Friday, March 27, 2009

"Ship" Happens ...

… And that’s not just what one whale said to the other whale when he bumped his head on the hull of a passing oil tanker … more than a pithy double entendre … this has become something of a motto in the Owens House, courtesy of Sister-Baby.

**WARNING** in spite of the innocent face of it’s subject, the following post is rated PG-13 (parental guidance both suggested and solicited).

So … we’re all sitting in the living room on a wintery Saturday afternoon, watching Gordon Ramsey’s cooking show on the BBC America cable station. He was making some kind of a lobster dish and, to prepare, he took a live lobster and cut it in half while it was still moving. After the collective “EEEE-ooooo” we let out, Abigail felt obliged to speak her mind. “What is that,” she asked. “Lobster,” her brother replied. And after a brief pause, “Well … I won’t be eating any of that lobster SHIP.” And the expression on her face showed that she was completely serious.

The rest of our expressions weren’t nearly so serious … Jared was rolling with laughter while Shemetra and I were holding back our own laughter with the appropriate amount of parental indignation. Had she just said what we thought she said … did Chica just say a cuss-word? Well, no, not quite -- there was, after all, a distinct P sound at the end of that word, not a T. Still, there could be little doubt as to the intent of the remark.

In dutiful-dad fashion, I immediately began my investigation. I turned to Shemetra who spends a great deal of time navigating the streets of Boston in our little car (an activity that tends to increase the use of such spicy epithets). “I say things,” she insisted, “but not THOSE things.” Further pursuit of this suspect being hazardous to the health and well-being of the investigator, I turned my attention to the most likely culprit. Brother-Man watches Abby for a couple of hours every day after school ... and we all know the kind of foul language that can come from the mouth of a teen-aged boy. “Wasn’t me, Dad.” A likely story … in fact the SAME likely story that had become his mantra ever since, at the tender age of seven, he became aware of the concept of plausible deniability. Only this time, I actually believed him. When it comes to his sister, Jared has something of a puritanical streak … he is often a more attentive and protective custodian of her formative character than I am. Though I don’t doubt that he says things among his friends that he wouldn’t say among us, I am pretty sure he watches his mouth around his sister.

I was about to start blaming some potty-mouthed little kindergartener when I realized who the culprit was – none other than Chef Ramsay himself! Before the newly sliced lobster had stopped squirming he (Ramsey, not the lobster... though if lobsters could cuss ...) had let fly the very word in question no fewer than five times. Of course, censorship was declared forthwith.

But too late, I’m afraid. Later in that week, I had told Abby that she needed to clear all of her toys out of the living room before supper time. “Dad-DEEEE,” she complained. “Don’t 'daddy' me, Miss Thing, get on with it.” She did … but as she walked down the hall, Shemetra heard her say under her breath, “I’m so tired of this SHIP.”

Well, so we talked later and she has since stopped using the word. But I know she knows it and that she will undoubtedly use it again. Here’s my night mare:

Abby on the playground at recess in the midst of a rip-roaring game of Dora the Explorer. Sister-Baby, is of course the titular protagonist of the drama and, as it unfolds, the lad portraying Swiper the Fox is circling in, preparing to abscond with Dora’s back-pack or Boots’s boots or something else of value. Instead of the iconic, obligatory (but somewhat cumbersome) catch-phrase, “Swiper no swiping, Swiper no swiping, Swiper nooooooo swiping.” Abby turns around lending her own defiance to the sweet an unobtrusive character of Dora: “Dude,” she says “chillax … enough of this swiping SHIP. You’d best step off, yo.”

“Aw, c’mon, DaddyO,” I say to myself. “She’s still your sweet little girl – and always will be.” That’s the story I’m sticking with then … at least until some appalled nun from Sacred Heart Elementary school calls me saying that we need to talk.

And even if/when that happens, I guess its part of raising the bambinos. I’ll just shrug my shoulders and go to the meeting. It’s par for the course when it comes to parenting. SHIP happens.


Krystle Ramdhanie said...

I love this story!

Suesjoy said...


CUTE story!!

aw...she's SUCH a little doll.

Lucky to have such an awesome daddy too!!!


VallyP said...

Hey Van, I live in SHIP all the time! Well, at least, one ship ;-)
I loved this story and it reminds me of occasions when I've had to disabuse my own sweet innocents of the innocence of their words. I also remember my own mum telling me to wash my mouth with soap and water because I'd used a (to her generation) unforgivably rude word. I was about 6 at the time. You don't forget these things, do you?