My Shakespearean Daughter

24th January 2015
My Journal


I want to write the way my daughter speaks. When I listen to her play, she sounds like something Shakespeare might have written:

Hast get in there,

Fend! Fend!

A burglar will get she,

Hast get in there.

And tend this is her boyfriend,

Prince Felix.

I watch as the tragedy unfolds and her doll is pressed into the space between our lounge chairs.

Sophie is three and free. Words never fail her, because in that magic space – just beyond her grasp where the real word waits – she can find a word of her own creation. She announced one night that she could not eat any more of her meal because she was “ball – ee”.

“Bully?” I asked.

“Ball – ee,” she pronounced slowly, (rhymes with crawly). “See?” And she lifted her shirt to show me her glorious belly that was indeed round like a ball, or as you might like to say “ball-ee”.

I can imagine a dictionary containing her words.

Ballee – adjective – the feeling of your belly being round like a ball after dinner.

Pronounced ball-ee, rhymes with crawly.

A strange language has emerged in our family because we all subscribe to Sophie’s dictionary. When we buy a treat from the shops, we don’t call it ‘a sweet’ or a ‘chocolate’. It’s “a special”. I say to my girls: “After dinner, you can have a special if you’re not too ballee.” And they smile and nod and scoop up their dinner with excited, bright eyes, lifting their shirts to check their stomachs are deflated enough to warrant a special. It’s our language and I love it!

Sophie uses ‘hast’ in everyday conversation and it’s a lovely word – it’s ‘has’ and ‘have’ and ‘just’ all rolled into one. Hast is versatile, when the verb or adverb escapes you, you can reach for hast and there it is – to fill the space where a sound should be.

   “Hast butter on my bread roll.”

            “Joanna hast lost she’s head, Mummy!”

            “We hast one of those, don’t we?”

Some of Sophie’s best expressions are sprung from moments of passion, where her determination meets resistance.

“Livya!” she shouts at her sister. “I’m very not happy with you.”

Her feet slap-slap-slap against the floorboards until she is in the bathroom with me, announcing into the shower:

“Livya smacked me very hardly and I’m very not happy with her. Are you very not happy with her or not?”

It’s a complicated question with a possible triple negative and I’m not sure that I can answer her. I turn off the shower – ready to restore peace and unity and hopefully to get dressed – when a web up in the corner distracts her. A spindly spider watches us. Sophie points and says:

“It’s a long legged daddy spider.”

And I wonder for a moment if that spider is a daddy or a mummy. I smile and marvel at how the words have been slippery but somehow she has grasped them.

Then just the other morning, when I was trying to eat my breakfast, Sophie wanted to sit on my lap. There was a silent debate – she clambered and manoeuvred while I removed and disentangled. Finally the silence was broken.

“Let me sit there,” she insisted. “Or I won’t be your hero.”

With her sister, she shares a language. When they walk in the bush at the end of our street, Sophie will find a stick that will suddenly become magical. It is their Kingdom Stick and with the words ‘Kingdom Stop’ it has the power to stop Olivia from walking. On ‘Kingdom Go’ she can walk again and it makes for a great adventure.

Sometimes they hurt themselves in a way that’s not really painful, like bumping their elbow or slipping like a seal in the tub – then through a mouthful of giggles they say “Ohhh, my knuckle-near!” which loosely translated means I’m a duffer, I hurt myself just a little bit.

Sophie told me recently that the Filo Pastry I was using felt like baby wipes. Her recent bowel movement was described as a “vomit-poo” and when she’s a little bit under the weather, she says “I have a common cold.” A recent barefoot walk back from the beach and along our asphalt street caused Sophie to exclaim, “This road is rockable!”

Sophie has heard me say so many times: “What’s this? A bowl of goldfish?” as some much beloved toy is recovered. So now, when she happens to find something we are searching for, she brings it to us and triumphantly announces: “Here’s your bowl of goldfish!”

As I made a pizza the other night, my Shakespearean Daughter stood on tiptoes to watch me at the kitchen bench. “Have you finished decorating the pizza yet?” she asked. I laughed and told her no. She watched for a moment then said: “You do that very goodly, Mummy.” And as she walked away she reminded me: “Hast ham and pineapple on mine.”

