What Is Parenting?

Life as a parent is such a subjective thing. It means something different to all of us. It all depends on how many children we have, our life situations, our own childhoods… A plethora of variation!


I have compiled a little list of some of the things that define my adventures in parenting. Have a look and see, maybe some of them will resonate for you. And maybe you’ll have some of your own to add. If you do, add them in the comments!

What is parenting?

Parenting is thirteen dandelions slowly decomposing in a murky glass of water in your kitchen.

Parenting is explaining how babies get into a woman’s stomach on the way home from school.

Parenting is saying, “Stop picking your nose!” All day.

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Parenting is googling ‘how to remove lava in Minecraft,’ in order to fix your seven year old’s whole freaking life.

Parenting is knowing just how your children smell. Oh, and recoiling instinctively when they smell ‘wrong.’

Parenting is defining the word ‘pulverise.’ And then ‘pulp.’ And then ‘mush.’ And then concluding that you make a crappy dictionary.

Parenting is cautiously identifying the picture your child has drawn. Get it wrong at your peril! (P.S. It’s a squiggle.)

Parenting is sympathising over invisible, yet agonising injuries.

Parenting is yawning three seconds after your child.

Parenting is dancing the tango with a giggling child in your arms. You don’t know how to dance the tango.

Parenting is sorting through your child’s entire Lego collection for her favourite pieces (which are, of course, the smallest ones.)

Parenting is then going through the whole bloody lot again because the one child destruction system you call ‘Squeak’ dumped them back in. On purpose.


Parenting is knowing all the words to ‘Let It Go.’

Parenting is seventeen conversations about the vulva, in context, before you’ve left for school.

Parenting is spending twice the time you actually need on the toilet, just so you can have some peace.

Parenting is comforting a child who says that, when she is running, it feels like she has a penis. How do you comfort somebody about that? I don’t know!

Parenting is researching the formation of glaciers just so you can answer your child’s burning question with something approaching accuracy.

Parenting is explaining that no, you were not born in 1919. Or 1899. Or 1912. Goddammit, I’m not looking good right now.

Parenting is the heavy sound of a sleeping house in the evening.

Parenting is regretting buying different sized children matching socks.

Parenting is mistaking a yowling cat in heat for your screaming baby and running for the stairs.


Parenting is mistaking a seagull for your screaming baby and running for the stairs.

Parenting is idly pondering whether your child’s cough is croup.

Parenting is knowing that if your kid has croup, there ain’t no pondering about it!

Parenting is sleeping with a child’s arm across your face.

Parenting is knowing how to get vomit out of the carpet.

Parenting is the delicate touch of a child’s loving lips against your cheek.

Parenting is finding laughter, even in sadness.

Parenting is being awoken to a copy of Animalia being waved in your face and a demand to “find the boy!”

Parenting is knowing the difference between the sound of one child going upstairs to the toilet, and one child going upstairs with an unruly toddler sneaking up behind them.

Parenting is loving three small people so deeply, despite their insatiable urge to fuck. your. shit. up.

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What do you think, guys? Did I nail it? Don’t forget to share your experiences!

The Bedtime Routine Of The Dazed Parent

Yet again, I am posting from a house that is positively swimming in germs and bacteria. In the last few weeks, we have been hit by more viruses that I believe to be truly acceptable.

Although apparently, my opinion is of no consequence in this situation.

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The other day, I finally succumbed to the stomach bug that had successfully overtaken two of my three children. As the waves of nausea swept over me, my first thought was, “Ooh, better get the dishes out of the way if I’m going to be ill!” And it got me thinking how much our reactions to everyday situation change after we have children. Before I procreated, my instant response to impending illness would have been “BED!” But now here I am, prioritising essential housework over much needed rest!

It’s a weird old world.

One of the situations where I’ve seen the most change is the bedtime routine. No, I’m not talking about getting the children into bed. I mean me.

When I only had myself to take care of, my bedtime routine probably looked something like this:

  1. Get into bed.
  2. Read for a while,
  3. Go to sleep.

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Oh, blissful simplicity!

Without a doubt, parenting brings a whole swathe of changes and challenges into your life. Now, my bedtime routine looks a little more like this:

  • Drag myself up from the couch after realising I have dozed off and missed the last twenty minutes of my TV programme.
  • Spend ten minutes searching for the front door keys in increasingly imaginative places before discovering that they are, as always, in my handbag.
  • Lock front door.
  • Get halfway up the stairs before heading back down to switch the heating off.
  • Second try!
  • Reach the top of the stairs before having a crisis of self-doubt about whether I remembered to lock the back door.

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  • Nip back down to check.
  • It’s locked.
  • Finally get as far as the bathroom.
  • Brush teeth and attempt an almost silent wee (Squeak’s bedroom is right next door to the bathroom.)
  • Ponder reason wee needs to sound like a professional grade power washer at the most inconvenient of times.
  • Hold breath and listen for signs of Squeak waking.
  • Remember to breathe.
  • Creep to Squeak’s doorway.
  • Check for breathing.
  • Can’t hear her. Listen harder.
  • Gingerly step over safety gate and edge closer.
  • Lean over Squeak, only to jump back as she takes a loud breath and begins to stir.
  • Make a hasty exit, acquiring painful gate-related vulval injury on way out.

