Tag Archives: mothering frights

Steaming hot baked beans on a naked willy


Willies. They’re a big thing in our house. This is not a boast about appendage size, by the way. It is more to do with frequency, there being three males in our house. Willies just seem to be… well, everywhere.

It is curious to be witness to my six year old become so fascinated with his willy, and sharing this new-found enthusiasm with his friends. One of his mates, at the lunch table, turned to my son and with a thoughtful look on his face, asked: “Do you want to see my willy?”

I stopped, mid-chew. As lunch time conversation topics go, I wasn’t quite prepared for this. Minecraft, definitely. How ninjas kill a baddie blindfolded, yes. How long it would take to cut off all your limbs with a light sabre, possibly. But an offer for my son to cast his eyes over his pal’s willy? Not so much.

E chewed his pasta slowly, seemingly considering the offer. The suspense was killing me.

“Go on, then,” he finally said.

“Woah!” I waved my fork around in front of me, a sauce-laden piece of penne skidding across the table. “No willies whilst we’re eating, thank you.”

Call me old fashioned, but there’s a sentence I didn’t ever anticipate saying.

And the whole getting naked thing is quite a popular play date past time, it seems, up there with Lego and light sabre battles. On one occasion, E was up in his room with a friend and his younger brother. I went up to offer them drinks, but refreshments were not really on their agenda. Instead, I found them all jumping around naked. I stood in the doorway, my brain creaking under the strain of trying to process what I was witness to. Three little tiddly willies, flapping around, accompanied by hoots of laughter and the odd swish of a plastic sword. (To clarify, that last statement was not a euphemism, one of them had the ‘even a naked pirate is never off duty’ thing going on).  I could not decide whether I should be amused, horrified or dialing Childline, so instead I just offered them all some apple juice, with a warning not to sit down on the floor due to the copious scattering of Lego bricks. There was no way I was explaining to my friend’s mum as I handed him back that he may have a number of Lego bricks and a tiny construction worker holding a broom wedged up his bum crack.

But I got wise to the naked shenanigans. Next time E had a friend over, I intercepted the strip off. I opened the bedroom door to see two boys, fingers poised round shirt buttons, looking a tad sheepish. “No getting naked today, boys,” I said.

They looked crestfallen. “But why, mummy?”

“Because…” Actually, that was an excellent question. Why shouldn’t they get naked? I pondered for a moment, before realising there was no reason on earth why they shouldn’t. It is all a natural part of growing up. Mind you, so is picking your nose and eating it, and I roundly do not endorse that. So, as often with my scant parenting skills, I found myself backed into a Cul de Sac of Refusal of my own design and there was no way out without a massive reversal of position. And no one likes to see a parent clumsily reversing back up a narrow cul de sac. Someone could get killed, for God’s sake, or humiliated, at the very least.

“Because…” I continued, “it’s nearly tea time. Have you ever dropped steaming hot baked beans on a naked willy?”

Two pairs of widened eyes stare at me.

“Well… they are so hot… you’re in danger of your willy falling off.”

Hands moved away from buttons. Hah. Mummy 1, Willies Nil.

But despite that moment of triumph, it has not stemmed the tide of willies. If a new friend is invited to our house, I may casually ask the mum her position on willy waggling as a suitable past time. If she clutches her son to her breast with a horrified look, I make sure we crack open Junior Scrabble and stay well away from nudity. But most times, I let it happen. It means that play dates round our house resemble some kind of CBeebies Brokeback Mountain, but hey. Worse things happen at sea. In fact, worse things happen in our bath. Willy hoopla, anyone?

Did this raise a smile? A little titter? A guffaw? Did a tiny bit of wee come out? If so, would you do me the delightful favour of popping on over to http://www.thedogsdoodahs.com/funny-blog-award-2015.aspx and voting for my Mothering Frights blog, as it been shortlisted for The Dog’s Doodahs UK’s Funniest Blog 2015. And before you ask, no, my mum does not work for the Dog’s Doodahs. It will take about 1 minute. Honest. So go on. Please. I’ll be yer friend for ever. 



Frantic areas of tight, angry scribbles

blakes_scribbles“Look mummy, I did a picture.”

