So my youngest son, my ‘Feisty Fellow’ is 7. He is, he announces at the breakfast table as he waits for his porridge, a ‘donut.’ His brothers and I nod, knowledgeably. A donut. Course he is.
You see the problem is that there are some words, some turns of phrase, which my boys use and which I can’t quite bring myself to correct. Words which will forever evoke certain memories of their very young lives.
Take ‘vee-ve veel’ for instance. Any guesses? Let me give you a clue. We are in a cafe en route to stay with friends who live a hideously long way away. It is late, we are hungry and the menu is limited. We have chips. The waiter delivers bowls of crispy French Fries. ‘Any sauces?’ he asks. ‘Ketchup please,’ replies our 3 year old eldest ‘Sensible Son’. His 2 year old brother looks at the red stuff in disgust. ‘Vee-ve veel?’ requests ‘Binary Boy’. The waiter looks confused. ‘He means…er… olive oil,’ I clarify, a tiny bit embarrassed by his precociously odd tastes. The waiter returns with a bottle of Bertolli’s, Binary Boy drizzles it all over and guzzles his chips.
Did we correct his pronunciation, then or indeed later down the line? No. Why? Because it was cute, sweet, made us all smile. And so ‘vee-ve veel’ lives on to this day in the Evans’ house. As do catameringues, seeeriup (Golden, a special treat topping on the afore-mentioned porridge), ‘thumbs’ (of the numerical kind), ‘wirells’ (red or grey and found up trees) and Savil (that miracle antiseptic cream which cures just about anything). Should we correct our children’s minor verbal misdemeanours? Are we condemning them to a life of ridicule by encouraging, and perpetuating, our own in-house lingo?
The other evening, I was having supper with some ever-so-slightly posh people. We sat at the beautifully laid table, a large log fire crackling in the background.
‘Goodness,’ I exclaimed merrily during a lull in conversation, ‘it’s a right fug up in here!’
Silence. The hostess inhaled through her teeth, an elderly gentleman fiddled with his hearing aid.
I reddened, then burbled… ‘A FUG up… you know? Fug… like it’s really toasty and warm in here.’ They stared at me blankly as I continued to roast. ‘Well,’ I mumbled, sensing I was fighting a losing battle, ‘that’s what we call it in our family… it’s what my mum’s always said.’ Someone passed me the potatoes and I quickly muttered my thanks.
Anyway, back to the donut and Feisty Fellow.
I turn from the stove where I’m stirring porridge oats. ‘It’s a ‘grown up’ you are (nearly!) not a donut, I’m afraid.’
He looks a little disappointed not to be sugary, round and oozing jam, but is swiftly distracted by the appearance of his birthday breakfast.
‘Seeing as I’m a grown up today, can I have some seeeriup on this?’
‘I’ll get some from the cupboard,’ I say. He may not be a donut, but for the time being at least, he can still stay sweet.
What in-house lingo do you let go in your house?