Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Lost in Translation

My youngest son Zack has been talking now for over a year, and I’ve just barely started to understand him. I wasn’t one of those parents who could translate for her child. He would babble on and on to which another adult would ask, smiling, “What’s he saying?”

I would shrug. “I dunno.”

That wasn’t the case for Kaleb and Leah. They were talking much sooner and I would volunteer their pearls of wisdom to anyone who would listen. “Did you hear that?” I would say. “Kaleb just said, ‘the dynamics of this playgroup are stimulating, intense, and strangely satisfying.’ How cute.” So either I’ve lost my touch or I never it in the first place.

The last couple months, Kaleb and Leah have begun translating for Zack. Just a few days ago, Zack rambled something off that I didn’t quite understand. Worse yet, it ended with a question.

“What did he say?” I asked Leah.

“Oh, he said he wants to have some cake,” Leah said. Then after thinking about it a bit longer she added, “He wants all of us to have some cake.” I raised one eyebrow. “And eat it too,” she punctuated.

“He didn’t say he wants a banana? Because I thought I heard him say ‘nana’,” I said.

“No. He doesn’t want a banana. But he said that if you have banana cake we should have some.”

Kaleb is equally helpful. “Mom, Zack’s asking you if it’s okay to watch a movie tonight even though I have school tomorrow,” he said late one afternoon.

“Oh, really?”

“Yes,” Kaleb said. “He thinks that if we start watching a movie now we would still have time to brush our teeth and read books before bed.”

“That’s all Zack said?”

“Oh, and he wants to know if we can have popcorn too, the kind I like with real melted butter.”

“Wow. What a chatterbox.”

So I’ve decided to turn the tables on them. When they offer their highly expert translations I respond in kind.

When Leah says, “Zack wants to know if we can get McDonalds drive-thru,” I say, “Are you sure that’s what he said? Because I clearly heard him ask if we could all do extra chores before naptime.” Or when Kaleb proclaims, “Zack said that Daddy told him we could all share a can of his soda,” I explain, “No. I think you missed the intonation of the transitive noun in that sentence. He obviously wants to know if you can all share a glass of wheat germ.”

Needless to say, they no longer translate for their little brother.

But of course, all this is loosely based on my translation of events. And heaven’s knows my skills ain’t what they used to be.

1 comment:

Lauren said...

That's so funny. My kids do the same thing. Gavin will say something like "Want my blankie." And I'll say, "What did he say?" And Megan will say, "I think he wants a cookie. Gavin, don't you want a cookie?" And then they'll both be all excited about cookies. Geez.