The introduction of swearing – sort of

It was bound to happen, and at least for the time being it’s done in jest. Yep, Mitchell and his school chums have learnt that it can be fun to say rude words.

Their favourite phrase is “kaka tastoos”, which pretty much translates as “pooey bum” in Arabic. This of course is being said deliberately, so not like a toddler who merely echoes what a parent might say when confronted by a nappy blow-out for example. Mitchell gets great delight running up to an adult, shouting “kaka tastoos” and then running off giggling hysterically.

We’re naturally torn in terms of how to respond. To ignore or to chastise?

At least that’s all he’s saying for now. There’s plenty worse things that you can say in Arabic which might result in a blood feud or worse. I mean, all he’s got to do is add “oomak” to the end and then it’s game on. (“kaka tastoos oomak” would translate as “your mother’s pooey bum”. Never a good idea to insult an Arab’s mother if you want to walk away in one piece…)

The magic word

This morning we were sitting at the dining table having a late breakfast of pancakes, pieces of plums, nectarines and grapes, and the odd dollop of maple syrup.  It was very yummy, so many thanks to mummy for making it.

Towards the end of the meal Mitchell asked for a sip of daddy’s water.  “Have water?” he asked.

“What’s the magic word?” was our immediate reply.

With a dramatic flourish Mitchell replied “Da na!”

Not sure that’s the word we had in mind, but I guess it does evoke images of conjuring something by magic!

Oops, you’re not supposed to say that…

Okay, so daddy stuffed up a little.

Whenever Mitchell goes to the loo he likes to flush the toilet himself. After doing a number two he looked into the bowl and then asked daddy “what’s that?”.

Without thinking daddy said “son, that’s a skidmark”.

So now whenever we’re helping Mitchie to do a poo on the loo he tells us that he’s making a skidmark. And after he’s done a poo he’ll tell everyone around that he made a skidmark.

Good one daddy.

Communicating in three languages

Mitchell’s French has been getting better through day care (where half his teachers speak French to him) and everyday discourse with Elie our driver (who speaks bugger all English). Yesterday he greeted Elie with a polite “comment ca va?”.

We’ve also been noticing that Mitchell slips in the odd Arabic word, which is a particularly Lebanese approach to communication – why use one language when three will do?

His favourite, which he only seems to use when things are getting heated (also a Lebanese trait) is to state “la!” (“no”) emphatically when he wants to make clear that he doesn’t want something.

He’s also taken to shouting out “yalla cars!” when we’re stuck in traffic jams.

The emerging bilingualism

Mitchell’s daycare teaches in both French and English, and at last we’re starting to see some bilingualism developing in the little guy. Yesterday he said to our French speaking driver, Ellie: “Merci Ellie”.

So last night around the dinner table we asked Mitchell to say some other things in French. Unprompted, he said “merci”, “oui” and “aujourd’hui” (“today” for the non-francophones out there).

C’est trés bien, non?

Of course this builds on the one Arabic word he already knows: “yalla!” (which depending on the tone and forcefulness in which it is expressed can mean “get a move on” or something a whole lot stronger…)

A few things you hear a lot from a toddler

“What?” – said in response to just about everything these days. Mitchell has developed his father’s selective hearing.

“Whassat?” – said with a wonderfully high pitch and look of shock on his face, whenever he hears a sudden noise such as a revving motorbike, a car horn or a siren (ie every five minutes in Beirut).

“Fina! Yoke, pease!” – called out at the end of dinner each night, when Mitchell wants some yoghurt for dessert. He very quickly learned that Fina is at his beck and call…

“Bag, off!” followed by “Dress!” – said way too early on Saturday and Sunday mornings when Mitchell wants to be let out of his sleeping bag and then wants his father to get dressed, get out of bed and join him for breakfast. Tragically he is less concerned about being accompanied by his mother, who therefore has the luxury of sleeping in every day of the week.

“Why?” – oh dear, we’re just discovering this one. Said after about eight sessions of “what?” and another stalling tactic to avoid doing something unpleasant.

“Don’t want to” – said when stalling tactics have failed and he’s being forced to eat something or do something that’s invariably good for him but rarely pleasant to experience.

“No try” – alas, see “don’t want to” above. Even more frustrating because it’s usually in response to efforts to get him to taste something that we know he’ll enjoy, but he’s just decided not to.