It’s Not All Mary Poppins

Word Games and Social Subversion

“Yes, there’s water there, Timmy. That’s the river. River. See the water in the river?”
“Good job. River. That water is a river.”
“Ribbuh. Wawa ribbuh.”
“Such a smart boy! That’s a river. All that water makes a river. See the river?”

(Ever notice how when you write a word a bunch of times, it starts to look weird? River, river, river… Now it looks like a French verb, or a job description. “River: one who rives.”)

(Ha! It is a French verb: 1 river Verb, transitive (a) to rivet; (Infml) ~ son clou à qn to shut sb up; être rivé à la télé to be glued to the TV. Heh. I’m so smart.)

(It is NOT a job description, however. In any language.)

When you’re out on a glorious day, with no agenda but to soak up the sun, the warmth and the sheer pleasure of moving unfettered by pounds of winter gear, conversation passes the time nicely.

“Bubble! Bubble! Bubble! Bubble! Bubble! Bubble!” (You may have noticed that Anna never says anything once when she can say it half a dozen times. You’d be right.)

“I don’t think those are bubbles you see, lovie. I think those are sparkles. Sparkles. The sun is shining on the water. The river is full of sparkles. Sparkles. Lovely sparkles.”

Undeflected by the possibility of alternate vocabulary, Anna bubbles on. “Bubble! Bubble! Bubble! Bubble! Bubble! Bu….”


“Well done, Timmy. Sparkles!”

Conversation passes time. So do silly word games. Emma has started a round of “Mountain from Molehill” with Lina, her (exceedingly bright) ten-year-old friend. In the game, an initial, and very mundane proposition is set forth: “I broke a nail”; “I lost my keys”; “I stubbed my toe.” Participants take turns proffering an ‘if-then’ sentence, turn by turn, each worse than the one before. The follow-up sentences careen wildly from mild inconvenience to major disaster, and, almost every time the game ends with someone’s death.

Fun, huh???

Today’s started with “I was changing a poopy diaper.” Auspicious beginning, that. “If I changed a poopy diaper, I might have to wear a gas mask.” “If I wear a gas mask, I might frighten the baby.” “If I frighten the baby, she might kick the poopy diaper.”

Within ten minutes and thirty or so exchanges, we had poop all over the house, shit-smeared toddlers, a broken leg, a wild dog, a house fire, a flood, and, inevitably, the demise of the poor person who started it all.

“Eeewwww!” Emma and Lina are chortling gaily at the noisome and tragic outcome.

Wahoo! Anna’s all over that. This is her very favourite word. Her very favourite. “Eeewww!”

Not to be left out of the hilarity, Timmy joins in. “Eeeeewww!” “EEEEEeewwwww!” And adds a variation. “Phphphbht!” (That’s a raspberry. Now you know how to spell one.) A very juicy raspberry. Spit sprays everywhere. Good thing the back of the seat in front of him protects Emily’s little head because her very pretty hat is not suitable for rainy days…

Four tots in four seats erupt into raspberries, squeals of disgust, and giggles.
Squeal, giggle, shriek, bounce.

A grandmotherly type strolls towards us.

“Oh, just look at all those happy little faces! Aren’t they sweet?”

Four sweet faces beam up at her and erupt together: “EEEEEeeewwww! PHPHPHBHBHBTTTT!” Spit sprays everywhere. (See how good I am at my job? Gracious socialization happens every day at Mary’s house. Every day.)

Grandma’s eyes widen for a startled second.

And then she blows a raspberry back. (This is just the kind of gramma I want to be when I grow up. Subversive.) Four tots scream with delight.

Gracious socialization? Good luck to me. These kids are a threat to the civilized world as we know it.

July 5, 2007 - Posted by | eeewww, manners, Mischief, our adoring public, outings, the things they say!


  1. You’ve inspired me to play this game on my blog today. It sounds like lots of fun. 🙂

    Comment by kelli in the mirror | July 5, 2007 | Reply

  2. civilization is overrated. i think we should start a movement to make blowing raspberries the new international greeting.

    who’s with me?

    Comment by Lara | July 5, 2007 | Reply

  3. A very fine phphphbt to you too!

    Comment by Lady M | July 6, 2007 | Reply

  4. Rock on rasberrying grandma! My little one has one grandma who rasberrys right back and the other is shocked and dismayed. Not hard to guess which one we both prefer.

    Comment by kate | July 6, 2007 | Reply

  5. ha! I love it! That is a good kind of gramma to be, willing to roll with the silliness of toddlers. It takes a certain lightness of spirit that I hope I have then, too.

    Comment by kittenpie | July 9, 2007 | Reply

  6. Perfect! Yay for silliness!

    Comment by Ms. Huis Herself | July 9, 2007 | Reply

  7. LOL, I love it, way to go granny!

    Comment by bluebunny | July 11, 2007 | Reply

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