Wednesday 7 May 2008

Communication difficulties

Lost in translation: Neve and the pigeons
It is 6.45 a.m. Neve and I are watching Teletubbies together. A long, tedious segment about a boy feeding some pigeons has just finished (which seemed to just go on forever: what is there to say about feeding pigeons? You throw some grain on the floor. That's it. It barely deserves a sentence, much less a short film, but apparently the Tubbies found it both educational and entertaining and demanded that it be played 'Again! Again!", making the rest of us suffer, the big dumb stupid screen-bellied idiots) when Neve turns to me, and asks with a furrowed brow:
"Where's the business sausage?"
I gape at her. Recently her random garbling has seemed a lot more like proper English words, but as you can see that doesn't necessarily mean that they actually make any sense.
"What? Business sausage?"
She nods firmly.
"Do you actually mean 'sausage', or am I hearing things?" I ask
She gestures at the screen (where the Teletubbies insistence on repeating their educational VT segments has seen a major breakthrough: the birds appear to have remembered that they can eat grain by means of putting it their beaks) and continues to frown.
"Sausage" she says, "Business sausage."
"Right. I have no idea what you mean. What about this 'business sausage'?
"We wiped it."
"What?" I goggle at her incredulously.
"It kicked. It kicked, so we wiped it" she explains patiently.
There is a pause, throughout which she stares at me expectantly.
"I am sorry, but I really have no idea what you are talking about" I say, with a helpless shrug.
She nods, as if satisfied, and turns her attention back to the TV.

If anyone has the slightest idea what she may have meant, then please let me know.

Pride comes before a fall: Amelie and Mario Kart
I am playing Mario Kart on the Nintendo with Amelie. Actually, that is a slight exaggeration - what is actually happening is that I am playing Mario Kart, and she is sitting next to me holding the (disconnected) plastic steering wheel and pretending to drive. She is also pointing out glaringly obvious things that happen onscreen to me (such as "That man has overtaken you", or "The road turns around a corner here", or even "You need to go faster to win") in a way that I find eerily reminiscent of her mother 'helping' me when I drive our real car. As the next race starts, she also decides to add a little bit of race commentary:
"And they're off! They're really tearing up the road!" she says.
I laugh out loud at this remark, which encourages her further.
"You are the coolest driver in the race, Daddy" she shouts.
I gasp. It is all I can do to not drop the controller and punch the air in triumph. My little girl thinks I am cool! I have been waiting for her to say something like that for, oooh, maybe 4 years 2 months and twenty days (if I had to make a rough guess).
I complete another half lap, glowing with paternal pride. Then I remember she is only four, and as I think about what she has said the doubt sets in.
"Amelie, where did you learn to say 'tearing up the road'?" I ask suspiciously
"On my Hello Kitty DVD. They have a race in that, and the rabbit with the flag says it."
"Hmm. Do you know what it means?"
"No. You just say it when you see races."
"Ah." I say. I fear I know the answer already, but have to ask: "Does he say anything else?"
"Yes, he tells Kitty that she is the coolest driver in the race."
"Uh-huh. And do you know what that means?"
"Right." I say sadly, feeling my previous elation gently dribble away into the carpet.
There is a pause.
"You are not winning Daddy, you need to try harder" she says helpfully.

Feigning it: Nini and Winter vegetables.
We are lying in bed. Nini is reading an article about Gordon Ramsey, and his recent outburst on the sole use of ingredients that are in season.
"Bloody Gordon Ramsey" she tuts. "I mean he's got a point, but it isn't him who'll have to feed my kids kale and beetroot all throughout the Winter."
"Uhuh" I say, which is the vaguely affirmative noise I make when I am not really interested but want to indicate that nonetheless I do appreciate, on some level, the one-sided effort that is being put into the 'conversation'.
"I can just see me giving Amelie a bowl of turnip when she wants strawberries. 'Sorry love', I'll say, 'Gordon says it's root vegetables only until May...'"
"Uhuh" I say, wittily.
She puts the magazine down and turns to me, her eyes bright and her face animated.
"What do you think?" she asks.
"What do you think? About only eating vegetables in season."
I decide to come clean. "I wasn't listening properly."
"Why not?"
"You're talking about vegetables."
"I can't even feign interest in it."
This enrages her.
"Why not? You always say that! I ask about something, and you say you can't even feign interest in it. It's like a stock phrase for you. Do you ever actually try to feign interest?"
I have a little think about this.
"Uhuh" I say, earnestly.
"You do? When? Give me an example."
I am aware there is no good answer to this question. Silence here would be as damning as owning up to anything. It is an exquisite, classic piece of 'husband entrapment' that will award her the moral high ground regardless of my reply.
"You can't, can you? Come on, name one conversation that we have had today where you, on my behalf, actually tried and feigned interest in it?"
I decide that, as I'm going down, I may as well go in style.
"This one?" I offer.


Anonymous said...

"I may as well go in style..."

You are a true champion when it comes to wife-baiting. I salute your bravery, sir.

Anonymous said...

You always had to go that little bit too far, dintcha?

Anonymous said...


just think, it's only a matter of 12 days or so until Amelie can say, "daddy, why are you crying? Is it because WEIRD UNCLE KC (KAAAAY-SI)has just overtaken you again? He's the coolest driver in the race!!"

Bring it on!!! haha

PDC said...

Pat: Bravery or stupidity? Opinion is divided...

Anonymous: Hello mother, is that you? when did you learn to use the internet?

KC: It's more likely to be: "Why is weird uncle KC here again? He smells funny, and I can hear him crying at night."

Paul Howard said...

"Business sausage"? It sounds like one of those surreal graphics from the finance news on "The Day Today", cf. the "currency cat" and so forth.

Max Halliwell said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
PDC said...

For some reason, I did think 'the business sausage' might be Sir Alan Sugar. Not sure why.