“What it is?” asks my youngest son. I raise my eyes from his homework sheet and try not to glower.
When will either of them ever learn to reference back, give me some tiny clue about the question? I have a choice. I can prompt him or I can wait. If I wait long enough, he will repeat the question, the same words but louder to aid my comprehension.
One day, just maybe, he will ask me a question in context, a whole question with all the clues built in and I shall fall down dead from shock. I feel an attack of grumpiness pricking the corners of my mouth. I suppress a sigh and thank my lucky stars that he chooses to talk at all.
“What is what dear?”
“Hmm, well Grandpa would say that an egg is hen fruit.” I wonder if my Dad can remember his witticism, the kind designed for children's entertainment, or is that lost to Alzheimers too?
“Hen fruit? Hen fruit! HEN FRUIT! Ahh tis a joke I am finking.”
“You're right! It is a joke, a family joke, probably not a very funny one though.”
“What else is an egg, apart from a joke?”
“It's something that you can eat, very tasty and it can be a chicken baby or rather a chick.”
“Er……hens eat dah chicks?”
“No, people do.”
“People eat chicken babies? Gross man!” splutters the neophobe who currently only eats 13 foods.
“Why they are?”
“Why are they what dear?”
“Why are dey dah sometimes white and dah sometimes brown?”
“It depends upon what the chicken eats. The food that the chicken eats can change the colour of the shell.” I decide to avoid the issue of different breeds as I'm already out of my depth, my fowl facts having been hand plucked from watching Chicken Run some three years prior.
“We can have pink eggs?”
“Hmm at Easter you can dye them any colour you like.”
“Why they are dead?” Oh no! A trigger word. Meltdown imminent. Dive for cover!
“You say they are 'died.'”
“Oh not dead died but dyed 'coloured,' like when you dye your paper different colours with your markers.”
“Vvv vvvv vvvvvv?”
“Vegetable?” Animal, vegetable or mineral? What now? What is he on about?
“I beed a vegetable?”
“Vegetables don be eat chicken's………..?”
“Oh right! You mean vegetarians don't eat meat, or chickens for that matter.” I suppose he is a vegetarian now I come to think of it. Every one of his 13 foods would fall into that category. Sounds so much better than Neophobe anyway. So much easier to explain. My seven year old is an ardent vegetarian. I like it! Yes, we should certainly encourage this language expansion.
“I am a Vegan.”
“I don eat eggs.”
More shock! Grumpiness dispelled.