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. 


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