Life Update: I Am Not A Rope

life update

Angelica, aged three and eight months, has taken to telling us all precisely what she is not. We’ve had this before, when she first learnt her name – or a shortened version of her name; “I not hungry, Daddy, I La-La!” “I not cute, Granny, I La-La!” “I not testing your patience today Mummy, I am La-La.” But this is a different game, a year or so on, and I suppose it stems from her trying to constantly put her growing vocabulary into practice. It involves her drawing a comparison between herself and a (mostly inanimate) object and then rejecting the comparison and it usually happens when Ted is doing something vaguely annoying/violent to her.

For example, when Ted (two years and one month old) was trying to climb onto the same chair and using her as a pull-up support, she shouted “No Ted! Stop using me to steady yourself, I’m not a rope! I’m not a rope, Teddy!”

life update

When he tried to put all of his dinosaurs into her nightie, “Stop, Ted – I’m not a pocket!”

“Ted, Ted, stop it, I’m not a slide!” “I’m not a mat Ted, stop treading on me!” “I’m not a cake Ted, don’t munch on me!”

Ooh, I feel a new book idea coming on. Instead of That’s Not My…. it could be I’m Not Your [insert name of object]. I’m Not Your Bed, Ted (Don’t Lie On Me).

life update

Anyway, the reason I’m telling you this anecdote, which is no doubt brain-shreddingly boring, because most anecdotes about other people’s children are brain-shreddingly boring, is that I feel as though I suddenly have an actual small person living in the house rather than a baby. I’m sure I’ve said that before – probably at the aforementioned “I La-La” stage, but recently it’s really hit home. She’s a fully-functioning little human with complex mind-games going on, able to reduce my brain to a twitching mass of useless jelly in the space of around eight minutes. I can have all of my wits about me one second, taking part in an important international conference call with one ear and using the other ear to decipher strange, toddler-on-the-loose sounds from the neighbouring room; but if I’m subjected to more than a few minutes of Small Child Interrogation then I just completely lose the plot.

“Mummy can I play a game, can I play a game on your phone?”

“No, not now, I need my phone and you’ve already played one game today. Go and set up the dolly hotel and I’ll be in in a minute.”

“Oh please, Mummy. Please! Only one game for ONE MINUTE, I’ll be quick. Please Mummy! Please! Oh what? This is not the plan, Mummy. I don’t agree with this plan and I don’t like this plan…”

Ominous pause.

“You said yesterday that tomorrow I could have a game and now it’s tomorrow. Mummy please! PLEASE!”

Change of direction to take me off guard…

“Mummy where does fleece come from? Where does tables come from? Can I have a game? Can I have a cake?” “Mummy where does rice come from?” Repeat for seven or eight intense minutes at which point my head explodes and splatters the walls with bone fragments and gelatinous bits of stringy brain. (If that’s even a thing, I have no idea how brain matter behaves when exploded. I’d Google it but I don’t want to disappear down that particular wormhole.)

life update

If Angelica has turned into the world’s most fist-bitingly persistent negotiator then Ted, since the last update, has morphed into a WWE wrestler complete with energetic roar and superhuman levels of strength. My gentle little toddler has started to launch himself from any and every surface he can climb up on, battlecrying as he hurls himself from the footstool, whooping as he attempts to mount the cat via a split-legged jump from the kitchen chair. It’s as though he turned two and someone flicked a switch.

Thank God the cuddles are still there. And kisses, too, although there’s so much slime that goes with a Ted kiss it’s hard not to flinch. It’s like being gunged. But so impromptu and so unprompted, who could refuse a gunging? Angelica now has to be virtually bribed in order to part with a kiss and cuddle so I’m taking all of the unconditional love whilst I can still get it.

life update

Oh, and I was horrified the other day to hear Angelica say the F word. Not THE F word, but the one that rhymes with Cart. I’m not by any means a prudish woman, but for some reason it has been drilled into me that F-rt (rhymes with cart) is a terrible, gross word. I think it was my Dad who started this and I actually rarely heard my brother or sister say it when we were little. I’m not sure they use the word now, even  – I’m trying to remember what we used to refer to them as and I have a sneaking suspicion that it was “blow offs”. In adult life I greatly amuse myself by calling them trumps or guffs (obviously I don’t do them, because I’m like the Queen, I’m talking about when I refer to other people’s) and I had come up with an entirely new phrase for Angelica that I was pretty proud of:

Bottom Burps.

