30/05/2012 16:12 BST | Updated 22/05/2015 10:12 BST

Terrible Twos: A 'Helping' Hand

Toddler in mud Rex

When we bought this house two years ago, and found ourselves with a lovely (taken a long time to make it lovely, mind) garden to play in, I was most surprised to discover that I enjoyed weeding. I'm not sure why, but for some reason it doesn't represent the same tedium as other types of tidying.

Anyway, the wonderful weather gave me the perfect opportunity, on Monday, to get outside and sort things out a bit. I told Ruby what was in store for the morning, and she whooped and instantly removed every stitch of clothing I had attached to her approximately 15 minutes earlier.

"Now," I said, when we stepped outside, "mummy is going to pull up all the weeds! Are you going to help me?"

"Ah, yes!" Ru said, and promptly pulled a primrose out of its pot.

"Oh, no! Not that one darling. These ones, look!" I showed her a big clump of bind weed which was doing its best to strangle every attractive plant in sight. "You pull it, like you did with that primrose. See?"

Ruby grabbed a leaf and, without pulling at all, made the noise of someone who was putting a HUGE amount of effort into pulling. For some reason this amused her enormously, and she laughed from her belly. She made the noise again, feigning the effort of sailor relieving the seabed of an anchor, and then fell about in stitches.

Two minutes later, Ruby was still 'pulling', and still laughing. I was tickled to see her enjoying herself so much, but I didn't quite get the joke. So I tried it myself.

"Euuuurrrrgggghhhh!" I said, pincering a tiny leaf between my thumb and finger. It was too much for Ruby to see me doing it, tears were streaming down her face. When she had composed herself a little, I said: "Okay Ru, shall we do it properly? We have to pull up these naughty weeds!"

"Yes!" she said. "NOR-tee." And she went and got a stick to hit them with.

I personally haven't taught her that sticks are necessary when dealing with naughty things, I assume that might have something to do with her big sister.

"Darling, that's not really helping me actually."

"Oh!" she said, and went to get me a stick as well. "Here go!"

So, we whacked the bind weed for a little while (and the magnolia a bit as well, actually), with Ru delighting in every second. Several minutes later, and with the growing feeling I'd get nothing done before lunch time, I said: "You know, you don't have to do weeding, darling. Do you want to go and play?"

"YAY!" Ruby squealed, and she went and got me two plastic balls.

So, after we had decorated the sage with those, after we had relieved a big trough of almost its entire contents of soil, after we had been on the trampoline and added water to the sandpit so we could make a boat shape with a mint leaf 'flag', we tramped inside for some food.

In the kitchen, as I looked at the pile of washing up I had ignored in favour of doing some 'gardening', and at Ru who was naked and covered in soil and sand, I thought I could hear the bind weed cackling outside. And I suddenly knew why the inside of my house looks like it does.

You can catch up on previous Terrible Twos columns here.

Does this sound all too familiar, especially in the summer?