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Called by name

October 19, 2013

Something happened today that made me feel rather weird …

I was cooking Hope’s supper in the kitchen and her father and her grandmother were watching Strictly Come Dancing with the Stars in the sitting room with Hope trotting between the two rooms, up and down the hall, chattering and playing with her Sheep … I was in my own little world pottering around with pasta when I wondered if I’d heard something. All was peaceful and quiet and I thought I was mistaken, but a few minutes later I heard Hope’s father shout, fairly forcefully, “Ellie” and I was just putting down my tomatoey spoon to go and see if there was something wrong when I heard a familiar little voice shouting in a very unfamiliar way.

“Ellie, Ellie, Ellie”, she shouted in exactly the same tone of voice her father had used, and she came running into the kitchen and bashed me on the leg, “Ellie, Ellie” the same call again and with the same intonation.

I guess there were two things that felt strange and a little disturbing, one hearing her call me by my name, it was the first time she hasn’t called me, “Mummi” the little “i” at the end making it sound so English and so sweet and so very uniquely her, the second thing that was hard to take in was the tone of voice. She mimics everything but this time she had picked up the slightly irritated, insistent call she’d heard, and I’d never heard her speak in that way before.

We must be so careful of what we say and how we speak infront of her, the language used, the intonation and so on. I know she won’t always hear gentle chatter as she grows up but I do, in as far as I can, want her to be around happiness, excitement, calm and, well, peace. I also am acutely conscious looking ahead, of swear words and adult language, again she can’t always be protected but I don’t want her to grow up “potty mouthed” as they say in the good old US of A.

We went to a farm earlier today and a big fat pig suddenly broke wind and let loose with a rush of bright yellow urine, Hope was fascinated. “He’s doing a wee”, I said. The boy standing next to her shouted to his mother, “the pig’s doing a wee”, the mother came over and said, “Matthew, we don’t use that language, he’s made a wet”.  I apologised to her and made some comment about how hard it is to decide what to call bodily functions infront of short people and asked her what she said when someone broke wind, she shook her head and said they didn’t have a particular word, but that they didn’t use the word fart (which she whispered), the cheerful and flappy eared Matthew burst into the conversation, “Parp, Mummy, Parp”, at which point she glared at him and I decided it was time for us to make ourselves scarce!!! What is bad language to one is fine to another. We have a minefield to navigate ahead of us … and for the record I don’t say fart infront of Hope, we refer to “windy buttocks”, or simply, “bottom!!!!” … just so you know! I’ve heard other people  use “windy puff”, “pop” and “poop”, they all sound a bit froofy for me, but I would probably also have whispered “fart” as well … but “made a wet” dear oh dear!

I followed Hope back into the sitting room, she still keeping on with her insistent, “Ellie, Ellie, Ellie”, and me wondering what was up. It turned out that I’d been about to miss Deborah Meaden from Dragons Den dancing to the Bucks Fizz song Making Your Mind Up, serious business in the Dancing world.

By the time she’d finished eating her pasta and smearing red jelly all over the table she was happily calling me Mummi again, but tonight will stay in my memory as a night of two firsts. I’m absolutely sure that it marks the beginning of me being called all sorts of names in all kinds of voices as she grows up, but for now I’m happy to stick with Mummi and I’ll appreciate it all the more. I’m so not a modern mother!!



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