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)

July 2, 2010

Eliza Plum: Agony Mum

Well, well, well, well, well. Thank goodness I’m here is all I can say. What an alarming number of dreadful problems you’re all facing. I almost choked on my ice and a slice as I read through them. William (he’s my ‘OH’ as I’m led to believe one refers to one's husband in cyper-speak) thought I was pulling his leg when I read him the one about the poor lady trying to have a bowel movement in peace. The mind boggles. Anyway, more of that next week. Today, I’ll address the following problems kindly sent in by two dumbfounded ladies residing in the South of England.

Dear Eliza,
What is the accepted number of times to ask a four-and-a-half-year-old to put their shoes on? I was led to believe it was 3 times per occasion, but perhaps I have been misled. I seem to veer between 12 and 17. I blame Gina Whatserface (you know, the one who has no children of her own). What do you suggest?

A very hoarse and rather worn out from asking, London City Mum (LCM)

Well, LCM. You are correct in your estimation that thrice is a sufficient number of times to make this, or any such request. I firmly believe that an instruction ignored once is barely acceptable, twice is rarely acceptable and three times well, quite frankly it’s just not cricket is it? Tell the little blighter to get those feet into those shoes pronto or his name will be taken straight off the list for boarding school. Failing that, send him out shoeless. There’s nothing a brisk walk on the rotting-vegetables-and-vermin-infested streets of Olde London Town won’t do for putting manners on a child regarding the swift appliance of footwear. As for Gina Whatserface, I assume you’re referring to Gina G, perpetrator of that ‘Ooo ahh just a little bit’ Eurovision travesty? I’m ever-so-slightly confused but it was pleasant ‘talking’ to you nevertheless.

Dear Eliza

My dilemma is as follows: much as I am enjoying the recent warmer temperatures, as soon as the mercury hits 25 degrees Celsius my children remove their clothes and run around the garden buff naked. Earlier this week, playing in a friend's paddling pool, my four year old said "Mummy I have to take my swimming shorts off because they're wet." He then proceeded to run around my friend's garden in the nod. Most embarrassing. How should one manage these things?

Yours, Embarrassed of Berkshire

Goodness, you poor woman. How dreadfully embarrassing indeed and this, might I say, is the problem with the modern phenomena of ‘play dates’. Had your children spent the afternoon in your own garden, while you rested in the cool of the television room watching Wimbledon, this probably wouldn’t have happened. Of course, as soon as one starts escorting one's children to other people’s property, all manner of calamities seem to occur; nudity being a perfect example. My advice would be to ignore the whole incident entirely and politely ask your friend whether she has any more of those wonderful biscuits she bakes herself. Flattered, she’ll head indoors to make some and while she’s distracted you can whip the shorts back on while hissing in the child’s ear about going straight home if there is so much as a speck of bottom to be seen again. Problem solved and delicious, home-made biscuits to boot. Marvellous.

Next week, I'll be considering the tricky conundrum of going to the toilet in peace and the age old problem of children coaxing cats into washing machines. If I had a penny for every time I've heard that one...

In the meantime, if you would like me to solve one of your own parenting problems in my weekly guest slot here, please leave a ‘Dear Eliza’ comment below. And remember, ‘A problem shared is still a problem.’




  1. Well, that's sorted that little lot then. WOuld Eliza like to tackle world peace or the search for the 'God' particle next?

  2. I wouldn't tolerate naked humans in my back yard. They attract buzzing insects and confuse the wildlife.

  3. Thank you Eliza, any solution which involves biscuits is just perfect! My life is now stress-free again. Phew!

  4. Yes but how does one stop ones husband from stripping off in the garden and running around in the buff scaring the neighbours? (mid-life crisis?)

  5. Great article in today's Indo, delighted to see you are back blogging:)

  6. Biscuits are always a fine solution to any sociallu mortifying situation involving nekkidness, I find. Fine advice!


Blog Widget by LinkWithin