Big Mouth Strikes Again

Mostly I just flit through life with my mouth open.

It’s either open because I’m just about to poke food into it, or open because I’m incessantly talking.

Everyone who knows me, knows that I have inherited the gift of the gab from my father, although I talk about carnival glass a lot, lot less than he does.

Which is a blessing to us all that should never be underestimated.

I really don’t know why it is called the ‘gift’ of the gab.

Mostly I think of it as a bit of a curse.

I am fully aware of the fact that I talk too much, and that when I get nervous, which is quite often, I talk even more than usual.

And that my filters regarding what is appropriate to say and what isn’t, do not always work very well.

This results in quite a few: ‘I’ll get my coat moments’.

The memory of some of these still makes me blush to the roots of my hair and come out in a light sweat.

I am thinking about this today because someone pointed out that my blog post about St. Paul could be considered hugely offensive to many people of a devout turn of mind, and it never occurred to me that anyone would take it seriously when I wrote it.

I just thought it was funny, and I wanted to write it down.  And now it’s there.


And part of me thinks I should take it down, because I really don’t want to offend anyone, due to being a peace loving hippy underneath my anarchist exterior.

And part of me thinks that if I extend people the courtesy of allowing them to believe what they want and live their lives the way they want, and I don’t make an issue of it, they should offer the same respect in return, and why should I take it down?

And part of me knows that life doesn’t work like that, and that I really should take it down.

But I don’t want to.

And I realise that I was talking about my talking habit, and now I’m talking about my blogging habit, but really the two things are pretty much the same, because if you know me in real life, you will know that how I write is how I talk, and how I write is how I think, and that basically what you read on my blog is me.

And I still don’t really know what to do about St. Paul, so I’m going to leave him there for now, and have a little think about it, until someone sends me a death threat, and that will sharpen my focus wonderfully.

So, let us get back to the subject of my mouth, and the foot that is permanently in it.

Inside my head my reptilian brain, the part that is responsible for my survival says: ‘Katy love. Just. Shut. The. Fuck. Up. – Or someone is going to kill you very soon just to give their earholes a rest.’

But there is a greater part of my brain that just overrides this.  It hears what lizard brain is saying, and then, like a frightened rabbit, it panics, and instead of going into the rabbit hole of silence and safety, it lollops round in circles shouting: ‘I’m a cheese! Bicycle! Melons, two for a pound!’  Until my head melts.

I think of it as a rare form of Tourettes.

When I am at home I am much more taciturn.  It is only when I am out in public that the words spill out incessantly.

Nobody believes me about the being quiet at home thing.  I feel like Cassandra predicting the downfall of Troy, and everyone just raising their eyebrows and going; ‘Yeah! Right! As if!’

One of the wonderful things about being in school is that the children do not care about things like this, because mostly they are never silent themselves.  They just chatter on like a bag of hyperactive monkeys, and I fit right in.

I love it.

When I am talking with the children I never feel clumsy or stupid or like I should just shut up.

I just feel normal.

But it also proves me long held belief that what is cute in a child, like:

  • Incessant talking about rubbish
  • Belief in the tooth fairy
  • Running about wearing pants on your head
  • Saying rude words at inappropriate moments (i.e. ‘fuck off granny. I’m trying to watch Mr. Tumble)
  • Fear of Daleks invading the earth

Is just weird and a bit wrong in grown ups.

I love talking to the children at school. I absolutely love it.

They are mostly smart, and funny, and endlessly entertaining.  Their views on life, the universe and everything range from the ridiculously wise to the plain ridiculous.  And even when they aren’t smart, they are funny, and generally quite, quite lovely.

Not all the time, you understand, but that is forgivable. Everyone has their moments.

I love the fact that they are so open, and that they, like me, are prone to saying the first thing that pops into their head.  I love the fact that they have an opinion on absolutely everything, no matter how simple or profound or whether they actually know what they are talking about at all, and they are, for the most part, totally unafraid to tell you what they think.  There is very little holding back for fear of being ‘wrong’.

There is some of it, this not saying things for fear of being wrong, some of the time.  This saddens me, and it saddens me further that this reticence will probably grow, the older they get.  I wish we could somehow preserve this openness, this creativity, this willingness to be silly or ridiculous for longer, because it is at times like these that they are at their most endearing.

