleep. I stare at the dark speckled ceiling whispering “Bewp bewp bewp…”
This happened last night.
My husband dashed down the stairs with quick thump-bump footsteps. He swished to the patio door and flung it open with action-hero intensity. “Bewp!” I said.
“SSSSSSShhhhttT!” he shushed me. I gasped. I have not been shushed since my porpoise squeaks became problematic during Wimbledon nine years ago.
His scolding stunned me silent (but I thought, “Bewp?”). Why, I asked, amidst an ocean of my odd noises, did this bothered him? He said he simply heard one too many bewps today and he wanted me to stop. He huffed up the stairs as I laughed and laughed. Tears streaked my face, my stomach cramped. Asking a Touretter to stop a tic is an exercise in ironic process theory. Try not to think of a pink elephant.
Bewp, husband, bewp.
I dried happy-silly tears, reflecting on my son’s parade of strange and repeated vocalizations. Bewp is to me as “Bim bim bim” is to him (or “Angus pow,” “Moo moo MOOO,” and “Porta-potty banana”). Some word or sound will always hijack our voices.
Tomorrow, bewps and bims will continue, and so will my sanguine husband’s cheer, for our home is an accepting one. Everyone deserves a safe space to be their unique selves. So, if your child says the same thing over and over, be calm. Accept. Those utterances may provide comfort, relief, and delight in a way you do not understand. Nurture self-confidence, for we are not all made the same and that is a blessing.