How not to piss off a toddler

My NOT Pete Docherty!

My NOT Pete Docherty!

After my two-and-half-year-old son Zain had yet another monumental, meteoric meltdown, sparked this time by the wrong colour of spoon for his mashed potato, I approached his jungle-themed lair tentatively. I asked if he’d care to enlighten me as to what turns an otherwise sunny, funny toddler into an angry, irrational African dictator – just so I might not reoffend again. After a quiet moment of reflection arranging his stuffed elephants in order of preference, Zain gave me a fleeting glance and told me to pull up a beanbag. “Listen Mummy, I don’t make the rules,’ he said, twirling the trunk of his favoured elephant the way a Bond villain might. “I’m two for Peppa’s sake! It’s the way we roll. But as I’m feeling generous, I think I can help a little…” He then shared with me his top tantrum-curtailing tips. I took notes so I might share these with you. It’s true what they say, kids are mean. We need to stick together…

DO NOT present me anything green at mealtimes
We have the same fallout every day. You oh-so-nonchalantly place peas or broccoli, or some other nonsense tucked surreptitiously in the corner of my plate, in front of me. You and Daddy sit glancing nervously from each other, to the green muck, to me, all the while faking breezy conversation. I can almost smell the fear. The inevitable tantrum ensues, you lose your rag, make me eat it and it always ends with me literally foaming at the mouth – jade regurgitated gunge. It might be helpful to underline this bit in your notes; unless it’s in jelly baby form or something extracted from my nose, I don’t do greens.
But let’s talk about who really has the food issues. That’s right, you Mummy. That baby weight won’t lose itself you know. I see you, head first in the treats cupboard, stuffing chocolate buttons – MY chocolate buttons – in your gob like a bulimic (who doesn’t ever throw up because you wouldn’t dare waste food). I fully expect to hear something about starving children in Africa at some point during my childhood, but the irony is you eat enough to feed a small developing country. In fact, your backside is fast becoming the size of a small developing country. Just something to think about…

DO NOT give me the wrong colour of spoon
You know that scene in Misery when Kathy Bates knows James Caan has snuck out of his room because her ceramic penguin, which “always faces due south”, has been knocked? And then she goes off on one with a hammer? I feel she is very misunderstood. I believe there is an order to her world which he has very thoughtlessly disrupted. Similarly, I prefer my toast cut into triangles not squares, I like my cup of juice to the right of my little table and I WANT THE ORANGE COLOURED COCKADOODIE SPOON FOR MY MASH NOT THE BLUE ONE! You get the gist, I trust? Get any of this wrong and I will kick off all mental-like, just like Kathy. And those very ‘hilarious’, apologetic jokes you make to friends and relatives about me having more demands than Jennifer Lopez? Well, we both know it’s true – she, like me, apparently has partialities for white muslin, room temperature water and bendy straws with which to drink the aforementioned water. Oh, and while I remember, it’s worth adding that I like to mix things up – move the goalposts, change the rules, that sort of thing – so best check with me that my rider demands haven’t changed. If I’m busy recording my new album Dark Side of the Spoon, speak with my obliging grandparent entourage…

DO NOT have another baby
Oh dear. I do feel a bit sorry for you and Daddy. Mother Nature very cruelly wiped your memories of the sleep deprivation, late-night rows, barf in your hair, excrement under your fingernails – and like gullible fools you celebrated that positive pregnancy test, oblivious to the extra evil in store. That’s right – me, Mummy, me. Maybe you didn’t get the memo but I am centre of the universe, and that baby is a blot on my plot to rule the world. Look at it – sitting there dribbling, dishing out crowd-pleasing, gummy smiles. I really do not care for that baby. I do though, make it pay of course. You too, for that matter. I tend to exact my revenge by throwing your mobile phone down the toilet, rattling the stair gate like a rioting prisoner as you try to put it down for a nap, and undoing all your good potty training work in Tesco. As you’ve already broken this cardinal toddler rule, might I suggest that it goes on eBay, or perhaps you can swap it for a Little Tykes playhouse? The one with the working doorbell? I’d like that. In the meantime, just a friendly bit of advice, maybe don’t leave it, me and a cushion alone in the same room as I’m quite partial to a vigorous game of baby peekaboo…

