Mumisms: Things My Mother Used To Say

Parents have a language all of their own. Some phrases we understand, like ‘NO, YOU CAN’T’ and ‘I’M GOING TO COUNT TO TEN’ but there are other things we haven’t a clue about because they don’t make sense. You probably find yourself using the same lingo with your own children because it’s ingrained, innit? You wake up one day and you’ve gone from relatively cool to OH MY GOD, I AM MY MOTHER! It’s a rite of passage of Motherdom, along with droopy boobs and incontinence.

My mother, bless her, had a plethora of phrases that I’d like to share with you readers..

Number 10

‘Gone For A Burton’

Meaning: A reference to a person who had died or an item that was broken.

First heard at the age of 7 when I limped into the kitchen with a broken strap on my brand new sandals. Mum took a puff on her fag and said, ‘Well. That’s them gone for a Burton then.’ I didn’t know who or what this ‘Burton’ was. Richard Burton was big at the time so it could have been him. All I know is that I cried PROPER TEARS over those wretched sandals because in those days, money was short and I knew I wasn’t going to get another pair anytime soon. *sobs*

Number 9


Meaning: A rough, unsophisticated countryman.

Since the early 19th century, in the UK and USA, ‘clod-hoppers’ were also the name given to ploughmen’s boots.

Mum used to refer to my eldest brother’s 1970s platform shoes and work-boots as ‘Clod-Hoppers’. My brother would often be greeted at the door with, “And you can take those clod-hoppers off as well, Matey!”

Number 8

‘Getting On My Wick’

Meaning: Annoy me; get on my nerves.

Usually heard during weekends and school holidays, especially Wimbledon fortnight. Alone, my brother and I were tolerable. Together, we were little shits.

“You two are getting on my wick. Go to the park!”

Number 7

‘You’ve Blotted Your Copy Book’

Meaning: To do something that makes other people trust you less.

In our case, it was any minor misdemeanor at home or at school. Ink and blotting paper were still a thing in the 70s so I took it quite literally until it was explained to me…

Number 6

‘Away With The Fairies’

Meaning: Not facing reality; in a dreamworld.

Where Mum thought I always was…

Number 5

‘Guts For Garters’

Meaning: A threat of a serious reprisal.

“If you come home late, I’ll have your (varying expletives) guts for garters!”

This saying probably originated from the Middle Ages where they liked to disembowel people and stuff.

Number 4

‘I’ll Give You..’

This one was where, whatever we said to Mum, she would turn it back on us.

Me “I’m bored”

Mum “I’ll give you I’m bored!”

Me “Yeah, in a minute, Mum.”

Mum ” I’ll give you in a minute!”

Me “Why?”

Mum “I’ll give you why”

You get my drift?

The variation on ‘I’ll give you is I’ll give it you.

Or on hearing me WHISPERING an expletive..


It meant a wollop on the backside so at this point I’d fly out out through the back door flicking Mum the V’s from inside my coat pocket. She rarely caught me but I would ALWAYS return to find my Jackie mag cancelled, damn it.

Number 3

‘Because I Said So’

That’s why.

Number 2

‘The Pits’

Meaning: the WORST possible person, place, or thing.

In this case, my brother’s bedroom.

Mum to Dad “His bedroom is the bloody pits! Records as coasters and unidentified life-forms in cups? That’s it. I’m on strike!.”

To be fair, it WAS a pit. We’re talking MAJOR BIO-HAZARD here.

Number 1

‘I’ll Swing For You’

I think I have the album somewhere. Or is it Swing When You Are Winning? Anyhoo. Initially I took this literally and pictured Mum having a fun time on the swings in the local park. I thought this was DEAD FUNNY, albeit highly unlikely. However the imagery didn’t match her frowny expression, so I came to realise that it meant that I’d done something wrong.


Often, a minor expletive would be inserted for dramatic effect so it became “I’ll SODDING well swing for you” Later on I came to realise the origin of the phrase came from HANGING, as hanging was still in fashion in my mother’s day. Mother saying she’d ‘swing’ for us meant that she’d murder us and be hung for her crime. However, she would never have actually murdered us. She wasn’t fast enough for a start. She came close several times – especially during her menopausal years when she was a bit, well, psycho.

Sometimes this phrase was used in jest but mostly we knew we were in deep poo if we heard it and we’d suddenly be incredibly helpful – like doing the dishes without being told or tidying our rooms, including Bro’s ‘pit’.

