Tagged Language development

Woof: The Ten Funniest Things The Toddler Said Last Week

It’s time for the Ten Funniest Things feature, and this week there is also a word (literally) from William Wallace, sorry, The Baby.

First, Silly Mummy gives you The Toddler:

1. On ears, not safe
Silly Mummy touches The Toddler’s ear, apparently a more dangerous activity than it appears, as The Toddler yells, ‘Don’t touch it! It’s not safe!’ She does not expand upon exactly why her ear is not safe.

2. On the Tooth Fairy
The Baby is very insistently offering The Toddler a leaflet that came through the door and is now The Baby’s most prized possession. The Toddler is ignoring her eager little sister, so Silly Mummy explains that The Baby would like The Toddler to take her leaflet because she is trying to be nice. The Toddler catches on and takes the leaflet: ‘You give that to me? Thank you, The Baby.’ As is usually the way with small children, of course, The Baby only wanted to loan her prized possession to The Toddler. She is now looking hopefully at The Toddler. Silly Mummy asks The Toddler if she would like to give the leaflet back to The Baby now. The Toddler would not: ‘Not going to have it back. It’s my Tooth Fairy.’ Of course it is. Bloody Peppa Pig and her Tooth Fairy letters.

3. On Mary Poppins, summarising
The Toddler has just got to the end of Mary Poppins (again). As Mary flies off with her umbrella, The Toddler summarises the situation: ‘Mary Poppins she’s got to go and see more children. She’s got to go and fly a kite with her bag.’ Yes, that seems to about cover the end of Mary Poppins, if not correct kite flying techniques.

4. On Labyrinth, also summarising
Other films The Toddler has a perfect grasp of include Labyrinth (which Silly Daddy is inexplicably convinced any two year old would want to see): ‘Where’s the baby? We can’t find it!’ David Bowie appears, The Toddler exclaims: ‘What’s that?’

5. On distrac…fluff
Silly Mummy and The Toddler are engaged in a serious conversation, not that Silly Mummy can remember what it is about, as The Toddler seems to have led the discussion firmly down the path labelled distraction: ‘And then…Oh a bit of fluff there. Just a bit of fluff. It’s there. I get rid of it. It’s gone now.’ (As is everyone’s train of thought.)

6. On porridge, apologising for
The Toddler has been asking Silly Mummy for porridge. Silly Mummy is about to make The Toddler some food, and seeks to confirm whether porridge is still desired: ‘Do you still want to have porridge?’
The Toddler appears to feel Silly Mummy’s question implies porridge making is a particularly onerous task: ‘Yes, I do. Sorry about that. I’ll get it myself then.’

7. On her name
The Toddler is misbehaving. Silly Mummy informs her she is a little monster. The Toddler knows Silly Mummy gets confused, and patiently corrects her: ‘I’m not a monster, I’m The Toddler!’

8. On saying ‘woof’
The Toddler is saying ‘woof’. For no particular reason. This is a little odd. She’s also giving a running commentary about the fact that she is saying ‘woof’. This is more than a little odd. ‘Woof. I say woof to The Baby. I’ll say woof to you. Woof. Do you like woof, The Baby?’

9. On kettles, boring
Silly Mummy is asking The Baby to fetch her various items (to see what words The Baby understands, not because The Baby is Silly Mummy’s slave). Silly Mummy asks The Baby if she can find the kettle from the toy tea set. The Toddler has an objection and interjects: ‘You can’t have the kettle – it’s very boring.’

10. On sharing
The Toddler has been rooting around in the games cupboard she is not supposed to go in. Playing cards are now all over the floor. Silly Mummy is picking them up. The Toddler is protesting Silly Mummy’s seizure of ‘her’ property. Silly Mummy points out: ‘Those are Mummy’s cards.’
The Toddler is feeling generous: ‘I’ll share them with you.’

A word (just the one) from The Baby
The Baby has broken into the restricted (for toddlers and baby toddlers) dining area. She is very pleased with herself. She dodges Silly Mummy and manages to grab a pen before she is apprehended. As Silly Mummy approaches her, The Baby waves her pen in the air, Braveheart style, and issues her war cry: ‘Booooooop!’ You can take The Baby’s pen, but you’ll never take her bop! (In all fairness, ‘bop’ is a more rational war cry than the one William Wallace uses in that film. I’d go so far as to suggest that the course of Scottish history could have been very different had the Scots waved their pens and yelled ‘bop’ at the army of Edward I.)

Some other posts in the ‘Ten Funniest Things The Toddler Said Last Week’ feature
Week 2: I’ll Tell You What, Mummy
Week 12: Undone, Everyone
Week 18: A Spinny Armpits
Week 20: You’re a Good Winner

Two Year Development Reviews: Do They Work?

I’ve been considering writing about the two year development reviews carried out by Health Visitors for quite some time. (In fact, The Toddler’s second birthday and her review were right around the time I first started blogging, six months ago.)

I have to admit at the start that there were no concerns raised at The Toddler’s review, which may make this seem an odd post. I hope people will see what I am getting at, even though I have no reason at all to be personally disgruntled (and I am not, I might add, despite what the pronoun jokes may suggest). It is just that, despite the unproblematic review we happened to have, I couldn’t help but feel that the process was pretty flawed and, in fact, kind of unnecessary.*

Now, I absolutely see the value in carrying out checks in order to try to pick up real problems in a child’s development (or families who may be struggling) early. That makes sense. There is a long gap between birth and school, and of course identifying any problems within that period could lead to better management and treatments for children.

My issue is not with the idea of reviewing children, it is with the method used. The checklists/questionnaires, the little tests, giving parents a score for their children. Does it really need to be done this way?

It seems to me that, where there are actually concerning developmental delays or behavioural issues, a trained professional should be able to identify that by simply watching the child during the meeting, and having a casual talk with parents. Is it necessary to be quizzing parents with what can feel like test questions? Keeping scores for two year olds? I’m sure there would be some children felt to be borderline as to whether there is cause for concern. But, presumably, some children are borderline on the scored system too. Those children could simply be monitored with further checks, surely? I would guess that is probably pretty much what happens anyway.

