“No Mummy NOT Incy Wincy Spider: Big FAT Spider!”

My two-year-old cracks me up.  Every day.  

If you have read my first couple of blog posts, you will probably have already realised that he can be quite vocally demanding.  Bossy, even.  Show me a toddler who isn’t.  But he is also quirky, mischievous and highly entertaining, and I love the bones of him.

Part of the reason for me starting to record his little sayings in writing is because I want to cherish them forever.  Childhood is woefully short and I know that even his most utterly frustrating outbursts will raise a smile and even have me reminiscing in the future.  His ‘little gems’ (as I call them) will have me laughing out loud.

Here is one of them.

At lunch time today I was asked to sing a song. Keen to sustain his good mood, I asked what he would like me to sing.  We started with a thankfully fairly succinct version of The Wheels on the Bus, then entered into an enthusiastic rendition of If You’re Happy and you Know It.  

So far so good.  His little legs were jigging to the rhythm under the table.  In between forkfuls he added the hand actions. His singing was endearing and even pretty much in tune (luckily it doesn’t look like he’s going to take after his dad in that department!).

Next?

Incy Wincy Spider peease Mummy,” he asked politely.  So I gladly complied. He doesn’t often request this and it brings back hazy but fond memories of my own childhood.  We sang it once through with aplomb.

“Again!” he declared happily.

Then…
“No, no, no! NOT Incy Wincy Spider: Big FAT Spider!”

But of course.  What else?  And so another traditional rhyme is creatively adapted according to the whim of a toddler.

This is not by any means the first or only musical demand I have had thrust upon me.  Also common in our household is:

“I want to dance, Mummy.”
Whereby the iPod is duly spurred into action. I have refused to download not yet got around to downloading any children’s songs onto it, but he takes great delight in boogying on down to a bit of Toots and the Maytals.  

I take great delight in watching him try to coordinate his body in time to the music.  His special move is all in the wrists!  Then his imagination kicks in:
“Look at ME Mummy.  I’m a lion!”
Priceless.

Blog post 3

His favourite trick is to reach up on tiptoes and whack the volume up REALLY loud.  When I am not sighing in exasperation, I am smiling broadly as I remember the days when I too used to have regular opportunities to get completely lost in music.

“Let’s make music, Mummy!”*
Which involves him emptying the whole box of toy instruments out onto the wooden floor with an Almighty clatter, then proceeding to bash and crash with much force on his drum, xylophone and pretty much any other hard surface within arm’s reach. If we’re especially lucky, the toy trumpet and the toy CD player will also be worked into the repertoire.

“I want a CDdvd on for breakfast. PEEASE?”
Daddy is the sucker for this one.  My morning head is not usually in the zone to comply.  I want to sometimes listen to the news like a normal human being.  But at the weekends, we are often listening to songs from his baby signing class or a number from the Julia Donaldson boxset that he got for Christmas.  Then, by default, I am singing them either out loud or (worse) on repeat in my head for at least the next 24 hours.

And when I decide to put on some chill out tunes for myself or listen to the radio?

“I NOT LIKE this, Mummy.  Mummy switch it OFF!”


* This is most often requested when I’m just getting/have got the baby off to sleep.

“I not like THAT one!”

There are some all-too-familiar phrases shouted by The Boy that must be spoken by toddlers umpteen times a day the word over. Universal toddler-speak if you will.

The Boy has been going through a bit of a negative spell recently.  At least, I hope it’s just ‘another phase’…it has been rather a while now.  Currently, his most often communicated phrases can pretty much be filed under one of two categories:

  1. His dislikes (those statements containing the all-encompassing ‘no’; phrases/sentences including the keywords ‘no(t) like’ or ‘no(t) want’).
  2.  His desires (‘I want’; ‘I do it’).

Today, just for fun,* I decided to keep a list of such declarations made by The Boy, along with a tally. Try it: it’s very satisfying, a little like crossing off numbers in bingo (I’d imagine). At the very least, it meant that with each irritating whine or shout there was a positive outcome too, in the form of a satisfying pencil mark and a smug ‘see – I’m right!’ smile.

My results are as follows, presented in categories in order of frequency from most to least often said (the teacher in me is loving this!):

1. “I not like…” (24 utterances)
Examples today included that story, that T-shirt, having to wear a jumper, tuna sandwiches, that cup, his sister’s feet touching him on the sofa during stories, that episode of Peppa Pig, shoes on, Maracajacks (the music class he’s been going to since he was 10 weeks old and always loves once he’s there), his nappy being changed, his teeth being cleaned… The list goes on and on.

