Watch your language!

Close-up of the word 'language' in different, erm, languages
Some language: yesterday

I’ve always been happy to talk to people and like to think that I’ve got quite good at it. I work in communications too, so knowing how to converse with different people is one of my strengths – or so you’d think. You see, I’m engaged in an epic battle with Dylan at the moment about how he should communicate with people. It’s not a reluctance to talk – far from it; he can yabber on all day and provide in-depth information about a plethora of things – neither is he rude with it. No, the thing that I find a tad worrying is the fact that he’s suddenly started talking about himself in the third person. Eek! 

Having co-written a book about psychopaths  once upon a time  – no, really. I did. It was a bit of contract publishing work that was offered and I needed the money! – I feel somewhat uneasy when he’ll suddenly say something like “Dylan had bad dreams last night.” Argh! Still, he hasn’t added anything like “A boy’s best friend is his mother” yet, so I think it’s just a phase of linguistic experimentation. That said, when the tragic denouement of The Snowman had unfolded on our screen at Christmas, his response surprised me somewhat. When I was his age, I bawled my eyes out when our silent hero succumbed to the inevitable. I’m only just immune to this animated reminder of the fragility of existence thirty or so years later. He simply said “Oh well, the boy will have to build another snowman.” A practical response, I suppose!

Onto another area of language, both boys understand loads now so we’ve had to resort to spelling out things we don’t want them to hear. It’s bloody exhausting – especially around Christmas with talk of gifts and establishing the official line on how Saint Nick was going to gain access to our home and where he was going to leave the presents. In one of my old jobs, I was often called upon by colleagues to tell them how to spell tricky words. It became an in joke that I had to do it in a childish American accent and repeat the word in question at the end with a smug look on my face. Well, it made the day go a little faster. The trouble is that this annoying little spelling bee voice is now back with a vengeance and, whenever Kate and I try to have a furtive conversation about the eternally thorny issue of what to try and persuade Dylan to eat at dinnertime, it’s there. So my son is talking about himself as if he’s somebody else and I’ve got voices in my head. That doesn’t sound good, does it?!

A change of approach is called for. I could use Cockney rhyming slang, I suppose. It would be useful for the times I wish to swear, but it could give the boys some strange, whimsical ideas about things. As it is, Dylan genuinely believes that camels turn into horses thanks to a song he’s learned at pre school, so maybe not. Perhaps we could start talking to each other in French instead – I’m pretty sure the kind of things we don’t want Dylan and Xander to hear have been broached on The Lingo Show and it could be useful practice for our Summer holiday.

Yes, that’s what Tom will do…


  1. Donna

    This post really made me laugh. It’s amazing what our kids do with the English language when they’re growing up. I’m sure Dylan is just experimenting. I’m at the stage now where unfortunately eldest is getting good at reading and spelling – so spelling out swear words when I’m really annoyed doesn’t get past my 7-year-old. SH*T!!!

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  2. Stephen Greene

    My parents tell me that the reason I became such a good speller at such a young age was because I was desperate to know what they were talking about when they spelled words to each other. So maybe if you start to speak French your son will be gagging to learn that as well.

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      Good point, Stephen! Come to think of it, my parents spoke French in front of me when I was young and I turned out to be good at it at school. Hmmmm!

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