Yeah, I said it. Her dad said it. Then she said it. I am more amused than I am disturbed, and no, I don’t think we failed as parents. At all.
Maybe just a little.
I remember I was 8 years old, sitting on our new couch at the farm, playing tsoro with my dad. A clash of the titans really. Sekuru almost had me out and to this day, I do not remember what exactly I said, but Sekuru thought I said the ‘S’ word. I honestly hadn’t, but 5 minutes into denying and he insisting that I had said it, I decided to bite the bullet (completely out of character because by now you will know, I generally fight tooth and nail to the end) and apologize to my dad. The memory is so clear in my head because up until the day he died, I remembered the story he had long forgotten. I will also never forget how he looked at me, amused, not in the least bit angry, and said ‘Shaudzirai, we do not use that language in this house. We have muuuch better words.’ In hindsight I probably apologized because I never wanted him to be disappointed by me and my actions.
Fast forward 25 years later. I have my own daughter, not as old as 8, she is two months shy of 2 years old and absorbs every word.
I am walking out to get to work at 7:30 am, having decided to take you to school and your dad is walking us out of the house. I point out a sound to him and remark that I completely forgot that today is ‘bin day’, clearly, so had your dad- the sound was the ‘bin truck’. He looked around and before he bolted off to the gate, he shouted. Yes. You guessed it. ‘Oh shit!’ I thought nothing of it, and we resumed our waddle to the car. You had been mumbling the whole morning, but within seconds I realized your words had changed. Of course, as fate and a general toddler- sponge- brain would have it, you were now repeating the two words your dad had shouted, over and over again. What could I do? I was in so much shock, I laughed. Hard. And then turned to you and said ‘Maya! What are you saying?’ Of course you repeated yourself. When your dad came back to us from the gate, I told him of your new development, he hesitated for a bit and then he declared to me that you would probably not remember it that day. I was not so sure, but time was ticking and I had to get to work.
We sang our way to school as usual. I said hi to the teachers and bye to you. I said a little prayer as the gate closed behind me, that God please save us from our first school disciplinary meeting being a record breaking first term of preschool. I got into my car and went to work. Of course my workmates had a good laugh. My 1 boss gave me the usual sage advice, the other thought it was hilarious. The day went by and by the evening your dad and I were well on our way to having other, more savory conversations with you.
Nanny was away the whole week and I am kind of glad she didn’t hear you. I feel like if she had heard your sailor- inspired language, I would feel like that 8 year old, wrongfully accused, tsoro champion who lost the moral high ground to her doting dad- all over again.
So. Two nights later, you and I are sitting in the lounge, unaware that stage 4 load shedding is about to disrupt our lives again as it has been the whole week. I was doing some work with a cup of tea, daddy had just finished cooking. You were watching doo-doo (YouTube), a regular evening in our house.
I must say right now that the last part of my story amused me beyond words. The accuracy of context and wording was more than I could handle. The end is quick and goes like this:
The lights turn off, because our electricity suppliers don’t care about us. I look around to try and acclimatize my eyes to the dark and in that dead silence, I hear the high pitched voice of my about- to- be- two- year- old exclaim, ‘Oh Shit!’
I love you Mambo, yes, even with your potty mouth,