Last night our friends, Doctor Power and Docter Gandamou, came over for dinner with their three children. The family is an example of elegance and beauty. Doc Power is tall, blonde and stunning, Doc G has dark eyes and a sexy smile. The two older children are either total geniuses in all school subjects and/or experts in Michael Jackson moves. They’re all chic, well-dressed and graceful. And then there’s the little one, Marie.
Marie is three and a half years old and defies all pressure to look, talk and behave as is expected of a little curly-haired girl. In fact, she farts in the face of all social pressures. She has the voice and belly of a builder nourished on chip butties. If her mother didn’t stop Marie from eating she’d just keep going until she exploded. She has bulldozer energy, flattening anything in her path. Our little Tommy stood no chance when he first met Marie; she dragged him into her bedroom by the arm and dragged him out five minutes later, shouting to me that he was crying. He clammed up after that first encounter but is now getting better at dealing with having toys ripped out of his hands and being bellowed at in his earhole; he gives Marie the same treatment nowadays and the pair of them even managed to have a bath together last night. Marie was very proud to wear a pair of Tommy’s (future) pyjamas (he’s too small for them at the moment) but discovered that there was a downside …
The kids had eaten and were busy transforming our living room into the toy equivalent of a war zone. Tommy had somehow managed to get hold of my phone and was chatting away to the guinea pig on the screen who was chattering back, much to the amusement of the two older children. He was clearly scoring points on the respect-ometer. Marie was sitting in the kitchen with us, quietly watching Toy Story while we ate our long-awaited roast chicken and shouted above the noise of the hilarity next door to make ourselves heard. Then Marie piped up.
“Ca me gratte la bite!” she yelled. She had her hand down the front of her pyjama trousers and was scratching away furiously. “CA ME GRATTE LA BITE!”.
Pause here for a translation : “Ca me gratte la bite” (bite pronounced ‘beat’) = “I’VE GOT AN ITCHY DICK.”
We all burst into laughter. L’Homme choked on a mouthful of food and swallowed his chicken leg by accident. I fell off my chair. Doctor Power said “Mais tu n’as pas de bite!” (“but you don’t have a dick!”), to which Marie replied “CA ME GRATTE LA BITE!” and kept scratching, gurning as she itched. Her parents laughed helplessly, my tummy muscles seized up, L’Homme had tears running down his face and had to run to the bathroom.
Where Marie picked up the phrase “Ca me gratte la bite” is incomprehensible. Her family don’t talk like that, I doubt her teachers do, and her three year-old schoolmates probably don’t even know what a “bite” is. Maybe it’s something to do with her builder tendencies – maybe she has a builder’s vocabulary innately programmed into her brain.
Whatever it is that gives Marie the capacity to stand out from the crowd in pretty much all situations, I salute her for it. She is hilarious. She’s also extremely touching and endearing. A true clown and a pure feminist. I doubt very much that she’ll worry about having the right shaped eyebrows and the latest season’s footwear and she will be oh so much freer for it. Long may she continue to rock the boat and to remind us that just because you’re a girl, it doesn’t mean you have to be girly.
This post was originally published here.