My son was never much cop at adverbs. His first attempt at an adverb was – as bad luck would have it – “hardly”. He said: “I am working so hardly, Mama.” I looked at him and felt such pity. You poor fucker, I thought. The first time you ever attempt an adverb and you get it totally fucking wrong. I didn’t even correct him. I just couldn’t be bothered.
And then, yesterday, he just woke up and it was like he’d swallowed an adverb thesaurus. We were arguing about him tidying his room.
I said: “You better tidy your room up, or we won’t go swimming.”
He answered: “I don’t want to do it. That is basically how I feel, basically.”
I looked at him and frowned. I was totally puzzled. You know when people confuse you in the middle of an argument and you feel totally puzzled and not angry anymore? That was how I felt. I whispered: “Since when do you know the word basically?”
He shrugged. “I just picked it up, basically,” he answered.
Later, after a ridiculously half-hearted tidying session, which I’m sure the Supernanny would have seriously disapproved of, Rico asked me if I knew why the Germans started World War II.
“No,” I said. “Tell me.” This is a lie, by the way. I know why WWII started. WWI – no idea. Haven’t got the foggiest. People could beat me with sticks and do waterboarding and music torture on me and stuff and I still wouldn’t be able to style out an answer. But WWII. I know that one.
“It was because they thought their land was too small,” he said. “They wanted more space.”
“Oh, right,” I said.
He stared at me then. “Do you think that’s a good reason?” he asked.
“No,” I said. “Not really.”
“I think it’s a rubbish reason,” he said scornfully. “I mean, I know we’re not the biggest country in the world but that’s no reason to make a war. And there are lots of countries smaller than us. What about Luxembourg?”
“Yeah,” I said. “Luxembourg is tiny.”
“Luxembourg,” said Rico, “is so small that it is its own Hauptstadt. And do they go around making wars to get more space? No, they don’t. I wish the Nazis had of said they wanted to be more like Luxembourg. Basically.”
I smiled at him. “Yes,” I said. “I couldn’t agree with you more. Totally.”
“Absolutely,” he answered.
“Completely,” I said.
“Blatantly,” he said.
I grinned. I love the word blatantly. It is basically my favourite adverb in the world.
“Blatantly,” I repeated. And then it was time for him to go to bed.