The Brat and the bong

The Brat’s stubborn ways are by now well known. Tell him to do something and he won’t. Although the old trick of telling him to do it so that he doesn’t do it isn’t working either. He basically does what he wants to and thereafter the whole hassle of strategising, begging, pleading has to begin.

Now when the Brat was rather young the OA and I decided to speak to him in Hindi only since we live in the North and we wanted him to be fluent in it. Also we knew he’d be talking to the househelp, drivers, daycare, school teachers and wanted him to be comfortable conversing with them if we weren’t around.

So he was a good 2 years old before he began to speak English decently and that is also when he encountered full on Bengali. We got a Bengali maid by chance and since the OA and I fairly conversant in the language we didn’t mind. The poor old lady however had no idea what she was in for.

The moment she said her first few lines to the Brat he screamed at her in absolute disgust and ran. The thing with kids is that they need to understand you. If they don’t, it frustrates and upsets them. And for a two year old Brat with a new baby sister – this strange old woman speaking gibberish was his worst nightmare come true. ‘Tum chali jao,’ he yelled..’Tum gandi baat karti ho. Yeh achchi baat nahi hai.’ (Go away, you say bad things. These are not nice things to say.) He refused to have her anywhere near him and finally the OA and I had to ask her to leave because even after days of having her in the house he refused to make his peace with her. Having her around drove him nuts and defeated the purpose.

Of course she had other problems too because later on we got another maid who spoke Bengali and while that annoyed the Brat like hell, she won him over with her warmth.

Over the last year or so that she’s been with us she’s learnt to speak broken Hindi with the Brat and they get by. I’ve told her that she could speak to him in Bengali and teach him an extra language but she looks rather bashful and says she can’t because he refuses to respond and gets mad at her.

The OA and I tried to talk to him in Bengali but he glared at us and ignored us. And since we didn’t want to create an issue and make him to hate it – we let it alone. Speaking it daily was out of the question since neither of us are bong or particularly hysterical to hear him speaking it. Besides it really hampered communication to have to stop and think of the correct word or phrase. So we just let it be.

In effect, the only Bengali that the Brat heard was the OA and I speaking to the maid to give her instructions. Which made us believe that we had a safe third language to communicate in when we discussed our next evil parenting strategy.

Yesterday the Brat was painting and the maid walked in and I said to her in Bengali ‘Look at what your friend has done in my bathroom. He’s got red paint all over my walls.’

In a flash the Brat dropped his paintbrush and ran to my toilet. ‘Where mama?’ says he..’Where’s the red paint? I can’t see anything.’

I looked at him in absolute shock. The little swine understands perfectly. Right down to the names for various colours, and this without us having ever bothered to speak it to him proactively.

I have a sneaky little son…..


45 thoughts on “The Brat and the bong

  1. LOL! But didn’t eh spend some time with your parents? I thought you mentioned that he picked up some Bengali there as well….and hey a talent for languages is a cool thing to have!

    Me: nah! dad is tamil and the only word he knows is rasagolla – pronounced like nothing on earth! i’d like to go sneakier but its such a damn effort since its not our main language and we stop and struggle as words and phrases that we’d use freely in english dont come to mind.

    I’d say go even sneakier on him – keep using bengali as your so-called code language, only discuss things in it that you want him to know/understand/act upon 🙂


  2. rofl. That is really funny. Talking about sneaky langauge, when we were young(HA) and use to visit India, my mum would tell us to do the “right thing” in Malay. or we would complain abt something to her in Malay. My sisters and I also can talk about other things in front of the kids in Malay/Mandarin. I told NK he needs to learn one so that we can talk in tof the kids.

  3. I love parenting surprises of the ‘when/how did they learn this’ type. Call him sneaky, but I can see a proud mother between the lines 🙂

  4. LOL….I always say that the best way to make your kids learn a new language is to speak it as if its a code and the kids are excluded 🙂 Thats a surefire way to make them interested. I learnt marathi and tulu that way when I was a kid.

  5. hahaha…I’m imagining your expression when he ran to the bathroom. oh yeah they can be sneaky, we think they are not looking at us or hearing us but they surprise us with unexpected response. You can opt to spelling out words like r-e-d sometimes in cases where you think he should not understand what you are talking but then it cannot be done for a whole sentence and that too he will out grow in few months as he is already in school..

  6. Why did he hate Bengali to start with though?

    Me: because he didnt understand it! the best way to upset a child is to speak to him in a way he doesnt understand…Its frustrating and scary if its sudden na…

  7. Tumi amor priyoshtomi.

    (The one line I know! Yes, Casanova Perakath I am.)

    Me: LOL! yes Perakath. I cannot argue that. the OA knows that line in Tamil. And insists on saying it at the worst possible times.

  8. wow, this is very complicated to figure out. Kids are sneaky sponges alright! Brat will probably marry a bengali just to rub it in!!!

