We were getting ready for bath time. My disabled six year old Arun was coughing and hacking away like he had a 40 a day habit.
“Oh dear,” I said. “You’ve got a nasty cough, Arun. We won’t wash your hair tonight.”
“That’s right,” he parroted. “Me’s got a nasty cough. No hair wash for me tonight.”
“No Arun,” piped up my daughter. “You don’t say ‘me’s’ you say ‘I’.”
“That’s quite right Meri, well done.” I said and I turned to Arun. “You say ‘I’ve got a nasty cough.”
I suppose it was inevitable. My mum is a teacher, my uncle and my aunt are teachers. Clare’s (my wife’s) mum is a teacher. Her brother is a teacher. I come from a family of teachers. My wife comes from a family of teachers. That makes my children teachers squared. Meri was stepping up to teach her brother the correct grammar. It took years of education before her old man learnt how to speak proper, and here she was doling out advice at the age of four.
It’s an old cliché that our children teach us more than we teach them and I think it’s true but I never expected my children to be teaching me how to read. Earlier in the day Meri had corrected me on my pronunciation of the letter “m” phonically. Apparently, you don’t say “muh” as I had been but “mmmmmm” as Meri demonstrated. “Like a big boy,” she told me.
Back to bath time and Arun though was having none of it.
He looked me squarely in the eye and said, “No daddy. You’re alright. You haven’t got a cough. Me’s got a cough and so me’s not washing hair tonight.”
“No Arun, you say ‘I’ve got a cough.’”
“No daddy. You’re not poorly. Me’s poorly.” Came the determined answer.
“I think I’m going to be here for a little while, “I muttered.
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