Things My Kids Love That I Just Don’t Understand

As much as we love our beloved broods, they can be rather different to us. Sometimes they have beliefs which clash with ours, or act in ways we would never dream of.

Serious stuff.

So obviously I am not addressing that here. I am choosing instead to focus on the various trivial odd or annoying things my kids do, which I cannot even begin to understand.

The things that make me attempt to raise an eyebrow, before remembering that I can’t actually do that.

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I guess I’ll just frown instead.

1. Stripping Naked In The Dead Of Winter

I appear to have raised three children who don’t really don’t get the appeal of clothes. Nor do they see the point in keep them on, except under extreme duress (because, you know, hypothermia?)

I can’t say it’s something I’ve ever been particularly keen on. I like clothes! Well, except when I was pregnant with Big Girl during a heatwave in 2007, and even then there was underwear involved!

But in summer, when it’s absolutely roasting, I can kind of see where they might be coming from. You know, waistbands and seams can be so irritating! But they don’t restrict their nudity to the warmer months. They’re quite happy to strip off in all temperatures.

To put it bluntly, what the fuck? I’m not even going to try it out to see what they like so much about it. I mean, in winter I get dressed in stages just so I never have to be completely naked. At any time. And getting out of the shower is just torturous. Did you know that my hair needs rinsing like eleven extra times when it’s cold?

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Uh huh, for real.

So, when I’m sitting looking at my daughters’ chilly, pink toes, I’m going to suggest they get some goddamn socks on. No matter how much they roll their eyes at me. No matter how much they explain that they are not even a tiny bit cold.

Because that, my friends, is obviously a lie.

2. Being Upside Down

Do you ever play that game with your little one, where they sit facing you and then you slowly tip them backwards so they’re lying on your knee with their heads dangling off the end?

Do yours giggle as much as mine do when you do?

I did this to Squeak yesterday, and she reacted exactly as predicted. Uproarious laughter, cries of “More! More!” and a couple of amusing instructions to put her ‘upside up.’

Which, of course, is the opposite of upside down. Duh!

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Now, if somebody tipping me upside down, with or without my consent, I would react in one very specific way.

That is, I would freak the fuck out.

It is just not natural to want to spend so much time upside down. We are not bats! The girls even watch TV upside down sometimes, and holding Squeak up by her ankles is often a surefire way to prevent SqueakRage.

I don’t care, I’m not convinced. Despite spending my childhood being epically good at headstands, I actually do not enjoy the sensation of all of my blood rushing to my head. Who does?

Um, I meant besides bats.

3. Eating With Their Hands

If there’s any statement that I’m sure most people will agree with, it’s this one: Children are bloody disgusting.

I know, right?!

I may be biased with this one, because I am not a massive fan of getting things on my hands. I don’t like being greasy or sticky, and I hate getting dough on my hands when I’m making bread.

Which, you’ll agree, could be an issue.

They say it’s easy to pass on your own pet peeves and idiosyncrasies to your children. Well, I guess mine must be immune to this, because they love nothing more than getting very very dirty.

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Success. Or is it?

Regardless, that’s the way they are. They’re the kids you see elbow deep in mud so it impacts under their fingernails <shudders> or licking random outdoor items.

We’re working on that one.

Now, I have attempted to teach my children some table manners. And, as a rule, they’re pretty good! But God, knives and forks are such a hassle. They delay the passage of delicious food to mouth by oooh… milliseconds!

So when the girls think I am not watching, or if they get distracted, I see the little hands creep out.

I guess it must taste better! And this applies to all foods including, after Squeak’s vast experimentation, yoghurt.

Ick.

4. Bacon

I’m sure there are tons of people scrambling for their keyboards right at this moment to admonish me and make me mend my ways.

Well at least I hope there are. Otherwise I’m just talking to myself!

Anyway, you’ve got no chance. You can try and try and try, I am never going to like that shit, or understand why anyone else does.

I mean, ewww! Just ugh. It’s all salty and greasy and chewy and urgh! Just no!

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No no no.

Of course, being contrarily-natured little hellcats, my kids love it with a capital L. I don’t cook it very often, but when I do they scoff it down. They have tried feeding me their half-chewed morsels, but I am not to be swayed. Yuck!

And if you’re sitting there thinking that I only wrote this bit to piss you all off, well how very dare you!

Honest.

5. Watching The Same Crappy Programme Over And Over

Not the most succinct of titles, but I couldn’t think of a way to shorten it!

Anyway, do your children have a favourite TV programme. For a long time (and I mean a long freaking time), Little Girl’s absolute best one was Max and Ruby. You know, the story of two little rabbits; one being a rather bossy older sister, and the other being a stubborn, slightly sociopathic younger brother who won’t do a damn thing his sister says. Oh, and a neglectful grandmother pops up once in a while.

Hmm, pretty sure that’s not the synopsis you’ll find on their website.

Anyway, Little Girl was obsessed with them. It was all she asked for, all she paid attention to. To be honest I think she may have identified just a touch with single-minded little Max, but who am I to judge?

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She watched it as often as she was allowed. She didn’t care if she’d seen the episode a thousand times. By the end, she could recite whole scenes without a mistake.

Me, on the other hand? Well, if you play the theme song I’ll run away screaming. Or tear all of my hair out. Or just lie on the floor, desperately weeping.

