Conversations with a five year old can sometimes be long, agonising and complicated affairs. Mine yesterday went something like this:
Five year old was sitting on the Ball & Chain's lap, stroking his face.
5 - "Daddy, what's all this prickly stuff?"
B&C - "They're my whiskers."
5 - "What will happen to them?"
B&C - "Well, I can shave them off or grow them."
5 - "I think you should grow them down to here", (Points to ever-expanding stomach area).
ME - (Sitting bolt upright) "Oh no he won't. He'll look like an old man".
5 - "Yes, and old people stink."
The B&C and I looked at him, then each other, with confusion and alarm. None of his grandparents smell, and he doesn't have much contact with any older people. Well, there's an older couple up the street but he rarely sees them and I'm sure I would have heard about it had he told them they were stinky. I had to get to the bottom of this, if only to prevent him from addressing the next octogenarian he meets as "Smelly butt". As usual however, it wasn't easy.
ME - "Which old people are you talking about?"
5 - "The ones when we were at that house with the curly haired man who had a cat and a dog?"
I can't even think of anyone we know who has a cat and a dog, never mind being old.
ME - "Have we seen them recently?"
5 - "We saw them at the same time that we saw grandma."
I then had a horrified vision of him telling one of my mother's friends that he or she was stinky. Or even going up to grandma and asking why one of her friends stank. It's bad enough going to England with American kids who treat everything as 'finger food', hold their knife and fork all wrong when they ever bother with cutlery, and don't say "please" anywhere near enough, but to insult family friends on top....Agh!
ME - "Were they at grandma's house?"
5 - "No, it was after we were at grandma's house. The lady and man with the curly hair."
Penny slowing dropping. A ha. The bed and breakfast we stayed at near Stratford. Another horrified vision of him telling our landlady that her husband was stinky. Not to mention the fact that this lovely couple were probably aged around 50, tops.
ME - "But they weren't old, and definitely not smelly."
5 - "Nooooo. The house we went to see where the old lady was talking to me. She was smelly."
ME - (Relief and understanding flooding over me.) Oh, you mean Shakespeare's house? Where the lady was dressed up and talking about his bedroom?"
5 - "Yes. She was smelly."
ME - No, it wasn't her that was smelly, but the house was a bit musty. It's more than four hundred years old."
5 - "Oh. (Pause, think, think, think.) Well, it needs a good washdown then!"
That we got from daddy's prickly face to Shakespeare's House in less than ten questions is rather a conversational feat. I assured him I would write to the Shakespeare people and tell them to give the house a thorough hosing.