Pop! Pop! Listen… the sound of champagne corks popping to celebrate my 100th Mothering Frights post. Oh no, wait. Maybe it’s the sound of my hip joints as I hoist a child up into my arms. Or my dreams of a tidy house. Or perhaps my youngest son’s shoulders, as they are ripped from their sockets by my eldest’s idea of fun, involving dragging said child around the floor by his wrists. Either way, I have stumbled my way to 100 posts, for which you can all be truly unthankful. For those who have been with me from the start: much thanks and a gold carriage clock for Long Suffering, sorry, I mean Long Service. For those who have joined late to the party: where the hell have you been? Never mind, you are here now. Chuck your coat on the pile, grab a warm beer from the kitchen and enjoy…
B, now at the grand old age of nearly 14 months, is pissed off. It’s his new trick. We had clapping, we had ripping the Velcro straps on his shoes open, we had covering his ears with his hands (this may be purely as a way to block out my dreary mummy witterings). But he seems to have entered his Emo phase, as he will often be found sitting on the floor, narked off. It is often accompanied by wailing, just in case we haven’t realised that his unattractive, scrunched up face means he is angry.
It is mostly brought on by his inability to walk, coupled with his overwhelming desire to do so. The blame for his failure to make his own legs work I put squarely at his feet. However, the blame for his grumpiness may lay with us, his idiotic parents, who have started ‘poddling’ him around. Poddling is a term we coined with E, when he was at the same, frustrated, not-walking-but-wanting-to stage.
Poddle (v): the back-breaking activity of walking a toddler round by standing behind them, holding both their hands, often in a syncopated waddle. Can be accompanied by a huge grin (toddler) and continual grimace (parent).
We poddled with E, him staggering like some diminutive drunk in search of one final beer, around the house, for what seemed like six months – at the end of which my spine was practically fused into a bent-over position and I felt about ninety. So I swore I would not poddle B. He could crawl until he was six for all I cared, but I am four years older now, ten times more tired, fifteen time busier and twenty times more likely to come up with made up statistics – and I refuse to poddle.
Which parental resolution of course, lasted about three and a half minutes before I poddled him. I don’t know how it happened. One moment B was standing, left hand resting on the sofa, the other waving in the air as if he was flagging down a taxi, and then there we were, poddling. He must have caught me off guard, in a moment where my long-term fatigue had drenched my brain in glue, and I was in a good mood (I did say it was a rare moment) and before I knew it, I was off, waddling awkwardly round the furniture with a delighted one year old doing some kind of straight-legged zombie walk in front of me.
Circuits of the kitchen table, down the hall into the bathroom, back up the hall, into the lounge, round the sofa, back to the kitchen, to the front door, back to the kitchen… already my eyes are watering with the ache in the small of my back and I swear my vertebrae are starting to crumble. Enough. I stop by a chair and place his hands on the seat, emitting an involuntary grunt that only middle aged people can truly perfect as I try to straighten up. B clings to my forefinger like a vice, sensing his poddling is under threat. I prise his hand off, but he refuses to use the chair as support. So there is nothing left to do but try and make him sit down. B is already getting angry, and as I try to lower him to the floor by leaning his upright frame backwards, he instantly employs the toddler transformation trick: turning from human to wooden plank. I lower him a bit more, but he is still rigid. It is no good, I am going to have to resort to plan B: folding. Folding a toddler is not dissimilar to folding a napkin, except the former rarely ends up looking like a swan and I don’t swear so much when I am folding a piece of square fabric. I push his torso roughly in the middle, hoping that brute force will create a bend, but he resists. Now with one arm round his shoulders, I try the fold again, this time with the edge of my hand at the top of his legs. I fight the urge to solve the problem with one hefty karate chop to the waist, so we remain in this position for half a minute, both of us struggling for supremacy, until finally he succumbs and lands with a thud on his arse. Immediately he starts to scream and waves both hands in the air.
At this juncture, I should take a photo of him, Photoshop an Alton Towers ride into the background so that five years hence, I can claim we took him to loads of great places when he was little, but instead, mission completed, I walk away to go and find a back brace. B throws himself on his tummy and flails about in utter disgust that I have stopped poddling with him, and no doubt bereft at the realisation that he has a heartless harridan as a mother. I’ll say something for my youngest son. He can throw a good tantrum when the need arises.
B did try and walk the other day. I was sitting on the lounge floor, B standing next to me. I could see him eyeing up the sofa, about two foot in front of him. He stared at it for a while, then launched his arms forward with every intention of taking his first step. What he failed to do was inform his legs of the plan, which remained resolutely rooted to the spot. I watched as, like a tiny tree that had been felled with one brutal swing of the axe, he tipped straight forward toward the floor. I did manage, between snorts of amusement, to break his fall, so he ended up gently in a face-to-the-floor position, Again. So whilst he was there, he took the opportunity for a bit of a scream and a cry. It obviously seemed a bit churlish not to, really.
There are absolutely no redeeming features of a poddle. It makes your back ache, walking round your house with your eye level a constant four foot from the ground can only lead to dissatisfaction when you start to your house from a different angle, it is the dullest activity known to man, a dullness that is inversely proportionate to the glee of the mobile toddler, and moreover, ending a poddle will result in being on the receiving end of the wrath of a one year old. But I have a plan. When I really am ninety, and my back is bent in two and my vertebrae fused together like a calcified boomerang due to years of poddling, I will stick my arthritic hands in the air and demand to be poddled by B. That’ll bloody show him.