Thursday, May 28, 2009

Slip of the tongue, twist of the wrist

I imagine every family develops its own secret language. Verbal shortcuts that might not mean anything to the larger world at large are immediately understood within the context of the family unit.

We have yummies, for example. One thing I know I did right amongst my parental pratfalls was to teach both girls that the best bagel, the only one really worth eating, is the everything bagel. Those delicious toppings that bring out the best of the crunchy crust and doughy center, those poppy seeds and sesame seeds, the coarse salt, the onion flakes and garlic flakes: those are the yummies.

Usage: 1) Hey! My bagel doesn't have lots of yummies! 2) Are you finished? Can I have your plate so I can eat your extra yummies?

We also have mispronunciations that we've accepted as part of our vernacular. For instance, the noteverstill family lyrics never sing about the Itsy Bitsy spider. Our spider is Ipsy and Bipsy. He just can't help himself. Poor spider. My favorite mispronunciation is E's: she refers to anything that involves coloring or painting or cutting and pasting as arts and crabs.

The family truism most repeated is one I invented. A long time ago I told E, back when she was E of E and not E of E&L: "My first job is to keep you safe and your first job is to be respectful." Safe included not burning herself as I cooked dinner, not falling out of her crib, not getting sunburned, etc. It preemptively stopped most anything she generally protested. Respectful included listening, not interrupting, cleaning up messes, etc. It preemptively encouraged most positive behaviors I wanted to instill. We used to quiz each other. She'd ask me my job and I say "to keep you safe!" Then I'd return the question and she'd yell, to be SPECKFUL!

The truism evolved and itself was truncated. "Safe first, happy second" became the words. As in, I don't care if you want to touch the pretty red (-hot) burner. I'm still going to yank your hand away. Or, I don't care if you want to reach for that toy that just fell out of the car. Put your carseat straps on and I'll hand it to you, but you can't lunge out of an open car door and fall to the pavement. Actually, many of the most pertinent examples would be car-related.

Clear expectations are good expectations, at least for my girls. They know about safe and they know about speckful and they also know that I want to make them happy, but not at the cost of safety or respect.

So this was not what I wanted to see when I turned around at a red light today:

May 28, 2009
So much for a five-point harness

L slipped out of both of her shoulder straps and then had the audacity to yell at me when I wouldn't give her my camera.

That is certainly not safe. And it is definitely not speckful. Nor was anybody very happy.

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