Oh Christ. I take a deep breath and slowly move my eyes to the piece of paper in front of my two year old son, who is looking up at me expectantly, biro poised between his fingers. On the paper are swirls and swirls of black lines that occasionally break into frantic areas of tight, angry scribbles. If this drawing had been done in an art therapy class, the tutor’s hand would slowly be moving toward the panic button concealed under the desk round about now.

“Lovely, darling,” I lie.

“It’s a cave.”

Of course it is.

“And there’s the lion.” He points to an area of scribble.

“Oh yes,” I say. “Is that another lion over there?” I point to a similar area of scribble.

“No mummy, silly. It’s a monster.” He looks at me as if I am an idiot. It’s an expression I see quite a lot from my son.

Well pardon me for not knowing my scribbles from my scrawls. You see, I am all for encouraging creative expression in my kids, it’s an essential part of their development, it encourages them to look at the world afresh, blah pencil blah crayon blah. And I am even quite happy to lie to their faces, telling them that the hasty daubs of thick, shit-brown paint that they have managed to plop onto the paper are quite lovely. (And exactly what the hell is it about my kids and paint? I give them four distinct colours and four paintbrushes. I turn my back for one minute to give my retinas a rest from what they are doing, and suddenly, they have four pots of paints the colour of dog shit.) But just don’t ask me to like their creations. Or pin them on the fridge. I mean, it’s one thing to pretend that my son’s latest masterpiece, seemingly created by randomly dropping felt tips onto the paper from a great height, is good. But don’t make me look at it every day.

Not loving my sons’ artistic endeavours does not mean I love them any less. No, I leave that for when they have a strop in public. The way I see it, they are practising. My two year old still sometimes holds a pen in his fist as if he is going to stab someone (and given his propensity to get the hump at the drop of a felt tip pen, it’s not beyond the realms of possibility) so I don’t expect him to have quite mastered cross hatching and stippling just yet. But I don’t need to keep their practises. After all, if I was shopping for a vacuum, I wouldn’t seek out one of James Dyson’s early prototypes. ‘Yes please, I’ll take the one with bits of sellotape all over it and a motor that unexpectedly blows crap all over my lounge carpet if it’s left on too long.” No. I want the one when he has finished practising. The one that look nice and works like it bloody should.

I used to despair about the tsunami of artwork that would pour into the house from nursery. When my son’s carer would say ‘we have collected all his work for you to take home’ my heart would sink to my boots. But, I soon realised, there is hope. This is exactly what the council introduced recycling for.  I leave the latest drawings  proudly on the kitchen table from when they arrive home, but once the boys are safely tucked up in bed, I escort the heinous attempt at drawing a flower – or perhaps it is a car, I can’t remember – to the recycling bin. If I am dealing with many pictures, the strategy is to take one or two each evening whilst slowly moving the remaining pile from the centre of the table, to the side of the table, then carefully placing the newspaper or post over them so that they forget they even existed and Operation Artwork Extraction can begin in earnest. But the key thing here is to take the picture to the bin and bury it deep. Really deep. Because you only need to be caught out once leaving your son’s drawing near the top of the bin, and be questioned ferociously by your offspring the next morning as to how exactly their creation ended up in said bin, and then have to blame daddy, before you learn your lesson good and proper.

And I can’t talk about my son’s pictures without mentioning that substance so evil, so malevolent, that it haunts me on a regular basis. It is the Devil’s Dandruff. GLITTER. Because I may dispose of my sons’ pictures, but I cannot eradicate the glitter. It inveigles its way into nooks and crannies. It has an access-all-areas pass to surfaces and crevices that should be physically impossible to reach. My son made me a card recently, smothered in glitter. That evening, I found a twinkling spot of glitter somewhere it had no right to be. In my pants. IN MY PANTS. And three days later, I found another renegade piece clinging to my son’s forehead.  So enough is enough. When a picture with glitter enters my house, I  seal off the downstairs, don my chemical warfare suit, and using six foot prongs, take it straight to the bin.

I will allow my children’s’ pictures onto my fridge, I am not a total bitch. They just have to finish practising first.

What sort of chicken goes moo?


“What sound does a cow make?”


Umph? I stare at my two year old son. A cow goes umph? Only if it trips over a cow pat. I look up at the health visitor, who is in turn looking at my child with a barely disguised air of disappointment.  I just love these developmental tests, they really seem to bring out the best in my offspring.

