Chicken philosophy and word retrieval


“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?”
“An egg?”
“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?”
“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.
“Er well…”
“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?”
“Are you?”
“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.”
“A Vegan?”
“I don eat eggs.”

More shock! Grumpiness dispelled.

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A Snippet of Sleepover

My daughter has 6 pals over for her “sleepover birthday party.” I find it odd that I am surprised. I am surprised that all six of my daughter’s friends share certain personality traits. Vociferous, opinionated and confident. It is alarming combination especially when there are so many of them. I thought I knew them all quite well already but they are different creatures in a school setting. They are different creatures when they visit us for an individual play date. En masse they are impressive.

I have only two priorities for this venture, that my daughter enjoys her birthday celebration and that the boys keep their nether regions covered, anything else is a windfall. It is immediately apparent that the latter may affect the former.
“Geez, put yur shirts on why dontcha,” demands a youthful nine year old. Neither boy pays her any heed. California in December may have an occasional chill, but inside it is balmy.
“I SAID put yur shirts on!” she repeats more loudly with an acerbic edge. The boys continue to play with their Pokemon without a care in the world. “Madeline yur boys ain’t listenin to me!”
“I know, but it is rather warm in here don’t you think?”
“Maybe, but you know!  They’ve got their shirts off,” she exclaims, outraged with a hint of embarrassment, “I can see their skin an all.” I dither. Shirts off but trousers on, is far more of a generous compromise than I could have anticipated.
“I know, how about you run off and play with the other girls, leave the boys in here, then you won’t have to look at them?”
“Hmm, maybe.” She squirms a little, as indecisive as me.

She adopts a different tactic and makes her feelings known.
“Pokemons are evil. I hate em!” My sons continue to play with the plush, fluffy creatures.
“They’re dumb!” she continues when no reaction is forthcoming.
“Are yah deaf?” Neither so much as blinks in her direction. I dither. Intervene or wait for her to get bored?
“Are yah in special ed coz yur deaf?” Silence. She steps back into the kitchen to ask the same question to me. “They’re in Special Ed because they’re autistic, remember we talked about this with your mum?” She looks back at me blankly, “oh yeah,” she mumours distractedly. She returns to the family room relentless, to yell at the two deaf boys.
“I hate Pokemon!” I find the repetition a little tiresome but she is dogged. It occurs to me that some kind of mis-communication has taken place. Some how or other she has filed ‘autism’ into the ‘deaf’ category, they appear synonymous, but then children often mid-file unfamiliar information into the wrong category.
“D’yah hear me? I said they’re dumb and stoopid.” A trigger word. A banned word.
“Day are not stoopid. Stoopid is a bad word. We are not be saying ‘stoopid’ in our house. It be dah rule.”
“Itsa stoopid rule. That’s a real dumb rule. They’re evil guys believe me, I know!”
“You be not know.”
“How many ya got anyways?” she adds in a voice that fails to beat the sound barrier.
“Infinity,”he answers casually.
“No I be lie coz infinity is my favourite number huh!” he roars with laughter as he rolls around of the floor delighted at his own joke. His older brother mimics the sound of each Pokemon exactly, as the boys continue to play together. He blinks across at the girl, “you wanna play wiv us?” he asks tentatively.
“No, they’re dumb……and evil,” she persists. She hovers in the kitchen close by as I prepare the next of innumerable snacks for those with hollow legs.
“Er, when’s his birthday?” she asks me.
“How old he’s gonna be?”
“He will be nine.”
“Oh.”She seems ever so slightly disappointed although I'm not entirely sure why? I keep my own counsel because I am an adult and therefore technically the enemy.

My daughter and the rest of her party flutter back into the family room as the boys continue to play. As they lounge on the sofa, the boys’ Pokemon noises are a soft back drop to their discussion about the boys in their own 4th Grade class.

I ear wig, one of my more finely honed skills. I memorize each male name and the reaction of the girls to the naming of each. The flock flees amid a flurry of girlish squeals. One girl, the same girl, remains behind. She leans against the wall watching them. Her fingers twiddle with a coil of her ash blond hair. She sidles closer to my son. She appears coy, with a healthy dollop of simper.
“Can yah make any Pokemon noise?” she coos. I wonder if my son recognizes coy when he sees it?
“Sure,” he beams using a voice that is loud enough to be heard, rather than his usual whisper. He rises to the bait. “You name it?”
“I don know any Pokemon names,” she titters.
“Here,” he slips across the room to retrieve the Pokemon manual, a thing the size of a telephone directory and just as boring. Her eyebrows shoot up as he shoves the book into her waiting arms and chest. “Geez, they sure do have long names. I don know if I can even say em?”
“Er Charmeleon?”
He contorts his body into an exact replica and growls to a perfect pitch. Her immediate alarm is tempered by intrigue. She calls the name again and he crawls towards her, still miming, still perfect. “Come on Charmeleon,” she beckons, siren that she is. He scampers after her to her squeals of delight.

