I have not been childminding for the last three weeks because they have had other childcare arrangements for one reason or another, and I have thoroughly missed my time with the kids. Today was my first day back with them, and there were many interesting conversations, as usual. Will still hasn't got his head round the fact that it is possible to be a vegetarian and a Christian.
As we were eating lunch, the following conversation ensued:
Will: 'How do word wars start?'
Hannah: 'I'm not sure, Will.'
Will: 'Yeh but how do they start?'
Hannah: Word wars?
Hannah: 'I'm not sure I know what you mean by 'word wars'.
(By this point I was picturing a display board covered in battles of words. Whatever that looks like.)
Will: (By now insistant that I really did know.) Yeh, like world war 1.
(Penny drops. Lesson learned - listen very carefully to a four year old when he speaks and add in any possible letters that might have been exchanged for wrong ones in a sentence.) Oh, world wars.
And so I start trying to explain a little bit about relationships between countries and how they can break down, when Will interjects...
Will: I thought they were started by gays.
Hannah: Pardon?!!! (Ok so I didn't learn the previous lesson the first time. Let's try again.)
Will : Gays.
Hannah: (At this point I was thinking, 'ok, I know children seem to be learning about adult concepts much younger these days, but seriously?! Where on earth has he heard that wars are started by homosexual men?...)
Will: Yeh, like World War zero was started by cave men.
Right, so when Will said what sounded very much like 'gays', he was simply abbreviating cave men to 'caves'....I am clearly not down with modern abbreviations. (I did explain to Will that in fact, there had not been a World War Zero, and he wasn't too insistant on sticking to this false fact.)
I am pleased to say that the television has become less and less of a desired activity in the children I look after. When Will first started coming home from school at lunchtime, all he wanted to do, every single week, was watch Thunderbirds. Somehow (I'd dearly love to think it was my influence, but I don't think I can take the credit for this one), the calibre of the activities they choose to do has increased ten-fold. Today on the way home from school Will announced that we were going to play chess.
Now, no offence Dad, and anyone who enjoys chess, but I have never been particularly taken by chess. It is too much of a quiet, inactive game for me. But, I was a good sport and let Will teach me how to play. I was fully aware that he knew I was completely ignorant about the rules of chess, and so, being four years old and not understanding the concept that you are not meant to bend the rules of every single game to be in your favour all the time, was expecting Will to take me for a ride. But I am pretty sure he didn't. Even though I know very little about chess, what Will said made sense. He is scarily cunning and tactical for a four year old. He completely outwitted me - chess to me seems to be a game requiring high levels of wit - and secretly I was proud of him for doing so. I have to admit, the whole time we were playing, I had the name 'Kaspirov' going round and round my head. He is the one person I remember playing when Dad used to watch chess a lot on tv, and I still remember what he looks like.