The health visitor, who for the purposes of brevity I shall call Annoying (abbreviated from the more formal Annoyingly Smug About Childcare Skills), tries again and points to a chicken.

“What sound does this animal make?”

There is a pause. I am attempting to telepathically communicate the word CLUCK to B. I know he knows it. He knows he knows it. And I am pretty damn sure that he knows that I know that he knows it. But he seems determined not to let Annoying know any of this, for fear I may, in a certain light whilst squinting, look like a competent parent.

“Moo,” he replies.

Moo? MOO?! Bloody moo? What sort of a chicken goes moo? He’s doing this on purpose, I think, as I watch Annoying write something down on her form. Just because I wouldn’t let him stick his finger up my nostril this morning, it seems that it’s now payback time.

“Okay,” chirps Annoying. “Let’s try one last animal, shall we? What sound does a pig make?”

I glare at my son. He knows what this particular non-verbal communication means all too well. It is the international scowl of ‘don’t you bloody dare’.

“Oink,” he answers begrudgingly. Thank fuck for that.

“So, let’s move onto colours,” Annoying says. My heart sinks. My son is utterly crap at colours. So was his brother. It must be a genetic flaw on his father’s side, as I am pretty sure my first words were ‘turquoise’ and ‘burnt umber’.

I sigh as the colour chart is laid out before him. I look at the first swatch: red. I mentally bet myself a fiver that he calls it yellow.

“What colour is this?”

“Lellow.” Well. I may have a thicko for a son, but at least I’m a fiver up.

“Good try… but that’s red. Let’s try the next one. What colour is this?”


“No, that’s blue. Let’s try again.”

And so it goes on. Lellow, lellow, lellow. All the way through the sodding colour spectrum. Why Annoying doesn’t just call it quits after green, I don’t know, because if a child thinks red and blue are both the colour yellow, I think it is safe to assume that he is not going to recognise purple or brown.

Annoying looks  up at me. “You really need to teach him his colours now, mum.” Instantly I grind my teeth at being called mum. My name is on the sheet of paper less than a foot away from her face. Would it be too much to ask for her to use my actual name rather than reduce me to a relational component of my offspring? (You can tell I am getting mad, I start to use words of more than three syllables).

And so that becomes our parenting mission, to teach our two year old his colours. Whenever the opportunity arises, I ask him what colour a certain object is.

“Lellow,” he always replies.

Even his brother starts to lend a hand. “What colour is this?” he asks, waving a blue Lego brick in front of him.

We walk through the nursery car park one morning.

“What colour is that car?” I ask casually.


“Not quite, it’s blue.”

What colour is this car,” I say, pointing to the next one.

Oh for crying out loud.

“No, that’s black. This one?”

There is a pause before he looks up at me.

“It’s your turn to say,” he states and walks purposefully toward the nursery entrance. So that’s told me then.

A few days later, we seem to have a bit of a break through. I ask him what colour a red ball is.

“Red,” he replies. Bingo. I duly clap and high five him, then slightly giddy on success, I hold up a blue train.

“And what colour is this?”


“No, this is blue. What about this?” I point to a green stuffed toy.


At this point, I may have laid my head on the table for a while and pretended I was somewhere else.


In a last ditch attempt to help my son away from his monochrome outlook on the world of colour, I dig out a kid’s colour book.

I point to a red square. Let’s start with an easy one.

“What colour is this?”

He stares solemnly at the shape in silence.

So…” I say at last, “what colour is it?”

Still there is silence.

I may need to give him a clue. “It’s rrrrrrr…?”

He looks at me. “Rr-lellow?”

Is he taking the piss? “No, it’s not rrlellow,” I reply. “It’s rrrrrr…?”


I take a deep breath. Then another. I may need a brown paper bag to breathe into if this carries on. A brown paper bag which, I am fairly sure, my son would call lellow. Or perhaps rlellow, whatever sodding colour THAT is supposed to be.

“Not rrblue, no,” I say. “Because that’s not actually a colour, is it? It’s “rrrrrr…?” I tap the red square, perhaps a tad harder than is strictly necessary.

“Rrr-green,” he says.

I close the book. “That’s right, it’s rrgreen. Now. Shall we read Postman Bear?”

An incident now known as Smartiegate


“Oh f…”

I am staring at my son’s willy and balls. I don’t tend to make a habit of this, but on this occasion, I made an exception. Clustered all around his bits are spots. Great big, red spots. It’s like my son has contracted some kind of STD.

