Why are toddlers so sticky?

Is grandson Wil the stickiest toddler in the universe?

Is grandson Wil the stickiest toddler in the universe? - Credit: Archant

Is the urge to spring clean connected to hormones? Nesting instinct, that sort of thing? Is it the need to mate that causes all that domestic friskiness, leaving the slight background smell of disinfectant?

I wonder because, as I looked out at the garden, bathed in cold but sincere sunshine, I felt not the slightest urge to clean small grandson handprints off the patio door.

As I have mentioned previously, Wil, now aged two, does a mean line in sticky. He has a way of leaving his imprint on pretty much everything. DVDs have to be cleaned, Thomas the Tank Engine has gummy wheels, and we can't separate the pages of the colouring book. He is a naturally sticky little boy who, given half a chance, eats Play Doh. Sticky with a blue tongue and the promise of green ooze from his nostrils, he is like a small alien, delivered to earth in the guise of a human child but, in fact, with extra-terrestrial physiology and an, as yet undeveloped, ability to scale sheer buildings using his innate stickiness.

At the indoor play area, last week, only slightly sticky, he climbed to the top of the play equipment, hung from the netting and made monkey noises and then, deciding it was all too tiring, he laid down and sucked his thumb, drained. Fortunately, daughter Ruth (auntie Ruthie) was with me and she clambered up to retrieve the small boy (or average-sized Martian).

It was his birthday last week and so we took cake and a '2' candle. Wil tried to blow out his candle and didn't even make the flame flicker. He blew downwards instead of outwards and merely ruffled his T-shirt. Fortunately brother George, aged-four-going-on-twenty, was there to help. There is an unwritten code between the brothers that George gets first dibs of everything. Just occasionally, Wil will protest with a fierce: 'Mine!' but usually he is content to let his big brother take the lead in all things.

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George is also tremendously helpful in supermarkets. At Sainsbury's we navigated the aisles seeking the likes of spaghetti shapes in tomato sauce. Suddenly: 'Mummy likes these,' George announced, holding up a Pot Noodle. He put it in the trolley and went off in search of more food for his mummy. He is a dear little boy but I was glad he wasn't shopping for me. It would have been embarrassing to go through the checkout with a trolley full of peanut M&Ms and Cheesy Wotsits... grandma's secret shame.

Now Wil is two, of course, we have the prospect of the so-called 'terrible twos' when small children reputedly cling to their parents' legs and behave intolerably in public. To a certain extent, I seem to recall a similar situation when children are in their teens... except, they cling to their parents' cheque book and refuse to be seen out with their mums and dads in public at all.

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Concerned citizen George, who is just about school-ready, is coming to terms with forms of address. although Ruth's husband is still auntie Kev.

I was recently asking him (George not Kev) about the teachers at his nursery school and he reeled off a list of names: Miss Emma, Miss Jo, Miss Elaine and Mrs Dominic. The latter staff member, I later discovered, is male but then, in a world where we can call ourselves whatever we like, I'm sure Mrs Dominic is unfazed.

I have been many things, Ms, Miss and Mrs; Lin, Lyn, Lynn and Lynne; Mortimer, Mortimore and, famously, Nicetimer (in a calamitous misreading of my handwriting). I am not fond of 'Ms' which always sounds like damp weather over the foothills of East Anglia: 'early Ms over high ground.' I rather like 'Miss'. There is a certain threat-of-ruler-across-the back of the knuckles strictness about it. Missus? Not so much. Back in the Seventies, there was a tendency for men in sitcoms to refer to their wives as 'the missus' or 'the other half' or 'the wife' and while I cannot deny these labels could be applied to me, it'll be out with the ruler if anyone (and you know who you are) uses them.

Repeat after me: 'Yes, miss.'

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