Oh yes, I think he has”coy” filed in quite the right category.

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Co-ordination and balance or Treason!

[Pre – holiday in England]

We return from the garden centre. I am full of beans. [translation = ready to plant]

My son is wasted. [translation = American term meaning excessively tired, as opposed to the English, term meaning inebriated.] I took him with me as he doesn’t react quite as violently as his brother does to this kind of trip. Spouse cared for the other two.

Now don’t get me wrong, I am entirely delighted that my two severely speech delayed boys now talk, it’s just that the thought processes behind the production of those words, is still far too fast and complex for me to understand. More often than not, I tie myself up in knots. [translation = intractable ones]

My son collapses of the floor like the deflated balloon that he is, together with matching sound effects. [translation = shopping is exhausting for him]
“Whatcha got mom?” asks his sister with enthusiasm.
“Ooo I bought loads of lovely things just look!”
“Gee but you were only gone half an hour!”
“Really, it seems sooooooo much longer. [translation = ten minutes drive there, 3 minutes choosing, 7 minutes queuing, paying and packing, 10 minutes drive home] Anyway, now we have to decide what to put where? Want to help?”
“So you remember the vine that died on one side of the arbors because of the frost?”
“Well, should we replace it with this glossy Jackmanii, or this smouldering Stephanotis?”
Junior appears in the kitchen, “what you do! Plantings are in dah garden not in dah house! Dirty!”
“They'll be in the garden soon enough, we just have to decide which one to put where? Do you want to help?”
“NO! I am hating dah gardin and I am hating dah plants also.”
“Fair enough.” He hovers close by, brewing.
I reconnect with my daughter. “So what do you think?”
“I love that velvety purple, that will look lovely next to the other three white ones on the back fence.” I pause. Two arches. Three vines. Three white vines.
“Hmm, maybe we had better put the Stephanotis there then they'll all be white, and they'll all be scented which will be lovely when you're sitting there.”
Junior buts in, “what it is, 'assorted'?”
“Um, various, mixed, that sort of thing.”
“Why you are calling him Jack den?”
“Because that's what he….er, it is. It is a Clematis Jackmanii, it's Latin, named after the chappy that bred him, er…. it…..I think.”
“What rhyme it is?”
“Yes. What be rhyming wiv Jackmanii?”
“Jackmanii, Jack boy e i, Jill girl e i, e i e i o e i!”
“That'll do nicely, well done.”
“He is ancient?”
“Who, er who is ancient?”
“Well, he…it’s probably got a couple of years growth I suppose.”
“A couple is two!”
“Yes, that’s right, good boy.”
“Argh, NO!”
“You said he was ancient.”
“Did I?” As usual I have completely lost the thread of this conversation.
“Yes, you said he was Latins. Latins is ancient too, he cannot be only two.”
“Oh, yes, I see what you mean. Breeders give plants Latin names so that everyone in the world can understand them. It’s a common language. It doesn’t matter what language you speak, everyone……understands……Latin.” I peter to a halt anticipating an onslaught of additional questions that I am surely unable to answer. However, to my surprise, he seems completely satisfied with this response. I turn to my daughter again, who has waited patiently [again] throughout.
“So, shall we make a start? Find the fork?”
Junior has been cogitating for a few minutes.
“But he is not a Jack, he is a 'patio plant,'” he spits twanging the elastic of the label.
“He's a patio plant too. A plant can be more than one thing. Just like you! You're masculine, a scholar, a chanters, a lyricist, an American, a fleet of foot, a Brit, a feline friend, a chocolate connoisseur, a jester, lots of different things all at the same time, all rolled up into one little boy.” I stop my brief list. I wonder if he can translate all those terms. Should I have used simpler language? I wait for him to process. Why do I keep doing that? Using too many words?
“I not little,” he asserts after a brief pause.
“True, you’re quite big now.” I wait a bit longer….reminding myself of the discrepancy between his receptive and expressive language skills. [translation = understands what comes in but can’t necessarily come out with the right words]

“What it is ……'a Brit'?” [translation = oh no, tragedy!]

We will be in England in less than three weeks. Pass me the Globe!

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If’s, when’s and maybe’s?

“I’m just saying ‘if’ at the moment. We’ll have to see.”
“Oh but please, please, pleeeeeeeeez?”
“We’ve not decided yet, Daddy and I have some more, er, talking to do.”
“O.k. so when we get the dog…”
“Not ‘when,’ ‘if’ dear…”
“O.k. so if we get a dog, what shall we call her? I like Shyler or Piri or Nelly or.. ooo there’s so many to choose from. It’s going to be so great, I’m gonna love her soooo much! I’ve wanted a dog like now foreverrrrr.”
“What about you dear?”
“Er? He is a boy? He is a girl? What he is? Um, I dont know, we can call him ‘dog’ coz he is.”
“Right. What about you dear?”
“I call it ‘wolf!'”

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