When your children take what you say literally

It was as the remote control slapped off my knee and as I sat there feeling the throb  deep in my kneecap, which would no doubt turn my knee a lovely shade  of yellow and purple, I not only realised how strong a throw my four-year old has, but it also finally hit me ,pardon the pun, as to how children take your word as it is. They take everything you say literally. There is no grey area, all is taken in, in black and white. They take the world, the spoken word at face value. So if you are tempted to ask your child to throw an item to you when you really are only asking them to pass something over to you, remember you are potentially putting yourself in harm’s way.

So as I sat nursing my knee it got me thinking about all the other faux pas I have made and how I have inadvertently completed confused my children over the years and left them wondering what on earth I was talking about. Sayings, phrases, idioms are great. Who doesn’t like stopping a person nagging you to tell them something, than coming out with curiosity killed the cat. Or when getting a point across by advising someone not to count their chickens before the eggs have hatched. But when it comes to children I sometimes break out in a cold sweat when I realise in the heat of a moment and without thinking, one slips out. Everything goes slow motion, it is like time stands still, you can almost see the cogs turning in their little brains as they try to process the crazy talk their Mother has just uttered. Faces freeze, heads tilt to the side or do a full 360 degree, exorcist twist as they stare at you , mouth not fully synced to speech as they continue to stare ,trying to process the mad statement just spoken.

There was the time where the twins were fighting like cats and dogs, so I naturally asked them to stop acting the maggot. When they began that high tone whinge whilst both blaming the other for starting the fight,I asked them to put a sock in it. Both kids genuinely stopped in their tracks, looked down at their socks and back up at me and asked me where did I want their socks put. Once I eventually stopped laughing I was then faced with explaining to my horrified little girl that there was indeed no maggots and no they had not turned into maggots and never would turn into bugs, that it was a saying. I can’t remember how we eventually moved on from where I tried to explain what an idiom is but I am sure it involved some form of ice-cream offering. Anyone who can actually explain to me who decided that a maggot acting up resembled a person acting silly, or foolishly and why someone took the time out of their day to observe same might let me know the reason.  Actually now that I look back , those sayings did stop a fight dead in its tracks, so maybe there is merit in keeping those words in my back pocket They were more effective than my usual reward chart threats. Another one that works wonders here is to let your kids know that they are in-fact, skating on thin ice, nothing will stop your children in their tracks more than alluding that the sitting room floor is now in fact an ice rink. Word of warning though, there may be tears when they eventually realise that they won’t be breaking out the sleds for a scoot around the living room floor.


kids sock

Jumping from the ice-rink to the fire-pit, please don’t ever be as silly as me and suggest that your darling lights a fire under their bum if you are trying to get them out the door to school in time in the mornings. Why was I not surprised that I was met with two stunned faces looking at me , looking to the matches  over the fireplace (kept safely out of reach) and back again wondering had Mammy actually encouraged them to start fires.  Let’s try forget that one happened actually shall we. Some mornings in the battle of getting shoes and jackets on and getting out the door in time I have uttered that the children are away with the fairies, which usually brings squeals of excitement from my little girl that we are not going to boring school but off on some magical mystery fairy visit. Sorry kiddo to break the fantasy !  And finally  unless you want your kids dropping to the ground and slapping the footpaths, don’t tell them that you have to hit the road when you are about to leave to go somewhere.


When it comes to reasoning with two four-year olds I really am surprised that I have been using so many sayings which has left them scratching their heads. Take for example telling children that they can’t have their cake and eat it too,when they just can’t make a decision, will only turn into a full-blown tantrum, that they now not only want the two items they were already insisting on having in the toy shop, but they now want cake on top of them. To be fair whenever I hear cake it does turn on the cake switch deep in my brain that will not rest until it has been fed, so I do get why they reacted like they did at that particular moment. Keeping in with the food based sayings, if you want to have a laugh and have your child trying to see the chip that you have told them is on their shoulder, then try to break out the old classic about same .  Asking your child to stop crying over spilled milk when it was water that was spilled will lead to a two-hour battle of wills as you repeatedly curse yourself that you tried to be smart and your four year old has now labelled you a silly Mammy.

Adding to the stupidity, unless you want your child having nightmares after you tell them that a certain toy they want costs an arm and a leg, it’s best to explain that the toy costs a-lot of money and that they don’t have to donate a limb to get it and it’s best to save up instead. Asking them to hold their horses as they run ahead of you to get into the toy shop will most likely result in your little girl thinking you are about to buy a pony in Smyths, so please please use your words wisely so you don’t have to face the disappointment falling across their face as you explain why there isn’t room for a real my little pony in the front garden.

And lastly, for me as a busy mother, nothing makes me happier than seeing the kids playing together and commenting that they are as thick as thieves. I was treated to a twenty-minute lecture on how the policeman and baddies game works, and cried over my cold coffee eventually when the penny finally dropped and they finally understood I was only trying to tell them it was lovely to see them playing away together like the best of friends . Nothing gets between a tired mother and her coffee so I hope I have finally learned my lesson and idioms are reserved for adult conversations in the future.



It’s never a good idea to tell your child ,who is allergic to apples, that they are  the apple of your eye!

go way



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