The Poking Finger

As yesterday was Saturday, and therefore my day off, I spent the day wandering around central London. I took in all the sights: Big Ben, Houses of Parliment, Leicester Square and so on. I walked back through Hyde Park. I’m not sure how many miles I covered but my legs are certainly aching today.

That’s why it’s mid-morning and I’m still in bed. For once I’m grateful for a grey day so I don’t feel obliged to get up and out.

Lying here I was thinking about my “old” charges, Jack and Toby. They are sweet boys and I miss them. I was with them for five years. They used to make me laugh every day.

I remember once, sitting on the sofa with Jack, then aged four. We had been reading stories and were sat talking. He suddenly came out with:

“Penny, what’s your favourite finger?”

Slightly startled, I said “On my hand?”

He nodded.

“Both of them? Thumbs included?”

“Yes,” he said “All ten. Which is your favourite?”

Well, I wasn’t stumped because anyone who spends time around children knows you have to answer these kinds of questions. And you need to answer them fast!

“This one, ” I said. Holding up my index finger on my right hand.

Jack looked mystified as to why I had made that choice.

Why?” he said, putting a real emphasis on it.

“So then I can poke you,” I said. And I proceeded to poke him (calm down, I did it gently), on his tummy, on his arm, on his head.

He cracked up with laughter. He found it hilarious.

What I found even more hilarious is that when his Mum came home later, the first thing he said to her was:

“Mum, do you know Penny’s favourite finger is this one?” He said extending his index finger from his still chubby hands. “She likes it so she can poke me!” At this point he collapsed with laughter.

It was obvious that his Mum wasn’t really sure what the joke was. But she was used to this sort of behaviour so went along with it and laughed.

That following week he must have retold that story to numerous people. Some got it. Those unused to the sense of humour of a four-year-old boy clearly didn’t.

It did, however, become a bit of a thing in Jack and Toby’s household. My index finger became known as “The Poking Finger”. If I needed to diffuse a tense situation I would smile and say, “do I need to get my poking finger out?” Nine times out of ten it worked.

Jack and Toby’s parents told me one Monday that they had even used this secret weapon of diffusion over the weekend.

Then came my birthday. I came in at my usual time and the boys were midway through their breakfast. Jack was so excited to give me my present that as soon as he saw me he zoomed off to get it. Coming back with a huge grin on his face he handed me the present.

I opened the wrapping and inside was a superhero finger puppet. I thought it was a sweet present. He was really into superheroes at that time so I wasn’t surprised to get something superhero related.

Then Jack told me the reason for this particular present.

“It’s for your poking finger, Penny!” He said with absolute glee.

I still have that blue and yellow superhero finger puppet now. It’s safely displayed on a shelf in my old childhood bedroom at my parent’s house. His superpower? To diffuse any tense toddler situation with humour and a poke.

His superpower? To diffuse any tense toddler situation with humour and a poke.

To diffuse any tense toddler situation with humour and a good old fashioned poke.



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