Don’t get me wrong. I get liking a programme. I’ll happily rewatch things I’ve loved in the past and have a great time. But over and over again? On the same day? And for months and months afterwards?

Kill me now.

6. Lying (Badly)

Now, I do admit that this one may not quite belong on this list. But if kids don’t love crappy lying, then why do they spend so much time doing it?

I mean, I’m not saying that I’m complaining about this. So much of my parenting revolves around being able to work out what to believe from the tangled webs of imaginary stories I have to listen to on an hourly basis. Once, the lies actually become plausible, I’ve got no chance!

So I don’t want them to grow out of it too soon. Plus, it’s sometimes (read: often) rather amusing.

For example, Big Girl’s toothbrushing debacle. Now, we haven’t quite reached the stage of lazy hygiene issues with her, but if she’s got the choice of flopping on the couch and reading a book or performing some necessary cleansing task… well, you can guess what she picks!

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So one day, she came downstairs rather speedier than I expected, given that she likes to spending at least ten minutes staring at the ceiling while in a world of her own. “Have you brushed your teeth?” I asked.

“Oh yes!” she replied. A little too confidently, I thought. But she absolutely insisted that she’d done it.

“Ok,” said I. “I’ll just go upstairs and check your toothbrush,” thinking that I’d be able to tell if it had been used as it would be wet.

It turned out, it was much more simple than that. For you see, in the process of construction her work of fiction, Big Girl forgot to leave out one crucial step.

She put the toothpaste on the toothbrush.

Score 1 to me!

And then there was yesterday. As Big Girl was getting changed, I noticed that she had had a slight tights malfunction.

“Big Girl, what happened to your tights?”

“What do you mean?” she replied innocently, attempting to peer behind herself. (It also makes me giggle when kids do this. They’re like dogs chasing their tails.)

Huh? “Well, possibly I’m commenting on the fact that your entire left thigh is almost completely exposed. Are you trying to tell me that you didn’t notice that?”

“I didn’t do it!”

I think you can all guess how that story turned out.

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Now I just need to crack the ability to predict Big Girl’s long twisty tales that will eventually turn out to be entirely fabricated before I listened to them for ten minutes. She does it so well! The whole thing sounds entirely realistic, until just one detail at the end makes it all fall apart. “Was any of that true?” I cry.

“No.”

7. Being Thrown Up In The Air

Now I’ll admit, I don’t have a great many recollections of being thrown up in the air. That is because I have been far too heavy to become airborne for quite some time. But I’m sure I must have been, because that’s what parents do. Right?

But as an adult, I just. don’t. get it.

My kids ask to be thrown up high all the time. Squeak in particularly I suspect may have been a bird in a former life, because she loves it.

I know she loves it because she shouts, “Again!” as soon as she lands safely in my arms. But she doesn’t sound like she likes it. She does that really intense giggling that kids do when actually they’re shitting themselves. You know, like when you push them just a shade too high on a swing and you hear that laugh seconds before the hysterical tears begin?

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This time, however, the tears don’t come. It makes no fucking sense! If humans were meant to fly then we’d have hollow freaking bones. And feathers. And a much smaller population of people who are terrified of heights.

Oh yeah, and wings.

My kids’ love of being thrown in the air leads me to suspect two things: either, kids are crazy and have no concern for their own safety, or…

We are on the brink of an evolutionary leap.

Crap, I hope it’s the first one. If children manage to add flying into their repertoire, we’re all fucked.

***

So tell me, what do your kids love that you just don’t understand?

The Art Of The Overreaction

Howdy! Now listen. This post goes out to all the parents of big kids. You know, the ones with actual cheekbones and legs that seem to go on forever. The ones who write endless reams of song lyrics and only seem to communicate about motherfucking Minecraft. Yeah, the ones who strut about thinking they’re all that and a bag of chips, but still look like the babies they used to be when they’re asleep.

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Sigh.

So, for all the parents nodding in recognition to that last paragraph, I have a message for you.

You are literally ruining your children’s lives.

Yeah, that told you! And that’s from the gospel according to my beloved and barely pre-pubescent daughter.

No bullshit to be seen here.

To all the people who haven’t hit this stage yet, bloody lucky you! And to everyone who is still dwelling in the peace of that blissful, slightly moist haven of babyhood… Fare thee well, and Godspeed!

Or, you know, stick around. It always pays to be prepared.

Let me clarify this for you. If I were to explain Big Girl’s situation in a word, it would be ‘catastrophisation.’

Yes, I am aware that I may have made that word up. OK, I’m definitely sure! But it’s a really appropriate word, so there.

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Pffffffft!

I wish I could tell you that I’m sorry for that freak ass picture. But yeah, I’m not. Not one little bit.

Big Girl is the queen of this ‘catastrophisation’ crap at the moment. (Man, that word is hard to type!) She’s a whirling ball of hair tossing, eye rolling, hip cocking melodrama.

Oh, for God’s sake. Fair enough, let’s take a pause while all you puerile beings giggle because I said ‘cock.’

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<judgy face> Pathetic.

Done? Thank you!

Now, I’m not saying I don’t love watching Big Girl grow and develop. I love that I can have a conversation with her that ventures beyond the topic of toilet humour, and into more interesting subjects. And I think it’s great that she’s developed the ability to feign complete fascination with said ‘interesting subjects.’ She’s super fun!

But dear God, do not cross her.