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  • Swear under breath and do elaborate ‘ouchy’ dance on landing.
  • Tiptoe up to big girls’ bedroom.
  • Trip over three teddies and land on a Lego block. In bare feet.
  • Engage in silent scream.
  • Give Big Girl a kiss and tuck her in (kid snores like a steam engine, no need for double checking here!)
  • Listen for Little Girl’s breathing.
  • Wonder why she appears to hold her breath the very moment I go to check on her.
  • Bring my face closer to hers and strain ears.
  • Still nothing.
  • Lightly poke her cheek.
  • Get smacked in the face as she violently turns over.
  • She’s still breathing.

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  • Tiredly drag myself into bedroom and collapse into bed.
  • Speedily leap back out.
  • Remove six soft toys and a day-old kids’ sock from the bed. Oh, and something… pointy.
  • Lie down with a sigh and snuggle down.
  • Get out book for some late night reading and relaxation.
  • Check alarms for the next day and put phone on to charge.
  • Turn over and strangle myself with charger wire.
  • Begin making a list in my head of all the things I need to do tomorrow.
  • Recall all the things I forgot to do today.
  • Dammit!
  • Suppress urge to go and see if I remembered to lock front door.
  • Read.
  • What’s that noise?

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  • Read more.
  • Ok, what’s that noise?
  • Roam house hunting for burglars.
  • Admonish myself for being a damn idiot.
  • Sink back under covers.
  • Weep inside as Squeak chooses this moment to wake up.
  • Settle her back down again and sneak away.
  • Get back into bed.
  • Read.
  • Fall asleep still wearing glasses (always).
  • Wake with a start as child climbs into bed.
  • Listen to detailed account of distressing nightmare that brought her there.
  • Forcibly remove glasses from muchly dented face.
  • Rub aching nose.
  • Go back to sleep.
  • Groan as Squeak wakes again.
  • Tuck her into my bed.
  • Unleash breast from top.
  • Fall into haze of unconsciousness.

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  • The end <yawn>

I have to say, I’ve experienced slightly more relaxing bedtime rituals in my life. And I live in hope that one day, one day, I may again!

I’m not feeling massively optimistic, though.

How about you? How does your routine measure up?

6 Signs You Live With Children

It is my guess that most people can tell, on entering a house, whether it contains children or not. A childful house has a certain air about it, don’t you think?


Or, at least, a certain scent.

For me, there are definite signs and symptoms that my house is inhabited by small, messy bandits. I have listed a few below, but maybe you have some others to add?

1. There is always something underfoot

Now, I must begin by affirming that I in no way fit the definition of a ‘neat freak.’ Which is no bad thing, because the kids would certainly not be in support of it. I rather like a fairly tidy house. I enjoy sitting down in the evening with the toys cleared away and the room free of clutter.

Ah, the dream!

The children, I assume, prefer a greatly different household landscape. They like socks, used as missiles and then discarded where they land. They like to dig deep in the fancy dress bin for their most desired costume, leaving a cascade of brightly coloured fabrics strewn across the room.

I can say with some confidence that it is extremely difficult to keep your footing when you step on two layers of synthetic fabric. To clarify: Whooooosh!

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And so, walking through my living room has become an obstacle course of small objects (and some larger, although I’ll get to that in a moment.) The punishment for diverting incorrectly through said obstacle course being, of course intense foot pain or a generous helping of guilt.

It’s amazing, really, how many things can become part of this. Sometimes it’s boring and predictable. I’ve stepped on Lego more times than I can remember. But everyone’s done that, right? That’s just a rite of passage into parenthood. Then there are the brittle, cheap toys that crumple and snap into vicious plastic shards the moment you rest a toe on them. Naturally you just destroyed your child’s most precious thing at that point, despite them having played with it once or twice in a year.

Of course, there are always the weirdly sharp crumbs of food, and those things that can only be described as ‘unrecognisable, but definitely squelchy.’

As for the larger object… Well, try and tell me you haven’t either trodden on or fallen over an angry toddler at least once in your parenting lifetimes. They have an immense skill for placing themselves in the most inconvenient of spots, with their favourite tactic being to collapse directly in front of you, just as you are about to take your next step.

I’m sure the intense grimace I am wearing when this happens, as I weave and flail for a footing that doesn’t involve my crushing my little one, wouldn’t be out of place in a sitcom (with appropriate canned laughter, of course.)

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However, Squeak doesn’t think it particularly amusing.

2. There are at least four lights on at any one time

What is it with children and their inability to retain a simple instruction for more than ten seconds? I swear I need to record myself saying my most used phrases, just to save my breath for better things. This recording would include:

“Please pick that up.”

“Get off your sister!”

“Please don’t put that in your mouth.”

“Turn the light off!”

I know I was just as bad as a kid. I am still confused, though, as to why children are so incapable of remembering to flick a switch when they leave a room. I can let Little Girl and Squeak off for now, as they are too small to reach the switches (without climbing assistance, anyway. And I prefer not to encourage that, for obvious reasons!)

Accident waiting to happen.

Accident waiting to happen!

Big Girl, though. Every night she nips to the toilet before bed, while I wait in her bedroom to say goodnight. And every night, without fail, my question of, “Did you turn the light off?” leaves her scurrying back to the bathroom with a sigh. You’d think after months of the same old routine it would have become a habit by now.

Apparently not.

And if she’s run up to her bedroom after school to grab something, I can guarantee that the light will be shining brightly when I next go up. Which makes no sense to me, because it’s not even dark then!

I’m hoping it’ll sink in one day. Although I am doubtful.

3. Your washing basket is full of single socks

Aside from the aforementioned missile usage I described above, I’d say the role of the sock is a fairly basic one. You put them on, wear them all day, take them off and put them in the wash. There’s not really much wiggle room going on there.