I wonder how accurate this scored system really is. A lot relies on reporting by the parents. Is it truthful? I am sure many people can work out the answer the Health Visitor is looking for – how many give that regardless? I expect I would be told in answer to this that the Health Visitor can get a reasonable idea if the parents are exaggerating the child’s progress from what they observe of the child. Indeed. So why don’t they just do that? Remove the pressure of making parents feel like they are being tested.

Aside from the accuracy of parents’ self reporting, there is the question of whether the little tasks and tests the toddlers are asked to complete at the review really serve any useful purpose. I have an example. One item The Toddler was marked down on was in the fine motor skills category, because she failed to thread beads on to a string for the Health Visitor. Now, I am not suggesting that The Toddler was capable of doing this. It may very well be that she could not do it; she had certainly never tried before. What interested me was that it was marked that she could not do it, and was therefore lacking in that aspect of fine motor skills, but the test did not actually show that. The test established that she did not do it, but not whether she could do it. You see, she had never tried before and she did not try then. She felt that there were more fun activities she could do with the beads and the string, and she entirely ignored the Health Visitor’s instructions. So was that a test of fine motor skills? Or was it a test of how willing toddlers are to follow instructions? This made me wonder. That happened to be the one thing The Toddler refused to comply with on the day, and it was not a big deal, but how many people’s children refuse to complete lots of the tests? We all know the answer to how willing toddlers are to follow instructions is not very. Do all children who don’t carry out the tasks get marked as lacking the skill being tested, regardless of whether that was demonstrated one way or the other?

Then there is the list itself, and the way it is scored. The checklist/questionnaire appears to represent a fairly arbitrary selection from the multitude of things a toddler might be able to do, as indeed you would expect if you tried to make a checklist to summarise the multitude of things a toddler might be able to do. Furthermore, there seemed to me little consistency between list items in terms of relative difficulty. For example, one item relates to combining two words together, another to using pronouns, rather than names, most of the time. I don’t consider those to be close to the same level of difficulty, or particularly likely to be seen at the same stage of development. To use The Toddler as an example, she was using two words together from about 20-21 months old. By the review at 24 months old, she was speaking in sentences of five-six words. At that time, she was using pronouns about 50% of the time and names the other 50% of the time (if anyone is interested, she was also therefore marked down in this area). By about 27 months, she was using pronouns nearly all the time. I do not dispute that some children may be using pronouns fully by two, though I think those children would be in a minority. However, I would expect any child who can properly use pronouns to also be able to speak in fairly complex sentences, far in advance of two word pairings. Therefore, if the checklist expects children to be able to use pronouns, should it not expect them to be able to speak in multi-word sentences too? This is why I say it is arbitrary and inconsistent. It is a very mixed selection of things most children could do at two years and things few would be able to. Which is okay in a sense, but makes it difficult to judge the meaning of the scoring. Even if the way the scores are viewed is designed to take account of the different levels of difficulty in the list items (dealt with further below), and even if it is not expected that an average child could do all of the tasks, it is hard to escape the impression given that the child was expected to be able to do all of the tasks.

What of situations where the child is able to perform tasks beyond those allowed for on the list. There is no provision for extra points for tasks the child could perform over and above those on the checklist. Whilst I am quite sure it is not the intention, I couldn’t help but feel that this creates an air of negativity. In effect, any area of ‘failure’ (even if it is for a task of a clearly higher level of difficulty than others) is highlighted by receiving zero points, but there is no corresponding system of crediting achievements over and above those listed. How then can you truly say you are assessing a child’s development? Surely you need to assess all areas where there has been progress, as well as areas where there may have been less progress? Is it really okay to highlight to potentially anxious parents that their child is not using pronouns (I am planning to really do this pronouns point to death) all the time (though probably most are not at two), but give no mention to how good their sentences are because that is not on the list? (For that matter, why are the pronouns (told you: to death) getting a mention at all? Is it likely that children not using pronouns at two are going to spend their life talking about themselves in the third person?)

Parents are subsequently given a copy of the checklist and the scores. There is no context to the scores, no explanation given. Perhaps the discrepancy in difficulty levels of the tasks is balanced by the way that the scores are viewed. So that, for example, 30/60 is actually the average score, and, say, 45/60 would be above average. Therefore, the points lost on items that would be clearly developmentally advanced do not prevent the child’s score from reflecting their appropriate level. I do not know if this is the case, though. Of course, the Health Visitor will have said if there is concern, no concern, the child performs above average, etc. However, I doubt that stops people from wondering about the score. Wondering if 35/60 is average? Low? Is 60/60 well above average? Or are the children supposed to get close to full marks? Who knows? Why give people scores without any context? What is the point?

Then there are the averages used to make these lists, to determine where points are given or taken away. Is any account taken of common differences between boys and girls, for example? Are different assessments used? Maybe, but I did not get the impression this was so. How would a single set of criteria based on the averaged development of two year olds allow for common gender differences? There are exceptions, of course, but boys tend to be very physical in their play and communication, girls much more vocal. If all children are being assessed against an averaged criteria, does this review tend to show a lot of boys as below average in language development, and many girls above average? Are more parents of boys therefore told there may be some language delay? I do not know if this is the case, but I do wonder. In truth, what is actually shown if you compare typical boys’ language to typical girls’ language is not developmental delays versus developmental advances, but simply developmental differences.

I should just say here, that I have no doubt that most Health Visitors actually administer these assessments in a sensible and pragmatic way. I am sure that they look beyond the scores in reaching their views on development. I am sure they recognise the limitations of the system, and issues such as developmental differences between genders as well. However, I don’t think that changes the fact that having scored lists creates comparison and competition. I don’t think it changes the fact that maybe, in ensuring that children are monitored and reviewed, we have gone just a little bit too far. A little bit too far into making everyone worry about and compare every little aspect of children’s development.

