Tuesday, 30 December 2008

Cinderella Spilt the Pheasant Stew

This will probably be my last blog of 2008, so I’ve decided to do an update on a few things before slipping quietly into 2009 …

I’ve neglected my blog this past week. I’d like to say I’ve had ‘Bloggers Block’. In part I have but we also got a Nintendo Wii for Christmas which has been slightly distracting. We’ve had a ball, quite literally. We bowl together on wii sports … usually betwixt the hours of 6 and 7am. The 4 year old is the family Kingpin. I on the other hand have all the grace of an elephant and have nearly taken out a glass overhead light fitting on more than one occasion with my over exuberant bowling style.

The 2 Year Old still has the original batman t-shirt and now a long sleeved version which he refuses to wear, a Batman figure, the notorious cape (which he has worn for approximately 40 seconds) and some wrist cuffs which were the cheapest but most successful of his Christmas gifts.

Another spate of undetected ear infections are over so his hearing is up again and his speech is coming along. He has had five ear infections this year alone – they last between 2-3 weeks. There are no outward signs until his ear pops and gunk comes out. We visit the Dr – they say ‘Oh yes, I see, but he’s fine now, goodbye’ – I say ‘Oh yes, he’s fine now, but this is the 5th time this year. That’s around 15 weeks of living in a bubble. His speech is affected! Do something about it’. Reluctantly they have referred him – we only have to wait another 4 months till we go to the hospital to speak to an ‘ear professional’ (who I’ll probably have to cry and blow snot bubbles at) and then another few months until something will be done. With my calculations that’s another 3-4 ear infections and many weeks of deafness. Oh well – at least he can say cracker coherently now.

He is doing really well with his OAP childminders – after all my stressing. He is always happy to go to them – and equally happy to return to the bosom of his mother. In his first week I had to explain the 2 year olds ear problems to them so they didn’t think he was rude and ignoring them. They in turn told me a long, drawn out story (5 minutes before I was due at work) about their son. He suffered from a similar problem during childhood and to summarise ‘had his ears off twice, but it is fine because, although he needs a hearing aid and is dyslexic he is also a Dr’. To add insult to injury ‘his feet are so big that he couldn’t buy a Citroen car’. Although reassuring to hear about his triumphs I had to rush off, I then spent my day at work haunted by the vision of my boy having his ears removed TWICE.

The 4 year old is still bossy and has decided she will call her first born ‘Jesus’. She got a Cinderella dress for Christmas and has worn it for approximately 36 hours out of 48. The only reason she hasn’t worn it for longer is because she spilt pheasant stew down it and I had a three day laundry strike during the festive season.

She’s had a terrible hacking cough over Christmas and I am sick of saying ‘cover your mouth when you cough’ every 45 seconds. After 3 sleepless nights I relented and gave her some ‘night time’ cough medicine. I say relented because as you know the 4 year old has a bad reaction to sugar and additives. Cough medicine is full of colourings and sugar. We were desperate and it promised us that she would sleep soundly. No such luck – the man visited and she thrashed about all night whilst shouting and screaming random sentences.

The Husband got Guitar Hero : World Tour for the Wii, so spends his evenings strumming to an imaginary stadium of thousands in his band ‘Jumbo Ballsack’. I have learnt not to speak whilst he is ‘performing’; it makes for an easier life. We are planning his birthday party for January and he is seemingly unworried by hitting the big 40. His only concern is that overnight his pubic hair will go grey.

Me – I got the BIGGEST hamper of Green & Black’s chocolate for Christmas. My body is currently 70% cocoa solids. I’ve had an eye infection, usually I wear contacts but I had to forgo them for antibacterial eye drops and my ‘Evil Edna’ glasses. My eye was so sensitive that on Christmas Eve I had to watch TV with one of the 2 year olds socks wrapped round the right lens. I would have been much better off with an eye patch.

On Boxing Day morning I was sat with my sister on the kitchen floor watching the kids racing mini santa’s on sleighs. The children were arguing about which Santa they wanted (there was a choice of 12). My sister watching them said “I remember thinking it would be great to have my children close together” (she has the same age gap between her kids as I do – my niece and nephew are now 12 and 14) she pointed at the 2 and 4 year old who were grappling with a shiny green sleigh and hitting each other “but often I wondered if I’d done the right thing – this is one of the worst ages”.

I on the other hand think there is probably far worse to come and I look forward to sharing it with you all!

Happy New Year!

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Nigella Does Jamie At Christmas

We were invited to see Polar Express (in 3D) at the IMAX in Bradford this weekend. Unfortunately we had to decline. We were on a mission to IKEA for 8 x 250ml kilner jars … as you do, the last Saturday before Christmas. Let’s just say that the husband has watched too much ‘Nigella Does Jamie At Christmas’ this week and our kitchen is a veritable hubbub of festive produce. As I type he is polishing his jars for his cranberry and apple chutney.

Luckily we decided to pass on the Polar Express and return directly home. I say luckily because later on my friend (teacher friend mother of three) told me that she had had to leave the IMAX with her eldest child (age 4). She was scared and they had to stand in the foyer where there was an exploding poo situation in the toilets (hopefully the 4 year old and not her) and a host of Cliff Richard Christmas songs being piped out. On the way home she asked her 2 year old son if he’d had a good time, he replied “No, I had a scaredy time”. Once home her husband admitted that they indeed have the film in their DVD collection and could have, instead, been scared in the comfort of their own home. To add further insult to an already expensive and frightening injury it is also on TV on Christmas Eve.

Meanwhile, I had snuggled on the sofa after our IKEA scramble for some pre bed cartoon fun, when I noticed The Goonies was on Boomerang. Caught up in childhood nostalgia we watched, and laughed at Chunk’s ‘truffle shuffle’. I thought we’d struck gold; my little munchkins cuddled up in their pyjamas, the fire roared and the smell of cranberries wafted through the house. Once the nostalgic thoughts had cleared I actually fast forwarded the film in my mind and started to remember it in more detail; skeletons, scary Italian mafia types and the character Lotney ‘Sloth’ Fratelli … then on our TV … cue dead body falling out of an industrial freezer on top of a child.

4 year old –“Mummy that man is FAST asleep”

Me – “BEDTIME!”

I don’t think we’ll be entertaining anything more perilous than Tom & Jerry from now on.

Monday, 22 December 2008

Sprucing it up

(Almost) a new year a new blog. Well not entirely. The content will be the same, I'll be the same, I will forever be tired wishing there were more hours in the day.

I’m going to ‘do it up’ give it a makeover - new colours, new logo (hopefully), better layout. Give it a new lick of paint, make it more user friendly, better on the eye. All those terms the husband, who is a graphic designer by trade, hates.

Who knows – he might even create a new logo for me …. I’d like to think out of husbandly love but more out of embarrassment that people who really know me won’t think he is responsible for the fuzzy makeshift one that is there now.

Please bear with me whilst it is fiddled with.

Sunday, 21 December 2008

Free Willy

Incident 1

We were snuggled on the sofa watching Channel 4's ‘Willie’s Perfect Chocolate Christmas’ and drooling as he made these.

The 4 year old was engrossed, she loves cooking programmes, moreso if they involve chocolate.

She gets up and points at the man on the TV “Is his name Willie?”

“Yes it is” I confirm, knowing exactly where this is going.

4 year old – “Really? WILLIE?”

Me – “Yes, now ssssshhhhhhh”

4 year old – “BUT, boys have a willy!” she shouts in astonishment as she falls back onto the sofa in fits of giggles.

… closely followed by Incident 2

4 Year old – “Mummy, Mummy come and look at what he can do with his willy”

At the time I was washing up. As I dried my hands and rushed to my 2 year old, my thoughts were as follows;

  • Oh my god – he’s chopped it off with the scissors (after all we haven’t visited A&E in over a month).
  • He’s allowed the 4 year old to felt tip on it and add festive glitter (modern art?).
  • He’s trapped it in something (we haven't had a really embarrassing A&E trip yet).

Nothing would surprise me anymore in this house. These options may seem farfetched, but not as farfetched as the 3 year old (friend of a friend of a friend's friend) I am aware of who was able to proudly put a whole mini diecast dinosaur in his foreskin before his mother drummed the perils of sharp objects and nether regions into him.

Fortunately it was none of the above.

I walked into the living room to find him lying on the sofa watching Lazytown.

4 year old – “Show Mummy what has happened …”

My 2 year old casually revealed himself, not taking his eyes off the TV.

4 year old – “Look Mummy it’s pointing upwards”

Me – “Oh yes, so it is. It’s Scooby Doo next, does anyone want a biscuit?”

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Click Click Click

I have very few memories of my mother. The trauma of her death at a young age has wiped a lot of my early memory and kept a lot of memories I’d rather have lost. I was 7 when she was diagnosed with cancer and 9 when she died. I have memories of my childhood … hundreds … but not many with her in them.

I have boxes and albums stuffed with photos. I often look through them and it can trigger memories of an event but not of the interaction we shared, normal everyday moments shared between a mother and child. The kind of moments I share with my children that I know I shared with her but have no recollection of. A goodnight kiss, snuggling up for a bedtime story, holding hands as we walk down the street … all gone in the dust of death.

I have only two very different memories that have stayed.

Memory 1
We were at a neighbour’s house. I was playing with my friends; the adults were all chatting and laughing in the living room. It must have been a party of sorts because there were a lot of people there. We were running up and down the stairs, racing round the house. It was late, I was tired and hot and I went to my mum for a cuddle. She sat me on her knee; she lifted my long hair up and blew cold air on my neck to cool me down, breaking off to laugh with her friends. We sat like that for a long time, together. It is a tender moment that I treasure.

