The Visitor (OS016)

Pam (my housemate/lodger) is babysitting her nephew Adam today.  His parents are decorating and the last time they decorated Adam got involved, resulting in a new carpet and curtains. Gloss paint isn’t as easy to remove as his usual water based play paint but how would Adam know that?

I think Adam’s around two, and he’s learning something new every day. His talking is improving. He can now say ‘Auntie Pam’ but I’m just ‘Liver’.

This particular day, Pam was keeping him occupied with a selection of jigsaws and books and he was looking very tired. She said that he was over tired but seemed to be resisting going to sleep in Pam’s room. I thought I may be able to help and started to play some children’s songs on my phone to help him sleep.

“I bought a Toniebox for him. He loves it but he starts singing alone and won’t sleep.” Pam commented.

Pam said that lullabies would be better than children’s songs. ‘The Grand Old Duke of York’ was half way up the hill when the door rang, so I slid the phone in my pocket and went to the door. ‘Row, row, row your boat’ struck up as I answered the door.

The visitor gave me a funny look. ‘Mi….Sicky’ he said.

For one moment, I was thinking he must be ill and was contemplating calling 111 or 999 depending on the apparent severity. He spoke again:

“Parcel for Miss Icky”.

“Oh, yes.” All became clear. “I’ll take it for her. She’s busy at the moment”.

“Pam got her nephew over? Trouble sleeping? Lullabies would be better.” he said knowingly.

“So I’m told.” I replied wondering why this stranger was being so familiar. My personal protocol defines that I need to know someone at least six months before talking in that friendly manner and even then, just talk about the weather or cost of living. You can’t be too careful who you let into your circle of trust.

“This it the three in one potty Pam ordered for Adam.”

He handed me a box and photographed me holding it. I was confused. Who is this person? How does he know Pam and Adam even though I don’t know him and what is a three in one potty?

The maritime instruction song ended and ‘Postman Pat’ struck up just as the delivery person walked down the path.

He turned and repeated; “Lullabies. That’s what you need.”

I asked Pam who the delivery person is and how he knows so much about her … and what a three in one potty is.

“Oh, that’s just Jim, the courier. He’s a regular here. I chat to him most weeks and the potty, well you can use it. It has a potty, a hat and a frying pan.”

“WHAT? That’s not hygienic. You’d need to boil it out at least.”

“Joking. I think you can use it as a step stool and something else. It also plays a tune if you deposit something in it.”

I don’t get it. Why is that funny?

I left Pam to it bribing Adam with chocolate buttons if he uses the potty. He’s a bright young thing. When she turned her back, I caught him spitting in the potty to make it play some obscure American children’s tune and claiming his reward.

Pam thought this was hilarious. I just thought, that’s a design fault. If you incorporated an ultrasound sensor and some AI software you would easily be able to differentiate between Adam’s misdirection and the things you want to play a tune for. I put this to Pam.

“It’s under £30 Oliver. Not much scope (or need) for an IT solution.”

“Well, there is doing it and doing it right.” I replied pleased with my retort.

No response other than a sigh so I turned my attention to my phone to find lullabies. I found quite a few and set up a play list.

“Twinkle twinkle, little star…” started.

“Liver….Not bady.” Said Adam.

“Sorry, what did you say Adam.”

“Not dady”

“say it again Adam,”

“Not bady, not bady, NOT DADY.” He said repeatedly, becoming more frustrated.

Pam interrupted “You’re getting him wound up. He’s saying that he’s not a baby. He thinks Twinkle, twinkle is too young for him now. You’re not helping him sleep Oliver. Try another song.”

“Lullaby you mean.”

“Yes Oliver … A lullaby.”

“How about Brahms or I could tell him a story?” I suggested.

“You could but not the Swiss Hadron Collider again. It’s not really a children’s story, is it?”

“It’s really interesting though. Do you know there is a possibility of them creating a tiny black hole, perfectly safe though.”

“Well, you went onto tell him about black holes and how they swallow planets and stars. He’s now asking when the earth will be swallowed. He’s also spent two weeks picking up stones in the garden saying ‘is this a Higgs Boson auntie particle  Pam?’”

“Oh, sorry. I did tell him that the earth would become uninhabitable long before that.”

“Oh no, could you not tell him about things toddlers generally like such as steam engines, dogs, farms, you know.”

“Let me stop you there. I made up a story about dinosaurs and he was really interested in that. Children seem to love dinosaurs.”

“I know, but did you have to talk about how they became extinct, with the comet hitting the earth? He keeps looking out of the window, pointing to a bird or plane asking if that’s a comet. If he’s not doing that, he’s telling me the sun is getting closer. Could you maybe settle his mind. Just say it was a silly made up story and there is nothing to worry about.”

“No problem. I hate to think I’ve upset him. Sorry. I’ll tell him we’ll all be extinct before we crash into the sun.”

“NO, just tell him they were made up stories.”

I did as instructed and told him a story about lots of animals. Can’t go wrong there.

“Once upon a time a man called Noah decided to build a massive boat … “

It would be great to hear from you. Drop me a comment (at the bottom of the page). Just some thoughts on possible subjects but feel free:

  • Have you had any memorable visits?
  • Tell me your toddler funny stories.
  • Any advice for getting toddlers to sleep?


… Oliver Sudden

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