Monday, February 8, 2010

The Language Twist

Children love to imitate adults..They mimic..they act and recount words used by adults..However , as much as it seems unpleasant at times ,don’t we all love children , who delight us with their naive viewpoints or so to say, their uncorrupted philosophies. So today I want to share with my 'blogger friends', my article, with some anecdotes of my children , which appeared in a Sunday Paper a couple of years ago.

To dye or to die

Alarmed at the silver streaks which was quite visible in a few of my tresses, I hastened toward the washroom, with a packet of ‘henna’ and an old toothbrush, bumping on to him as I tried to dash ahead and my seven year old, wanted to know why I was in a hurry. Without elaborating, I told him in plain language, I was going to ‘dye’.

Immediately after spilling that doubled meaning word, I knew what a grave mistake I had made. In actual fact I had really confused him. I could see his baffled face and his tiny mouth opened wide. In an instant, I had made my son miserable. Cross at my own rashness, I immediately sat with him (my Henna experiment forgotten for the moment) and explained to him the difference between dye and die. I didn’t exactly clarify ‘die’, in depth...nonetheless he was convinced...and me? Wasn’t I reassured when I saw his toothless grin...!!!

On the whole, children still cannot grasp the meaning of some of the words used by adults. Hence we have to be careful with our phrasing when dealing with children. Employing simple and uncomplicated expressions make it easier for them to comprehend the language. At times, words which have two meanings should be used with great care where they are concerned.

If we notice our child to be disturbed over something we have said, let us make sure to rectify the problem immediately, by doing this there wouldn’t be any room for misunderstanding. Children every now and then, pick up a specific word by listening to adults conversations, although they may not know the meaning or the gravity of it, they try to apply it in their vocabulary; it is then the duty of the parents to let them know whether it is appropriate to use it in that context. They should not be reprimanded but have to be told in the kindest possible way which word is appropriate and which is not.

Kids often take us by surprise, like the other day at home, during bedtime (which is usually quiz time) when my two young sons drilled me for the umpteenth time. I must confess that I am consistently at a loss for words, in the midst of these two, for often, they pose questions intended for Martians!!! However, on this particular night, the older of the two, wanted to know, “Why people die?” Just imagine the plight I was in? Now...How would I define ‘die’ in the proper sense to my seven year old, whom I had already scared the wits out (during my Henna trial). How-so-ever after a thorough brain wrecking session, I gave him a kind of a structured reply by saying “someday, people grow old, someday, they become sick and someday, they eventually die” (I didn’t have a better response than this) and he, like an obedient student quietly took in, what he had just heard. And then all of a sudden looked me in the eye and said, “ come??? YOU didn’t?” Didn’t he bowl me over, with that witty remark? Recalling that moment, today, it brings me a great sense of pride, to realize the immense pleasure our kids bring into our ever strenuous lives, even if it is sometimes, not a pleasant thing to hear.

Children look to their parents for everything and see them as role models. Bearing this in mind, we have to set good examples at all times whether in speech or in action, for they often imitate what they see and repeat what they hear. Parents should endow them with an extensive range of good books; help them read and make them understand. Motivating them, to ask questions based on their storybooks and textbooks, to heighten their confidence in their communication and comprehensive skills.Being a bystander in the initial perplexity of the’ dye or die’ hullabaloo, my youngest, (whenever he sees a packet of Henna in my hand) very solemnly pronounces, “Mummy’s old and she is going to die’.

He’s four now and has just entered kindergarten. Thus, I’ll encourage him to learn new skills in his class. Perhaps I’ll wait for another year to go by, to undo the tangle and teach him, the difference between ‘dye’ and ‘die’!!! And then, probably in a few more years, when he really comprehends the whole situation...wouldn’t I be relieved to hear him say “Mummy’s grey, so she’s going to dye...”!!!
Incidentally, my hair ‘dye-ing’ - scheduled a few hours from now - is going to be simply enchanting, for my snoopy ‘foursome’, who are in eternal anticipation to know how those silver streaks disappear every time I touch the hair with my magical wand (the old toothbrush of course!!!)
As a consequence, it will be demonstrated with out much ado, to the delight of my enthusiastic audience.

Click here to view my newspaper article