Monthly Archives: March 2014

Oh look, it’s Mother’s Day again

Oh look, it’s Mothers Day again, the day you treat your mum.

So why the hell, you may well ask, do I look so fucking glum?

I’ll tell you why, but I warn you now, you really won’t be keen

To hear the reason why it’s so, but stay: I’ll vent my spleen.

It’s not the sentiment, you see: we know all mothers rock

It’s not the lie-in that I get, more sleep I will not mock.

It’s not the lunch, should I be blessed, to have it cooked for me

Nor the shop bought chocolates, I’ll devour those with glee.

There’s just one thing about it that really doesn’t make the grade

It’s the presents from my children that are clumsily handmade.

 

Don’t get me wrong, I do applaud the effort that was taken

But whatever it is in front of me is… crap, lest I’m mistaken.

They did try hard to make it look like something, I am sure

But this pile of card with daubs of paint is in no way craft couture.

Lumpen shapes of cardboard have been forced into a shape

Hacked until surrender, bound and gagged with Sellotape.

Paint, all seven shades of brown, has been thrown in its direction

On top of which a ball of foil has been rolled to imperfection.

 

A haphazard clump of pipe cleaners protrude from near the head

(I really would have just preferred the Elbow CD instead)

To finish off this masterpiece, they’ve gone crazy with the stickers

I know full well that by tonight. I’ll find one in my knickers.

Accessories adorn this thing: a badge, a coin, a peg

And protruding from the very rear, a plastic pirate’s leg.

Was this thing an act of love, by my precious two?

Nah, it was hastily assembled before watching Scooby Doo.

 

To decipher what this thing is I’d need the skills of DI Morse

Part troll? Part monster? A hint of rat? Or maybe mutant horse?

It has one eye… or sphincter – it is difficult to tell

And if I’m not mistaken, a slightly feral smell.

I casually enquire as to what this thing could be.

Apparently, it turns out, that the bloody thing is me.

Do I love them any less just because they’re crap at making?

Of course I don’t, but suggest next year they have a go at baking.


Feeling sixty-four

You know that feeling when you are sodding knackered and it’s all your kids fault? Yeah, that…


A tasty recipe for a family day out

Mothering Frights

Ingredients:

1 x 5 year old, free range

1 x 23 month old, unsweetened

2 parents, slightly crushed

1 change bag, over-stuffed

1 pram

1/2 an idea that it will all end in tears

A sprinkle of misplaced optimism (optional)

Method

1.The evening before, pack the car with all the non-essential ingredients. Alternatively, this can be done in a flat panic three minutes before departure.

2. On the morning: Prepare main offspring ingredients by stuffing them with Shreddies and not allowing them to talk, move or blink until they have finished. Time is of the essence here.

3. Check temperature by making a wholly inaccurate guess of ‘hot’ as you look out of the window, then add hats and gloves to the sun cream at the last minute.

4. Pour everything into the car. The order in which you do this is not important, but do try to remember to add all main ingredients. Leaving the 23 month old on the drive tends to leave a funny taste in the mouth.

5. Stir everything up by forcing the children make a choice between Finding Nemo or Ice Age 4 DVD in 20 seconds. Insert DVD into player, then remove and swap for the other one, as things already seem to be bubbling over.

6. Let all ingredients settle as the journey progresses, allowing the slightly menopausal sat nav bring your blood to a gentle simmer.

7. Remove family from car on arrival and decorate pram with a fortnight’s worth of baggage and excess clothing.

8. Grease two children with sun cream, forgetting immediately to do the same to yourself. Wipe all excess sun cream from your trousers / top / hair with a wipe.

9. Whisk the children into a frenzy of anticipation by promising a snack in the near future.

10. Leave the children to fizz in a warm place for half an hour until they develop a thick, glossy sheen, at which point remember that you have forgotten to add any liquid whatsoever to proceedings.

11. Allow to rest for 10 minutes whilst you rapidly add caffeine to the adults. Remember to add just one mouthful of hot liquid, then spend the rest of the time separating the two over-excited children to ensure the atmosphere does not curdle, before adding the rest when almost cold. (Note: if curdling occurs, you can salvage the recipe with the last minute addition of a liberal sprinkle of threats for the children and a splash or two of wine for the adults).

12. Toss the children into the next activity and check your timings.

13. Roll out the picnic blanket and divide up the warm, dry sandwiches. Throw in a handful of small flies (optional).

14. Add a drizzle of rain to proceedings to dampen down any sense of enjoyment and discard all further plans. Watch the youngest dissolve into tears.

