Tag Archives: toddler

The last will and testament

We are trundling along the road when E stops.

“Look at that car, mummy,” he says excitedly.

Boys and their cars: there seems to be some irrefutable genetic imperative at work here. This boy thing – to look at cars, to turn a bent twig into a gun (“It shoots a hundred, mummy,” he informs me, just in case I was not aware that he was in possession of quite such an impressive killing stick), to jump around roaring with his fist in the air like some kind of Simba / Superman hybrid – is a fairly recent development. It was not that long ago that he stated pink was his favourite colour and was as likely to want to play with his friend’s toy pushchair than a car. Now, he crinkles his nose and contemptuously proclaims “ugh, that’s a girl’s toy,” when he sees an advert for a doll. His criteria for a toy these days is roughly how much damage it can inflict, how many cars it can contain or how fast he can make it go.

“Look,” he repeats. I follow the line of the stick… sorry, gun, and see a red convertible sitting in someone’s drive.

“Lovely,” I reply.

“What’s that funny roof?” I got up at 5am this morning due to my younger son not wishing to remain lying down for a moment longer whilst there was poo in his nappy, and I can barely summon the energy to zip up my boots, let alone answer Why questions, but I take a deep breath. The trick is to give just enough information to satisfy him, but not so much that it provokes another question. Here goes.

“It’s a special type of roof that folds back, so that when the sun comes out you can drive without a roof.” Hmmm, I don’t think I shall come out of this unscathed.

“Why?” Damn. “Errr…” Yes, come to think of it, why did someone think that having no roof on a car was a good idea? They don’t think it would be a good idea on a house, for fuck’s sake. Or a train. There’d be a newspaper tornado and that double mocha latte wouldn’t last the distance.

“… because it’s fun.” My explanation hangs lamely in the air as we start to walk again, and for one glorious moment I think that the conversation has ended. Then E stops again. Buggar.

“Mummy, when the person who owns that car dies, can we have it?”

Shit. This, I was not expecting. Double shit. How did we get here for Christ’s sake? We were quite happily having an utterly pointless conversation about a convertible and somehow we have managed to stumble into the terrifying territory of having to try and explain the concept of bequeathing your possessions to your loved ones when you die. Who the fuck mentioned death to him? Oh yes, that was me, Parent of the Year 2012.

I clear my throat. “Who told you that people give other people their things when they die?” I try to be casual and dismissive, to make out that this is definitely not a Big Thing, or a Naughty Thing, whilst I ascertain quite what he knows about it. Obviously, I need to work a lot harder at parental nonchalance – he gives me a sideways glance and then just shrugs. A shrug that says quite clearly I can ban television for a month, withhold all chocolate treats, or push Play Mobil firemen up his nostrils, but he is not going to answer that question.

So I plough on. “You’re right, poppet. When someone dies, they will leave a list of who they want to have all their things, because they don’t need them any…” Hang on, back up, back up, this is veering toward the conversation about where people go when they die, and that is one explanation I am not about to attempt. The greatest minds in science and religion have spent millennia pondering this knotty conundrum, I am not about to start attempting to explain it to a four year old twenty minutes before Tesco shuts.

“…so they give them to their friends and family.”

We walk a bit further in silence. I shoot him a quick look to see his reaction to what I have just said. Does he look sad? Bloody hell, is he thinking about us dying? I am going to have to work hard to allay his fears, I do not want him burdened by such thoughts. We walk a few more paces, as I mentally berate myself for my utter idiocy in ever mentioning the D word. I look at E again and he is frowning intently. Shit. He has obviously taken it to heart and is struggling to come to terms with it all.

“So,” he says finally. “When that person dies, can we have that red car then?”

Stubborn Stains


If cleanliness is next to godliness, I am one streak of snot away from being cast down into the raging inferno of Beelzebub.

It’s not that I intend to get slowly covered in a smorgasbord of stains when I get up in the morning. In fact, as I pull on  freshly-washed top and trousers, I will often send up a little prayer to Persil, the god of clean clothes, to protect me from the onslaught of smears, dribbles and moist debris that seem to be attracted to my person. But my plea mostly falls on deaf ears.

