27/04/2011 16:05 BST | Updated 22/05/2015 10:12 BST

Achtung Baby Or A Few Nuts Short Of A Squirrel

Achtung Baby or A few nuts short of a squirrel Getty

Occasionally I forget Finje is only four. Because sometimes she's four going on fourteen and sometimes she's four going on foetus. Yesterday, sitting at the traffic lights, I forgot myself whilst looking at the chap in the car opposite chatting away, apparently to himself.

"These days you can't tell the difference between the real Nutters and those talking on hands free." I muttered Grumpy Old Woman style, momentarily forgetting I was not alone in the vehicle. Which only goes to show that I am one of the aforementioned. Whilst I considered this, a voice from the back seat piped up,

"Vat ist ein Nutter mama?"

A number of synonyms made themselves immediately available. Fruit-case, Head-case, Do-waa-dip-dopper, one twist short of a slinky, running on empty, as sharp as a marble, to name but a few. Not particularly politically correct or indeed, any easier to explain away to a four-year-old than Nutter.

Germans don't have many good slang words for dotty. Oh and you do know I'm not talking about those with serious mental issues here don't you? I mean crazy in a friendly I-secretly-sing-Barry-Manilow-love-songs-under-the-shower way. The word the Germans frequently use is "Spinner" which covers all variables. Efficient as they are.

As this is not really a "bad" word as such and yet again demonstrating exemplary parenting skills
I assumed it would be an acceptable explanation. I'm not inclined to use a German word to illustrate an English one but I was under pressure and in need of caffeine.

I forgot however, that the word "Spinner" sounds like another German word "Spinne", which means "spider".

Getting increasingly confused, Finje was trying to figure out why people talking on a hands free phone should be compared to a bug. I left her to it as I negotiated precision parallel parking.

Walking towards the supermarket entrance, our attention was taken by a bloke dressed as a squirrel coming in our direction. Sure he was trying to sell something, I grimaced politely and urged Finje on. You can remove a child from a life sized furry squirrel as well as you can remove Vimto from your favourite white t-shirt. He was giving out promotional nuts. Interest lost, we entered the shop. As we did so I felt relief that at least the squirrel guy had distracted her from the original conversation. And then:

"Wow mama, he was as mad as a box of spiders!"