Monday, July 18, 2011

Four-Letter Words

Thomas the Train has invaded our home.

The show, with it's unusual script and careful pronunciation of words, has simultaneously improved Cael's vocabulary and provided him with a new collection of words and phrases to use inappropriately.  Initially, I was impressed with his ability to infer the meaning of some of the words, but then others started to be taken seriously out of context.

"Mommy, this pizza is really daft!"

"Uhh, okay. Thank you?"

Most of his Thomas adaptations have been harmless up until last week, when some cosmic shift changed everything.  After allowing him to watch an episode of Thomas while Graham continued to nap, it was time to turn the TV off and go upstairs.  The mere suggestion of cutting off his source of dry English "humour" caused my son to lash out in a way very reminiscent of the Calliou debacle of 2010.  Not feeling like arguing about the issue, I turned off the show and headed upstairs.  As soon as I'd turned my back, I was hit with,


EXCUSE ME?!?  If he'd said it in any other context I'd be more forgiving, but these words were spoken with such hatred and wrath that his motive was clear-- my three year-old son was telling me to "go #&$% myself" without actually saying it.

That move has been done before, and if he thinks he can pull the wool over my eyes, he's got another thing coming.  I've seen "FRIENDS", after all.

This is a hard problem to tackle, because Cael doesn't actually know any expletives (save for a two-week stretch when he was two years old and kept calling me a certain donkey-related name that he accidentally picked up from a certain relative... you know who you are!) and I don't want to introduce any truly offensive phrases in the process.

"Cael, we need to talk.  That's not a nice thing to say to me."

"Why?  Thomas says it."

"Because you said it to me in an angry way.  It's not nice to yell at me like that-- it makes me think you're trying to say something even naughtier."

"What's even naughtier?"

Uh-oh.  This is what I was trying to avoid.  Just as I was carefully crafting a response that wouldn't require me to provide any examples, Cael came up with some of his own. 

"Mommy, what's naughtier than pumping my pistons?
"Buffer to buffer?"
"Fizzling fireboxes?"

 Holy cow, he's redefined the four-letter word.

"Cael, those aren't naughty words, but you have to be careful not to say them in a naughty way.  That hurts my feelings.  Okay?"

"Okay.  But I wanted to watch more Thomas!"

"I know, and you'll have a another chance later.  What do need to you say to me?"

"Cinders and ashes, Mommy.  I'm sorry."

"Thanks... I think."

So maybe Thomas isn't a good influence after all.  Or maybe it doesn't matter what he watches, because I think that with the proper delivery, any phrase can be lethal.  (Leave it to Cael to watch the news and tell me later that night, "I don't want to brush my teeth, Mommy.  And I don't have to... this is 20/20!"  I really wouldn't put it past him.)  If he's already demanding I pump my pistons at age three, I'm afraid to think of what he'll say ten years from now when he's thirteen.  But it's okay... I'm prepared.

"Go bust your boilers, Cael."


Leave your own "ism". Cael and Graham double-dog dare you.