I don’t know if it’s the start of the hormonal rollercoaster of adolescence or if I just have me an assertive, outspoken little person. Because everything I do that isn’t completely in keeping with her ideas is the biggest disaster ever.

Take the other day, for example. I’d class it as a day that had passed successfully. In other words, nobody suffered a possibly fatal injury and I spent no hours obsessing about the mistakes I’d made and regretting things I’d said.

You know, standard.

Well, Big Girl had been playing outside with one of her friends when I called her in for her dinner. As I opened the door, she got down on her knees (because obviously that’s the only way to ask me anything. Note that down for future reference) and begged me to allow her to have her friend over for a sleepover. That night.

Now, this other kid is lovely and a pleasure to be around. But am I really going to be organising impromptu sleepovers at 6 o’clock in the evening?

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That’s a no.

Big Girl didn’t take this so well. What ensued a huffing, puffing stomp interspersed with cries of, “You’re so unfair!” as she took off her shoes. Every time I spoke I had my head bitten off, while I channeled my inner calm person (who actually wasn’t on holiday this time!) Finally I’d had enough, and told her she could join us at the table when she was able to speak to me properly.

Whoa! So that was the wrong approach, apparently.

Gasp! <insert incredulous face here> “But what about my DINNER?!” she yelled.

Me: “Well, you can come in and have it when you have calmed down.”

Her: “What? Fine, I guess I’ll just have to STARVE to death!”

Yes, starve. You heard her correctly, folks. According to Calamity Girl, a well-nourished seven year old can expire when made to wait ten minutes for a meal.

Did not know that. Well, when you know better, you do better. Right, Maya Angelou? Close call there!

So to all you evil, neglectful parents that are starving your growing little waifs… Fuck you! You bastards.

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I can’t even look at you right now.

Then, there’s the lying. And this is not elaborately spun webs of deceit I’m talking about here. This is dumbass, pointless, ridiculously obvious falsehoods that an even partially trained monkey could unpick.

This really does baffle me. I mean, what’s the point? I think it all begins when children reach the age when they start to assume their parents are idiots who know pretty much zilch. When you start to sing along to a song that was out about fifteen years before they were born and they turn to you and incredulously exclaim, ” How do you know this song?”

Just so you know, that’s about six months before the stage where singing in public becomes a sackable offence. And that is about six months before just being in public with them is a crime against humanity.

The things you know!

Big Girl is an expert in stupid ass lies. The kind where she thinks she’s surely going to get away with it because I’m on the toilet, or screaming into a pillow.

What, you don’t do that? Well, whatever. You should really try it though.

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I’ll hear a yell drift up the stairs from the squeaky foghorn I like to call Little Girl. “Muuuuuuum! Big Girl took my toyyyyyyy!” Insert desperate howls of sorrow here.

(Honestly, sometimes I’d like to find out how my kids would react if an actual bad thing happened to them. Based on current reactions, I’d have to guess that their heads would explode.)

When I get into the room, I find Big Girl sitting on the couch with what can only be described as a completely fake innocent look plastered all over her face. By which I mean, looking guilty as fuck. And, of course, clutching the aforementioned toy in her fists.

“What’s going on?” I ask. I’m giving her an out here, you see. This is her chance to admit to what she’s done, make it right and leave me the hell out of it.

So of course she takes it! Job done.

Well, not quite. Usually, it goes a bit more like this:

Little Girl: “Big Girl took my toy. I was playing with it!” Of course her eyes are generally leaking by this point. Little Girl and confrontation… Not really a good mix.

Big Girl: (with a gasp of shock and affront) “I didn’t!”

Big Girl: “I didn’t! I DIDN’T! Oh, why don’t you believe me? You are so unfair. I DIDN’T!!” To further emphasise her point, she waves the stolen toy in  the air.

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Methinks someone doth protest to much. Amirite?

I doesn’t take a detective to work out what’s going on here. But still there’s always that shadow of doubt. What if I am being really unfair here? What if Little Girl has suddenly acquired the ability to lie without me noticing, and is using it (naturally) for evil?

There’s only one way to find out. So I say that look on Big Girl. The one that says, “Mama knows.” I wish I could take a picture of this look for reference. It’s a good look! But that would require effort on my part. So, no.

Unvariably, what happens next is that a small voice pipes up with, “I did.” The faux innocent mask drops from Big Girl’s face, only to be replaced by regret. And, I imagine, a little surprise that I figured out her scheme. Because I’m an idiot, remember?

And then she returns the toy, and life goes on. Which, I regularly point out to her, would happen a lot quicker if she just told the bloody truth in the first place!

Kids, right?

Finally, of course, I cannot finish this post without talking about the whining. The fucking whining. Gah! Who knew words could contain so many vowels?

What do you mean, what do I mean? Are you freaking serious?

I’m talking about this. “Buuuuuuuut Muuuuuuuuuum, I don’t want to be first in the showerrrrrrrrrrrr!”

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You get me?

It goes through my head like nails on a blackboard. It’s so high-pitched! And how can they even hold enough air in their lungs to say all that without taking a breath?

Big Girl is a champion whiner. And who can blame her? The kid has a hard life, you know. Minecraft videos don’t just watch themselves. And when you’ve got two demonic underlings sisters getting under your feet… well, it’s no picnic!

