Did I really say that out loud?

2010-07-21 00:00

IN a previous life, I was a journalist. I spent my days searching for the perfect quotable quote. If it was a good, intelligent quote, that was great. But it was so much better if it was thoughtless, somewhat foolish and just a little outlandish. That is the stuff of which headlines are made.

Today, however, I am a mother. And I am discovering that I am the perpetrator of the most thoughtless, foolish and outlandish words ever to be spoken out loud.

You know the kind. They’ve barely left your mouth, and you’re thinking: “Did I really say that? Seriously? Out loud?”

Take my most favourite recent example, which happened in the full glare of the general public at the Zoo Lake park last weekend. My youngest, Amy, very deliberately stuck her finger up her sister’s nose. And left it there. My response, in a calm and even tone, as if it is something that happens daily (because it does): “Amy please don’t pick your sister’s nose.”

Now that’s something I never thought I’d have to say out loud. In all fairness, Amy is just 15 months old, it’s not like she’s a teenager. But still.

I also have to tell this particular 15- month-old please not to eat the toilet brush, even though it is apparently terribly entertaining, especially when wet. And I’ve even had occasion to explain to her the difference between kissing the dog on his head (acceptable, as long as he hasn’t just rolled in hadeda poo) and his bum (not acceptable).

With a bit of luck, Amy will grow out of these little habits, but I’m just as astounded at the words that keep popping out of my mouth when dealing with my three-year-old.

My current number-one phrase: “Megan, please don’t carry Amy by her neck.” And yes, that’s communicated in the aforementioned calm and unconcerned tone of a mother who deals with the stranglehold-carry pretty much every day.

I’ve also had to explain to Megan the fragility of a newborn baby’s fingers (while said newborn is screaming in pain and Mother of the Year is wondering if the fingers are broken), the difference between an ankle tap (mostly acceptable, provided we’re playing on grass) and a full-blown body-contact high tackle (not acceptable, especially when perpetrated on one-year-old sister just learning how to walk).

I even once experienced the joy of the mile-high pep talk, which involved a lengthy and detailed explanation of exactly why we couldn’t just open the door and leave despite the fact that we were all bored and tired of “here”.

But it doesn’t stop there. My life, it seems, is also filled with the most inane quotes. Before I became a mother, I never realised that I would actually have to tell someone not to run with scissors or a steak knife. Or chase their sister with scissors or a steak knife. I somehow imagined that children would be born with enough sense to simply know what is and isn’t safe, sensible or acceptable.

But now I know better, and have (almost) accepted that I will spend the rest of my life patiently explaining the inexplicable, and saying the seemingly silliest things to save my children from themselves — and each other.

Fortunately, there is an upside. As any mother will tell you, no one is listening anyway.

— Parent 24.com

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