I shout for back up and daddy appears.

“Oh f…” he frowns.  “I’ll put a fiver on chicken pox.”

“Not herpes, then?”

He doesn’t deem that my medical assessment warrants an answer.

And so, here it is. The pox. My first thought is to scan my mental diary, trying to work out just how much of a pain in the arse this was going to be in terms of work commitments. Sorry, my first thought was for the welfare and condition of my son. Of course it was. What was I thinking?

An incident the day before whilst on the way to school made a lot more sense now. E was complaining that he couldn’t touch his head as it hurt too much. I suggested that he simply didn’t touch his head to solve the problem, but he kept on mentioning it, convinced he had been stung by a wasp. This notion was down to the fact that a few weeks previously, he had been stung, and subsequently at every hint of pain, at every possibility of an ache, had claimed he had been stung. I told him the story about the boy who cried wasp but it didn’t seem to make much difference. However, that morning he really did keep banging on and on… and on about it, until I was forced to inspect his scalp. I found nothing, but then parting his hair is a bit like trying to hack your way through the denser part of the Amazon jungle.

So, I put E to bed with a dose of Calpol inside him and a sense of trepidation as to how bad it might get. I then made the grave error of looking in ‘What’s That Rash?’ (seriously, that is the title of the book. It is an A-Z of spots, rashes and pustules and is pretty much a GP’s version of soft porn). The image of a child with chicken pox spots covering every available centimetre of skin stayed echoing on my retinas long after I slammed the book shut and slid it back into place on the shelf.

“Can you get chicken pox in the eye?” I ask the following morning as I inspect my son for pox progress. I peer at his left eyeball, distinctly bloodshot and red. My son shrugs his shoulders. It is a shame that he can tell me the colour of everybody’s light sabres in Star Wars and how pirates punish their captives, but has nothing useful to say on the matter of eye pox.

I sigh. I am going to have to call for a GP’s appointment. Which is a bit like saying I must find a unicorn’s horn in the back garden. ‘You are eighth in the queue…’ a voice tells me once I had navigated the complex maze of options, designed specifically to weed out anyone who wasn’t seriously committed to being ill. We are most of the way through breakfast before I get to speak to the receptionist, whose role is to write my son’s name down on another list in order to speak to the duty doctor, who then might put him on a list for coming in to see them. I think Dante was a patient at our surgery. It’s where he got the idea for the nine circles of hell from.

So whilst we wait for the call back, I realise that I have no suitable lunch materials and will have to take E to the supermarket. I make him wear his hoodie, with the hood up, and instruct him to deny all knowledge of chicken pox should anyone ask. As the face spots are not quite in full flow, we might get away with it.

Obviously, the GP calls as I am in the fish aisle, so I conduct the entire conversation about my pox-ridden son in very hushed tones. She doesn’t like the sound of the eye thing, so asks us to come in, but not to take a seat. Chicken pox seems to be the modern version of leprosy. If she could have asked for my son not to touch anything, to breathe into a handkerchief and to have a man ringing a bell walk five paces in front of him, she would have.

It turns out that you can get pox in the eye and should this develop, we were advised to go straight to A&E. Oh good. Something to look forward to. It’s been at least a few months since I spent four hours in that particular form of purgatory. The GP advised Calamine for the spots (not, I presumed, for the eye one) so I duly purchased a bottle, only to receive a tsunami of texts from friends advising me that this was the worst thing I could do, and should be using aqueous Calamine instead. This, I think, is the future of medical advice: crowd source it.

Seeing as my son seemed well in himself, I decided we could do some reading and maths games, mainly because I am a bit of a bitch like that, before the whole DVD-on-the-sofa- because-I-am-poorly ritual began. But by the afternoon, E was feeling a little sorry for himself as the realisation dawned that being home with mummy was actually quite dull when he could be at school with his mates building stuff, drawing, running around and generally having fun. By then, I was feeling a little sorry for my To Do list, which softly called to me from my desk, reminding me of all the things I wasn’t doing, and tutting gently under its breath. I am not saying that I was not cut out to be a nurse, but I did find myself uttering the words ‘just get it down your neck now’ to my son as he was refusing to take a dose of Calpol for no ostensible reason other than he enjoyed seeing the veins on my neck bulge.