Of course, I am sure that these checklists/questionnaires, and the tasks set to the children, are not supposed to be referred to as tests. I am sure that the official line is that the scores aid the Health Visitors, and are nothing for parents to be concerned with. But this is my point: if you score them, people will always see them as a form of test or assessment. If you present people with scores, they will always worry, analyse and compare them. If we are not testing two year olds, why have the lists, tasks and test-like elements? And if we are testing two year olds, why on earth are we testing two year olds?

So, whilst there is clear value in identifying children with real difficulties, in order to provide the support needed at the earliest opportunity, I simply wonder if this is really the best way to be doing it. Is assessing two year olds against arbitrary criteria necessary? Is there a risk that this system is causing a disproportionate level of concern about minor developmental differences or delays, that are likely to even out of their own accord by school age? (Has anyone ever really needed to give thought to the percentage of pronoun use employed by a two year old??)

Does the mere act of providing parents with a checklist, a score for their children, risk causing unnecessary worry, putting pressure on parents and children, and fostering a culture of competitive parenting that is not healthy? We already carry out formal testing of very young children in schools. Social media is already full of competitive parents displaying rose tinted accounts of their children’s behaviour and achievements. There is enough anxiety for parents. There is enough pressure and competition. We do not need to be looking to highlight and record areas of ‘failure’ in two year olds, surely (and, indeed, I doubt that is the aim of the system, but it is implicit in the method used). We do not need to be comparing children to other children, let alone some invented ‘average’ child.

Perhaps most would not agree with me, but I would much rather see simple chats and observations carried out, with no lists and no scoring. Following which, any children about whom there is real cause for concern are referred for appropriate support, and everyone else is simply told there are no concerns and their child is doing fine. Not how fine their child is doing in comparison with other children. Not anything to worry about nor anything to brag about. Nothing about bloody pronouns.** Two year olds don’t care if they can say 50 more words than Susan next door. When children start school, no one can tell who walked at one and who was closer to two. Children develop at different rates. In most cases, can we not simply allow them to do so, and enjoy watching it happen?

(*It should be noted, of course, that I can only base my observations and opinions on the way our review was conducted, which may not be the same as everyone’s experiences.
**I am not as upset about the pronouns as it may appear, it just struck me as quite a good example of the possibly unnecessary elements of the process.)

Right, What’s The Problem: The Ten Funniest Things The Toddler Said Last Week

A little bit late this week (Silly Mummy’s fault, not The Toddler’s – it’s not that she forgot to say anything until Wednesday), it’s the Ten Funniest Things feature.

So, out of breath and a little flustered, Silly Mummy gives you The Toddler:

1. On Silly Mummy, not allowed to comment
Silly Mummy is trying to talk to The Toddler. The Toddler is sick of Silly Mummy’s talking, and lets it be known: ‘Stop commenting!’

2. On paranoia
The Baby is babbling to herself. The Toddler goes over and sticks her face right in The Baby’s: ‘What you saying, The Baby? Are you talking about me, The Baby?’ Well, as they say, just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean The Baby’s not talking about you.

3. On cheese, remembering it
Silly Mummy asks The Toddler if she would like some cheese with her lunch. The Toddler replies, ‘Oh, cheese. I remember cheese.’ Ah, yes, my old chum cheese. I remember him well. Fought together in the war, you know. Wonder what old cheese is up to now. Jolly good.

4. On Daddy, bathroom activity
Silly Daddy has made the mistake of spending too long in the bathroom (he’s brushing his teeth). The Toddler has noticed the suspiciously long absence: ‘Daddy might be doing stinky.’

5. On Bamboo? Bambi? Dumbo!
The Toddler has discovered a love of Dumbo, but she can’t remember his name. She is quite excited that her current nappies have elephants on them. During nappy changes she will demand, ‘What’s that?’
Silly Mummy will reply, ‘An elephant.’
The Toddler will giggle and declare, ‘Oh like Bamboo!’ Bamboo? Silly Mummy thinks she is mixing up Dumbo and Bambi. Though this is a little odd: she’s never seen Bambi.

6. On The Baby, offering comfort to
The Baby is crying about something. The Toddler declares that she will be administering cuddles. She crouches down next to The Baby, puts her arms round her, and says soothingly, ‘It’s okay. It doesn’t matter, The Baby.’

7. On counting, three
The Toddler has her numbers board and an important announcement: ‘I going to do countings numbers. Three. Three. Three.’ Apparently, there is a lot of three today. But, wait, what’s this?
‘That one’s not three!’ It’s not three? This is a surprise. What is it, The Toddler? ‘Is…’ The Toddler pauses to consider, Mary Poppins is singing about robins feathering their nests in the background, ‘…Birds, yes!’ Ah, the power of suggestion. Those birds: singing in the threes (sorry)!

8. On yoghurt, not very nice but hers
The Toddler has just finished eating toast for lunch. She says, ‘Yoghurt, please.’ Silly Mummy fetches a yoghurt. The Toddler looks at it: ‘It’s strawberry.’ It’s banana. The Toddler thinks all yoghurts are strawberry.
Silly Mummy says, ‘It’s banana.’
‘Oh nana.’ The Toddler starts eating.
‘It’s not very nice.’ She eats another mouthful.
‘It’s not very nice.’ Another mouthful.
‘It’s not very nice.’ Another mouthful.
‘It’s not very nice.’ The Toddler is giving mixed messages.
Silly Mummy asks, ‘Can I try it, if you don’t like it?’
‘No. It’s my yoghurt.’

9. On…this
Silly Mummy, The Toddler and The Baby are walking along the road. The Toddler suddenly decides to be interested in lamp posts for the first time ever. She comes up against a slight hurdle in her desire to discuss her new find with Silly Mummy when, due to her previous complete disinterest in lamp posts, she realises she does not know what they’re called: ‘Look, Mummy! It’s a big, big…this!’

