I was getting Arun up a few days ago and as I dressed him, we were busy chatting about the important things in life.
“Iggle Piggle fell down!” Arun chuckled, remembering his favourite TV programme, In the Night Garden.
“Why did Iggle Piggle fall down?” I asked him.
A big grin spread across his face, “Iggle Piggle did a big sneeze!”
I can never get enough of this Wildean banter and was all set to continue as we went downstairs when Arun’s brow crumpled in displeasure. He looked at me sideways and uttered the immortal words, “Naughty Mummy.”
I was caught in one of those angel vs demon moments. Should I show the requisite loyalty to my darling wife and stick up for her or burst out into laughter? In the end I did both and sniggering, I asked him, “What has Mummy done? Why is Mummy naughty?”
“In bed,” he said.
His poor mother had been up well before the crack of dawn to make her way into work. As we spoke she was no doubt on an unpleasant commuter train. The last time I had checked she was certainly not in bed.
“Mummy’s at work Arun,” I said.
He just shook his head, looked at me serenely and repeated, “Naughty Mummy.”
That evening as Clare and I were catching up over a glass of wine, I recounted the hilarity of the day’s events to her. For some reason she failed to find it funny. Her brow furrowed.
“Where did he learn that?” She demanded. “I bet you taught him that!” She accused me straight out.
My protests of innocence were somewhat drowned out my guffaws of laughter as I assured her that I had done no such thing. In fact, I even went so far as assuring her that I would put him right if he ever said it again and remind Arun that he actually has a very lovely Mummy.
The problem is that it has stuck. Probably as a result of my laughter the first time he said it, Arun thinks he has discovered comedy gold. Almost every day he says the phrase, “Naughty Mummy!”
Clare fumes with indignant rage every time she is in earshot. I respond the only way I know how which is by making light of it although the phrase, “Very perceptive boy, my son” probably isn’t doing wonders for the state of my marriage…