But God, she doesn’t half take it to epic levels. You’d think every task she had to do was the worst form of torture. Picking up clothes, tidying up after herself, and don’t even get me started on  homework! Everything is so unfaaaaaaaiiiiiiiiiir. None of her friends have to help out around the house. Oh, and without a doubt aaaaaall of them are allowed to do exactly what they want at all times.

Right?

Well, I don’t give a crap. One of the advantages of dragging yourself into adulthood is that you get to call the shots. End of. But just occasionally, I would like half of my conversations with Big Girl not to go like this:

Big Girl: <in voice that sounds like a dolphin try to speak English> “I don’t want to do myyyyyy homewoooooooork! It’s too haaaaaaard!”

Me: “Could you say that again? I can’t understand what you’re saying through all that whining.”

Big Girl: <same voice> “I don’t want to do my hooooommmmewooooooork!”

Me: “You’re still whining.”

Big Girl: <same voice> Nooooo I’m noooooooot! This is my normal vooooiiiiiice!”

Fuck it.

So did it ring any bells for you guys? Do you have a teenager in a child’s body? Have you bitten your tongue so many times recently that it has permanent grooves on it?

I’m not, then I’m glad for you. But you’ve got it coming. Get ready! And for anyone who recognises their much younger child in this post: Well done, your kid is like, super advanced! Also: ha ha.

Man, I can’t wait for the actual teenage years. Hey, maybe Big Girl will have got it out of her system by then!

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Shut up! A woman can dream.

The 30 Secret Signals Of The Rebel Toddler Squad

Hello all. I am writing this from my top secret, super hidden safety bunker. After discovering what I am about to tell you about, I figured that the best option was to get the hell out. I’d let you come and join me, but you know I’m just not that good at sharing.

Hang on, I’ll draw you a map.

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Nah! This shit is mine!

OK, let me tell you about what happened the other day. I was walking down the street with the kids when we passed some equally kid type people coming the other way.

So far, so normal.

But when this very angelic looking blonde toddler passed my girls, she casually waved her hand at them. Nothing to write about, I hear you cry?

Man, you guys are naive. Luckily, you’ve got me to work these things out for you.

You see, this girl wasn’t just saying hello. She was signalling to them.

It’s ok, I can see what you’re saying. I’m overthinking this, right?

Wrong! Because you see, after I discovered this I started doing some research. I have a found out that these demonic hellbeasts we call our ‘beloved children,’ have a whole language of their own, that they usually solely to fuck with us.

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Woman I can hold a crotch oak… I mean cockroach, without even flinching. What makes you think I can’t mess you right up?

I mean, realistically, what else would they use it for?

Believe me or not, it’s your neck on the line <shrugs> I took tremendous risks to get this to you, so you’d better bloody appreciate it. Now read!

Here are the first thirty signals. I’m sure there are more, but a girl’s gotta eat, you know? Plus toddlers are super fucking scary to work with.

1. Ear tug – Insist you’re a rabbit and only answer to the name Ralph. Refuse to eat carrots in any form.

2. Foot tap – Make like a rock.

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3. Nose scratch – Hold your breath when your mum comes to check you at night. Wait until she panics and pokes you. Then wake up, crying indignantly.

4. High five – Dress like this. All day.

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5. Head shake – Learn how to do a forward roll. Do it straight off the couch. (Bonus points if you bite your tongue.)

6. Bum wiggle – Shit yourself. Do it now!

7. Wave – help your mum to get you ready for bed. Ensure all help is decidedly unhelpful.

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8. Blow raspberry – Only accept a drink from the pink cup. No, the blue cup! The yellow! GREEN!!

9. Finger click – Glare at your mother all day long. Refuse to explain why.

10. Hop – Respond to every question with the word ‘poop.’ Unless it’s relevant.

11. Finger in nose – Lick that wall. Right there. Don’t avoid the green bit.

12. Teddy drop – Drop your teddy. Preferably into that slightly questionable puddle over there.

13. Clap – Splash so much in the shower that your mum slips on the wet floor and falls into the bath. Then howl because she hurt your little toe.

14. Smile – Ask for your most favourite food for dinner. Then throw it on the floor.

15. Nose wiggle – Make every nonsense babble noise you make sound like those words your mum mutters under her breath when she’s having a bad day.

16. Jump – Cry until she lets you sleep in her bed. Sleep with your arse on her pillow.

17. Offer food – Hide this food in the couch cushions until it gets all sticky and gross. Then eat it. Scream blue murder when she tries to take it off you.

18. Ballerina pose – Spill your drink everywhere. Unless it’s water. Because what’s the fucking point in that?

Fuck this H2O bullshit!

Fuck this H2O bullshit!

19. Lick arm – Stand on literally anything shaped like a cylinder. Blame your mother when you fall off.

20. Arm flap – Check to see if you’ve mastered the art of flight yet. Preferably from a height.

21. Skip – Hone your abseiling skills. Using the curtains.

22. Trip over – Trip over, right now! Don’t use your hands to save yourself.

23. Jazz hands – Open one side of your nappy. Now wee!

24. Runny nose – Wait until two days before your birthday. Get sick.

25. Wiggle toes – Discard one shoe. Repeat until your mother turns a fetching shade of purple.

26. Finger point – Behave responsibly with your new scissors for two whole weeks. Then hack off a couple of clumps of hair.

