Before I launch into another missive that demonstrates my amazing parenting skills and delightful, well-behaved children, I would just like to say a big thank you to all those lovely Mothering Frights readers who took the time to vote for me in the MAD Parenting blog awards. THANK YOU. Due to your fervent mouse-clicking, I am now a finalist in the Most Entertaining Blog category. I know. Someone other than my mum thinks I am funny. Quite astounding. I am rather chuffed and I may have let out a little whoop when I found out and smiled manically for a bit. Which would have been okay, had I not been on the tube at the time, and we all know smiling is banned on public transport, let alone bloody whooping. So thank you. Did I already say that? I may well say it again before this paragraph is done. And now the bad news. I am going to ask you to vote for me again. ‘Just piss off with your sad, desperate please for votes, will you?’ I hear you cry. Well, that’s what the voices in my head said. If you are still reading this, and somehow haven’t punched the screen in anger at my audacity, please do chug on over to http://www.the-mads.com to vote for this blog (you’ll find it in the Most Entertaining Category, in case you weren’t paying attention earlier). I feel I have little chance of winning, as I was slightly dumbfounded that I even made the final five, but a few votes would be rather nice and might mean I don’t comelast. Thank you. Oops, there I go again.
Are kids born tough? I don’t mean in the chewy sense, I mean in the Brave Little Soldier sense. I have a feeling they might be. I look at B, whose favourite toy at 11 months old is a door and who likes nothing more than to push the door open with all of his might, to watch it rebound on its hinges and thwack him firmly on the forehead on its return. He doesn’t even flinch, just pushes it again and gets another one in the face for his trouble. (I will no doubt be writing about my youngest son’s extraordinary intelligence on another occasion). This activity usually continues until I remove him from the door’s path, or until he gets pushed over from the door’s velocity, finds himself on his back, at which point he promptly forgets all about the door as he has spied a delicious lump of mud that has fallen from someone’s shoe. He may squash his fingers in the metal drawers (whoops) or bang his head as I lift him up in a confined space (okay, I do realise this is beginning to sound like social services should be involved) but after a brief spurt of tears, he is right as rain. No drama, no fuss.
And then there is my other son. I don’t know what happens between then and now, but he is a strapping four and a half year old who spends an inordinately large proportion of his time cataloguing and showing me his spots, grazes and bruises. “Look mummy, blood!” he cries and I lean in to inspect the finger he is proffering up as evidence. When I can see nothing untoward, I lean in a bit further.
“Look!” he says with some urgency, as if my failure to spot this gaping wound may mean he could bleed to death at any moment. “Here!”
At last, I spot it. A tiny red mark. About the size of three pin heads side by side. I give it a cursory kiss, and he flinches, obviously from the excruciating pain. My brave boy.
It is bath time. I am washing E, and as I wipe down his leg he shrieks: “Mind my graze!” I have to get out my electron microscope to enable me to see the faintest of grazes left on his knee after a fall from his scooter some weeks previous, yet he still imposes a two foot exclusion zone around his limb, because surely, one more touch and the whole leg will just fall off.
And the moaning. Bloody hell, the moaning. Now, I like a good moan as much as the next grumpy sod. But really, moaning about dubious aliments is taken to a whole new level by my son. Groaning, grunting, whimpering. It’s like the soundtrack to a particularly grubby porn film. (So I would imagine). Of course, the sounds of my son in (very) mild distress brings out my maternal streak. Instantly, my teeth are gritted. I bite my knuckles. I hum song very loudly, Anything but the feeble grunting of my offspring.
The blossoming hypochondria is kept company by a burgeoning fetish with plasters. I previously had maintained a strict plaster policy, whereby only actual grazes that need protection from the elements (and his fingers) are issued. This policy now lies shredded on the floor, obscured by the white paper that has been peeled from many plasters. Plasters are the injury bribe of choice akin to chocolate buttons and behavioural bribes. I will gladly slap on a plaster if he promises not to whinge incessantly any more about the fact he brushed his finger against the chair and has been apoplectic with pain ever since.
A lot of time, of course, there is absolutely nothing wrong with him and that just makes the teeth grinding step up to a whole new level of enamel damage. He gets out of the car from nursery, complaining of a tummy ache. Immediately, I am dubious. We have been here before, many times.
“Well,” I say, assembling my concerned face. “You’d better not have a snack tonight.”
“Oh… well, it’s better now.” Really? Now that is a surprise.
I was getting pretty damn smug about dealing with E’s faux injuries. A quick kiss, a concerned face, a plaster or threatening to remove a snack… job done. M even sat him down and told him the story of the boy who cried wolf to try and show him that fibbing about things was wrong. And then he started to complain about headaches, which I brushed off as a copy-cat ailment, as he had seen me take some tablets for a headache that morning. As I couldn’t put a plaster on it, I did the next best thing and gave E some Calpol. His insistence over a week that he did in fact have a headache, coupled with a temperature, did make me think he was not totally lying. Cue liberal use of Calpol, on the promise that he just stop that bloody whimpering. Anything but the whimpering. Then the stomach aches started a week later, and at the point he agreed that he should not have a snack, I relented and took him to the GP. Turns out, he has a chest infection. Whoops. Take 5ml of Guilt, three times a day for a week. Do not stop the treatment without finishing the course.
So he was the boy who cried wolf. And then he wasn’t. I didn’t know the sodding wolf rules had changed, did I? It makes my head hurt, trying to keep up. I might need a plaster…
Don’t forget, fans of swearing and mediocre parenting, my book Womb with a View is out in paperback at www.jodienewman.co.uk or from Amazon if you like your books less papery and more electronicy.