My five year old daughter has just said the word ‘Shite!’ She’s looking extremely proud of herself: face beaming, pigtails bouncing as she shovels her favourite pizza and chips into her mouth whilst kneeling up to the kitchen table on the tallest dining room chair that we own and sitting right next to her, clearly shocked, Grandma. My daughter doesn’t actually realise what she’s just said. At least I hope she doesn’t.
It all began just a few months ago when she’d learned how to sound out words at school. The usual C A T cat! B A G bag! It was exciting to see her start to read, to begin with, until we got to a point when you couldn’t have a conversation with her without having almost every single word spelled out.
“Darling, could you put your dolls away please? We’re going to have to tea now.”
“D O L S Dolls!”
“There are actually two ‘l’s in Doll, Sweetheart.”
“D O L S L”
“No, D O L L S…. oh, never mind. Could you just tidy up we’re going to have tea.”
“T E Tea!”
“Actually there’s an ‘a’ at the…. forget it. Just tidy up!”
“U P up!”
And so it went on.
Later that week we were in the car heading to her ballet lesson. She was determined to spell absolutely every object she laid eyes on.
“C A R car! Mummy is that how you spell car?”
“BRIJ Bridge! Mummy I spelled bridge!”
“Well, there’s actually a ‘d’ and ‘g’ in bridge.”
“What??!? Hee hee! You are silly mummy!”
“Yes, it would appear so!”
Soon she got bored of real words and started making up her own. Ever the source of endless entertainment, my daughter could give Roald Dahl a run for his money with her infinite supply of nonsense words (unintended, I might add). It wasn’t that long ago when she was convinced ‘snooker’ was called ‘skog’ and the ‘oars’ of a boat were ‘kennyscoots’.
“NIJ nij! Mummy is that how you spell nij?”
“Well, it depends in what a nij is. I’m not sure if it’s a word.”
“Hmmm. MUG mug!”
“Yes, mug is a word.”
“Yes, bug is a word.”
“B U G J W D R E…”
She carried on putting many random letters together and I was curious to know what she thought she was actually spelling.
I giggled quietly to myself hoping she didn’t notice.
“That’s right, darling.”
“CU….” She paused to think of some more letters. Clearly another made up word was on its way.
”….N….” My eyes widened, hoping to goodness that the next letter wasn’t…
“ICE CREAM!!!” I yelled shrilly at the top of my voice!
“Erm, would you like ice cream for after tea tonight.”
“Yay!!! Can I have chocolate sauce and sprinkles and have it in a cone?”
“Of course! Anything you like!”
Before long, she moved on from sounding out to rhyming words: book and look; chair and bear; grass and glass. It became her new favourite game and gave her endless pleasure picking out random objects and making up a word to rhyme with it: baby and chaby; wilk and rilk, table and nable.
I’m trying not to react too much at her latest ‘made up’ word that she excitedly has just discovered rhymes with ‘light’.
“Yes, that’s right darling. ‘Shite’ does actually rhyme with ‘light’ but it’s not actually a word.”
Her disappointment is short lived as she moves on to a series of new rhyming words, completely forgetting about the non word she has just made up, which is more than I can say for her appalled Grandma.