I prayed to Poxulese, the God of Childhood Illness, to make this a swift bout of chicken pox so that my son didn’t suffer too much. And perhaps so that I could actually get some bloody work done. And all hail Poxulese, he stopped picking his scabs long enough to hear my plea and two days later, most of my son’s spots were scabbing over. There was a brief dip in form when his temperature went stratospheric one evening, and I desperately tried to get him to take Ibuprofen which he point-blank refused. This led to an incident now known as Smartiegate: I bribed him to take his medicine by offering him some Smarties. Which he ate in bed. After he had cleaned his teeth. He was inordinately pleased with this surprising turn of events. I, however, felt sullied by my own inability to get a six year old to swallow a spoon of liquid. May Supernanny swoop down and put me on the naughty step for such an epic parenting fail. Either that or knock me flat with her prodigious bosom.

As fast as the pox had arrived, it left, and on the whole, it wasn’t anywhere near as grim as I thought it would be. Bits of it were quite fun, like when we played imaginary dot-to-dot on his stomach and drew the Millennium Falcon. Some bits were not quite so much fun, like trying to persuade my son to let me dab cream onto his balls and willy. I won’t be eating spotted dick for a while, that’s for sure.

And now we are on Pox Watch with his two year old brother. It’s got more red herrings, quizzical looks and cliff hangers than your average soap opera. So it’s only a matter of time before the BBC commission it.

Licking a hairy lolly


One of life’s little pleasures, along with seeing that piece of Lego on the floor moments before I step there, and getting the kids to bed on time without any of us raising our voices or flouncing off in a strop, is getting my hair cut.

I used to like it, pre-kids. But now, I really, really like it. All that time, just sitting there, with a coffee. Relaxing. Having a chat that is not interrupted by pleas for raisins, or someone under four foot insisting that they sit on my lap. Okay, it’s not perfect. I keep catching sight of my enormous eye bags in my peripheral vision when I put my coffee down in front of me, but it’s a small price to pay. All that time, without the children. On my last visit, my hairdresser asked me how I wanted my hair cut. “Very, very, slowly,” was my reply.

So I find it utterly unbelievable that my two year old does not share my delight. This weekend I took him for a trim. His hair was not super long, but I have a bit of a thing about boys with long hair. I don’t know why. I don’t have the same issue with grown men that have long hair, but my boys’ hair has to be short. Properly, round the ears, too-short-for-bed-hair short. But this trip to the hairdressers was probably the most stressful outing we have made in a while – well, since The Great Testicle Adventure, at least. It did not start well, with a point blank refusal to sit in the chair on his own, magic booster seat or no magic booster seat. Okay, there was nothing that magic about the booster, but I really did not want him on my lap.

So there he was, on my lap. I had the rare foresight to ask to wear a gown, having learned from my last visit that whilst the prickle of freshly cut hair in my undergarments is highly annoying, when it’s not even your own hair it is enough to make me want to claw my own eyeballs out. Obviously, B would not countenance a gown. Not even a magic gown (you’d think I’d have learned my bloody lesson with the whole magic schtick, but I’m a trier, me).

B is looking decidedly grumpy and is already trying to wriggle free, but the hairdresser is no fool. Before proceedings commence, a tub of lollies is produced and one is placed in my son’s hand, with a promise that it will be unwrapped once the haircut is finished. The moment those scissors appear, however, B attempts to bury his way into my ribcage using the blunt instrument that is his head. I try to talk him into complying, which is about as effective as trying to get a rabid ferret to sit still by asking him politely in my best telephone voice.

Given that is it not looking likely B will sit up straight, the hairdresser starts to tackle the bit of his head that is exposed. I am holding my son in a mild death grip, and what with being shrouded in a neck-to-knee cape that has the insulating properties of a Thermos flask, alongside the effort of keeping him from slithering off my be-caped lap, whilst smiling and pretending that this is not bothering me in the slightest, I am perspiring slightly. (This may be an understatement). The hairdresser is moving at lightning speed. I would like to think that this is because he wants to minimise the stress that my son is experiencing, but is much more likely to be in order that he can get this whimpering, annoying child out of his shop as soon a humanly possible. With which I concur wholeheartedly.

