I took my daughter to see a school production of Swan Lake.
‘Mummy, why are they wearing cotton wool?’
‘Because they’re swans, darling.’
‘Swans have feathers, mummy. Even I know that and I’m only four.’
‘Maybe the lady in wardrobe ran out of feathers.’
‘Why was the lady in the wardrobe?’ I sighed.
‘Narnia, darling. Remember the story about Narnia?’
‘Oh.’ She was silent for a few minutes. ‘Mummy, why does daddy hide in the wardrobe?’
For months I’ve been encouraging my child to speak clearly and enunciate every word. The mumbling will no doubt return when he’s a teenager. However, progress has been made as our shopping trip to the local supermarket proved.
‘Mummy why is that man wearing pink tights?’
‘Not so loud darling.’
Your darling son then shouts and points to ensure you understand him.
‘MUMMY, WHY IS THAT MAN WEARING PINK TIGHTS?’
You quietly reply. ‘Because he likes pink.’
‘DADDY HAS PINK TIGHTS AND A HUGE…….’
A quick retreat to the next food aisle in the supermarket hoping to distract the little fella. You pick up a turnip wondering if you can slip it into the soup, (or maybe his mouth). Most kids dislike anything green, but your delightful 4-year-old refuses anything that isn’t green.
‘Mummy, Daddy’s balls aren’t that big.’
‘Ssh sweetie. Not so loud.’
‘But you told me to speak very loud and you said DADDY’S BALLS AREN’T THAT BIG.’
You wipe the sweat off your brow and make a quick retreat – foodless. How do you explain to a shop full of ‘tutt-tutting’ customers that your son is talking about golf balls?
BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU SAY
‘Hi darling. Did you have a lovely day at school?’
‘No! I hate you!’
He stomps up the stairs and slams the door. My first reaction is to tell him off, but I’m in textbook-mummy-mode and know I should approach him carefully. Something might have happened to upset him. Perhaps he’s being bullied. Maybe someone hit him. Check for bruises.
Check for copious amounts of blood on his clothing. Your mind goes into overdrive. Has he been eating properly lately? Check schoolbag for mouldy lunches. Has he been having nightmares? No. Haven’t heard him scream other than at his sister.
Oh no! Has someone interfered with him? Touched him inappropriately? You race up the stairs. Your heart is thumping. You charge into his bedroom. He glares at you.
‘You always tell me to knock. That’s rude. You’re a naughty mummy.’
You swallow the swear word that threatens to erupt. Calm. Calm. ‘Darling are you okay? Did someone hurt you?’
‘Miss Jackson told me off and everyone laughed at me.’
You try to hug him, all the words of comfort spilling out in a mummy-gush. He pushes you away. You breath in and breath our – slowly. ‘Darling, did you do….’ Swallow those words. Not text-book mummy. Don’t assume blame. ‘Darling, what happened?’ That sounds better. Less intrusive and no blame attached.
You keep a straight face. This is a serious moment in your child’s life when he learns how to communicate his deepest secrets with you. He must trust you. Proceed with caution.
‘That’s ok, darling. Did you apologise?’
His eyes are fixed on yours – unblinking. ‘No! I said mummy told me it was better in than out. It’s your fault. No-one likes me now. They call me Stinky.’
Oops! My parenting style is so not working.
‘Go away! I don’t like you.’
I retreat and flick through TV channels to find Dr Phil.
What is it with supermarkets or churches or any public space that encourages your child to enunciate every word loudly and ask the ‘Why’ question? Are they genetically geared for this? If so it’s definitely not from my side of the family. Got to be his.
The perfect family all smartly dressed. I’m so proud of them. I lick my fingers and wipe a smudge off my daughter’s face as we step inside the church doors. Head held high I march up the aisle aiming for the front pew. My children are little angels. We settle down and I whisper to them to say a prayer. Both of them smile at me and put their hands together their lips moving in some semblance of prayer, but Twinkle Twinkle Little Star seems to have crept in.
The service begins. All is well and I smile at them to show my appreciation of their wonderful behaviour. They really are exemplary. Text-book kids for the text-book mummy.
The congregation settles down as the sermon begins, sitting back waiting for a message from above, some special words to see them through the week.
‘Mummy why does daddy not have a Jinnnaaaa?’
‘Ssh, BB!’ You smile at your cherubic angel and pat her on the head. ‘Not now darling,’ you whisper.
‘But you said…’
Her brother shrieks. ‘I need to pee. Wee wee. Wee wee.’
‘Me too, mummy,’ his sister yells. ‘PEE PEE! PEE PEE!’
You make a quick exit.
Your friend is back from her year’s sabbatical – a whole year spent travelling all over the world. She has invited you and your adorable children to afternoon tea. This has recently come back into fashion. You know, the whole cupcake-one-bite-sandwiches-Aunt Maude’s china-3-tier-cake-stand scenario. You have trained your children in all the social graces. Not to grab. To say please and thank you and to use their napkins. No worries. You’re looking forward to it. All is well and you relax as you listen to her tales, a bit envious at all her adventures.
JJ whispers in your ear that he needs the toilet. I tell him it’s at the top of the stairs. ‘Cuse me, Aunty Ella.’
‘He’s so polite,’ she replies. ‘They are such angels. You must be proud of them. Now let me tell you about India. It was….’
We’re interrupted by a loud yell.
‘Aunty Ella, wipe my bum. Pleeeeeeze!’
THE LAST BISCUIT ON THE PLATE
A visit from the Health Visitor when our third child was born had me in a dither, Was the place tidy enough? Was it clean? Were the kids clean? Did I bath them yesterday or was that last week? New Baby as yet nameless is demanding to be fed, to be changed, to be heard, to be fed, to be changed, to be heard – repeatedly. I place a plate of biscuits on the coffee table just in time to greet her. I make coffee ensuring mine is triple strength. Hyper baby later. I’ve warned the children to be polite and not grab the last biscuit. They can have one only. I’ve put the whole packet on the plate. Well, it looks mean if you only put a few.
We sip our coffee and chat about baby’s progress. Somehow she manages to eat one biscuit after another and hasn’t sprayed me once with crumbs. Maybe she’s swallowing them. She takes the last one.
JJ looks at me accusingly. ‘She’ – pointing at the Health Visitor ‘took the last biscuit.
That’s rude. You told us not to do that.’
His sister BB pipes up. ‘Is that why she’s so fat. You said too many biscuits would make us fat?’
JJ interrupts. ‘Does she have a Jinnnaaaa? Is she a perve like daddy?’
Whose bright idea was it to use the proper names for body-bits? Just forget it.
‘Mummy, what is PERVE?’
Small finger points. Innocent (oh yeah?) blue eyes stare at you.
‘You said man there was a perve. What’s a PERVE?’
There should be an Olympics category for mum’s quick exits from public places.
- File all these memories under Revenge. One day in the future if they have children, you have carte-blanche to teach your grandchildren every inappropriate question and inappropriate words ensuring they use them in quiet public places.
- If they have a dog or cat, when you visit get said animal to maul and scratch at their elegant furniture, pee on the table and poop in their wardrobe.
Have a joyful day!
Read my blog on “You’ll Never Walk Alone”!
I have written two novels available on Amazon