10. On the problem, what is it
Silly Mummy, on The Toddler’s orders, is searching for a missing toy. Due to the missing nature of the toy, locating the toy is proving rather difficult. The Toddler, however, would like to know what the hold up is: ‘Right then, what’s the problem?’

Other posts in the ‘Ten Funniest Things The Toddler Said Last Week’ feature
Week 1: Come On, Guys
Week 2: I’ll Tell You What, Mummy
Week 3: Think So, Mummy
Week 4: Your Emus
Week 5: Don’t Do It
Week 6: Get On It
Week 7: Calm Down
Week 8: Perfick
Week 9: That’s Not Fair
Week 10: Silly Me


PaintingThe Toddler is painting. Apparently. She appears in front of Silly Mummy.
‘Want to help The Toddler paint?’
Well, this is intriguing. There are no paints out today. Nor any crayons, pencils or pens. All art related items are safely in the cupboard. Not even the aquadoodle mat or etch-a-sketch are available (both having been rejected by The Toddler as acceptable toys for the day). Obviously, Silly Mummy does want to help The Toddler paint, if only to find out what is going on.

Silly Mummy dutifully follows The Toddler to a carefully selected patch of the living room wall. The Toddler is holding a coaster from the coffee table and two plastic knives from her toy breakfast set. The Toddler holds out a knife to Silly Mummy, before swirling the other knife around the coaster and brushing it across the wall.
‘Painting! Mummy paint!’
Silly Mummy dabs the plastic knife on to the coaster, and proceeds to make patterns on the wall. The Toddler approves.
‘Good painting.’

The Baby is staring. She is probably wondering what on earth The Toddler and Silly Mummy think they are doing. The Toddler, however, has another interpretation.
‘The Baby wants to help paint.’
The Baby is handed a plastic knife.
‘Come on, The Baby, mix all the colours! Come on, The Baby, mix all the colours!’
The Baby is not mixing all the colours. The Baby is chewing the plastic knife/paintbrush.
‘The Baby is naughty! The Baby is naughty again! Mummy want to help The Toddler’s painting?’
It appears The Baby’s career as a painter is over. She has been fired. Her plastic knife/paintbrush is unceremoniously removed from her grasp, and handed to Silly Mummy. Silly Mummy is reinstated as The Toddler’s decorating assistant.

The Toddler has finished painting the wall, and is sorting out her painting equipment ready for the next area in need of a splash of colour.
‘Want brush. Paints. Want paints. Mix all the colours. The Toddler is making all the colours.’
She moves on to painting the TiVo box with her plastic knife. There is a suspicious smell emanating from her vicinity. Silly Mummy says, ‘Does The Toddler need her nappy changing?’
‘No! Painting! Want to paint.’

Silly Mummy feels she really must insist on the nappy being changed. The Toddler begrudgingly lies down on the mat. The coaster/paint palette is now a phone. Of course. The Toddler holds it to her ear.
‘Phone. Hello. No. Not. Okay. Painting. Doing painting.’
Having notified them of her activities, The Toddler abruptly hangs up on the unspecified person on the other end of the coaster.

The Toddler’s nappy is changed. The coaster/phone is a paint palette again. The TiVo is still only partially painted: The Toddler needs to get back to work.
‘Doing painting. Mix all the colours.’
As The Toddler keeps mixing all the colours, Silly Mummy can only assume the entire living room is being painted a rather fetching shade of imaginary brown.

Whilst painting on the living room walls using plastic knives and imaginary paint from a coaster may be the first sign of toddler madness, the key point here, as far as Silly Mummy is concerned, is that imaginary paint (even when brown) is just so much easier to clean off. In fact, The Toddler will do it. Now, let’s see, to remove imaginary brown paint applied from a coaster with a plastic knife? Why yes, she will simply need imaginary water applied from a magnifying glass with a plastic egg. And help from a confused baby assistant.

The Toddler Is in Residence: The Playhouse Is Closed to the Public

The Toddler Is in Residence: The Playhouse Is Closed to the PublicWe are in a cafe with a children’s play area, which contains a little playhouse. The playhouse is empty. The Toddler marches over and commandeers it. For the war effort, you understand. Not that The Toddler is at war. But she will be if anyone tries to get in that playhouse. She is thinking ahead.

A rather brave/optimistic/clueless little boy approaches the house and attempts to enter. The Toddler pushes the door shut. This is her house now. She has a watering can and she is ready to defend her property.

Silly Mummy decides to utilise The Toddler’s love of inviting people in (to rooms, playpens, hallways, their own house). Silly Mummy says, ‘Can you let other people play too, please? Say, “Hello, please come in.” Okay?’
The Toddler nods, and dutifully approaches the little boy at the door: ‘Goodbye. See you soon.’
Not quite ‘please come in’, is it? Still, full marks for style and hutzpah.

After a brief period during which The Toddler is lured away from the playhouse with raisins, she is back in residence. In her absence, someone has tried to put the curtains back on the window. Those are coming down. They don’t match The Toddler’s watering can.

Some older girls try to enter the house. The Toddler (and her watering can) dispatch them. Silly Mummy has another word with The Toddler about sharing the playhouse: ‘Can you let other people come in and play too, if they want to?’ This time The Toddler is more amenable. Undeterred by the current lack of anyone wanting to enter the house, The Toddler yells, ‘Oh yes! Come on, people!’

Back Soon: The Toddler Has Left the Building

Back SoonThe Toddler has left the building. Actually, she hasn’t. The door is locked. But she has announced her intention to leave, said her goodbyes, packed a bag. Or, at least, picked up a toy kettle and a wooden triangle. Or put an envelope on her head as a hat. That happened.

Before The Toddler could speak, she would just amble off towards the door. When she got her first bag, she took up ambling towards the door with random items stuffed in her bag. Once she started speaking, she would cheerfully call, ‘Bye!’ She now says ‘see you later’ or ‘back soon’. Pretty much whenever she moves, in fact. Or anyone else moves. Fetching toys from half a metre away, Silly Mummy going to change The Baby’s nappy, and going to bed are all appropriate ‘back soon’/’see you later’ situations, as far as The Toddler is concerned.