There’s something very Roald Dahl about bottom burp, isn’t there? It sounds nicer and more naive than any other word or phrase that describes the act of breaking wind and I was really happy with it. (You can use it, thank me later.) But it turns out that I was the naive one; how could I have thought that she would go to pre-school and not hear the f-cart word? It’s not as though it’s a swear word – people say it to their kids all the time.

Oh well. This is a small taste of things to come, I suppose – but it’s a terrible shock, the first moment you realise that your child is being influenced by the outside world and you have no control over it. Crikey. It makes me want to set up a home school and pull down all of the blinds. Except that I have no blinds and if I had to home school my kids I would end up sticking skewers through my ear holes by eleven o’ clock on the first day… You’d have to have the bloody patience of a saint! Imagine! I can barely survive a sticker session unless I’m able to secretly rearrange them afterwards – and colouring in when the crayon marks don’t sit properly within the lines makes me all kinds of itchy.

life update

Also, the fact that I haven’t even thought past “stickers” and “colouring in” speaks volumes for how inadequate I would be as a teacher. Fun fact: I was about to do my interview to start a PGCE to be a primary school teacher when I decided, instead, to do a Masters in English and Creative Writing. Which was what kick-started this blog (I wanted to have somewhere to practice writing, but also loved talking about beauty) which is why I now sit here before you, spouting utter nonsense.

I also sit before you with the sort of honking cough that sounds like a sea lion being repeatedly squashed under a giant’s shoe, an old fashioned car horn, a comedy sound effect. It’s so utterly boring, this cough – it wakes me up at weird hours and has me spitting things into my water glass like a dying cowboy. It’s actually the reason I now have to go, because I’m writing this late at night and I don’t want to wake everyone up.

I had loads more to say about various life things, but it’s all a bit dismal because winter in the sticks is dismal and I don’t want to bring you all down. So I’ll save that for another post and bid you farewell until the next time I put pen to paper. Or clackety gel nails to keyboard.

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  1. Donna
    March 10, 2019 / 5:22 am

    Have you been tested for Whooping Cough? Your description kind of sounded like it. Google ‘whooping cough’ on YouTube to see if it sounds like your cough. Seriously, I had Whooping Cough (Pertussis) for 8 months (& saw 2 specialists) before it was diagnosed. Good Luck!

  2. Rachel Oughton
    March 6, 2019 / 7:15 pm

    I was once babysitting a little boy whose family used “bottom burp”. He burped while in my care, and said “ooo, mouth fart!”. So clever, yet so wrong!
    I also have a 3 year old girl negotiator, I think you do well to last 8 minutes x

  3. Laura
    March 6, 2019 / 2:30 pm

    This made me laugh so much, my almost 2.5yr old proudly announces “I do fart Mummy” before trying to force more out. Same with burps. It’s disgusting, but I sense will only get worse!!

    We are at the stage of being forced to play very specific, but entirely unclear games (“lie down mummy… no THIS way…”.

    Now I’m boring myself with my toddler stories!

  4. Emma
    March 5, 2019 / 8:34 pm

    My daughters in reception and has just started ‘mum’ and ‘dad’… Too early where did mummy go!!

    • March 5, 2019 / 9:31 pm

      Noooooo! I correct her every time she says Mum – “It’s MUMMY! That’s my name. How would you like it if I called you BOB? Huh? HUH?!” Not that I’m a psycho about it or anything.

