Last night my daughter asked me, what does “fardark” mean? I couldn’t believe she was asking. Fardark is a word she invented as a very young child, and it became one of those expressions that took hold with the whole family. She used it to mean very dark, scary dark, monster dark, too dark for comfort. It’s a word that expresses a concept that our language doesn’t have a word for. When we forgot to turn on the nightlight, her room was “fardark.” And the “Fardark Stair Walk” became a bedtime ritual. It involved nothing more than walking up the stairs without turning on the hall light and chanting “far-dark-stair-walk” in a creepy voice. To her, it was both frightening and thrilling.
I’m not sure when fardark fell out of use. But one day, I just couldn’t remember the last time we had said it. And then last night, a few weeks before her sixth birthday, she wasn’t sure what it meant anymore.
“Does it just mean ‘really dark’?” she asked.
Well … techincally, yes, but also so much more than that.
“I said that when I was a little kid,” she told me. “But now I’m growing up and I just say, ‘It’s really, very dark.’”
“But ‘fardark’ is a great word,” I pleaded. “Why don’t you just say that instead?”
My pleading is futile, I know. She is growing up, too big for her old baby words. Fardark is already vaporizing before my eyes, just like all the adorable made-up words that came before it. I’ve forgotten most of them now. I always thought I should write them down, but I never did. When they’re in constant rotation, it’s hard to imagine that you will ever forget them. Now, they are our lost and forgotten language.
Children are the best reminder that nothing stays the same. No matter how real and permanent this moment feels, it is slipping through our hands like sand. There’s no sense trying to hold on. I know Amelia probably won’t remember our fardark stair walks when she is all grown up. The best I can hope for is that all these forgotten moments will add up to the vague impression of a happy childhood and the foundation for a life well lived.