Monthly Archives: January 2014

A mouthful of furry monkey and clenched teeth

I open my eyes slowly, letting them adjust to the gloom of the bedroom. I stretch, gently waking my limbs from sleep and decide to have another five minutes. I close my eyes and as thoughts eddy gently through my mind and the heavy silence of the room lulls me back into a doze, I smile.

Yeah, right. This has literally NEVER happened in the morning since having kids. You sacrifice a lot as a parent and that is part of the deal. (You know the deal I am talking about. The one where you decide to have kids, sign up to it, but you are not allowed to see the nine hundred and thirty two pages of Terms and Conditions that come with it? Yes, that one).  It is just that some sacrifices are harder than others. Like not being allowed to wake up in a humane manner.

Take this morning, for instance. At half past five. Yes, Half past bloody five. Just that fact is enough to make me want to chew my own fists off in desperation. B starts to shout, in a way only a nearly-two-year old can shout. You know that strange fact about babies that they can breathe and swallow simultaneously? Well, it is a little known fact* that toddlers can shout and breathe simultaneously . I mean, why waste valuable shouting time inhaling? “DADDYDADDYDADDYDADDYMUMMYMUMMYMUMMY”

Given that B shouted for M first, the parenting rules states that it is M that must tend to him. Our parenting is pretty much defined by these rules. Not that they are written down anywhere. Oh no. They exist only in our heads. Or maybe just mine. But rules they most definitely are. Like, for example, those pertaining to nappy changes. Such as: He who smells it, changes it.  If you have the misfortune to get a whiff of a full nappy, it is you who has to don the chemical warfare suit and clean it up. Which does lead to some erroneous ailment claims, such as ‘oh really? He’s had a poo, you say? How strange. He’s been sitting on my lap for an hour and I didn’t smell it. I think I have a blocked nose,” despite the fact your eyes are watering and your eyebrows are starting to melt due to the overpowering smell of baby shit fumes. So it is M who has to leave the warmth of the duvet and extract said child from his cot and sleeping suit.

“Hello mummy,” B says as M dumps him between us in the bed. I keep my eyes closed and pretend I am somewhere else. Anywhere else, in fact, that is not in close proximity to a very awake toddler.

“Hello mummy,” he repeats and grinds his nose into my cheek. I mistake this temporarily for a sign of affection, until I realise he is using it to transfer a night’s worth of nose drippings onto my face. There is nothing quite like the feel of warm slimy mucus with added gritty bits to give you an inordinate sense of wellbeing first thing in the morning.

“It’s half past five. Lay down and go to sleep,” I say to my son. This instruction is what is known in the trade, I think, as an utter waste of oxygen.  To my surprise though, B does lay down. But not in any way that a normal person would lay down. Oh no. Because small children have a genetic abnormality meaning that they can only sleep horizontally in their parents’ bed. (The Horizontal Sleep Gene, as scientists -or me – have called it, does recede with age, making its final appearance in teen-hood, when, triggered by an excess of alcopops, it produces further horizontal sleep, usually with the head end dangling off the side and hovering a few inches above a strategically-placed sick bowl).

So there we are, three quarters of the family, having a smashing time not sleeping and not relaxing in bed. B is now using my face as a pillow, so I am inhaling nostrils full of fine toddler hair with every breath and pondering how much more weight my cheekbone can support before it snaps in two. At this point, I know I should just admit defeat and get up, but I am an idiot, so I don’t. Despite the impending crush injuries to my face, I do feel as if I am about to fall back to sleep, at which point B decides that staying still is for wimps and starts to use the bed as a trampoline. My head gently bounces up and down on my pillow and I grit my teeth.

Just get up, I urge myself. No way, I reply. Have you seen the fucking time? I will not leave this bed until the time starts with a six. But it’s not as if you are going to get any more sleep, is it? I might do, I respond to myself sulkily, as a small boy launches himself into the air and belly-flops onto my stomach, knocking seven shades of wind out of me.  See, told you, I say with a smug smile. Oh sod off, will you? I reply.

