Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Dong bu dong? D@mmit! (or, baby's first cussword)

The inevitable has happened. I'm sure most parents have an equivalent story. It's the story of baby's first cussword.

Daddy was very frustrated about something and shouted, "Dammit!"

"Dammit!" Cloud happily repeated.

"Oh no," said Daddy, realizing what he'd done. "Hey Cloud, don't say that. Can you say 'censorship'?"

"Dammit!" Cloud crowed. "Dammit!"

"Censorship," said Daddy. "Censorship!"


"Cloud," I tried, "Say, 'Don't say that, Daddy.'"

"Dammit!" said Cloud.

Fortunately, he wound down and hasn't said it since. Seriously, though, who made that word up? It is way too toddler-friendly.


In the meantime, something else inevitable has begun: I have started giving Cloud Mandarin lessons.

You may be wondering whether I speak Mandarin. No, I don't. We're learning together as a family.

I'm starting very slowly, because he's so delayed in English that I don't want to set his speech back by introducing too much Mandarin all at once. (Ha ha, like that would ever happen.) So far, all I've done is count to ten, which requires a bit of effort on my part as I struggle to remember the order of the numbers. I always get stuck on lìu, which is six.

I have also begun to shrug my shoulders and say, "Bu dòng," which means "I don't understand." I've started saying that a lot, because while Cloud's vocabulary is growing by leaps and bounds, his pronunciation hasn't improved much at all. I'm having trouble keeping up with all this new Toddlerese. So I say to him, "What? What? Shen me? Bu dong."

He finds this endlessly entertaining, and gives up on whatever he was trying to tell me to say, "Bu dong! Bu dong!"

It's a start. A slow start, but a start.

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