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Saturday, October 13, 2007

Handicap down

Overall, it is grossly unfair. Here I am with a perfect command of the English language, second to none, surrounded by little foreigners.

I am always precise in my use of language and yet they consistently and deliberately beat me over the head with the occasional slip up. If that wasn’t enough to contend with, they also have a nasty habit of expecting me to be able to instantly translate whatever it is that they’re wittering on about. I can only conclude that I have failed to teach them the Marquis of Queensbury’s, 'rules of engagement,' in sufficient detail.

Without naming names, I think it’s fair to say that some parents are a bit slow on the uptake. The trajectory of learning curves, differ greatly one from another, but overall, after many years of practice, some of us are doomed to repeat the same errors.

All too frequently I find that my mastery of the English language, although perfect of course, has a few dents. Similarly, sometimes it is better not to listen too closely to my children. Sometimes it is better to merely absorb. My children on the other hand, often listen far too closely. One word can often trip them up. Some children listen in lumps. A whole sentence, regardless of the number and detail of the specific words, means something else, if they hear it often enough. When you call to your children – “George, Fred, Harry, come inside now and wash your hands, it’s nearly six o’clock,” this equals ‘dinner time.’

But we soldier on.........

“What on earth are you on about now?” I splutter, which is probably about the most confusing question I could have come up with.
“Earf! Earf? EARF? Where else I am being? I am always being on dah earf. I am not dah pilot, um, dah astronaut. I am dah boy!” he announces with a tone of outrage which I cannot help but sympathise with.
"Indeed you are, sorry about that."
“But I am need!”
“What do you need dear?”
“I need my heart.”
“Dere, dere, dere. It is very tiny. I be need it. I be need it now!” I peer at the little nub of eraser that has been lopped off the poor benighted pencil. A little red heart imprinted on the surface.
“Fine.” I fail to see the problem. He starts screaming at me because I am not recognizing the problem. The screams are followed by a series of rooster noises, followed by growls and then mere barking, as he gradually cools down, gains composure and the use of his words. He sighs at my ineptitude.
“Looky, looky, looky.” I obey, but I still can’t see it.
“It is wetty!” he bellows, a blast of air strong enough to dry it with one puff.
“Ah. I see.” I should make him do it himself, but I decide to compromise. We share a sheet of kitchen paper and dab at the soggy heart in a brave manner.
“There. Your heart is all dry dear. What are you going to do with it now?”
“I bin dun give to my friend who is liking dah little things.”
“Ooo really. And what do you call your friend?”
"I bin dun call her!"
"Oh, not call, I mean what is her name?"
He glances to right and left, to check for lurking ear wiggers. I prepare to absorb rather than listen.

She……is bin name….Shaye…….and she..sells sea shells on the sea shore...and she is dun bin my married.”

The words may be all wrong, but the message needs no translation.

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