If The Toddler feels one of her trips is particularly deserving of recognition, she likes to narrate it. She is setting out on an epic journey from her bedroom to halfway down the landing. Each step of this momentous trek must be charted. The Toddler heads out of the door. ‘Walking. Back soon…’ There is a pause. ‘Sorry, Bink! Geta Bink.’ The Toddler edges back into the room. She subtly grabs teddy Binker and sidles casually back out onto the landing, confident no one noticed her oversight. ‘Walking. Bye, Mummy. Back soon.’

The Toddler’s commitment to ensuring everyone is kept fully abreast of her travel plans does not stop at information about her departure and expected time of return. Oh no. The Toddler will also announce the return. It often occurs immediately after the departure: ‘Bye. Back again.’

As for the contents of The Toddler’s bag? Typical items packed for her trips include the coasters from the coffee table, a ball, a turtle, wooden shapes, a plastic cabbage. On one notable occasion, The Toddler marched to the door wearing only a nappy & carrying an entirely empty bag. The Toddler reappeared. She had forgotten something. She was not properly prepared for the trip. ‘Mummy, need shoes!’ Ah, shoes! Yes, that was what was missing.

The Toddler has become aware of late that unlocking the door is a process involved in people leaving the house. She therefore now typically asks Silly Mummy to give her the keys or unlock the door. ‘Time to go now. Bye bye, Mummy. Unlock door, please, Mummy.’ A blunt ‘no’ in response to this request was met with, ‘Oh, alright.’ But then Silly Mummy felt a bit bad. So Silly Mummy created a magic, invisible key (kept on the shelf with the imaginary jam) for such occasions.

The magic, invisible key was a great idea. Then it escalated. It could now be described as a little out of control. It is just before bedtime. The Toddler, in her pyjamas, fancies a stroll. She heads for the door. ‘Bye now. Going walk. Shoes on. Going now. Keys, please, Mummy. Want keys.’ Silly Mummy fetches and hands over the magic, invisible key (Silly Mummy is becoming an excellent mime artist).

The Toddler is still indoors (she has yet to notice the magic, invisible key is not so good with actually opening the door). It is sunny outside. However: ‘Raining. Oh dear me. Bit of rain. Bit of rain, Mummy. Need jacket. Jacket, please.’ Would you look at that: Silly Mummy happens to have a magic, invisible raincoat right here! Silly Mummy helps The Toddler into the magic, invisible coat, and zips it up (really).

The Toddler is now fully prepared for this trip. Right? Wrong. ‘Harness, please. Need harness.’ One minute later, and The Toddler is wearing a magic, invisible harness over her magic, invisible raincoat. She is holding the magic, invisible rein of her own magic, invisible harness, since no one else is going on the imaginary walk. (No, The Toddler did not consider the rein issue herself. Yes, Silly Mummy did get carried away with the mime act). The Toddler must be ready, surely?

‘Going. Need tea cup.’ Tea cup? A tea cup is needed for the walk? Apparently so. One magic, invisible tea cup coming up. The Toddler is definitely ready this time. She takes a step. ‘Need hat on. Get The Toddler’s hat, please, Mummy.’ Silly Mummy – who I think we can all agree is remarkably well stocked with completely imaginary items – supplies a magic, invisible hat, and The Toddler is off.

Nearly. ‘Doing walking. Need shoes on.’ Really? Silly Mummy is sure The Toddler said she had her shoes on at the start of this expedition. Apparently, one can never be wearing too many pairs of imaginary shoes. Inexplicably, Silly Mummy’s magic, invisible shoes are buckle-up. Must get some magic, invisible Velcro shoes: much quicker.

‘Bye, Mummy. Door, please. Going now, Mummy. Get bag, please.’ Well, in fairness, what else is she going to keep all her magic, invisible items in except a magic, invisible bag?

The Toddler finally makes it to the door. In keeping with the entirely imaginary nature of the trip and her attire, The Toddler is sticking with her imaginary weather: ‘Jacket on, bit cold. Raining.’ The Toddler decides this imaginary weather is not for her. She’s a fair weather imaginary walker. She’ll just pop off to bed instead. (Without so much as removing a magic, invisible shoe, Silly Mummy might add. The bed will be full of magic, invisible dirt.) ‘Night night, Mummy. Back soon!’ Yes, in 12 hours.

I’ll Tell You What, Mummy: The Ten Funniest Things The Toddler Said Last Week

I'll Tell You What, Mummy: The Ten Funniest Things The Toddler Said Last WeekIn what has now officially become a new feature (two weeks in a row is a new feature, right?), Silly Mummy once again presents ten of the funniest things The Toddler said last week. (If you missed last week’s edition, you can see it here.)

So here she is, The Toddler:

1. On Mummy, not getting a kiss
Silly Mummy asks The Toddler, ‘Can I have a kiss?’
‘No, Mummy. Thanks.’ Thanks? Thanks?? What is that? Not just rejected, but formally rejected: ‘Thank you for your interest in a kiss but, unfortunately, we will not pursuing your application at this time.’ Silly Mummy considers herself told.

2. On stairs, no one being big enough
Silly Mummy, The Toddler and The Baby are about to descend the stairs. Silly Mummy is carrying The Baby; The Toddler will walk down herself, holding Mummy’s hand. The Toddler knows we must be careful going down the stairs. She knows The Baby cannot go down the stairs by herself. At the top of the stairs, The Toddler proclaims, ‘The Baby not stairs!’
Silly Mummy confirms, ‘No, The Baby can’t go on the stairs – she’s not big enough, is she?’
The Toddler nods, and adds, ‘The Toddler not big enough.’
‘You’re not big enough for the stairs?’
‘No. And Mummy not big girl. No stairs!’ Oh dear. The Baby, The Toddler and Silly Mummy are all not big enough to go down the stairs. Well, this is a dilemma. On with the post from the top of the stairs, where we shall remain until we are big girls.