DO NOT skip a page
Tired, are you? Bored of the same story night after night? Tough teats! Attempting to skip a page of that book will always result in quite a lot of angry, body-planking objection. I think we’ve established I have a memory and need for consistent military order that could put Rain Man to shame, so why you think that I won’t notice your chunky thumb hooking two pages at a time is beyond me. I see you yawning and checking your watch – wondering if you can make it downstairs in time for Location, Location, Location, I suspect. I can answer that for you now – no way. And while we’re on the matter of bedtime reading, how hard is it to get the words right? I know every book I own the way orthodox Muslims memorise the Quran, so don’t cheat me of a single word, please. It does irk me so. Put your back into it. I want accents, dramatic tension, comedy voices – the works. Maybe try channelling Sir Alec Guinness or Dame Judi? Definitely exude a titled, Oscar-winning thespian please. I don’t want no Neil Morrisey or Jane Horrocks or some other knackered comic supplementing their retirement fund with a spot of CBeebies voiceover work…

DO NOT expect me to nap
Ooh, this is a biggie for you isn’t it, Mummy? The whole sleep thing has been something of an obsession since my birth. “He doesn’t sleep,” I’d hear you bleat on the phone to some poor sap. “Why won’t he sleep? Why? WHY?” If it’s any consolation, I’m sure you managed to put the person at the other end of the phone to sleep. Bet he wished he hadn’t dialled that wrong number now. I think we need to look at minimising your expectations. Expect me not to nap? Prepare for me to wake up three times in the night? Let me stay asleep at 5pm, dangerously close to bedtime, face down in my Chicken Dippers? Imagine all the bitter disappointment and tearful tantrums you’ll save yourself? Don’t you feel better already? And if that doesn’t clinch it, you’ll no longer have to hear cries of, ‘Mum-meee! My done a poo in my cot!” and then behold a scene that would impress Pete Docherty. You know it makes sense. Of course, when I do manage to fall and stay asleep, please do not dare wake me – unless you like the sound of me howling like a yodelling coyote? And yes, the irony of it all is very amusing and worthy of yet another aren’t-kids-a-nuisance Facebook status update: “You spend hours trying to get them to sleep and then you can’t wake them up! D’oh!” Brilliant. How long did it take you to come up with that work of genius? Ps no one says ‘d’oh’ anymore. Not even Homer Simpson…

DO NOT think my rousing rendition of The Wheels on the Bus is an invitation for you to join in
Despite the many under-your-breath (or so you claim) expletives you utter every day, I am yet to say my first swear word. But if I was a sweary toddler (like that one who lives in the social housing across the road – you know, the one whose mother you smile nervously at before rushing indoors to hide from?); you singing when I’m in full song might drive me to cuss like someone in The Wire. Let me make this clear, when I sing, and I think Louis Walsh would agree with me, I own the song. THE SONG BELONGS TO ME! SO DO NOT ATTEMPT TO SING ALONG! I don’t know why you think I’ll find it cute. I don’t! It merely makes me jut out my bottom lip, let it quiver ominously, before releasing an almighty roar of enraged objection. No, best stick to whining along to Joan Baez or Carol King or whatever old lady-loving misery you have sitting in the cd player of the car. Do this on your own time, of course. I am the true singer of this family and the car, bath, cot – EVERYWHERE – is my stage. And I shall be performing solo…

DO NOT say, ‘but that’s impossible, angel…’
You tend to trot this line out when I quite reasonably request something such as the simple restoration of a smashed to smithereens biscuit, or a quick Sunday afternoon drive to sub-Saharan Africa to see elephants. Honestly, sometimes it’s like you don’t care about me at all. Your cruelty knows no bounds and I’m sorry to say but I feel you bring my subsequent floor-hugging breakdown upon yourself. I don’t care if you don’t have a ’nana – magic one up! It’s not my problem if the hot air balloons were a one-time only event – go back in time to yesterday when the sky was littered with them please! And where that baby came from (spare me the details, thank you), is of no interest to me – just make it go back! Calling me a ‘popsy poodle’ and ‘silly sausage’ while casually stepping over me as I lay like a one-man picket line on the kitchen floor, will only further anger me. I AM NOT A SILLY SAUSAGE! OR A POPSY POODLE! WHATEVER THAT IS! That reminds me, Grandma called. She wants her vernacular back…