Memory 2
Driving somewhere, just the two of us, Mum and me. I was sat in the backseat. I had a plastic toy gun which made a click noise when the trigger was pulled. Cheap plastic against cheap plastic; Click, Click, Click. I realised that this noise, although not annoying to me, was grating to my mum. I evidently clicked one too many times because I was told in no uncertain terms that if I didn’t stop it would be going out of the car window. I must have weighed up the seriousness of her threat before … CLICK. Without saying a word, and still driving, she removed the gun from my hand, wound down the window and threw it, wound up her window and continued on our journey as if nothing had happened.

I have a lot of memories of my father’s parenting which was fairly laid back unless I crossed the line in which case I knew about it.

I often think about the way I parent my own children. On a bad day I am a ‘show no mercy’ gun slinger and on a good day I am a laid back tender neck blower.

I need to learn how to be a mixture of gun slinger and laid back tender neck blower all the time!

Saturday, 13 December 2008

Raspberry beret

It was the 4 year olds nativity last night, shortly after this cheese related incident.

Mary, Joseph and Baby Jesus were in attendance along with, of course, a token donkey, several angels and some camels.

Also present were my daughters class dressed as French people complete with berets and stripy tops. Disappointingly, no further ‘string of onions’ stereotyping.

Another class wore traditional African dress, albeit made from Grandma’s curtains.

… and the well known Christmas classic that was being belted out in the school hall ….

Brown Girl in the Ring, as sung here by Boney M of course

Friday, 12 December 2008

Swallowing the cheese whole

Unusually the children opted for a snack tea tonight. They normally have a hot meal, but with the 4 year olds school nativity looming in a couple of hours I was more than happy to oblige.

The 4 year old specifically asked for cheese and tomato sandwiches. We were down to the bare essentials (milk and bread) and our Tesco delivery was not due till the following day.

Luckily during my lunch break I had popped to the shops and taken advantage of a BOGOF (Buy One Get one Free) offer on some mature cheddar.

The 2 year old decided to ‘help’ make tea. This ‘help’ usually involves him standing on a step against the worktop and fiddling with anything hot, sharp and/or electrical.

I was at the fridge explaining to the 4 year old that we were out of tomatoes when there was a squeal of delight, usually only associated with mischief.

I turned to see our dog (a large brown Labrador) with a whole block of cheese in her mouth and the 2 year old smiling. He just shrugged at me and said ‘she's hungry’ whilst pointing at the dog who was trying to work out whether she could swallow the cheese whole.

I wanted to scream ‘She’s always bloody hungry – she’s a Labrador’, but I composed myself and launched myself across the kitchen to remove the cheese from the dog's jaws.

I’m not sure what I planned to do with the cheese but for the briefest of moments I actually believe the thought that I may still be able to use the cheese in some way for tea crossed my mind.

The cupboards were bare, it was toilet paper sandwiches with milk or dog cheese sandwiches. Then I remembered the BOGOF offer I had taken advantage of earlier, I threw the soiled cheese in the bin and my children were saved from dogitis.

In the past our dog has eaten (stolen from the kitchen) frozen mince, a tub of margarine, a pomegranate, 3 large alter style candles, 2 loaves of bread, a bunch of bananas (complete with skins) and a full nappy to name but a few. Compared to that lot a block of cheese must have been a taste sensation … nearly.

So near but yet so far.

Thursday, 11 December 2008

She only licks the icing ...

I have always been very conscious of the amount of sugar that the 4 year old eats. Anything more toxic than chocolate buttons and her head is guaranteed to spin as she bounces off the walls. I kid you not; she even has nightmares (usually about the man) when she’s overdosed on sugar. Don’t even get me started on fizzy drinks or Fruit Shoots. Snack wise I always try and lean towards the raisins/fruit option before the sweets and biscuits. This has thus far worked and makes life much easier. Both children have their fair share of sweets and biscuits, just in moderation. Control freak? Me? Never.

I am already twitching at the start of the ‘silly season’. Christmas is a time of many parties … out spring the guilty pleasures of my 4 year old; Cheesy Wotsits, buns (of which she only licks the icing) and unsolicited party bags brimming with a variety of sweets.

I recently discovered that the forces are against me; the force of Daddy. On the way to school we saw a sign outside a local shop advertising ice cream. As I had just scraped ice off my car I thought it amusing and made a comment to the 4 year old about it not being the sort of weather to be partaking in a 99 with sprinkles and sauce. This jolted one of her memories from her ever random memory bank …

Her - “Mummy, once when you were out Daddy said we could have an ice cream and some sweets. Then YOU rang to say you were on your way home and he said we couldn’t have anything because you’d tell him off”.

Me - “Do you think I’m mean?”

Her - “Yes”

Me - “Do you think Daddy’s mean?”

Her - “No”

I may be mean but he’s busted and he doesn’t even know it (until, that is, he reads this).

My husband would live on Midget Gems if he could. He has learnt to conceal his quarter bags of the little buggers from the children. Unfortunately, even the 2 year old who we suspect suffers from periodic deafness can identify the rustle of a paper bag filled with sweets. On the occasions they have discovered his stash they beg him, with their big eyes for a hit of the good stuff. He of course crumbles under the weight of his heart being tugged and the gentle whine of his beautiful babies. This, I have found, often happens within half an hour of bedtime and also coincides with the nights I am on bath and bed duty.

This, I refer to as ‘Daddy writing cheques that Mummy has to cash’.

Monday, 8 December 2008

Skidders

We joined our friends and went on Santa Express yesterday. We BOOED at Scrooge and cheered for Santa. We sang for Rudolph and looked at the clown, that well known Christmas icon, with bemusement. The 2 year old who is frightened of adult sized rabbits, dogs and reindeers didn’t cry as in previous trips. He was brave. Most importantly, the thimble full of sherry was of much better quality than last year.

Everyone piled back to our house for lunch; in total eight children and eight adults. We had a great time and the children managed to spread our collection of toys throughout the house. Will Mr Potato Head ever be reunited with his left arm? Will Barbie ever wear her swimsuit again? Only time will tell.

The 2 year old and his friend nearly flooded the kitchen whilst helping themselves to a drink. The 4 year old girls argued with the 4 year old boys and were then reunited over a spot of trampolining on the bed, monster fighting and bun eating.

The highlight of my daughter’s day and my own, apart from meeting Santa of course, was the new game … ‘Skidders’.

The rules of skidders; You stand at one end of the kitchen and when told to, by the bossy 4 year old who is recording the event on her plastic camera, run and then skid on your knees or feet to the end of the kitchen (which is fairly long). Finishing in a flourish earns bonus points.

My husband’s inner 4 year old couldn’t resist and he too joined ‘skidders’ for a short while.

When they had finished, the 4 year old came through with her friend O and announced very proudly that he was the winner. “O is the winner, he has done the best skidders!”

Oh the naivety of it all. My inner 12 year old though it was hilarious as did O’s parents who are now proudly nurturing ‘Yorkshire’s Supreme Skidder 2008’.

Thursday, 4 December 2008

Mrs No Arms & The Slippy Slidy Day

This one is for Sue over at The Book Chook and Potty Mummy over at The Potty Diaries.

During the night it snowed, big fat snowflakes fell as we slept.
I don't know who was more excited when we opened the curtains; me, the 4 year old, the 2 year old or the dog. School closed for the day. As we ate breakfast we watched several cars try and fail in varying slippy slidy ways to get down our street.

After breakfast several layers were put on topped off with waterproofs and we braved the snow.

We built 'Mrs No Arms';










Then the 2 year old took off his gloves and ran round the car knocking the snow off;







Then Mummy put down the camera and the dog joined us. The daft dog loves to catch snow in her mouth much to the 2 year olds delight and cackles. Unfortunately, during the final 'snow throw', the dog caught the snow in her mouth and collided with the 2 year olds head which resulted in a deep cut between his eyes, blood all over my new Berghaus, a visit to the emergency Dr and some steri strips, like so;









As he is also Batman in his spare time, he wasn't out of action for long and returned home for some leapfrog with his sister;










Last night I hoped it would snow, tonight I hope that school is open so I can go to work for a rest. The 4 year old is hoping Mrs No Arms will live to see another slippy slidy day full of fat snowflakes.

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

A Damp & Slightly Smelly Masked Crusader

Batman has loomed large in our lives for six months, maybe longer. Batman is a t-shirt, a greying, once black t-shirt, with the word Batman and picture of Batman himself.

The 2 year old is infatuated with the t-shirt. He is so obsessed, that at any given time he can tell you at what stage in the laundry process it is at; washing basket, washing machine, tumble drier or ironing pile. He is only truly at peace when the t-shirt is touching his skin; no other item of clothing comes close. My son has his foibles; Batman is one of them along with wearing socks in bed and using a giant spoon to eat yoghurt.

We had a Batman related accident this evening. Everything was rosy in the house of Laura. The snow was falling, the house was roasty toasty and the children were playing nicely (No, really!) whilst I made tea … until the 2 year old visited the toilet that is. My newly toilet trained boy must have forgotten to aim because tonight he peed on Batman. He came out of the downstairs bathroom upset and half naked (he always strips from the waist down when he goes to the toilet). I tried to wrestle the wet t-shirt off him which turned into a violent struggle with me tugging the t-shirt and him fighting to keep it on. I won; he collapsed in a fully naked heap on the carpet near our front door, as fat snowflakes fell on the other side of the glass. I foolishly offered an alternative garment which was instantly dismissed (with shouting and probably the odd snot bubble or two). I left him to it. He continued to blubber until hunger got the better of him and he joined us at the table – now naked from the waist up. The chill had evidently reached his nether regions and he had sensibly put his underpants and trousers back on. Whilst he ate he looked at me sideways with disparagement as if it were me who had urinated on Batman.

