The Language of Life.

In her first note on family life, Laura walks us through how to manage, when we just have no idea what our small people are saying.
June 14, 2022

At Mag North, we’re all about what matters to you. What’s going on in your distinct bit of the North.

Of course, we love our five-hour-long Wagner opera’s. If the Captain of a Royal Navy Warship invites us for a brew – we’ll be there. And hanging out with vampires in Whitby is just the best, but it’s your experiences that we especially care about.

So…we were over the moon when Laura said ‘Hello’ (like Lionel) - and joined Mag North.

Laura’s a super-busy individual from Carnforth. (If you say you don’t know where that is, then Celia, Trevor and Noël are likely to start spinning in their graves.)

Currently on ‘Maternity Leave’, caring for Arthur – and simultaneously working tirelessly to develop his foreign language capabilities (stay with it…it will become clear) she’s also Jonny’s wife, 9-yr-old Eleanor’s mum and Murphy the Beagle x Cocker Spaniel’s primary carer. There are other animals too…but that’s for another day.

She also writes about – and photographs the world around her – and that’s where we come in. Laura’s going to share her observations with Mag North readers. 

Lots of us have felt like inadequate parents at one time or another. (or is it just me?) In her first note on family life, Laura walks us through how to manage, when we just have no idea what our small people are saying: 

Eleanor and Laura

Trying to teach my (then two year old) daughter to talk:

Foreign languages wasn’t my favourite subject at school. I didn’t do too badly, truth be told, but I didn’t particularly enjoy mispronouncing German words every week. I also didn’t enjoy the whole class staring at me while I desperately tried to remember what a “kaninchen” was. (It’s a rabbit, in case you were wondering.) So, when I exited the sports hall after my final German exam I felt quite relieved that, that part of my life was over. Unfortunately, I was wrong.

Having my daughter is my greatest life achievement. Teaching her to talk and, in the meantime, understanding her language will be my second. It’s like being back at school, only this time there are no textbooks, no teachers and no Google Translate. Which I definitely did NOT use at school. Much. This tiny person that I have created is sitting in front of me, trying to tell me something. And I wish I knew what the hell it was.


Erm? Nope. No idea. I start wildly guessing, throwing ridiculous phrases out there, hoping one is right before she has a meltdown due to frustration because her mum is an insufferable moron and simply can’t provide a ‘massibear.’

“Massive bear?” - I know that’s clearly not what she’s saying because she’s two and she doesn’t know how to use adjectives yet but I’m really struggling.

“My slipper?”

“Mushy pear?”

“My supper?”

She looks at me. Eyes pleading, lip wobbling. Nothing. I’ve got nothing. I have failed. I need to distract her quickly before she gets upset. I put Peppa Pig on the TV (never fails) and go to make a brew while I mull over this massibear problem.

This happened last week with the “osson/cushion” incident and the “rowinz/Frozen” confusion the week before that. My life at the moment is a constant battle to decipher a brand new language against a clock ticking towards a tantrum.

It’s even worse when you have an audience. In a shop, restaurant, at nursery. My daughter will say something. Then all eyes fall on me. “What’s she saying?” Oh God. I have no idea.

I’m her mum. I should know this. But I don’t. The only reply I can give is awkwardly laughing while I admit that their guess is as good as mine. (Secretly hoping that they can’t work out what she’s saying either - I’d be mortified). Usually this results with any surrounding people, whether I know them or not, all suggesting possible ideas as to what my daughter might be saying. More often than not, we get there in the end.

I go back into the living room where my mum and my daughter are playing a game on the floor. I ask Mum if SHE has any idea what a ‘massibear’ is. She doesn’t either. Mum asks daughter. She repeats the word. Mum looks at me blankly. This goes on for around five minutes before my daughter says:

Eleanor: She knows the word for snow in Russian


AHA! Clues. Sue is my auntie who occasionally looks after my daughter. So it’s something at Sue’s house.

“Is it at Sue’s house?”


"Is it on TV?”

This has somehow become a game of twenty questions.


Then my mum ‘clicks’. It’s a Russian, animated, kids TV programme that she watches at Sue’s house. Finally! I find it on the TV guide and press ‘record/play’. Job done.

Masha and the Bear.

How was I supposed to work that out?!

Oh well, at least it’s over.

Oh wait, she’s shouting me. It sounds like ‘sink’. Or could be ‘king’. Or maybe ‘drink’...