15. Finally, add all ingredients back into car, which by now should be hot enough to slowly bake all occupants.

16. Baste frequently in the juices of disappointment.

17. Arrive home, drained.


Somewhere between the birthing squat and an impression of a sumo wrestler

There are many duties as parents that fall under the heading of ‘If we weren’t blood relations, there is not a chance in hell I would be doing this’. You know the sort of thing. Wiping shitty bottoms. Going to soft play centres. Hanging around in soulless community buildings whilst your offspring bounces on a trampoline / fails to kick a large ball into an even larger net / indulges in ‘messy play’ which actually involves them wiping crap all over you . And top of my list, so far ahead of everything else I have dedicated an entirely new list to it, entitled ‘I am doing this with clenched teeth and a barely contained sense of fury’ is swimming.

I loathe swimming. I detest it. Quite frankly, I am really not that keen on it. And in my abject hatred of it, I feel compelled to list the reasons.

1. In order not to be jostling, bare-skin-on-bare-skin, next to another parent of dubious hygiene whilst I bob in the water, you have to get to the pool bloody early. This Sunday, we were in the foyer at 8.20am. I will repeat the crucial facts of that sentence: 8.20am. On a Sunday. That is utter madness.

2. Getting undressed. No matter how big the cubicle, a family of four getting changed for swimming puts me in mind of a world record attempt of how many people you can get into a Mini. If one of us does not sustain serious injury from an over-enthusiastic elbow in the face, or squashed toes as half the party still have their bloody shoes on whilst the other half stand there butt naked, it is a bloody miracle.

3. The lockers. We go to a family pool. Unfortunately, the idiots who specified the fixtures and fittings thought it would be hilarious to install lockers the size of a child’s shoe box. Out of the cubicle we come, with shoes, coats, four changes of clothes, a sports bag, towels and various other essential paraphernalia as befits a family of four whose idea of travelling light is to only bring three trailers-worth of crap with them. All of which we then have to shoe-horn into the lockers, paying 20p per locker for the privilege. Not a fortune, granted, but with the amount of stuff we have, the locker bill can run to £52.60.

4. The walk to the pool. Your nice, dry, warm, clean feet walking on the bobbly, rough, cold, wet floor. No. Just no.

5. Being in the pool with a toddler. We have tried B in a floatation vest, but not only did we have to break three ribs to zip it up, it made him float at a strange angle that terrified him. So one of us has to hold him, all the time. There is nothing quite like the sensation of toe nails scraping through three layers of epidermis on your thigh, seemingly hell-bent on reaching the bone. And that delightful muscle burn in your upper arms as you bounce your nearly-two year old up and down in the water for the eighty-seventh time, wishing you had one of those skinny kids with chicken legs rather than one built like a brick shit house.

6. Being in the pool with other people. As soon as I win the lottery, I am going to hire out the whole pool for my family and tell everyone else to piss off, with their splashy kids and excessively large inflatable accessories.

7. The learner pool crouch. So there you are, in 0.6 metres of water, holding a toddler. You cannot stand, otherwise said toddler would be out of the water. So you do the learner pool crouch, a ridiculously uncomfortable position somewhere between the birthing squat and an impression of a sumo wrestler.  Not ideal for someone whose pelvic floor has been condemned by the local council as unsafe, and a hard hat area only.

8. Inadvertent breast exposure. Holding B in front of me is a high risk strategy. Not because he is likely to lean forward and wipe his runny nose on my mouth, that is simply par for the course. But because he loves to hang on to the front of my costume, pulling it toward him and giving some poor unfortunate dad an eyeful of something that no one needs to see right after breakfast. I am under no illusion that the breast-flashing  of a middle aged women who has (reluctantly) breastfed two boys and is demonstrating super-gravity in action is nothing other than QUITE UNNECESSARY.

9. Getting dressed again. See point 2 (getting undressed) and multiple it by a factor of cold, damp towels, a slippery floor and trying to get your trousers pulled on with wet legs. Beyond hideous.

So there you have it. Nine good reasons to hate swimming. I thought nine was enough, until last Sunday. But then, last Sunday, there was a bit of an incident:

10. Almost drowning your offspring. B loves to copy his big brother. So when E repeatedly jumps in from the side of the pool, B decides he wants a bit of the action. So with the help of my breasts as a handy stepping stone, he hauls himself onto the side. He shuffles side to side, causing me to crab-walk back and forth in the water with my arms outstretched to try and stay in front of him, in case he suddenly jumps. I am already sweating a bit with the responsibility of being the only thing currently in between my son and the bottom of the pool. He jumps. I catch him. He laughs. “More!” he cries. Oh yes, let’s do this again. I am having SO much fun.

Again and again he jumps. Again and again I catch him. And then, one time,  I don’t. I see him hurtle downwards but I am not even sure I get a fingertip to him. I just see the shape of his body, under the water, in front of my shins. I grab at his arm, which was being held aloft in joyful triumph but is now simply the only means by which I can catch him, and pull him from the bottom of the pool. He emerges and his mouth opens in a watery ‘o’ and he emits an ear-drum perforating scream of: “DADDY!” Which is simply an abbreviation of: ‘get me out of the arms of this incompetent mad woman, she is trying to drown me’. Which is a fair point, well made.

