The Girl doesn’t stop talking. I really mean that. She’s six and from the moment she sidles into our bedroom in the morning and watches for the slightest eyelid flicker, to when she’s put to bed at night, she doesn’t stop talking. It’s a long stream of chatty fizzy high on life blither. What’s a wagina mummy? When you die what happens? Why is the sky? Is that lady fat or pregnant? Why should I shhh? But mummy I don’t want to go to sleep I’m not even a little bit zzzzzzzzzz . . . . .
Her chattering has become more intense recently and I think it’s because I’ve been running back and forth to see my mother, and working a lot. And in The Girl’s little group of friends at school, I’m the only mother who works.
Is that it? I asked her once if she minded that I worked and she said: But you don’t work mummy. You sit at home and write. That’s me told. But I do go into the school and take part in cookery lessons. I show up to assemblies. My involvement with the school isn’t as intense as some other parents but I am involved (she says defensively).
I’ve googled to find out what to do about a chatty child and on the US sites, the possibility of Autism and Aspergers comes up (hello medicalisation) and on the UK sites, the advice ranges from a shrug to gin and earplugs.
We all know at least one adult who suffers from verbal diarrhoea – the one whose conversation consists of a never-ending monologue of their day. If you do try to get a word in edgeways to say: Hey I’ve been diagnosed with an incurable disease, Verbal Diarrhoea will listen for 2.3 seconds until you pause for breath, and then dive back in with: Oh I know just how you feel. When I was diagnosed with flu I thought I was going to die too – I felt so bad and I was in bed didn’t eat anything but I did drink this lemon drink have you tried it very low in calories oh and it was so funny . . .
I have this theory that people who never listen and speak as though if they stop speaking they will literally stop existing, are those who were never listened to as children. Perhaps they were dismissed or half listened to. I think of this a lot with The Girl. I know I’ve been guilty of half-listening sometimes. So I’m trying to spend big lumps of time with her – just her and me. When she has a bath I sit with her, cutting my toenails. Gross I know but bless her she doesn’t mind. Then we have a girlie pedicure which consists of me wincing while she chooses toenail polish in Slaaaag Red and then manages to paint her entire foot and the carpet in it. And I remind her about not interrupting and praise her when she doesn’t interrupt.