DO NOT open a packet of crisps for me without my permission
How rude. How would you like it if I opened your post or that expensive face cream (which I then helpfully smear all over the mirror) without asking? Oh wait, that is exactly what I do. Well anyway, my point is I do not like it and as per the memo I mentioned earlier, the one you appear to be missing, the world revolves around me. Therefore, I command you not to open those crisps without my consent. It is my wish that you also not peel my ’nana, close the door or open your mouth even, without prior approval. You see, it’s all about control, Mummy. You may look on, bemused, as I hurl myself from room to room, arms flailing above my head, outraged that you’ve opened a bag of cheese and onion without asking me first; but to me, you have undermined my authority and once again, upset the order of my world. Again, ground I believe we have covered in my earlier comments regarding Orange Spoon-gate… In fact, I feel I have said all I can to help you. Well, truth be told, I just can’t be bothered to talk anymore. It is time to draw your exhausting neediness to a close…

Essentially Mummy, it’s not you, it’s me (I understand from Daddy this is a phrase that prior to him, you were quite familiar with?) Sometimes, none of these will trigger Armageddon – I’m just in the mood for a little end-of-the-world drama. It’s quite cleansing to the two-year-old soul, you see. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’d like to nap – 20 minutes, 45 minutes, three hours, who can tell? After which I shall require some white seedless grapes – WHOLE NOT HALVED – in my purple monkey bowl placed adjacent and to the left (as you face it) of my packet of UNOPENED Mini Cheddars. You are dismissed.

With that, I thanked Zain for his time and exited the room, backwards, continuously bowing, not looking him directly in the eye, as requested.


Copyright belongs to Word To The Mothers – so please don’t nick me stuff!

Discussions — 12 Responses

  • Sarah filby January 30, 2015 on 9:30 am

    Oh my you are a genius . Absolutely brilliant . X

  • Elizabeth January 30, 2015 on 9:36 am

    Fantastic Zeena, more, more, more xxx

  • Kelly January 30, 2015 on 11:10 am

    After just spending two hours trying to get Louis to have a NAP! this made me laugh as i scoffed some toast and peanut butter and had a swig of cold coffee!!! Love it xxxx

  • Michelle January 30, 2015 on 11:38 am

    Soooooooo good Z! xxx

  • Marie Davies January 30, 2015 on 2:43 pm

    This is by far the funniest blog I have read in ages. X

  • Sianade January 30, 2015 on 5:00 pm

    Zeena, I love this! You had me crying at my desk! 🙂 x

  • Helen January 30, 2015 on 6:21 pm

    Well done clever lady. Very entertaining!

  • Karen Mosley January 30, 2015 on 7:38 pm

    Made me do that part-of- the -gang knowing smile all the way through. Well done Z. Looking forward to the book version xx

  • zeena2001 January 30, 2015 on 10:30 pm

    Thank you for these lovely comments – honestly, so chuffed you like! Have been frantic with snotty kids (a-flipping-gain), today so these comments have cheered I. Cheers all! xxxxx

  • David McGill January 31, 2015 on 3:23 pm

    This was funny 🙂 reminds me of my two daughters. Luckily both out of the toddler stage. Totally accurate though.

  • Tiggy Latcham February 3, 2015 on 1:18 pm

    Wonderful! Oh, how this transported me back. A pleasurable slant on painful times! Memories of my own chunky thumb turning two pages. Sadly, the bedtime impatience has not abated, even though the books are now a lot more interesting.

  • Mildred C. Holcomb-Allen February 13, 2015 on 12:23 pm

    I think the toddler years are preparing parents for parenting the teen years! May God bless you all and give you wisdom to guide the future citizens of our world!