  5. March 5, 2019 / 10:04 am

    These photos are adorable. Also that cat though in the last photo :P

  6. Dawn
    March 5, 2019 / 9:34 am

    I’m not a fan of the f-cart word either, and try as I might, I can’t stop my kids saying it. It’s got to the point, now they are 24 and 20 years old respectively, where I hear it so much that I occasionally inadvertently use that word myself. I have always used ‘popped’ or ‘popped off’ in preference, and often used the term ‘botty burps’ in front of the kids when they were little. My now 11 year old nephew has amusingly always referred to it as ‘smelly bubbles’.

    Make the most of your children’s childhood and those amusing little things they say and do (even though the incessant questions and ‘Muuuuummmm’ can be quite draining, as before you know it they’ll be teenagers.

      • Alison
        March 6, 2019 / 4:51 pm

        We taught our children to call them “boofs”. They are now adults and I don’t think they’ve quite realized that it’s a made up word and no one else knows what the word means. I’m so proud!

        • March 7, 2019 / 12:40 pm

          That is a MAJOR achievement. I applaud you!!

  7. Bing
    March 5, 2019 / 2:25 am

    Oh Ruth,how you make me chuckle with every single blog and I just love your humor.

  8. Marjorie
    March 4, 2019 / 11:33 pm

    There has been an unanticipated, steady arrival of little ones in our world. Long childless adult kids suddenly realized they probably wouldn’t be fertile forever & the result of that light bulb is a gang of six children 7, 6, 5, 3, 3 and 1 years of age. Of course, I think they are as smart and adorable as they can be, and they are. However, have heard none astute enough to make the comparisons Angelica pleaded to Ted at less than 4 years of age. That’s pretty impressive! Also, I’ve decided it’s perfectly ok to love children and despise stickers.

  9. Ali Thompson
    March 4, 2019 / 10:40 pm

    I used bottom burp growing up. My husband thinks it’s terribly quaint!

  10. susan
    March 4, 2019 / 10:12 pm

    I love your posts they make my day.

  11. Sevda
    March 4, 2019 / 7:38 pm

    I’m Irish so that f word is just a word. The other one was the bold word.

    Excellent post, love these.

  12. LB
    March 4, 2019 / 6:59 pm

    I’m trying to convince my daughter to say ‘bottom burp’ too as I hate fart but I really really hate trump too, and I thought it was pretty hilarious without being offensive. The rest of the family isn’t helping though; they invariably use ‘pump’ or ‘fuff’ and so she just ends up confused, poor child!

    • March 4, 2019 / 10:15 pm

      Pump is also an excellent choice…

  13. Stefa
    March 4, 2019 / 6:36 pm

    I honestly thought I was the last person alive who didn’t grow up using that word and still has an aversion to it. My family uses ‘popped’, not a misspelling. Glad to know I’m not alone in avoiding the f-word!

  14. Helen
    March 4, 2019 / 5:33 pm

    Purple Ronnie’s finest ode: ‘ ‘If your bottom burps in public, try to say in time, “goodness gracious, what a whiff, it doesn’t smell like mine”.’ You’re welcome x

    • March 4, 2019 / 10:15 pm

      Blast from the past!! Wow. Purple Ronnie.

  15. Lorraine Tresnak
    March 4, 2019 / 5:28 pm

    Oh I’m a La La too! It’s what my sister used to call me and what my nieces call me instead of auntie (which makes me feel 90). My eldest niece is 16 this year and my sister broached the subject of her calling me Lorraine now if she wanted to. She looked at my sister in complete horror and flatly refused to call me anything other than La La. I was secretly very happy!

  16. Dagmar Ille
    March 4, 2019 / 5:19 pm

    Beautiful pics! Georgeous Kids! And I love your cat!!!

  17. Jo.C.
    March 4, 2019 / 4:33 pm

    ‘…would end up sticking skewers through my ear holes…’ ha ha ha ha! It only gets worse. Questions get replaced with ‘Muuuuum! I’m hungry’ every 25 seconds. Snacks are a parents best friend as the kids get older.

