Mom Speak

As a child, when I wasn't being stuffed into lockers for being such a tool geek, or running around endlessly on a circular track trying to chase my teenaged demons, one could usually find me with my nose in a book.

The books I tended to like the most were the ones written in different languages or were about language themselves.

Nothing fascinated me more than learning how people around the world communicated. I sucked it up like a sponge and was delighted to find I had a knack for picking up new languages rather easily.

(Reflecting back on it now, I realize that perhaps it may have been my obvious distain for the peons who struggled in French and German class that contributed to my geek quotient. I may have had a slight superiority complex when it came to watching my peers struggle to decipher the lessons while I was reading Shakespeare in foreign languages that landed my ass in the back end of a dark locker more than a time or two.)

It probably didn't help that I would cuss out my tormenters in French or Japanese while they tried to fold me in half and lock me up away from the student population.

I was a charming kid. I swear.

When I found myself knocked up with child unexpectedly I remember looking at baby books and envisioning my child as a multi-lingual cosmopolitan globe trotter who would single handedly bring about world peace, end poverty and solve world famine all the while being able to converse fluently with people from all over the globe.

Never mind my child would be born to a farmer and a redneck, my child would pop out of my womb requesting a tit in three different languages and go on to rise above the mediocrity he or she would be born into.

My delusions were shattered fairly quickly when Fric arrived. Turned out I would be happy if she would just stop using my nipple as her personal chew toy while she screamed at me in a language completely foreign to me. The language of baby.

As she grew my expectations slowly sank like a lead balloon. My once lofty goals of raising a bilingual child suddenly morphed into the more realistic expectations of simply getting her to tell me she had to use the potty in English instead of peeing on the carpet. Turns out, the parenting gig was a lot harder than I had imagined it.

I went from hoping my daughter would pick up a new language to hoping she would just stop picking her nose.

Fric didn't talk right away. She waited until she was past three before she started to string words together. Her brother Frac, a year younger, was hot on her tail and almost her equal in the speech department. I began to worry I was doing something wrong. How the hell was she supposed to talk with people from all corners of the world if I couldn't get her to tell me if she wanted a cup of juice?

Just when Boo and I were started to seriously consider banging our heads against the wall in frustration, the gates of language development burst open and all of a sudden I had not one but two toddlers who learned to speak at the exact. same. time.

God can be cruel.

Our suddenly quiet home now had a chorus of "I want, I want.." generally shouted at me in tandem, while my loving demon spawn would back me into the corner while poking at me with sharp sticks and demanding peanut butter sandwiches and sippy cups of grape juice.

I rued the day I ever worried they would learn to speak. Suddenly I couldn't shut them up.

The bright side of this was their eagerness to learn new words. I could say anything and they would parrot it back to me. I took great pleasure in teaching them to tell everyone who walked into the door that "pwe-marital-sex is bad."

Or their father's favorite "Fow-ni-kay-shon is fun."

It wasn't until they started cussing like little sailors that I realized that I may be abusing my parental powers.

Thankfully, we survived language development relatively intact and unharmed and I was continually delighted to hear my children have sweet conversations with one another while I hid in my pantry looking for a moment of peace.

It is one of my saddest regrets to this day that I never heard my sweet Bug tell me he "wuved me" or call me Mommy.

Fric and Frac try to make up for this by talking non-stop. Even when I threaten to duct tape their mouths shut politely ask them to be quiet.

Fric has developed my love of languages as well. She is currently learning Spanish and French and takes pride in tormenting her brother with her talent at Pig-Latin. He, in turn, has picked up some cute Russian cuss words from some of the kids he goes to school with and takes great glee at hurling them at her with a sneer.

I feel so proud. It may not be the multi-lingual conversations I had envisioned while I was gestating the little suckers, but I'll take it.

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Last night, after a particularly grueling and long soccer practice with Fric and her team mates (read: I stood around and froze my arse off until I thought I was going to turn into a popsicle) I was eager to come home, put the kids to bed and zone out in front of the computer while wrapped in a soft blanket.

The kids, they had different ideas. Stupid me for raising them to be independent thinkers. This'll learn me.

After repeatedly asking them to put their soccer gear away, get their pajamas on, brush their teeth and get into bed, my requests fell onto deaf ears. They ran around doing everything except what I had asked of them and I could feel my temper start to rise.

They took note and decided to see just how far they could push me before I snapped like a twig and went bat shit crazy.

It didn't take long. I finally lost my temper (shocking I know) and bellowed at them. They jumped at my raised voice and then proceeded to roll their eyeballs at me and continued to ignore me.

I momentarily thought of beating them, but let's face it. The adoption peeps frown on that and more importantly, my kids are almost as big as me. With my luck they would hog-tie me and leave me in the laundry room while they celebrated their mutiny.

Frustrated with them and myself, and really wishing my darling Boo was home (because he just has to whisper and they take heed, immediately running to obey his every command. Not that I'm bitter or anything.) I decided to change tactics. Yelling was getting me nowhere.

I walked into Frac's bedroom where my two belligerent minions were joking and asked them if there was a problem.

"Why aren't you listening to me? You are being rude, it's past your bedtime and you need to do as your told."

Because reasoning always works with preteen children.

They looked at me trying to calculate just long it would be until I went medieval on their arses while weighing the pros and cons of being obedient.

They must have decided I looked pathetic enough to grant me a reprieve so they immediately apologized and started getting ready for bed.

Satisfied, I went to the kitchen to get a bowl of ice cream (don't judge me, I earned it) when before long they were farting around again.

I snapped. My spoon clattered into the empty bowl and I abandoned the pint of ice cream on the counter as I went to go knock some heads together. They want mean mommy, by golly, they'll get her, I thought to myself.

"What is going on in here? Are you having trouble understanding me?" I yelled.

They stopped, stunned into silence.

"Fric, you speak French and Spanish as well as English. Would it help if I used one of those languages or perhaps tried pig-latin?"

She sheepishly shrugged and got busy examining the dirty socks on the floor.

"Frac, are you hard of hearing or are you just not understanding what I asked you to do?"

He stood there, looking miserable and took great interest in his fingernails.

"I mean, really you guys, what language do I need to use to get you to do what you are told?" At this point, I was ready to run away from home.

Continued silence as they both tried not to awaken the hidden dragon locked beneath the exterior they call Mom.

"Are you so busy learning new cuss words on the playground that you have forgotten how to understand the English language? Just what language is it that you think I'm speaking that you think you can ignore?" I persisted.

Frac looks up and I could see the impish look in his eye.

"I guess it's the language of MOM. We just don't hear it," he explained.

That stopped me short. I stood there for a second, stunned by his brave show of insolence and quick thinking and then snarled, "Well I suggest you get fluent in it rather quickly."

"Yes, Mom," they nodded and finally got into bed.

Hmm. The language of Mom. Looks like I've picked up another language with out even being aware of it.

Now, does anyone have any suggestions on how to teach it to two know-it-all children who have a penchant for tormenting their mother?