When Tiddles McGee, all of two years old, says “I want that” it could just as easily mean “I don’t want that.” Apparently, he doesn’t need to include the word “don’t” because I, as his mother, should just know.
Similarly, if you ask him “Have you done a poo?” he will instantly answer “No.” This could mean: “No” or “Yes” or even “I’m squeezing one out as we speak.” Luckily the sniff test will instantly clarify the situation. Would that it were just as easy with the other doublespeakers of the house…
While Mr Justice’s “What is there for me to do today?” might give the appearance of being an open-ended question, don’t be fooled. It is, in fact, a direct demand for computer time and/or a playdate and no other answer will admitted for consideration. Don’t even try to slip in a “play outside” or (god forbid) a “make your own fun”. It’s Not Worth It.
As for The Pixie, her inevitable cry of “Shibby-shibby-shibby! Eee-eee-eeeeeeee!” really could mean anything and invariably does.
You’d think that dealing with the adults in our household would be easier. But no.
As my husband will tell you, he might casually ask “Is it okay for me to go spend four hours in the shed rearranging my tools?” and I’ll say, oh-so-breezily,”Sure thing!”. However, by no means does this give him carte blanche to retreat to his shed for the rest of the day and leave me to wrangle the kids alone. Not at all. Because my husband, unless he is remarkably drunk, will know that I really mean “Over my dead and lifeless body”.
My husband may complain about the stench of burning martyr about his wife but when it comes to doublespeak, he is the worst of us all. And nothing proves this more than the Unspoken Trouser Code.
According to The Code, if there are a pair of his trousers lying anywhere around the house with a belt still in them, they are classified as being “Still In Use”. However, should they be lying around without a belt, then they are ready to be washed. Unless, of course, they’re the type he doesn’t wear a belt with or he didn’t particularly feel like wearing a belt with that particular pair on that particular day. In which case, it is left to my discretion.
So generally speaking, my careful interpretation of The Code results in my husband walking around the house in his grundies desperately trying to find some clean trousers to wear with me muttering stuff like “If you just used the laundry basket like a normal person...” somewhat menacingly under my breath. But this time there is no doublespeak in my words. My intentions are very clear on this matter. Very clear indeed.