27. Knee tap – Ask to play with play dough. Make a penis and insist on it being displayed on the mantelpiece. Forever.

28. Head scratch – Put a bead up your nose. Try to get it out but succeed only in pushing it further up. Don’t tell anyone.

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29. Wink – Refuse to go to sleep for at least two hours. Wait until your mum’s eyes drift shut in a haze of exhaustion. SCREAM!

30. Teeth baring – Vomit in a giant pile behind your toy kitchen. Deny all knowledge.

Who knew? There we were, assuming that our toddlers were either pissing about, procrastinating or just being plain annoying. And it turns out that we were actually completely right! But what makes it worse is that they’re doing it together.

Betcha glad that I told you now, aren’t you?

Now to get to my bunker, you need to make a left at… ah fuck it.

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It’s top secret for a reason!

Over and out.

7 Ways Kids Show They Love You

Happy Valentine’s Day! The day to show people how much you love them. And kids are so wonderfully open to displaying their love for us. It’s quite beautiful, really.

Except when it’s, um… not.

Obviously that’s what I’m planning to talk about today. My kids have found some slightly unconventional ways to show me just how much I mean to them. I appreciate it, really I do! Some of the time.

1. Sharing Food

Sharing is a great skill to learn. It’s hard though. Apparently kids don’t have the ability to learn to share properly until 3 or so. Which matches up pretty well with the hell I’m experiencing at the moment with 2 year old Squeak!

Still, there are times when even a smaller child can enjoy the experience of sharing with someone. Like their mother.

I’m sure most people who have procreated have had this happen to them. You’re sitting with your little person as they start learning how to feed themselves. You’re doing that whole enthusiastic smiley thing so that they don’t freak out about the fact that they just gagged so hard the food flew straight over the highchair tray and onto the floor.

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I’ve never stopped being impressed by that.

Just then, they pull a presumably tasty morsel out of their mouth and offer it to you. There it sits in between their thumb and forefinger, all partially masticated and moist.

Urgh.

They squawk at you indignantly as you try and avoid having to touch it, waving it in front of your nose. Take it, take it, TAKE IT!

In the end, you have to pluck it gingerly from them and pretend to eat it. Mmmmmm!

They’re never fooled by that.

It carries on as they get older, when things may be less moist but surely still extremely bacteria-laden.

Tell me, what is the nice way of saying, “Thanks, but I don’t know where your hands have been.””

“Or rather, I do.”

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Answers on a postcard, s’il vous plait!

2. Getting Dressed By Themselves

It’s no mean feat, learning to put your clothes on by yourself. The armholes look like leg holes, the head hole is constantly disappearing and don’t even get me started on buttons.

I know what I’m talking about. I got stuck in a jumper the other day.

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What? Yeah, sure. I was kidding!

That being said, dressing small people is a total ballache. By the time you’ve got one arm in they’ve wriggled the other one out, and your crotch is in just the right position for a well-aimed kick that really stings. And don’t even think about socks. Someone definitely needs to redesign those things.

So it’s great once they can do it themselves. You can just lay everything out and then sit back and grab a cuppa, jumping up to assist with head hole location as and when required.

The problem is, then they start getting picky about what they’re wearing. They want to take the whole ‘doing it themselves’ thing to the next level.

That’s when you end up leaving the house with something that looks a little bit like this:

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And you don’t even care. Because at least you didn’t have to fucking do it.

3. The Grin-Vom

First smiles are just the bestest thing ever. They come, conveniently, at the point when you’d happily put your kid in a basket on a doorstep, ring the bell and run away.

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Just me?

Yeah, ok.

And they’re so addictive. As soon as you’ve seen that first little grin, it’s hard to do anything other than try and get it to happen again. And again. And again. You’ll quite happily make a total arse of yourself at any opportunity, just to see those initial signs that your child sees you as a little more than a demonic food-providing overlord. Singing? Check. Dancing? Yup. Embarrassing facial contortions?

You got it!

One thing to remember, though: it’s a risky game. Because babies love nothing more than to guzzle down just enough of an excess of milk that they have a little extra kept back. Preferably to deposit on you at the most moment-spoiling of times.

So when you’re locking eyes with your little gurgling bundle of joy, talking in that high-pitched stupid voice that apparently is sooo good for their development, do me a favour. Have a muslin handy. Because awwww-BLEURGH!

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You can thank me later.

4. Love Notes

As much as I love the tiny vomiting goblins that are newborns, there’s something amazing about watching your children grow up. Little Girl has just learned to read and write, and she just can’t stop herself from doing anything else.

Unless she’s making gravity-defying Lego structures that inevitably fall down to shrieks of futile rage, that is.

Now in some ways, learning to read is not so great. As mentioned in a long ago post somewhere, I seem to spend half of my time ushering Little Girl away from various pieces of graffiti on the way to school. Not to forget hiding my screen from her as I type.

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How lucky that the word ‘fuck’ is so easy to read for an almost 5 year old. Yay!

But it’s really cute watching her lean intently over a page, sounding out words and triumphantly shouting them when she’s figured them out. A whole new world has opened up for her.

And a new part of that world is the writing of love notes. More specifically, very very small love notes that must, of course, be snipped ever so carefully with her new bumblebee scissors.

Now last night I wasn’t lucky enough to get words. Instead I received three pinky-red blobs that of course were hearts for God’s sake, and I apparently did not show enough appreciation for.

