Tuesday, July 22, 2008

He said, She said...

On a wintry afternoon in May, I left our home and began the short walk to the local preschool to collect my daughter. Along the way, I stopped in at a neighbour's house to see if she wanted to accompany me. Her son is a fellow classmate of my daughter and we generally walk to and from the preschool together. On this particular afternoon we were exchanging stories about the funny things our kids sometimes say to us about the day's events at preschool. At some point my neighbour turned to me and said, "You know I think my James has picked up something from your daughter."

Me: Surprised and slightly worried as to what my neighbour could be referring to. Did she mean some kind of a bug? Or a bad habit? How did she know my daughter was the responsible one? I responded tentatively, "Picked up something? What do you mean?"

Neighbour: Elusively, "Yeah, he's started saying something at home all the time. I know he hasn't gotten it from us because we don't say that at our house."

Me: Oh no! This is terrible. What has she said? What has she taught him that he is now repeating in front of his parents? Crikey! How embarrassing is this? My mind is racing as I try to think what awful thing she may have taught him. Fearfully, "Oh really, and what would that be?"

Neighbour: "You're welcome."

Me: Huh? What's she talking about? Confused, "Sorry? What do you mean?"

Neighbour: "I mean our James has learned to say, You're Welcome, from your daughter. We don't ever use those words at our house, but he says it all the time. I'm sure he learned it from her. It's very sweet--whenever he does something for us we say, 'Thanks James' and he says, 'You're welcome.'

Me: Relieved. I was convinced this conversation was heading in a different direction and was preparing my apologies and looking for an appropriate sized rock to crawl under, but wow what a windfall! Turns out my little one was spreading the good words not the bad ones!! Thank goodness for that. I'm still a bit confused though, if they don't say 'you're welcome' then what do they say? Inquisitively, "So you think it's a bit odd that he says this? What would you guys say then?"

Neighbour: "Well it's just a very American thing to say, I think. That's why I am pretty sure James has learned it from your daughter. We don't really know anyone else who would speak that way. Australians would say, 'That's okay' or 'No worries', but 'You're welcome' sounds a bit formal to us."

Me: Feeling silly yet again, "Of course. I guess you are right. I never really thought about it. It's funny what you pick up on isn't it?"

Neighbour: "Yes, it is."

Me: "Well, I suppose there are worse things she could be teaching him. You had me worried in the beginning. I couldn't imagine what she might have said!"

Neighbour: Laughing, "No, give them time though. I'm sure they'll teach each other all sorts of bad things over the years."

When I arrived home, I thought more about what my neighbour had said. I guess it's really true that children are a reflection of their parents. Thankfully, in this case, my daughter reflected her mother's Americanism and good Southern manners instead of the colourful language I may somtimes use in heavy traffic.

Learn the Lingo
collect = to pick up
crikey = an expression used to express surprise
no worries = you're welcome


KLS said...

Yeah - I SOMETIMES (cough - always)use bad language in traffic. Cute story!

Dana said...

What a wonderful way for her to share her heritage.

Annelise said...

I hate when you don't post my comments...there for I give you no American polite Thank you or You're Welcome. hmph!