Saturday 17 April 2010

Miss Mischief in the morning

Easter holidays. This means, unusually, that my children are sometimes not awake when I get up to go to work. Which mean that I occasionally have to go into their room (they are currently sharing a bedroom) to give them a goodbye kiss.
To my mind, never are the differences between their personalities more apparent than first thing in the morning...
Eldest is snuggled under layer upon layer of blankets, like a dormouse in its nest. She has dozens of soft toys scattered around her, arranged in a strict heirarchy according to their popularity, which then dictates their position in relation to where she sleeps: first-rank toys get to share the bed with her, second-rank get to sit on the bed, third-rank go have on the chair and fourth rank can sod off up onto the shelf (this is a system I believe she has inherited from her mother, who often threatens me with demotion to the sofa downstairs). Regardless of rank, all of Eldest's soft toys are kept in pristine condiction, but there really are a lot of them: it is occasionally quite difficult to find her in the bed, lost amongst the myriad bunnies and teddies and kitties.When I gives her a kiss, she opens her huge, placid eyes and yawns, then immediately snuggles back down again, with the languid air of a sleepy cat.
In contrast, Youngest's bedclothes are scattered, literally, across the entire room, and her soft toys - ugh, I can barely talk about them. They are clearly much loved, but she happily 'doubles them up' as both a chew toy and as a handy absorbant surface for the mopping up spillages, including anything that comes out of her nose. Her bed gives off the faint but undeniable tang of a hamster cage as a result. Nonetheless, as I approach she sits bolt upright in bed and gives me what appears to be the dazzling smile of a lottery winner.
"Good morning, little one," I say to her. "You look cheerful..."
"Hello, stinky bum" she says, gleefully.
"I beg your pardon?" I ask.
"Stinky bum" she repeats, and then, in case further clarification was needed: "Your bum is stinky..."
I realise that it was not the genuine smile of a lottery winner after all. Instead it was the sly false smile of the person who collects the subscription money from the lottery syndicate each week, but who then secretly spends it on vodka and cigarettes instead of tickets.
"Stinky. Stinky bum", she says, than adds: "Farty".
"I am not farty.." I say
"You are. I heard you. It sounded like a duck."
This is disconcerting, because, well, as it happens I did fart recently. In bed. Fairly loudly, in fact. Even now, my wife is still lying in bed, grimacing, with the covers pulled up tightly under her chin to stop any noxious vapours seeping up from where I have left them under the duvet. This is now part of our traditional morning routine: breaking wind is something I tend do within five minutes of waking up every morning, and she is quite used to it by now. For the first few months when we shared a bed, mornings were excruciating, what with me having to get up and go into the bathroom to blow off, just so that I could keep up the pretence that I was civilised. We've been together for 12 years now and I no longer bother - but even so, it's not something you want your three-year-old to be commenting on.
"If it sounded like a duck," I say, attempting to dazzle her with 'adult' logic, "then perhaps it was a duck." Even as I say it, I know I am on a hiding to nothing.
She looks rightfully skeptical. "There are no ducks in your bedroom, silly..."
"Maybe it was outside the window."
"No, it was a fart", she says decisively.
"Maybe it was Mummy..." I suggest, marvelling inwardly at how little shame I feel while doing so.
"No. It was you. You did it..."
I decide it best that we leave this topic of conversation. "I am going to work soon," I tell her. "So if you want to get up and watch the TV, I'll put it on for you."
"Don't want to. Want Mummy."
She wanders after me back into the bedroom.
"It smells in here" she comments. I say nothing.
She looks at where her mother is feigning sleep in the hope that she will be left alone. She needn't have bothered: Youngest climbs bodily over her to get into the side of the bed that I recently vacated. I hear my wife groan as her kidneys are battered by a tiny elbow.
"Wakey-up time!" announces Youngest, throwing my pillow on the floor to give herself more room. She notices that I am trying to furtively get dressed.
"I can see your knickers, Daddy," she comments. "They are stripy"
"These are boxer shorts" I reply.
"Knickers" she insists.
"I do not wear knickers. Men do not wear knickers..."
"Knickers," she repeats, bottom lip jutting.
I decide to cut my losses and leave - what the hell, I can always finish pulling my trousers on as I make my way downstairs. As I hop out of the door I see that my wife has cracked open a single eyelid and is observing my departure balefully.
"Good luck with that today", I say, pointing at Youngest.
As I descend out of view, socks in hand, I hear a little voice saying that Daddy did a fart and tried to blame it on Mummy, and can she please have chocolate for breakfast?


Traceyr said...

Out of the mouths of babes! Very funny! :)

Paul Howard said...

I'm sometimes glad that I never knew about your blog when we worked together. The image of you greeting the dawn by unleashing a peal of "morning thunder" might have made it tricky to discuss the finer points of software engineering with you.

As for "Maybe it was Mummy" - tsk - that won't get you far. As every small child knows full well: he who denied it, supplied it. So there.

Hilarious, though... ;-)