Let me set the scene – it’s dinner time, my kitchen is a mess – every surface covered with pots, pans, bowls, crumbs, sauce and spillage (and this is just me conjuring up fish fingers, pasta and peas).
Since coming home from school an hour and a half ago the boys – H, 5 years old and C, 3 years old – have been wrestling, scrapping, shouting, crying, poking, prodding and telling on each other – lots of telling on each other. Finally, despite regular dashes to the living room/den/toilet/bedroom to referee the latest spat, dinner is ready. I shout through to tell them to wash their hands. And then shout through again. And then walk through and tell them. And then tell them again. When they’re sat at the table I ask what they want to drink and when they both reply with a demanding “water”, I add please on the end. As I always do.
And so, in Carrie Bradshaw style (but without the style, the wardrobe the sex or the city), I got to thinking about the things I find myself saying ALL THE BLOODY TIME since having children. And equally, the things I hardly ever say anymore. This is what I came up with:
This is possibly the word I say most in my life and can be used in many contexts. Some that spring to mind –
· No, you can’t have a sweetie before breakfast,
· No, you can’t watch X-men, you’re 5 – what’s that, Dad’s let you watch it before?
· No, you can’t get down from the table yet
· No, you can’t have another ice lolly
· No, your friend ______ can’t come round to play right now
· No, you can’t have that Lego set/car/transformer
And of course, it’s also used a lot even when not directed at the children –
· No, I can’t go to the pub/restaurant/party/festival/holiday
· No, I don’t have anything smarter/without stains
· No, I haven’t got round to the washing up/hovering/laundry/food shopping/cleaning up the cat sick
· No, not tonight, I have a headache.
2. PLEASE / THANK YOU / PARDON ME / EXCUSE ME / I WOULD LIKE
Generally, any form of reminding them to use their manners. This tends to be at the end of most sentences and becomes most enthusiastically done when other people are involved i.e. any present receiving experience. The embarrassed smile and nudge you have to give when your child rips open a present and says loudly and grumpily, “But I didn’t want this”, reminding them that what they should say is, “thank you very much, I love it” – even if it is a second hand Barbie with an arm missing.
3. POO / FART / ARSE-RELATED THINGS
I’m quite ashamed of how much of a role poo has taken in my life. I know the joke is that new mothers always discuss their newborn’s poo – which is totally true (“it was really green today – does that mean he’s ill?” “He had some runny poos and a sore bum, he must be teething”) – but no one tells you it carries on.
· Have you got a poo?
· Do you need a poo?
· Who pooed in the bath?
· Whose poo is on the wall?
· No darling, I don’t want to come and look at your poo, I’m sure it’s fine.
Obviously, poo and fart are pretty much interchangeable. And of course, none of this even touches on the hilarity that all this generates. There’s nothing funnier than a clear-as-day, noisy, smelly fart. Apparently.
4. SLEEP / TIRED / BED-RELATED THINGS
After having children, sleep takes on a mystical, elusive, golden-fleece like quality. There’s talking about their sleep –
· He slept for 45 minutes, then was awake for an hour, then 45 minutes, then awake for 2 hours, then 45 minutes (I’m not even kidding – in his first few months, H only ever slept for about an hour in one go).
· When will he sleep through the night?!
· He slept through the night!
· He has to have his sleep, then I can leave the house.
· I need to make sure I’m back by 11 so he can have a sleep.
And then, more importantly, your own sleep. I was constantly tired and not sleeping well before I had children – now I am exhausted and broken and have given up on sleep.
· I’m so tired. (I say this so much it could almost be my catch phrase)
· I’m too tired to go out / make dinner / tidy up / have sex
Sleep inevitably takes on an Olympic-like competitive nature with your partner. The taking turns for lie-ins (i.e. staying in bed past 6.30am) seems like a good idea but it never works out fairly – he’ll get the one day they decide, miraculously, to sleep till nearly 8, when on you’re day they were up at 6. And then the night-time wake ups. If you get up with them in the night, does that make his lie-in null and void – or do you have to get up with them more than once, or between the hours of 12-4 for that to happen? Over-used phrases go something like this -
· Ugh. Is that a cry?
· It’s your turn.
· But I got up with them in the night.
· It’s my lie-in.
· Why are you tired? You had a lie-in.
· I need a nap.
5. TALKING ABOUT YOUR CHILDREN, GENERALLY.
This can’t be helped, obviously, but I wish there were a way of controlling it. We’ll go out on extremely rare, longed-for dates and often spend most of the evening talking about the boys – how sweet they are, funny things they’ve done, do you remember when…
This also seems to occur much more when aforementioned children are in bed, asleep – that is when they are usually at their sweetest and, as you sit on the sofa, drinking a glass of much-needed wine, relaxed and recovered from the torments of the day, they don’t actually seem all that bad.
Until they wake you up at 5.30 having shat the bed.
Things I Haven’t Said Enough Since Having Children.
This is a lot simpler.
1. YES (yes, I can go out, yes, I’ll buy that dress, yes, let’s go on holiday etc. etc.)
2. HAVE YOU HEARD THE NEW ALBUM BY / READ THE NEW BOOK BY / SEEN THE NEW FILM/PLAY…. Anything to do with culture – post-the-date-you-had-first-child.
3. I LOOK ALRIGHT TODAY.
4. THE NIGHT IS YOUNG, IT’S ONLY 11 O’CLOCK.
5. I’M FEELING RANDY.