A creature of myth, and perhaps legend, concocted by the mouths of under 4s who struggle with wordage with their itty bitty teeth and their embouchures trained into muscle memory honed by years of sooking on boobs, teats or sooky cups.
The squiddel is a mysterious, limbic creature hovering somewhere between land and sea but mostly found in mid-air because the illustrator got halfway through illustrating it and realised the natural habitat hadn’t been thought through. It is a shy animal and quite vulnerable if it dozes off at groundlevel: shrews like to tie its tentacles around tree roots. It exists on a diet of pickles and biro ink and the occasional cola bottle. They have a reputation for cheating at rock,paper, scissors and some hypothesise this was the origin of the squiddel/shrew fallout. Hibernation is between November and the last Thursday in March.
The squiddel has found its way into everyday culture in such scenarios as moving up a nursery grouping e.g. “I’m in squiddels now, Dad. Oliver is in budderflies.”. Keen-eyed as they are some toddlers have claimed to have seen squiddels skedaddling up tree trucks but I have only ever caught glimpses of the tail end.
We’re learning a lot about time. Analogue clock faces. Cheaply sourced watches. Short hands, long hands (currently spared the second but it’s only a matter of…. oh nononono). Puzzled faces (non-analogue) over time length. You’d have thought naughty step experiences would have given some kind of reference point but then I still naively take them on hikes forgetting the daily reaction to the school walk, “Whyyyyyy is this taaakiiiing sooo looong? My legs are soooo tired.” Knees buckle, bum sags, gazes t’ward clouds in pose of supplication.
Night and day though. That’s fairly black and white, no? Surprise, no! School ran a project involving a teddy bear, teddy bear pyjamas and a diary for each kid to take home of a weekend. Mission: put the teddy to bed at sundown. Mission: ungradeable. No one noticed it getting dark. Too busy doing jigsaws, preparing stews, finding odd smells emanating from behind radiators and other traditional wintertime pursuits. Does this project run in schools above the Arctic Circle?
Springing forward and leaping back…..whoa-ho, whole other realm of crazy. Where does the hour go? How does it know its way back? Does it have a map? Is it the same hour each time or is there a rota system? Is it linked to deja vu? Did Cole Porter omit the Scarlet Pimpernel of the time world when he wrote ‘Night & Day’? Does Doctor Who know where it is? Fairly sure Rowdy THINKS she knows because 4yr old logic has no limits.
To clarify there is no baby in there. Nor are there plans for a baby to be in there. Even more unlikely if the method of Rowdy’s tenuous grasp of human reproduction is followed: “like penguins feeding each other. Only with spit not food.”
This would have been enough in itself but it came after Rowdy casually lifted my jumper the week before, frowned for inspection and asserted, “Mum, you should really go for a run.”
Not “Hey, Mum, you’re making that porridge-belly look rock” or “Oh, the site of my incubation! Sorry for the inconvenience. I’ll back-pay rent” but the child equivalent of Burgess Meredith in Rocky.
Complete with stop-watch.
And an irritated mood conveyed merely by the ‘tic-tic‘ of a ballpoint pen release.
Me: “Want sweetcorn?”
The Bobcat: “Sweetcorn is my enemy.”
Me: “Really? You normally hoover it up.”
The Bobcat: “TOMORROW I liked sweetcorn. THIS day…..sweetcorn….is….my…ENEMY!”
Me: “Thanks for clarifying.” [Replaces glasses.]
The Bobcat: “oooooOOoohh. GRaaaavyyy. SWIM, PEAS! SWIM!”
The Bobcat: “Let’s go to Barry Island!”
This is because the sun is out. If the sun is out The Bobcat is convinced some kind of beach excursion is THE PLAN. He doesn’t remember other beaches he may have frequented. He only remembers Barry Island.
“Bar-ry IS-LAND! Bar-ry IS-LAND! Bar-ry IS-LAND!”
Ever been to Barry Island?
It isn’t like this.
This is Barry Island.
And I’m an introvert. And the weather report said that the sun would show up around 0814hrs just to fool everyone, wait long enough for them to venture out for a £4 one-use barbecue, some sausages, some 6% export and an iceberg lettuce and then sod off behind a large black cloud until Thursday.
The Bobcat has been to Barry Island once, Rowdy twice. On the last occasion the stars had (and I don’t know how) aligned as the weather was nothing short of amazing: the sea was warm enough not to leave me hypothermic and the ice creams had to be guzzled pretty quickly before they slid south and left you licking your elbow. We made a sandcastle. We climbed rocks. We splashed in rock pools. We made bum-prints in the sand and watched them fill with water. We buried Daddy in the sand and we made Rowdy into a sand-mermaid. We watched strangers get hot and disgruntled and pretend not to care about winning mini-golf.
In Rowdy & The Bobcat terms this is a paradise-like haven.
“How about you go and live with Uncle Cardiff and then he can take you to Barry Island all the time?”*
Bag packed. Sunscreen packed. Raisin snack packed. Little expectant face waiting at the front door for Uncle Cardiff to pick him up.
We went stick collecting instead. He was thrilled. And he got an ice cream to shiver with happily under his pacamac.
*This was a done deal. Uncle Cardiff has a cow onesie.