    So the best way to get my grumpy Dhruv to pick up a new language is to pass comments on his doings in that lingo…lemme go brush up my sad Kannada!

  9. He is a smart kid…also remember red paint in Hindi and Bengali ‘lal rang’ and ‘lal rong’ do sound pretty similar 🙂

    So maybe you can still top him from knowing your ‘evil parenting strategies’…heeehaaaooowwwa
    *Cackling away like one of the witches from Macbeth*

  10. hehe..but if there was no red paint in the bathroom, why were you telling the maid there was?..were you trying to trap your son into revealing his hidden knowledge of bong??..:)

    Me: there was 🙂 he just didnt see it

  11. my firstborn has one more language than us — he learned mandarin in school last term.

    we were in a permanent d-uh state.

    having no clue if he was prattling merrily … or if he was getting it right.

  12. khub bhalo … he’s my little mishti …
    LOVED the title of the post, whacked it straight to the pavilion.

  13. I am planning to marry a danish man soon. I am already worried about our future kids giving me a verbal ‘up yours’ in that strange language.

    Me: Well I bet you’ll pick it up as fast. Its the mommy job description. See Itchy’s comment. BTW – tell me you’re the one that gave me first sexy hair cut at Juice… please?

  14. Hahahaha! Besh hoyechchey!

    And kids have this language conspiracy going all the time. The EO and the Nephew have taken to using sign language in front of my eyes thinking that I AM just that stupid!

    Give it a rest boys…you’re not 18 yet!!

  15. Hahahaha! Besh hoyechchey!

    And kids have this language conspiracy going all the time. The EO and the Nephew have taken to using sign language in front of my eyes thinking that I AM just that stupid!

    Give it a rest boys…you’re not 18 yet!! Still a while before you can put one over your old mom/aunt!

  16. We had a very similar episode, only in our case the secret language was Hindi.
    Husband and I used the most difficult words that we knew to carry on our conversation, e.g, “unki jeshth kanya ko jab apni janani se par rahi thi, humaari chup chup kar sun rahi thi.”, daughter immediately pipped from the backseat and said “Mom, X and Y were there listening, not me”
    Now she speaks her American accent in a rapid fashion with her friends and I have to struggle to understand whats going on !

  17. The things that ran through my head when I read The Brat and the bong. Tsk tsk.

    Me: Shame on you. tsk tsk. between you and perakath this blog is permanently rated as an adult site 😀

  18. Ah.. Either that or he knew exactly what you would be complaining bout… after all, he was the culprit..:-)

    Me: na re…o shob bojhe 😦
    you realise this means i have to teach the OA tamil so that we can gossip…

  19. Sigh! MM.. June is always a hairstylist or a chinese dentists daughter.
    But no that wasn’t me 🙂

    Me: Damn. And I thought you were Kimi’s friend from Bombay .. apologies 😦

  20. LOL! Of course he would understand. Kids have a lot more brain cells, so they can understand more languages, they can differentiate the pitches and tones in music…heck you could even start speaking tamil and he would understand…

    Simple version of the above? In the contest for who has more brain cells it goes like this;
    1st Bean
    2nd Brat
    3rd ME 😀
    4th MM
    5th OA

    😀 What do you know, I still remember my psych! I’m so cool! 😀

  21. oh! I am kimis friend. But i have never cut friend. The only friend we had who was a hairstylist was loveleen.

    Me: oh damn yes. i knew i was mixing something up 🙂 alright then – hi june 😀 and loveleen cut my hair. i was one of those she had to practice on

  22. Re: Prekarath’s comment, what on earth is Priyoshtomi? :O

    Also, much nice this brat be. Ki sundor banglay kotha bole. 😀

    Me: humour the perakath. it is like this wonly 🙂
    and someday when you meet the brat you must speak to him in bong and see !!

  23. 😀

    i am worried that Cubby will speak in kannada and we dont know a thing! we already dont! 😦

    what is amazing is that he can diffrentiate between WHO speaks WHAT language!

    so he speaks to his daadu only in hindi, in hindi and english to M and me and kannada with amma who takes cares of him! 😀

    they are all sneaky i tell ya!

  24. heeheehee…our kids are smarter than us for sure. Anyhow Bangla is so similar to Hindi that he must have recognized some words soon enough ” laal rong” and “laal rang” “dewal” “dewaar”- what else can you expect! I speak nothing but bengali with my kids. The moment the maid walked in the elder one knew she was dealing with a new language, that was from before she could speak properly. As soon as the baby saw the maid she used to say stuff like “jariaiai” “khariaiai”- that was her aknowledgement of a new tongue. I was scared that I had spoiled her chances of picking up Hindi, and I was scared that she would speak it with a bengali accent like me! She returned from the first day of play school and said “Pani peena hai” in a lilting Punjabi accent…I realised all was well and she would pick up Hindi in the local accent soon enough, and that is how it was. Now she calls her headmistress “hetch ym”- I think it is time for me to worry again!

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