If that is the case though, how come I am constantly faced with a washing pile overflowing with unmatched socks? It baffles me. I have at least twenty lonely single socks, living out their miserable existence far away from their intended companions. I hunt through the house, certain I will locate them. Because really, how far can socks go?

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Well, you can guess how successful I am in this task. The fact that I include this section at all shows that I have had no sock related victories.

With this in mind, I can conclude only one thing.

The children must be eating them.

4. The fruit bowl looks like a feral monkey got in through the window

If there’s one thing I have become fearful of since having children, it’s the sound of silence. Many a time I have been absorbed in some sort of menial task, only to jump up with a start when I realise I haven’t heard a peep from Squeak in half a minute or so.

That’s a lifetime in Squeak hours. That kid can destroy shit faster than a monkey can defecate and launch it in your face.

Sometimes she’s busy spreading the contents of my handbag across the floor. Others she’s engaged in a focused book shredding activity (always one of my favourites <sigh>) or massaging herself with a generous dollop of my moisturiser.

Last week I experienced another one of these silence-related panics. Squeak had quietly slid away to the kitchen, and was doing God knows what in there. I sped in to discover this:


Next to it stood a triumphant little girl, stuffing her face with another banana. I mean, it’s just rude to peel three bananas and only eat one!

I got off lightly compared to normal, though. Usually there’d also be at least four apples with one bite taken out of each. Because apparently it takes that many tries to recall that you actually don’t like the texture of apple skin.

5. You have to clear 63 half-finished masterpieces off the table before you can serve dinner

Creative children are wonderful. I love the detailed stories they relate to me, and the songs. Yes, really. Despite the fact that during each song I can hear at least seventeen of my brain cells slowly dying, I appreciate the effort they have put into them. It’s not the musical talent I take issue with, but more the fact that every line is preceded by a long “ummmmmmmm,” because they have no idea what they are going to sing about.

Plan it, children!

Anyway, by far the most prolific creative pursuit in our house is drawing. Detailed sketches, comic strips and ominous circular scribbles can be found everywhere, and I spend half of my life reuniting pen with lid.

The only problem is, the children so rarely finish any of their pictures. Like little butterflies they flit from task to task, abandoning the one that came before. And they have come up with a devious method to prevent me from questioning their numerous discards.

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I mean, when faced with a winning smile and a cute voice saying, “This is for you!” could you really respond with, “Thank you, but did you know your girl is missing an arm? And a face?”

Therefore I am constantly faced with a table festooned with reams of partially scribbled-on paper. And God forbid I would actually dispose of any of it.

Because you know they’d suddenly express great desire for it as soon as it hit the bin.

6. At least once a week you wake to your eyelid being prised open and a chorus of “Do you wanna build a snowmeeeeeeean?”

For me, this is new. Although the obsession with Frozen definitely isn’t! Squeak and Mila spend whole hours debating who will be Elsa and Anna, and acting out all of the songs from the film.

It’s quite cute, I have to admit.

But when I was dragged from sleep the other morning by a hooked forefinger sliding across my cornea and a shrill voice proclaiming the above phrase, I had to say it was a step too far.

Not that it’s put Squeak off or anything. If anything, a suggestion of pain on my part should be a great encouragement for her.

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It’s in keeping with her current personality traits, anyway!

When Every Side Of The Bed Is The Wrong Side

You know when you wake up in the morning and you just know today is not going to be your day?

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Well, that was me yesterday.

It all started when I shot awake about an hour before my alarm was due to go off. I say ‘shot’ because it was the kind of waking up that happens all of a sudden, with wide eyes and a small burst of adrenaline.

If I had a theme tune (and honestly, I can’t think of a better idea), then at that point we would have heard a loud *PING!* That’s how awake I was.

Now, people who know me will be aware that I am a dedicated night owl. I’m simply not able to fall asleep early, unless I’m ill. Lying awake in bed hallucinating the sound of burglars breaking in is not exactly my idea of fun, shockingly enough! And so I prefer to spend my evenings knitting, Netflix binge watching and eating, and end up going to bed quite late.

This would be a nightmare in itself for some people, but it works fine for me. I just don’t need that much sleep! But the success of my night owliness is only possible because I have never had a problem with waking too early. I have always been able to sleep soundly until my alarm goes off (unless dealing with a small crying child, anyway. And even then I avoid putting my glasses on so I can pretend I’m really still in bed.)

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But recently, it seems, this ability has become a thing of the past. More and more often I am ‘pinging’ awake at, for me, a truly unacceptable hour. I am hoping it is just an incredibly irksome brain blip, which will pass in time. Because losing sleep at both ends of the night is really not working for me!

So, I began the day exhausted, and more than a little pissed off. But there were still some positives to be had. Instead of having to rush around all morning, I actually had time to prepare and organise everything. I even threw in a quick shower for good measure! I always feel that if I begin the day up and dressed before I wake the girls, there is no possible other ending point than complete success.

It appears, in this case, that I was a little optimistic. Which is not a natural tendency for me, and I will be wary in indulging in it again for quite some time.

First, Little Girl awoke, after an almighty coughing fit that lasted for a ridiculous amount of time. Little Girl has always been a wheezy, hacking winter child, and yesterday was no exception. But it wasn’t so bad. She got up in a fairly good mood for someone who has attempted to evacuate her lungs through her mouth, and was happy to settle down with her Lego while I got ready.

That, and stickers.

That, and stickers.

Little Girl is always happy to settle down with her Lego. I guess it’s her ‘thing.’

Anyway, time passed until it was time to wake the other girls up. And that, my friends, is where it all began to fall apart.

