I'm thinking that I'm not original in the observations I've made about all the differences between American English and English here in the UK. If I were unique in this, I'd have a book deal or a column in a newspaper or something. But nevertheless, I keep writing and someone keeps reading, so I'll carry on. (And thanks for reading.)
Someone suggested that I find a way to protect my "intellectual property" here. Hopefully no one is stealing my stuff and passing it off as their own...although I'd think the risk of that is minor, considering what as ass I can look like in my day to day functioning around here. Who would steal someone's indignity?
As you have read, these humbling moments range from minor ("Just spell it, please!") to major ("She's just full of spunk!") and happen more than I document. This one that I am about to share is especially embarrassing because my misunderstanding has been going on for two months.
The best way to share the anecdote is to recapture the dialogue. I'll give you the setting.
Like other moms, every day when my kids come home from school I ask them how their day was, if anything exciting happened at school, and other various methods to get them to talk to me. Like other moms, I know in my head that they will be more forthcoming with information as the evening goes on, and that bombarding them with questions when they walk in is moot. Like other moms, I know that they need to just zone out with a snack and the TV or video games, taking time to re-group before they go out to play or do homework or talk to me. But unlike other moms, I get impatient and want to engage them right away. Common sense flies out the window...I'm so glad to see them and I want to scoop them up like when they were babies and have them face me, looking at me and listening to every word I speak. Considering the fact that Son 1 is 90 pounds and five feet tall, and that Son 2 is not far behind, getting them back into baby mode is just not possible. Which probably explains why I want it so badly. But I digress. (No, really.)
Back to the setting. Picture this: Weekday afternoon, boys come in from school, rainy day so no outside playing with their friends (or mates, as they say here.) Son 1 and Son 2 are both slouched on the couch, Son 1 playing Xbox and Son 2 watching, waiting for his turn. Mom stands above them, lobbing questions their way.
They don't break their glazed stare at the TV to look up at me, so using that Bachelor's degree to the fullest, I employ the method of getting down to their level...physically, that is. I sit down in between them on the couch, ready to interact. Remember, I've temporarily lost all common sense and won't wait the 45 minutes to really engage them.
Me: So guys...how was your day?
Them: Fine. (staring at tv)
Son 2: (to Son 1) Brother, did you see the new hoop ball thing outside? (not looking away from the tv)
Son 1: Yeah, they were putting it up on my recess. (still playing Xbox)
Son 2: I saw it after I got my pudding so I ate pudding really fast so I could play with it.
Me: (Sensing my 'in') You had pudding today, Son 2?
Son 2: Uh huh. I have it every day. (still watching Son 1 play)
Me: You have it every day?
Son 2: Yes...oh Brother, look out for that sniper dude!
Son 1: Got it.
Me: Don't you get sick of it? The pudding?
Son 2: Nope. It's good.
Me: Do you have chocolate every day? (See, as a good mother I know that my son's favorite pudding flavor is chocolate.)
Son 2: Not every day.
Me: What other flavors do they have? (Cha-ching! A question that can't be answered with 'yes' or 'no')
Son 2: I dunno...lots. (still looking at tv)
Me: (Lapsing into some Seinfeld-esque questioning) I mean, how many kinds of pudding can there be? There's vanilla, banana, butterscotch, pistachio - you aren't eating pistachio, are you? You are allergic to pistachio!
Son 2: No pistachios. (to Son 1) Is it my turn yet?
Son 1: Almost.
Me: But eating it every day? Don't you get sick of it?
Son 2: I don't eat it if it has fruity stuff that ruins it. Like cherry junk on chocolate. Or pie that isn't apple pie flavor.
Me: Ewww! Chocolate cherry pudding? I've never heard of fruit pie pudding. (Making note to self to look up pudding recipes to try to make for him. Surely MINE will be tasty and worth eating every day...as long as the recipe isn't in metric. Damn the metric!)
Son 1: Here, Brother.
Son 2 takes the Xbox controller.
Me: So is it served in a bowl, or are they individual cups like the Jello ones from back home?
Son 2: It can be in a bowl or on a plate.(Now he's playing Xbox, still focused on the television.)
Me: Pudding on a plate? Do you eat it with a fork or spoon? How does that work? (I'm asking this one because I really want to know.)
Son 2: Depends on what it is, Mom. (Clearly getting annoyed with me at this point.)
Me: I just don't get it. How can you have pudding on a plate? Like, really?
Son 2: (sighing) If it is on a plate, you use a fork.
Then finally, Son 2, who has been forced to listen to this exchange, speaks up. It has apparently occurred to him exactly what I am misunderstanding. He takes mercy on me, finally, but not yet looking away from the tv and Son 2's game, says this to me: "Uh, Mom...'pudding' is dessert here. It's not really pudding like you're talking about. It's all desserts."
Me: (Insert sound effect from the end of every Sesame Street sketch where the human looks at the camera, puzzled, after being duped by the puppet...you know, that trombone-like sound of two tones, "wah-wuhhhhhh") Oh...okay...uh...really?
Son 2: (Slightly chuckles) Yeah, mom.
Me: EXCUSE ME?
Son 2: (recovering) Nothing, sorry.
Me: So when were you going to tell me? Like how long were you planning on letting me go on, thinking you ate pudding every day?
Son 2: I don't know...I mean, I wasn't really paying attention to what you said.
That marked the end of my after school question and answer sessions.
And now you can add to your English to English Dictionary that
pudding = dessert.