Is This Thing On?

I am beginning to think that I may, in fact, have lost my ability to speak English.

I fear that, although I am thinking in English, and that I believe that the words I am forming with my brain and my mouth and my vocal cords are in English, I may not in fact ACTUALLY be speaking English. I sometimes feel that perhaps, somewhere between the thoughts in English in my brain and the ears of the English-speaking listener, some sort of disconnect is happening and English is not actually what is coming out.

And when I say “listener”, what I mean is “five-year-old daughter”.

Below is an actual, real-life conversation that happened in my kitchen recently:

That Girl: What are we having for supper?
Me: We’re having tuna casserole.
TG: Are we having sausage rolls?
Me: No, tuna casserole. Tuna, noodles, cheese… one of your favourites.
TG: But I want sausage rolls. Can we have sausage rolls?
Me: No, we’re having tuna casserole. It’s delicious. You love it. It’s one of your favourite foods.
TG: (thinks for a minute) How about sausage rolls? I want sausage rolls.
Me: NO, we’re having tuna casserole. This is not a restaurant. You’ll eat what we are eating.
TG: (spins in a circle a couple of times) But what are we having FOR SUPPER?
Me: TUNA CASSEROLE.
TG: Oh. okay. (spins again, and does a little hop) Can we have sausage rolls?

I KNOW I said “tuna casserole” about eighty jillionty times in the space of five minutes. I said it so often, the phrase “tuna casserole” doesn’t even sound like real words anymore. So then I got to thinking… maybe it’s not. Maybe I only THINK I am saying “tuna casserole” over and over in my brainmeats, but what is actually coming out is “Can you direct me to the hotel?” in Swahili.

Or how about this one:

That Girl: Is it January?
Me: No honey, it’s February.
TG: Oh, right. And today’s Wednesday, so tomorrow it will be Saturday, right?
Me: No, today’s Monday. It’s a school day. Tomorrow will be Tuesday.
TG: And it’s going to be March!
Me: No, it’s still February.
TG: (takes a bite of her toast) Is it Thursday?
Me: No, honey. It’s Monday.
TG: And it’s January.
Me: No, it’s February.
TG: Oh. (thinks) Is it Wednesday?
Me: It’s MONDAY.
TG: Oh. Right. (takes a bite of her toast)
TG: Happy Saturday, Mom!

I mean, I know she’s just learning all the days and the months and stuff. But honestly, how many times can you repeat “It’s Monday” before someone thinks “Oh, hey… wait a minute… could it be MONDAY?”

Then there’s this oft-repeated exchange:

That Girl: Mom, can you make me some cocoa, please?
Me: I’ll be there in just a moment, honey. I just have to finish this work I am doing/putting away this laundry/putting on pants/putting this idea in this email before I lose my mind.
TG: When, Mom? I’m really thirsty.
Me: In a minute, honey.
TG: (waits a nanosecond) Mom, what about my cocoa? Are you going to make my cocoa?
Me: I’ll be right there! Just give me a moment!
TG: (another nanosecond passes) Are you coming, Mom?
Me: IN A MINUTE! Can you just please be patient? I just have to FINISH THIS!
TG: (waits a millisecond) How about now? Are you coming now, Mom?
Me: WHAT ABOUT “I’LL BE RIGHT THERE” DO YOU NOT UNDERSTAND? JUST LET ME FINISH, FOR THE LOVE OF DOG!!
TG: (meekly) Okay, Mom.
Me: THANK YOU.
TG: (a second passes) Are you coming to make my cocoa yet?

Now, I KNOW there are words in that exchange — “in a minute”, “wait”, “be patient” — that may, in fact, be foreign concepts to the five-year-old mind. But I say them SO OFTEN, that surely by now she grasps the idea of waiting, right?

UNLESS, OF COURSE, I AM TELLING HER THIS IN INUKTITUT. Which I know for a FACT she does not understand.

And, honestly, I didn’t think I did, either. But clearly, I thought I was speaking plain English, and apparently this is not the case, either. So.

So, tell me: Am I thinking that I am communicating in English, but in actual fact it’s coming out in a completely different language? And I conversant in the Uzbek language, but was unaware of it? Tagalog? Quechua?

Or is it — and I have suspected this for quite some time — is it that I am not conversant in the language of “five-year-old butthead”?

3 thoughts on “Is This Thing On?

  1. sounds like a major case of the fives. 😉

    (Favourite recent interaction witnessed between a mom and a five year old…. Mom: “(child), you couldn’t be more right.” Child: “Yes I could! I could be more right!” )

  2. Welcome to Motherhood. (She says while she is laughing.) That would be me and Grandad laughing.
    Wait until the teen years when you start setting down some dating rules. Do you remember your teen years? No? I have heard some stories I won’t share on this site.

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