Squeak woke up in a mental state that spoke of a night spent fighting monsters and defeating evil wizards in vivid nightmares. She was in full on rage mode as soon as her eyelids lifted. She refused to brush her teeth, to come downstairs, to eat, to get dressed, to put on her coat…

In short, it went on all bloody morning. She even surpassed her usual contrariness, to level up into a tiny, angry dragon. I find it hard enough to cope with these explosions normally, but yesterday I was so tired that it was even harder!

Still, eventually I got her suitably dressed and tucked up in the pram, ready to take the others up to school.

It was at that point that I realised one of the pram wheels had a puncture.


So the entire contents of the pram was unloaded, and I strapped Squeak to my aching body with a sling. We trudged our ever so enthusiastic selves up to school, and somehow managed to get there on time.

Surely now I would see some improvement? Now Squeak had my unwavering attention without her talkative, daydreaming sisters to interrupt her. What more could she need?

It turns out, a lot more! And she would specify approximately zero of the things that would make her feel better.

Although, I expect the furious tantrum she threw in the doorway of Aldi as she collapsed like a rock on the floor may have been an attempt to cheer herself up.

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It didn’t work.

Her rage increased still further throughout the afternoon. She threw her lunch on the floor and utterly refused to help pick it up. She vehemently denied the presence of a dirty nappy, and spent an hour roaring and yelling as I attempted to persuade her to let me change it.

That may sounds hideously permissive of me, but let me ask you: Have you ever tried to change the shitty nappy that is attached to an angry, wriggling toddler who appeared to have magically sprouted a couple of extra legs? Legs which are, at that moment, booting you mercilessly in the crotch?

Yeah, I’m not doing that again.

Although there was an amusing moment within all of that. Every so often, she would pause from her dramatic howling to glare her deepest glare at me, and growl, “I am very cross with you, Mummy.”


Well, ditto.

I got there in the end, although knitting, writing and all attempts at completing a touch of housework had to be discarded. I slung her back onto my back, and we meandered back up to school uneventfully.

It appears the blight on today wasn’t restricted to the home-bound family members, though. Poor Little Girl came out, all pale, pink eyed and peaky looking, to say dolefully, “Nobody wanted to play with me today.”

<cries> Poor Little Girl. I comforted and distracted her, and soon she ran off to play. Of course, we had the exact same conversation at least eight times that evening, but that’s just how she rolls.

Squeak proceeded to spend the evening determinedly trashing everything she could find while I tried to make dinner. Afterwards, the living room looked as if a crowd of pissed off Gremlins had steamrollered their way through it. But hey, at least she didn’t attack Little Girl this time. You’ve gotta take the successes where you can get them!

There was one small shining light in my ghastly pig of a day. We had just bought a new board game, and I’d promised the girls we could play it before bed.

I’ll admit, I would have liked nothing more than to sack it off. I was really not in the mood to plaster on a fake smile and pretend to enjoy repeating instructions a thousand times and preventing Squeak from knocking all the pieces off the board. But how could I say no to this little face?


And I’m glad I didn’t. Because we had a ton of fun! Everybody managed to set their angsts aside and have a lovely time. I did need to give Squeak a little guidance on the correct dice rolling etiquette: “We roll the dice underarm, not overarm. This is not cricket!” But once she figured that out, we all really enjoyed ourselves.

Once we were done, I tucked everyone up in bed and collapsed on the couch for some mindless TV watching. And, naturally, cleaned the kitchen, got the clothes ready for the next day and generally tidied round. Ain’t no one else here to pick up that slack!

Never have I been so glad to see my bed as I was last night. My bones were weary and aching, my eyes were sore, and I am glad that I didn’t need to string more than two words together, because I wouldn’t have managed it. I had a quick read, and speedily succumbed to sleep.

Only to be woken up about half an hour later, by an exceedingly warm Squeak. She had had a virus for the couple of days before, and obviously it was sneaking in to kick her ass yet again.

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She was wide awake and fairly chatty for someone whose forehead could have evaporated water. I quickly medicated her and stripped her off. After a joyous night of hallucinations and a febrile convulsion on Saturday night, I was taking no risks.

But while the meds were still taking their time to kick in, the hallucinations began anyway. Squeak glanced over to the other side of my bed and said matter-of-factly, “There are snakes in your bed.” Now, this was less of a cause for alarm than the other night, when she stared, terrified, over my shoulder because she was convinced there was a crocodile behind me. And it definitely wasn’t as bad as her refusing to breastfeed because my boob was full of bees.

However, when she said, “There’s a spider on your top…” Well, that was a step too far!

She began to cool down, but was still a fair while away from sleepiness. I lay next to her and comforted her as best I could, at least enjoying a bit of horizontalisation.

Then, BUMP!

I ran to the girls’ bedroom, to find a rather upset Little Girl lying on the floor, wrapped up in her duvet like a sausage roll. Of all the nights to fall out of bed! Luckily she was quickly settled, and I returned to find Squeak almost ready to drift off.

So I lay down, and finally, two and half hours after I had first got into bed, I drifted off to sleep.

Only to begin the same rigmarole again this morning! Squeak’s response to my loving, gentle waking of her this morning was to turn over and kick me in the face.

I think that says it all.

Tra la la!

Tra la la!


Now please, share your day to day disasters with me! At the very least, I’ll know that I’m not alone.

Diary Of A Two Year Old

Just over a year ago, I wrote this blog post: A Week In The Life Of A One Year Old. As Squeak is aging rapidly, I felt it apt to give you all a bit of an update. So here we are, a nice little excerpt from the diary of my tiny tyrant.


