Monday, 14 February 2011

"Unaccustomed as I am ..."

Another day, another meal time conversation which ended with me laughing out loud. (I seem to be laughing a lot lately – not sure why this is but it can only be a good thing!)

“Why do we have words for things?” Annabel enquired, which is a reasonable enough question. Often, however, a reasonable question from one child produces a less than kind response form the other.

“What?” laughed Joseph. “Of course we need words for things!”

“Yeah, we do, but why do we?” I asked, trying to deflect the slight ‘mean-ness’ in his voice.

He didn’t make a terrific job of explaining why, although he was on the right track. By this time, Annabel had turned to me for an answer.

“Well, if we didn’t have words for things, we would spend all our time describing the thing, rather than discussing more interesting and fun stuff. You know, such as ….. when I went to the shops, I opened the … erm …. you know, the big square hard thing at the end of the corridor with a smaller, rectangular hole in …..”

(waiting for Annabel to guess at what it was)

“The front door?”

“That’s it, the front door, then I walked along the hard grey thing with lines on, sometimes with dog mess on it ……”

“The pavement?”

Yep, the pavement. Then I got to the shop and bought some of that runny white stuff, from an animal? Some of it is green on top, some of it blue? We pour it on our food in the morning?”


That’s right. You see how boring it would be to have to do that all the time?”

Annabel was extremely pleased with this explanation and went back to her food happy. And when she’s happy, I’m happy.

My ever-so-slightly random mind wandered to ever-so-slightly random thoughts which revolved around the conversation we’d just had. It settled on an episode of Blackadder (not for the first time in my life, it has to be said!), in particular, Ink and Incapability.

Thinking of another example of having to describe a word rather than just say what the word itself, I said, ““big blue wobbly thing that mermaids live in”, mimicking Baldrick (watch it for yourself, here).

I thought this was just about as random as it could get, given the context but, quick as a flash, Joseph answered (between mouthfuls), “The sea?”

It was a combination of the speed with which he answered and the fact that he’d instantly figured out the answer to a piece of comedy history that made me helpless with laughter.

What made me laugh even harder, was seeing his completely impassive face, still looking directly at me but continuing to munch on his dinner, oblivious to what he had said that I’d found so mirth-some.

But like I said, laughter?

It’s a good thing.

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