When children first learn to speak they are very honest.
Dog! Cow! Man! Fat Man! Fat Man! Look Mummy Fat Man!
By the time they hit three they are already learning the dramatic art of subtext. In our humdrum daily lives simple words often have a deeper, richer meaning. Like this:
Mummy I haven’t broken your umbrella.
Subtext: Your umbrella is broken. Exactly how or why this happened cannot be ascertained at this moment but is probably linked to a three year old waving the umbrella about like a magic wand. Oh and the vase in the living room, that’s broken too.
Look he can wash his hands!
Subtext: I have been teaching my brother to wash his hands in the toilet. This is why the soap smells of poo.
I’ve been on holiday.
Subtext: I have taken every item of clean clothing out of my drawers and tried to ram it into a Trunki. I have applied toothpaste to mine and my brothers faces pretending it is suntan lotion. The bedroom floor is now ankle deep in clothes and our minty fresh faces are starting to sting.
(Those of you who have been on a holiday with two pre school children will appreciate that this is a pretty good representation of what to expect.)
It’s not just the children who are at it Mr Eeh Bah also has a flair for meta communication. This classic comes after a child has been sick in bed:
I’ve put the bedding in the wash.
Subtext: As well as the bedroom the kitchen now smells of sick too. The bedsheets are still encrusted with a small childs vomit but rather than being on the bed they are now inside the washing machine ready for the magic washing fairy to whisk them away and clean them with enchanted laundry dust.
Are we ready to go out yet?
Subtext: I am ready to go out. I have put my shoes and my coat on and will now spend 20 minutes standing by the door sighing and looking at my watch while you try find shoes, hats, gloves and coats for two children, pack a bag with drinks, snacks, books, toys, wipes and nappies and empty your own shoes of lego.
Where is the nice new jumper I bought?
Subtext: I do not wish to be seen out in public with these children. I am worried someone will call social services when they see a three year old dressed in last years summer clothes (crop top, micro skirt and no tights) in the middle of winter.
Me being from Yorkshire I speak plainly and would never dream of saying one thing and meaning the opposite….