Hope you like it!


Dear Reader,

Today I was subjected to what I can only describe as the greatest humiliation. On returning from temporary disposal of my taller minions (or as my mother likes to call it, ‘the school run’), I was presented with a tool whose only purpose, I can assume, was infantile oppression.

It was plastic. It was shiny. And from the encouraging expression on the face of the idiot woman who birthed me, I was expected to do something with it.

Was it a hat? I hear you cry. Ha! I could only dream of such a simple thing.

Was it a bowl filled with some sort of nutritious foodstuff, for me to sample as I fixed my eyes on the hilarious enterprises of the one I call Peppa Pig?

It was not.

She called it a ‘potty,’ and to my horror she expected me to…

Oh God, I can’t say it.


The shame!

She wanted me to… poop in it. And urinate, I imagine. Can you believe that? My immense buttocks have far too much taste to rest on such a poor quality material. And what the hell is wrong with a nappy, anyway? It’s a system that has been working for us for quite some time.

The woman explained what she wanted me to do over and over. I understood her well, for I am, naturally, a being of over average intelligence. I just could not fathom the reason why she would desire for me to debase myself over and over in the middle of her living area, while she cheered and clapped.

Who on earth applauds pooping?

Being a child too immature to express my feelings much beyond a yell of, “I don’t want to!” I demonstrated my considerable distaste by voiding my bladder thrice on the carpet. And once on her foot. I had thought I make a breakthrough with that last, ingenious display. But no. For my enthusiastic dictator of a primary caregiver has left the damned thing right there, in plain view.

I think she might want me to use it again tomorrow.

Please send help.


Dear Reader,

Today marks my 821st day in captivity. I had pondered making my 13th escape attempt today when the open kitchen window was left unattended for a few minutes, but I restrained myself for two reasons.

1. I still rely on the woman I call ‘mother’ for daily sustenance, although I am working on breaking free of these chains.

2. I have not had a particularly varied range of jumping (and landing) experiences.

To console myself, I have spent the day very slowly and discreetly decorating my legs in tribal war symbols with a pen that, whilst not permanent, nevertheless should take at least a few days to fade. I very successfully kept this a secret for three hours, before blowing my cover with a pair of (I have to say) convincing cat whiskers.

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The woman was too irked to take a picture, to have this innocent smile instead.


I admit, in retrospect, that this was a step too far. It is not easy to conceal my cheeks from a woman whose hawk eyes appear to land on my face with depressing regularity.

My bad.


Dear Reader,

I apologise that I have very little time to write today. Instead of a peaceful time spent peeling the wallpaper off in tiny increments, or demolishing my sister’s Lego masterpieces, I have been forced to suffer the hell of enforced socialisation with other children.

This has happened before. And, to my dismay, I discovered that despite these people being similar in appearance to myself, they are entirely lacking in vision.

“What are you doing to take down the parental government that restricts our every move?” I hissed as I gently removed a brightly coloured elephant toy from the child’s willing hands.

No. I must not lie in the book which may one day become the chronicle of my rise to world domination. My dearest reader, I was not gentle. Not even a tiny amount. But I surely would have been, if that blasted child had shown the smallest amount of willingness to bow down to my obvious superiority.

I made him pay.

You see? I even strike fear into squirrels.

You see? I even strike fear into squirrels.

Despite that, his only response to my enquiry was to howl and run to his mother. Clearly not one to recruit to my cause.

That’s fine. I don’t need him, anyway.


Dear Reader,

I woke up this morning with the most hideous affliction. I can’t be certain, but I suspect it may be that contagious plague that threatened to decimate my potential band of toddler warriors.

The sniffles.

I am so sorry to report that I have become its next victim. My nose is expelling considerable amounts of irritating goo. An echoing cough hacks through my vocal cords, threatening to leave me incapable of my trademarked high-pitched battle cry.

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This is a sad moment.

As I lie here on my couch, skin alternating between hot and cold in a disturbing fashion, I cannot help but think that the end is nigh. I am just another victim of the quest to overthrow our gigantic overlords. Cry not for me, my friends, but battle on in my name.

Never surrender.

Ah, misery! It’s all going dark…

Goodbye, cruel world!


Dear Reader,

So, it turns out that the sniffles are not actually that bad. I am feeling much rejuvenated today. So much so that my mother decided to take me for the hellish form of recreation she calls ‘a walk.’

Of course, I objected forcefully. If human toddlers were meant to walk, then surely they wouldn’t be supported by such minuscule, underdeveloped legs. Does this woman not understand that I get tired after, at most, six steps?

I suspect she does. But in her endeavour to squash the tide of rebellion that rises within me, she was determined to continue.

You will be pleased to know that I did not make it easy for her. I acquiesced to hold hands, only to allow my legs to droop and dangle at least four times along the way. After one of these times, I pretended that, in her efforts to keep me in the vertical position, she had dislocated my elbow.

My ability to hold my breath until I turn purple and my eyes roll back in my head came in very handy here. The poor dumb woman actually managed to look guilty afterwards, which was impressive seeing as it was entirely my own fault.

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Why yes, I am becoming quite the expert manipulator. Thank you so much for noticing!

Our trip took us into the germ-ridden cesspit that, in conversation, I refer to as ‘the park.’ Such miserable specimens of humanity I observed on my travels! Children waiting for their turn on the equipment. Children consenting to leave at the parents’ requests without even a peep of outrage. And even, my beloved readers, children laughing with pleasure at their parents’ inane jokes.

