24/04/2012 10:09 BST | Updated 22/05/2015 06:12 BST

Toddler Tales: Crying Over Spilled Milk

Toddler Diana with bottle of milk Look - but don't say the word! - what D's grabbed from the fridge...

I often hear parents of toddlers, when speaking to other parents of toddlers, spelling out certain words instead of saying them in front of their kids: "If the weather gets better, we may go to the p-a-r-k later so she can ride her s-c-o-o-t-e-r."

I confess, up until about a week ago, I thought this was a sort of tedious thing that parents did to make things harder for themselves (or show off?), and it seemed like it served little purpose to me. It's not like they were saying a bad word in front of their children. What was the big deal about saying "park" or "scooter"... or what about something as innocuous as 'milk'?

Oh dear.

I said the word 'milk' in front of Diana the other day - a word I have said approximately 10,875 times in front of D in the past - at a time when I had no milk, had no intention of giving Diana any milk and had no idea that D was even interested in milk at that precise moment.

And D - aka my mini Vesuvius - erupted. Full-scale, full-blown meltdown, steam coming out of every orifice. In one instant, I realised exactly why parents need to spell words out, became an immediate convert to the cult of spelling words in front of Diana and realised that I no longer have a baby. I have a little girl who understands much more than I gave her credit for.

And who turns into a monster when she hears the word "milk." D was running, jumping, giggling, flailing, screaming, hurling herself into furniture - her mental state appeared to be somewhere between the frenzied excitement of the groupie at a concert and the destructive, burned out rocker trashing his hotel room after the show. Then D started sobbing and collapsed to the floor when she realised she wasn't getting any milk. One word, four letters and way too much ensuing drama.

I didn't even realise D was that into milk anymore. We're finally past the stage of giving her milk bottles in bed (Hurrah! And it only took us one-and-a-half years to break that bad habit, I'm proud to say) and other than milk in her morning Weetabix and an occasional baby-ccino (steamed milk), Diana only has one bottle of milk per day, right before bedtime (compare that to the 10+ bottles/breastfeeds she used to have). I had no idea it was still her favourite food group.

Not that she hasn't given me a hint or two. Like how she grabs the milk container every time I open the fridge (must remember to put it on a higher shelf) and tries to pry open the top, or how she has so many words for milk, – 'ma', 'moo', 'mil', 'moor' and even 'bot-bot' all stand for the white liquid - which I think, makes it more likely I'll understand what she's talking about and give her some.

M-i-l-k that is. The days of 'milk' are over. And soon I think I'm going to have to add b-a-l-l and D-a-d-d-y to the spell-only pile, because D's starting to get pretty upset when she hears those words but doesn't immediately get to hug what it is they're describing.

And I'm pretty sure explaining to her that Daddy's cricket season is now underway, which is why she's seeing less of him, isn't going to work for my little girl.

It's been four years and it still hasn't worked for me.