Caroline Verdon: Arthur’s latest phrase: ‘You forgot about something’

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Arthur is three and his speech has come such a long way. We can have proper chats with him now and it’s lovely. He constantly natters.

At night after we’ve put him in bed and ready him a story he often insists on ‘reading’ himself a book. He’s not a prodigy, he can’t actually read but he has memorised a handful of stories word for word. He makes us leave his bedside lamp on and then from downstairs you can hear him ‘reading’ the book aloud to himself, sometimes once or twice but other times this can go on for half an hour before he eventually falls asleep. It’s a heart-melter.

This love of talking can have a downside though. He only has two volume levels – a tiny indecipherable whisper and a booming belting shout. Guess which he uses most of the time? It’s very awkward in libraries or the queue at the post office. Along with this desire to talk all the time comes a real love of words and phrases. He is like a magpie and we have to be really careful what we say around him as he loves to endlessly repeat the new things he’s learnt – apparently he’s taught half his nursery class “oh my God” (which, quite frankly, could have been a lot worse).

His latest phrase isn’t so much offensive as it is annoying. I’ve no idea where he’s picked it up from but he says it multiple times a day. In part it’s the phrase itself that is irritating but it’s also the way he accompanies it with a wry pitying glare and says it in a peculiar high pitched tone. “You forgot about something” is the sentence that has become a regular occurrence in the Verdon household.

Sometimes he says it because I’ve legitimately forgotten something – the other day I was strapping him into his car seat when he said “You forgot about something” and when I asked what it was he said “You forgot about my coat” and he was right. I’d forgotten to take his coat out of the house and put it in the car. Well spotted.

Other times, it’s not so much that I’ve forgotten something, as it is that I’ve simply not had a chance to do it yet. Turns out when a three-year-old wants porridge he wants it instantly and even the time it takes to find the oats in the cupboard is too long. On other occasions he just tries it on. “You forgot about something” he says in his very judgemental tone. Upon enquiring as to what it is I’ve forgotten his tone changes to one filled with hope as he says: “You forgot about chocolate”. Nice try but I’m not falling for that.

This week my husband and I have both gone back to work and Arthur has gone back to nursery after just over two weeks off. The readjusting back to the routine has been a struggle – remembering the alarm clocks, to get our clothes ready the day before, to get to work and nursery on time and to cook proper dinners, it’s all felt like a bit of an effort to make the timetable work for us again. When it’s come to dinners I’ve opted for the laziest options all week. Casseroles.

I’ve bought pre-chopped casserole veg packs and pre-diced meat and just bunged it all in the slow cooker and then served it up with crusty bread and veg each night. Pork and apple, lamb and apricot, beef and ale - you name it, we’ve done it.

Tuesday night was chicken and mushroom stew with mustard mash. I popped it on the table and we all sat down. When it comes to Arthur and dinners, we’ve never made him different food to us, he just has what we’re having.

I bung the food in the middle of the table with some serving spoons and then he chooses what parts he has and how much and it seems to work. It’s stopped arguments over eating veg as without us forcing him he seems more inclined to give things a try. Or at least that is the theory. Tuesday night, three days into stews and casseroles he sat down. Surveyed the table and announced “You forgot about something”. I had a look. Our plates and drinks and cutlery were all there. There was chicken casserole, mashed potato, peas, broccoli and some crusty bread. It was all there. What had I forgotten? “You forgot about making a nice dinner” he said with a wry smile before laughing hysterically.

He’s three and already a food critic. Heaven help us with his teenage years.

Celebrity toilet watch

I’ve been to the toilet next to five celebrities. And I don’t think it’s all that uncommon. It’s not something I’ve engineered it’s just something that’s occurred. Usually at a motorway service station. This isn’t something that usually forms part of my brag bag repertoire, in fact I hadn’t even done the tally until Wednesday morning. Darren in Castleford called the show trying to catch me out with ‘story for everything’. It’s a feature that sits with Ant’s theory that if you give me a word or a phrase I’ve always got a story for it. Darren simply asked if I’d ever been to the loo at the same time as a celeb – fully expecting me to say no but unbeknownst to all of us rally it seems that my superhero character name ought to be the celebrity slasher. As I’ve done it loads of times and never anywhere showbiz. Sharon Osbourne was my first encounter – I was at a middle of the road restaurant in Southampton and she was staying in the area whilst performing a stage show and for whatever reason we ended up in the same place. I went to use the powder room and suddenly her unmistakable voice echoed round the room as she asked me to pass her some loo roll underneath the cubicle door. Then there was Cheryl Baker from Bucks Fizz adjusting her make-up in the toilets of a hotel in London, ice skater Jayne Torvill exiting a the ladies at a Cineworld and Liz Hurley in a petrol station loo off the side of the A38. Maybe I’ve just got a bladder that loves a good celeb spot?

A face painting guinea pig...

We’ve been talking this week about side jobs. Something subsidiary that you can do to earn yourself some extra cash.

A friend of mine is an incredible cake maker and on the side makes birthday cakes for people and she reckons she makes a couple of hundred profit a month for not a lot of effort. I know someone else who is seriously artistic and alongside his real job of working in a bank he has an online shop where people pay him to do caricatures from photos.

Ant is desperate for a side job but the issue he’s facing is that he doesn’t seem to have any talents that lend themselves to making money. He’s certainly not a baker or an artist. He’s narrowed down his options to either becoming a personal trainer (he has no qualifications, he just likes the idea of shouting at people) or becoming a face painter. He’s never face painted before so true to form in his mission to make money he’s spent money and bought himself a kit. Apparently tomorrow I get to be his guinea pig. I can’t imagine this ending well.

Caroline Verdon is one half of the breakfast show on Radio Aire. You can hear Caroline and Ant between 6-10am every weekday morning.