I was having lunch with a friend today and we got to comparing the weird and wonderful things said by their youngest and by the cub that make us pause briefly every time. Both are of an age where they voraciously consume online content by a variety of providers. One thing that both have picked up is their concept of Funny Numbers that always seem to provoke laughter.
The Funny Numbers are 69 and 420, the meaning of which are utterly unknown to the cub. He sees and hears other people reacting in videos or in comments and seems to have constructed a world view where these are somehow intrinsically funny to people.
I have no intention of instructing him as to what they refer to, as he says them to get a reaction. In some ways it was reassuring to hear from another parent that he’s not the only child who does it.
For now then I’ll carry on carefully not reacting beyond a slightly bored bemusement. He’ll get bored at some point I’m sure…
While I was working today I saw a message appear on our group chat about the cub. With a return to school, myr s had just taken him to the barber and conversational shenanigans commenced.
The poor lady asked “What would you like done?” and received the typically blunt response: “I want it cut.” – cue a deep sigh and attempt to extract some sort of engagement with a willful kid with a taste for teasing.
I just had a mental image of a mock sulky expression with a mischievous twinkle and can only hope he doesn’t get immediately scalped one of these days.
Hopefully we’ll be able to meet up this weekend in one of the parks near them, finally exchange Christmas gifts and catch up properly. Fingers crossed.
It’s very easy to forget that the cub is both eight years old, and quite young with it. He adopts language and mannerisms from YouTubers as a bolshy disguise, and can come across quite abrasively at times – but the real cub is closer to the surface than we remember sometimes.
One such reminder came last weekend while he and Lady S were staying with us. Reports came in of a man being murdered in a train not far from us, and the cub was distraught at the thought of it.
He’s generally quite wary of public transport anyway as a high-stimulus mode of transport to unfamiliar territory, and he knew that I would be travelling back from work by bus. He was, I’m told, very concerned that I would be okay – and the Ladies M and S spent a lot of time reassuring him.
Then he remembered that I’m due to visit Portsmouth shortly, and will be travelling by train. As Lady S tried to get him to settle to sleep, he remembered that we use the Glympse app to let each other know how our journeys and estimated arrival times are going.
So I have a specific request as I travel down, to use the app so that he and Lady S can see that I’m still moving and travelling. He has also been repeatedly reassured that I am careful as I travel and how and where I travel and so far he seems to be only slightly twitchy.
He’s too young to be reassured by statistics in the safety of travelling by trian, or by comparisons of the danger of crossing the road on the way to school. I’m certainly not opening the can of worms that some people may even see me as a danger while they travel: lone white male with shaven head and leather jacket? I do get looks.
So yes cub, I will be safe, and I will be there soon.
I love language, and especially the intricate dances we can make it do to play with nuance and imagery. My favourite forms of literary criticism when studying English were Structuralism and Semiotics – and I make no apologies for how these approaches inform my appreciation both of the written and spoken word around me.
As an example – how many of you have looked at this blog entry’s title and assumed that this will be an item about the effects of our polya lives on a youngster? Sorry to disappoint (I lie, I hope you’re now questioning your assumptions) but this is about language.
You see, the cub has an enquiring mind and picks up concepts extremely rapidly. In this instance his Spanish teacher introduced him to the word polyglot – someone who speaks many languages and this has obviously resonated.
He proudly announced the other day that he is a polygamer – and when asked to elaborate he described his reasoning as follows:
He doesn’t play games on only one platform, enjoys playing many different games, and in those games where there are different characters, he enjoys trying out the different characters to see how differently they play. Therefore as someone who enjoys many different ways of playing games, he is a polygamer.
I suppose if I was being pedantic and insisting on a purely Greek root it should be polypaichnídi or polyagon but that introduces far too many new angles of enquiry. Sorry, not sorry.
It amused me
So, the cub has a very strong sass-game, inherited from his mum, that combines with the natural sense of wonder at the world that a young lad has anyway to produce some amazing moments from time to time.
The backpack that he wears to school looks a bit like a cartoon monster. It’s a bright lime green, has big eyes and felt teeth along it’s fold down edge. At the beginning of term, Lady M taught him to treat it like The Monster Book of Monsters from Harry Potter. This involves gently stroking its spine (the top) before opening or closing the clasp. She even made the bag shuffle and roar while he wore it to emphasise that he needed to take care of it or it would fight back.
Fast forward to this morning and I get a message from Lady S that she has made a packed lunch for the cub, and try as she might she can’t get the bag to close. The cub walked up, took the bag off her, stroked it’s spine, and closed the bag without any problems.
He then looked her in the eye and said: “you don’t show this bag the love and respect it deserves.” He then added: “Jo knows how to treat my bag.”
To say that Lady S was a bit gobsmacked is an understatement. We have been teasing her on our group chat, saying we can’t imagine where he gets his sass from…