On a shopping trip a few months ago I saw a Batman jumper – which would be much more appropriate for this time of year. I was torn between buying one for every day of the week and not buying one at all. I decided that I must stop feeding his habit and chose the latter option.

However … I had a weak moment at a recent church led toddler group. A woman was selling Batman capes. Not just any old common or garden Batman capes …. Feel good; give yourself a pat on the back ‘Fairtrade’ Batman capes made in Africa. All thoughts of not encouraging the ‘Batman habit’ were gone as I buckled under the pressure and purchased one. It is a thing of splendour, all the more so because it was handmade by someone in the developing world (pat pat). It is now laying in wait in my Christmas present hidey hole, ready to KERBOOM and POW its way through the festivities.

When he starts school I will be the mother trying to coax her child out of the fancy dress outfit and into his school uniform in the cloakroom … telling him that “Batman never wore his cape to school” and then whispering slyly “If you shut up and stop yelling you can have a Batmobile for Christmas”.

Sunday, 30 November 2008

A sea of embellishment …

I picked the 4 year old and two of her friends up from school for a fishfinger tea and play.

In the car on the way home I listened to the radio whilst they chatted amongst themselves. I was invited into their banter by one of the 4 year olds friends ……

Friend 1 “Laura, I can swim without any armbands.”
Me “That’s very clever”
Friend 2 “I can swim without any armbands …. last week I swam really, really far in the sea”
Me “I’m not sure you did, I think you can swim with one armband on each arm because I take you to your lessons. Soon you will be able to swim with no armbands”
Friend 2 “BUT I can – I can swim with NO armbands at all”
Me “I see. What happened when you swam with no armbands?”
Friend 2 “I swam really, really far in the sea and then (thinks) … I drownded”

At this point I thought it best to go back to listening to the radio whilst the girls decided what havoc they were going to wreak when they got to our house.

Friday, 28 November 2008

Check Me Out

Don't be fooled by the birthday cake (what birthday cake? I hear you shout). My birthday isn't for another 9 months. Just for the record and for those of you who are unable to decipher the drawings of 4 year olds;

1. I am wearing a party hat ... obviously

2. I do not have breasts on my back, they are wings, I am a 'fairy mummy'

3. The black thing is 'nothing'

4. I am not a hermaphrodite, the protruding bit at the bottom right is the rest of my beautiful orange dress. The 4 year old clearly got waylaid and forgot to finish.

5. I don't normally apply my lipstick as if I was on a rollercoaster.

Thursday, 27 November 2008

Things I have said to my children recently …

  • “Don’t drink that, you brother may have had a wee in it”
  • “Maybe the dog doesn’t want you to ride on her back”
  • “Are you eating hair again?”
  • “Go dance in the garage with Daddy”
  • “Santa can only carry so much on his teeny tiny sleigh”
  • “It’s not nice to say fat. Perhaps you should just say that man is very, very big”

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Yo Ho Ho & A Bottle Of Rum

The 4 year old had been invited to a party, a Peter Pan party, none the less. It was fancy dress. Unlike some families we do not stock a full range of outfits for every occasion. Our range consists of a donkey, a reindeer and an ill fitting Baloo. As the theme was not a Nativity guest starring Baloo from The Jungle Book we were screwed. I could see we had options; pirate, crocodile or fairy, but I was only offering one option, the fairy, which was immediately taken up by the 4 year old with great gusto.

I remembered seeing a fairy outfit last time I was in Next (see The eyes). So off we went. NB – most of my potentially embarrassing episodes happen in Next. Either this is indicative of their clientele or I don’t get out much.

We found it, a beautiful lengthy pink sparkly dress with separate wand and wings, altogether costing ….. £28!!! Now I’m not being funny but I thought that was a bit excessive – especially seeing as our entire fancy dress repertoire at home cost a grand total of £8 (Baloo was a hand me down from the big cousins). Flabbergasted I decided to try another, cheaper store. The 4 year old was devastated and I understood her pain. She had already imagined herself in the elegant flowing gown tapping all the boys on the head with her silver wand, turning them into frogs, then fluttering away leaving a trail of fairy dust behind her.

I started to sell the alternative option to her. This is where the day took a spectacular turn. As I suggested “You could be a girl pirate” a woman wearing a black eye patch walked into the store. I looked from the woman back to my inquisitive, loud mouthed, not yet learned subtlety 4 year old. She was digesting my last comment and about to make her retort. I immediately entered stealth mode and scanned for an alternative exit. Realising there were no other exits I mentally traced another route which would take in the shoes and handbags and avoid the one eyed lady. She was a lady, a very respectable silver haired lady, all that was missing was a diamante skull and cross bones on the patch.

I altered our course, guiding the 4 year old to safety, or so I thought. Just as we were on the home run she was there, the lady pirate was closing in, less than a metre away heading straight for us. I shrouded my daughter with my cardigan (in a move I like to call Batmum) and thrusting my finger out, said in a loud and slightly panicky voice – “look at that sparkly handbag, see how it twinkles”. My voice was just loud and my finger thrusting alarming enough to stop the 4 year old mid sentence “But Muuuum, I want to be a fairy, not a girl P……….”

Slightly sweaty and my heart thumping we left. I did at this point think that I was on one of those shows where someone would leap out from behind the Next employee wearing a sash offering catalogues on the door (you know who I mean – and you also avoid them) shouting “Congratulations – we have just observed you on our hidden camera show and you have excellent pirate avoidance techniques – you’ve won a fairy outfit!”

Anyway, I visited an alternative store, a store that was not frequented by pirates. We got five outfits for £7.99. A bargain, or so I thought, until I we got home and discovered that they would only fit a child half her size. She looked like a belly dancing dwarf with wings.

It just goes to show … quality NOT quantity.

Monday, 24 November 2008

Stocking Filler Anyone?

I use statcounter to monitor traffic through the site. I get excitable on a good day and my heart swells with pride, even if the visitors have only spent 0.3 seconds looking … ahem … before moving on to something more interesting.

So, today I pressed the wrong button and up popped ‘keyword analysis’. This tells me what keywords people have used in google before they 'happen up on me', in most cases accidentally.

So let’s start with;


‘toddler tourettes’ – yep, fair enough, clearly it’s a far reaching problem
‘the baby show’ – I get that too
‘sleep fairy dust’ – OK
‘terrible odour in car’ – Yawwwwn, this is getting boring now

… until I get to;


‘tights lycra full body with no head cover mummy’ – WHAT??????


Mr or Mrs X from Trumbull, Connecticut, I think THIS may be what you were looking for. Not only is it a bargain but it’s the string vest version with ‘lots of stretch’, ‘one size fits all’. What’s more it’s ‘Industrial’(?) Unfortunately no head cover available but maybe you could buy two and stitch them together.

I feel violated. I’m off to bathe in antibacterial handwash.

Saturday, 22 November 2008

Bottom + Towel = Despair

One of the first things I heard this morning stopped me dead in my tracks. It was my husband. He had just opened the bathroom door and in a shocked voice said to the 4 year old ...

"Have you wiped your bottom on this towel?"

Do I really have to spend this afternoon heading up a masterclass in bottom wiping for the child who has been toilet trained for two years whilst the child who is currently mid toilet training watches on?

I despair, I really do.

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

For One Night Only - A New Husband

The 4 year old and I had a sleepover last night. I was looking after the big cousins whilst Auntie K was out of town with work. I took the 4 year old because I had to deposit her at school this morning on my way to work.

The 2 year old stayed home with Daddy and had some man time. I found out later that ‘man time’ involved two walnut whip poos on the potty and stripping a chicken carcass for tea.

I had an odd night’s sleep. I drifted in and out. Bouts of wakefulness were prompted by the 4 year old wittering and flailing in her sleep. At one point she walloped me across the face … accidentally of course.

Even though I slept badly I dreamt I was taking part in Channel 4’s Wife Swap and had swapped my house and family for a gypsy caravan, a new husband and several children.

In ‘real life’ there is a gypsy settlement within a few miles of school. Most of the children from the settlement attend the school. I discovered this one morning as I exited the school gates after dropping the 4 year old off. A transit van sped round the corner with a screech and mounting the kerb came to a sudden halt. It was like a scene from the A-Team, that is, until the side door was thrown open to expose two ladies with pushchairs (already erected with toddlers strapped in) and more than a few school children. Wasting no time they leapt out and proceeded to run towards their different classrooms. It was an incredible sight. The ratio of people Vs van square footage should win a place in the Guinness Book of Records.

Unfortunately I was woken mid dream by a foot in the ribs courtesy of the 4 year old. I was most disappointed because I was about to introduce my ‘rules’ to the new family.

My first rule was going to be that the A Team van must be fitted with appropriate seating and seatbelts. My other rules would include me NOT having to empty the chemical toilet or wear large golden hoop earrings.

I will sleep in my own bed tonight. I will sleep clutching my lucky heather.


Saturday, 15 November 2008

Six Pairs Of Pants, One Wet Fart

When my daughter had just turned two we started potty training her. She had a keen interest in bodily functions and the thought of wearing ‘big girl knickers’ made her swell with pride. She was prime potty training fodder and got the hang of the basics within a fortnight. At times it was very frustrating, but that frustration had to be hidden behind my ‘Oh dear, don’t worry, let’s try again’ face, for fear of sending her back to square one. At the end of week one I decided that I would bin the offending pants if a rogue poo had occurred rather than scrape the contents into the toilet. It turned out over the next six months that we would have several bouts of regression, sometimes for good reason, sometimes sheer laziness. So it came to pass that the only way back to dry pants was persuasion (bribery) of a chocolate variety.