Oops.

Evidently, though, sometimes I do deserve something a little more effusive. Like this, for example:

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D’awwww! This was one of the first things Little Girl ever wrote for me, and I have treasured it so much that it took me ten minutes to find it on my computer.

Double oops.

But how cute! It definitely makes up for the 3am nosebleeds, the vomiting, the nightmares… It does!

And so what if you occasionally get something like this:

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Coke. It says Coke. Goddamn phonics!

5. The Kiss-Lick

This is the advanced version of the Grin-Vom. You’ve got to have developed a fairly strong streak of mischief to properly appreciate it.

We’re a fairly kissy family. I don’t spend a lot of time without at least one small body snuggled up against me, chubby face upturned and lips puckered. I love it!

kisses

Sometimes, they use this against me.

If I had to pick the person who uses this most, I’d have to say Squeak. She is one sneaky little monster. And she’s well versed in the arts of delayed gratification. She’ll kiss me tens of times before she swoops, just to lull me into a false sense of security.

And then, SLUUUURRRP! A big, soggy lick right up the side of my face.

Ick.

But she’s not doing it maliciously! Oh no, of course she isn’t. She’s a cat.

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Duh!

6. The Play

Anyone who has an older girl may get what I’m talking about. Sometimes the only, and I mean the absolute only way to show your mum that you love her is to act out an elaborate play.

You know, the kind that has seventeen characters who have no names or distinguishing features, all played by the same person. Yes Big Girl, I’m looking at you.

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The kind of play that lasts at least three hours, at least two of which are spent making mistakes and giving unnecessarily long explanations of what’s going to happen next. And farting.

And if you’re really super lucky, you might get lines. Which are inevitably written in a barely legible scrawl on a minute piece of paper, chopped by (yes, you guessed it!) the beloved bumblebee scissors.

Fucking bumblebees.

Be careful not to make a mistake, mind. Despite those two hours of errors and nonsensical plot changes, all hell with rain down on you if you fuck your bit up.

Get your rictus grins at the ready! Oh, and don’t forget to applaud extremely hard at the end. Otherwise she might start all over again.

7. The Cuddles

Just a regular cynical post from me, as usual! But fret not. I’m not completely dead inside.

Yet.

Because when they’re taking a break from strangling and hissing at each other, there’s a bit of this:

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And this:

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And a touch of this:

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Aah, that’s better.

Happy fucking Valentine’s Day, folks!

How To Soothe A Crying Baby – A Step by Step Guide

We’ve all been there. Just as you finally start to feel like you’re getting the hang of this parenting a tiny hairless monkey thing, it happens.

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The screaming.

I’ve been there. With bells on. There were nights with Little Girl when I’d feel lucky if I’d grabbed 90 minutes sleep. I tried maybe 6758 things to try and get her to stop.

You can guess how many worked.

With that in mind, I like to that that I’ve developed a few special skills in natal hysteria prevention. I’m not saying I’m an expert or anything, but come on! I’ve done this three times. Surely I’ve learned something by now.

Yeah, well. Ask my eye bags if I’ve learned anything!

Anyway, read on my friends. Prepare to be enlightened…

1. Feed her. Ok, so I’m starting with the basics. But you know, it’s the easiest one!

2. Feed her again.

3. And again. Hmmm.

4. Say something suitably pointless, like, “Aww baby, what’s the matter?” Because you know, she doesn’t even know what a fucking foot is but she’ll tell you that no problem.

5. Stand up and do somekind of exaggerated rocking… thing. You know, the one that always works like a charm!

6. Huh, seems like the charm has worn off. You knew that confidence was misplaced!

7. Check for poop. Carefully now. Nothing, nothing, nothing, URGH!

8. While you’re there, strip you and the baby off for some skin to skin time. The magical solution, this has gotta be it. No small baby can resist warm snuggles with mama.

9. Wipe the vomit out of your cleavage. And crotch. Consider changing your trousers.

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10. Nah!

11. Get dressed again. Duh, it’s fucking February!

12. Google it one-handed while perching on the edge of the couch.

13. Check the baby’s clothes for irritating threads and labels. (Thanks for the inspiration, random baby-raising website!)

14. Change the baby.

15. Change the baby again.

16. Oh my God who made these clothes??

17. Weep. Copiously.

18. Lie down. Stand up. Sit down. Lie down again.

19. Recall that course you did on baby massage. Find your zen (and the oil). You’re not sure how relaxing this will be to the tune of 70 yowling cats in heat but hey, whoever said parenting was supposed to be easy?

20. Give up. Engage in precarious oily juggling match with a seriously slipping and fragile new baby. Gah!

21. Play some relaxing music. Switch to something perkier. Switch to Metallica. Turn it up. Like, all the way up.

22. Call someone. Anyone.

23. Call back when you can do something other than howl. Like, anything.

24. Walk in circles around the room. More. More. Whoa, too much!

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Head rush!

25. Call NHS direct.

26. Answer a bunch of inane questions.

27. Get told to expect a callback in 4 hours.

28. Cry more.

29. Eat cake. Messily. Pick crumbs out of your baby’s many neck folds.

30. You know the ones.

31. Go for a walk. Go for a drive. Go… swimming. Who gives a fuck, just GO GO GO!

32. Contemplate performing an impromptu exorcism.

33. Just kidding.

34. But…

Eeeeevil!

