Rediscovering the 'Me' in 'Mumeeeeeee'

'I have always thought that there is no more fruitful source of family discontent than a housewife’s badly-cooked dinners and untidy ways'. (Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management, 1861)

August 31, 2009

Not quite all grown up

My heart sank for a little while earlier today. In the middle of reading the Small Boy his bedtime story, in marches the Bigger Boy announcing that he has a surprise for his little brother.

“Here, you can have Rusty Bear. I don’t need him because I’m a big boy now – I’m nearly four”.

“What? Are you sure?”, I asked.

“Yes mummy. I am too big for teddies. Sam can have him now”.

“But what about Affie?”, I asked, (Affie is a small toy rabbit which has been around since he was a few months old).

“Sam can have her too”.

I was genuinely stunned. Offering to give up his teddies is the equivalent of him offering to give up one of his limbs he is so dependant on them.

I felt a lump rise in my throat as I finished the story and put the Small Boy to bed. I wasn’t ready for my little boy to make such assertions about not needing his teddies. For the last three years of his life, those two teddies have been his constant companion. The last things to be asked for as lights go out at bedtime, retrieved from down the side of the bed in the middle of the night and the first things to be asked for in the morning. They have been on our best holidays, attended family weddings, helped to look after him in hospital, been the only things that can stop tears after a nasty fall and have been washed and hung out to dry more times than I care to remember.

Just as I was getting really nostalgic about all this, my ever-so-grown-up boy had a minor incident resulting in a cut lip and plenty of tears. As I was in the process of calming him down, Daddy came home and took over.

Still mildly traumatised by the fact that the teddies had been side-lined, I went downstairs to cook dinner. A little while later, Daddy came downstairs.

“Is he OK”?, I asked.

“He’s fine”, he said, “A tiny bit of blood but he asked for his teddies and he’s calmed down and gone to sleep.”

I smiled. Turns out he was not quite ready to grow up after all.

Thank goodness.

August 27, 2009

Top of The Tots

Here we go with this week’s TOTT countdown: How to distract your mummy when she’s driving

New entry at 10 - Just after getting onto the motorway, drop the book you were quietly reading. This means you have the perfect excuse to start causing trouble.

No move at 9 - Complain profusely about her choice of music and INSIST that she puts the Dingle Dangle Scarecrow on repeat. She will get very frustrated trying to reach the CD out of the glove compartment.

Climbing to 8 - Try to take your shoes and socks off. Shout loudly about the fact you do not yet have the requisite motor skills to do this.

New entry at 7 - Spill your drink all over yourself.

Non mover at 6 – Hit your brother with your toy truck so that he cries annoyingly for the rest of the journey.

This week’s highest climber at 5 - Drop your teddy just out of her reach and then wail and fuss about it until she has to pull over and get it for you.

Down two places at 4 - Ask repeatedly for more milk, even though you know there is none in the car and you've just gone past the last garage.

Climbing to 3 - Protest loudly about the whole journey taking too long. If you can’t actually talk yet, demonstrate your annoyance by kicking vigorously and trying to take your arms out of the car seat straps. This is sure to get her attention.

Non mover at 2 - Sneeze and produce an alarmingly large amount of snot which has to be wiped up immediately.

And straight in at number 1 - Vomit all over yourself and your brother. This is particularly effective if you're on your way to a party or some other event when you both have your especially nice clothes on!

Next week's countdown: Things you can get away with when your mum is on the phone.


August 23, 2009

Missing: Three pairs of shoes and one belt

I have spent the last couple of weeks completely baffled as to the whereabouts of three pairs of my shoes and a belt. They were last seen lurking amongst the usual pile of clothing and accessories which have taken up permanent residence in a corner of my bedroom.

I was truly puzzled. Where on earth could they be? I retraced my steps – were they in a different pile of stuff on the floor? Had I somehow had a moment of orderliness and actually put them away properly? Apparently not.

