Life on Marsden: I'm fundamentally unable to communicate with small children

I've developed a coping mechanism of making a comically stern face and leaving the room whenever I don't know what to say back to them

Share
Related Topics

I don't understand small children. I'd love to, and I've tried to, but there are questions I'll never know the answer to, like why they don't do anything about the massive bogey sliding down their upper lip. I've spent the last couple of weeks on holiday in the company of two delightful kids, but our common ground is minimal and we regard each other with courteous suspicion, like foreign ministers attending trilateral talks on arms reduction.

Yesterday, they constructed an assault course for their toys that consisted of a skipping rope, several shoes, three towels, a tennis ball and a packet of biscuits. They asked me to come and play. I hesitated. My inner voice told me that this game made little sense on a number of levels, that the narrative was poor, the aims distinctly fuzzy and it would be better if we cleared it all away and played baccarat instead. That inability to suspend my cynicism upsets me bit, and I've developed a coping mechanism of making a comically stern face and leaving the room whenever I don't know what to say back to them. I leave the room quite a lot.

I had a similar problem a few years ago when I found myself having to write the children's page for St John's Ambulance magazine under the nom de plume of Bertie the Badger. I agonised over it for ages; I'd start writing and immediately want to say something about badger culls or make a topical observation about rural affairs. I just seem to have a fundamental inability to communicate with anyone under the age of 10. If I talk to them in a normal voice, they pay me very little attention; if l adopt cheery, sing-song speech patterns, they respond more positively, but in my head I just sound sarcastic. After all, if I used the same voice to say, "Ooh, that's a nice drawing!" to an adult, they'd probably ask security to eject me from the gallery.

God knows how I'd cope if I had kids of my own. I predict that my lack of imagination, my inability to construct fantastical yarns or make improbable leaps of faith would result in bedtime stories detailing the disintegration of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, followed by sleepless nights as I repeatedly reassure my offspring that it's OK, Mr Milosevic is dead now.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Business Analyst - Banking - London - £550 - £650

£550 - £650 per day: Orgtel: Business Analyst - Traded Credit Risk - Investmen...

Data Insight Manager - Marketing

£32000 - £35000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based o...

Data Centre Engineer - Linux, Redhat, Solaris, SAN, Puppet

£55000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A financial software vendor at the forefro...

.NET Developer

£600 per day: Harrington Starr: .NET Developer C#, WPF,BLL, MSMQ, SQL, GIT, SQ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Letters: The West flounders in the Middle East morass

Independent Voices
David Tennant as Hamlet  

To vote no or not to vote no, that is the question... Although do celebrities really have the answer?

David Lister
All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Robert Fisk: All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Chuck Hagel and Martin Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise
Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

So claims an EU report which points to the Italian Mob’s alleged grip on everything from public works to property
Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Once the poor relation, the awards show now has the top stars and boasts the best drama
French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

The ugly causeway is being dismantled, an elegant connection erected in its place. So everyone’s happy, right?
Radio 1 to hire 'YouTube-famous' vloggers to broadcast online

Radio 1’s new top ten

The ‘vloggers’ signed up to find twentysomething audience
David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

A blistering attack on US influence on British television has lifted the savvy head of Channel 4 out of the shadows
Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

Nick Clegg the movie

Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?

Waxing lyrical

Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?
Texas forensic astronomer finally pinpoints the exact birth of impressionism

Revealed (to the minute)

The precise time when impressionism was born
From slow-roasted to sugar-cured: how to make the most of the British tomato season

Make the most of British tomatoes

The British crop is at its tastiest and most abundant. Sudi Pigott shares her favourite recipes
10 best men's skincare products

Face it: 10 best men's skincare products

Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf