What starts with ‘F’ and ends with ‘uck’?

Q: What starts with ‘F’ and ends with ‘-uck’?

When my eldest was still shorter than me, still small enough to clamber up onto my lap, take my face in his chubby little hands, and very seriously demand my attention, we lived in a remote town in the far northwest of Australia. (Now he demands my attention by shoving his phone two inches from my nose and insisting I watch whatever video, or chuckle at whatever meme he’s found — like he’s doing as I type this.)

My youngest was a baby then. Just 13 days old when we moved, he was the infant every parenting book aimed for; regular as clockwork, a good sleeper, an intuitive suckler, and happy. And I was still kidding myself that I could complete my Masters in comparative linguistics while wrangling two tiny children.

We lived in spectacular, big-sky country where horizons yawned, from the endless expanse of russet Pilbara dirt sporting a five-o’clock shadow of spinifex in the south, to the warm, teeming waters of the Indian Ocean in the north.

PilbaralandscapeI

It’s wild, starkly beautiful country that still sings to my soul. It’s also country that’s replete with minerals and natural gas.

The ferrous-rich soils have lured iron ore miners since the 1960s, and natural gas seams off the coast brought the influx of oil and gas companies. In the towns of the region, trucks twice the height of houses, with wheels that eclipse the sun as you drive next to them are a common sight. You learn to pull off onto the soft, sandy shoulders of the road and wait when road trains carrying enormous concrete pipes come towards you.

The town we lived in had no traffic lights at the time. There was one hotel with a nice restaurant, no butcher, no KFC, and the nearest Target was a 250 kilometre drive away. The pace of life was leisurely, with early starts and afternoon siestas because of the oppressive heat. There was an abundance of oddball flora, fauna, geographic features in every direction. It was an idyllic place to raise small children.

As my eldest’s vocabulary grew, encompassing the natural world around him, he took great pride in excitedly shrieking from his carseat, the names of things that he could identify.

“Wook Amma, a moo-cow!” he’d chirp happily.

Kangaroo

“A kangawoo and a emoo, Amma!” he’d call, pointing with both arms outstretched, fingers splayed on the window as if, if they’d only agree to come a little closer, he could pat them.

His delighted chirrups punctuated trips to buy groceries, trips to playgroup, trips to the shell-covered beach, and trips to Aboriginal communities so I could check my research. Every time we got in the car, we’d have his glee-filled running commentary of the things he could see out of the window.

Anyone who’s spent time around small children knows that consonant clusters are tricky for them. Often, they’ll find creative ways around those sounds in words. Especially when they occur at the beginning of words. The word “truck” starts with a consonant cluster; “tr-“.

My child, aged two, could not say “tr-“. Instead, he replaced it with “f-“. A fact I discovered one day when we arrived at the local shopping centre, the only one in town, and he spotted one of the enormous mining trucks hurtling along on the highway.

As I lifted him out of the car, his little body stiffened, and wave after wave of excitement broke across his face. As soon as his feet hit the ground, he hopped up and down, pointed with both arms at stiff right angles to his body, looking like a hyperactive miniature zombie, and yelled at the top of his voice,

“Amma! Wook! F….”

A: When you’re two and can’t say consonant clusters, it’s “truck”.


I’m writing for YeahWrite #352’s non-fiction grid. Click on the badge to go to the grid and see the other entries. Don’t forget to read, comment, and vote while you’re there!

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22 thoughts on “What starts with ‘F’ and ends with ‘uck’?

  1. It’s paragraphs like these, “We lived in spectacular, big-sky country where horizons yawned, from the endless expanse of russet Pilbara dirt sporting a five-o’clock shadow of spinifex in the south, to the warm, teeming waters of the Indian Ocean in the north.” that make me go OOH YAY when I see that you’ve posted, Asha. Your son, omg, what a cutie. I LOVED the structure here with the Q and A. TOTALLY STEALING THAT someday. ❤

    • STEAL IT, LISA! I know you’ll make it glow. I’ve been so lucky to live in some amazing (and often quite hostile) places, as beautiful as they are deadly. My son remains adorable and precocious, though he now towers over me. Thank you for all your lovely compliments. I’ll be grinning smugly in the corner. ❤️

  2. OMG how funny! We still use some of the words the boys made up when they were little (the b and v thing too – bench=vench, very=berry): “pook (like book) it on” = put it on, grapes=”boots” (rhymes with foots, I have no idea…). Your descriptions of the regions are beautiful!

    • OH! The made up words are still my favourites. For us, noonoo = noodles (but also got confusing because the vacuum cleaner on the Teletubbies was also called Noonoo). My all time favourite was that Nik used to call Milan “mimi” because he couldn’t say “mili” or “milan”. After a while, we all called him “Mimi”, including Milan (when referencing himself — in the third person as kids are wont to do). Then “mimi” got extended to anything that sounded like “Milan”. So we ate watermimi on hot days, and rockmimi was Milan’s favourite fruit! Kids are hilarious.

  3. This was beautiful and funny all at one. I love your descriptions- they make me feel like I’m somewhere I’ve never been. The dialogue was great but my favorite part was your aside when your son was showing you his phone. It made me feel like you invited me into your home.

    • Oh, Michelle. Thank you! I’m so pleased the descriptions gave you a small taste of those wonderful parts of the world. I’m even more delighted that the author intrusion/aside worked. I wasn’t sure if it would detract from the story, but the timing seemed just too perfect not to include it.

  4. The descriptions and backstory really gave this essay some good meat. I was wrapped in the beauty you showed me, then I couldn’t stop laughing at the f… Kids say the most hilarious things.

    R used to think Twizzlers was the Spanish word for licorice. And marshmallows were dashmells. Too funny.

    • Thank you, Danielle! Omg! Hahahahaha Twizzlers as the Spanish word for liquorice is precious! Dashmells is such a good approximation of the sounds. That’s really impressive. Kids and language acquisition are so entertaining.

  5. Some of your descriptions are great…like how you describe the physicality of your son when he sees the fu….ahem…truck (you’re probably going to have to deal with these jokes for a while, as no one can resist!) I can easily see this piece expanded to include some of the other kid-words you shared in the comments. The sharing of kid words told by a scholarly narrator worked well for me.

    • Hahahaha I am here for all the terrible jokes, Amy!! In fact, I’ll probably lead the charge. Dad jokes, anyone?

      You’ve given me food for thought re: expanding to include other kid-words. I’ve got some good stories tucked away.

  6. This was fun to read because I had a chance to learn about a place I’ve never been and connect it to raising children. Your descriptions are so complete that I could picture myself there. My baby brother used to have issues with the tr in truck too. Cracked me up every time since he’s seven years younger. Thank you for sharing your story.

    • Thank you! Honestly, I could write about that part of the world forever. It’s such beautiful landscape. I limit myself largely because I’m sure I sound like a stuck record whenever I go on and on about it.

      I hear you on the big age gaps between siblings. My two are close in age, but there are big gaps between me and my siblings, and their stories of my childhood are… embarrassing!

    • Hahaha thanks, Melony! The things kids come out with continues to make me chuckle. I’m so glad to have friends who still have young kids. I get to indulge in the fun bits and be the doting aunt, without having all the parenting responsibilities.

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