Caroline Verdon: Think before you teach your child something for laughs

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PA Photo/Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved..
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For the past few weeks, Arthur has been coming home from nursery and randomly saying “Johnny Johnny”.

He wouldn’t apply it to a specific situation, it could pop out at any point. Dinner goes on the table? Johnny Johnny! Watching Mary Poppins? Johnny Johnny! Getting into the car? Johnny Johnny! I had no idea what it meant but the first think that popped into my head was the 1980 Jack Nicholson classic film The Shining. It was a bit creepy – especially when he once said it at about 3 o’clock in the morning after he’d pattered his way into our bedroom. Eventually I Googled it and I can’t tell you how relieved I was to find out that it’s actually a nursery rhyme. It’s a song about a little boy who gets up in the night to eat sugar from a jar only his dad catches him doing it. “Johnny Johnny? Yes Papa! Eating Sugar? No Papa! Telling lies? No Papa. Open your mouth. Ha Ha Ha!” Why sing the whole song when you can just sing the creepy bit?!

The problem was, even though I then knew where it was from, and that it was completely innocent and not worthy of a blood curdling scream everytime he said it, I couldn’t get that original thought out of my mind. Every time he said it I pictured that scene where Jack Nicholson breaks through a bathroom door with an axe, shoves his face in the hole he created and creepily yells “here’s Johnny”. Every. Single. Time. And I’m not the only person who hears it.

My husband pictures the same scene too. So much so that on Sunday night as Arthur was getting ready for bed, my husband decided to film a little video. As Arthur sat on the loo, he shut the bathroom door, clicked record and slowly pushed the door open to reveal our three-year-old who then on cue at the request of his dad yelled a drawn out “here’s Johnny”. It was hilarious because he did it so well.

Like all good parents my husband then sent the short clip around the family Whatsapp group and everyone replied with laughing emojis (as is the standard protocol when anyone send you a video of their kid that they think is funny, regardless of your thoughts on it). Rob and I must have watched that video about 50 times since Sunday and every time we chuckle. That smile was firmly wiped off our face this week though when we picked Arthur up from nursery. You see, we hadn’t thought it through. When we made that video we laughed so loud and if there’s one thing our son loves, it’s an audience. If he does something once and someone laughs he will do it a thousand times and that is something I always forget.

Unfortunately due to us laughing our backsides off when Arthur uttered the infamous phrase, he decided to renact the situation at nursery. He toddled off to the toilet and when the nursery worker opened the door to see if he was ok, using his creepiest voice he half yelled and half whispered “here’s Johnny!” much to their shock and horror. Understandably it left them a little shaken. It also left them concerned that we’re letting our three-year-old watch 1980s horror films. It goes without saying he hasn’t seen the film, he just has terrible parents.

We’re not the only ones who’ve taught our kids something for laughs. A friend of mine was 14 when she found out her mum lied to her. We were in school learning about dinosaurs and out loud she exclaimed “so the dinosaurs aren’t around now? How come we still see their faeces in fields?” It turned out her mum somehow convinced her that hay bales were actually dinosaur poo. I have no idea how or why but she did it. The Shining thing isn’t as bad as that right?

We had loads of calls from parents who had done similar things. Sarah in Horsforth had done the classic “when you hear the ice cream van it means it’s out of ice cream” and Ben in Armley admitted that as a child his parents taught him that cows were sheep and sheep were cows. That’s just cruel right? One thing we always do is tell Arthur that TV characters have gone on holiday and that’s why he can’t watch them. There’s a particular episode of Blippi that he loves and it’s all about floating and sinking. It was either tell him Blippi was on holiday or teach him “Everything floats down here” from Steven King’s IT.

Weddings are expensive...

Weddings are expensive, I know that.

When we got married in 2013 our joke was that whenever we wondered how much something might cost – flowers, band, cake, photographer etc the answer always seemed to be that the basic price started at £600 and went up steeply from there.

It’s an expensive business that according to bridebook.co.uk now costs an average of £30,000 which absolutely blows my mind.

A thread on Mumsnet this week caught my attention, a couple has asked guests to pay £180 to reserve their space at the wedding plus give a generous gift. The cheek of it!

If you can’t afford it, then don’t do it! I’ve got friends who have been married for 10 years who are still paying their wedding off.

Some of them are happy with that – that’s their choice after all, but one friend in particular does nothing but moan about it.

If you don’t want to go into debt for your big day…then cut your cloth accordingly.

One of the nicest weddings I went to was so simple and beautiful, they had a church ceremony that everyone was invited to and then they’d hired the church hall for drinks afterwards and if people wanted they could bring a plate and share in a fuddle. All in with cake/clothes/venue/ drinks etc it cost them less than £1000.

A good wedding really isn’t about how much cash you can throw at it and a good marriage isn’t based on a good wedding at all.

Vote for Nellie’s tree

I love Nellie’s tree. If you haven’t heard the story – it’s in Aberford and is up for European tree of the year. This might sound dull but bear with!

About 100 years ago, a guy called Vic was courting a lady called Nellie and to catch her attention, he fashioned three young sapling beech trees that he passed each morning into the letter ‘N’.

Vic and Nellie ended up getting married and having children and the tree still stands to this day. In my mind it’s one of the most beautiful love stories.

Earlier this year it won the title of England’s tree of the Year and now we’re hoping for success in Europe. It’s a deserving winner but at the moment it’s languishing near the bottom so it needs your vote. Treeoftheyear.org has all the details. Leeds for the win!

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