Ben: "Ian, Ian!"
Me: "Ben, I'm 'Daddy' to you."
Ben (quizzically): "But you are 'Ian' as well."
Me: "Yes, I know that, but I'd prefer it if you called me 'Daddy'."
Ben: "Oh. Sorry, Ian!"
Ben: "Can I have another bedtime story Dad?"
Me: "Not tonight Ben, it's too late and you're too tired."
Ben: "I'm not, I'm not, grumbled Ben!"
Whilst sat at the dinner table this evening:
Ben: "Oh! Daddy, I can hear your brains!"
Ian: "Say that again?"
Ben: "I can hear your brains!"
Ian: "You can hear my *brains*? How?"
Ben: "Through the holes on your head!"
Jocelyn: "So, what does Daddy's brain sound like?"
Ben: "It's *really* loud!"
Ian: "You got that right. Eat your pasta."
Ben: "I've done a poo! It is a polar-bear-shaped poo!"
Me: "I love you, Ben. I always wanted a son, I'm glad you came along."
Ben: "Yes, Dad. I was just walking along the road, wasn't I? I saw you and thought 'He can be my Daddy'. And I came in the house and took my shoes off."
Benjamin just woke up after having had a bad dream "about the evil penguin on Pingu". I must have missed that bit...
At Newmillerdam country park:
Ben: "AAAaaargh! It's a crocodile!!!! Oh, no... it's just a duck."
At 7pm at the end of a long Bank Holiday Saturday:
Ben: "Am I going to Play School today?"
On taking a break from reading a book:
Ben: "I'm just going to pause my book."
Ben: "My brain can't let me sleep!"
On being told that we're going on holiday to The Netherlands:
Ben: "Where Peter Pan comes from?!"
On overhearing us discussing the closure of the News of the World:
Ben: "Daddy, did you just say the world is closing?!"
Poor boy thought it was the apocalypse.
Ben: "I can't sleep! I've got thirty-nine bits of energy!"
On Christmas Eve:
Ben: "How many more sleeps is it until my birthday?"
In the bath:
Ben: "I've got a BOMB! With flipper-hitters!!"
Me: "Ben, that's a duck."
Are all four-year-old boys like this?
Me: "Ben, please stop replying to everything I say with 'Yeah, but...'."
Ben: "Well, what can I say instead?"
Me: "How about 'OK Dad'?"
Ben: "OK Dad but..."
Ben: "DAD! Can I have some cheese?"
Ben: "And when you're done getting my cheese, can you put a show on TV for me, 'cos there are commercials on."
Me: "Oh OK, we can't have you watching commercials, we know how susceptible you are! What are the commercials talking about?"
Me: "Have you got Daddy a present for Christmas?"
Isla: "Yes. A newspaper. You say 'Oh boy!'"
Isla: "What are you doing, Mummy?"
Joce: "Just holding Daddy's hand."
Isla: "So that he doesn't run away?"
I spent a good ten minutes this evening reading Isla a Ladybird book about Vikings. Their culture, food, tools where they came from, etc. The last page posed the question "What would you do if you were a Viking?"
Isla considered this briefly, then suggested "Play 'Angry Birds'?"
Isla: "Where has the sunshine gone, Daddy?"
Isla: "Shall I shriek at you?"
Isla's latest suggested name for her younger brother: "Yehudi Poo Tentacle". Might veto that one...
Ben: "Hey Dad, in about three more birthdays you'll be nearly 40"
Me: "That's right Ben. It's a bit scary really."
Ben: "Yeah, and I know why you're scared. 'Cos you'll be closer to dying."
Me: "Hi Isla! What is Mr Tumble up to today?" (she was watching TV)
Isla: "Pooing on your head."
Me: "O-K... any ideas where you would like me to take you today?"
Ah, the scatalogical leanings of a three-year-old. It could be a long day.
On buying a second car:
Ben: "There's no stopping us now!"
Me: "So tell me about your new swimming instructor. Is it a lady or a man?"
Ben: "Well, for the undeep bit it's a..."
Me: "The what? The undie bit?"
Ben: "The UNDEEP bit of the pool."
Me: "Oh, I see - we call that the 'shallow' end."
Ben: "OK. For the shallow bit of the pool it's a lady. For the unshallow bit it's a man."
Isla: "I am not calling my brother Matthew Hengry. I am just calling him Matthew."
Me: "Good, 'cos his middle name is 'Henry'"
On being told to get out of bed on an early-Autumn morning:
Isla: "But it is still dark!"
Ben: "Can we have breakfast in bed?"
Isla: "Daddy, what are manners?"
Me: "Manners tell us how to behave nicely, to say 'please' and 'thank you', how to eat our meals politely, that kind of thing."
Isla: "Are you and mummy my manners?"
Nannan: "That was good reading Ben - what shall I put in your reading record book?"
Ben: "Put 'Ben is magnificent and should be moved up a level'".