3. On not
The Toddler has decided the word ‘not’ can stand alone. The Toddler holds no truck with any of the words ‘not’ usually serves to negate. Do not, cannot, will not, have not, is not, must not. Clearly, ‘not’ is the significant word here: those pesky verbs are just wasting her time.
‘Can you put those back, The Toddler?’
‘Oh no, Mummy, not.’
‘Do you want to get dressed, The Toddler?’
‘Oh no, Mummy, not.’

4. On Mummy, shutting up
‘Shhh, Mummy, shut.’ Did she just tell Silly Mummy to shut up? She just told Silly Mummy to shut up, didn’t she?

5. On Grandma, not available on the remote control
Now, The Toddler often Skypes with her various grandparents on the TV. She knows about Skype. She provides detailed instructions: ‘Call Grandma on TV. Remote up there! Armpit cam!’ (To clarify, the remotes are kept out of reach – ‘up there’. The webcam is not kept in anyone’s armpit – the shutter needs opening, and The Toddler’s version of ‘open it’ is ‘armpit’.) The Toddler is also aware that Mummy and Daddy tend to phone the grandparents first to see if they are available. It seems The Toddler is now taking matters into her own hands. She has her toy remote control. She puts it up to her ear. (The Toddler is very busy. She does not have time to find her toy phone and her toy remote. The remote is therefore now a phone.) ‘Hello. Talking. Hello, Grandma. It’s me. The Baby is naughty. Hello. Talking. Hmm. Yes. Okay.’ The Toddler takes the remote away from her ear. She is satisfied that she has now made the appropriate arrangements with Grandma on the remote/phone (and, apparently, has additionally reported The Baby for some unspecified transgression). The Toddler now points the remote at the TV: ‘Hello. It’s me. Hello.’ The TV continues to play Sarah and Duck. Not a Grandma in sight. (Not a parent in sight, for that matter. Who on earth is responsible for that child? Wandering around town with a duck. A duck is not a suitable legal guardian. In Silly Mummy’s day cartoon children were properly supervised by a pair of responsible adult legs at all times! But Sarah and Duck is not the point here…) The Toddler continues to wave the remote at the TV, which (unsurprisingly, given that it’s a toy remote) remains Grandma-less. ‘Hello. It’s me. Can’t see Grandma. Oh dear.’

6. On Daddy, doing it every time
Daddy and The Toddler are playing throw and catch (throw and throw, in The Toddler’s case (http://risforhoppit.uk/throw-and-catch/)). Without The Toddler’s prior written approval, Daddy decides to include The Baby in throw and catch. For the first time ever, Daddy throws the ball to The Baby. The Toddler shakes her head disapprovingly, ‘Every time, Daddy.’ Clearly, that particular sarcastic phrase has been over-used by the adults of the house. You have to hand it to The Toddler: she may have misinterpreted the appropriate context, but she absolutely nailed the appropriate tone.

7. On The Baby, shouldering the blame
The Toddler and The Baby are both misbehaving in the bathroom. The Toddler is attempting to wash the toilet with the hand soap. The Baby is attempting to make a break for it with her bottom out. Silly Mummy says, ‘You’re both naughty pickles.’
The Toddler nods wisely and says, ‘Yes, The Baby, you’re a naughty pickle.’

8. On drunkenness
Silly Mummy, The Toddler and The Baby are in M&S, walking through the menswear department. The Toddler starts yelling, ‘Drunken! Drunken, Mummy!’ Well, that’s not good. (Particularly unfair, too, as Silly Mummy in fact doesn’t drink at all.) The Toddler is not to be dissuaded: ‘Drunken! Drunken!’ Silly Mummy glances around, thinking maybe The Toddler means something else that just sounds like ‘drunken’. Nothing that sounds remotely like ‘drunken’ is identified. The Toddler continues to shout about ‘drunken’ until distracted by the lift: ‘Ooh up, down!’ (If you are wondering, Silly Mummy has no idea why The Toddler always seems to pick M&S for these incidents. (http://risforhoppit.uk/bin/) We don’t even go to M&S a lot.) The drunken episode is a mystery. It has been forgotten by two days later, when one of The Toddler’s DVDs of songs reaches ‘What Shall We Do With A Drunken Sailor’, and The toddler yells, ‘Drunken! Drunken!’ Oh, right. She was singing. Obviously. Silly Mummy. Now that Silly Mummy comes to think of it, why is ‘Drunken Sailor’ on a DVD of songs for young children, anyway? Do they not realise that small children believe singing means shouting random words from songs? Do they not realise people have to go out in public with their children?

9. On The Baby, offering encouragement to
The Baby pulls herself up on her little walker and sets off across the room. The Toddler, with no prompting, calls, ‘Oh wowee, The Baby! Oh wowee!’

10. On Mummy, telling her what
The Toddler has mastered the art of anticipation. Accidentally. She announces, ‘I’ll tell you what, Mummy.’ Silly Mummy is intrigued. What is this information The Toddler is about to impart? No, really, what is it? Hello? The Toddler is gone. She is unaware that the phrase ‘I’ll tell you what’ is intended to pre-empt, well, telling someone something. After some initial confusion as to where she picked up this latest toddler-ism, Silly Mummy can confirm that it has been conclusively traced to Justin’s House. Silly Mummy can only assume that Justin Fletcher does proceed to tell the audience something, but The Toddler is probably searching for imaginary jam by that point. (http://risforhoppit.uk/jam/)

Other posts in the ‘Ten Funniest Things The Toddler Said Last Week’ feature
Week 1: Come On, Guys
Week 3: Think So, Mummy
Week 4: Your Emus
Week 5: Don’t Do It
Week 6: Get On It
Week 7: Calm Down
Week 8: Perfick
Week 9: That’s Not Fair
Week 10: Silly Me

Come On, Guys: The Ten Funniest Things The Toddler Said Last Week

Come On, Guys: The Ten Funniest Things The Toddler Said Last WeekIn what may become a new feature (if The Toddler continues to be funny this week), Silly Mummy presents ten of the funniest things The Toddler said last week (and a word from The Baby).

