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

SQL Developer (TSQL, SSRS, SSAS) Fund Manager - London

£45000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits: Harrington Starr: SQL Developer (TSQL, S...

Software Developer (JavaScript, TDD, Jasmine, Angular.JS)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Software Developer (JavaScript, TDD, Jasmine, An...

Front-End UI/UX Developer (HTML5, CSS, JavaScript, jQuery, Ang

£45000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Front-End UI/U...

C#.NET Server Side Developer (C#, XML, WCF, Unit Testing,SQL)

£30000 - £40000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: C#.NET ...

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
What happens to African migrants once they land in Italy during the summer?

What happens to migrants once they land in Italy?

Memphis Barker follows their trail through southern Europe
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?
Frank Mugisha: Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked

Frank Mugisha: 'Coming out was a gradual process '

Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked
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
Florence Knight's perfect picnic: Make the most of summer's last Bank Holiday weekend

Florence Knight's perfect picnic

Polpetto's head chef shares her favourite recipes from Iced Earl Grey tea to baked peaches, mascarpone & brown sugar meringues...
Horst P Horst: The fashion photography genius who inspired Madonna comes to the V&A

Horst P Horst comes to the V&A

The London's museum has delved into its archives to stage a far-reaching retrospective celebrating the photographer's six decades of creativity
Mark Hix recipes: Try our chef's summery soups for a real seasonal refresher

Mark Hix's summery soups

Soup isn’t just about comforting broths and steaming hot bowls...
Tim Sherwood column: 'It started as a three-horse race but turned into the Grand National'

Tim Sherwood column

I would have taken the Crystal Palace job if I’d been offered it soon after my interview... but the whole process dragged on so I had to pull out
Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard admits he is still below the level of Ronaldo and Messi but, after a breakthrough season, is ready to thrill Chelsea’s fans
Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

The Everton and US goalkeeper was such a star at the World Cup that the President phoned to congratulate him... not that he knows what the fuss is all about
Match of the Day at 50: Show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition

Tom Peck on Match of the Day at 50

The show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition