Monday, 26 September 2011

It's A Child Eat Dog Food World

Surprising numbers of children have eaten dog food.

This was the unexpected finding of my first bookshop signing. Determined to have plenty of interesting things for kids to do (and to avoid ending up behind a table bleating “Please buy my book!”) I had compiled a quiz on childhood misdoings. A sort of survey, if you like. As the heroine of my book, Martha, is a real “little stinker” I thought it would be fun to find out how many other little stinkers there are out there. So I compiled a list and handed it out.

Well, it turned out they were a pretty well-behaved bunch in Waterstone’s. However much they enjoyed reading about naughty characters, and chuckling at their exploits (they were good enough to chuckle loudly at Martha’s) they scored low on the naughtiness index. A more polite, obedient, considerate bunch I have seldom met. Maybe this is a sign that reading books makes for a well-behaved child? (And is yet one more reason to reverse those library cuts?)

Except when it came to eating dog food. Then it was a different story.

A little girl came up to me. Did cat food count, she wanted to know?

Certainly, I replied.

Include cat food, and everyone seemed to have tucked into their pet’s dinner, one time or another. One parent revealed that the family cat could only be fed when her son was elsewhere; another waxed nostalgic about the childhood joys of nibbling Whiskas.

Hmm. I grew up with a family dog – and somehow I never once felt like sharing his supper.

Anyhow, it certainly broke the ice, and the signing went with a swing. There were ups and downs, of course. I had brought too few colouring sheets. A friend of mine went dashing onto the street in search of photocopiers: thank you, Thomas Cook, who gallantly responded to his plea and ran off extra copies! Thank you everyone who did so much to help in different ways.

So here you go (be honest now):
  • Have you ever flushed your sister’s homework down the toilet?
  • Have you sneaked food from fridge, cupboard or biscuit tin?
  • Have you ever tried to sell your brother?
  • Have you eaten dog food?
  • Have you ever made a cake from dog food and served it to your family?

I’m glad to reveal that nobody said “Yes” to the last one. It wasn’t one of Martha’s misdeeds either. It was my sister.

Yes, I remember it well.

Read about Martha's exploits in How (Not) To Make Bad Children Good
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Poetry24 said...

Many years ago, my grandmother caught me sharing the dog's 'scraps'. No obvious ill effects.

Lynda Waterhouse said...

Your event sounds like great fun. I was the shy quiet girl at school but I was always best friends with the naughty daredevils (still am). I never exactly sold my brother - it was more like an extreme swap!!

Stroppy Author said...

I ate cat food. I decided the cat was more interesting than my baby brother so I would be a cat, thank you. I ate his food, I balanced on dangerous ledges he walked along (with some ill effects) and tried to go in and out through the cat flap.

JO said...

Some years ago I worked in Child Protection. Met a woman who, as a child, had looked after the family from the age of 11 - and was abused by her father. She regularly made him stews of dog food, the only way she could think of to get back at him.

She was now a wonderful, feisty, woman!

Emma Barnes said...

An "extreme swap" Lynda...I must remember that handy euphemism.

Love the idea of small child wedged in cat flap, Stroppy!

Ah well, we seem to have survived. And maybe those meaty chunks did us good.

Sue Purkiss said...

Sounds like a great idea to make a signing more entertaining!

Anonymous said...

They were pink. And intended for a corgi. So I don't think it really counts. Besides, I only ate 3. And I didn't even touch the green ones. I mean, that would be totally disgusting.

Leslie Wilson said...

We have a small-dog flap, and grandson Max loves using it, though at almost 4 he's getting a bit big for it.
I ate dog chocs when I was a kid, when there was nothing more interesting in the cupboard. I can still remember the way they didn't melt properly, but lay claggily against my tongue. It was the only time I ate them. I've never been a great one for any kind of tinned meat, so dog-food wouldn't appeal. And I loathe offal.
My bruv and I 'stole' (my parents' word) food from the larder, raisins, and so on, and were regularly called to account, with great severity.
I always told my own kids they were welcome to help themselves if they were hungry, especially when they'd just come home from school. They have both turned into extremely slim adults.

madwippitt said...

Me and my sister tried dog choc drops once when we were desperate for a chocolate fix. Taste of nothing although smell good. Otherwise we led boringly blameless lives.
I do stilll occasionally try the wippitties biscuits to see what they're like. And I have a really good recipe for peanut butter oatie doggy crunchies that taste much better than the usual commercial jobbies ... feel free to pop round for coffee and cookies if you're in the area and want to relive a misspent yoof ...

Emma Barnes said...

Dog choc drops...they have a very particular kind of smell...

Sue Imgrund said...

Neat idea for a book signing. I think you were wise to have yes/no questions - open-ended on something like "what's the most revolting thing you've ever eaten?" could have been just a little bit too much info...

Penny Dolan said...

By the way, How To Make Bad Children Good is an excellent book! I have just finished reading my copy of it and it cheered a weary evening. Book soon to be on on its way to seven-year old Daisy.