Mabel loves to practice her rhyming words. It’s like a little switch has just turned on in her brain and she understands what it all means, so, understandably she wants to practice her newly discovered skill at every opportunity.
The two of us popped into town earlier today to get toiletries. I seem to have neglected my wifely and motherly duties over the past few weeks to such an extent that this morning I discovered we had completely run out of shampoo, hand-wash, shower gel and washing up liquid.
It was a mad dash round a few shops; we started at Poundland and ended in Primark. Mabel complained of her tummy hurting, told me she was hungry whenever we walked past Greggs (which was surprisingly often. I clearly didn’t plan my route very well!), stamped her feet (literally) because she was thirsty, screamed all the way back to the car and caused many an elderly lady to look on horrified, as I walked ahead of my little terror, hoping the fear of me leaving her would shock her into behaving. It didn’t. It just made me look like a neglectful mother.
What I didn’t tell my little bundle of joy, my angelic delicate apple blossom was that we also needed to stop at Aldi on the way home – I had already neglected my family’s cleanliness, I wasn’t going to neglect their stomachs as well – we needed leeks and potatoes for today’s delicious sausage casserole. So, to try and prevent the Mabel Monster spiralling into a hellish tantrum, I used the age-old skill used my parents the world over.
“Shall we play the rhyming game, darling?”
“YESSSSSSS!” she seemed quite happy with my suggestion.
“Sock rhymes with rock,” Mabel smiled at me. I smiled back, happy that the deflection was working and that she had not yet noticed that we were pulling into Aldi’s car park and also that she had come up with a very lovely rhyme.
“Well done, darling,” said I. “Very good. What rhymes with hat?”
“SHAT!” she shouted.
I stifled a giggle. “Mmmm, okay. What about cat?”
“RAT!” she yelled again, clearly enjoying herself immensely.
“Very good!” I praised. You have to praise them sometimes, apparently. “How about, light?” I said as I opened the car door to get her out in the middle of a very busy Aldi carpark.
“SHITE!” she yelled.
I recounted the tale to Hubby when we got home, quietly, or so I thought.
“Language!” Archie, our 10-year old, tutted and wagged his finger at me from his seat at the kitchen table, where he should have been eating his lunch and not ear-wigging.
I remember bad language was strictly forbidden in our house when we were growing up. I have a very clear memory of telling my little sister to “Get Lost!” at the top of the stairs. I thought I had done it quietly, that my hissed words had only been heard by her.
But, no. I felt the colour drain from my face and my heart skipped a beat as I heard my dad call up from the bottom of the staircase in a dangerously calm voice, “What was that?”
The memory still makes me shudder now. I don’t think I replied, I just ran to my room.
We got to the age where Mum would swear in front of us when we were young teenagers. Nothing too hardcore, mind you, it was fairly tame words like “crap” and “bugger” and “bloody hell”. She rarely did it in front of my dad though, as he would be quite disapproving and when she did say a word that was classed as a bit risque, she’d turn to us and smile conspiratorially and just say, “Pardon my French.”
I loved it. It felt like I was growing up and the rules were changing.
Words. They are so powerful and important.
My world is now words. I am now a freelance copywriter, using my love of the written word to carve out a career writing for other people. The funny thing is, it is actually what I have always wanted to do, I just never had the courage or the conviction to go for it.
My mother’s illness, her sudden and destructive transformation inspired me to start my blog and this in turn gave me a platform and the courage to believe that perhaps I could….perhaps I should…..perhaps…..
I want to tell my mother all about my decision and how nervous I am. I want to tell her about it because I am desperate for her to tell me I’ll be absolutely fine, that I’ll make a success of it and become the writer I always hoped I would be. I want to thank her, as I would have carried on thinking “one day,” for evermore, but her illness, her demise into dementia has changed me and has set me on a new journey in my life. I can’t tell her these things though, or I could, but she wouldn’t understand and wouldn’t show any signs of listening or hearing me. The words sadly wouldn’t make any sense to her shrinking brain.
Mabel wouldn’t eat her lunch and Hubby bribed her with a lollipop. Bribery is another age-old skill used by parents the world over, despite ALL the books saying you should never resort to it. Bollocks! My kids would never have tried a vegetable, taken their worm medicine (3 times in the last 6 months!), or done most of the things that are good for them, without a touch of blatant bribery.
Mabel went on to wolf down her toastie and was then all smiles and giggles as I opened up her hardened sugar on a stick. The other two were aghast!
“Can we have a lollipop?”
“That’s not fair!”
And, to be fair, it wasn’t fair. They had eaten their lunch, no problems, no moans, no chucking the crusts on the floor.
“Yes, check the cupboard,” I replied, hoping against hope that there would be two more old lollipops in there from last Halloween, or perhaps the Halloween before. There were.
Archie couldn’t open his. It was so old the plastic wrapper had fused on to the hardened sugar. I used my strength, grit and fear of having absolutely no other treats to give him should I fail, to wriggle the wrapper off.
“You are amazing!” he said, giving me a massive hug.
“Is that because she is a mummy?” Mabel asked.
“Yes,” he answered. “All mummies are wonderful, but she is the best.”
What lovely words to hear. The right words to say in that exact moment and it made me smile as I watched my son wander off; happy with his lolly, happy he’d made me smile. Happy.
They may have been the right words.
But, they’re not correct.
Miss you, Mum