What do you see when you look at me?

You see a bad mother.

Church, if you want to do it, can be a bit of a conundrum with small people. McMini being a bit older now and more susceptible to boredom, it is not so easy to persuade him to come to the Sunday service. Furthermore, when he does, it’s probably no longer appropriate for a young gentleman his age to sit there with a huge stack of Beanos and a flask of tea, however quietly it is done. That’s why I jumped at the chance when the powers that be decided to introduce a more informal service during the week. Small church. It is called.

McMini is one of four to six small parishoners; the two youngest are girls, one of about eighteen months, one of three, then there is another little lad of five and McMini at nine. He enjoys the stories, the drawing and occasionally, when the vicar is around, and brave enough, to have a ‘mini mass’ he gets to serve. As he has expressed an interest in being the thurifer, we now have incense at this and take our lives in our hands as McMini enthusiastically wields a steaming hot thurible in our faces.

However, formal this sounds it isn’t. Last mini mass the adults tried to contain their laughter as the small parishoners wandered around, apparently oblivious to what was going on. One withdrew to the table to draw, McMini was sitting next to the radiator upon which he’d perched a cup of tea (next to the bread and wine) and was calmly drinking sips in between the responses. The two girls had a bit of a contretemps and we had ‘pencils at dawn’ until a smart adult realised they both wanted a pink and purple one and found a second pink and purple pencil so they could have one each. A few seconds later and the small plaintive voice of the three year old said, ‘down there’ and pointed to the grating. Her crayons had disappeared. Doubtless they are somewhere beneath the hot pipes but none of us dim-eyed adults could see them and so far, they have not been found.

Meanwhile, McMini had miscounted the amount of wafers – or sherbet free flying saucers as we blasphemously call them at home. This meant that, communion done, there were extras left. Quick as a flash, McMini chimes in.

‘Oooh look! There are some left over! Can I have another one?’
‘I’m not sure that’s quite-‘ I begin weakly, poker face in place, toes to curling silently.
‘Actually, as we have to eat them all up now, it’s quite acceptable for you to have another if I ask you to help me so, McMini, would you help me by eating another one?’ says our vicar as, completely unfazed, he proffers the platen towards my son.
‘Thank you, and the wine was delicious today,’ says McMini hopefully but luckily there’s no extra wine to finish.

I remember the day when McMini, after his first communion, stuck out his tongue and wiped it on his sleeve with a loud, ‘Yuck!’ to try and remove the taste of the wine from his mouth. Yes, well, at least he’s got used to it. Maybe I should thank myself for small mercies … possibly.

Usually, small church, is less eventful, indeed it’s rather like a normal Sunday school, a bible story, a discussion and some prayers, during which we all light a candle each and put it on the um … candle holder thingummy.

Two weeks ago, we were talking about thinking before we act. When prayer time arrives, my darling child comes up with the following gem.

‘Please guide Mummy to listen more and think before she acts so that she will be a good mother.’ He then places his candle in the holder with a very serious expression, to the sound of stifled sniggering from the grown ups.

‘Am I a bad mother?’ I ask afterwards, thinking that this might stem from my harrying him to clean his teeth that morning before school.
‘I’m afraid so, Mummy.’
‘Was it the teeth cleaning incident this morning?’
‘No Mummy it’s because you swear all the time and some of the language you use in front of me is very inappropriate, which is a pity, because you could be a very good mother otherwise.’

Damned with faint praise. What the right hand giveth the left hand taketh away so to speak, or at least, the other way round in this case, and also furnishing me with a very interesting insight into how his teacher talks when she is telling him off. I remember how much trouble I got into at school when I was a few years younger than him, for saying, ‘bloody hell is a very bad word, isn’t it?’ to my best friend and then, how mortified my mother was upon discovering that, when asked where I’d got such filthy language from, I’d told my teacher, ‘Daddy.’ And yes McMini has also done this to me with a similar situation centring around his use of the word, bollocks.

This last week, the theme was giving thanks for people who make the world a better place through their actions; folks who let their light shine in the world is roughly how the story put it. As we sat discussing this and deciding who we will pray for as folks who shine the light of kindly goodness in our lives, the small people all say ‘Mummy and Daddy.’ Except for McMini. I should be so lucky. Unfortunately, the fact that he got a laugh last week from chastising me hasn’t escaped his attention.

‘What about your Mummy McMini?’ says someone. ‘Aren’t you going to thank God for her?’
‘Regretfully, no,’ he says.
‘No?’ I say with mock affront. ‘Is that because ‘of the-‘
‘Swearing?’ He fixes me with a very serious look while the other adults snort with laughter behind their hands. ‘Yes.’
‘Have I not been better this week?’
‘No Mummy. Well, you have. You haven’t been doing it in front of me as much but it’s really not appropriate behaviour,’ there’s that word again, ‘in the presence of a nine year old.’
‘I don’t do it in your presence do I?’ I ask him omitting the ‘much’ that would make that statement a lot more honest.
‘True, Mummy, but you do it a lot in the other room when you think I can’t hear you.’
‘Then don’t listen,’ I tell him.
He shakes his head sadly. ‘You have a very loud voice Mummy. It’s difficult not to and you see, it will influence me.’

