So I thought I’d change the focus from my typical topic to an atypical one.
The first comes from my elder daughter, back in the days when I was a single parent when everything was overwhelming. [hindsight really is a gift!]
Back then she was growing up much too fast just like many children of divorced parents. We read a great deal together, from the board books, baby books, picture books, onwards and upwards to independence. I had never liked ‘baby talk’ and so I used the same words and style of language that I do with everyone else. She had a great vocabulary as is so often the case when children are surrounded by adults: my parents, my siblings, my friends.
The details are hazy, so many years later but I remember that feeling of cozy harmony, the intimacy between parent and child when a family consists of only two units. If a parent is solely responsible for a single child a devotion develops such that communication is instinctive, words are hardly necessary – a separate world of understanding.
Madonna and child – perfection.
Maybe it was bedtime, perhaps we were at the beach, or playing hang-man? Yes! Hangman, all those years ago…
“That can’t be right dear?”
“I think you’ve left the ‘h’ out by mistake.”
“It doesn’t have an ‘h’.”
“Weren’t you trying to spell Bahamas?”
“Bahamas? No, it’s bajamas.”
“Bajamas… you know… you wear them when you go to bed at night.”
Now if we’d lived in America then, no such confusion would have arisen, that’s why we stick to PJ’s now.
A few decades prior to this exchange, I had my own mishap with my mother, along quite similar lines. Being the dunce of the family I progressed from comic books, to Enid Blyton, to Agatha Christie and I’ve been stuck in ‘whodunnit’ mode ever since. On one particularly balmy summer’s day, [in England!] I was lying on the grass at my mother’s feet, devotional dog that I was, as I read the latest blood curling thriller some 45 years after it was first written. My mother sat in a deck chair, knitting, as only mother’s can, as she fought with a particularly complicated lacy pattern, which involved a great deal of counting and under breath cursing. Yards of fine yarn were testament to the unraveling of mistakes.
“Mum?” [I was then English]
“Can you tell me what this word means? I see it on nearly every page.”
“What is it?”
“Determinded? I’ve never heard of it.”
“Can’t you guess from the context?”
“Read me a sentence.”
“Hermione Herringbone was determinded to defeat her tormentors.”
“Are you sure it isn’t…Spell it for me.”
“Really? How odd. Here, pass it over, let me take a peek, hmm, lets see…’Daphne Dalrymple was …’ that’s not ‘determinded’ that’s ‘determined.'”
What can I say? It’s genetic.