Cue the door opening, and E pads in. He climbs onto the bed, grinding my left foot into the mattress with his knee before clambering up my legs and rolling across my torso to claim the one remaining strip of space left in between me, M and the flying acrobat formerly known as son number two.

“Can I get in?” he asks rhetorically, as he flings the duvet open. The cold air hits me and I stifle a small sob as he wriggles in beside me, trapping my right arm underneath him.

“Can I get out?” I ask, batting away a finger that is trying to gain access to my brain via my left nostril. At this point, I am not even sure whose bloody finger it is, although I am reasonably certain it is not mine.

For no discernible reason, B then leans over and wallops me on the forehead. “Ow!” I exclaim, but further protestations are lost under the peals of laughter that ensue.

I try to leave the bed, but it is somewhat difficult when a quarter of my limbs are being held hostage by the dead weight of a five year old. Then a monkey comes flying in from left field and lands on my face, a flailing paw catching me squarely across the cornea.

“Right, that is it,” I say through a mouthful of furry monkey and clenched teeth, and manage to extricate myself from the bed. I stumble to my feet, still partially winded, with one foot still throbbing in pain, one slightly numb arm dangling by my side, sporting a slightly enlarged left nostril, temporarily blind in one eye and with a stinging forehead. And so I go forth, fighting fit, ready to face the day.

*It’s a little known fact because I just made it up. But it should be true.

This blog has been shortlisted for the Dog’s Doodah’s Funniest UK Blog 2014. So if you laughed at this blog, or perhaps snorted gently with amusement, or even just raised a smile at it… hell, if you stumbled on this page whilst looking for home remedies for genital warts, I would be eternally grateful if you would now pop on over to http://www.thedogsdoodahs.com/funny-blogs-2014.aspx  and put in a vote for Mothering Frights. Voting closes on February 5th so don’t dilly dally. Oh, before you go… good luck with those warts.

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An angry wasp with arse ache

angry_wasp2

It’s official. I have Zen envy. You see, E goes to karate every week. He seems to enjoy it, although to be fair it can be difficult to tell as it seems he has the same inherent dislike of organised games and fun as I have. Couple this with the fact he is likely to stop listening to the instructor and start wondering if he can fit all ten of his fingers in his mouth at once, or if he can turn round quick enough to catch a glimpse of the back of his head in the mirror, and you have a recipe for indifference bordering on the utterly disengaged. After all, this was the boy that stood in the middle of the tennis court during one tennis session, as twenty other kids diligently practised their ball control, licking his tennis racket. Although it was raining, and he probably was thirsty…

But I love him going to karate. Mainly because it is probably the longest time in his entire week that he spends under strict discipline, because no one, repeat no one, mucks about when the instructor is in the room. (Just to be clear, the fact that me and a friend drop our sons into the lesson then piss off down the coffee shop for a natter has nothing whatsoever to do with the fact that I love karate so much. Nothing. At all.)

There is a name for the instructor. Sensei? Sensee? I know it sounds a little like something that should be the exotic one in the range of Lynx deodorants, but I can never quite remember. Ah well. Let’s just call him Zenman. This man exudes zenness. (I may have made that word up, but let’s go with it). He fixes parents with his steely blue-eyed stare, and cheque books open all of a flutter and any protestations about paying for lessons not attended dry up in nervous throats. Children, on hearing his voice, will pause mid-fight and line up, the very epitome of obedience, awaiting their next instruction. I tis truly amazing. And, if I am being honest, slightly sickening.

I want some zenness. I want to be a Zenmum. I don’t want to shout at my children like a fishwife in the middle of the street. I’m not even that keen on fish. We had friends round the other day, and the kids were going a little wild in the lounge. “DON’T JUMP ON THE SOFA!” I yelled from the kitchen, as I caught a glimpse of an airborne foot and heard the distinct sound of a sofa groaning in pain. “Oh, I am glad you scream at your kids,” my friend said. “I feel better now I’ve heard you.”