I am slightly concerned about the proximity of the scissors to myself. I mean, I want my son to have neat, short hair, but not at the expense of my left nipple, so I try to lean away from him. He then leans further into me, the hairdresser leans further over us and there is a moment when it looks like the hairdresser’s tie is for the chop. It is all going quite badly, until B spots a small clump of cut hair on his arm. I will just repeat that in case the utterly  terrifying nature of that last sentence momentarily escaped you. There is a small clump of hair on his arm. A wail fills the salon as he stares, terrified. I can imagine at this point that all the other people enjoying the luxury of some time away from kids, family and the stress of their lives are thrilled that a screaming child is sitting within five foot of them. I know I am.

This torture continues for another ten minutes. The hairdresser is forced to invent a method of haircutting by which he cuts with one hand, and catches the falling hair with the other within three nano-seconds, in order to avoid another outbreak of wailing. B alternates between crying, flailing and hiding. At some point, we renege on the deal of opening the lolly at completion, just on the off chance it will help. It doesn’t. As predicted, we now have an inconsolable child who finds himself licking a hairy lolly and is now scratching at his own tongue in panic. And I just really, really, want to go home.

Finally, with haircut finished, B instantly cheers up. As he walks to the door, both the hairdresser and I notice a tuft of hair, sticking up on the top of his head, that had escaped the cut. I lick my finger and press the recalcitrant hair onto his scalp. It pings back. I press a bit harder, until my son shouts ‘ow’ and runs away, dropping his lolly in the process. Usually, like the King’s Taster, I lick a dropped lolly to remove at least the first layer of germs and grit that it has collected on its ignominious floor roll. But he has been a pain in the arse, and a noisy one at that, and I am still sweating from the whole debacle. So, on behalf of all the people sitting in the salon who have endured my son’s haircut, I hand the hairy, gritty lolly back to him unlicked. it barely constitutes a victory, but I will take them where I can get them these days. I take off my magic cape with a victory flourish and off I go, tufty boy by my side.

The Great Testicle Adventure

“Have you noticed that one of his testicles seems bigger than the other?”

Years ago, the sort of questions my husband used to ask me over dinner were things about interesting articles he’d read, or a new film coming out. With kids, if the questions are not about why a three month’s old poo seems to have grass in it, or if throwing a duvet over a child is an appropriate response to a tantrum, it’s about bits of their anatomy.

I pause, trying to picture my 2 year old’s testicles, and instinctively lower the meatball that was heading mouth-wards back to my plate.

“Hmmm. Maybe.” To be fair, I am not a testicle expert and nor do I want to be.  I have met a few pairs in my time, anything from nodding acquaintance to a more intimate, long term relationship, but I have to say, I do not spend hours gazing at my son’s privates. Testicles were never meant to be stared at, let’s face it. They are the ugly, saggy pillows on which a length of manhood is presented; always the bridesmaid and never the bride. And now I have a mental image of a willy in a white veil, which should never, ever have happened…

So at the next nappy change, we both peer at my son’s balls, prodding, poking and comparing. His right one seems fine, a little marble draped in creped skin. His left looks more like someone had inflated it with a foot pump. “I’ll call the GP in the morning,” I say and sigh, because a conversation that starts with those words scarcely ends well.

And so, there we are, sitting in the GP’s room as I explain the problem. I strip B off from the waist down and the GP requests that she examine him with him standing up. This presents a few more logistical problems than a supine position, as I can already see my son has the ‘you touch my willy and all hell will break loose’ look in his eye. So I sit in the chair, he stands on my thighs holding onto my shoulders whilst doing everything he possibly can to make it impossible to get ball access, and the GP tries to manoeuvre herself between us both to cop a feel.

She is there a long time, doing whatever it is she is trying to do, and I am starting to sweat with the exertion of keeping B from wriggling away. Finally, she straightens up. “I can’t find his right testicle,” she says with a frown. I begin to wonder if she is a GP or I actually sat down with the receptionist by accident, because I definitely saw it yesterday, and unless the testicle thief paid him a visit last night, it should still be there. (In case you were wondering, the testicle thief is the maverick cousin of the tooth fairy, whose life is a tragic example of what happens when fairies fall in with the wrong crowd).  “But the left one is swollen,” the GP states. Blimey, there are no flies on her, are there? Mind you, if B is forced to stay here much longer with his tackle dangling in the breeze, the same won’t be able to be said about him.

