The plurality of the English language is a real bane when you are trying to inculcate grammar rules in young children. And being an author doesn’t help because I feel like I need to edit our conversations.
“If it is one, there is no “s”,” I always say. “1 bus, 2 buses.”
“I like buses and truckses,” he equipped.
“No,” I said. “Truck, trucks,” I corrected.
“Bus, buses. Truck, truckses,” he quipped back.
“Yes, the English language is inconsistent,” I moan.
When we were watching Cat in the Hat encounter cacti in the desert, a new problem surfaced.
“Look Mummy, so many cactuses,” Caleb said.
“It’s one cactus, two cacti,” I explained.
“No, it’s one cactu, and two cactuses,” he replied.
He was logically right.
“In this case, cactus is one, cacti is more than one,” I explained. “One cactus, two cacti, three cacti…”
“No, one cactu, two cactu-ses, three cactu-se-se-ses and four cactu-se-se-se-ses!” Caleb quipped.
(Editor note: I decided to google this language controversy as I typed this blog. As it turns out, in Latin, the plural of ‘cactus’ is ‘cacti’ and in English, it is ‘cactuses’. Well, the things you can learn from kids…)
And this morning, Caleb was upset with me over something or other.
“I am angry to you!” he said, frowning and his arms akimbo at his side, looking much like someone.
“I am angry with you,” I corrected, “not ‘I am angry to you.'”
“Then it means you are angry and I am angry,” he said.
“Okay, then use ‘I am angry at you’,” I replied. “Then it sounds one-way.”
“You are wrong!” he said. “You said ‘with you’,” he said.
“You can use both,” I said, wondering who on earth set all these language rules.
“You dunno,” he said. “You have to go back to school.”
I was totally ‘with’ him on this.
Since turning 4 years old, one of Caleb’s favourite phrases has been:
“Look at me, Mummy! I can…”
“…wear my underwear on my head like this!”
Urgh. Used underwear.
“…use my pen as a gun. Bang bang bang!”
“Very talented,” I deadpan.
“…touch my nose booger with my tongue!”
“Okay, very talented,” I deadpan again.
And a few weeks back, he displayed the ultimate combination of creative art and writing in his bedroom. He pulled some dried booger out of his nose, stuck it on the glass door and spread it out.
“Look at me, Mummy! I can write number 7 with my booger!”
“Seriously talented!” I said, almost fainting.
But I think he finally detected the irony in my voice over dinner sometime later.
“I want zero pork,” he said, as he navigated his tongue around his mouth to pick out a pork bit from his macaroni. “See Mummy, I spit out the pork!”
I squinted at the pork bit that looked the size of a full-stop. “It’s just a dot… very talented.”
“No, not talented,” he replied. “Very easy!”
I need a new line.