If you’re easily offended or generally squirm at the things kids say then you might want to click on the little cross at the very top right of your screen. Now. Because we can’t censor the things that come from children’s mouths and hey, how often are we told at conferences and seminar and training sessions that there’s no such thing as a silly question? We might, from time to time, look back on situations and wonder how we might have handled things a bit differently but hey, nobody’s perfect and we do the best we can in the heat of the moment. All part of being reflective and responsive practitioners. The joys.
Now, I have days that every Childminder can probably relate to. I actually do think I have seen and heard just about everything. (Parents: your secrets are safe with me though…) I have conversations you’d never believe could be true unless you work with children or have children of your own. Last week alone I had conversations that started with: “Andi, I’ve pooed in my welly” (she really had); “Why is that man walking a goat?” (it was a bull terrier and it actually did look like a goat when I think about it); “My mam’s got loads of black bits in her hair and they’re driving her mad” (no, not nits, her roots were coming through). I’ve been in some hairy situations in my time too – from visiting clients in some of the most notorious prisons in England to capturing photographic evidence of the scene of a fatal accident from a 50 feet high scaffolding tower in gale force winds. Today though, I want to tell you about the day I nearly got my head kicked in.
So, we’re on the school run but we’re ahead of schedule. We have a good 10 minutes to kill. It’s my turn for I-Spy and I’m looking around for inspiration when Maisy (5 and ¾ and a bit) shouts out (and she’s the loudest kid I’ve ever met by the way) “Why has that man got boobies?” And this is how it all started.
Me: That’s not a man, Maisy. It’s a woman.
Maisy: Well the other one then. Why has that other one got boobies?
Me: Maisy, they’re both women.
Maisy: So how come they’ve both got boy hair?
Me: We can have any kind of hair we like, Maisy. Any length, any style, any colour. Some boys choose to have long hair and some girls choose to have short hair – or no hair at all – and it’s our own personal choice.
Maisy: Uhm yes, I know, like that funny man on the telly with the lovely wigs and the pretty nail varnish and the greeeeeat big kissy lips who just died.
I know exactly who she means and I say nothing – nothing at all. For the love of God, Maisy, please don’t follow this line of inquiry. Just go back to talking about how cold it is – how if it drops just one more degree celsius then when we get back into the car the little orange snowflake will show up on my dashboard when I put the key in and she’ll have to put her coat across her knees because if she gets too cold then her fingers and toes will go black and fall off and eventually her heart will stop beating and she’ll die. I don’t know whether she’s been watching Frozen Planet or The Revenant. Either way, please let’s talk about that again because that was waaaaay better than this. Eventually…
Maisy: So why are they wearing boy clothes then?
(Ding ding, round two).
Me: Tracksuits are not just for boys, Maisy. Girls wear them too for keeping fit and running and playing rugby. Or just because they’re comfortable.
Maisy: Well, yes, but my Mammy wears fitness clothes when she goes to the gym and she still looks like a girl though and she still looks pretty…
(Ground…just open up and swallow me…now).
She continues: …and they haven’t been to the gym, Andi, coz I just saw them coming out of that pub over there and it’s still only in the daytime and I think that they did have some pretty clothes one time and that somebody must have pinched them and put them in a skip coz there’s nooooo way I’d wear boy clothes like the time Molly peed her pants and had to wear boy pants coz none of the parents had brought the girl pants back so there were no pants for girls nooooo way not ever (honestly, this is how she talks – she really doesn’t stop for breath).
I can’t answer because I’m going through a fight or flight crisis right then and there as I notice one of the women raise her can of lager to me and point at it with the cigarette in her other hand as she throws me a menacing grin with a set of teeth that I don’t think have succumbed to a good old scrape and polish in a very, very, very long time – but who am I to judge? As she raises her arm, her very snug tracksuit top (zipped all the way up to the top of the funnel neck à la Liam Gallagher) reveals a very large, very wobbly, very dimply tummy. I hope Maisy didn’t see. Pleeeease don’t let her have seen. The woman starts to stagger over towards us but her friend grabs her arm and pulls her back. (Thank you, thank you, thank you). Then…
Maisy: She’s a beast that woman.
Oh my goodness this child has no filter. But she’s only 5 and 3/4 and a bit – she has every right to question and make links with the world around her and every right to an answer. By this point, perhaps somewhat unsurprisingly, everyone around us is listening in. Oh the pressure. The pressure.
Me: Pardon? Aaw come on, now that’s not a very nice thing to say now is it, Maisy?
Maisy: But she is. There’s this chart thingy and we get weighed and if we’re only a little number we’re just right but if we’re a big number we’re overweight and if we’re a really, really big number we’re a beast and we have to eat smaller dinners on smaller plates and move about more.
Aah. Obese. She means obese. Had to be the longest ten minutes of my life. Next time we’ll just wait in the car…Gotta hand it to her though, she’s one heck of a smart kid.
This is how forward planning might have looked for that day if I was a forward planning kinda gal:
Next blog: on the day I had to explain why Donald Trump is orange and hates everyone and why people on TOWIE say fink and fawt instead of think and thought.