Technically, I don’t think I screamed. Screaming is for people who can’t control their kids. Mine was definitely more of a shout. Because I can control my kids. I think they are just a bit hard of hearing. Well. It may have been just a tiny bit screamy…

So, at a recent karate lesson, confronted once again by Zenman’s quite frankly inhuman control of a bunch of young kids, I decide to change. I decide to get myself a bit of that zen. I am sure there is enough to go round, and Zenman certainly won’t miss a little bit of his. He’s too busy not being annoyed by highly annoying kids to miss just a smidge.

I enter the hall just as the lesson ends, which is the cue for fifteen kids who have all spent the last sixty minutes practising ultimate emotional and physical control to go absolutely ape-shit. Zenman glides to the side, seemingly oblivious to the three hundred-odd decibels of child-generated noise. I stand at the side too, and decide not to scream for my son to come over and get his shoes on. I will do as Zenman does, and summon him here with nothing more than a strong, clear voice and willpower. I will have to do without the white karate suit that exposes acres of chest, as I fear Zenman carries off that particular look in a way that I couldn’t.

“Come here please,” I say, trying to catch E’s eye. He barrels past, arms flailing, in pursuit of his friend.

“Come here and get your shoes on please,” I say again, a little louder. I will not shout. I am a Zenmum. I am calm personified. My son totally ignores me.

I take a deep breath. Do not shout, I urge myself. I am aware than Zenman is close by. I start to sweat a little, with the pressure of not giving into my urge to shout for my son and the irritation at the little voice in my head saying ‘You know he thinks you can’t control your son. You know he knows you are about to shout. He is zen. You, on the other hand, are about as Zen as an angry wasp with arse ache. You couldn’t do bloody Zen if you were lying comatose in a white box. You wouldn’t know zen if it came up to you, bathed you in an inordinate sense of calm and Om’ed all over your face. You are about as Zen as…” ALRIGHT. I get the fucking message.

“Come here NOW!” I say. I don’t shout it, but I do say it very, very, very loudly. E looks over at me. Bingo. He then turns and runs in the opposite direction. Perhaps I should just go home without him?

“E, your mum wants you,” says Zenman in a voice so quiet that even I struggle to hear him. Immediately, E stops mid-run and sprints over to us.

Oh good. My humiliation is complete. As I grumpily shove trainers onto the wiggling feet of my son, I make a decision. I don’t want to be a Zenmum. I will embrace the anti-zen. I will shout when I need to, and swear quietly under my breath when my children wind me up, and I will get annoyed when I have to repeat a request to ‘clean your teeth please’  eight times. And having decided that, I am at once calm and relaxed. I may never hear the sound of one hand clapping, but quite frankly, anyone who needs to clap with one hand either needs surgery or more bloody mates. Meanwhile, you will find me over here, revelling in the noise of one voice shouting ‘I WILL NOT TELL YOU AGAIN. STOP JUMPING ON THAT SOFA NOW.”

STOP PRESS!!! News just in! Is this sounding dramatic enough yet? No? Okay… man crushed to death by rampaging hedgehog! Okay, maybe not. Listen, dear blog reader (and may I just say at this juncture that that colour really suits you?) I have a favour to ask. I have been shortlisted for The Dog’s Doodah’s UK Funniest Blog award 2014. I know. It must have been a lean year on the nomination front. Here’s the thing. I shall just come out and ask. Could you vote for Mothering Frights? I would be awfully grateful. Just pop on over to http://www.thedogsdoodahs.com/funny-blogs-2014.aspx   – it takes only about 30 seconds, perhaps a minute if you are trying to eat a Jammy Dodger at the same time. Thank you. No really. Thanks. I am touched. (Not in that way).