Occasionally, I catch myself muttering ‘Because I said so’ and I start twitching and have to go shout at some crisp packets as self-punishment. My mother may have passed on her early menopause to me, but there is no way I’m talking like her as well. Why? BECAUSE I SAID SO!


It pays to be as literal as possible when you have an autistic child, trust me. Saves time. Maybe you recoginse a few of these from your own childhoods? Feel free to share!

Next time, Dadisms.







A Hospital Adventure


One thing about autism is how children can surprise parents with their ability to cope in stressful situations. This isn’t to say that this is always the case, it’s just that sometimes those situations which we presume will go badly, actually go really well. The other week was one such experience when The Boy had his MRI scan..

Earlier in the week, Eldest Boy and his girlfriend sent ‘Brian’ via owl post to keep The Boy company during his scan which was so thoughtful. The school also did their bit and allowed him to take the class mascot, ‘Hooty’ to hospital with him for morale.



The day started well. The Boy was in a good mood and cooperative which is a plus because a cooperative child always makes life a bit easier. Armed with our knowledge of what was to come we made our way to the children’s ward in one of the local hospitals.

Before the scan, The Boy spent half an hour with a play-worker who took him through what would happen in a child-friendly manner using pictures and toys specially designed for the MRI scan.


The Boy and his play-worker.

Having the play-worker there really helped to take the pressure of us. The Boy was interested in the toys, especially a mini MRI room that looked exactly how it does in real life!


MRI scanner Lego stylee. Cool, no?

Spending time in the play-room made me realise just how important play is when caring for children in hospitals. Hospitals can be frightening places for any child – let alone one who is autistic – but a friendly face and a bit of distraction goes a long way to allay some of those fears that come with unfamiliar environments.

Next it was time to go to go for the scan. The play-worker came with us and chatted away to The Boy throughout the MASSIVELY long walk to the MRI department. This was the hardest part of the day as he had to wait for an hour for his turn. The lady in front of him took a lot longer than normal. It wasn’t ideal for us but it was beyond our control so we just had to do our best to keep him distracted. He was relatively OK while there was only one other person waiting but meltdown threatened when five people came in at once and he soon began rolling about on the floor making his ‘noises’ and shouting, ‘I’M BOOOORRRRED!’ at the top of his voice. Thankfully we only had to wait ten more minutes before he was called in.


Hooty sits it out..


…while Brian takes a ride in a JCB.

The play-worker and I went in with him. Again, The Boy flabergahsted me with how well he tolerated the situation. He dived on the bed making the technician laugh out loud. He likes hospital beds because they move up and down. When the technician pressed the button to raise the bed up, The Boy squealed in delight like it was the best thing ever! His head was secured and he was given a pair of headphones with a choice of some music to listen to. We were also given ear defenders to deafen the noise from the machine. There was a mirror on The Boy’s head ‘contraption’ so that he could see us and once he was settled – the adventure began.

I’ve had an MRI scan before but, as I said, I don’t remember it cus I was completely off my face on morphine so this was relatively a new experience for me too. People have said it’s loud and it was incredibly loud but I also thought it was a bit like listening to experimental music – sort of Kraftwerk meets Slipknot? Or maybe that’s just me…

We stood either side of the bed and stroked The Boy’s legs. He gave us a double thumbs up so I knew he was OK. Sometimes he moved his head about so I gave him my mummy frown and wagged my finger. When he kept still, I smiled and stuck my thumb up. He called out, ‘I LOVE YOU MUMMY!’ and in that moment I don’t think it was possible to love him anymore that I already did..

Twenty minutes later it was all over.

Once he was free of all the MRI regalia I told him how amazingly well he’d done and he said very matter-of-factly, ‘ Yeah, I pretended I was a spaceman’.

My little boy, who only this morning had had a complete meltdown over getting dressed for school, took this major experience and made it work for him. This is the wonderment of autism, folks.

The play-worker walked us back to the children’s ward and then she went off to make another child’s day a little bit brighter. It must be an incredibly rewarding job and I know ours was definitely less stressful because of her support.

Our trip ended in the hospital cafe with a well earned hot chocolate and cake. I looked around me and reminded myself that hospitals may well be full of people who are really ill but it’s not all about sickness and death. The children’s ward is a happy place – a positive place. It’s just my ingrained memories of old fashioned hospitals that cloud my perception. I know that should The Boy ever need another scan he won’t be afraid because hes done it and it was a positive experience.