I hast want to write like that.

Jump into the Comment box below and share the beautiful words and expressions your kids have created (or the ones you remember from your childhood).





16 responses to “My Shakespearean Daughter”

  1. Ingrid says:

    Lincoln at the age of three learnt to roll his tongue. He asked if I could do it and I said ‘yes’. He asked if dad could do it and I said ‘no’. I then explained that he had the same genes as me and that his brother has the same genes as his dad, as he could not roll his tongue. When we went to visit his PaPa he asked if he could roll his tongue, and yes of course he could also. Lincoln then explained to PaPa that Jontae could not roll his tongue because he had the same shorts as Dad!

    • gjstroud says:

      Fantastic Inga! Genes/Jeans same sound, two very different concepts. Nothing like a good homophone to keep them confused! Remember how Jontae used to describe fizzy drink as Prickle Juice? Sophie calls it Spicy Drink. Thanks for sharing your story.

  2. Margy Carracher says:

    “It’s mine pleasure!” when thanked for what ever (2 1/2 yr old Jake)
    ” I’m starving like a guinea pig!”who had to feed and move the guinea pig cage around the lawn as his job ( 4 yr old Tys)
    “It’s netball season!” when asked at school what season it was (Jenna)
    “Why to keep her head warm of course!”answer given when another student asked a Brethren girl why she was wearing a head scarf (5 yr old Jenna)

    • gjstroud says:

      Margy these made me laugh out loud! “I’m starving like a guinea pig!” That is priceless. Thanks so much for sharing these with everybody… I’m sure everyone will have a giggle.

  3. Marisa Cartan says:

    A new word for your dictionary….
    Created: circa 2013 by Claudia& Lara Cartan
    Definition : a male or female who is topless. However, the term is generally used for middle aged overweight men who have a tendency to mow their front lawn without a shirt on.
    In context:
    Eg. (Giggle, giggle) ooh look at that man mummy – he’s booby -shaded (giggle) and hairy too!!

    • gjstroud says:

      Ohhh I love it Marisa! Booby shaded! How do they come up with these things? The other day Sophie had a mozzie bite on her leg and she said “Look Mummy I grew a boobie on my leg!”

  4. Jen Russell says:

    Ah Sophie I love it! She is definately your daughter Gab!!
    As a little tacker we had “swas a mop!” – there was a moth and Mickey-made was lemonade, mum used to have them written down somewhere so I’ll try to find them

    • gjstroud says:

      I would love to read them Jen! Mickey-made for lemonade is sooo cute! My brother used to call magpies “meat pies”. Let me know if your mum finds the ones she wrote down. Thanks for sharing.

  5. Helen says:

    As long as “a special” is not an arrowroot biscuit??!!! LOL

    • gjstroud says:

      It might be Helen – just depends how long since I’ve done the shopping. And how generous I was feeling when I was doing the shopping.

  6. Cyn Rees Tucker says:

    when my boys were little and we went walking in the bush near our house (which was on a hill), coming home every time our little master 3 would always say…” Mummy this hill is very heavy!)
    We also had …”where you are” when looking for any member of the family!
    These sayings and words are priceless!

  7. Ruth says:

    helicopter = hokkadah
    Camel = dombel
    “Mum, there’s some h-i-t on the lawn!”
    JLR 😉

    • gjstroud says:

      h-i-t on the lawn… of course! That’s both funny and sweet. Thank you for sharing Ruth, I’ll listen out for hokkadahs as I’m riding my dombel and dodging the h-i-t.

  8. My 17-month-old is not yet onto sentences, but her favourite word at the moment is “UP!” She uses it specifically to implore animals to jump UP onto her lap. Twas a bit tricky last week at an animal sanctuary, when she kept screaming “UP!” at animals in their enclosures, and then becoming uber-toddler-frustrated when none of the animals complied.

    • gjstroud says:

      Isn’t it delightful when they begin to understand the power of words? I think toddlers get a little power-surge every time they declare “NO”.

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