So, without further ado, Silly Mummy gives you The Toddler:

1. On The Baby, plans of
The Toddler is watching The Baby crawl out of the room: ‘The Baby busy. The Baby go shops.’ (Oh good: we need milk.) The Baby returns to the room seconds later. The Toddler announces: ‘The Baby not go shops. Baby want tea cup.’ (No milk, then. Good luck with that tea, The Baby.)

2. On the dolls’ house, orders given to
The Toddler wishes the dolls’ house to report for duty forthwith: ‘Come on doll house. Quick.’ The dolls’ house is about as obedient as The Baby, and stubbornly remains where it is.

3. On Mummy, waiting
The Toddler is taking an important, albeit imaginary, phone call: ‘Hello…talk…yes…’ The Toddler has spotted Silly Mummy. Apparently, Silly Mummy is needed. The Toddler pauses in her phone call to say to Silly Mummy, ‘Stay there, Mummy: one minute.’ She returns to the call, ‘Hello…talk…hello…hang on a minute.’ Evidently, the imaginary caller has been put on hold. Both Silly Mummy and the caller are now waiting. The Toddler has left. She’s eating raisins.

4. On The Baby, pickle tendencies
The Baby is trying to crawl away whilst her nappy is being changed.
Silly Mummy: ‘Oh, The Baby, you are a -‘
The Toddler: ‘- Pickle!’
Silly Mummy: ‘Yes! And a squidget fidget!’ (What?? It’s a perfectly reasonable thing to say!)
The Toddler (giving Silly Mummy a disparaging look): ‘No. Not that one. Pickle.’ (Okay, apparently it’s not a perfectly reasonable thing to say. The Baby is just a pickle.)

5. On Mummy, opposition to
‘Oooh, Mummy, no!’ The Toddler is a Carry On film. Or Dick Emery. (Stay tuned: it is likely by next week Silly Mummy will be awful, but we’ll like it.)

6. On toast, losing that one
The Toddler is searching for plastic toast from her breakfast set: ‘Where’s that one toast? Where’s it gone, Mummy? More find it. Oh dear.’ (It’s still missing, incidentally. Silly Mummy knows you were on the edge of your seats, thinking, ‘But where was the one toast? Has it been found?’) Oddly, all missing items last week were referred to as ‘the one’: ‘Where’s the one gone?’ It was like The Toddler Matrix around here.

7. On wanting things, actually
‘I want that one, actually.’ Oh, actually. You want it, actually. Well, actually, that one is Silly Mummy’s mascara, actually. ‘Yes. That. Want it, actually.’

8. On herself, getting out of the way
The Toddler is trying to close the playpen gate whilst standing in the gateway. It is not going well. The Toddler has a word with herself: ‘Shut it door…The Toddler out way first.’

9. On coming on, guys
The Toddler is charging across the room. Apparently, everyone should be following. This requires a new command. The usual ‘come on, The Baby’ won’t cut it: everyone should be following. The Toddler is therefore calling, ‘Come on, guys!’ Yep, that ought to cover it, but where on earth did she learn it?

10. On The Baby, looks
The Toddler sidles over to The Baby. She declares The Baby to be ‘gorgeous’. That is all. She sidles away.

(And a word from The Baby
‘Duck!’ Yes, duck. The Baby has taken to repeating ‘duck’ whenever she hears Silly Mummy or The Toddler say it, which is surprisingly often (thanks, ‘Sarah and Duck’). Silly Mummy wonders what The Baby thinks ‘duck’ is. Has ‘duck’ been said with such disproportionate frequency that The Baby is under the impression it is a vital word? The first word she will need. See what you’ve done, Sarah and Duck!)

Other posts in the ‘Ten Funniest Things The Toddler Said Last Week’ feature
Week 2: I’ll Tell You What, Mummy
Week 3: Think So, Mummy
Week 4: Your Emus
Week 5: Don’t Do It
Week 6: Get On It
Week 7: Calm Down
Week 8: Perfick
Week 9: That’s Not Fair
Week 10: Silly Me


ReadingThe Toddler has taken up reading. Which is to say she has taken up turning the pages of books, whilst narrating a combination of what she can see in the pictures & what she remembers of the story. ‘Baby…1,2,3…Bed…Sleep…Wake up…Peepo…Dog…Peepo…Grandma…
Glasses…Hat…Peepo…The end!’

The Toddler’s current favourite book is ‘The Gruffalo’. The Toddler loves ‘The Gruffalo’. Literally. She spends much of her time with her face inside the book saying, ‘Kiss a Gruffalo!’ The Toddler no longer gets out of bed until she has looked at ‘The Gruffalo’.

One day, when The Toddler is getting up, she asks to have both ‘The Gruffalo’ and The Baby in the bed with her. Silly Mummy warns The Toddler that The Baby will try to eat ‘The Gruffalo’ if she gets hold of it. The Toddler explains the situation to The Baby: ‘No, The Baby. No eat. This: Gruffalo! Read!’ The Baby understands. She puts ‘The Gruffalo’ in her mouth. The Toddler now follows every request for ‘The Gruffalo’ with, ‘The Baby can’t eat book!’ The Baby knows this is inaccurate. There are no books she ‘can’t’ eat. There are merely books people have been careless enough to leave in her reach, and books they have not.

The Toddler offers her reading services to those in need. She sits in bed with ‘The Gruffalo’ and teddy Binker. The Toddler announces, ‘Bink sad.’ She puts a blanket over Binker’s feet: ‘Tuck in. There – better. Read a Bink.’ She picks up ‘The Gruffalo’. She opens it. She pauses. She wonders if Binker needs to learn to look after himself. She closes ‘The Gruffalo’ and flings ‘James and the Giant Peach’ at Binker: ‘Bink, read this one, Bink.’ Binker looks at the book. He does not open it. He is too sad. The Toddler relents and opens ‘The Gruffalo’ again. Binker settles in for the story. He is not disappointed: ‘Where going brown mouse? Where going brown mouse? Where going brown mouse? LUNCH OVER!’

