Finding The Happy

Looking for joy in all the right places


things children say

Where we’re headed

I’m driving. Atticus has a full tummy, and is gurgling at the view zipping behind him in reverse. Arddun is strapped in the seat directly behind mine, her awareness of her whereabouts, the general geography of Canberra, the routes we take, the slightest departure from routine ever minutely recorded and questioned.

Ever growing, ever impressive, ever exhausting.

It’s 60kmh down Northbourne Avenue, plenty of time to discuss where we’re going.

“Where are we going now, Mummy?”

“We are going to the Singapore High Commission.”

She chews on that for a few seconds. It’s dinner time, and we are not at home. She notes the quick sinking of the sun, grows a little excited that we are deviating from the norm.

“We are going to see Grandma Singapore?” She turns to a toy companion immediately to give her the news. “We are going to see my Grandma!”

“Er… no, darlin’. We are going to the Singapore High Commission. It’s a different place.”

“Where is Grandma Singapore?”

“In heaven.”

“Are we going to her house?”



I pause. Do I tackle the bit about venues, or do I tackle the bit about the afterlife. Decisions.

“Because she doesn’t live in the Singapore High Commission. We are going there for dinner. There’s going to be lots of yummy food! Are we going to try new things tonight?”



“And then,” she continues, “We are going to Grandma Singapore’s house.”

So we are back to that.

“Will she have beds ready for us?”

“Er… no…”

“Does she have a house?”

“Probably. A very big one, I think.” (Will you please turn your hymnals with me to “I got a mansion just over the hilltop”.)

“She’ll have beds for us,” Arddun decides confidently.

“We are not going to her house.”


“Because it’s in heaven.”

“Where is heaven?”

“It’s outside this world.”

“OOOOOHHHHH!” she cries, as if that finally makes complete sense. And then,

“Are we in the world, Mummy?”


“Then where is Grandma’s house?”

“Out of this world.”

“Does she have a dog?”

I give a short bark of laughter. And then think about it in earnest. Dogs don’t have souls, but maybe that isn’t the way to tackle that question for now.

“Probably not,” I reply slowly. “Grandma doesn’t like dogs.”

“Oooohhh…” I imagine her nodding wisely. And then, confidentially,

“Heaven doesn’t have elephants.”

“It doesn’t?”

“No. It has squirrels.”


“Yes,” my sagacious four-year-old replies. “And cats. And some dogs. But not elephants.”

Atticus and Arddun in car

If only it were that simple

“Arddun, please put on your socks and boots. We’re going out soon.”

“I can’t! I’m dead. The dinosaur bit me.”

“The dinosaur bit you?”

“Yes.” [Lies down on couch slowly]. “The dinosaur bit me. I’m dead.”

“Oh dear. Alright, when you come back to life, can you please put on your socks and boots?”





(Sits up, indignant.) “I’m still sleeping!”

“Okay, but I want you to put on your socks and boots, please. I’ll give you two minutes. After that, you have to come back to life and put on your socks and boots. Understand?”

(Goes back to “sleep”)

“Say ‘Yes Mummy’ if you understand.”

“Yes, Mummy.”

Grappling with age and time

One always hears so much about Children, and How They Say the Darndest Things. Arddun is starting to question space, time, and her relationship to it.

“How old are you?” she asks Tony and I every day now. I’ve never been one to get coy about the years God’s given me, and neither is Tony. “Daddy is going to be 40 years old.” “Mummy is going to be 36 very soon.”

“No,” replies the little one each time, with all the certainty and conviction only youth can bestow. “Mummy, you have no number.”

I’m not sure why she’s happy to accept 40 for her dad, but insists I have no age. I suppose I should be flattered, except she is too young to understand the idea of Timelessness. Or is she? Her answer about me not having a number always elicits a small chuckle from Tony and I. Probably because we can’t think of any other suitable response.

Then yesterday, she replied with, “Yes, that’s right, Mummy. You are going to be 36. And I’m going to be 33.”

Perhaps, little one. But not just yet.

“What do you want to be when you grow up, Arddun?”

“I want to be FREE!”

“You want to be free?”

No, Tony mimes behind her. She wants to be three.


And then there’s today’s question.

“Daddy,” I hear her ask in the next room. “How did you grow up”?

How indeed. How did any of us grow up. I’m not sure sometimes that I have. I was bumbling along merrily yesterday when I caught sight of something, and jealousy wrapped its heavy cloak around my shoulders again like I was 13 years old. In a blink, I was insecure, uncertain, ugly, weighed down.

How did I grow up? Will be mulling over that one, along with my NEW New year resolutions. Perhaps more on that later.

Ardunnese explained

Arddun’s language skills have picked up in the last while, and her words – and meaning – are clearer than ever. Nevertheless, unless you live with her, she can still come up with some words and statements that may give you pause. So here’s a few definitions, just so we’re all on the same page. Okay? OKAY.

Bye, Lunch! See you late!

Translation: Farewell, restaurant or other eating establishment. I so enjoyed the lunch you prepared. See you next time!

“See you late!” has so permeated our family vocab, that morning farewells from Daddy sound weird without them. Bye Arddun, Daddy’s going to work now. See you late!

Catty Pah-Low

Caterpillar. As in, Eric Carle’s A Very Hungry Caterpillar. She knows that story by heart, and will insist on reading it at least once a day. And then watching the DVD of someone else reading it.

Emily Davies

For a while there, Arddun would take Tony and I by the hand and go, “Come here, Emily Davies! Come here!” It took us a few weeks to figure out that Emily Davies is probably her best friend at Play School. And that after spending a whole day with Emily Davies, Arddun would come home and make either Tony or I pretend to be Emily Davies. A role which consists mainly of holding Arddun’s hand and playing with whatever she wants to play with that moment.


A sigh of disapproval and waiting. Usually breathed with much gusto and to much effect while waiting for the swings to free up at the playground. Always accompanied by arms crossed around chest. Not a habit we want developed, but so hard not to grin when it happens.


Computer. As in, “I want to type on the ‘puter like you, Mummy/Daddy.” As in, “Daddy is on the ‘puter. Let me help by MOVING THE MOUSE VIGOROUSLY while you’re in the middle of Battlefield 3. Because that always helps your KD ratio.”

That’s not funny

Could mean any of the following:

  • Stop laughing at me, because I’m not having a good time, even if you are.
  • That’s not fair.
  • That’s funny.
  • I have nothing else better to say, so That’s Not Funny seems as good an interjection as any.

Tiny Apples



Kitty. Specifically, Small Kitty. Because Small Kitty is her bestest non-living friend in the whole wide world now, next to Milk and Chocolate Cupcake? (The latter is always mentioned with a pound of hope.) Small Kitty is a small, bright pink, corduroy stuffed toy cat. And in case you’re concerned about the gender bias with colour (bright pink… girl… kitty cat… saccharin sweet…), I want to clarify that Small Kitty is also a Boy Kitty.

When out in public, the occasional “Where’s TITTY?!” might be mistaken for a request for breastmilk. But Titty is Kitty. And as for the other… she just calls them Boobs like everyone else. I don’t know where she learnt that one.


In truth, she is actually very clear most of the time. I can’t think of too many words she’s mangled, or turns of phrases she’s coined. I’ll leave you this evening with some counting lessons Arddun decided to give Tony this afternoon.


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