I spied a poster in the metro yesterday for an educational exhibition which the Cité de la Science science museum is currently hosting for children. Crad’expo: from the slang word crade, meaning ‘dirty’ or ‘grotty’. The by-line, les fonctions «impolies» du corps humain, and the photo of a child picking her nose roused my curiosity.
According to the blurb, using interactive games and a host of characters with evocative names, such as Roméo le Roi du Rot (The Burp King) and René la Goutte au Nez (Runny Nose René), the exhibition explains to children the science behind those bodily functions that we are raised to regard as rude, undesirable or even outright taboo. It does this by encouraging children to crawl through a reconstruction of the digestive tract, explore the ‘nasal cave’, shoot dustballs into giant nostrils to make them sneeze and play ‘fart wars’ (whatever that might be). It is a feast for the eyes, ears and nose: there is even an exhibit where you have to sniff various unpleasant odours – feet, armpit, fetid breath – and identify them. I have to say I’m less keen to do that bit. My fridge smells of all of the above combined at the moment as there is an overripe camembert belonging to Mr Frog in there.
There is one small snag. The exhibition is aimed at 5-12 year olds. Tadpole is clearly too young and I would feel a little conspicuous going along without a small person. Would a kind volunteer be willing to loan me a child of a suitable age on Saturday? It sounds like much more fun than Christmas shopping, and you never know, I might learn something.
It would also give me an opportunity to improve my French vocabulary of ‘impolite bodily functions’, which is rather limited as this arguably indispensable subject did not feature on my GCSE/A-Level/Degree syllabuses. What scant knowledge I do possess in this respect, I have kindly distilled into the following quiz.
can you pair the following French words/phrases with their English equivalent?
|dégobiller||to pass wind|
|le rot||to pick one’s nose|
|se curer le nez||sick|
|peter||to throw up|
answers will be posted in the comments box shortly
When Tadpole burps, she is now at the stage where she thinks it is hilarious. She proudly yells ‘burp!’ to draw attention to the fruit of her labours (in case we happened to miss it), then puts her hand over her mouth and giggles in an adorable and very mischievous fashion. I think I must have unwittingly taught her this, as she apes my every gesture at the moment. Ahem. As a new parent I now more aware of the very different attitudes that we adopt regarding bodily functions according to the age of the child: when a newborn baby burps after a feed our reaction was to congratulate Tadpole for her prowess with a ‘good girl!’ At some point in the not too distant future I will have to teach her that some discretion is required in public and laughing when people make odd noises is not an appropriate reaction.
What a shame.