Eeeeevil!

35. Give up. Collapse, sprawling and dejected on the couch where all of this began.

36. Stare wide-eyed as your tiny, red-faced beast falls fast asleep on your chest.

37. Resolve not to move again for at least 12 hours.

38. Uh oh, nature calls!

 

So, how did I do? Yeah, I know. I’d like to tell you that I started out trying to be genuinely helpful…

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But nope! I was just fucking with you.

Of course if all else fails, just hand them off to me. Apparently I’m really good with babies. As long as they didn’t come out of my vagina, that is.

The Many-Pronged Attack Of The Squeak

Hello, everybody! Apologies for the radio silence, awesome blogging has categorically not been what I do recently. Apart from a rather absorbing revival of my knitting addiction, I have spent most of my time either child-wrangling or pondering the meaning of life.

Turns out, this is not exactly conducive to an outpouring of hilarity. But handily, it’s also quite boring!

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Not the knitting. That’s still awesome.

But all the rest, I have tired of somewhat. And so I am back! For how long, I’m not sure. But hopefully, there’s life in me yet.

I may be a little rusty, mind.

In the time that I have been gone, Mademoiselle Squeak has turned eighteen months old. And with that have come some… interesting developments.

Sure, she still has the adorable, goggly eyes and the delightfully chubby cheeks. And that little crooked smile is to die for.

Awwww.

But seriously, watch yourself. Don’t be fooled.

Because underneath this irresistible exterior lies a boiling core of pure, unadulterated baby rage.

And she’s really small, so it’s all concentrated and stuff.

Ask me how I know about that, if you dare.

Anyways, it appears that Squeak has read the memo about that shit we call the terrible twos, and decided to get in there early. At the moment she appears to have only two emotional states: consumed  with fiery fury, and asleep.

And she doesn’t do all that much of the second one.

She spends these sleepless hours refining and honing her technique, in a bid to take over the world. Or at least, her family.

What, you didn’t think she’d have a technique? Tut! Do you read anything I write?

Kids always have a technique.

Read on to discover a little bit about Squeak’s. (It’s not a little bit because I’m too lazy to write it all down, either. I’m not naive enough to think that she’s in any way finished thinking up ways to fuck up my life yet!)

1. The Screech

It has come to my attention that Squeak’s nickname may be a touch outdated. Gone are the days when she squeaked and gurgled her way around the room, gnawing on whatever mouth-sized gadget she could find and imbibing vast quantities of crumbs and fluff.

I never thought I’d say it, but I kind of miss that now.

For starters, she’s getting pretty good at talking. She’s learning more and more words every day, and sometimes even remembering how to use them. A personal favourite is when she proffers a toy that isn’t working, and proclaims, “Need hewp!”

It’s cute. Obviously my response is, “Oh dear, I guess the batteries ran out. I will definitely, totally change those, like, at some point in the future… honest!”

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No, that is not a lie! I resent the implication.

But as much as she is learning to talk more, Squeak is also realising that actually, she doesn’t need to talk at all.

Why would you need to talk when you can burst numerous ear drums with one sharp screech?

Oh yes, she screeches. Anyone who has heard said screech will agree that it is a source of considerable sensory discomfort. It just freaking hurts, ok?

She’s not particularly choosy about when she uses it, either. Walking towards her? Screech! Looking at her? Screech! God forbid, touching her? Screech!!!

She stops older children from grabbing her toys in seconds. Even I quail at the thought of having to stop her from doing something at any proximity closer than the other side of the room.

It’s a highly effective skill, and one I’m almost a little jealous of. I mean, how cool would it be to be able to stop everyone in their tracks with one (albeit, energetic) sound?

I can’t do that shit.

2. The Casual Face Slap

It has come to my attention that Squeak is somewhat keen on moving into a bed of her very own.

The evidence of this is most certainly not an impressive ability to fall asleep (and stay asleep) without my considerable input.

Not. Happening.

No, I am aware of this fact because Squeak has certain, less than civilised ways of telling me. Oh yes.

And she doesn’t want just any old bed.

She wants Little Girl’s.

Our evening routine ends with stories in Little Girl’s bedroom. Squeak listens and participates happily, as well as she can.

By that, I mean she turns the pages before I’m done reading and rips as many straggling pieces of paper as she can get her hands on.

Me? Nuh uh.

Me? Nuh uh.

It’s fun.

When the stories are finished, Little Girl and Big Girl share a cuddle and kiss. And that’s where Squeak sees her opportunity.

She leaps under the covers, grabs any available teddy bear and yells, “My bed!”

Or, more accurately, “My Bett!” Because apparently she can convey her meaning better in German.

Little Girl, understandably, is more than a little irked by this. So she protests by attempting to clamber in next to her beloved baby sister. You know, for snuggles and shit.

Here enters the Casual Face Slap.

Squeak don’t want no snuggles. Or shit, for that matter. All she wants is her very own bed. And the double that supposedly belongs to me, in which she persists in taking up all the space?

Meh.

So as Little Girl snuggles close, wrapping her arm around the small demon child’s waist, Squeak lifts her hand and delivers a stinging slap right on the cheek.

Well, not quite stinging. That’s why I call it the casual slap. Because there’s no aggression in it whatsoever.