“I think he should be seen by the paediatrician at the local A&E,” she concludes, at which point I see my day of work rapidly turning into a bucket of shit. So off we go, hospital bound. B, at this point, is starting to cheer up, as he is realising that what started as a routine day in nursery has turned out to be a magical mystery tour with his mummy, involving talk of snacks and a bag full of toys. I am slightly less cheerful as I give up trying to find a parking space in the hospital grounds because they have seen fit to build a new wing across half the car park without making the cunning deduction that what they actually then need is more parking spaces, rather than less. I end up parking in a dingy, dank  multi storey opposite the hospital. Ah well, I think, as I shovel the best part of a tenner into the ticket machine, at least if I get stabbed in the stair well I could probably make it to A&E under my own steam.

We reach children’s A&E and wait. Toy Story is playing on the TV with the sound just too low to actually hear it, and it entertains B for barely two minutes. We wait some more. Then they weigh him by making him sit on a chair, and he cries. Well, it gives him something to do for a while. Then we do a bit more waiting. At some point, I am given what is in essence a large sanitary towel to put in his nappy in case they need a sample, so I change him, singing the Bodyform advert to him to get him in the mood. He is seemingly unimpressed. Then it is back to those hard, uncomfortable chairs for some more waiting. The A&E waiting room is a strange, other-worldly place. Time is in stasis between these four walls. The windows are covered so anyone inside cannot see life progressing forward outside, there is no reception for my phone and the levels of boredom are so acute that miniscule events become the centre of this tiny, static universe: someone actually entering the room causes a frission of excitement amongst the current occupants akin to the arrival of royalty. Shame it’s just a nurse carrying a urine sample.

At the point at which B has exhausted all the toys we bought, the toys on offer in the room, most of his snacks and me, we get called to see the doctor. Twenty pages of questions later, she finally examines him.

“Well, that’s a relief, there’s his right testicle,” she says. “I was very concerned when I read it was missing.”

“I think it had just rolled under the chair when the GP examined him,” I quipped. She looked at me for a moment, then referred back to her notes. Note to self: don’t try to be funny with medical staff. You are likely be sectioned.

“There is nothing to worry about,” she continues. “It is a small hernia and he’ll need a small procedure to sort it out. You will have to go to a London hospital as we don’t do this procedure on under fives.”

I am relieved that it is not serious, that he is going to have his two testicles remain intact, and that (and this might be the largest proportion of relief) we can finally leave this god-forsaken hell hole. I mean, esteemed medical establishment.

“I just need to call them to refer you, so please take a seat and I will tell you when I have spoken to them.”

Noooooooooo. I want to scream, but in A&E no one can hear you scream, apparently, as there are too many other sods screaming as well.

It is at this point I make a very foolish decision. I blame the four hours I have spent trying to entertain a two year old in a confined space. I think it has turned my brain to mush. I decide to get us some lunch in the hospital cafe. There is not much on offer, but I choose a baked potato for B, and a sandwich for me. I mean, no one can fuck up a jacket spud, right? Wrong. Apparently, they can. B valiantly eats about a quarter of it, then pushes the plate away. He then tries a bite of my sandwich whilst I sample his potato. Because I am an adult, and have been taught a little about socially acceptable behaviour, I chew the disgusting, dry, metallic-flavoured potato and swallow it with a grimace. But my son, being two, takes one chew of my foul, slimy sandwich and promptly starts to ineptly spit it out, dangling his tongue out, shaking his head and scraping desperately at his mouth with his fingers. Which was what I wanted to do when I first tried it, to be fair. So grim was the taste and texture, he even let me wipe his tongue with a wet wipe rather than have a morsel of that foodstuff remain on his tongue.

We abort lunch and return to the waiting room, still hungry and now even more fed up. I still have the Bodyform tune in my head and I think I am starting to go a little insane, until finally, the doctor appears and tells us she has spoken to the hospital and they will contact us, so we can go. I am so soporific with waiting for five hours, I don’t even question why we had to wait around for that. I just nod dumbly and head for the exit.

The fresh air and rain hit me full on in the face, but I didn’t really care. We had survived the first chapter of the Great Testicle Adventure alive, with both balls intact. But next time, I’m packing a stash of Kendal Mint Cake, an inflatable cushion and a distress flare.

