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Monday, 18 May 2009

Reported conversations No. 14 : conversational gambits for hill-walkers

Nineteen degrees at 8:30am. A strange kind of day weather-wise. Thundery, hot and sunny, overcast. All, seemingly, at once.

My four-year-old son AJ is pretty good in the mornings. After a quick whine followed by a slow Mama-cuddle, he's up and about, bright-eyed, bushy-tailed and so sharp I fear he might cut himself. It's an hour dead from the moment I step into his bedroom to tickle him awake to the instant we open the great double front door and start our descent to lake-level along the mulattiera, Carmine's semi-paved mule-track. And in that hour his mind has touched on many things about life, the universe and everything he would like to have explained. The 10 or 15 minutes it takes us to get to the car (going down is easy - coming up a different story), provide him with a perfect opportunity to ask away.

Now, for Mama, mornings are slightly different. While the thinking classes are doing just that, Mama is dashing around getting it altogether, washing faces, cleaning tiny teeth, checking potties, finding stray knickers - socks, hats, gormiti (don't ask), mobile phones, brains... Every mother knows the deal. By the time she takes her first steps on the mulattiera in the morning, a major organisational operation has been completed, and she could really be doing with a third cup of tea and some breakfast.

Instead, the intellectual grilling begins :

Day 1 (sunny, Mama carrying B., the backpack and the trash)

AJ (pointing to a buoy bobbing about on the lake below) : "Mama, what's that white thing for?"
Mama burbles on about things nautical combined with things mechanical.

Day 2 (raining, Mama carrying B., the backpack and some eggs for a neighbour)

AJ : "Mama, what's a clue?"
Mama (making mental note to ease off on the Scooby-doo) burbles on about mysteries, Agatha Christie, Sherlock Holmes and goes on to make up a few Carmine mysteries of her own as exemplars.

Day 3 (still raining with the church swathed in cloud-mist, Mama carrying B., the backpack, and a bag of plastic and metal recycling)

AJ : "Mama, what's a curse?"
Mama (thinks, the rain) out loud starts with wishing people ill, and moves on to ancient Egyptian priests, pyramids, magic and the sudden demise of Howard Carter.

Day 4 (no rain, but the long grass bent low over the path harbours raindrops, ticks and the odd snake; Mama is today carrying B., the backpack, glass recycling, swimming kit)

AJ : "Mama, why do we make the sign of the Croce?"
Mama drags up her early Church history, Christian symbology and theology (such as it is), plus a touch of Anglican polemic. After all of which :
AJ : "Mama, how do you nail a person onto the Croce?"
Mama (thinks, between suspicious snivels, Oh - My - God) : deep breath - goes swiftly through the mechanics, moving on firmly to the art history and iconography of the Crucifixion.

Day 5 (sunny and warm, Mama is carrying B., the backpack, paper and cardboard recycling, a bin liner of old clothes for donation to charity)

AJ : "What's a singing telegram?"
Mama (with a slight throaty tickle) : history of communications in the 19th and 20th centuries. Makes research note to self : is it possible to make a living as a singing telegram in the 21st century?

Day 6 (sunny and hot, Mama drooping like a donkey under B., the backpack, the trash, eggs for the English teacher, dry cleaning, AJ's cup-apron-bib-towel kindergarten kit, letters for the post, and ... a cold)


AJ: "What's a wreck?"
Mama : "AJ, darling, shipwreck, car wreck, or Mama wreck?"







6 comments:

chrysalis said...

What a picture = I can see it all!!!!

Cairo Typ0 said...

The curiosity of children is always enlightening!

Anonymous said...

And don't you have to be careful with the answers.

Vanessa said...

That'll teach ya!

ladyfi said...

Oh, I laughed my way through this post while recognizing the weary morning organization, gormiti (we have a bunch here too), snakes and ticks...

Christine Gram said...

So BRILLIANT!!!!
My goodness, can I relate. I always feel like that by day 5. And we have a relatively minuscule hill.

