Laid up in bed today, I listened to Teddy grill Nanna in the kitchen. 'Nanna, where did the first people come from?' My mum dithered a bit. It's tricky, dealing with grandchildren raised as godless atheists, when you are a good Catholic grandmother. 'Who made the first people, Nanna?' Ted pressed. He still didn't get an answer, so he made himself clearer, as I enjoyed the show from my bedroom. 'Person is one person, Nanna. People is more than one person, Nanna.'
Teddy is very literal. Very specific. He does not tolerate his foolish mother lightly. Lately, increasingly, he is getting very frustrated with me.
A couple of weeks ago I was trying to avoid fixing a noisy, headache-producing toy of his. I tried to fob him off several times with a 'no battery' excuse, but he kept following me around until I was forced to cup the stakes.
'I think it's more than just the battery Ted. I'm pretty sure it's broken.' I averted my eyes from his penetrating gaze. 'I feel like even if we put batteries in it, it still won't play, ' I added weakly.
'Your feelings are not correct!' Teddy said indignantly. ('Not correct' is his favourite phrase.) 'Your feelings are not wight, Mummy!'
I was enjoying this exchange. 'Well, what do your feelings tell you about it, Teddy?'
'Nothing!' he shouted. 'I have no feelings! I just say that if you put the batteries in it, it will play!'
Scientist. Appearing before my very eyes. His questions are wonderful: 'Those little round poos I do, Mama. Are they meatballs?'
He's also developed a forfeit system to stop me saying 'Okay' all the time; which, when you have three small children is tough. Somebody is always asking a question that I have not the braincase available to fully process. But now, every time I say 'OK' I have to wave my arms in the air and sing 'sexy lady...' I thought that was fine until Ted got annoyed and pointed out that I should have learned by now to stop saying 'OK' , instead of saying it as much as ever and then adding 'sexy lady' on the end. He was actually putting me on some sort of behaviour-modification plan. And I was failing it.
In fact, it is very difficult to live up to some of Teddy's standards.'I am wight,' he likes to say. 'And will be wight for the whole of life!' While we were away, he sat me on his bunk, and tried to teach me exactly how to sing the verse from his favourite song 'Boom, Boom. Ain't It Great To Be Crazy.' Every time I tried (and I really tried hard - it was not a fun game), he found some new reason to shout 'No, Mummy, no!' Eventually he banned me from singing and told me I was not allowed to make a noise at all, and had to listen as he played it. Loudly. As many times as it took. I zipped my lip and nodded seriously. The song began and Teddy watched me like a hawk to make sure I wouldn't let a note slip forth.
A line or two in, he got slightly off message 'Mum, ' he whispered. I raised my eyebrows. 'Can I have a drink?' he said. I pointed to my lips and shook my head. 'Can I have a drink Mum?' he stage-whispered. I boggled my eyes at him and wildly shook my hands. 'BUT CAN I HAVE A DRINK MUM!'' he wailed into my face until I cracked and wailed back 'Ted! I can't talk! How can I answer you when I can't talk!' He realised what he had done and turned on me fiercely. 'Mum! That is not correct! That is NOT CORRECT!'
'Oh my god, OK, OK...' I shouted back as I clambered out of his bunk and left the room but not before I saw his face and knew I had to add 'Sexy lady.'