The Toddler wants to ensure she is well read. She therefore reluctantly puts aside ‘The Gruffalo’ and picks up ‘George’s Marvellous Medicine’. Also known as ‘Purple Book’ and ‘George Story’, Daddy sometimes reads this book to The Toddler at bedtime. The Toddler turns the pages. She tells her abridged version of the story: ‘No, George. Stop it, George. Naughty George!’ Silly Mummy considers that this is actually a reasonable summary of the book. The Toddler may have a career writing blurbs ahead of her. (Assuming her first vocation of Planning Officer does not work out. The Toddler is a natural. All duplo constructions erected without the appropriate permissions are immediately demolished. Furthermore, should The Toddler see anyone contemplating starting a duplo construction without planning permission, she is on site immediately with a cease and desist order. Well, more of a snatch and yell ‘NO’ order, really, but the effect is the same. I digress.)

Some of The Toddler’s abridged versions of her books are more abridged than others. The Toddler brings ‘Each Peach Pear Plum’ to Silly Mummy: ‘Mummy – read! Pea Pear Pum – read! Sit down there!’ Silly Mummy dutifully sits down there, opens the book and prepares to read.
‘No!’ The Toddler snatches the book away, ‘Me read!’
‘You want to read it yourself?’
‘Yes!’ The Toddler opens the book to the first page. She says, ‘Ee Pea Pear Pum.’ It is a good start. We are all very excited to learn what happens next in the thrilling story we feel sure awaits us. The Toddler turns to the very last page. She announces, ‘End!’ She slams the book shut. ‘All gone! Take away!’

Really, this reading lark is awfully easy. The title and the end are the important things. After all, it is clear to The Toddler that if the book has been both started and finished, it stands to reason that the book has been completed. Everything in the middle is very much optional. The Toddler wonders why people complain about how difficult it is to finish ‘War and Peace’. Do they not know where the ‘end’ page is?

The Baby Joins In

The Baby Joins InToday The Baby is saying ‘ba’. She is sitting on the floor, happily chattering: ‘Ba ba ba!’

The Toddler wanders over. She has her farm animals. We start doing animal noises. Silly Mummy asks, ‘What’s this?’
The Toddler replies, ‘Cow!’
‘What noise does a cow make?’
The Baby watches, fascinated. She smiles. She says, ‘Ba ba!’

We move on to the next animal. ‘What’s this?’
‘What noise does a pig make?’
‘Ba ba!’ says The Baby.

The Baby grabs the pig and starts to chew on it. Silly Mummy and The Toddler pick up another animal.
‘What’s this?’
‘What noise does a horse make?’
(Pause) ‘Moo?’
Silly Mummy says, ‘Neigh. Horses neigh.’
The Toddler says, ‘Neigh’.
The Baby says, ‘Ba ba!’

We turn our attention to the chicken. ‘What’s this?’
‘Bird! Tweet tweet!’
‘It is a type of bird, yes. It’s a chicken.’
‘Ooh chicka!’ (The Toddler has been a fan of ‘chickas’ since Easter.)
‘Chickens cluck, don’t they?’
‘Cuck?’ says The Toddler.
‘Ba ba!’ says The Baby.

Silly Mummy holds up another animal and asks, ‘What’s this?’
The Toddler answers, ‘Sheep!’
The Baby says, ‘Ba ba!’
‘What noise does a sheep make?’
The Baby says, ‘Ba ba!’
The Toddler says, ‘Baa!’

The Baby is thrilled. Everyone is now saying ‘ba’. Her persistence with ‘ba’ has paid off: she is accidentally part of the conversation. She says, ‘Ba ba ba!’ The Toddler laughs. The Baby is ecstatic. She has been funny. ‘Ba ba ba!’

The Parrots

The ParrotsThe Baby is very vocal. She is always up for a bit of random shouting. She enjoys a good squeal. She has much to say on the subject of bears: ‘Abear! Abear! Abear!’ Sadly for The Baby, whilst she chatters excitedly, loudly and incessantly, she is chattering in a different language to everyone around her. Even The Toddler is confused. The Toddler tries to explain to The Baby that there are no bears. She makes suggestions as to how The Baby may have become confused: ‘No, The baby! No bear – Daddy!’ The Baby is adamant: ‘Abear! Abear!’

The Baby and The Toddler are at the zoo. The Baby is unimpressed. She sleeps. Occasionally she cries. We go to see the parrots. The parrots screech and squawk. They make an almighty racket. The Baby smiles. This is more like it. The tigers ignored her. The giraffes were downright rude. These brightly-coloured, feathery creatures, on the other hand, appear to speak baby! The Baby yells, ‘Rah rah rah rah’, and throws in a high pitched scream for good measure. The parrots screech. Yes, they are indeed speaking baby. It’s an unfamiliar regional dialect, but The Baby gets the gist. She feels they can muddle through. She squeals and hollers, ‘Ba baaaaaa!’ The parrots squawk. The Baby laughs. The parrots told a funny joke. The parrots are very loud. The Baby is unfazed. The Baby is very loud. The parrots and The Baby are getting on like a house on fire. The parrots shriek all the sounds they know. The Baby quite agrees. She bellows all the sounds she knows.

It is time to move on to the giant tortoises. The Baby screeches a cheerful goodbye to the parrots. She is in her element. People – albeit slightly odd-looking, beaky ones – are speaking her language for once. She turns her attention to the nearest tortoise. ‘Ba ba ba. Aaaah ra ra. Goober. Abear?’ The tortoise stares at her. It says nothing. The Baby’s smile fades. Here we go again. The tortoise is rude.