“That’s it Mum… YOU’RE OUT OF THE SHOW!”
my four-year-old Alice hollered when I forgot to serve dinner on the pink rabbit plate. It’s her go-to-phrase when I apparently get this whole child rearing malarkey so terribly, terribly wrong. Like when I switched off Hey Duggee – mid episode – to do the school run. That day she drew this accusatory picture to show her preschool teacher.
I’m the big angry orange thing.
And that’s Alice and her brother Ben, smiling through the hardship. When you get exiled from “The Show” you apparently go to a “horrible place where there are only witches and pumpkin pie”. When you’re IN the show, it’s a laugh a minute with “cupcakes and rainbows and ponies”.
When it comes to my little fournado, up is now down. Everything has to be rainbow coloured – including mashed potato. Marshmallows are an approved side with every meal. Halloween costumes are for all year round. Some days when I’ve been “very naughty” Alice just rings in the Replacements; the other, better (imaginary) family that lives in her treehouse”. A) We don’t have a treehouse. B) I’m happy for the better, imaginary Mum to tag me out – just long enough for a hot cup of tea. Because let’s face it, life with a preschooler can be… complicated.
As ever, Simon James captures it perfectly in The Boy From Mars. Stanley’s Mum is overnighting for work, so Stanley has decided to take the mick. In a grump, he jets off in a cardboard box to Mars and returns with a colander on his head and a bad attitude. He’s no longer Stanley, he’s a Martian who won’t eat his veg, won’t clean his teeth and won’t play nice in the playground. Seriously Stanley, Mum’s away for one night… ONE FLIPPIN’ NIGHT! Dad and older brother Will soldier on, but Stanley’s got some explaining to do when Mum gets home.
Simon James has been in the picture book business for three decades… and it shows. This story is heart-warmingly simple, offering a useful way for parents and pre-schoolers to talk about bad behaviour and setting boundaries. The dialogue is spot on – “I’ve come to explore your sibilization, take me to your leader…” made me smile. And the illustrations really do capture life with kids – from the overstuffed coat rack and empty plant pots strewn across the garden, to the harassed look on Dad’s face when the Martian announces that he doesn’t have a “bedtime”.
Incidentally, Simon’s last book Rex is one of our family favourites – another charming take on family life, done dinosaur style.