As parents, we all have ‘those’ expressions. You know the ones. You use them a hundred times a day. You use them so often, that not only does no one listen to them, you aren’t even aware half the time you’re saying them. They are about as useful as a snowsuit in the Sahara Desert. I’m the first to admit most of mine are regurgitated from my own upbringing. They are the lines I most hated hearing as a child. So why am I using them? I’ve no fricking idea. They didn’t really work back then, and they certainly don’t work now. At best, I get a sideways glance (also known as the rooster look… you know, the out the corner of one eye “yeeeesss??” look), before wallpapering the bath with wet toilet paper/running around with no undies on/smearing peanut butter on the window is continued.
Before I go on, I think now is an apt time to introduce the tag team of terror, the fearless subjects of my wasted breath. For the purposes of retaining some sense of anonymity and to avoid creating too much of a digital footprint for my darling boys before they are even old enough to read, let’s call them Biggest and Smallest.
Biggest is 4, and is into superheroes (Spiderman, Batman and Ironman), art, space, Skylanders, Angry Birds, running (usually in the opposite direction of wherever it is he needs to be at that exact moment), being too tired to do as he’s asked, whining, and all round general destruction.
Smallest is 2 in a couple of months (bejesus, how did that happen so fast?), and is into cars, shoes, bouncing, throwing his spoon/bowl/crusts, pulling things out of cupboards, eating things he shouldn’t, flicking switches on and off, and shouting.
They are two little balls of furious energy and tornado like destructive powers from the second their eyes spring open in the morning, until they pass out from sheer exhaustion at night. The Duracell Bunny has nothing on my two.
I think any mother/father to boy/s will agree with me, boys are different to girls. They seem to have an entirely different idea of what constitutes acceptable behaviour. Boys are louder. Boys like to pull things apart, just because they can. Boys aren’t fussed if a previously much treasured toy breaks because it made a really cool noise when it hit the floor after being launched from the top of the stairs. Boys like to get dirty. Really dirty. Not jumping in muddy puddles dirty, more rolling around in muddy puddles, then a pile of dead leaves, then a bit of extra mud for good measure dirty. Boys will do something over and over because although they got in seriously deep sh*t last time, maybe, MAYBE, Mama/Dad will think it’s really really funny this time. Which, in a roundabout kind of a way, brings me to futile expression number one.
1) Do you think that’s funny?
Is that an actual serious question? Of course they think it’s funny. Would they be sat there grinning like a pair of Cheshire cats if they didn’t? And I just *know* when they nod their agreement I’m going to go from mildly irritated to a level of rage not dissimilar to the force of a nuclear explosion in a split second. So why ask?!
Which according to both my children means ask again, but this time a bit louder and a bit whinier, I didn’t quite hear you properly.
3) Who’s the boss?
Especially reserved for those times a simple ‘no’ is not enough. For example, Biggest has noticed I appear to be in the general vicinity of the cupboard the treats are kept in. Suddenly, he wants… no NEEDS one. Biggest is informed that treats will not be doled out before he’s even had his breakfast. Biggest whines his displeasure. The negative is reiterated. Biggest starts demanding I give him a treat NOW. That would STILL be a no, and please do NOT speak to me like that. Biggest states he said please (he didn’t). Insert above. This question is usually answered by Biggest in a small voice, “You are.” Which of course, I know, and he knows, and I know that he knows that I know this is a lie. I am not the boss. Of the treat cupboard, certainly, while I maintain the height advantage and can put things out of his reach. But generally speaking? They are.
Everything is more or less done on their terms. Example? I announce we need to go to the shop. Suddenly, Biggest, who until approximately five seconds after I finish my sentence has had the stamina of a marathon runner, is too tired. Queue twenty minutes of coaxing him to PLEASE put his shoes on, while I begin the hunt for what the flucking duck Smallest has done with his other sock this time (oh, look, there it is, inside the bass speaker). Then there’s the coat debacle. Their Nana loves nothing more than buying the boys a nice new coat. They have smart coats, casual coats, expensive coats, bargain too-good-to-pass-up-on coats, body warmers, rain coats, snow coats, light summer jackets…. Having all these coats doesn’t bode well for a timely decision and a quick exit from the house. Precious minutes tick by while I agree that yes, that jacket IS a nice colour and yes, I DO think you look very handsome in it, but its freezing out so maybe something a little warmer is in order? I can easily lose another ten minutes in chasing Smallest round the house trying to get him to stand still long enough to get his reins on. He HATES those things, but unfortunately but they are a necessary evil as he isn’t quite at the to-be-trusted-walking-along-a-busy-road-and-not-dashing-into-it-after-spotting-something-shiny-and-interesting-looking stage. It practically takes my sitting on him to get him to hold still long enough to get the blasted things on. Try and get him in the pushchair instead? Two words. NO. CHANCE. Then, of course, he starts smelling a bit whiffy (is it possible he’s a stress pooer?), so everything has to come off again so I can change him by which time Biggest has got bored, discarded his shoes and coat and wandered off and I have to repeat the whole bloody process. By the time we are actually out the door it’s been an hour and a half and nine times out of ten it’s started raining and I have to admit defeat and ring Mr O with my urgent request for milk/bread/coffee.
4) You’re old enough to know better/you should be setting a good example!
Usually directed at Biggest. No, see, he’s four. He is obviously NOT old enough to know better, because he wouldn’t have done it otherwise. This is usually spouted after Smallest has done something naughty and been told off, so Biggest decides to have a go and see if he can get him summa that attention. Or, they’ve teamed up with devastating consequences while Mama has been otherwise detained. Utter tripe, and guess what? As an oldest child myself, and having heard this line countless times throughout my own childhood and hating the fact everyone thought I was responsible for my younger sibling’s behaviour… I’m old enough to know better.
5) STOP SHOUTING!
They’re playing together nicely, Smallest starts shouting his protest over a snatched toy (worse, squealing his protest… oh dear lord the squealing!), Biggest shouts louder, and then I roar this worthless phrase. Its usually swiftly pointed out to me by Biggest that Mama shouldn’t shout either. Well, I’m sorry, but how else am I supposed be heard over the racket comparable to two jet planes breaking the sound barrier in unison? It doesn’t stop them though, even on the off chance they do pause long enough to hear me. The neighbours must hate us.
6) If you will please be quiet for half a second, I am trying to explain.
BA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA *gasp* HA HA HA HA HA HA HA! No.
7) Am I talking to a brick wall?
Waste of breath as apparently this particular phrase is one only I can hear. But then, they weren’t listening in the first place.
8) Because Y is a crooked letter and you can’t straighten it.
Actually, this one works quite well (when applied sparingly), to end the incessant stream of why, but why, but why streaming from Biggest’s mouth. It usually confuses him just long enough to implement a distraction plan.
9) Why are you two so quiet?
Because it’s not like I’m NOT on my way to find out. And do I really want to know the answer anyway? This is usually accompanied by a silent prayer to the powers that be that whatever they’ve done this time can it please not be too expensive to fix?
10) How/why did this happen?
It would be much easier to get blood out of a stone than to get to the bottom of whatever it is that has gone down. If I listen to Biggest’s fallback explanation, then its completely Smallest’s fault. It is always Smallest’s fault. What else are little brothers for if not to blame for every accident or misadventure? Best just to get on with clean up and damage limitation.
This possibly gives the impression that my boys are unruly wild nightmares. They’re not, its just they are boys, they are little, and they have their moments. I still wouldn’t trade them for all them for all the tea in China. Now, that one isn’t such a futile expression.