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'Things They Do Wrong' 2016

'Things They Do Wrong' is a project which preceeded and followed 'A Mother's Verb List'. The list began as a way to record all the things that elicited a 'Don't do that!' in my life as a mother. Realising that this was a personal and individual response I decided to ask other mothers what they also experienced to add to the collection. If you have an anecdote that is personal to you then please contact me on with your story and I will post it on my site.

The list can be organised into 3 categories:

1.      The child’s experiments within their body’s relationship to the physical world.

2.      The child’s experiments within their body’s relationship to the mother’s body.

3.      The child’s experiments with objects within the physical world.


            The child’s experiments within their body’s relationship to the physical world:

            Standing on their heads, turning themselves upside-down. (blood rushing to the head, balance, strength).

            Feeling your feet snag and judder against the ground as you cycle. (friction – feeling your feet being impacted upon by the ground -                       objectified as outside of your body – as separate from it).

            Sliding on a shiny floor. (body balance, surface texture)

            Skidding in mud and trying not to fall over. (body balance, material viscosity)

            Splashing in puddles. (bodily weight and force, flow, speed and circumference of splash)

            Jumping up and down on beds and furniture.

            Stuffing too much food in their mouths.

            Sticking fingers down their throats to make themselves gag for fun.

            Sucking on arms to make bruises for fun.

            Throwing cups of freezing cold water over each other for fun.

            Pooing in the bath. (soiling, presenting, producing)

            Dribbling deliberately down them selves. (feeling the inside on the outside)

            Blowing raspberries and spitting over each other. (feeling the surface of the other)

            Drawing in their food. (seeing the inside outside)

            Poking each other with fingers or sticks. (testing the surface of the other)

            Physically interacting (dancing) with light and shadow.

            Walking along the pavement running their hand against the wall/fence/car as they walk. (testing the alternations in surface texture as it               is experienced durationally).


            The child’s experiments with objects within the physical world: (kinetic, volumetric, gravimetric etc)


            Building towers and delighting when they fall voluntarily.

            Watching a ball roll off the edge of a table.

            Snapping plastic chip forks. (testing strength of materials, fragility, sound)

            Crushing a polystyrene cup. (testing strength of materials, fragility, sound)

            Stabbing holes in a rubber mat with their fork. (peircing a surface, drawing, testing strength of materials)

            Pushing a pencil in between the gaps in a rattan basket. (testing the flexibility of materials)

            Throwing anything in the air (especially things which are light and have an anthropomorphic quality such as a sock).

            Jumping on polystyrene or cardboard (sound, strength, fragility).

            Pushing towels off the banister and watching them fall down a flight of stairs.

            Standing objects such as blocks on their smallest end and then toppling them over.

            Flinging anything (but especially anthropomorphic things such as teddy bears) down the stairs.

            Balancing fragile containers such as glasses or jars.

            Squirting liquids out of bottles.

            Spitting water at each other in the bath.

            Pushing something long and thin into a slot.

            Jamming things into holes.

            Making large things like furniture rock.

            Putting organic matter into technological devices (such as video players, etc)

            Reaching for things above head height.

            Using the baking tins as ice skates on the kitchen floor

            Pushing cars along narrow surfaces such as window sills, chair arms etc.

            Undoing things: laces, buttons, ties etc.

            Deliberately making things wet. (to observe the change in the material – this is particularly satisfying when it is a sponge or paper towel).

            Tipping over a cup of water. (spill, spoil)

            Mixing up your food to see the colour change/ change in texture or viscosity.

            Squashing a blueberry between your fingers (puncturing the skin, squirting, staining)

            Flicking food on the wall.

            Squeezing or wedging themselves or objects into gaps or small spaces.


            The child’s experiments within their body’s relationship to the mother’s body:

            These experiments can also be described in terms of  matricidal fantasies and the separation from the mothers body. It is particularly                 those which involve spilling or spoiling, feeding and eating and involve the separation and boundaries between the inside an outside of                 the mothers body.


            Testing the physical boundaries between my body and theirs.

            Climbing all over me, rough playing.

            Putting their hands inside my clothes, undoing my buttons, zips, ribbons etc.

            Playing with my nipples through my clothes.

            Pushing their fingers into my mouth and waiting for me to bite down on them.

            Kissing me very hard on the lips as if they were trying to bore into me.

            Enjoying feeling the full weight of my body on top of theirs (being momentarily squashed by me).

            Bouncing my breasts up and down in their hands (to feel the weight of it fully in their hand).

            Licking me.

            Pushing their head into my bottom.

            Smacking my bottom.

            Stroking my hair and skin.

            Trying to touch my eyeballs or eyelashes.

            Hanging off my fingers and thumbs.

            Deliberately standing on my feet.

            Being reassurred by physical contact (held, cradled, cuddled, stroked, rubbed).

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