Blog post 2

2. “I want…” (19 utterances)
More grapes, one more Mr Maker, Mummy’s phone, another story, to ‘do’ numbers, to go in the garden, his felt-tips down from the shelf, the volume up loud on the iPod, stickers, to bash the hell out of his toy drum (whilst his sister is napping, naturally).

3. “I not want…” (11 utterances)
To go downstairs, breakfast, shepherd’s pie, to sit at the table, to have a nap, to go upstairs.

4. “I do it!” (7 utterances)
How dare I try to unzip his sleeping bag, hurry him up the stairs by lifting him the last few, choose the game he can play on the tablet, feed the playdough into the logging machine (don’t ask!), count the triangles in his shape book or pull the bath plug?  Outrageous.

Life is so flipping black and white for these little people!
They see it as their prerogative that their wants MUST be met; after all, their needs were as a baby. The universe centres around them.  And of course it opens that whole parenting can of worms about when to indulge them (for a quiet life) and when to teach them that the real world sadly doesn’t operate that way and throw some ‘no’s right back at them!

The child in me loves the idea of playing The Boy at his own game: “Well I don’t like boys who are stroppy/unreasonable,” or “And I don’t want to sit here for another 20 minutes while you do everything in your remit to avoid eating your lunch.” But obviously that strategy always backfires and ends up with him teetering dangerously on the edge of the black hole that is tantrum central.  Also, of course, hearing these words being spoken out loud makes me shudder at what a mum I have become.  Much like at work when I catch myself doing the teacher’s raised eyebrows or telling a pupil, “It’s your time you’re wasting, not mine.” (Lie.) Fitting the stereotype and inwardly squirming as a consequence.

I know ‘they’ say that ignoring is the best strategy, and I try, really I do. And, considering the frequency of the outbursts, I think a 50% success rate in doing this is admirable. Let’s admit, it takes A LOT of effort to keep natural reactions in check, particularly when sleep deprived.

Confession time: Sometimes, whilst ‘ignoring’, I have been known to gesticulate wildly (behind The Boy’s back of course), violently mouth profanities (again, not in his eyeline) or swiftly exit the room to sit on the bottom stair and sob.  We’ve all been there…haven’t we?

Oh and guess what? Ignoring it doesn’t always work. You know, much like the ‘put them down drowsy but awake’ advice of the early baby years. Maybe this only happens under our roof, but The Boy takes such offence at not being listened to that he ends up just shouting it louder and louder and LOUDER.

It has taken a while (and hats off to the hubster here, for it was he who forged the way with this strategy, having infinitely more patience than me) but we have found that the secret to a (slightly) less shouty household lies in good old-fashioned bribery. Even this took a tonne of patience to ‘teach’; the main hurdle being finding opportunities where he actually complied to a request in order for him to see the positive consequence. Luckily The Boy considers extra stories at naptime and bedtime, Innocent smoothies and educational games on the tablet to be ultimate treats. Ha! We win. Here’s hoping that these preferences will last.

Nowadays, the usual exchange goes something like this:

Me: It’s lunch time.
Boy: It is NOT lunch time!
Me: Err, it IS lunch time. Look – pasta! Your favourite.
Boy: I not WANT pasta! No, no, no! NOT pasta!
Me: (Sigh) But you love pasta. Look – its got yummy butternut squash and chicken in it.
Boy: I not LIKE chicken. Yuk. I want to PAYY (play).
Me: (In my best teacher voice, calm and low) E, do you want a story at nap time?
Boy: (Sulkily) Yes.
Me: Well then, you need to eat your lunch. If you don’t eat your lunch, then no story. Do you understand?
Boy: Yes.
(I battle him into his seat and, with many more words of encouragement, he reluctantly proceeds to eat. VERY slowly.)
Me: (Adjusting my face into an animated, inviting smile) E, if you eat up ALL your pasta in BIG mouthfuls like a dinosaur, you can have a smoothie!
Boy: Oh yes! I LOVE smoovees!
(Eating speeds up to approximately half the desirable speed. I concede that half-speed is probably ‘good enough’ – I am tired of this cringeworthy pantomime. I manage to get The Boy down for his nap minutes before Little Miss is about to turn from smiley happy adorable bubba to ferociously eye-rubbing overtired nightmare bubba. A hollow victory is once more mine.)

Any of this sound familiar?

In conclusion, as much as it pains me to say so, it looks as though some stereotypes ARE worth conforming to. Let’s all just admit it: There is such a thing as ‘universal mum-speak’ too. And it is every bit as irritating as the little people’s negative outbursts.

* I know, I know. How my life has changed.

Friday Frolics

“Mummy DON’T say that!”

Today, as The Boy stopped me in my verbal tracks for the umpteenth time with these forceful words, it finally dawned on me that our two-year-old really IS the boss of our family.

