It was a perfectly sane moment for once. Like a very ‘together’ mother, for once I was focused in kitchen work and the task in hand (chopping cherry tomatoes, I believe). Like a regular, relatively sane seven-year old, Ryan was making his action figure do impossible feats, while softly mumbling heroic things like “CHARGE” and “SOAR” and “TO THE RESCUE” ! The dog, like any other relatively sane lab mix was sniffing around for food and intermittently putting his long snout and wet nose between Ryan and the action figure to find out which exact crisis the rescue hero was currently engaged in. Sahana was in the ‘I am a rock, I am an island’ mode – sporting the ‘hiding in my room, safe within my room/ I touch no one and no one touches me’ attitude.
All of a sudden, the peace was broken with a shout of this word:
I startled, and looked back at my son. The dog stopped in mid yawn, scared. Ryan had taken a ninja stance (or I think he did), one leg up, two arms half spread, fingers doing the rap singer type curl, head tilted at a forty-five degree angle, shouting N’DOI in a deep baritone. I mean, as much of a deep baritone a seven year old can muster.
“What are you saying? Keep it down. Inside voice please!” I reprimanded him, convinced that it is some form of gibberish that is meaningful only in his dream world, where he spends a considerable amount of time. He went back to his game. I went back to my cherry tomatoes, dog went back to his yawn. Sahana stayed in her ‘I am a rock..’ zone.
But N’DOI in deep voice didn’t leave us. It was uttered and often – much to my amazement. The word was now accompanied with a self smack on the head. It was cute the way he puckered up his lips, rounded his eyes and hit his head when he said ‘N’DOI’. I looked on with an indulgent smile, giving him a kiss when he did that, ruffled his hair, told him how cute he was….till I found out what it meant.
At dinner table, I heard a soft rendition of N’DOI again, complete with a soft head smacking. It was such a constant in Ryan’s vocabulary, I wondered what it meant to him.
“What does N’DOI mean darling? Does it have a meaning?” I asked, all smiles.
Ryan didn’t deem the question important enough to answer or maybe, his sister beat him to it. Sahana, in her usual patient, ‘you are so out of touch, mom’ voice explained to me the meaning of N’DOI!
“Mom, n’doi is a sweet way of saying DUH!”
The word “duh” is not entertained in our house by either of the parents. We find it demeaning and simply don’t see the need for anyone to be using it.
“You have been saying the word all this time?” I rounded on Ryan, stern.
“NO, I didn’t say the word. I said N’DOI!” He defended himself.
Ugh! But it conveys the same meaning. It is not the word, it is the weight it carries, it is the meaning it conveys. He didn’t get it. Mom said not to use the word duh, he didn’t. He followed the rules. He just used a replacement word to mean the same.
“Mom, N’DOI is not bad. It is not a mean way to tell people they are dumb. It is actually endearing. But watch out for D’DOI. If he says D’DOI, that is mean! That is hurtful way to tell people they are dumb! As long as he is not saying D’DOI, we don’t need to worry!” Sahana pacified me.
I believe, like “What the heck?” “Oh my gosh” “Sugar” and many, many others, DUH has found a replacement.
Ok, FINE! N’DOI – you are excused. But if I ever hear D’DOI – you are grounded…till kingdom come. You have been warned.
More laugh lines for mama over this one.