I Quiver When My Kids Speak In Public

So I’ve been slightly absent recently. Life is pretty hectic right now! And my fingers were urgently caught up in creating this piece of awesomeness. But I have downed yarn and come back to the keyboard to entertain you all.

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Hurrah!

Today I’m going to talk a bit about the dangerous business of taking kids out in public.

Despite copious usage of the joyous invention that is online shopping, I do still have to venture out with children in tow, from time to time.

And by time to time, I mean every freaking day.

Before having kids, I didn’t really anticipate just how embarrassing they could be. I figured there’d be public tantrums, explosive nappies and perfectly timed vomiting incidents. So I started with pretty low standards. But by God, I did not see some of the shit they throw at me coming.

Because the tantrums and stuff, well they’re a lot of effort, aren’t they? And shitting yourself is just plain old uncomfortable.

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I’ve heard, anyway.

So why waste time on all that crap when you can just explode the flimsy façade of your mother’s epic parenting with a few choice words?

Indeed, why the fuck not?

Of course I have examples. They’re coming up. And I didn’t have to dig into my memory banks to find them, either. Most of this happened in the last few weeks. And if it didn’t, then it’s emblazoned right at the front of my brain, so no fishing required.

Once you’ve read them, you’ll understand why I’m working on plans to build a massive zipline to send the kids to school on.

It’s a work in progress, impeded slightly by my staggering lack of architectural skills.

I’ll get there in the end.

Incident Number 1

Recently, we’ve been having a few conversations about periods in my house. Big Girl is suddenly very curious about it all, and is asking lots of questions. Being the modern, awesome mother that I am, I’ve been explaining it all in a child-appropriate fashion. And she’s soaked it up like a little sponge.

Little Girl has been present for all of these conversations, but she has not soaked the information up quite so well. In fact, I’d go as far as to say that if Little Girl was a sponge, she’d be waterproof. So as far as she’s concerned, there’s just some messed up shit going on right here.

Anyway, there’s your intro. Now on to the story.

The other day, I took Little Girl shopping after I’d picked her up from school. In hindsight, that was probably an error, but I thought I’d get away with it.

I didn’t.

We were in the toiletry aisle. It was quietish. Not completely empty but we weren’t dodging through masses of people or anything.

For clarity, this is the very worst kind of shop situation. The sound of a small child’s voice, primed for embarrassment and turned up to a volume approximating a foghorn, bounces all around the shop. Yet it’s not quiet enough for you to kid yourself that no one heard what was said. It’s a risky situation.

Little Girl had been chatting about various inanities the whole way round, in a tiny, barely audible voice. But then…

With no warning, she took a deep breath and yelled, “Muuuuuum! Look! There’s your baby nappies! You wear baby nappies, don’tcha?!”

Obviously, she was pointing at the sanitary towels.

People heard. I know they did. But I didn’t see them laughing their arses off at me because I was doing what any wise parent would do, and making a very hasty exit before she could start elaborating on her point any more. The shame.

Incident Number 2

This one is an excellent example of Big Girl’s impressive stealth attack. This is where she stops in the middle of a perfectly innocuous conversation, and drops the shame bomb.

It happened when I was pregnant with Squeak. Of course, we’d been dealing with lots of questions. How do babies get out, what do they eat, what do they do inside their mums’ tummies all day. You get the picture.

But there was one, rather important issue that she hadn’t thought to ask about. And I should be forgiven for assuming that she was too little to really think about it.

Please, forgive me. I’m an idiot.

So when, whilst skipping home from school, she piped up with, “How does a baby get into your tummy, anyway?” I was woefully underprepared.

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Fuck.

I pride myself on always answering my kids honestly (well, except for when they ask where the cake went. Or that ugly cuddly toy that they haven’t played with for at least two years. Then, I just feign ignorance.) But this was pushing it, somewhat.

And she didn’t choose to do it at a quiet moment, when the street was deserted.

Well, duh.

It was right in the middle of a snickering, snorting crowd, who were all thanking their lucky stars that it wasn’t their kid.

This time.

I can’t remember exactly what my answer was. But I can guarantee that:

a) I mentioned a special cuddle in there somewhere;

b) I used my carefully cultivated, barely-above-a-whisper-voice; and

c) Big Girl didn’t listen to a word I said.

I can confirm that c) is definitely the case, because the next thing out of her mouth was, “Can I have a snack when we get home?”

Ugh, kids.

Incident Number 3

This one is proof that I have exceptionally low standards in life.

Because I was actually glad that this happened in my dad’s house.

On Christmas Day.

We had just sat down to dinner. Around the table were my dad, my sister, Big Girl, Little Girl and me.

As we started to tuck in, we chatted and laughed. And then it all went quiet, as the serious eating commenced.

Big Girl saw an opportunity, and oh boy did she run with it.

“Grandaaaaad?” she said. “My mum’s got a really hairy bum.”

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Oh God.

Oh God, oh God, oh God.

Why? Just, why?

Now, I’m pretty sure that my dad is fully aware of the anatomical make up of a woman. It’s not like this came as a surprise to him.

But at the dinner table?

At Christmas?

Seriously!

Incident Number 4

Everyone knows that kids are really observant. And it’s great. They’re always asking questions, and discussing their surroundings. Great, great, great.

Um, except when it’s not. Because sometimes shit just doesn’t need observing.

Or at the very least, it needs observing silently and unobtrusively.

If you please.

Silence is not really a big part of a kid’s repertoire, though. They much prefer loudness, blatantness and above all, pure unadulterated shamefulness.

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This comes up a lot when we see a person whose gender is not entirely obvious. I get it. It’s confusing for kids. They learn that girls look like x, and boys look like y. And then they get thrown into society, where barely anyone actually follows those rules.

It happens to me. Kids see the short hair, gloss over the breasts and the women’s clothing and assume I’m a bloke.

When I say kids, I also include the bus driver who called me ‘mate’ this morning.

You’d think that seeing me contradict the norms they’ve learned would ease my kids’ confusion somewhat.

Well, you’d be wrong.

For they will employ the aforementioned foghorn voices, and ask: “Muuuuum, is that a boy or a girl?”

And the pointing. Always with the pointing!

Yeah, we’re working on the pointing.

Incident Number 5

This happened two days ago, with Big Girl.

I thought that I was way past this stage with her. We’ve had so many conversations about how you can hurt people’s feelings if you talk about them when they can hear you. And we’ve been through the whole ‘some conversations should be held in private’ thing. So I thought I was safe.

You know, if you guys keep calling me an idiot, I’m off!

Again, it happened on the school run. Again, it was on a very busy section of the street. And yet again, the foghorn voice was employed.

It’s like a formula for disaster.

We’d been chatting about her day at school. We’d been through what she’d eaten, who she’d played with, what she’d learned… I guess she’d run out of things to tell me.

Well, almost.

There was just one more thing. “Hey Mum! Did you know that if someone wets their finger and sticks it in your ear, it feels like a penis?”

Fucking hell.

Although maybe I’ve become slightly numb to all this shit, because I didn’t know whether to cringe, or to be proud because she used the anatomically correct term.

Yeah, I know.

***

You’d be forgiven for thinking that I go through life perpetually red-faced. Actually, I have a pretty thick skin. And six years of parenting have left me virtually unshockable.

I say virtually unshockable, because I’m not stupid enough to get cocky about this. That’s a sure-fire cue for them to step it up a notch, and I’m not taking that kind of risk.

I do have at least a smidgeon of self-preservation instinct, after all.

Mostly what I feel when these situations is amused and a bit chuffed.

Because without them, well… A blog doesn’t just write itself, you know!

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