There are the obvious, intentional stains. My delightful older son is at the root cause of most of these, particularly when he has a cold. There is nothing, repeat nothing, more utterly hilarious to a three year old than wiping his dangling pendulum of snot on my sleeve. And boy, is that stuff sticky. I should be collecting it all into small tubes and flogging it as a miracle glue to stick plane wings onto fuselages. If I don’t get to it with a damp cloth within ten minutes, the drying process takes effect and it transmogrifies into a substance harder than concrete and more abrasive than a Brillo pad. There have been the odd occasions where somehow, he has managed to decorate my sleeve with nose slime without me noticing, and it is only when I  bend my arm and there is a curious cracking noise that I realise that Bogey Boy has struck again. (Now there’s a superhero if ever there was: Bogey Boy, who fights evil and catches baddies, embalming them in sticky ropes of snot so they can never escape. Just stand well back when the buggar catches a cold though).

And then there are the baby stains. I don’t know what the collective noun for these is – a spatter of baby stains, perhaps – but all I do know is that I have a tendency to collect them, frequently. Shoulders are the most at risk, absorbing milky dribbles and flecks of sick as I carry B around. I am often seen sporting that most common part of a mummy’s uniform  -the asymmetrical sicky epaulettes.  But the baby stains can pretty much appear anywhere, without warning. I can get up from a chair, my arm brushing my trousers, and I can suddenly feel a wet patch that wasn’t there ten minutes ago. Or I can scratch my face and find it peculiarly damp. Careful investigation then ensues, with a tentative smell and a close-up inspection. I’m like Poirot with a muslin cloth, me.

Added to which are the general splats and splashes as a result of opening yoghurts, poking straws into juice cartons whilst foolishly allowing them to be held by a three year old, oh, and the fine spray of mucus from a baby sneeze, creating an impressive circumference of glistening globules given the tiny nostrils it exits from.

Barely an item of my clothing makes it to the washing machine without being doused in a liberal spraying of Vanish. Or Shit Out, as I prefer to call it. I am not sponsored by Vanish, more’s the pity, but credit where credit is due: I have yet to meet a stain, regardless of whether it originated from nose, bottom or mouth, that cannot be eradicated with the stuff. I’m thinking of carrying it around with me in a holster for rapid deployment. It certainly removes all stubborn stains I know of. It could only be improved one way, really. Stubborn stains are one thing, but if it could remove stubborn toddlers? Now that would be bloody marvellous.

Sick and tired

E and I are doing bath time, which passes with only minor splashing incidents and one near-fatal loss of a Play Mobil diver’s helmet down the plug hole.

E obviously decides that this is not enough excitement for one day and whilst I am trying to dry him on the change unit, he starts to pummel me with his legs. As much as I love having my ribs broken by my son, I decide that I can do without this much chest pain, and tell him in no uncertain terms to stop. Which he duly ignores. I tell him to stop again. He continues to kick me. After a couple more iterations, I am incredibly pissed off and distinctly out of patience, deciding the more direct action of clamping my arm over his legs is the solution.

This does work, but I soon realise that we have reached an impasse, as I cannot get him into his pyjamas whilst he is in a leg lock and both my arms are being used as restrainers. I consider my options, trying to ignore his repeated yells of “get off my legs, mummy!” God that boy has a fog horn on him, as my father would say. So now employing elbows, torso and briefly my forehead on his tummy (bringing my nose briefly into contact with his willy, which I fear transgresses the line of motherly duty under any circumstance) I restrain him sufficiently whilst affixing a haphazard nappy. I am starting to sweat now. I thought bedtime was supposed to be a time for calm? I could cut my own arm off without flinching, the amount of adrenaline I have pumping round my body at this exact moment in time.

Finally, somehow, in a blaze of yelling and limb-grabbing, his pyjamas are on. I am exhausted. And furious. Before E, I had never experienced those two emotions together. Either I was exhausted (‘god, that late night is really catching up with me’) or furious (‘and then she had the nerve to ask for a replacement hamster’) but not both. Now, it happens all the time, this state of exhuriousness. A fragile calm settles in the bedroom and he drinks his milk as I read him two stories – minus the funny voices. There are no funny voices for naughty boys.

E climbs into bed in preparation for his final story, told by me or M with the lights out, sitting next to his bed. He gets to choose the topic or the characters, and we have to ad lib a suitable story. It’s like a third rate bloody Jackanory without the comfortable chair. I simply love it, it is just the thing I want to tax my battered brain with at seven ‘o’ clock at night when I am totally knackered, have dealt with multiple boy-strops, have a shit load of things still to do and just want a bloody glass of wine for crying out loud.

“So what do you want in your story?” I ask.

“Sandy, Brandy, Rosie…” E pauses. Pops’ three dogs make it onto the request list most nights, so I have quite a range of crappy dog based adventures up my sleeve.

“… and snow.”