The lady who makes the tea and serves the biscuits, and who is trying so hard not to laugh she may, possibly, be in danger of rupturing herself moves away out of earshot.

When we eventually make it to prayer time, the other kids all thank the Lord for their mummies and daddies. Finally it is McMini’s turn. He says thank you for the ambulance staff, police and fire brigade who make the world a better place by protecting us and looking after us, and then says thank you for everyone and anyone working in the church. There’s a bit of a pause. He gives me a look and I start to giggle.

‘What about Mummy?’ asks one of the grown ups.
McMini heaves a sigh and then he finally adds, grudgingly,
‘Oh alright then, and thank you God for Mummy, too, because although she is a Bad Mother she is funny.’

The worst thing is, I know he’s doing it to take the piss out of me, no the worst thing is that I know it and I’m proud of him. But if he’s that sophisticated about taking the mickey out of me now, heaven help me when he’s older. I probably shouldn’t have played this in the car so much when he was tiny. I really don’t have a fucking clue about this parenting lark but it is fun.


Filed under General Wittering

12 responses to “What do you see when you look at me?

  1. Out of the mouths of babes. Though babes aren’t deliberate, and McMini definitely is doing this on purpose, for effect.

    Now teach him the lesson that follows: consequences of embarrassing Mummy in public.

    You don’t want to stop him, only teach him when it is appropriate. Well, he’s the one who brought up appropriateness – in public – embarrassing Mummy.

    You don’t want him to keep pulling this stuff just because he gets a laugh, do you? Very annoying when 45 year old men keep thinking they should be the center of attention because they’ve always been ‘funny.’ There are several meanings to ‘funny.’

    Don’t fear quashing it entirely; can’t be done.

    • We’re OK. Everyone in our little family group takes the mick, he knows I swear and that I would prefer to try and curb behaviours in me that actually ARE offensive so he knows it won’t upset me. He’s doing it, most of all, to make me laugh rather than them. But yes, I have had words. 😉



  2. You seriously need to move to Wales, where swearing is considered a normal part of expressive language at any age…

    • I was looked after a lot by a Welsh lady as a kid but I know it’s actually my dad, who did swear from time to time, and tried to pretend it was bad but clearly thought there were many far more important things a person should try not to do.

      I used to take the piss out of him in a very similar way when I was a nipper. I particularly remember watching Dad mowing the orchard and getting a smack on the head from every single low branch, at which point he’d shout, ‘FUCKING HELL!’

      It became a family tradition after he came in and said he’d done some particularly tricky d.i.y. or gardening job to say, ‘Nice going dad? How many fucks was it?’
      I think we’re all warped or perhaps just spiritually Welsh!



  3. Remember that old saying, “Kids say the darndest things”? Seems McMini fits that perfectly. If he starts to repeat your swear words, then you can worry.

  4. Diana

    LOL! I have a couple of nieces who apparently swear like troopers (don’t know if that’s an idiom you use in your part of the world) — but I have never heard this. On facebook their friends often post coffee mugs with witty F$#! quotes, and t-shirt photos, etc. And they all want them, and the first people these friends appear to think of when they see these are my nieces. I’m almost afraid to look in their cupboards…

    And I’m pretty sure that their kids have heard more than I am aware of — yet they all know how to be in “polite” company, You are doing well in the parentlng thing. At least that’s how it appears to me.

    And yes, conversations are good 🙂

  5. How is he NINE? I didn’t laugh (ok I did, a lot) at his cheeky insubordinance. What the clever lad isn’t accounting for is that you will have the trump card of being able to humiliate him with your mere presence when he is a teenager – Team Sweary Mummy! 😉

  6. This gave me a much-needed giggle today. I am glad McMini hasn’t seen the thurifer at my mother’s church who swings the thurible round like a sail on a windmill. He has had one accident so far.

    • One of ours does that although he wasn’t the one who had the accident. That was the priest flicking the book at gospel time. The bottom fell off. The crucifer ducked the flying debris and the church warden picked it all up and handed it back to the thurifer. Who went.

      ‘Ummm right.’

  7. I haven’t laughed that hard in a while. Thank you. Nothing was ruptured, but I did feel compelled to share it to Facebook. And not just because I felt my parenting was in any way vindicated, no, of course not.

    I tend to swear a lot. It is the one upside to my son being non-verbal. He cannot report my lapses to the community at large. Though, I was never so proud as the one and only time he perfectly repeated the word ‘sh*t’ when I remarked on the colorful dye he’d used all over the living room rug. #proudparentingfails

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