I couldn’t be prouder of my little spaceman.

Sons, Sand & Sauvignon


A Bit Of Everything


The Boy and the Hospital Visit


Not many people enjoy a trip to the hospital but for those on the autistic spectrum – especially children – it can be traumatic.

Hospitals are a sensory minefield for autistic children due to loud noises, smells and harsh lighting. It’s an onslaught on the senses alongside the anxiety of the reason they’re there in the first place so visits can be challenging for children and their parents. On top of that the tea and coffee is often of the vending variety – therefore crap.

We came to be in hospital because The Boy has been having nose bleeds and headaches with the headaches steadily getting worse so his GP referred him to a pediatrician who he saw this week.

First off he was weighed and measured and I can officially state that he is 4 foot 2 inches tall. He’s only six years old and he’s almost as tall as me! *gasp* He’s always been bigger than the average bear height-wise and this has always confused people into thinking he’s older than he is. Of course, Hedwig the owl also had to be weighed and measured and she’s 26 cm’s tall and 0.3 kg – in-case you were wondering.

Then it was in to see the pediatrician. The Boy entertained himself by turning the taps on and off while she wrote down his history. Then she examined him as best as you can examine a child with ASD but he allowed her to listen to his heart on condition that she listened to Hedwig’s too, which she did.

She informed us that headaches in children are common and she thinks his are migraines. Apparently a child is more likely to have migraines if a parent has them and in our case, that’s me.

Due to his age (and the fact that the headaches have been increasing) she wants him to have an MRI scan which can be a bit lengthy but is completely safe. However, knowing how The Boy struggles to keep still at the best of times – I can see this being a huge challenge for him.

I had an MRI scan when he was born. They whipped him out of my tummy and whizzed me off to the MRI room and that’s all I remember because I was completely trollied on morphine so I slept through the entire thing but I’m hoping that it will be of some comfort to my son to know that I’ve had one. Obviously, I won’t tell him about the ‘being trollied’ bit.

After the pediatrician had done her stuff a play worker took us into a side room (aka baby change) to explain to The Boy in child friendly terms what would happen but anxiety was threatening to overwhelm him. He was making more owl noises than human ones (a sure sign of distress) but she understood that it was unwise to go any further at this stage. We came away knowing that we will be contacted in a few weeks with an appointment for the scan but we can make arrangements to see the scanner beforehand if we wish to.

The Boy isn’t going to be sedated because the pediatrician has found that sedation often has the reverse effect on ASD children and apparently they go a bit ‘loopy’. I’m not finding a lot of evidence for this to be honest and I feel that it will be too big a challenge for him to keep still so we are going to get another opinion on whether or not he should be sedated.

In the meantime, there are lots of things we can do to prepare him for the scan in order to keep his anxiety to a minimum.


Reading books about hospital visits will give him knowledge of what to expect as much of the anxiety is fear of the unknown so I am trying to find stories which feature an MRI scan.


Youtube has videos specifically for children and MRI scans, with or without sedation. We intend to show these to him over the coming weeks and then he will know exactly what to expect.


I thought it would be an idea to do some practice runs maybe using a big cardboard box that I can make into a scanning machine and we can practice him lying still, Hedwig too!

Social Stories

Using social stories is a great way of introducing new social situations to the child. We are hoping his teachers will work with us as well so that they can address any anxiety he has about the scan when he’s at school.

Keeping it positive

It’s important to talk about hospitals and staff in a positive manner. Me? I hate hospitals. They smell all disenfectanty and stuff and they conjure up memories I wish I didn’t have but I know that I can’t afford for The Boy to see my discomfort, so I do what I’ve done all my life and pretend I’m OK.

The Bribe

We know this will be a massive deal for our son so we’re going to promise him a trip to the Lego store after the scan has been done. Yes, it’s a bribe but it’s also a strategy because he needs incentives to do even the basic stuff and this goes way beyond anything he can comprehend. Nothing he has experienced in his six years comes close to this, not even what he went through during the autism assessment. It’s a big deal and if he manages to go through with it all, I will be so proud of him.


Where The Boy goes, so does his feathered friend and both got a sticker for being brave at the hospital.

Well done The Boy and well done Hedwig.


Have you have been through this with your child? If so, any advice would be appreciated.


Sons, Sand & Sauvignon

Image Credit

“MRI-Philips” by Jan Ainali – Own work. Licensed under CC BY 3.0 via Commons