My suspicions were then drawn to the children, who are often to be seen clip clopping around the house in one or other of my shoes. I checked all their usual ‘secret’ hiding places: under the beds, in toy baskets and down the loo. Still no sign. Even the four-year-old under interrogation wouldn’t confess to any knowledge of their whereabouts. He alleged that he hadn’t seen the small red head with them either. I had come to the conclusion that I must have put them in the charity bag by mistake when, this morning, the mystery was finally solved.

In an unexpected burst of Sunday morning energy, I took it upon myself to empty the laundry basket, and I mean empty it. Wash everything in it until I could actually see the bottom. Brave, I know.

And would you believe it, several loads later - lo and behold - there, among the Triassic period of the family laundry, were my missing shoes and belt. The moral of the story being, keep on top of the laundry and one shall not lose one's posessions. I still suspect the small red headed one, although he’s maintaining his silence on the matter.

August 16, 2009

The Wrong Trousers (and t-shirt and hat)

While staying with family in England recently, it was decided that we would visit a lovely National Trust gardens where a regular troupe of traditional musicians promised to regale us with Northumberland’s jolliest tunes. It was a lovely afternoon. Picnic on the lawn, ice creams, hide and seek among the flower gardens and only one temper tantrum.

Hearing the strains of a jaunty melody, we made our way over to the music where the Smallest Boy immediately got down to the funky beat of harmonica, accordion and bag pipes. “Ahh, how cute”, we and many others commented, and I grabbed the camera to snap a few photos.

It was only then, looking at him through the camera lens, that I realised I had made a very large mummy fashion faux-pas. My poor child was dressed, nay festooned, from head-to-toe in Bob. Trousers, t-shirt, jacket and cap - all splattered with multi-coloured images of Bob, Scoop, Dizzy, Muck and just about as much Project Build-It as you can fit onto a small child.

He looked like a toddling Bob equivalent of a Burberry-clad chav!
As the musicians played on, he gaily danced away and I could see other mothers nudging their husband’s knees and muttering under their breath. I just know they were pitying the poor child for having a mother with such dreadful fashion sense.

I must clarify that I had not purchased such a heinous ensemble intentionally. This was simply a case of second hand syndrome - everything having been worn by my first child at various stages which had now unwittingly been put on the unfortunate second child all at the same time.

Oh dear. Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear.

I am reaching for my
Boden catalogue as I type. Only the finest thread count polo shirt and vintage jeans can ever make up for this dreadful event.


August 12, 2009

In a car wash, no-one can hear you scream

Bad mother (one, OW), bad mother (two, OUCH), bad mother (three, YEEOW) … just 37 more lashes to go. I am punishing myself for traumatising my child.

At first, going through the car wash on the way home from a perfectly pleasant morning pottering around a Farmer’s Market sounded like, and was promoted by the responsible adults present at the time as, ‘An Exciting Adventure’. Things, however, quickly degenerated into A Very Bad Day for the Small Boy.

The whole process started harmlessly enough as a bit of soapy water was squirted onto the car. “Wooooo – look at that. Water!”, we cried, building the whole thing up to levels of drama usually reserved for Disney theme parks.

“Ninished?”, came a tiny, hopeful voice from the back. “No love, it hasn’t finished yet. It’s just getting going”, I offered as reassurance.

Then, the very bad thing happened. The brushes, until now lying harmless and dormant, pulsed into life and made their way towards us. Small Boy’s grip tightened on his beloved Ted-Ted. His bright blue eyes goggled at this revolving blue and red monster which was clearly about to consume the car and everyone in it. He shuffled to the very edge of his car seat. “Ninished. Ninished”, he shouted as the brushes thundered past his window, only to come back again a few seconds later.

I took hold of his hand, “It’s OK sweetie. Just some brushes cleaning Daddy’s car”. It was then that I started to feel very hot and realised that with no air conditioning due to the engine being turned off, we were sitting in a make-shift sauna, depriving ourselves of oxygen and traumatising our child. I was starting to wish the bloody thing would ‘ninish’ myself.

Brush trauma finally over, the hot air machine then whirred into life, making its way threateningly along the bonnet and, just before crashing through the windscreen, going upwards to creep menacingly over the roof. “NINISHHHHHHHHHED”, came a desperate cry.