  18. Claire N
    March 4, 2019 / 3:37 pm

    My parents never used the word fart when I was growing up and certainly not any swear words! But they do use it now and we use it with our 4 year old, ‘passing wind’ just sounds unnecessarily stiff and euphemistic!

  19. Helene
    March 4, 2019 / 1:31 pm

    I remember the weird sensation when I suddenly understood that my son, now 21, had his own life that I knew nothing about at day care. His own social life, with friends and I couldn’t hide to see what they were doing or listen in.
    I had so much fun, reading about your children today, and the photos are lovely.
    I don’t know if Mr Bear likes belly rubs, if he does, I send him a really long and good one for being the nicest cat I’ve ever seen or heard of.

  20. Katy
    March 4, 2019 / 11:50 am

    Yes to needing to rearrange the stickers ‘correctly’ and neaten up the colouring in! Me neither re the F-cart word, can’t say it. I get the train to school with my daughter, surrounded by secondary school kids using the actual F word (and worse) continually. Any attempt to use distracting conversation to drown them out fails, she hears every word they say and reports back later in her best 1940s ‘wasn’t that dreadful mummy’ voice. She’s more shocked by the junk food they eat though and says things like,’oh I’ll never eat sweets for breakfast when IM a teenager’!

  21. March 4, 2019 / 9:07 am

    They have these small bursts of development that make you suddenly think they have aged overnight. My daughter just turned 5 and I look at her and can´t believe how grown up she suddenly is.


  22. Maria
    March 4, 2019 / 8:44 am

    Lovely post, Ruth, although I hate to break it to you but “bottom burps” have been around for a while. I vaguely remember there being a poem about them penned by Purple Ronnie (the stick man from the noughties that featured on tons of greetings cards). There is even an urban dictionary entry about them! I too find the F word (rhymes with cart) a little shocking, I think it was actually considered a bit of a swear word when I grew up in the 80s/90s – now, not so much.

  23. Nicola Wight
    March 4, 2019 / 8:25 am

    Very funny, your stories always brighten my day.
    Just an aside, your cat looks a little too cuddly!

  24. Kay
    March 4, 2019 / 8:14 am

    I can’t stand the F word either and my children never used it, we used to call it doing a windybot. x

  25. Patricia
    March 4, 2019 / 3:49 am

    I for one love hearing your kid anecdotes – you are so lucky that you write a blog and will have these memories forever! I can barely remember anything about my two boys growing up (they are now 23 and 25).

    I still can’t say that f-word – I think we used to say ‘pump’. I also can’t say ‘sh*te’, but I can say the more American (I guess) ‘shit’.

    I have to tell you I laughed so hard at the photo of Angelica and Ted sitting at the table watching a show. I wasn’t laughing at them, but rather at Mr. Dexter as I scrolled down and caught sight of him – you have the most photogenic cat, that photo is begging for some kind of hilarious caption!

  26. Jo Johnson
    March 4, 2019 / 3:38 am

    I had a very weird, almost out of body moment, with my nearly 12 year old daughter the other day. She was giving me a detailed account of the latest “Riverdale” episode and I drifted into thinking it was a friend talking to me. Then….wham….back into my body with the realisation that I was in fact this young woman’s Mother. They grow up so fast and I don’t think we’re ever ready

  27. Rachel
    March 4, 2019 / 12:37 am

    My partner’s family says ‘toot’ for F (cart). Short, descriptive, cute even. Our daughter now uses it, and it’s stuck.

    • Rae-Rae
      March 8, 2019 / 11:34 am

      We used toot too! I use f (cart) now I’m a grown up as I found people laughed at me for saying toot. I was always told that f (cart) was a swear word and we weren’t allowed to say it. I do use other, more sweary, words now too because I like how it feels rebellious, even at the age of 37. I’d never say them in front of my mum though…. Parp is my favourite word for “air biscuits”!

      • March 8, 2019 / 7:55 pm

        Air biscuits!!! Oh my God you’re killing me with this comment! x

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