It was depressing. But I did not allow it to sway me. I barreled my way through queues skilfully. I used physical assault when appropriate, and often when not. And I didn’t leave that park without a fight.

Never leave without a fight. That’s a rule.

I overheard my mother whimpering pathetically to a friend that she was “so embarrassed,” and “never taking me there again.”

Hmm. Suits me! More time to build up my kingdom at home.


Dear Reader,

Today the highlight of my week occurred. The shining light which gets me through all of the unreasonable requests to “get down” and “stop screaming.”

My grandfather visited.

Now I will admit that he is an adult, and therefore should really be on my list of ‘people to avoid and/or destroy.’ But this man possesses a considerable amount of childlike qualities that I must say are rather endearing.

He is remarkably tolerant of my wish to stand on his feet in my shoes, which as many people know is the ultimate test of human-to-toddler compatibility.

My mother does not pass this test.

This man sings me songs, to which he frequently forgets the words. Just like me! I must teach him my little trick of humming through all the bits I don’t know. It could come in handy one day.

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He has the most enormous hands, which he uses to deftly flip and toss me in the air. I enjoy this practice, because if the whole world domination thing fails to work out I must move onto my second favoured career: trapeze artist.

I think you’ll agree I would succeed tremendously at this. But, just like all the best civil rights activists, I must sacrifice my dream for the good of all the oppressed toddlers around the world.

Whoops, I almost forgot to tell you one of the most important reasons why my eyes light up when my grandfather arrives on a Saturday: he brings sweets.

And, best of all, he finds it almost impossible to rebuke me when I sneak a second pack.

Love that guy.


Dear Reader,

My mother make a catastrophic error this morning. She employed the dreaded trait of distraction.

Of course, I took full advantage of this opportunity.

As she toiled with my eldest sister over her homework, I silently emptied her handbag. I concealed her mobile phone in a place I will only reveal on my deathbed. I stole her keys and used them to scratch inspirational quotes for my visiting peers. As my mother is unaware of my highly developed writing skills, I had to dumb it down a little. I don’t want her to discover that little secret! Still, I think they’ll be able to decipher them with a little effort.

I had expected that the woman would have found me out by now. But she was still loudly discussing the various attributes of a volcano, so I had a little extra time on my hands. I spent these wisely, scrawling camouflage stripes across my face and commando crawling across the room to do the same thing to my other sister. She objected, and so I had no choice but to whack her over the head with a blunt object.

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There is no room for dissenters in this fight.

Obviously, this got my mother’s attention. Finally! I was starting to run out of destructive ideas. Smarting from her rebuke, I reluctantly apologised to Little Girl. I’ve found that this is the quickest way to get the woman to leave me alone again.

Well, she has her own foolishness to blame. Now, where was that sharp implement again?


On reflection, I think this week has been eminently successful. I feel pride in almost all of my achievements, and strive only for better things. I will report again on my battle tomorrow, but for now I must recharge. Fret not, I shall awaken my mother at least three times. God only knows how successful she’d be at second-guessing me if she was adequately rested!

Vive la revolution!

A Handy Phrasebook For Dissuading Your Childless Relatives From Ever Procreating

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My sister Lisa inspired this post. She is a very happy, successful person who is in no way interested in having children for a long while. I credit myself in part for her lack of urge to procreate. Because even with the best of intentions, casual oversharing happens. I can’t help it!

Lisa has come a long way since I had Big Girl all those years ago. She no longer holds my children with the facial expression of a person with a ticking hand grenade glued to their hands. And she has become more unshockable as time has gone by.

But still, if I delve into the memory banks of the last seven years, I can find little snippets of information guaranteed to make her respond with, “Oh my God, I am never having children!”

I’d like to say that I don’t often share these snippets for the sole purpose of freaking her the fuck out. It would give me great pleasure to say this. But it would be a lie.

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I’m just not that nice.

You too can share the joys of parenting with your childless relatives. Go on, spread the love! I’ve made it nice and easy for you by collating a few examples together into a handy phrasebook you can refer to when you need a conversation starter.

Go forth and be inspired!

1. “Standing up after a vaginal birth can be… surprising.”

Or, in the extended version: “When you stand up after a vaginal birth it can feel like you’ve left your internal organs behind in the chair.”

A touch graphic, mayhap. But really, is it a lie? The early days of parenting are full of surprises, but looking back to those first moments in the hospital with a tiny Big Girl, that’s one of the things that sticks in my mind.

And honestly, is it all that bad? When I think of all the bodily fluid spillage, intense sleep deprivation and figuring out how to get a vest on my fragile newborn without breaking her arms, a bit of vaginal trauma seems like small beans to me.

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My sister does not agree.

2. “I can’t even nip to the loo without disastrous consequences.”

One of the biggest changes after you have a baby relates to time. All that time you had before to do whatever you wanted becomes a distant memory, and you find yourself scrabbling for a moment to shove a piece of toast down your neck or change a decidedly moist t shirt.

Toilet trips, though. I mean, you’re there five minutes at most. What’s the worst that could happen?

When Big Girl was a newborn I can remember sprinting down the stairs at breakneck speed because I was convinced that the television was about to topple over and crush her.

No, the stand was by no means unstable. And it wasn’t even a wobbly flatscreen! Ah, the irrationality that comes with new motherhood.

Love it.

Times change, though, and now instead of a helpless new baby I have a decidedly unhelpful toddler. And this week in particular, she is really indulging her mischievous streak.

Even so, I naively thought that a quick toilet trip would be safe. There’s no way a kid can do a significant amount of damage in such a short time. Right?

