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Thursday, November 23, 2006

Contextual referencing

“What it is?”
“What is what dear?”
“Er,…it is saying ‘nun a dee abuv?”
“Say it again?”
“Nun a dee abuv.”

They both have a tendency to do this, blurt out a question that is connected to something that happened yesterday, last week or last year. They don’t reference their questions, that is to say, put them in contex, so it can be the devil’s own job, trying to detect where, when or what the question stemmed from? [translation = very difficult]

Why don’t I just ask for the context? You're right I could, perhaps I should, but at this stage of their verbal development we want to encourage them to talk, reinforce their efforts in a positive manner. [translation = frightfully American] If you respond to each question with a barrage of additional questions, you’ll just put them off, they’ll stop trying and we’ll go back to our world of silence. [translation = the old parenting style]

I stand in the middle of the kitchen with my x-ray eyes, willing inspiration to zap me. I lean on the kitchen counter to take a deep breath, so that he’ll think it is a natural pause in our [potential] conversation. My finger tips touch the edge of the fifty page questionnaire. [translation = exaggeration, but still yards to long {sub translation = yards}]

I glance at the open pages:
'no. 56. Does the child
a] always resist physical contact
b] never resist physical contact
c] not applicable
d] none of the above.'

Shouldn’t have left it out! Should have tidied it away. How could I have forgotten that he can read anything if he is so disposed. [translation = hyperlexic] He lifts a delicate finger tip to his lip, tentative, cautious.

“ ‘d’ is not da good one?”
“’d’ is a great one. I love ‘d’. You are absolutely right!”

His medicine ball head clunks into my hip bone. How can you contain a ‘spectrum’ disorder in a questionnaire that doesn’t wrap round the world 3 times?

Little Jack Horner wasn’t neophobic

In America if you do something twice it automatically qualifies for ‘tradition’ status. In other countries 100 years, would be a more common measure. [translation = and don’t skip a year or you have to start again from one] For current purposes, I suspect that we may have formed a teeny tiny American tradition of our own. Every year on Thanksgiving, we troll around to my American pals’ house. We go at the end of our day, [translation = early evening, supper time as opposed to dinner time] to join them for pudding. [translation = dessert]

This is a household of pies. [translation = a regular old American kind of a home] They have pies of every kind, each one more foul than it’s fellow; pecan [gets stuck in the braces] apple [too sweet] and horror of horrors, the truly revolting pumpkin pie. [translation = take violently orange coloured root vegetable and hide it in pastry {sub translation = which is where it should remain in my opinion, hidden, that is to say}] I should point out that I am in the minority of one in my own household.

Yes, my pal is very bright. [translation = smart {sub translation = NB ‘smart’ = well dressed}] She deliberately sought out to corrupt my children at the earliest opportunity. [translation = convert them to the American way] Now I have five pie eaters to contend with. There again, one day in every 365 devoted to pie shouldn’t be too much to ask?

We sit around their American table [translation = large enough to slaughter a bull on] and chat. I spoon mouthfuls of pie into the one that can’t / won’t hold a spoon, encourage spoon holding in the one that can hold a spoon but won’t, and squirt cream on the other two slices for the mainstream participants.[translation = senior daughter has abandoned us. {translation = visits a real American family in Maine]

“What can we get you?” enquires my host.
“Oh I’m fine, I’m still full of turkey thanks.”
“You have to have something?”
“You’re right. I need to have something to absorb the wine. I don’t suppose you have any left over sprouts?”
“Sprouts?” asks my hostess. Her eye brows rise so that I am better able to observe her blink.
“Yes, any Brussels left over from lunch?” [translation = food eaten at 4 in the afternoon?]
“You want Brussel sprouts?”
“Just a thought! Or have you already composted them?”
“You want left over Brussel sprouts?”
“Yes. You don’t have to warm them up or anything, they’ll be just fine cold.”
“You’d be wanting salt with that wouldn’t you?” Do I detect a hint of sarcasm? How grossly unfair, Americans aren't supposed to be able to do that, genetic I think.
“Only if it’s not too much trouble?”
“Cold brussel sprouts and a salt cellar, huh!”
“Just a thought.”
My hostess leans across the table to establish eye contact “the day a Brussel sprout enters this house, is the day I jump in the compost heap, if we had one!” The engineer, student, professional, lawyer and spouse lean back in their chairs and stare at me with their arms folder. [translation = consensus of opinion {sub translation = none of them are doctors}]
Is it too late to assert that I adopted them? [translation = gene pool]
“I don’t suppose there’s any point in asking if you have any mint sauce? No? No matter [translation = worries] I’ll bring my own supply next year. There will be a next year won’t there?”

They’re always welcome here. You can drive em.” [translation = chauffeur with picnic]

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