Surely this kind of phrase (minus the pronoun obviously) is to be expected from a teenager, not a mere toddler?

In past weeks as these words have been uttered, I have experienced surreal flash-forwards to the teenage years.  They seem so remote right now but will undoubtedly arrive in an instant.  I can imagine it so clearly:

“Muuuum, that is SO uncool.” (Or whatever the trending expression of utter distaste happens to be by the year 2025 or thereabouts – gulp).

By then, however, I will surely delight in embarrassing my charges?  The reality is that in the here-and-now I find myself all too often treading on eggshells in order to avoid that ever- bubbling and totally time-wasting toddler tantrum.

Yes boss, sure boss, whatever you say boss!

He likes to set the rules, this boss. And then change them sometimes multiple times a day.

I’m pretty certain that if The Boy was my actual employer I’d have jacked the job in out of pure frustration or at the very least filed an official complaint for unfair expectations.

This job is for life though.  For a (comparatively) easy life, I stop what I was saying and even inwardly chastise myself for causing this unhappy outburst (for now I will inevitably have to  spend the next  ten minutes distracting him from his bad mood).

The trouble is, the mind of a toddler is in equal measures both unfathomable and unpredictable.  It was perfectly fine for me to allude to The Gruffalo last time we were in the woods.  It even raised a laugh or two as I merrily quoted from the story, cowering behind a tree trunk to hide from the beast, peeking out only to point out his purple prickles and feign disgust at its poisonous wart.  The Boy loves this story.  Always has.

IMG_20150124_113114256  IMG_20150124_120825091  IMG_20150124_120759541_HDR

Today though, it is the most taboo subject imaginable.  Of COURSE I am meant to realise that. He is outraged that I have the audacity to engage in such amateur dramatics.

Sincere apologies are due.  On my behalf, clearly.  One day I will find the time to book myself on to that mind reading course.

And on that note I must end my first blog post, before The Boss chastises me for more time-wasting on the job.  He needs his personal assistant to help him with a particularly tricky part of a jigsaw puzzle.  His Gruffalo one, of course.

Friday Frolics
I’ve linked up with #FridayFrolics

Hello world!

I have created this blog because, let’s face it, parenthood is flipping hard and in my opinion there can never be too many websites, forums and amusing pages on the subject.

I love a read of a (good) blog and find them strangely addictive.  There is something raw and alluring about the way strangers write, with no holds barred and such blunt honesty. It’s like reading someone’s diary and is therefore ultimately intriguing.  Other people’s stories have the power to snap you out of the self-pity trap or the ‘what now?’ conundrum and the message is loud and clear: we are in this together.  Most importantly for me, a good blog encourages me to laugh at the tricky bits and appreciate more deeply the fun aspects of owning little people.

So, I may not have got around to completing (either of) my baby record books.  The thousands of digital photos that I have snapped STILL need sorting through and making into photo books.  But during the never-ending day and night feeds and those rare ten minute sit-downs when they’re sleeping, my phone is (ashamedly) always in my hand and I just can’t help but have a little nosey.

I’ve mainly been a dreaded ‘lurker’ but I feel like I know the people on my birth boards as though they are my actual friends.  Many a parenting article has had me nodding in agreement or laughing out loud in the middle of a particularly tough day.  Amongst my mummy friends, blog posts are shared via social media almost daily…because we’ve been there or are currently going through it too.

Sometimes I feel like the early days, months and now years (eek) of early motherhood are simply passing by in a whirlwind of chasing my tail: feeding, entertaining, cuddling, playing, reading,chatting, teaching, learning, laughing.  And (let’s face it) questioning, hoping, trying, failing, moaning, shouting and crying.  I spend so much time on this damn phone, I feel I may as well document bits of my own life at the same time as practically stalking others!

At the very least, this blog will serve as a cyber memory box when (all too soon I’m sure) these crazy days are behind me.  At best I will entertain and reassure others just as I have been entertained and reassured.

So…hello!   And welcome to MY blog. Debuting the chronicles of me and my little clan: The Boy (age 2.5) and The Lass (currently 5 months old), who I will refer to as Pipsqueak.

Because The Boy is such a chatterbox and makes me chuckle so much these days, the blog will mainly focus on him and his hilarious (slash frustrating) utterances for the foreseeable.  Toddlerdom: brilliant and challenging in equal measures.  Fascinating, exasperating and oh-so entertaining.

“Mummy, DON’T say…” is one of The Boy’s most often uttered phrases right now, and so the blog is named to honour this.

Thank you for reading, and please do join in with ‘I’ve been there’ or ‘I’m living it’ tales of your own.

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