Technically I guess Teddy’s first word was “Dada” – no thanks to me for the whole birth thing, obviously, ungrateful little sod. Other words in his limited vocabulary include “Baba” (that’s me), “Mummeeeee” (that’s also me, but when he’s got his legs stuck through the bars in his cot, and only then), “Carrrrrr” (that’s car), “Cack-carrrrr” (that’s tractor), and – worryingly – “Baka-parrr” (Makka-Pakka). Let’s leave that last one aside – I have to: that he knows a character from In The Night Garden better than he knows his own mother is, a) upsetting and, b) another damning indictment of my sterling parenting skills.
“Carrrrr” is one of his favourite words. “Yes, Teddy, a CAR,” I’ll say triumphantly, while wheeling him along in his pram, as he points out a car. “It’s a RED car,” I might say, hopefully. Or, “It’s on the LEFT, in-between the VOLVO and the RENAULT.” I am, as ever, an optimist. “Carrrrr” he says. And then, sometimes, “CARRRRRRR!” when one of them in particular stirs him emotionally.
“Cack-carrrrr” gave us even more pleasure as Tiger Parents (oh, ha ha ha HA). It marks him out as a true rural boy, and it’s among the first words he’s said that are two syllables. The more complex one I’ve covered in detail in the first paragraph and I’m too emotionally overwrought to repeat it here. So, “Cack-carrrrr!” he’ll say, when he’s seen a tractor. “CACK-CARRRRR!” when he’s seen a tractor in a book. “CACK-CARRRRRRRRR!” when he’s seen it on a different page in the book, and then turns back to find the original picture. Two tractors in one book! All his tiny little dreams in one booky place. Twice.
Also, however, “Cack-carrrr” when he’s seen a caravan. “No, Teddy, that’s a caravan.” “Cack-carrrr,” he’ll repeat, sadly. And then, “Cack-CARRRRR!” when he sees a Landrover. “No, Teddy, that’s a Landrover – I see where you’re coming from, but it just isn’t.” “CACK-CAH!” in an excitable hiccup when he sees a big lawnmower. “No, Teddy, that’s a lawnmower, but you’re on the right lines.” I’m not sure how much of this he’s getting, to be honest. And then, inevitably, when he sees a mobility scooter, and I think we’ve just cleared it without him noticing: “CACK-CARRRRR! CACK-CARRRRRRRRR! CACK-CARRRRRRRRRRRRR!”
Yes, mobility scooter driver, you have a cack car. That’s right, you – the one my little gooey fists are pointing to. And I’m laughing like a maniac, just in case you didn’t understand me immediately.