Hum de bloody hum

So over on the Mothering Frights You Tube Channel, I’ve been at it again. (no, not that, go and wash your brain out with soap). The Mothering Frights Nursery Rhymes thing. Yes, that. Be afraid. Be very afraid. Then click here: http://bit.ly/1dc0Dgb


A balloon, a pot of glitter and a single-celled amoeba

“Mummy, you know the world started with a bang?”

Oh my lord. I am not prepared, equipped or in any way intelligent enough to deal with whatever is coming next. it is not uncommon to hear people moaning about the stuff they learned at school, and how irrelevant it is to the rest of their lives, and I have often pondered just how useful my knowledge (however scant) of how oxbow lakes form, of how your lungs work and of the process of photosynthesis, really is. Very useful, it turns out, in the face of a five year old’s rapid fire questioning. I really should have paid better attention, because as it turns out, those three things are about the only three things I can recall from fourteen years in state education.

“So, how did humans get on the Earth?”

Surely this isn’t part of the Early Years curriculum? ‘Today children, we will be learning the new grapheme ‘ck’ and after lunch we will be looking at how the universe began using a balloon, a pot of glitter and a single-celled amoeba.’

And where the hell does he get this stuff from? I get the fact that he is now into Star Wars because that it what all the other boys in his class are into, and I get that he thought the book we read was “epic” because that’s what is deemed to be  high praise indeed in the playground… but how humans got on the Earth? Surely that can’t be playground chat for five year olds? ‘Hey, wanna know how humans got on the Earth?’ ‘Was it Ninja aliens that helicoptered them in armed with great big laser guns to fight off the evil Earth Monsters?’ ‘Nah. Heard of the Big Bang?’

This is a boy who doesn’t yet know his home phone number, who struggles with the concept of coat hooks being a more useful receptacle for his coat than the floor and finds shouting ‘poo’ at the top of his voice hilarious, so I am not really convinced that his brain is ready to deal with the fundaments of existence just yet. Mind you, neither is mine, come to think of it.

“Well…” I begin, wondering just how I can make the last two billion* years of evolution a) understandable and b) really bloody quick.

“Life began with really simple creatures,” I say. “In the water.”

“Creatures that were really just a blob…” This is going so well.

“And then…” Okay, I am stuck. I wonder if there is an Usbourne ‘Guide to Evolution: Lift the Flaps and See Your Blobby Ancestors!’ I can buy instead? With any luck, it will be scratch and sniff and maybe cover sexual reproduction as well, and E will never have to ask me anything ever again.

E looks at me expectantly.

“And then over time… these creatures… developed… legs.” Oh, well done me. A startlingly brilliant summing up of the mechanics of evolution, I think you’ll find. Okay, I may have skipped a few stages, a bit like those iPhone ads that show someone using an app that loads immediately and works really well, whilst tiny writing at the bottom of the screen whispers: Some stages have been shortened’. Yeah, like the twenty seven prior to the one that actually does what you need it to do. But in evolutionary terms, surely, legs are the important bit, right? I mean, arms are useful, but without legs, where would we be? Well, right where someone left us, for a start.

“So that meant they could walk on land.” I look at E. In his head right now if probably an image of a wobbling splodge of jelly on a pair of legs, striding out of the water. Close enough.

There is a pause. I have learned from bitter experience not to offer any further information. I call it information. It is more like conjecture, shabbily dressed up as fact, muddying the water with its ill-fitting size nines.

For a while longer, E says nothing. So, it looks like that’s evolution done and dusted.

“Mummy?”

Uh-oh.

“Was Harry Potter there?”

 

 

 

“Probably.”

evolution_made_simple

 

*Some facts may have been harmed in the making of this blog.


A reasonable babble of words

 

First words

You know what frustrates me most about babies and toddlers? Leaving aside their general dullness, what with all that inability to build a rocket from Lego, and not withstanding their habit of not sleeping through the night, and perhaps ignoring their lack of fine motor control over their opposing thumbs, it is the fact that they cannot speak that irritates me more than anything else. (Although the whole Lego-rocket thing comes a close second).