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Wrong. Oh so wrong.

You see, when I came down I found Squeak smiling at me innocently, surrounded by a pool that consisted of almost a pint of milk and more than a drop of self-satisfaction.

Interesting fact: Milk doesn’t half spread when poured over a smooth surface!

I’m fairly sure she wasn’t trying to drink it, as she was bone dry. I can only assume that mischief struck, and she just couldn’t resist.

And yes, I am aware that it shouldn’t have been in her reach. Frankly, I’m not sure why it was!

3. “Sweep.”

Apparently this one needs no explanation. Just a <shudder>

4. “Being accompanied to a public toilet by a small child can be embarrassing.”

An obvious solution to number two’s issue can be to take the child with you to the toilet. At home, this is fine. No one can hear the inquisitive interrogation that issues forth from your child’s mouth. But outside? In public?

That’s a whole different story.

For small children will insist on proclaiming their joy at your use of the facilities. Loudly. And in detail.

Damn that positive praise you used to encourage potty training! This shit always comes back to bite you in the ass.

A little bit of information for the kids though: If you have to, and I know you have to, comment on the appearance of my pubic hair, in a public toilet, which is very busy, at the very least don’t laugh at it.

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That emotional scarring will take years to heal.

5. “Could you change her nappy for me please?”

I threw my sister in at the deep end when Little Girl was about eighteen months old. We were moving house, and she had kindly offered to look after the girls for the day while we got everything sorted.

She did not know what she was letting herself in for.

Maybe I forgot to mention that Little Girl had some digestive issues, which meant that her nappies frequently resembled some sort of hell-sourced fluid.

I may also have forgotten to mention that changing the nappy of a busy toddler is somewhat akin to performing advanced level origami with a hyperactive eel as an assistant.

The look of abject horror on my sister’s face when she returned the children was hard to forget.


I mean, not that I wanted to forget it or anything. Oh no. It was fucking hilarious!

Yeah go ahead, you can feel sorry for her instead.

6. “Oh yeah, babies poop this weird, tarry black stuff for a couple of days when they’re born.”

Apparently, meconium is a big conversational no-no.

I try not to discuss bodily fluids all that much with my sister. I mean, I do love her really. But come on! That stuff is horrifying even for a person who is wrapped up in that haze of newborn love.

Why? Just why does it even need to exist? And why the hell is it so bloody hard to get off?

7. “Once, when we were cuddling, she stuck her finger so far up my nose that it bled.”

My sister enjoys cuddling my daughters almost as much as I do. They adore her, and throw themselves into her arms joyfully as soon as she enters the house.

I’d prefer not to spoil these happy moments with the above piece of information. I really would. But it pays to be prepared.

I mean, sometime our children just love us a little too hard. And orifices don’t just explore themselves.

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Let’s just keep the accidental headbutts from a rock solid toddler skull between ourselves, ok?

8. “I wish I could get my toddler to keep her clothes on when we’re out of the house.”

I’ve mentioned before the skill and speed with which my girls shed their clothes whenever they feel like it. At home, this isn’t a problem. If you don’t want to see a squidgy toddler butt then don’t look in through my window, right?

I just wish my children could exercise a little discretion when out in public. I can remember once, when Big Girl was only two or so, I took her to a local toddler group. She didn’t have the same violent tendencies as Squeak, so once she had settled in I stopped to have a bit of a chat with a friend.

A few minutes later, I turned to find Big Girl half naked (the bottom half, obviously) and happily sitting in a sandpit as other toddlers looked on, baffled and, I believe, more than a little envious.

I raced to bundle her back into her trousers, and explain that nudity is something usually reserved for home.

Naturally, she was pissed.

9. “She just started holding her breath until she passes out when she’s mad.”

Even for me, this one is hard to handle. And I’m pretty used to the often bizarre situations that parenting three eccentric children throws at me. But it freaks me out to see a child do the exact opposite of what she needs to stay alive. I know it’s not conscious or controllable but seriously, if your brain does this to you when you get angry or hurt yourself, you’ve got to question it about its ulterior motives.

Despite the horror of witnessing and dealing with this, I try to see the positives. At least I can now say, with confidence, that I know exactly what my child looks like when she turns bright purple.

Actually, that’s not much of an impressive thing to know.

Man, I’m glad she’s growing out of this.

10. “I wish my child didn’t mix her words up so often, it’s really embarrassing!”

I know what you’re thinking. How can a poor little kid getting her words wrong be such a mortifying situation? Well, after I’ve told the tale that accompanies this statement, I think you’ll understand me.

Last week, I was with all of the children in the chemist, waiting to pick up a prescription. There were about five people also waiting, and it was very, very quiet.

Little Girl was in a fidgety sort of mood, and spent a good few minutes flipping up her skirt and adjusting and re-adjusting her knickers.

This would have been embarrassing in itself, if I hadn’t had the experience of most of the above points. I’m pretty thick skinned now.

Bending down, I whispered to her, “Little Girl, can you keep your skirt down please? Nobody wants to see your bottom!”

Quick solution, right?


For instead of acquiescing, and passing the rest of the time busily attempting to read the instructions for various brands of diarrhoea medication, Little Girl gave me a terrible frown. Then she proclaimed, in that crystal clear, echoing tone that only children can communicate by, “But I’ve got a WILLY!”

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I raised my eyebrows slightly, trying without success to hold in my mirth. She looked confused for a second, and then giggled. “Um, I mean a wedgie.”