Monday, 18 May 2009

Reported conversations No. 14 : conversational gambits for hill-walkers

Nineteen degrees at 8:30am. A strange kind of day weather-wise. Thundery, hot and sunny, overcast. All, seemingly, at once.

My four-year-old son AJ is pretty good in the mornings. After a quick whine followed by a slow Mama-cuddle, he's up and about, bright-eyed, bushy-tailed and so sharp I fear he might cut himself. It's an hour dead from the moment I step into his bedroom to tickle him awake to the instant we open the great double front door and start our descent to lake-level along the mulattiera, Carmine's semi-paved mule-track. And in that hour his mind has touched on many things about life, the universe and everything he would like to have explained. The 10 or 15 minutes it takes us to get to the car (going down is easy - coming up a different story), provide him with a perfect opportunity to ask away.

Now, for Mama, mornings are slightly different. While the thinking classes are doing just that, Mama is dashing around getting it altogether, washing faces, cleaning tiny teeth, checking potties, finding stray knickers - socks, hats, gormiti (don't ask), mobile phones, brains... Every mother knows the deal. By the time she takes her first steps on the mulattiera in the morning, a major organisational operation has been completed, and she could really be doing with a third cup of tea and some breakfast.

Instead, the intellectual grilling begins :

Day 1 (sunny, Mama carrying B., the backpack and the trash)

AJ (pointing to a buoy bobbing about on the lake below) : "Mama, what's that white thing for?"
Mama burbles on about things nautical combined with things mechanical.

Day 2 (raining, Mama carrying B., the backpack and some eggs for a neighbour)

AJ : "Mama, what's a clue?"
Mama (making mental note to ease off on the Scooby-doo) burbles on about mysteries, Agatha Christie, Sherlock Holmes and goes on to make up a few Carmine mysteries of her own as exemplars.

Day 3 (still raining with the church swathed in cloud-mist, Mama carrying B., the backpack, and a bag of plastic and metal recycling)

AJ : "Mama, what's a curse?"
Mama (thinks, the rain) out loud starts with wishing people ill, and moves on to ancient Egyptian priests, pyramids, magic and the sudden demise of Howard Carter.

Day 4 (no rain, but the long grass bent low over the path harbours raindrops, ticks and the odd snake; Mama is today carrying B., the backpack, glass recycling, swimming kit)

AJ : "Mama, why do we make the sign of the Croce?"
Mama drags up her early Church history, Christian symbology and theology (such as it is), plus a touch of Anglican polemic. After all of which :
AJ : "Mama, how do you nail a person onto the Croce?"
Mama (thinks, between suspicious snivels, Oh - My - God) : deep breath - goes swiftly through the mechanics, moving on firmly to the art history and iconography of the Crucifixion.

Day 5 (sunny and warm, Mama is carrying B., the backpack, paper and cardboard recycling, a bin liner of old clothes for donation to charity)

AJ : "What's a singing telegram?"
Mama (with a slight throaty tickle) : history of communications in the 19th and 20th centuries. Makes research note to self : is it possible to make a living as a singing telegram in the 21st century?

Day 6 (sunny and hot, Mama drooping like a donkey under B., the backpack, the trash, eggs for the English teacher, dry cleaning, AJ's cup-apron-bib-towel kindergarten kit, letters for the post, and ... a cold)


AJ: "What's a wreck?"
Mama : "AJ, darling, shipwreck, car wreck, or Mama wreck?"







6 comments:

chrysalis said...

What a picture = I can see it all!!!!

Cairo Typ0 said...

The curiosity of children is always enlightening!

Anonymous said...

And don't you have to be careful with the answers.

Vanessa said...

That'll teach ya!

ladyfi said...

Oh, I laughed my way through this post while recognizing the weary morning organization, gormiti (we have a bunch here too), snakes and ticks...

Christine Gram said...

So BRILLIANT!!!!
My goodness, can I relate. I always feel like that by day 5. And we have a relatively minuscule hill.