Fine, snow it is. I start the story, but no more than a minute in, E shouts: “No! Not snow!” I carry on regardless (story rule number 4c: no request retraction allowed) but he repeats himself in an ever-louder voice until we are both almost shouting to be heard over one another. Eventually I stop, mostly out of concern that the neighbours can hear me ranting about three talking dogs and a magical snowman with conkers for eyes (well, who has coal to hand in the middle of the bloody forest?) and will shortly request to have me sectioned. I give him a final warning to be quiet, which he ignores, so I leave the room with a cursory, gritted-teeth ‘goodnight’.

E is immediately out of his bed and out the door, at which point I usher him firmly back. And then again. And then for a third time.  And possibly a fourth, I am not sure as I am so pissed off I can’t see properly, let alone count.

So I bring out the big guns: the threat of locking his bedroom door. Now, his door does not actually lock. I know that. The door knows that. Luckily, E doesn’t, and long may his ignorance remain. This always works an absolute treat to keep him bed-bound long enough for him to fall asleep. But tonight, of course, it doesn’t work. He reappears at the bedroom door.

“Right, that is IT,” I shout, my last atom of patience dribbling out my arse as I carry him back to bed, leave the room and shut the door behind me.

A plaintive crying starts up and E rattles the door knob furiously. I hold the other side, wondering if this actually constitutes child cruelty – he sounds so upset. Nah. If I had rigged an electrical current to the knob, then maybe. This is simply a containment strategy. Although that thought does makes me feel like I am dealing with a bucking bronco. Actually, given the bashing my ribs took, it’s probably a fair assessment. I do feel awful, holding the door shut, but not yet awful enough to desist.

It is then, as I am just pondering how long we are going to keep up this knob-struggle, that I hear it. The unmistakable sound of vomit hitting carpet at high velocity.

I immediately open the door to see E, strings of puke dangling from his bottom lip, looking forlornly at the large pool of sick in front of him. As I frantically look for a mussie cloth in the drawers and on the shelves to mop it up, I try not to think that this is an act of revenge. Lock me in my room, will you bitch? Take that…huuuurrrrlll.

Where are all the fucking mussies? I ransack the change unit in a panic. A year ago, I could stick my hand out whilst standing anywhere in the house and hit the mussie jackpot. But can I find one now? I then realise that the sick might only be phase one of a vomit tsunami, so I abandon my search for a cloth and frantically start to try and locate the sick bowl under the bed, throwing strained and unenthusiastic placations over my shoulder to E, who is still rooted to the spot.

Locating the bowl amongst the dust and an array of small cars, a plastic giraffe and the obligatory piece of Lego, I place it next to E, who is still utterly silent. Now I turn my attentions back to the puddle of sick before it sinks into the carpet completely. I run to the bathroom for a mussie substitute. There is nothing. Loo roll? No, that’ll never work. Can I scrape it up with his bath tractor? Or maybe one of the stacking cups? Wait. I grab his flannel, dampen it, and run back.  I start to try and scrape the vomit together. Stop. Corralling a pool of sick with a damp flannel is never going to work. I fly downstairs with a shout of “don’t move!” to E, despite the fact his has scarcely blinked since this whole episode began.

I grab a spoon from the drainer and pelt back upstairs. I am hot, sweating, furious and exhausted – sorry, in a state of exhuriousness – and as I kneel in front of him scraping sick off the carpet with the spoon and dumping it into the sick bowl, am now harbouring a small thought that E could puke on the back of my head at any moment.

After some time elapses, a small voice pipes up: “Mummy, I have sick on my feet.”

I look up and sure enough, E’s feet are swathed in lumpy vomit, which does go some way to explain why his hasn’t moved an inch. Mind you, this is useful information: the next time E won’t stand still to have his teeth cleaned, all I need to do is smear his feet in sick and hey presto.

I crawl toward him, only slightly bothered by the fact that the knees of my jeans are now soaked with puke-smelling carpet juice and I wipe his feet clean. He brightens up considerably at this juncture. Noticing that there are sick splatters all the way up the toy box, I sigh and go to the bathroom to rinse the flannel to clean it up. On my return, E is sitting in the chair. I am aware of the large distance that is now between him and the sick bowl and it is making me slightly apprehensive.

“I’m sitting in the chair, mummy,” he informs me. “But I am not going to be sick.”

I am not quite sure why this last comment makes me feel like quite such a bitch, but it does. I am not sure I entirely trust him not to puke again as a final act of revenge for me being such a nasty, door-locking mummy.

Mind you, I’m not the one who is going to have to use that flannel in the morning.