Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Oh, do keep up!

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.


  1. I can't wait to have those conversations with my (currently 2) son.
    At least he didn't say anything too embarressing in public!

  2. You wait until they get to be 10 - I can officially state that they are capable of comments that are twice as embarrassing as a 5 year old! And the more public the better, as far as they're concerned...

  3. Just love those 5 year olds minds!

  4. Hi Expatmum, I saw your blog on the ExPat Women site. I am also an expat blogger, mother of 2, living in the Chicago area (coincidence!). As we moved here, I decided to do something about my childhood dream, that is writing books. Maybe you can give me some tips about how you managed to get published. my blog is at wannabeanexpatinusa.blogspot.com. Cheers

  5. BOOW - the startling thing is that I also have a 15 and 12 year old, (5 year old is the "bonus baby"). That's why I knew to keep probing - there had to be something other than a dogged belief that old people stink!
    Welcome O!

  6. Ahh, 5yr olds! You were wise to keep probing. There's always a logical explanation, it just takes a while to get there!

  7. Those swift changes of subject are what my niece in Texas calls a "bug jump of topics". I love that expression! Her emails to me are just full of them!

    THIS is the stuff we miss by not being parents...and not being around kids very often. Thanks for sharing.


  8. It would be interesting if 5-10 year olds gave UK stately homes and listed buildings a makeover. Not sure what would be left!?!

  9. Yes, whenever we walk around big old homes, he usually holds his nose and all three of them start sneezing.

  10. I was wondering where this was going! really good post!

  11. I love the way the little ones have no inhibitions over what they say! If only we could all walk around truly speaking our minds (or throwing a darn good tantrum when life doesn't go our way!)

    I really enjoy your blogs. You inspired me to start my own! I'd love to get your feedback. Check out. www.momormumwars.blogspot.com/

  12. Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!!!!!! :-)

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