After all, if they picked up the jist of speaking by the time they were three months, it would save everyone a lot of time and angst. Parents could just ask their wailing offspring why they were crying. Again. We could politely enquire as to the reason why the scrambled egg we have just lovingly prepared has been spat contemptuously back onto the plate, when three days ago they couldn’t get enough of the bloody stuff. And we could get them to explain exactly why they think 5am is an appropriate time to start the day.

Thankfully, B, at about 20 months, has finally pulled his finger out and is assembling a reasonable babble of words in his oral armoury. So alongside ‘daddy’, he finally acquiesced and now, there is ‘mummy’. And ‘no’. Of course there is bloody ‘no’. He is a toddler. Petulance is his middle name (well, it was a toss up between that and Englebert).   But these are just child’s play in terms of learning words. In an early round of Strictly Come Speaking, this verbal performance would muster perhaps a score of 1, delivered with a yawn and a roll of the eyes. And yet as more words are spoken by my son, I realise that they are simply a reflection of his world and ergo, often a reflection (by which I mean damning indictment) of our parenting skills. So, amongst other things,  B also says:

iPad“. A word uttered significantly more frequently than ‘mummy’, probably because it is better company and ultimately less irritating. Interestingly, he has mastered the art of pressing the buttons of both the iPad and mummy.

Pat“. This refers to Postman Pat, for which he has a curious fondness. Personally, the sooner that misshapen-headed lump-nosed goon gets crushed to death in a freak accident involving a large parcel and Jess the Cat, the better.

Acks Boat“. Translation: Jack’s Boat, another CBeebies favourite. We hardly ever let him watch the television, honest. I don’t know how he can have picked it up so quickly, he’s probably only watched it twice. Maybe.

Puddles.” Closely followed by “wewwies” (translation: wellies). This boy could puddle-stamp for England. If he ever actually learns to jump, there’ll be no stopping him. And to complete the word trio, he has “wet“. Usually said in a slightly whiny tone, pointing to his trousers / coat / hat / face / brother three seconds after furiously stamping in a deep puddle, giving me the perfect opportunity to explain the notion of consequence. To which he replies: “iPad”.

Wiwwie“. Translation: willy. Now, I am not one of those mums who hears their offspring spit out a gutteral vowel sound or two and proclaim that he has just said his first word, when in fact he is just choking on a raisin . (We all know that what is at work here is the Infinite Monkey Theorem. You know the one, where it is hypothesized that a monkey bashing away at a typewriter for an infinite amount of time will eventually write a given text, such as Shakespeare. Either that or it will go utterly bonkers, foam at the mouth and tear its own testicles off, the less well known Monkey Self-Castration Theorem).  But I know ‘wiwwie’ to be willy, because every time I change B’s nappy, his hand shoots to his willy and he gleefully proclaims ‘WIWWIE’ at the top of his voice whilst giving it a good old yank and giggling loudly. I am guessing he’ll be a tad less giggly when he is trying to do this as a teenager in his bedroom and I keep accidentally walking in on him.

Spatchcock.”This, I admit, took me a little by surprise. Last week I was changing B’s nappy whilst M entertained the head end, talking to him, asking him questions. (I admit that I am a tad vague at this point – I wasn’t paying much attention. It was a particularly sticky poo and I was, I think, considering deploying the back of a comb to help). M asked B a question, to which B clearly replied: “spatchcock”. “Spatchcock?” M and I repeated in puzzled unison. To my knowledge, B has not been flicking over from Old Jack’s Boat to re-runs of Gordon Ramsey as soon as we leave the room, so we attribute it to that pesky infinite monkey. I would hardly call it Shakespeare, but as accidental linguistic utterances go, it was more amusing than most. Although of course, there is a chance that it was a purposeful plea from our son  for us to diversify his menu away from scrambled egg and toast. In which case, he can just spatchcock off.