This is the question my almost-4-year-old posed to me, extremely seriously, on Saturday afternoon. And for the life of me, I just don’t know. Furthermore, when I laughed and asked her to tell me the answer, expecting some witty punchline, she informed me that I “was the silly one now,” whatever that meant.
And that just about sums up the conversations I’ve had with my kids over the last week.
B1 wanders into my office with her Eye Witness book about wildlife.
B1: Mummy, can I read you an interesting fact?
Me: Yes, but quickly please, I’m in the middle of something. [something being proof-reading my novel, absolutely not twatting about on Reddit or Twitter… ahem]
B1: *spouts something about tigers or giraffes being able to do something impressively disgusting with their tongues*
Me: Wow, that’s… er… cool [or something equally vague yet encouraging with the hopeful air of dismissal about it] *looks back at manuscript, mutters to self* Hmm… does [character name 1] actually kill [character name 2] or did I just vaguely imply that without going into any explanation whatsoever?
B1: Who gets killed?
Me: Oh, no one. It’s just in Mummy’s book.
B1: Someone kills someone else in your book?
B1: I don’t think you should have anyone kill anyone, Mummy. Is that really the sort of story you want to be writing?
B1: *stern look*
Me: OK. Fine. No one kills anyone. No one dies ever, is that better?
Me: OK. But, you know, sometimes bad things have to happen to your characters in order to make a story more interesting…
B1: But you don’t have to make them die though, do you? You could just make something else happen.
Me: Like… a giant, green alien pops up out of the ground and hands everyone a bunch of flowers?
B1: Maybe I should help you write your stories, Mum.
Me: *clicks sulkily onto Reddit*
B3 enters office bearing a bowl from the kitchen which he proudly holds aloft.
B3: Nack! Nack!
Me: Snack? You want a snack?
B3: Yes! Come’un Mumma. ‘At way!
*I go and get him a snack and he disappears contentedly into the living room*
-TWO MINUTES LATER-
B3: Nack! Nack!
Me: No, that’s enough snacks for now.
B3: Joo! Joo!
Me: You already have juice. Why don’t you go and draw me a picture? Here’s some paper and a crayon. I’ll come and see what you’ve drawn in a bit.
-FIVE MINUTES LATER-
Me: *enters living room to find blank piece of paper on the floor, B3 staring at the TV, crayon nowhere to be found* Where’s your lovely picture you were going to do?
Me: Why are there lines all over the wall, B3?
Me: Did you draw on the wall?
B3: *proudly* Yes!
Me: *mutters under breath while fetching damp cloth*
B3: *has meltdown as artwork is destroyed and crayon placed on high shelf*
Me: *wonders if it’s too early for a G&T. Upon discovery that it is only 11am, decides to get B3 another snack. Gets one for self too. Wonders why jeans feel snug.*
Me: B2, what was the thing you were trying to ask me about elephants and bananas again?
B2: It was. Um. You shouldn’t peel an elephant.
Me: But why would you want to peel an elephant?
B2: *thinks very hard* Because… Maybe he wasn’t being very sensible.
Me: *confused* Who, the elephant or the person peeling it?
B2: *with the air of talking to someone incredibly stupid* No, the banana of course.
B1: Mummy, you know she’s trying to tell the one from my elephant joke book, what’s the difference between an elephant and a banana – you can peel a banana but you can’t-
Me: …peel an elephant! *laughs slightly maniacally*
B1: *looks at me with an expression of mild concern* It’s not that funny.
B2: But why can you peel a banana but not an elephant?