I am now embarking on the same journey with the 2 year old (who will be 3 in January). My attitude was that I would wait until he was definitely, 100% ready. I’ve found lots of reasons to put it off – starting pre-school, new OAP childminders, not enough pairs of pants. He has repeatedly shown interest in the toilet, choosing to climb atop and squat above. I’m not sure where he learnt this approach, but it works for him. He would be a natural in a French ‘squat toilet’. However he has also shown rebellion in his toilet habits (see ‘The Morning Log’). Now, I’m getting impatient. The final straw came when I had to buy some emergency nappies from the local chemist for double the price I would pay in the supermarket. I want rid. NO MORE NAPPIES.

So, we’re off. Today my boy and I bought another pack of pants. Backup pants. He chose Lazytown ones which have the character Sportacus in an assortment of cheesy poses on the crotch. He lovingly clutched them all the way home. Once home, he immediately stripped and put them on … then did a massive wee in them. Pair number two came out and a discussion about what to do in the event of needing the toilet was had. He nodded, then got on with some serious playing. They lasted 10 minutes. I banned all drinks, even the one he had stashed behind the sofa and pair three made a grand entrance. He coolly announced he needed a poo and obligingly did it on the potty. I cheered, we flushed, he proudly waved goodbye to the poo and replaced his pants. Unfortunately the poo was followed by a wet fart with substance – neither he nor the pants could have seen that coming. The wet fart confused him, I could see it in his eyes, he felt cheated.

I left him alone for a while to bask in his 4th pair of pants. I say left alone, but I shouted ‘do you need a wee’ at regular intervals from the other room. I say regular intervals, try every five minutes.

In my absence he decided that three pairs of pants is better than one and had put them on in a hit and miss style so he couldn’t walk properly – having put his waist through the leg hole on one pair. It was of course this moment that he decided he needed another wee. Once removed, his three pairs of pants were somewhat damp but he still made it to the toilet for the remainder. Being tight I made him wear a damp pair and put the other two on the radiator.
All this activity in an hour.

Next week I have to rely on not only myself, but, the husband, the pre-school and the OAP childminder’s support. Too many cooks …

I’m optimistic though … I’ll have him sorted, even if I have to resort to the chocolate buttons. But please, no more unexpected wet farts.

Monday, 10 November 2008

Note to self – Buy More Bed Linen

The 2 year old started the ball rolling by regurgitating an entire plate of Spaghetti Bolognese down himself and his bed. Apart from the unmistakable smell of sick, it actually looked like it had when I’d presented it to him at tea time. I took the role of chambermaid whilst my husband wiped him down. No sooner had we put him back to bed and settled down to watch TV then he was off again. We automatically assumed our previous roles of chambermaid and chief child cleaner and put him back to bed reluctantly.

We managed another hour without incident before turning in for the night. As I started to drift off I heard it. The ‘burble’. I probably heard it before the 2 year old even considered making it (mothers’ instinct) because I sprang out of bed like a psychotic frog (wearing, of course, just a pair of big knickers) and dashed across the hall to his room. The poor boy was whipped out of bed and held over the toilet to make his final retching of the night.

I wouldn’t have normally been so quick off the mark but we are not a family of plentiful bed linen. In fact the only times I think about stocking up on extra duvet covers, fitted sheets and pillow cases are during episodes like this.

As I got back into bed I received a text from teacher friend, mother of three which said;

‘Two sick children. Is it wrong to bathe your children in antibacterial hand wash?’

I felt a sense of comfort that we were experiencing synchronised puking at opposite ends of the village and glad that under the circumstances I only had one child to find sheets for and not two.
The next day the 4 year old arrived home from a birthday party. As she excitedly told us about the party and was about to tell us what she had eaten she was sick over the length and breadth of the two bottom stairs, her socks and my husband’s jeans. It was quite plain to see that she had in fact been eating Cheesy Wotsits and not much else. As he carried her to the downstairs loo she erupted again all over the carpet (more Cheesy Wotsits and a trace of Party Ring). My poor big little girl spent the rest of the night in the vicious circle of sipping water and then bringing it back up again. In order to save the bed linen which was still in various stages of washing machine/tumble dryer I made her lie on the sofa clutching a bowl until she fell asleep with her face in the bowl (she obviously understood the linen situation too).

I have discovered two things. Cleaning my children’s sick up is an automatic reflex. If it were anyone else’s I’d have had to wear a radiation suit and smear my nasal passages with Vicks VapoRub … and if you don’t remove all the lumps first they just come out of the washing machine clean and intact.

Oh, and I’m not sure … Is it wrong to bathe your children in antibacterial hand wash?

Nothing On Top Thank You

"W*nker" was the first thing I thought I heard from the 2 year old this morning as I woke up. I endured toddler tourettes with the 4 year old when she was a similar age so decided to ignore him and went about the morning rituals.

During the day I tried to think of an occasion when I may have said that word in front of him. I could clearly remember the word ‘sh!t’ accidently falling out of my mouth last week during an incident involving a very hot pan of water and my hand, but not ‘w*nker'. I decided the blame must lay at my husband’s feet.

After school the 4 year old was her normal famished self. I offered her an apple, an orange, a pear or some raisins. As usual she wanted something that was not on the menu. She wanted a cracker. An arid, dry as they come, nothing on top thank you, Jacobs cracker.

Ten minutes later I heard the dulcet tones of the 2 year old quite clearly shouting "w*nker, w*nker, w*nker".

It turns out he shares his sister’s penchant for dried foods. After questioning both him and his sister I have deciphered his new word. It is in fact ‘cracker’. What a relief! If only he shared his sisters language skills too.

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Fishfingers, Fireworks and Fate

We are driving home from teacher friend, mother of three’s fishfinger and firework extravaganza. The 4 year old is grumbling about having to leave the fun to go home to bed. The grumbling quickly escalates into a rant with tears and she is given a warning that if she continues she’ll lose a bedtime story. Low and behold … she continues.

“One bedtime story gone” I say.

She stops crying and with an air of injustice says “Mummy, if you are not nice to me I won’t be your child anymore” adding a huff on the end for effect.

I have never heard of social services intervention due to bedtime story withdrawal so I confidently deliver the news that we are stuck with each other forever.

Accepting her doom, she points at the 2 year old who, sensing the unrest has taken to his favourite pastime of raspberry blowing “Will he always be my brother?”

“Yes” I reply “We are stuck with him too”.

Monday, 3 November 2008

Little Miss Attitude

She’s 4 years old going on 13. I just don’t know where she gets it from ….
  • She speaks first, thinks later.
  • If she has too much sugar (a droplet of Ribena and a Jelly Baby is enough) she shouts like a bellowing bison in her sleep.
  • She tells you “I know that” with an air of authority before you’ve finished your sentence.
  • She doesn’t like boys, she only likes girls … but she likes her brother … but not always.
  • She wants pasta for tea … no, she wants chicken … no, she wants sausages … no, she definitely wants pasta
  • She wants to marry her brother even though she likes her brother … but not always.
  • If something doesn’t happen fast enough (like NOW) she weeps with frustration.
  • She doesn’t want school dinners she wants a packed lunch … but she still wants to have rice pudding on a plate and the chocolate with onions in it.
  • She loves PE because she plays the ‘toilet’ game (it is genuine) but hates PE because she can’t get her tights back on without assistance.
  • When playing games she has exasperating determination – she takes her father’s ethos of “you play to win at ALL costs”.
  • She wants to wear shorts and a vest because it’s frosty outside and the sun is bound to come out later because she’s been crossing her fingers.

I find the whole thing baffling.

The 2 year old sticks his tongue out and blows a raspberry if life isn’t going his way. Now that I understand.

Thursday, 30 October 2008

Half Term – Day 4 – Grandpa Came To Stay

I started my new job today and we had no childcare so I left Grandpa in charge. Grandpa lives in Spain and was visiting. The children love it when Grandpa comes to stay, we see him 4-5 times a year, and they slip back into their relationship as if they’ve never been apart.

Grandpa started the day by venturing downstairs foolishly thinking it was later than it was and was met by the 2 year old who recruited him for some early morning cutting, drawing, tent making and channel surfing. When I rescued him at 8am Grandpa proudly told me that he had given the 2 year old some juice and had worked out how to turn the TV on. This boded well for his childcare duties during the rest of the day.

I went to work at 9.45 and returned to an empty house at 3.15. Fifteen minutes later a cold and tired looking Grandpa followed by two cold but remarkably perky children arrived home. Grandpa had been busy. He had taken them ‘rock jumping’ this morning (loosely translated = dog walking near some rocks which the children hurl themselves off). They came home for lunch, then ventured out again to Salts Mill (arty shops and a very nice café – full of yummy mummy’s – as a friend points out “I feel really skanky when I go there”) which is down a very steep hill from our house and has a lovely bookshop.

Grandpa told the children they could have a book each. The 2 year old gathered several books and formed a tower whilst the 4 year old and Grandpa found a book from which you can construct ’29 beautiful paper butterflies and display them on models representing three different habitats’ – what was he thinking? On further examination you require a pair of scissors fit for the Borrowers, a glue stick the size of a pen lid, a stiff drink and the patience of a saint. When he comes to stay again he will spend most of his time creating 29 beautiful paper butterflies. He must reap what he sowed.

The 2 year old was forced to whittle his pile of 30 books down to one and picked a book on Diggers (no glue stick required). They went to a café, ate biscuits and drank Ribena (one of the things which makes the 4 year old hyper). On the way home they had a trip to a playground, fed the ducks and rather aggressive swan. The 2 year old nearly fell into the canal twice. It was OK though because Grandpa had a backup plan. If he had to dive in he would leave his mobile phone on the side in case he had to ring my husband to come and get them. I think an ambulance may be more appropriate in temperatures of 0°C.

The last part of his journey was a steep hill home which I usually avoid at all cost due to the whine factor and because it usually ends in me carrying one child, shouting at the other for walking at the speed of a snail and nearly having a heart attack at the top. So when he arrived home he was rather stressed and tired.