Actually, do you know what it’s like? You know when one of those annoying flies with the high-pitched buzz gets right up in your face and refuses to leave no matter how much you swat at it? It just buzzes and buzzes right in your ear, in a calculated attempt to make you get the fuck out of its habitat?

Yeah, it’s like that.

3. The Drop To The Floor

So it’s always nice to know that people are reading the shit you write. Except if you realise that one of your kids is reading it.

To anyone under the age of about seven, this blog is less fantastic entertainment, and more a devilish instruction manual.

So imagine my dismay when I realised that Squeak had come across my post about Tantrum Techniques.

She must have, there’s simply no other explanation.

In case you’re wondering, the move she has mastered is The Flop. When she gets pissed (and I mean really pissed. We’re not talking irked, here), she immediately throws herself flat out on the floor.

Like this. Except angrier.

Like this. Except angrier.

And she’s not careful about it either. Personally I like to have some respect for the small amount of brains I have, even if they are safely enclosed in that rather oversized skull of mine. Squeak? Not so much. That kid has absolutely no consideration for her delicate, beautiful little head.

She doesn’t care what she hits, be it a toy, a shelf or just the floor itself. She’s going doooooown!

She actually seems to prefer it if she injures herself while she’s doing it. Then she gets to flash me that sorrowful, slightly reproachful look that never fails to tug at my heart-strings.

You know, because it’s my fault she hurt herself.

I like to think she operates The Drop on a point-scoring system.

A plain old Drop – 1 point

A mild head injury – 2 points

An injury of epic, breath holding proportions (see below) – 10 points

A fall which results in both of her arms coming out of the coat that I just spent ages wrestling her into – JACKPOT!

My House – Where Messing With Your Mother Is A Sport.

4. The Death Grip

One thing that a child with older siblings learns almost as soon as she can move around is that you’ve got to hold on to shit.

Ready? Set? Squeeeeeeeze!

Ready? Set? Squeeeeeeeze!

Like, really hold on.

Because they’re bigger than you, and they will use that size discrepancy to their advantage at any opportunity.

In our house, Squeak totally has the advantage. She can hold onto shit for longer than I, frankly, would be arsed about keeping it. Her face turns red with effort, and the aforementioned screech shows its face more than once. She’s willing to travel up and down the room, stamping her little feet and pulling as hard as she can.

But she will. not. let. go.

It doesn’t matter what it is. A toy, a piece of food, a forbidden object. Hell, she’d probably keep her grip on a grenade, if she really wanted to.

Big Girl and Little Girl are beginning to learn that they have less than a decent chance of getting their stuff back when Squeak has it in her sights. And that’s saying something, because I didn’t think I’d ever meet a kid with a tighter grip than my determined, ever-focused Little Girl.

But Squeak. Man, she’s got some superhuman strength going on. And so the older ones release their prize, dejection and frustration written all over their faces.

That’s where I have to step in. The eternal fixer-upper.

Because you know, I’m amazing at getting her to let go.

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Yeah.

5. The Breath Hold

This one comes last, but by no means least. It is the most spectacular tool in her much varied arsenal. Not to mention the cause of great aesthetic trauma, which is guaranteed to bring me to a rather abrupt stop.

Now, I am not at all new to the concept of breath holding in small people. Big Girl used to do it every time she bumped her head. Thankfully, I think she’s grown out of it now. At least, it hasn’t happened for at least a year.

And I was a breath holder myself, until the fairly shameful age of ten. I don’t know quite why I’m ashamed of that, it’s not like I could control it!

Seriously though, ten???

This, however, is my very first encounter with the sacrifice of life-giving oxygen simply as an expression of rage. And it’s taking more than a little getting used to.

I wasn’t prepared at all when she started. I didn’t realise the significance of the scream, followed by an ever-reaching spell of utter silence.

I thought, for some illogical reason, that she’d simply…. stopped crying. I mean, is it really that unreasonable to assume that?

Seriously?

Seriously?

Yes. Yes it is, you foolish, full of nothing approaching awesome woman.

I mean, ugh.

When I did sense something was slightly off kilter and looked up, I was faced with a baby staring at me with a grotesque, contorted grimace on her face. Oh, and for good measure, she was turning an unpleasant shade of purple.

Shit.

I reached out to grab her, but I was too late.

Obviously.

Over she keeled, and hit the floor like a sack of spuds. Oops. But on the bright side, that totally kicked the whole breathing reflex in again. Hurrah!

This wonderful phenomenon is showing absolutely no signs of letting up as yet, but you’ll be glad to know that I am getting way better at catching her.

Go me.

As you can see, life in the Awesome house is just that little bit more colourful right now. But fret not, it’s not all bad I suppose. Squeak has also learned to give kisses that don’t result in an accidental (I think) headbutt, and she can say, “I luff you!” And best of all, she has just realised that she can jump.

I mean, her feet aren’t leaving the floor, but she doesn’t need to know that. She couldn’t look more delighted with herself as she lifts herself onto her tippy toes and yells, “DUMP!”

Oh yeah, she calls it a dump, as well.

Ha!

Ha!

Man, I’m so fucking infantile.

God it feels good to be back. I’ve been churning ideas over in my head for weeks, but when I sat down in front of the computer they just shrivelled up and died.

Nice image, huh?

So I’ve been hunkering down and flexing my knitting muscles, waiting for my muse to return. And I think it just may have!

Hope you like it :)

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!