One of the benefits of having children is that they can keep you endlessly amused by the way they perceive and reason the world functions both actively and through language ambiguation. When first daughter Venus was five she went on a weekend trip to the country town of Pemberton with her best friend Liam. They stayed at a cottage resort amongst tall Karri forest in the south-west of Western Australia. One night they were dining in the restaurant overlooking the Karri forest which was lit up with strong spotlights when the power went out. The lights soon came back on in the restaurant but not in the Karri forest. Looking quite concerned Venus very seriously said:
'Well, I hope the foxes have their torches!'
Her grandparents took her on a train ride one day at the same age and as the train passed the Karrakatta Cemetery Granny pointed it out and explained what a cemetery was for. Venus digested this and then seeing a group of people walking through the main gates she thoughtfully enquired:
'Are those people going there to die?'
One day she spotted a bald man walking walking his dog:
'Look' she said, ' There's a puppy!'
'Where?' I asked.
'There,' she said, pointing across the road, 'See the man with the boiled head?'
On one occasion R was telling Venus and India that mummy and daddy were going to a concert.
'What concert?' India asked.
'You know,' Venus said 'Daddys favourite, Masala!' (Mahler)
Venus has always been very self-possessed and calm. One of her Montessori teachers once remarked how the she was the stabilising influence in the classroom. Other children were attracted to her because her mood was always constant and calm. On the phone to R one day, age 8, the other children were being very noisy. In a very posh voice she said to R:
'Could you please excuse me for a moment?'
Then he heard her on the other of the line yelling at the other children to be quiet like a fish wife, then in a posh voice again spoke to him and said:
'I'm soooo sorry about that!'
Being Montessori trained from the age of 2 Venus learnt how to cook at an early age and at 4 was able to bring us breakfast in bed on a tray complete with a little vase of flowers to decorate it. One day when Venus was 8, I went to have had a little cat nap (my life as a cat) and she decided she would bake macaroons. Venus came and woke me up, asking me to turn on the oven. I had a glance over the recipe to check the temperature and noticed it called for separating the egg whites. I asked Venus how she'd gotten on with that and she said:
'It took me a while to work out how to do it, but I finally managed to peel all the shells and get the white off.'
What? I looked in the bowl and there were the yolks and whites (clear when not cooked) together and in another bowl was the thin white skin that lines the inside of the shell . Kids are very logical, like the time I was looking at some watches in a jewellers window and commented how fantastic it was that one particular watch had a red face, to which second daughter India who was 4 at the time asked:
'Where are its eyes?'
One day Miss India asked me if her Uncle Brad was having a Roosters night.
'A what?' I asked.
'Well Auntie Jennie's having a Hens night so is Uncle Brad having a Roosters night?' - of course, why would it be called a bucks night?
She also once asked me when we were having the bumble-bee - what? Oh, she meant the busy bee. That was about the same time she asked for a Sunday school ice cream in the drive thru at McD's (yes we used to frequent there -we were but mere mortals).
Out with Gran and Grandad one afternoon they finally returned home and grandad asked;
'Would you like a cup of tea darling?' To which India informed him;
'Oh no, darlings don't drink tea!'
Writing up a science project when she was 12 on stars, she described the death of small stars then went on to state: 'Giant stars die in a similar way to small stars only quite differently' - like it's exactly the same only completely the opposite.
If Lady Justice was a mortal her name would be India. She was appropriately named because I'm sure Ghandi was a soul mate. India was always concerned with social justice and from an early age could out-manoeuvre me in an argument - it was like, who's the parent here? I'm not sure - the lines have always been a bit obscure, fluctuating at any given moment. If one defines parenting as the one having the better reasoning, the more persuasive argument, the last word and the final decision -hmm, I would think it's been more sort of a democratic society rather than a dictatorship. Anyways India grew into her humour and is now the family wit, spouting quotes from the Grinch complete with waggling finger in her Grinch gloves as she peers closely at you and says 'Wrongo!'
As a miss of 4 she was in the car with Granny, stopped at an intersection waiting for the car in front to move.
'Come on you silly old snail, get a move along' Granny said.
After they finally got moving India asked;
'Gran did you run over that snail yet?'
Of course you have to wonder at their competitive logic:- R was swinging Venus upside down by her ankles for some minor offence she'd committed. Seeing this India 4 asked if she could have a turn too, to which R explained to her that it was only because Venus had been "naughty". India took herself off and returned a minute later to inform R:-
'I put my hands around Savannah's neck - now can I hang upside down?'!!!
Savannah, third daughter and twin to Torsten is universally acknowledged to be the most stubborn, contrary and single-minded child and was full of hilarious quips. At primary school in the mountain village of Montville in Queensland, Torsten had been 'bugging' Savannah and her friend. He told the teacher he was very sorry and would never do it again. 'Fabulous!' Teacher said and gave him a sticker. Savannah turned to me and said;
'Torsten got a sticker for being naughty!'
