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Monday, January 29, 2007

What I am?

I appear on the scene with my limited powers of speech and a wipe board as back, up in case I get out of my depth. A heated debate has ensued, but no umpire is near to hand. Actually there are a couple of umpires handy but both of them are busy with 101 domestic responsibilities.

“I am a vegetarian because I don eat meat!” he squalks at his sister with venom.
“Tell him mom, tell him he’s a big fat liar. Tell him that to be a vegetarian you need to eat vegetables.”
“Yuk, I am hating dah vegetables. What I am then?” I try and write sweet potatoes and fries on my board as evidence to the contrary but my hand writing is too squiggly, they’re already several sentences and topics ahead of me and no-one will look at the board anyway.
“I don’t know what you are? What is he mom?” Senior son comes to my rescue as I start to scribble on my wipe board.
“Hey mom, I know. He is an omnivore coz he is eating dah meat but he is not eating dah vegetables.” The last word has four very distinct syllables when spoken in this deliberate tone. He beams at me with the satisfaction of knowing that answering before anything has been written on the board, absolves him from a duty to read anything. His diction is so pronounced and evuncular, his eyes are so large and his face so close to mine. I have a strange vision of Mr. Bean and an ulterior motive. Junior protests, “dat is stoopid, I am not eating dah ‘oms’ either. What is an ‘om’ anyways?”
“It’s from the Latin! ‘stoopid yourself’!” I wonder if it is from the Latin? It sound’s convincing to me, but my brain capacity is incapacitated and I'm easily swayed if someone sounds like they ought to know what they're talking about.
“Maybe he is a herbivore,” his brother offers with exaggerated helpfulness and three crisp syllables, whilst his hand rests on mine, that rests on the wipe board that is holding the pen. He beams at me, guileless and engaging. I could swear he fluttered his eye lids at me! I wipe my board trying to get three sentences ahead, or two questions ahead, or simply ahead. I resist the temptation to tell him that he is in fact a neophobe, as not only is that not terribly helpful, it will only further confuse the issue between omnivores, herbivores and carnivores.
Spouse and the spare umpire arrive at my side and remove the wipe board, “Mum needs a rest now, but I know one thing that you all are!”

Three little faces turn towards him with anticipation,
everyone’s eyes drift towards his mouth and wait,
little sparks emit from junior’s fingertips……
”you’re all choccivores,” he announces with a flourish
and a bowl of chocolate mousse.

He should come home more often.

Found in translation

As a mum and housewife, I go about my daily tasks, tedious, repetitive and tiresome. I can think of no rational reason why a child should observe his mother during this period of time but he does. He is draped across the kitchen counter, his eyes follow me. Now, would be the perfect time for a casual mother son conversation, but I shun this opportunity. If I talk to him I am likely to break the spell and provoke a meltdown. I turn my attention to the cats and chat to them, the way you do. He sidles up closer to me,
to drape himself on the door jam for support.
“You are talking to dem?”
“You can talk ‘cat’?”
“Not really. It’s a bit like babies, they don’t understand your words, but you talk to them anyway.”
“They can understand your words?”
“Not really. It’s the same as if you were talking a foreign language, Chinese or Portuguese perhaps. You don’t understand the words but you can understand the sound of the words, if they’re kind and friendly, or angry and mean.”
“I talk to dem.”
“I know.” He talks more to the cats than to anyone or anything else, not that I’m jealous of course.
“They are understanding me?”
“Oh yes! Very much so.”
“I fink maybe dah cats are more cleverer dan dah humans are.”
“You may very well be right about that.” We sprawl on the kitchen floor together, alternately stroking a cat apiece. He is careful to count the strokes, take a note of whose hands are on which cat, so that any errors can be corrected to ensure that each cat is psychologically assured of the equality of the bond of affection between them.

“I fink dey are dah clever ones because they can understand us but we cant understand dem so very good.”

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