By 5.30pm he had started on the wine and by 6.30 had single handed finished a bottle and was moving on to the next (he doesn't normally drink much). Auntie K, big boy cousin and big girl cousin arrived for tea and we all sat down to eat. Grandpa by this point was discussing the finer points of cheap supermarkets and kept shouting “LIDL” in a German accent which somehow then moved on to him shouting “vichyssoise” in a French accent (French translation = cold potato leek soup) … which then within 5 minutes moved on to him shouting “MERDE” (no translation required).

Grandpa decided to put himself forward to be thrashed by the 4 year old at ‘Hop and Pop’ (Asda’s cheapo version of Frustration). He then collapsed on the sofa with some water and biscuits to watch a light documentary called ‘The Yamato’ about was a battleship of the Imperial japanese Navy durin World War II which was sent on a suicidal mission against more than 1000 US ships off Okinawa. This triggered him to speak in a Japanese accent for the duration of the documentary, but there was no further swearing.

As I was washing up tonight I came across the almost empty beaker that the 2 year old had been drinking from this morning with Grandpa. In the bottom was thick liquid. He hadn’t diluted the juice ... just given it neat.

He never ceases to amaze me. Last year during a visit we were in a busy bookshop when the 4 year old decided to satisfy her hunger with a banana. I was holding the 2 year old and several books so told her to go and ask Grandpa to do it. Across a packed bookshop he shouted “I don’t know how to peel a banana”. The shop fell silent as people stopped and stared at this man in his late fifties who was unable to assist his grandchild with a simple fruit based act.

When asked what she did during the holidays I hope the 4 year old doesn’t tell her teacher that Grandpa is ‘merde’ at Hop and Pop.

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Half Term - Day 2 - Blindness and Bobbins

Unfortunately last night’s sneezing was not feline allergy based but caused by yet another cold, probably passed on once again by a friend of a friend’s, cousins, next door neighbour’s child. After enduring much snot before bed I foraged around and found some Night Nurse capsules. With neither a box nor the instructions for reference I took 3 and hoped for the best. I discovered this morning that one of the downsides of taking 3 rather than the 2 indicated on the dosage section of the box (I checked with a friend) is that I was unable to open my eyes when I woke up. I was conscious and able to move and speak but I could not see. I imagine this is a good way to be in the morning - if it weren’t for two children trying to prise my eyelids open.

Once I regained my sight we were up and off on our day out to Bradford Industrial Museum. We have been here many times before. It sounds terribly boring but we can quite easily string it out for a few hours and most importantly it’s free. The kids love the machines, vintage cars, bikes, buses and trains. During term time we often have the place to ourselves and the eager to please staff put the machines on for the children to watch.

I had agreed with my teacher friend, mother of three to set off at 10.45 so we would arrive at 11.00. Knowing her well I set off late. As I drove past her house at 11.05 she was still folding her children into the car. It turns out she’d started packing the car at 10.20 but a series of events including a down the leg poo caused delay.

Today there was an exhibition at the museum. Bradford Model Engineers Society, Centenary Exhibition to be exact which was a ‘magnificent display of over a hundred models made by members past and present’. Old men sporting large rimmed jam jar bottom glasses chatted amongst themselves and pointed enthusiastically at large notices saying ‘DO NOT TOUCH’. Why they chose half term to have this exhibition is beyond me, the 30 or so models were all but waving and shouting ‘touch me’ with their buttons, switches and flaps. It was all too much for my octopus armed children. I had visions of a boat creation which took six years to painstakingly construct out of matchsticks and a pair of tweezers laying on the floor in a million pieces.

We quickly moved on to the transport section which has a rope which you are not to go beyond. I decided to tell my children that if they went past the rope an alarm would sound and we would get into trouble. We decided to count the cars, I turned to speak to the 4 year old and suddenly a loud alarm went off. I turned back to find the 2 year old standing on the other side of the rope three steps from a Penny Farthing grinning right at me like a demon. Moving swiftly on once more we managed a fairly civilised lunch (as civilised as it gets with five children aged 4 and under) before moving upstairs to the textile floor.

Because my teacher friend, mother of three has a pushchair we have to go upstairs in an industrial lift which can only be operated by a museum employee. From our many visits before I know the drill; find someone wearing a badge and ask them to escort us up and then agree a time for them to come back to collect us. The woman who took us up agreed to come back for us 15 minutes later. The boys ran round and round the textile machines whilst my friend discussed the finer points of child labour with the 4 year old girls and told them how grateful they should be that they don’t have to crawl around, risking death and disfigurement to collect fluff from under machines (no doubt a conversation which will come back to haunt me some time over the next few days due to the 4 year olds obsession with death).

After 25 minutes we realised that the lift lady had forgotten about us. After 30 minutes, ten rounds of ‘The Wheels On The Bus’ and a dancing show by the 4 year olds, we realised we were trapped with a party of people escorted by an NHS worker and five restless children on the textiles floor. The NHS worker rapidly moved his group to another room when one of them muttered something about the children running around making noise in a disparaging manner. It was then that I realised that these people were probably on a day trip with their mental health worker and five unruly children could have pushed them over the edge. Who knows what damage a schizophrenic could have inflicted on our children with an 18th century bobbin. I went down the mill stairs to seek out the lift operator who had vanished. Another kindly worker released us 5 minutes later.

We went back to teacher friend, mother of three’s house for play followed by some phonics for the girls, train tracking for the boys, bun baking, drawing, CBeebies, bun decorating and fishfinger tea. A plethora of activity which is common practice when we visit; anything less and my friend would feel that she hadn’t satisfied our every need. She is Wonder Woman. When visiting our house her standards are lowered, they would be lucky to find a doll with all its limbs, let alone a paintbrush or enough fishfingers for five.

We returned home tired and happy. The children have gone to bed without argument but with several yawns. On putting their clothes in the wash basket I found that the kleptomaniac had struck again. Concealed in the 2 year olds jumper pocket was a £50p rainbow coloured Industrial Museum rubber … I’m just glad it wasn’t a Penny Farthing pedal.

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Half Term - Day 1 - Impromptu Game Of Buckaroo

I took the 2 year old for a ‘settling in’ visit with the OAP childminders this morning. It went well apart from him settling in too nicely with their elderly Siamese cat. My boy loves animals. He lies on our laid back Labrador and tries to ride her like a horse, whilst she looks at him with a look of contempt before huffing and wandering off for some peace. He takes the same approach with cats which are obviously very different creatures. He has had several scratches from cats in the past but undeterred continues to try and ‘befriend’ them. I imagine the cat will leave home when the 2 year old arrives for fear of an impromptu game of Buckaroo.

After lunch we visited my oldest friend C. We have known each other for a grand total of 26 years which makes me feel old. I don’t see her nearly as much as I should. The children all played and ate custard whilst we discussed our children’s bizarre rituals. Her 4 month old daughter will only sleep with something over her face. I think it’s normally a muslin but anything will do, in this instance a tea towel was providing the curtain of sleep. Whilst there C managed to breastfeed her daughter and carry her 2 year old son on her back. I like a bit of mummy multitasking – I have nothing but admiration for my friend.

We came home after our visit and I decided to start being more of the wife my husband would like. Unfortunately I am unable to suddenly morph into Andrea Corr so instead I have managed to keep the house tidy for 2 weeks (something of an achievement for me). I have reacquainted myself with a duster and some bathroom cleaner. At times I am a little OCD about the whole straightening of the duvet thing but on the whole I feel I have achieved something. I decided to try and earn some ‘Delia’ and ‘thinking ahead’ points by marinating some ingredients for tomorrow night’s curry. The 2 year old ‘helped’ by splattering chopped tomatoes over the worktop and up the wall. The 4 year old drew more pictures of me with an abnormally large head and what looks like Lego hair. I am always smiling in these pictures and wearing a stripy jumper. Not sure what a psychologist would make of it. She broke off when I started grating an onion to explain the perils of onions to the 2 year old who then ran away and hid to preserve his eyes.

All in all a good day marred only by the 4 year olds tantrum on the way to bed, which paved the way for an early bedtime and by me sticking my finger in my eye after chopping chillis – so not bad at all really apart from the stabbing pain in my left eye.

I have started sneezing which I think may be caused by my allergy to cats – the Siamese one in particular. A stray hair must have transferred from the 2 year olds undercarriage and brushed past my nose.

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Whispering From The Squatting Position

It’s dark, except for the blue glow of the nightlight. I am crouching on the floor wearing only a pair of big knickers, fumbling around in a large plastic box. My son is sleeping less than a metre away ... I am quite clearly mad.

It all started as I was brushing my teeth last night. I had a brainwave. A plan that would secure me extra minutes of sleep in the morning. I decided that I would put together the 2 year olds wooden train track (complete with signals and trees) whilst he slept so that when he woke at 5.30am it would be the first thing he saw.

He would then spend time playing with his train set instead of waking me, lying between my husband and I head down, asking that I tickle his feet for 30 minutes before I agree to get up and make breakfast in a grumpy fashion.

So it came to pass that I had to fumble around in the box, with limited sight, seeking out the correct pieces by touch for my masterpiece. We have quite a lot of track, it took time.

I was disturbed only once by my husband stood in the doorway looking at me in my large pants. I whispered my plan to him from my squatting position and he went to bed without any questions. He’s clearly used to this sort of unusual activity.

I admit I got a little carried away. There were tunnels, the track went under his bed, round one of the legs and out again. We had junctions, farm animals, trees and signals. I proudly admired my tour de force by blue glow and went to bed.

The ‘trainwave’ earned me an extra 30 minutes of sleep the following morning, but was overshadowed by the fact that it took me 30 minutes to assemble when I could have been sleeping the night before.