Even at bedtime, and even when utterly misheard - if one child asks for something, their sibling demands it too. Case in point:
Ben: "Dad, can I have a kiss and cuddle?"
Isla: "I WANT A MISTER MUDDLE!"
I told the kids they could only have one bedtime story each as it was late.
Ben chose The Odyssey.
Me: "Ben, what is your middle name?"
Ben: "Is that a brain in the microwave? Are we having brains for dinner?!"
Jocelyn: "No Ben, I'm defrosting mince!!"
Isla shouted for me twice in the night, complaining that she was being plagued by "fairy bumblebees" that were trying to peel her skin off.
During the day today, I quizzed her as to why she shouted for me and not Jocelyn Nelson.
"Because you're better at it," she told me.
"Better at what?" I asked.
"Killing the fairy bumblebees!" she replied.
Jocelyn: "OK kids, keep your eyes out for a parent and child parking space!"
Isla (giggling): "I know you are just joking mum! You are funny!"
Me: "What's so funny, Isla?"
Isla: "They don't really have parrot and child spaces!"
Isla: "When I grow up I want to be a lizard."
Me: "A lizard?"
Isla: "Er, oh no... a wizard!"
Ben: "Dad, do we have any gravy granules and teabags?"
This will not end well.
Isla: "Daddy, what does W-T-F spell?"
On Disney Junior now transmitting in High Definition:
Isla: "They've cleaned out the telly, Dad!"
Me: "Hey kids, guess when Blackpool Tower was built?"
Ben: "Dad, please can you buy me a cherry pie?"
Me: "Sure.. do you like cherries?"
Ben: "Oh, it's not a food - it's a computer."
Me: "Do you mean a Raspberry Pi?"
Jocelyn: "Thank you for letting me sleep in."
Isla: "You're welcome Mummy. It is too cold and rainy to sleep out."
Jocelyn: "This table is filthy! Sultana bran, Weetabix, Rice Krispies... you name it, Isla has spilled it!"
Isla (thoughtfully): "I shall name it 'Sandra'."
Me: "Hey kids, did you hear the thunderstorm last night?"
Isla: "No Daddy. I heard you snoring though."
Ben: "If you drop a piece of food on the floor for less than five seconds, you can still eat it."
Me: "Uh-huh. Where did you learn that?"
Ben: "At Beavers, when we were doing our 'Healthy Eating' badge."
Ben: "Do you know, if there was no gravity, and all the dinosaurs went to a football pitch, the match would only last half a second."
Isla: "Daddy, can I have a dot-to-dot picture of a princess?"
Me: "Sure, here you go."
Parenting must have been tougher before Google Images.
Benjamin took his favourite book into school today to share with his class at "Show and Tell".
Me: "What did your class think of 'The Odyssey', Ben?"
Ben: "They thought it was epic!"
Me: "Isla, what is your new dog called?"
Me: "Ben, your behavior today is not good for my blood pressure. Do you want me to die young?!"
Ben: "Ah, don't be silly Dad - you're not young!"
Isla: "Daddy, you have got a very shiny forehead."
Jocelyn: "Isla, would you like some almonds?"
Isla: "Like the thing you say at the end of prayers?"
Me: "...and when we're on holiday in Spain, people will talk a foreign language."
Ben: "[friend] in my class makes the teacher feel like she's talking a foreign language!"
On the reason for Team GB's impressive Snowboarding performance in the winter Olympics, despite the relative lack of snow and mountains on this sceptered isle:
Ben: "I guess they had a Wii when they were younger and played the Snow Resort bit of 'Go Vacation' a lot!"
Me: "Good morning Matthew!"
Ah wonderful, we've taught another one to communicate.
Ben's homework was to write sentences containing a comparative adjective and a connective. He came up with the following:
"Mum is old but Dad is older."
Isla: "Daddy, for my birthday, please can I have a bucket?"
Isla: "Pluto isn't a planet any more, is it?"
Ben: "No, it's an elf planet"
Me: "I think you mean a dwarf planet Son..."
Me: "Time to get up Ben! It's Thursday!"
Ben: "Thursday is dead and I'm its bones."
On a day trip to Bridlington beach:
Isla: "Oh mummy, I like this rock with all the pretty colours!"
Jocelyn Nelson "Isla, that's a lump of concrete.."
Me: "Good morning Isla"
Isla: "Hi Daddy! I am going to have a good birthday today!"
Me: "It's your birthday tomorrow, it's your party today."
Isla: "Oh. Which one do I get cake on?"
Ben's homework - think of ten verbs and write sentences containing them.
I went into Ben's room to find that 21-month old Matthew had managed to climb up into Ben's high-sleeper cabin bed.
"Matthew Henry, how did you get up there?!" I asked with mock exasperation.
He looked at me as if I were an imbecile, pointed and slowly said
When the broken printer that I offered on FreeCycle failed to garner any interest:
Ben: "Ah Dad, why don't you say how good it is for storing paper?"