Although, as I have pointed out, it is less endearing in adults.  But we could prolong it just a bit longer than normal, no?

This week I have mostly been spending a lot of time with six and seven year olds, and they are just entrancingly fabulous.

I love the fact that one child, apropos of nothing, just came running up to me and gave my knees a huge hug (knee hugging is very popular amongst the shorter generations. I now have knees which have been comprehensively loved since starting to work at school). She then looked up at me and said in a wobbly voice: ‘Mrs. Wheatley, my hamster died.’

So we commiserated, despite the fact that we really should have been doing number lines and learning to write words in straight lines, and not in ways that make you feel sea sick when you read them back.  And I felt very privileged that she had shared this information, despite the fact that she has probably told everyone, including the check out girl at the Co-op.

And then there was the child who came fizzing along the corridor, arms wide in welcome: ‘Mrs. Wheatley! Mrs. Wheatley! Guess what I’m going to do tonight after school?’

‘What?’ I wonder out loud.


Pretty amazing, you have to agree.

And I had a smile on my face for the whole of the rest of the afternoon thinking about that, and how marvellous it would be, and how I wished, for her sake it was true.  But even so, she will still believe it is, and have the best time EVER.

And it’s even better when the usually quiet children, or the difficult children come and find you to tell you something they think you will want to hear, however trivial it may be, because you know that you have been trusted, and accepted, and that is rather profound.

Like the child who has comprehensive learning difficulties who sidled up to me last week to ask me what the time was on his imaginary watch, even though he doesn’t really speak to people very much, and I felt hugely honoured to be able to tell him that I wasn’t very good at telling the time, but I thought it was about half past two.

And I don’t think I will ever tire of it.

19 responses to “Big Mouth Strikes Again

  1. I’ve just applied for a training programme to become a primary teacher and you’ve managed to sum up exactly why I want to do this! Everyone has been telling me that it’s going to be very difficult and very tiring and an awful lot of hard work, and I had just started doubting myself. Your reminder of the knee hugs has perked me up again at the perfect time. I worked in an Italian school last year, and I’m proud to be able to say that knee hugs are most definitely universal among 4-8 year olds. And they are always lovely. Beautiful post 🙂

  2. No, missus – you leave that post right where it is. This is your blog, with your opinions. I have written far more offensive things about people who insist on believing in 2000 year old myths about invisible sky daddies (see?) and I don’t care who it upsets. But then you’re a far nicer person than I am. Your post was merely poking gentle fun at someone who would probably write with green ink if it had been invented, and I doubt very much if anything you said would seriously shake the foundations of anyone’s belief, however misplaced.

  3. Dear Katy,
    I have found your blog (don’t remember exactly how I found it) and it’s been a balm during a very difficult time for me and my family. I read you and remember that smiling is still a possibility, which puts you most certainly on the side of the angels (even if there aren’t any angels, which there aren’t, alas). Reading the St. Paul post last night when I couldn’t sleep restored my spirit, made me laugh, made me think (why no letters back to him??). Brilliant writing. Don’t remove, please.
    Best to you,
    A fan in Rhode Island

  4. Also, today is Blasphemy Day, so you’re allowed to. Right? Right!

  5. do not take it down. it was bloody marvellous

  6. As I said I’m an atheist so I’m not going to find it offensive, but as Mrs Jones said no-one’s faith is going to be diminished by it, and surely this is offensive
    whereas what you said was funny.
    So, no, don’t take it down.

  7. You leave St Paul exactly where he is Ms Boo. I’m sure none of your regular readers, god-fearing or otherwise, would find the post offensive – it’s just too funny to be taken as a serious criticism.

    Long may your stream of consciousness wander far and wide m’dear.

  8. I vote for leaving letters to st. paul right where it is. As a matter of fact, I think a slim volume called Postcards to St. Paul the pain in the arse, should be in the offing.

  9. I agree with everyone: leave the St Paul post right there. It IS funny – and actually, I think you’ve summed him up quite accurately.

    Also, working with primary-aged children is the BEST! I’ve been teaching for something like 30 years, mostly because those children are endlessly entertaining. Exhausting at times, but SO much fun!

  10. I love it. I really, really love it. They are such fun.x

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