I’m now on a quest for a new morning distraction, it has to have the wow factor of not being in his bedroom before he went to bed and take me 2 minutes to arrange. I have made the following ‘extra sleep’ calculations … Mr Potato Head; 10 minutes, cars and garage; noise + 20 minutes, chunky farm jigsaw; 5 minutes before he loses interest.

I think I may have peaked too early, I should have saved the trains till last.

30 minutes of upside down feet tickling for me tomorrow.

Monday, 20 October 2008

Choice is not a friend of mine

I start a new job in less than two weeks. The hours fit in perfectly with school. I can drop the 4 year old off and pick her up again, it just doesn’t fit in with the precious time I spend with my boy. I’ll miss our trips to the café where he kicks off his shoes and picks the raisins out of toasted teacakes, reading books in a silent house before the school run, looking at quad bikes, road sweepers and diggers on the internet (transport porn) and shaking our maracas at ‘Rhythm Time’. I will not have any one on one time with my boy, my last child, and that makes me sad.

I will still be working part time as before, just more hours spread out over the whole working week rather than just over two or three days. I always wanted to work, but not to the detriment of my children (NB : I’m feeling emotional – on a more rational level I am well aware that my children will not be disadvantaged because I am working). It has always been important to me to work so that we can eat, have swimming lessons, not have to use public transport and not wear half mast trousers … the latter hasn’t always worked out, children grow at an amazing rate. Equally important is that I spend plenty of time with my children before they are propelled into full time education.

I am of course living in the ‘year of shit’ as I affectionately call 2008, so it wasn’t a surprise when just as I was accepting my new position my wonderful childminder gave me notice – she is moving on to pastures new and will be unable to child mind. This is the way things go; good news followed by bad. My unlucky streak has been going strong now for 8 months and I am hoping it will move onto to some other poor unsuspecting soul soon, I’ve had enough.

So, I have been searching for a new childminder. The last time I looked for a childminder I had my pick of nearly eight and several months to think my decision over. Now I have a week and a half, ‘choice’ is not a friend of mine. At times in the school playground I could have been mistaken for a crazy stalker as I pushed small children out of the way and hurdled over pushchairs to question one of several childminders in the school playground that I have been eyeballing. None of the childminders have any spaces (even the scary ones) … apart from one married couple who have been childminding for 24 years and I suspect have a combined age of 130. I worry they may not be up to the challenges I face daily with my bold ‘one speed’ adventurer. Fast is his only speed. On the other hand they may have a calming influence on him; like diazepam on a schizophrenic.

The week before I start work is half term – a whole week of quality time with both children. I’m sure by the end of that week I’ll be ready to let go – if only to release myself from the sound of two whining children.

I just hope that the 2 year old doesn’t finish off his new childminders, giving them a combined age of 130 at death and not letting them get to their silver anniversary of childminding.

Monday, 6 October 2008

A two pronged carving fork ...

“Do you know where the office drawer keys are” came the shout from our home office. My husband works from home. The office is situated between the kitchen and the living room and is frequented regularly by the children. It is the hub for his business. Important documents, cheque books and other vital items are kept in the drawers.

I didn’t have a clue where the keys were but I knew a 2 year old who more than likely did. I had witnessed him playing with said keys which were hanging out of the drawers at the time. Leaving the keys in such a desirable place is tantamount to leaving a big sparkly necklace in full view of a magpie.

Having been in similar situations to this on several occasions I realised I had to tread carefully. I have lost many items in the past; money, mobile phones and kitchen utensils to name a few by going in too heavy handed. Cross words or a face like thunder would not retrieve the keys. I had to be like Kevin Spacey in the film ‘The Negotiator. I had to play the game, talk him down to recover the bounty.

So I approached the 2 year old with caution and said in my best Mary Poppins-esque jolly voice “Do you know where Daddy’s drawer keys are?”

There was silence, he was thinking, weighing me up, working out if I was really jolly or whether I was going to frog march him to the naughty step. Staring at him with honourable and trustworthy eyes I waited with baited breath.

“Garden” he simply replied and continued about his business. He’d admitted his guilt with just one word, I wanted to bollock him but I was still in negotiator territory.

We have a fairly large garden with more hidey holes than a piece of Swiss cheese. I knew this magpie; I knew he would not put them in an obvious place. If I had said what I wanted to say … “Go and find those keys immediately and then return to the naughty step where you will stay until a week on Wednesday” then they would be lost forever; or, until, we’d had a trip to IKEA to buy a whole new drawer unit when they would miraculously appear just as the flat pack instructions were being sworn at and ripped in two … isn’t that what always happens? Law of sod.

So I morphed once more into my Mary Poppins alter ego and with a look of sugar coated glee said to him “Mummy would be absolutely delighted if you could find the keys”. That was all it took, he was off, like a sniffer dog. I watched from a distance not wanting to put him off the scent.

As he walked towards the playhouse I felt relief, a sensible hidey hole. Then he stopped short of the playhouse, knelt on the decking and pressed his face as close to the wet wood as he could, moving along the 1cm gaps between each plank until he stood up and announced in his solo-word style ‘Gone’ and shrugged.

Like a member of the SAS I moved in. Kneeling on the wet decking, which is quite unpleasant, I set about looking for the smallest glint amongst the soggy leaves which lay beneath. A few moments later I spotted the little buggers. My next task was to retrieve them. If I were a real member of the SAS I would have had a length of string with an elaborate magnet attached to the end which I would keep down my undercrackers for such situations. I had to improvise. A magnetic fishing game would have been invaluable at this point. Alas, this is probably the only toy we don’t have. Instead I had to resort to a two pronged carving fork.

Triumphant I returned the bounty to my husband who wasn’t as amazed as I would have liked after the aptitude I had shown. He was probably relieved that he wasn’t going to have to crowbar next month’s gig tickets out of the drawers.

If anyone is wondering what to buy the 2 year old for Christmas, a magnetic fishing game would be perfect.

Sunday, 5 October 2008

More belly laughter than I know what to do with

The husband and I have just returned from a weekend away without children. 48 hours of not having to worry if I have the correct combination of raisins, juice, wipes and nappies in my handbag. Not going to bed with a feeling of dread, knowing that I will be rudely woken at 5.30am by a child wielding a Dora the Explorer backpack in my face. Not having to berate anyone for beating their sibling with a fork/stick/wand/sword (delete as appropriate).

The husband and I began to unwind with each other. Our relationship seems to be under constant stress at the moment and we’re often relieved to have made it through another day without one of us turning into a dribbling wreck. Regular communication and affection are reserved for another time, a time when the madness has subsided.

We went away with three other couples. It was just what we needed. Lots of laughing, relaxation, good food, drink and most importantly excellent company.

We made several phone calls home to check on the status of the children who were having a ball. A picnic with Auntie K, the park, drawing, baking, shoulder rides with big cousins, swimming, chocolate buttons with Grandma … much more fun than they get on an average weekend. It was reported that they were both behaving beautifully and … well, it seems the 2 year old slept better than ever before, having to actually be woken up one morning. This has never happened at home … EVER. Bitter? Me? Absolutely!

Our last day was spent having a leisurely walk in the sunshine along the river and mooching round shops before heading home. I was excited to be coming home. Despite my grumbling I miss them terribly when I am without them. If I think really hard about it, I even miss plucking dried Cheerios out of the 2 year olds hair and arguing with the 4 year old about which shoes she should wear (pink princess flip flops that are 3 sizes too big will never be appropriate for a muddy dog walk).

They were delighted to see us too … and very tired. After the initial excitement it began; ‘it’ being the punishment. The ‘how dare you leave us, we’ve had a bloody great time, but YOU LEFT US!’ punishment. It was a titanic two pronged tantrum which lasted two hours. They rode the relentless waves of tantrum through tea and bath time before finally falling asleep. I don’t know how it started or what started it but it was definitely designed to cause as much grief and guilt as possible.

When they were asleep I felt a rush of both guilt and desire. Guilt for leaving them and messing up their routine; desperate desire to be back in our lovely cottage with more belly laughter than I know what to do with.

Tuesday, 30 September 2008

A Terrible Smell & 1 Careful Previous Owner

I bought a new car this weekend. I said goodbye to my top of the range people carrier with all mod cons and LOTS of space. Goodbye to seven seats which have all been used in a variety of combinations. Goodbye to the full length sun roof which blinds the children when the sun shines. Goodbye to the parental controls for the windows and doors in the rear. Goodbye to just enough space that the children can’t touch each other from opposite ends of the car.

Hello to my new car, 9 years old hatchback with 5 seats, a terrible smell and 1 careful previous owner.

During the negotiations with the one careful previous owner the 2 year old asked to be picked up so that he didn’t have to stand too close to the "scary man". Luckily the scary man was discussing the finer points of fuel consumption with my husband and didn’t hear. Just for my equal opportunities record this man was White British and not wearing a Hijab (see previous post The eyes). The 2 year old does not discriminate; scary people come in many forms.

My husband agreed a price with the scary man, there was even a manly handshake to seal the deal. The children, so excited by our new purchase snubbed their father and came home in my new car.

I was less than excited when the car started. It made a rasping noise. The scary man assured me that this happens every time it starts but was nothing to worry about. The 4 year old thought the noise was great. “Mummy’s car farts!” she said.

When we set off I was trying to concentrate. It was the sort of concentration which made me so tense that I looked like a hunchback. This new car was alien to me, I thought I was going to stall, forget about the manual handbrake or press a random and unfamiliar button causing me to kill myself and my children.

I felt like I was riding in a go kart, that if it weren’t for the seat my arse would actually be scraping along the road. The engine sounded like a tractor.