I thought I hated swimming before this happened. But now, I have the image of my son stage diving off the side of the pool whilst I flap my arms uselessly in front of my like a demented seal every time I go in the water. The worst part is, there will be another trip to the pool. My parental duties to not cease even though I am blatantly not cut out for this swimming malarkey. But next time, my son will be sporting a buoyancy jacket, two pairs of armbands, a rubber ring round his head, a woggle tied round each ankle and I am investigating the possibility of pumping helium in through his poo hole.

 


A thousand decibels of imagined pain wrapped up in a coarse swaddling of frustration

What’s that in the distance? It looks like… well, I am not sure. An amorphous blob of angry black cloud? A thousand decibels of imagined pain wrapped up in a coarse swaddling of frustration? Oh yes, now I recognise it. It’s the terrible twos.  I’ve weathered this storm of wretchedness before and I seem to remember it being a right barrel of laughs. Shame that the barrel seemed to have sprung a leak, so by the time I got there all the laughs had bloody well GONE.

B is fast approaching two, but he is not letting the small matter of a few weeks get in the way of him signing up to the terrible twos club. You know the club. The one full of screaming toddlers who spend a large proportion of their time lying face down on the floor. The club with at least a twelve month membership, that gives each new member a free gift of bottomless lungs and an unwavering sense of entitlement. Yes, that club.

Already he is in full practise mode for his tantrums, trying out all the different floors in the house (carpet is comfier, but whilst the wooden kitchen floor is hard, there is the possible bonus of finding a morsel or two to eat whilst he’s down there), experimenting with positions (a standing up tantrum requires less effort but without the dramatic crumbling to the floor it lacks a certain element of spectacle) and exercising his vocal chords regularly to ensure maximum ear drum impact. It is a joy to behold.

‘Here we are,’ I say to him one day, ‘here’s some banana’. I hold out a bowl into which I have sliced some banana. He takes one look at my offering and immediately his mouth springs open into an unholy chasm of half-emerged teeth and flailing tongue. The noise starts slowly, building up in decibels like an air raid warning siren. In fact, if these tantrums persist, an Anderson shelter at the bottom of the garden might be the only solution. And I don’t care who goes in it: him or me. Just so long as it is not both of us. As his wail reaches its crescendo, the knees slowly buckle,  and he falls prostrate to the floor in slow motion, just to ensure that I don’t miss a moment of the Toddler Tantrum Topple. And there he stays, screaming into the floorboards, as small puddles of tears collect beneath his face and snot is slowly smeared from floor to face and back again, all because I had the audacity to offer him a fruit-based snack. Or because I sliced the banana incorrectly. Or maybe because the slices made a peculiar pattern in the bowl. Who knows. I have long given up trying to understand what causes a tantrum. I sigh, put the bowl on the table and go and watch some paint dry in another room until he has finished. Silence eventually falls, punctuated only by the repeated quick, raggedly intake of breath as B realises that he needs to offset the three million cubic feet of oxygen he has just expended in the last five minutes with a few inhalations.

Now calm, I can offer him the aforementioned sliced banana again. “Yay!” he cries with glee and takes the bowl from me. “Nank noo mummy,” he says and smiles. He is delighted with the exact same offering that provoked nuclear melt down five minutes previously. Of course he’s delighted. Because he is nearly two, and in that world, swinging wildly from two utterly contrary emotions is part of the deal. It’s just not part of my deal. Well, it is. But I don’t want it to be. Which of course, simply means it is. Now it is my turn to lay face down on the floor.

And then there is the screams. Oh my days. This boy has a scream on him. He screams like a naked diva who has got her nipple trapped in the top drawer of the filing cabinet. It is a scream so loud and piercing that if I am within a six foot range, it actually makes me salivate. What the sodding hell is that all about? I can only think what happens is that the nerve endings in my ear drum go into temporary acute overload and my brain, panicked into doing something – anything – to block out that noise, accidentally connects my ears to my saliva ducts. I suppose it could be worse. It could connect them to my sphincter, and then we would all be in serious trouble.

I peer forward, squinting, into the near future. There are things to anticipate with glee, like B getting to grips with language so he can stop saying ‘nank noo’ and start saying thank you. And like him comprehending that ‘sharing’ does not actually mean that everyone gives everything to him right now and don’t even think about picking up that toy that I have discarded because it may look like I don’t want it but the moment you touch it I will scream so loudly your facial skin will melt and mummy will start drooling like a simpleton.  And then when I peer some more, there’s the terrible twos and the inevitable tantrums.

Hmm. You know that empty barrel, the one that used to be full of laughs? Pass it here, would you? I may just climb in and nail the lid shut from the inside. Just for a year.