Clearly a glittering future in marketing awaits.
Matthew: "Momma - more chips, please?"
It's amazing what polite linguistics one-year-olds are capable of given sufficient incentive.
Isla: "¡Hola! Konichiwa! Edinburgh rock!"
One week in to our vacation, Isla's Spanish is still somewhat lacking.
Ben, meanwhile, has mastered "patatas fritas" so he'll survive.
Saturday morning, 0645. It seems Matthew is slightly obsessed with the 90-second long theme tune at the end of contemporary Thomas The Tank Engine episodes.
"Dadda, more choo-choo! Song! Crew!" (Hits me with remote control)
At home we keep a bunch of Thomas The Tank Engine track inside a large footstool. Here's a photo of a frustrated Matthew discovering that not all footstools in the universe possess this property. "Track!!!"
Me: "Isla, your bagel is ready!"
Matthew runs into the kitchen.
Me: "You're not Isla. You're Matthew."
Isla walks into the kitchen.
Isla: "I'm Isla."
Matthew turns, pushes his sister.
Matthew: "YOU ARE NOT ISLA! I AM ISLA!"
Ben was uncertain as to the level of formality required when signing a Mother's Day card.
Matthew: "I done a poo in my sock."
Me: "In your SOCK?!"
Matthew: "No! It a joke!! Ha ha ha!"
Isla: "I've made a present for you daddy. It's a rock, and I've drawn a picture of you on it."
Dora the Explorer: "Will YOU help me get my necklace back?"
Isla: "Ah, maybe later Dora."
Ben: "Dad, what is this song called?"
Me: "'I Am The Resurrection'".
Ben: "Ah. Please can you start a 'favourites' playlist for me and put this on it?"
Jocelyn: "What do you think you will be when you grow up, Isla? You could be anything you want to be."
Isla: "A chicken."
Me: "What are you drawing this morning?"
Isla: "What's the other one that's not heaven?"
Isla: "Yeah! I'm gonna draw that funny guy with the horns!"
Ben: "I might be a hobo when I'm older. Or a magistrate."
One the artwork for the "Happy Ash Wednesday" card she gave to Jocelyn Nelson today:
Isla: "I didn't know what ash looks like, so I've drawn a hedgehog instead."
My best birthday present came from Isla - a mostly-uneaten pack of spearmint Polos.
Matthew: "I have matching socks! You are a good mummy!"
Matthew: "Benny, what's your favourite colour?"
Ben (instantly): "Light magenta."
Matthew: "I never knew an egg could be so much fun!"
Isla: "Please can I smell another boiled egg?"
Me: "You're getting taller Matthew."
Matthew: "Yes, and my bottom is getting bigger!"
Ben: "Dad, can we make an Excel spreadsheet listing the football stickers I have and the ones I need?"
Me: "Good morning Princess"
Isla: "I am not a Princess. I would much rather be a Knight. Or maybe the castle cleaner."
Me: "Hey kids, who is this scarecrow?"
Matthew: "Uncle Patrick!"
Ben: "Dad, do you know another word for 'pulmonology'?"
Ben: "Night Dad, see you tomorrow, hopefully."
Me: "Hopefully? Why hopefully?"
Ben: "I dunno, you might get killed in the night or something."
Ben: "Dad, you look like a sheet of graph paper."
Me: "Can you smile?"
Ben: "I'm trying."
Ben: "Isla, I'm not arguing; I'm just explaining why I'm right."
Matthew: "It's not even morning."
He has a point.
Isla: "Wi-Fi is the most valuable thing in the world!"
Me: "What do you want for breakfast Matthew?"
Matt: "Er, Crunchy Nuts! And Cheerios! Oh, and blueberry wheats!"
I aim to please.
Matthew: "Dad, can I look on the tablet for things I might want for Easter?"
Me: "You mean Christmas."
Matthew: "No, I mean Easter. I have already written my Christmas list."
Ben: "It's great having a computer geek for a Dad."
Matthew: "Daddy, will we have our new kitchen by the time I am a grown-up?"
My procrastination as regards home improvement projects has not gone unnoticed by the four year old.
Things Isla has brought to lunch #1: Duct tape
Things Isla has brought to lunch #2 and #3: fingerless gloves and an invisible ink pen.
Ben: "When we get home I'm going straight on the trampoline."
Matthew: "When we get home I'm going straight on Amazon."
Me: "Do you know the word for trees that lose their leaves in the Autumn?"
Matthew: "Yes. 'Bare'."
Matthew: "Cauliflower is like limited edition white broccoli."
A Yuletide poem by Isla:
Crackers go snap
While Dad has a nap
Dad got socks
Don't wear Crocs
Decided to wear a suit and tie for a change this morning.
Matthew: "Daddy, you look like someone who isn't in our family."
Isla: "Why would you want to pay 50p for extra snot?"
Isla: "For food and friends, we give thanks. Amen. Oh, and we hope there's ice cream."