The 4 year old suddenly exclaimed "What’s that?” … she was pointing at the radio cassette player, I gave her a brief description of this aged technology. “Mummy, this is the bestest car in the whole world” was her response. I must admit that after visiting the petrol station and filling my tank for £40 rather than £100+ I had to agree with her.

Ten minutes from home and travelling at 60 miles per hour along a dual carriageway the 2 year old discovered his new fangled window winder “What’s this, what’s this...” he repeated over and over as only a 2 year old does. Cackles of glee ensued as he discovered what it was and wound his window down. A wind tunnel formed and the 4 year old followed suit. During their wind filled excitement they discovered they could touch each other across the car which turned into a full scale scrap where the 3 year old would merely wave his finger in the general direction of the 4 year old and she would whine and shout, flailing her arms in his direction. They also discovered that they couldn't shut their respective windows which meant the wind tunnel effect was constant all the way home.

I’m looking forward to the changes in modern cars over the next year or two. Maybe when I am ready to buy a new car someone will have invented the ‘whinescreen’, a soundproof screen which appears, at the push of a button, between the front and rear seats separating parent from child. Bliss.

For now I'll just have to use the old fashioned method of gags and straightjackets … and I must get an air freshener to rid the car of the smell of scary man.

Monday, 22 September 2008

Peanut Nipples

The 2 year old was in the bath tonight. Pouring water from one vessel to the other and making sure he splashed sufficiently to soak me and the floor. When he’d made sure there was more water out of the bath than in it he stood up and pointed at his nipples “what are these?”,
“Nipples” I replied.

Always one to encourage education in the everyday world in which we live I pointed out “You have two nipples”, he looked and counted.

He looked again at his nipples, then asked “Mummy nipples?” to which I replied “Yes”, “Daddy nipples?” to which I replied “Yes”. We then had a whole family nipple-athon. Grandpa, Aunties, Uncles, sisters, cousins, the man who lives next door. No one was safe … then he got to our dog.

I have to declare at this moment that our dog is called ‘Peanut’. If asked why I always blame the children for naming her even though neither of them were even born when we got her. Regrettably it was me, all me and I am unable to explain my actions to this day.

Anyway, back to the nipple-athon … “Peanut nipples?” to which I replied “Yes”. He looked at me as if I was a crazy fool, shook his head, laughed and said “No, Peanut no nipples!” adamantly.

I fear for the dog in the morning. The 2 year old’s one and only thought when he wakes will be to check if I was telling the truth.

Not only will the dog get a rude awakening but imagine the 2 year old’s surprise when he discovers that not only does she have nipples but she has six of them.

Thursday, 18 September 2008

Bubblicious

I have just unwrapped two newly framed pictures. They were wrapped in a large sheet of bubble wrap. I am sat writing this in the office, the children are in the living room and all I can hear is popping.

No fighting, no shouting, no whining .... just pop pop poppity pop.

I might invest in a roll.

The eyes ...

On a one shop mission before lunch, with the 2 year old, I was foraging in Next for some jogging pants to increase our ‘spares’ collection for potty training next week. Not surprisingly the ones I wanted were in every size except 2-3 years. I was aware that he was backing into me but annoyed with the audacity of Next to sell out of the only item I required and frantically flicking through rails of jogging pants I took no notice until he started shouting ‘scary’ over and over again and trying to scuttle up my legs like a startled squirrel up a tree. This was more the behaviour I had wanted when he started pre-school, not whilst buying emergency joggers.

I turned to see three Muslim women wearing Hijabs stood next to us eyeing up some rather nice boys coats. He pointed fully at them and continued to shout ‘scary’. They looked at him, they looked at me. They probably thought we were some upper class twits who had never encountered a person of another race. I went red, smiled as if to say ‘2 year olds huh?’ and rushed the 2 year old round the corner to find 2 more Hijabs walking our way.

Now we live in multi-cultural Bradford and this is not the first time he has seen women wearing Hijabs. It is the first time he has pointed and shouted at them. On the way home he kept muttering ‘the eyes, the eyes’.

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Displaying my bottom and wobbly thighs ...

I very rarely get any time when I am without children or a child whilst shopping. Today I took full advantage of my lunch break from work and went to Marks & Spencer. I like nothing more than wandering aimlessly round a shop without having to wonder where my children are, if one of them has stuffed something in their pocket and thinking they may break something very expensive. I regularly frisk the 2 year old before leaving a shop, he has been known to cram a packet of Quavers into the smallest of pockets without being seen.

To make my solo shopping experience extra special I sometimes try random clothes on, just because I can. I can remove my clothes without one of my children swishing open the curtain, displaying my bottom and wobbly thighs, shouting something inappropriate like ‘Why has that woman got such a fat tummy?’. The other child makes a break for it with my trousers and hides in another cubicle. It has happened, and is the reason why I no longer try clothes on. Time after time I bring home clothes that do not fit and have to return them.

So, today I wandered aimlessly. I stroked clothing, clothing I didn’t even like. I sniffed toiletries, toiletries I would never use and I walked around the food hall pretending in my head that I could do a weekly shop there and hand over £500 for amongst other things the privilege of having my vegetables peeled and diced for me.

I was brought back down to earth in the children’s clothing department when I heard the familiar sound of a mother berating her child for not obeying instructions.

There are 3 levels of stress for this category which I call ‘public disobedience’.

1. You ask the child to do something in a nice but firm voice whilst maintaining eye contact

If the child does not respond …

2. You threaten child with something horrible through clenched teeth, spraying them with spittle but still maintaining eye contact

If the child does not respond …

3. You scream at the child because you no longer care what anyone thinks. You are no longer able to maintain eye contact because to do so would burn a hole through their soul. You grab them by the arm and march towards the nearest exit. If you could rip off the arm and use it as a weapon to beat your child you would.

She had skipped number 1, gone straight to number 3 then ended on a number 2. I had to admire her style. Her finale was "If you don’t stop running off, someone nasty will come and take you away".

Judging by the look on the child’s face he probably thought that 'someone nasty' was a better option than the crazy woman that he had to go home with.

Saturday, 13 September 2008

Happy Birthday!

Today we met my family at our favourite dog walk. It has a bit of everything. It has deer, cows, the odd pheasant, fantastic views of North Yorkshire and is perfect for 2 and 4 year olds to ride their bikes. It is also the site of many an egg roll championship.

I watched my children ride their bikes, I watched my Dad give the 4 year old a shoulder ride when her legs got tired and I watched the 2 year old whining his way up a big hill, tired and muddy.

I think it's one of my favourite places in the world. It is also where we scattered my Mum's ashes almost 21 years ago. Today would have been her birthday, she would have been 63. The sun came out for the first time in a week and I thought about the happy times.

I'm glad we went there today, it was very calming.

Thursday, 11 September 2008

The Man

‘The Man’ as the 4 year old affectionately calls him visits when she has a high temperature and always in the middle of the night. He hasn’t visited in over 6 months now, but normally she summons me betwixt the hours of midnight and 4am from her sweaty bed, points over my shoulder and simply says ‘The Man’ in her Calpol breath. I, turn around, see nothing and scared shitless return (scurry) to my own bed. I then tell the husband that he will have to go to her if she calls again. In the light of day I sensibly put her visions down to not giving her enough Calpol the previous night.

Last night the 2 year old was playing up after I’d put him to bed. I went into his room and told him it was definitely time to be going to sleep and stop throwing his rugby ball across the room. He pointed over my shoulder into the darkness and just said ‘Man’.

Today he was out on his bike, on his own, in the garden and my husband heard him say 'No Man'.

Now, is it just coincidence that they both see ‘The Man’? Are my children conspiring to have me committed to an institution for the terminally bewildered or was the 2 year old really playing rugby with ‘The Man’ last night and riding pillion with him in the garden today?

Divine Intervention

I would probably class myself as an atheist. I was christened and went to church fairly regularly as a child, until that is my mother died when I was nine and God and I parted ways.

I find amusement in the crazies who stand in the city centre with loud hailers clutching a bible with their beards and anoraks shouting the odds and I feel sorry for the deluded Saturday morning, briefcase carrying visitors who I hide behind the sofa from.

The 4 year old started school last week. The school is a church school and was picked for the school provision rather than the religious background. The husband and I both attended church schools and are living testament that a bit of hymn singing and the odd prayer never hurt anyone. I’m not sure what they’ve taught her so far about Jesus though because during tea she announced that Jesus makes electricity and puts batteries in things.

It all started this morning …

When the husband and I went away to Edinburgh recently we brought the children back ‘we left you for two nights and had a great time guilt’ presents. The 2 year old got a Bob the Builder Sweeper and the 4 year old got a pair of binoculars. She did ask for binoculars, we weren’t being tight. I just don’t remember her asking for night vision binoculars. As I perused the shelves in John Lewis, I came across a pair of bog standard binoculars, I was pleased. The husband however, as I can only assume most men would, was more than pleased about the night vision binoculars which had the word ‘spy’ on the packaging and were more expensive. He could see no reason why we shouldn’t purchase them.

Every night since, the 4 year old has lain in bed playing with the binoculars. Apparently the novelty of being able to see your own ceiling and bookshelf after ‘lights out’ hasn’t worn off. These binoculars require 4 x AAA batteries a week due to them having several pop out infra red lights. So, last night as I was saying goodnight, she realised that the batteries had run out again. I told her that due to excessive binocular use we had no batteries and I would buy some the following day.

This morning I could hear her chuntering to herself on the other side of the bedroom wall. When she came in I asked her who she had been talking to.

“Jesus” she answered casually.

“Oh yes? What did he have to say?” I asked her.

“He told me he’d fixed my binoculars and I was thanking him” she said as she wandered off to get them. She came back and she was right, they were working.

I have decided that if Jesus is going to provide our electricity and batteries then I’m a believer!