Well she could hardly talk - she was scolded once for being naughty at the age of 2 for tearing the front cover off a story book. She immediately started skipping around singing 'I've been naughty, I've been bad. I've been naughty, I've been bad.'!!!
When she was 6 R (jokingly) told Savannah that if she didn't do as she was told he would smack,her bum so hard she wouldn't sit down for a week, to which she replied;
'I don't care, I don't want to sit down anyway!'
This parallels only her contrariness. In bed one night I was asking Savannah if she could pronounce certain rather long and difficult words. Then i asked her;
'Savannah are you a Miss Contrary?' To which she replied ;
'Im not a Miss Contrary!'
Then mulling this over she then asked;
'Mummy, whats a Miss Contrary?'
Late that night when she woke next to me, I said;
'Oh you poor little banana!' ( a nickname given her by her godmother Maddalena) to which she replied rather grumpily;
'Im not a banana, I'm a grape!'
Savannah has always had a sharp mind, ready to make connections and one day R had just been out spending up big - new shoes, a buffet, entertainment centre, etc. Finally we sat down at the dinner table and miss 3 turns to R and starts singing 'Hey Big Spender!'
Another occasion in the car and Torsten aged 4 was talking about a new word he'd learnt- 'foreskin'. Savannah piped up that he had a foreskin because he was four. Asked what he would have when he was 5 she quickly replied;
'A five-skin of course!'
Later on she also seemed to suffer from the dreaded word ambiguation. At 9 in a spelling test Savannah had written 'glue coast'. R and I both wondered what this was when later we saw the proof sheet. It read glucose. A few years later and an avid baker she was reading a recipe when she asked;
'Mum, do we have deceased coconut?'
What? It took me a moment to work out she meant desiccated coconut. At another recipe occasion she asked;
'Do we have the ingredients for these marooned coconuts?'
What? Oh, she meant coconut macaroons!
Driving along in the car, the older girls were asking if dad had ever operated on dead people.
'Of course', I said, 'I did too, its called dissecting a cadaver'.
Savannah horrified, asked;
'Is a cadaver a dead person?' Yuk, that's horrible. How come we eat those cadaver chocolates?'
'What cadaver chocolates?' I asked.
'You know, those special ones you brought back from New York, Lady Cadaver'.
Ah, she meant Lady Godiver.
Savannah's twin Torsten has been equally blessed with amusing ambiguation when he was younger. He would regularly confuse words like the time we first started taking them to daycare at Uni where his carer was called Amanda. As we picked them up one day Savannah said;
'Goodbye Amanda,' and little Torsten 3 said;
'I-I-I'd like a mandarin.'
One day he was all dressed up in his 'armies' complete with army headband when I told him he looked like Rambo. He frowned.
'I'm not a rainbow!' he protested.
On a family holiday with friends Jules & Loren we were coming in to land over the ocean on our approach in to Bali. Torsten 3 asked R if we were going to land in the water and R informed him we would land on the runway. Looking puzzled he asked R quite earnestly;
'Why are we going the wrong way?'
One night we went to bed quite late and I told Torsten we might have trouble getting up in the morning.
'Why will I be in trouble in the morning?' he asked.
At four he translated links directly. R took the four children into town one day to meet me for lunch in Central Park. Torsten looked up and said;
'There's the airport!'
R said, ''No it's the park" - and then he noticed the Qantas logo - hmmm!
At the aquarium on a visit I had explained how this fish was called a disc fish because it was round like a disc, and that fish was called a lion fish because it had a 'mane' like a lion. Later in the aquarium shop Torsten showed me a stuffed fish, asking me to feel it.
'It feels like a towel', I said ( it was made from toweling).
'Yeah,' said Torsten, 'it's a Towel fish.' :-p
In what's become a family classic, the children were all sleeping over at Granny's house and the following morning were getting dressed when Granny asked Torsten if his new blue boots were comfortable as she wasn't sure if they were on the right feet.
'They're new!' he replied, so Granny asked him again, to which she received the same reply.
She then got Venus to ask him;
'How do they feel Torsten?'
To which Torsten replied, lifting one boot towards her;
However, he was still capable of mistaking words through their phonetic synonyms. Venus 12 was running family home evening one night (we were still active in the church of Latter-Day-Saints then) and she had formulated a quizz. One of the questions was 'which book do we have apart from the bible?' To which Torsten 8 replied "The Book of Moomin" (For those of you who don't know, Moomin is a Finnish story character, a troll, and throughout the book it asks the question repeatedly, 'And what do you think happened then?' I guess its the modern questioning alternative to 'And it came to pass' ;-p
At 8 Torsten was an avid reader of history. He had read Homers Odyssey and devoured any book on war history he could find. One day he came home from school to tell me that;
'Drue and I were looking at all these pictures in the library today, mum, of world war eleven!'
Say what?! Oh, World War II! Well what can I say, children are priceless.