My Shakespearean Daughter
24th January 2015
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,
A burglar will get she,
Hast get in there.
And tend this is her boyfriend,
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).