Conversations in the Shower

Flea has reached the age where she wants to know stuff. Weird stuff.

What’s the difference between petrol and diesel, how do snakes shed their skin, when did we invent clocks, why did Chinese women bind their feet? 

For the most part I make up answers to such questions, and I look forward with a real sense of excitement to the day when one of Flea’s teachers tries to persuade her that no, actually, someone doesn’t light the sun each morning using matches and some kindling and then put it out with a giant fire extinguisher at bedtime.

However, on occasion I do actually try and answer a question in a mature fashion. 

So this week I was taking a long, hot shower when a little head popped around the shower curtain and gave me a full-on heart attack.


“OH MY GOD, WHAT DO YOU WANT??” (I don’t do my best positive parenting while mid-shampoo, it has to be said)

“What does stern mean?”

I think for a moment before coming up with a slightly rushed 10-second explanation of how stern describes how someone speaks – so if someone tells you something in a firm voice that means they are telling you what to do, that would be stern.

The little head does not disappear. 

“I don’t really understand,” it says. 

“Flea, please give it a rest,” I say, sternly (see what I did there?). “That’s what it means. It’s a bit like being bossy. Okay?”


“Flea!” I snap. “I’m in the shower. Stern just means telling someone what to do and they have to do it. Alright? Now go. Just give me five minutes.”

I may have been a little harsh, because I swear I see a bottom lip trembling as Flea exits the bathroom. Five minutes later I go into my bedroom to find my daughter sitting on my bed, book open on her lap, a puzzled expression one her face.

“Mummy…I don’t mean to make your life harder than it needs to be…” Flea says (if you’re wondering where my daughter might have heard that phrase, I’m doing my very best innocent face about now) 

“It's fine, what is it?” I ask.

“Well, I was just wondering. How can a boat be bossy?”

 Yep. That's me. World's Worst Parent. 



Sally is a full-time blogger and founder of the Tots100, Trips100, Foodies100 and HIBS100 communities, along with the MAD Blog Awards. She spends a bit too much time on the Internet. She’s also a very happy Mum to Flea, the world’s coolest ten year old.

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  1. 3rd May 2011 / 6:20 am

    Hilarious story. I’ve recently found myself looking forward to the day my little boy starts to talk… I might place the dictionary in a handy position after reading this. I also find myself longing for the day I can shower in peace again!

  2. 3rd May 2011 / 9:07 am

    I don’t mean to make your life harder than it needs to be…” Oh where have I heard that line before?

  3. 3rd May 2011 / 9:14 am

    Oh bless her!
    I must confess to getting rather stern with the geekdaughter whilst trying to read this blog post, as she kept trying to sing me her new made up songs and I couldn’t listen and read at the same time.

  4. 3rd May 2011 / 10:14 am

    ““Mummy…I don’t mean to make your life harder than it needs to be…” LOVE IT. My nephew was once heard to shout “Pack it in! I’ve had enough of you today! I can DO YOU HARM”, and his mother was doing just that innocent face that you mention.

  5. 3rd May 2011 / 2:39 pm

    Hahahahaha! This is me, completely. I want to encourage my daughter to be curious about the world but ONLY WHEN I HAVE TIME! Yes, I guess I was shouting there. And yes, I really really REALLY do try to make the time, but when I’m negotiating a really difficult double roundabout in a town I’ve never been to before so I can take her to a friend’s birthday party it’s not the time to ask me what a certain up and down hand gesture means (just so you know, it wasn’t made by me or towards me!). And I might shout sternly. There. That’s my #mumfail moment. Thank you for making me feel normal–this was a perfect story, I loved it!

  6. Plumbing Supplies
    3rd May 2011 / 4:09 pm

    The color of the shower curtain is not fitted with the color of the wall. You can used an ordinary white color curtain for it to be more attractive. Sometimes in a way like this make a big changes in your room ambiance.

  7. 3rd May 2011 / 5:10 pm

    Lol – Not only are you a bad mummy but your shower curtain is apparently the wrong colour 😉

  8. 4th May 2011 / 8:05 am

    That day is probably further off than you think…

  9. 4th May 2011 / 8:06 am

    Tsk. Can’t focus on singing and listening and reading?

  10. 4th May 2011 / 8:06 am

    I am so co-opting that line for my own use. That’s okay, right?

  11. 4th May 2011 / 8:07 am

    You are more than welcome – thanks for pointing out it’s not just me!

  12. 4th May 2011 / 8:07 am

    I am completely devastated by this revelation.

  13. 4th May 2011 / 11:51 am

    Really funny, I mostly get asked where cheese comes from. At least twice a week.

  14. 4th May 2011 / 4:10 pm

    Just discovered you. I am a British mummy living in Guatemala and like to ground myself a little reading other blogs of people from my own culture especially mothers. It doesn´t really matter where you are the same parenting things come to light. However my children are bilingual which adds a whole new layer. SInce they started school they now speak less English between each other and more Spanish and although I understand most of what they are discussing I am feeling a little left out at times. strange feeling don´t you think on top of everything else!

  15. 4th May 2011 / 9:40 pm

    What is it about showers and the desparate need for information? Great story.

  16. MummyMummyMum
    6th May 2011 / 8:40 pm

    Thats brilliant! I love the idea of someone lighting the sun every morning!

  17. 15th May 2011 / 10:44 pm

    Ohh I love it!
    I always get interrupted in the shower and when I go to respond, JJ has taken to pre-empting me saying ‘no, its not urgent Mum, I’ll talk to you whne you’re out, yes?’
    Mich x

  18. 24th May 2011 / 7:13 pm

    made me smile…

  19. Jodie Smith
    24th May 2011 / 9:45 pm

    I love the bizarre comment by the plumbing company! Doesn’t spam make you laugh?
    Anyway, thought that was hilarious, even tho I could see what was coming. But then your posts always make me laugh!

  20. 25th May 2011 / 5:48 am

    🙂 That’s really brightened my day! I’ve tried really hard with the AC to tell him the answers to things in a full and frank manner, which was fine when his questions were “Why are clouds different colours?” and “When do bakers know that bread is cooked?” but now he’s heading to 8, and his questions can be a lot more involved “Why do people kiss with their heads going around?” (thankyou loved up teenagers in the park!) and “What is the 4th dimension? And the fifth?” (Time, and ummmmm, ask Stephen Hawking) I’ve had to come up with more inventive answers. His favourite one, and he’ll use it to answer me before I answer him sometimes, is “Is it to do with love and revolting stuff and I’ll know when I’m older?”
    Yes. Let’s leave that there.

  21. 20th June 2011 / 5:38 pm

    Just getting to the imperfect parenting carnival from last month. Thanks for your explanation about the sun – I was wondering how that happened every day.