image- ALPHA BLOCK @abramsappleseed

“Soooorrryyyyyyy” sings F, stepping over a screaming, crying O in the middle of the lounge and runs off laughing as he goes. I scoop up O, who has been whacked over the head with a wooden pick up truck (not life size) “I need a mirror!” he wails, “There will be blood! I will need 4 plasters!” As he hoiks himself up onto the sink, I gently break it to him that he will just have a bump and go off to find his perpetrator. I find him, struggling to get into his sparkliest princess shoe. “Hello Mummy!” He says chirpily “You can be the dragon!”

“Before I play dragons, I want you to say sorry to O” I say in my best SuperNanny voice.

He looks confused, I remember back to the days of having dogs and reading repeatedly that you have to tell them off in the moment, not later. It obviously applies to children too.

“But I already said sorry” he says.

“But where was that sorry from? “ I ask, “Your heart or your bottom?”

“My bottom, Mummy” he says matter of factly. “Shall we try saying sorry from your heart? “ I suggest. Cue, large sigh from F and then an extra loud “SORRRRRYYYYYYYYY O!” and he runs to plant a kiss on the back of his knee. O pushes him away and waggles his finger “No smiley faces for you, “ he points triumphantly to the slightly barren smiley face chart.

About three minutes after leaving the womb, we strive to teach our children the importance of please, thank you and sorry. But for them they could be saying crumpet, noodles and bottom in terms of meaningfulness.

They say (I always imagine THEY to live in an enormously high tower on top of the world, surrounded by screens where they watch how the rest of the world does things (wrongly) and jot down the right way to do things, their way … gleefully raking in millions every time somebody says They say…) anyway, they say that the best way for a child to realise what they’ve done and the consequences is time out, be it a naughty chair, step or time in their room away from the fun. I do this, sometimes successfully, sometimes disastrously, but when they’re 25 it would be helpful for them to say Sorry and mean it, rather than sit on a chair facing a blank wall for 25 minutes.

There are moments when O will simultaneously say an empty Sorry whilst pushing F headfirst into the sandpit, but there are also moments when he will voluntarily offer an apology when he realizes that throwing F’s most cherished princess book over the wall, was possibly not the nicest thing to do ever. He is also good at presenting me with a summary of sorrys at bedtime. “Goodnight, I’m really sorry for throwing a cd at you when you were driving,, for screaming, for …” the list goes on. I thank him for saying sorry and he asks if that equals a smiley face.


Yesterday in a particularly crowded public place, F bored of his ice-cream decides to bite O. “OWWWWWWWWW!” howls O “ HE BOTE (O’s past tense consists of adding an o and an e to every word) my WILLLLLYYYYYYYYYY!”

“F, No!”  I shout. F twirls and cackles a witchy laugh. I am trying to make him sit down, whilst holding onto a thrashing screaming hopefully not willyless O.

“Can you say sorry, please?” I plead.

“NAH!” whoops F, dancing to his spectators.

“SAY SORRY!” barks O , whipping down his pants. “Is there blood???” he whimpers, I check and there is in fact a teeny tiny speck of blood and some vampire-esque tooth marks. “There is!” he sobs, “My willy is going to fall off like my nail and a new one will take ages to grow back!” He wails.

I console him while trying to discipline a most unremorseful toddler.

When O has calmed down a bit, he kneels down to F and asks in a voice that sounds like mine “Is biting my willy naughty or nice? “

F pretends to think. “Really really nice!” He beams, doing a spot of breakdancing.                            We all give up.

At home, F asks me where his toy dog is. I tell him that I washed it and it’s drying. His brow furrows, “Is that naughty or nice, Mummy? Say sorry, please. From your bottom no,  heart yes. Ok Mummy?”




photo 2 “Woohooo! We’re going to be pirates! “ whooped Boy 1 giddily, one sunny morning last September. We had  decided to go on a boat trip to TOSSA del Mar ( It never fails to make the teenager in me giggle helplessly). S kept saying that it was far too windy and the worst day ever to take a boat anywhere. As it is ALWAYS the worst day to go anywhere or do anything, I (literally) threw caution to the wind and off we went. Also,  some friends who had done it a few days previously said that it was only a teeny bit choppy, which I, (forgetting that I have suffered from travel sickness since I was 2) thought we could handle. The trip there was relatively calm, and except for the waft of sweaty burgers and booming techno music, quite good fun. So i was slightly triumphant we had defied S’s weather warnings. 562298_10201357190765476_1977038003_n We spent the day exploring the castle and being ice-cream guzzling tourists, ignoring the wind that was becoming grumpier and grumpier. We got to the beach in time for our boat trip home and this is where it all started to go spectacularly wrong. As we queued to get on the boat   I tried to ignore the fact that our boat which looked like a bath toy compared to the giant ones full of tourists happily swigging back their champagne , was bouncing up and down and people were almost falling overboard just getting on and wobbling into the lower deck. I tripped down the steps, putting ( throwing) O and F on the benches and watched  S topple in through the door nearly beheading everyone with the Phil & Ted which then got folded and wedged between unsuspecting tourists. And then we set off… The boys got excited by the glass bottom… which I had no intention of looking at as the ice-cream I had eaten twenty minutes before was starting to make a comeback. And then the fun began… off we bounced and smashed and crashed against waves and all I could see, whilst focusing on one fixed point were ROCKS, ROCKS and MORE ROCKS. All of a sudden , as water whooshed in through the door for the millionth time, I am full of panic. I look at my children, gorgeous with their windswept hair and inquisitive if not slightly stunned faces, and I panic some more… “ We’re not going to make it!” I squeak hysterically to S, trying not to puke , he laughs and calmly says this is totally normal. I make a note to self to investigate his secret pirate life… and I convince myself some more that we are most definitely,  all going to die. “The little ones don’t have lifejackets!” (Neither do we, but at this moment of time I don’t give two hoots about us, just the children)I scream and then I realize that I am so full of panic that I have no feeling in my arms or legs or anywhere and then I puke on my dress, O is still holding my hand gobsmacked by the sight . Then I puke on the floor and he cries because he wants to clean it up with wetwipes. S tries to reassure me but I have nothing nice to say to him and can just muster strength to shout “SHUT UP!” Unfortunately he doesn´t and I continue to puke. S hands F over to another tourist to hold and over the smashing waves and near misses with rocks, he falls asleep. My child, who refuses to sleep at night, another note to self to install a roller coaster in the garden to aid sleeping.”Close your eyes and sit upright!” S yells, whilst mopping me up and throwing a bottle of water over my head. The passenger holding F apparently also asked for a sick bag. The rest of the journey was equally hideous although not being able to see anything definitely helps the horror. The thing that is going over and over through my mind, except for whether or not we are going to make it , is that we would never go in a car or an aeroplane without seatbelts or a bike without a safety helmet. So where on earth are our lifejackets? I scour the boat and there is not a lifejacket in sight, just a bucket for um.. tips..Is it my fault for it not having even occurred to me, before we got on? I have since scoured the internet and found this pearl of advice – “a lifejacket is more effective worn than off ” and that all passengers SHOULD wear lifejackets. A friend who is very knowledgable in all things boat informed me that she was 99 per cent sure that any boat in the UK needs to carry sufficient lifejackets and all other safety paraphernalia… so maybe we should stick to British waters in the future! After what seemed like forty days and forty nights, we finally land, where I promptly flop on the beach, O tells me to stand up and stop feeling oopa and F prods me and says “Mummy sleeping?” I ask O what his favourite bit was and he said” seeing the dolphins jumping over the waves” – seems like closing your eyes and blocking it all out, really is the best tactic.