Big Girl and I exploded, giggling our heads off. What perplexed me the most was that not one single other person who must have overheard let out even the tiniest snigger. How do these people control themselves?

Ok, actually this wasn’t all that embarrassing for me. But if I hadn’t, after years of exposure to extreme mortification, been pretty much dead inside, it totally would have been.

Ah, kids.

11. “Watch out, she bites.”

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I feel like this is self explanatory.

Go on, try it out! See just how many people you can horrify and traumatise. Spread the joy!

And then, you know, come back and tell me all about it. Because I could always do with a laugh!

Instructions As Written By Children

Some people hate following instructions. Not me. I love them! In fact, unpacking something irritatingly complex and then smoothing out the instruction booklet gives me more than a reasonable amount of pleasure.


Yes, I know. I have issues.

Sometimes I get the feeling that my children have rewritten the instructions for various household tasks and items. How else can I explain their uncanny ability to fuck things up in exactly the same way?

Hmmm… Maybe, ooh maybe there’s a secret manual hidden somewhere, which all of the world’s toddlers get to read as part of an elaborate initiation process.

Well, there probably isn’t. But if there was, it would almost definitely be called ‘The Casual Home Destruction Handbook.’

I’ve taken the liberty of recreating a few imaginary excerpts. No doubt, these ones would have to make their way in!

1. Stickers

Stickers are awesome.

Stick them to your face!

Stick them to the couch!

Stick them on your butt!

Stick them to the cat!

Stick your little brother’s eyelids shut!

Stick the STICKERS!

Sticker mila

2. Washing Hands

Ensure a lack of adult presence.

Turn both taps on as far as they will go.

Shove hands under water.

Observe impressive arc of spray as it cascades onto every available surface.

Pour liquid soap directly down the drain.

Turn taps in opposite direction until both are dripping.

Wipe hands on towel in lackadaisical manner.

Drop towel on floor.

Feign ignorance when asked why the bathroom looks like a scene from Titanic.

Engaging distraction sequence...

Engaging distraction sequence…

3. Chairs

Move chair (if possible) to an area of the room containing an optimal level of breakable objects.

Stand on chair.

Ignore admonishments to apply buttocks to said chair.


Recall halfway down that you haven’t exactly learned how to jump yet.


4. Dog Food

Eat it.

5. Pens

Remove cap.

Drop cap behind extremely heavy piece of furniture.

Apply pen liberally to skin.

Draw a penis on the wall.

Cover artwork with paper.

Do not, I repeat to do not draw on the paper.

Abandon pen on absorbent and/or expensive piece of material.


6. Reading Books

Select time to request a book when your parent is in the middle of an involved and/or messy task.

Clamber into his/her lap, applying a knee to the crotch or an elbow to the breast, as appropriate.

Waiting until your parent is halfway through the first line, then turn the page.

Turn it again.

And again.

Insist that you can do it yourself. Loudly.

Wait until your parent has moved a few steps away.

Rip page in half.

7. Muddy Puddles

Locate largest and most revolting puddle in local area.

Trip just as you reach the deepest part.

Fall on your face.

Pretend to go swimming.

Eat some mud.

Insist on removing welly boots to walk home.

Complain about stones.

muddy zora

8. Toothpaste

Eat it.

9. Getting Dressed

Apply knickers to your body sideways.

Tell no one until you reach a suitably public venue.

Put both legs into one leg hole in your trousers.

Yell, “I’m a mermaid!”

Fall on your face.

Express distaste at scratchy label despite it having been removed three months ago.

Put top on backwards.

Insist that you like it better that way.

Put your shoes on the wrong feet.

Argue that they’re not on the wrong feet until lateness has been achieved.

Put your sister’s coat on.

10. Stairs

Begin stair descent routine approximately six feet away from the first step.

Slide laboriously along carpet on your stomach.

Bump slowly down each step.

Change your mind three steps from the bottom.

Turn around.

Jump. Just jump.

Someone will catch you.


11. Cats

Get cat in your sights.

Scream excitedly at the top of your lungs.

Run towards cat at top speed.

Fall over.

Get up.

Run more.

Stroke cat’s fur the wrong way.

Gaze forlornly at window from which cat made a hasty exit.

12. Potty

Stand in it.

Use it as a boat for your toys.

Wear it on your head.

Use it as a bowling ball.

Trip over it.

Pee on the carpet directly in front of it.

(Caution: not to be used for urination or defecation.)


13. Unidentified Object You Dropped Behind The Couch Three Weeks Ago

Eat it.

14. Brushing Hair

Repeatedly request permission to brush your parent’s hair.

Roll eyes at reminder for you to do it ‘gently.’

Apply brush firmly to the top of the parent’s head. From a height.

Repeat as many times as is tolerated.

Apply regretful expression to your own face.

Kiss your parent’s head better.

Lick brush with the utmost discretion.

Brush hair ‘gently.’

15. Going To Sleep

Take fifteen minutes to select an appropriate before bed storybook.

Kick bed with your heel throughout entire story.

Also, hum.

Acquire urgent need for a drink.

Acquire urgent need for the toilet.

Express fear over non-existent monsters under the bed.

Insist on a minimum of eleventy million kisses.

Transform shadows into ogres and ghouls.


Close your eyes for three seconds.

Pick your nose until it bleeds.

Go to sleep.



Ok, I may have recreated slightly more than a few. But what can I say? I get carried away easily!

Reading back, I’m starting to think I might have a point about this ‘imaginary’ instruction book. I mean, otherwise kids are just doing bizarre, unhelpful and downright irksome things for no discernible reason whatsoever!

Now that? That’s crazy.