After what seemed like an age, it stopped. The red arrow indicating that our ride of terror was over and we could now go on our merry way. I think we’ll be sticking to a mop and bucket in the drive from now on. Now, where was I. Oh yes. Bad mother (four, ARGH), bad mother (five, OW OW), bad mother (six, JESUS) ……


August 7, 2009

Toddler Top Tens: Reasons to run in the opposite direction to your mummy

1. Whenever she says ‘Come on, we’re going this way’. This is when you should run, run, as fast as you can - the OTHER way.
2. When she dares to approach you with any of the following offending articles: shoes, socks, nappy, toothbrush, facecloth, suncream, sunhat, coat, babywipe. Pah.
3. When she says it is time to get into the buggy after letting you run around the shopping centre for a while. A buggy, you crazy lady, when I am perfectly capable of walking?
4. When she opens the car door (actually, instead of predictably running away, you could also climb into the driver’s seat when her back is turned and have a sit in for a while. Equally effective).
5. When she says it is time for bed, time to get dressed or time to have a bath. Actually, wait until you're completely undressed before you start running anywhere because then you can run a lot faster, and wee on the floor as well.
6. When she tries to brush your hair. Who DOES she think she is?
7. When a nice man is trying to take a photograph of you which mummy paid good money for.
8. When she says, “That’s it. Enough messing around now. We’re going to be very late”. Not only should you run away, you should run faster and further away.
9. When she says it is time to leave the playground. What a preposterous thing to say. Everyone knows it is NEVER time to leave the playground.
10. Because you can - and it will annoy her!
Read more 'Top Ten' tips: Reasons not to eat your tea


August 4, 2009

Mum Olympics

And the winner is......ME! I am Olympic gold medallist mum. I stand proudly on my winner’s podium, wipe a small tear from my eye and watch the People's Republic of Motherhood flag flutter softly in the late summer breeze.

To some, spending five days and five (very sleepless) nights as a single parent visiting relatives in Northumberland, while ‘himself’ did the honourable thing and attended a family wedding in Colorado, may not seem like much of an achievement. Well, let me tell you – it is! To win this medal, I had to compete in several tasks - a sort of Mummy Pentathlon if you will.

First up, the very tricky ‘Check-In and Security Screening Hurdles’. Here, I did extremely well, managing to retrieve both of the children, several pairs of shoes, three jackets, a buggy, three teddies and my bags from the security screening area without swearing once.

Next, the notoriously tough ‘Departure Lounge Marathon’. This involves keeping two small children occupied and within three feet of the carry on bags and buggy for a seemingly endless amount of time. I did quite well here, procuring a prime plane viewing spot near the front of the queue and producing raisins when things looked like getting out of hand. I even scored bonus points for enlisting the help of a Very Kind Man who carried the buggy to the steps of the plane.

Disappointingly, I only took third place in the ‘In-Flight Entertainment Relay’ as I lost a couple of crayons, didn’t have any raisins left and incurred several penalty points for forgetting to take milk on board which resulted in having to open fifteen tiny cartons from the trolley service to get a meagre 3oz for an insistent small boy sitting on my lap.

For the duration of the stay with my relatives, I did well in the ‘Night time Gymnastics’ which consisted of trying to go quietly up and down two flights of creaky stairs eighteen times to re-settle people, provide more milk, stumble around in the dark to retrieve lost teddies and not make any sound whatsoever as I crept into bed.

For the final event, I completed the nerve-wracking ‘Boarding Card Error 1,000 Metre Sprint’. This was a mad dash with buggy, bags and two children from the security screening area back down to the check-in desks (to get a proper infant boarding card from the airline incompetents), back to security, a huge queue jump, rushing straight through Duty Free without buying the Beauty Flash Balm I had been promising myself all week, and to the steps of the plane with just seconds to spare before take off.

As we landed back in Dublin (vomit free I hasten to add), I was actually greeted with a fanfare and public announcement to the entire plane, acknowledging my wondrous achievement. Fantastic. I will bask in the glory of my success for a very long time.

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