Since becoming a mum, I've been surprised by a multitude of things, not the least being phrases that come out of my mouth. We record every funny little thing that our children mutter but we rarely examine our own phrases. Here's some of my horrors.
'Don't lick the snail'
All babies go through an "oral" stage. They're usually out of it by the time they turn two, when they learn to reject every morsel of food you lovingly prepare.
My son, aged two at the time, took a significant liking to snails. We encouraged his fascination for these amazing creatures and understood why he loved them so much – they were slow-moving, just as he was.
One sunny day, we let him wander the front yard only to look up and find him licking a snail's shell. I didn't think the words would ever pass my lips but "Don't lick the snail!" was called from my flabbergasted mouth.
'I didn't throw out any humans'
Another son, like many boys, went through a Lego obsession stage when he was around six. Lego is a fantastic toy, a tool that occupies them for hours - or, in the case of children who have attention spans of goldfish, minutes. It's also a huge hazard when pieces are left on the floor and your foot finds them on a midnight toilet dash. We are now safely out the other side of said Lego obsession.
During the Lego phase some "people" went missing. The six-year-old came howling into the kitchen to ask if I'd thrown out any of his humans.
I denied any involvement and didn't mention that they could have accidentally been sucked up the vacuum. So technically "I didn't throw out any humans" but may have slurped them up a suction nozzle. Poor little humans.
'I don't want you using that caterpillar as a gun'
The Very Hungry Caterpillar is one of my favourite children's books. As a result we have enough paraphernalia to make the publisher and marketing manager fist pump the air.
Amongst the items is a miniature soft toy caterpillar that one of my sons decided was a gun. Creative genius, right? We're very proud.
Pleased with the ergonomics, he gripped that poor larvae like the terminator, providing his own sound effects. He pointed the caterpillar weapon at the baby, at the neighbours, at the television - anything requiring a good shooting, it would seem. He wasn't at all perturbed that no bullets, or even caterpillar poop, were coming out of his newly acquired gun.
It would only be natural to tell your child "I don't want you using that caterpillar as a gun". Especially a child who also likes to lick snails.
'Keep your wants to yourself'
If you happen to have a child who never wants anything then you have laid the golden egg. If I had a Botox injection for every "I want" I heard in a day, I'd look like Catwoman.
I usually respond to a child's "I want" with "I want to win a million dollars" which has zero effect but makes me feel better and slightly funny although no one else seems to be laughing.
My husband is even less tolerant of "I wants" and on one particularly trying day, he'd had a gutfull of 'wants' from the children. Sensing his frustration I blurted to the next child who wanted something, "keep your wants to yourself!" That they did. At least for the next hour.
'Poos comes out your bum, wees comes out your pancake'
Who doesn't love a good toilet training story? We've toilet trained four small people. I'm yet to toilet train a big person but there's always time for me to take on an aged care role.
It's my least favourite parenting job. If I was being selected for a position with potty training as a Key Selection Criteria, I would count myself out of the running. I'm terrible at it. I find it gross, tedious, messy, inconvenient and all those other negative words you're not supposed to use to describe parenting. It's crap.
We've heeded advice about using correct terminology for children's anatomy. Penis. Vagina. Vulva. Rectum. (Okay maybe not the last one.) No pet names like Fluffy, Woo-woo, Ming, Willy Wonka, Doo-doo, Twinkie or Lollipop. Yes, people really do use these ridiculous labels. We would not be those ridiculous people.
We honestly did try the whole "this is your vulva, this is your penis" thing. Our daughter took it upon herself to call her vagina her pancake instead. It made dessert time at the table an awkward occasion.
One onerous day, after a few accidents, I found myself reminding her, "poos comes out your bum, wees comes out your pancake". No idea where you're supposed to put the maple syrup and ice cream. Don't ask me how we'll explain to the doctor should she have any medical issues related to her "pancake".
'Sit straight, get your fork out of your pants and eat your dinner'
Table manners. We're big on them in our house. Our standards are slipping, however, as we kept adding children to our brood and keep eating dinner. When you have to order a child to "sit straight, get your fork out of your pants and eat your dinner" you know you may have lost the battle with table manners. For clarification, I do believe the fork was in the pocket of the pants, so don't have a breakdown over hygiene.
It was fitting the next question was: 'Who pea'd on the table?'
Happy Mother's Day to you and all your little snail-licking, human-loving, caterpillar-toting, always-wanting, pancake-peeing, fork-pocketing children.
What phrases did you never imagine saying?