Wiping the face of a furious ferret made of jelly


Going on holiday. I have blogged about this topic before, but as anyone who knows me will testify, repeating myself until someone – not necessarily me – feels distinctly nauseous is not uncommon.

This summer, as every summer previously with kids, we have stayed in this country. A UKation, as absolutely no one ever refers to it. Mainly, because the thought of getting my 2 year old to sit still on  a plane makes me both simultaneously laugh hysterically and want to chew my own lips off in anticipation of the horror of it. We simply couldn’t afford the lawsuits of a planeful of people whose eardrums have exploded due to being subjected to three hours of high-pitched screaming. And let’s not even consider the fact that he could happily spend hours repeating “poo poo bum bum boobies” at the top of his voice whilst giggling manically, or his ability to throw any object that is not bolted down at great velocity at least twenty foot in any direction. I can see it now: on go a hundred happy holiday makers. Off come a hundred gibbering wrecks, clawing at their own eyeballs as they climb over each other frantically whilst screaming ‘get me away from that child of Beelzebub’.

However, having a UKation (I am going to keep repeating that word until I see it in the OED, so get used to it) brings it own unique challenges. Packing, for a start. A week in this country in August means that you can leave behind the snow boots, but pretty much everything else needs to be packed. Shorts and sun cream. Wellies and rain coats. And inevitably, holiday packing brings out the siege mentality in me: I pack as if we are spending a year marooned on a desert island. Emergency Calpol.  Piriton (because once, three years ago, one of them needed a dose). Plasters. Extra clothes. Extra pants. Bedtime books (a selection of). Some cereal, in case our destination town with several supermarkets nearby is suddenly hit with a plague of Shreddie-eating locusts. And so it goes on, the stuff piling up by the front door until we need crampons and a safety harness to scale it in order to leave the house. Might as well pack the climbing gear, whilst we’re at it. Well, you never know.

But wherever we go, there is another holiday challenge that will be with us: ice creams. Eating ice cream is not just on my sons’ holiday agendas, it IS their agenda. Given half a chance, they would spend their days with a 99 in each hand whilst licking a scoop of ice cream from a bowl in their laps. I hate ice cream. No, let me rephrase that. I love ice cream. I just don’t like my kids eating it, particularly the 2 year old. It is just so… labour intensive. We are walking along, and they spy an ice cream van. So, we acquiesce to their pleas and all traipse over to the sweaty man trapped in the metal box on wheels. In order to facilitate the consumption of an ice cream by a 2 year old, it requires:

  • Locating somewhere to sit, close by. Do not ask a 2 year old to walk and eat an ice cream. As soon as his tongue starts a licking motion, all other bodily functions shut down. His legs don’t work properly, he can’t see what is right in front of him (this may have something to do with his face being obscured by a bloody great ice cream) and he moves forward so slowly that the spacetime continuum begins to reverse.
  • At least half a packet of wet wipes. There is nowhere that ice creams drips cannot reach.
  • A volunteer licker to stem the tide of molten ice cream as it runs down the cone and races to his elbow.
  • The patience of a saint not to scream when the first thing he does when given his ice cream is to bite the bottom off the cone. Again. What he then basically is holding is a funnel that delivers runny ice cream directly onto his lap.
  • A quick lesson in the structural properties of ice cream when subjected to gravity. Because eating just one side of a Mr Whippy is just blatant stupidity.
  • A head clamp, to hold his head still whilst I try and mop up the third of the ice cream that didn’t quite make it into his cake hole. It is a bit like trying to wipe the face of a furious ferret made of jelly.
  • A full change of clothes. For anyone who had the misfortune to come within six foot of him.


And so we returned from our UKation, suitcases full of ice-cream stained clothes, exhausted, and with the car axles groaning under the weight of all the extra baggage we transported home (I have no idea what this extra baggage is, but what fitted quite snugly on the way had to be crammed, pushed, squeezed and hammered into every car crevice to get it to fit for the return journey).
Friends ask if I had a nice holiday, and I pause. It’s not that I didn’t have a good time, but with two small children, the word ‘holiday’ is not really representative of the experience. We need something a little less… relaxing sounding. Like… Fatigueday. Or Knackereday. “Are you off on holiday this year?” “No, we’ve booked a Knackereday though. A UKation, actually.”