I might see if she'll ask him to provide a new washing machine too because it's on the way out.

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Scooter Boy Strikes Again

It was a Saturday morning at the beginning of Summer. The kids were in the back garden, the 2 year old on his scooter and the 4 year old on her pinker than pink bike. I was still in my dressing gown, doing general chores … the removal of the dog hair carpet that forms on the kitchen floor during the night, picking up stray banana skins left by the 2 year old in the bathroom, retrieving the TV remote from the Lego box … that sort of everyday thing.

Suddenly there was a clatter and crying. The 4 year old had fallen off her bike and was nursing a grazed knee. Those of you who know the 4 year old will know that she is unable to let any injury pass without a full drama. In her mind grazing your knee is on par with been knocked over by a herd of stampeding buffalo and she makes it known, not only the occupants of our house but the occupants of every house on the street. God help all around her if she were to have a serious accident.

I brought the invalid into the house so that I could inspect the damage. There was a graze and a speck of blood which according to the 4 year old warranted a full bandage. After rifling through the contents of our first aid kit; one latex glove, one pair of tiny nail scissors, a pack of one size plasters and an eye patch I negotiated her down to a plaster the size of a potato waffle.
The 4 year old was admiring her new accessory and limping back to the back garden (on the wrong leg I might add) when the front doorbell rang. There, on the doorstep was a neighbour, next to her, my son with his scooter, grinning from ear to ear and our dog looking sheepish.

It appears that during the excitement of the 4 year olds fall he had climbed onto something (I fear the dog may have been used as a step) and opened the lock on the gate. The neighbour had spotted him pootling up and down the road happy as Larry shouting for the dog to follow; which she did, happy to be partaking in a bit of impromptu hedge sniffing.

The shame of my son disappearing and making solo scooter jollies with his brown hairy friend was overshadowed by humiliation as I realised I was stood there in my tatty grey old man dressing gown, sporting bed head and a week’s worth of leg stubble. I thanked her profusely and she left.

The husband reinforced the gate adding a further lock completely out of reach or so we thought. It turns out that by standing on one leg on the saddle of his bike he can reach that too. However, the pride the 2 year old feels at being able to open the gate outweighs his desire for freedom as he now proudly drags me to the scene to show me his handiwork. Even the dog dared not venture out.

I must thank my neighbour again for returning my son and the dog. I also want her to know that I will be asking for a new dressing gown for Christmas and that I have started shaving my legs more often.

Sunday, 7 September 2008

They cut the apron strings whilst I wasn't looking ...

My beautiful 4 year old big girl started school on Monday. It wasn’t a great shock as she’d been to the nursery in the adjoining classroom last year. Really, she was only moving 3 metres right, staying for lunch whilst wearing a shiny new uniform with nametags lovingly (frustratingly) sewn in by her brilliant (swearing) mother. She had some niggling worries the night before. ‘But Mummy, I haven’t learnt all the letters of the alphabet’ she said. I explained that was why she was going to school. On the day itself she went off without any drama.

She has a buddy from Year 6 who helps her with the daunting task of choosing what to eat for lunch in the big hall. I asked the 4 year old what her buddy was like. ‘She’s nice and she's fat’ she replied. When I met the buddy a few days later I was greeted by a normal sized child. Her cheeks were slightly rounded but she certainly wasn’t of the lardy persuasion. I now wonder how the 4 year old describes me to her new school friends and teachers … ‘My mum is a nice enormous elephant’.

The 2 year old started pre-school in the same week. Pre-school is slightly more traumatic as it’s the first time that most children have been away from their parents for a lengthy time. I walked into pre-school and was hit by a cacophony of wailing children clawing at their mothers as they tried to sprint towards the exit. As I filled in the emergency contact forms the 2 year old wandered off to play. When it was time for me to leave I had trouble locating him, but he was busying himself in the home corner. I gave him a kiss, said goodbye and left. I wandered reluctantly towards the door, turning to make sure he wasn’t chasing me. No, he was offering another howling child a plastic croissant.

The whole thing was an anti-climax. I don’t know what I expected. A little part of me wanted them both to cry and hang on to my trousers whilst I tried to prise their fingers away. I wanted a teacher to hold them back as I sprinted, coat tails flapping in the wind, for the door. I wanted to walk away feeling guilty for abandoning my children, tears streaking my cheeks, wondering if I was doing the right thing. I’d packed a whole packet of bloody tissues!

Does this mean that I’ve done a good job in raising children who are independent and happy to be left with complete strangers (albeit in an educational setting)? Or is it the psychological scarring of watching their mother dance to ‘The Bear Necessities’ naked. Is it because when they stuck raisins up their noses (yes, they have both done it, independently and the 4 year old twice) they still remember me coming toward them with tweezers whilst their father held them down?

I think in all honesty they are just relieved to be with normal people for a few hours each day.

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

The Morning Log

The 2 year old is almost ready for potty training. I am dragging my heels slightly because he starts pre-school this week and I want to get that ordeal over and done with before we embark on flying with no nappy. He likes to perch on the toilet before his bath, dismissing the potty. He likes to announce during dinner in a loud voice that he is doing a wee. It turns out he also likes to poo on the carpet first thing in the morning.

I was alerted to the morning log by my husband who is usually in a coma first thing but had got up to investigate the clattering noises in the 2 year olds bedroom. I then heard a desperate beckoning. My first thought was that our intrepid early morning adventurer had covered himself head to toe in nappy cream … again. But, no, I was greeted by a cream carpet with a flat semicircle of poo. The arc had been created by the poo being deposited behind the door, then the door being swished back and forth at least 20 times. I can only imagine the look of glee on his face upon swish three as he stood back and admired his work.

An artist by the name of Chris Ofili created a controversial painting of the Virgin Mary using elephant dung and sold it for a fortune. I’m thinking of asking the 2 year old to try and create a vision of Christ tomorrow morning.

Thursday, 28 August 2008

The Mother Of All Tantrums

I spent a lovely hour with my children this morning. We went to the Country Club for a swim. The 2 year old spent most of his time leaping into the water. The further under the water he went the more he smiled. My girl swam on her front and back like a proud fish. After the week I have had it was bliss.

After swimming we managed a shower, all in one cubicle, with no shoving and pushing. We even managed to get dressed. It was quite a civilised affair and was going so well that I decided to dry my hair whilst the children munched on their Quavers.

It started like any other tantrum. He was sat next to his 4 year old sister chomping and comparing crisp sizes. I was drying my hair. The next time I turned to look he was lying on the floor screaming “BIG ONE, BIG ONE”. By the time I got over to him he was bright red and inconsolable. And so it went … I had half my hair dry – the other sopping wet. Abandoning any idea that I may look fairly normal I started to pack up the rest of our things. The other three women looked on in various states of undress offering their support of eyes rolling “poor love”, “he looks tired” and “I have one like that at home”. I wanted to reply “He is not a poor love, nor is he tired and I wish I had left him at home. Now stop standing there flashing your beaver at me and get dressed”.

I tried to speak to the 2 year old but he was not open for a mother to son tête-à-tête, instead he continued to scream in a pitch that reverberates through your head and makes your ears bleed.

To stop him from damaging his head on the floor whilst thrashing I placed him in the playpen which only enhanced his distress. Shoving wet things into our bags as quickly as possible I grabbed him and we exited the changing room at speed.

My thought was this … in the corridor outside the changing room alone I could calmly talk him down from his tantrum whilst putting his shoes on, we would then exit the country club smiling like the families you see on the covers of parenting magazines. It was not to be.

I felt like a member of MI5 in the programme Spooks. I mapped out all available exits in my head and chose my route. The 2 year old was missing his shoes but I didn’t care. The poor 4 year old desperately trying to tell me something was drowned out by his screeching and me shouting “I cannot hear you, your brother is screaming”, to which she would reply “Pardon?” and then she would try again.

The foyer of the club was my next obstacle. Usually empty it was full of silent people who all stared at me over the tops of their newspapers. I bundled my son under my arm who was flapping about like a epileptic octopus. I was also carrying two bags, two pairs of inflated armbands and dragging the 4 year old who was still, despite my shouts, trying to tell me something.

As we burst out of the doors into the car park which was also unusually busy all I could see was the car ahead. I had tunnel vision, I needed to get to that car and quick. Groups of golfers who had just finished their rounds stopped speaking and stared in horror as their quiet country retreat was filled with shrieks that you would normally associate with someone being stabbed through the heart with a fork.

I folded him into his car seat, child origami is an art, and shut the door. During the 5 minute journey home I turned the Disney CD right up trying to drown him out. The 4 year old was sniffling. I couldn’t work out whether it was her brother’s noise or having to listen to ‘The Bear Necessities’ at full blast which was distressing her more.

We reached home and I ran like an athlete approaching the finishing line through our front door, grasping the 2 year old who is normally a pale child. He was vine ripened tomato red and sweating.

I sank onto the sofa and released him. He chose that moment to decide that in the confines of our own home he could not embarrass me further and stopped. His cries were replaced by the slow sniffing of a child who has screamed constantly for over half an hour and needs to regulate his breathing. He cuddled up to me briefly and then went about his business as if nothing had happened. I on the other hand was sat there looking like one half of my head had just stepped out of a salon and the other still sopping wet. My ears were ringing and I felt like sticking my head in the oven and turning it on.

The 4 year old taking full advantage of the sudden silence said “Mummy, I was trying to tell you that he ate his big one, but you just wouldn’t listen”.

All I can now think is that the 2 year old who is currently obsessed with big Vs tiny found the biggest Quaver his eyes had ever seen and then felt bereaved upon eating it. Whatever it was it was sheer bloody hell on earth for exactly 35 minutes and I still don’t know where his shoes are.