Since I am currently stuck beneath a moaning baby who thinks it is my fault that he can't feed and look around at the same time and therefore has to choose between hungry and out of the soft play loop, it would be helpful if Thomas would stay in the conveniently located under 4s area but I think he is trying to swerve the terribly enthusiastic mum who is attempting to jolly all the toddlers into some sort of group game. Actually, I don't think he would mind the organised fun too much, but I suspect he is getting a bit sick of the nagging in stereo.
Me - will you stop balancing on one leg on that car right now and bring it down off the top of
Jolly Mum - ooh careful darling. Walk, don't run or you might fall.
Clearly Jolly Mum and I have very different ideas about levels of acceptable risk.
There is something about these places that makes me channel my Gran. I just heard myself utter the time-honoured words of the exasperated parent or guardian.
"If you fall off that then don't come crying to me"
I think I even went a bit more northern while saying it.
Actually I am wondering about channelling my Gran a little more. I read a very funny thread on Mumsnet recently about old-fashioned parenting and housekeeping books. This reminded me about a book from the 1930s that I inherited from my Gran who had seen it advertised and ordered it just before she married my Grandad. It is called "Things a Woman Wants to Know".
You note the "wants to know", not "needs to know". It was this subtle difference that made my Gran think that this might be a rather interesting read. Her mother clearly had the same thought as when it turned up and my gran disappeared to her bedroom to open the parcel, my great-gran apparently shouted up the stairs "That's right. Off you go with your filthy book."
I should point out that "filthy" was apparently Great-Gran Clara's most damning insult. On one notable occasion when she answered the phone to someone asking "Is that the Liberal Demoncrat headquarters?" she apparently responded with "Mind your filthy language" before blowing a whistle down the phone at the unfortunate mis-dialling caller. In her defence she was a life-long conservative voter.
Anyway, the "filthy book" turned out to be a collection of everything the author thought women wanted to know. Useful things like how to stop shoes squeaking, the recipe for homemade baby formula and an entire chapter on the correct method for folding serviettes. My gran was crestfallen. Her mother was triumphant. There was probably a moral in the story somewhere.
But the book stayed and was eventually resurrected for the amusement of subsequent generations who did not think that gargling sulphuric acid sounded like a good idea. After reading the Mumsnet thread I dug it out of its resting place at the bottom of an old wooden chest. In fairness to the long-dead author, some of the advice wasn't actually all that daft. But there are some real gems.
Here's a health-related starter for ten:
Never Put Money in the Mouth - The act of holding money in the mouth or between the teeth is a thoughtless one, but none the less of the most dangerous kind. Money is handled by all classes, goes in and out of houses and families where sickness prevails, and that disease may often lurk in a bank-note or on the face of a coin is as probable as it is possible.
Money is handled by all classes? This tip might be considered a little outdated given the current state of the economy, but you can never be too careful...