I used to be an intelligent and intelligible grown-up. I used to have intelligent, intelligible conversations, with other like-minded grown-ups. Honest.
“What is the likelihood of the provisions of the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 2006 applying to your business transfer such that you would inherit employee liabilities from the vendor?” I could tell you. “Is the recent rise in property prices in the South East indicative of another property ‘bubble’?” I had an opinion. And a culprit. And a solution.
How things have changed…
I am, at least for the time being, a stay-at-home mum. I love it. I love waking up each morning knowing that the most taxing thing my over-tired brain is going to have to cope with that day is getting all three children in the car and to school on time. I love knowing that there will never be a shortage of cuddles throughout the day, and knowing that my girls and I can spend all day in the mountains if we like, looking at flowers and goats and snails and cow poo, and I don’t need to look at my watch or bill my time to clients or rush to my next meeting.
But if I’m honest, I do sometimes miss those intelligent, intelligible conversations.
Surprising myself, daily
Now I spend most of my day saying (or rather shouting) things to my children that I never imagined would pass my lips, such as (all genuine!):
“Alpine Boy , take your finger out your nose. Alpine Boy, take your finger out your sister’s nose. Alpine Boy, take your finger out your bum. Ew, Alpine Boy take your finger out your mouth!”
“Alpine Girl, don’t lick your brother. Alpine Girl, don’t lick the baby. Alpine Girl, don’t lick the windows. Alpine Girl, don’t lick the cat. Please, don’t lick the cat. Ew, you licked the cat.”
“Don’t sit on the baby, you two. Get off the baby. Now! You’re SQUASHING the baby!! Get off the baaaaaaaaby!!!”
I have regular conversations with my children which go something like this:
Alpine Girl: “Dockon eddie, Mummy.”
Alpine Mummy “What’s that, darling?”
Alpine Girl: “Dockon eddie, Mummy!”
Alpine Mummy: “Eh?”
Alpine Girl: “Dockon! Eddie! Mummy! Dockon! Eddie!”
Alpine Mummy: “Dog? Bed? Bag? Dock? Boat? Muddy? Steady? Your latest essay on antidisestablishmentarianism is ready…?”
Alpine Girl: “No no. Dockon eddie. Mummy!”
Alpine Mummy: “Dockon eddie? I have no idea what you’re saying. (Really poppet, you need to learn to talk…).”
Alpine Girl: DOCK ON EDDIE!! MUMMY, DOCKON DOCKON DOCKON EDDIEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!! MUUUUUMMY! DOCK ON EDDIE!!!”
Alpine Mummy: “…!”
Alpine Boy (disdainfully looking up from his LeapPad for a rare few seconds and rolling his eyes in my direction): “She wants to put her socks on her teddy, Mummy.”
Oh. Of course.
‘Conversations’ with Alpine Girl are not the only opportunities for me to use my Mummy mind-reading skills. Alpine Boy has yet to grasp that we can’t actually see what he’s thinking. He doesn’t quite understand that if he starts a conversation out of the blue like this, with no introduction whatsoever (usually at the breakfast table when we’ve just woken up and we’re discussing something entirely unrelated), we have no idea what he’s talking about:
Alpine Boy: “Muuuummy? Why doesn’t Fiona know him, and where are the children?”
Alpine Mummy: “…?”
(FYI, it’s a random yet pertinent question concerning the ridiculously complex storyline that is Shrek 4. Don’t let your kids watch this film. You’ll be explaining for years the literary concept of an alternative present and how, by unintentionally selling the first day of his life to an evil, revengeful pixie, the main character paradoxically extinguishes his own existence and consequently that of his children… It’s not easy. )
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t spend ALL my time alone with my children – I do have friends who are over the age of five. Very intelligent friends, in fact. And every now and then we do manage to least start a grown-up conversation on a non-sprog-related topic, just like in the good old days.
Nowadays, though, things are slightly different– if said friends have got babies then their brains tend to be as addled and as sleep-deprived as my own. The conversation therefore tends to peter out rather quickly as we get distracted by the smell of a nappy, or by the scream of a two-year-old who doesn’t know how to share; and pretty soon none of us can quite remember that interesting and profound point we were going to make on the socio-economic policies of the National Front compared with those of UKIP. We then take the easy way out and quickly move on to more pressing subjects, such as sick or poo or sleep.
It’s no easier with friends who don’t have kids – they don’t want to talk about sick or poo or sleep (my Mastermind specialist subjects these days), and (understandably) tend to get annoyed about having to converse with me across the street or through doors as I run away every two minutes, chasing after Alpine Girl to stop her from running into the lake or putting her hands down the toilet or poking grumpy cats, all the time shouting “I am listening, really! Carry on…!!”
Speaking to kids all the time is starting to rub off on me. Every time I see a cow (of which there are rather a lot round here) I have a habit of shouting “oooh, a cow! Look, a cow! Yay, a cow! Moooooooooooo.”
Every time I see a paraglider (of which there are also a lot round here) I shout “oooh, paraglider! Look, a paraglider! Yay, paraglider!”
Every time I see a tractor (of which there are a LOT round here) I shout “oooh, a tractor!”…
OK, you get the picture.
This is, of course, all entirely for Alpine Girl’s benefit. She loves cows. And paragliders. And tractors. There is no end to the excitement when she sees any of these, even if she’s just seen another one two minutes previously.
So why do I find myself shouting this, even when alone in the car or on a walk? Yet another reason why people without kids tend to slowly edge away from me and avoid eye contact every time I open my mouth…
Bed time bliss
The best conversations of the day happen at about 8.00pm each evening, the kids’ bedtime:
Alpine Mummy: “Night night you two, I love you.”
Alpine Boy: “Night night mummy, I love you.”
Alpine Girl: “Ny ny Mummy, I vuhv ooo.”
And then, the words I’ve been waiting for all day:
Alpine Papa: “The kids are in bed, do you want a glass of wine…?”