It seems that it is not just E’s language that evolves ever forward as time goes on. As his talking and comprehension improves, so our obfuscation of certain words has been forced to develop with it. Not so long ago, we could simply slightly change the word that we didn’t want him to understand by throwing in a surplus syllable or two – raisin became rasioni, park became parkioni and so forth. I have absolutely no idea why we felt it necessary to go cod-Italian, but it seemed to workio, and we certainly had him fooled for a while. We could safely enquire of the other if we had packed the raisionis without provoking an incessant inquisition as to why he couldn’t have raisins NOW. And we could suggest a trip to the parkioni without invoking an unremitting loop of the question ‘are we going to the park yet?’ executed with seemingly inhuman disregard for the need to take a breath for several minutes.
But then one day E turned to us and asked if he could have some raisionis NOW and we realised the game was up.
We tried just saying certain words quickly and quietly, slipping them past E whilst he was distracted by something shiny, or intent on fishing a particularly juicy bogey from his nostril. However, this was a high risk strategy and began to backfire on us frequently. ‘God, he was a right git,’ I moaned to M, whispering git at a volume only dolphins and bats could detect, yet immediately prompting a gleeful round of ‘git, git git, git…’ from E, who up until three seconds previously, had seemed to be utterly engrossed in trying to decapitate a Play Mobil fireman using only a plastic dragon.
We did try lip reading, but at the point that which I had to mouth ‘Zingzillas’ seven times with ever more over elaborate mouth movements and M thought I was choking on some food, we abandoned that method. Life’s too bloody short. Sorry. B-l-o-o-d-y short.
So we were left with no other option than to revert to that old parental favourite – the spelling out of the word. Shall we go to the p-a-r-k? M might ask in the morning over breakfast, a perfect method for not raising hopes that would be cruelly dashed if it rained, or we decided to do a fascinating house chore instead, such as the never-ending loft run to rid ourselves of toys and clothes that E had grown out of.
So the spelling strategy worked fine. ‘Blimey, he is a s-o-d,’ I would say and E wouldn’t bat an eyelid.
However, there is one small snag. M was not standing first in the queue for spelling when he lined up for his talents. He was too busy working out magic maths at the front of the maths queue. (Personally, I was some way up the spelling queue, but failed the entrance exam for the maths queue entirely). But for both of us, it does slow down the conversational flow somewhat and usually, somewhere around the seventh letter of M’s latest spelling marathon I start to glaze over. And it is amazing how trying to spell a word whilst engaged in another activity can render you useless at both. Attempting to ask M if we should take a packet of chocolate buttons out with us for E whilst putting on E’s shoes, resulted in E wearing his left shoe on his right foot and M wondering why on earth I was suggesting we take a chocolate bottom to the park. So fuck it, we packed an apple, it is much easier to spell.