Friday, December 21, 2007

Blogging buddies

Upsettingly, just as I had finished this post, the spud clambered onto my laptop and shut it down, in the process pressing ‘no’ whenever he was asked to save my documents. So. Here we go again and apologies for the long delay...

DJ Kirkby has given me this very twee award for blogging buddies which part of me wanted to scoff at due to the kitten-y nature of the picture. However, after writing the post and having to chose 7 blogging buddies to pass it on to I realised it’s quite cool. It’s kind of a way of saying ‘thanks for hanging in there’ to some of one’s oldest commenters and reading through DJ’s blog I got to meet 4 out of 7 new bloggers. Which was good.




So. Very difficult to pick 7 bloggers out of the bloggers who I read at least weekly (if I was luxuriant in time and massages and having nothing to do I would read everyone daily I swear).

I decided therefore to pick 7 bloggers to whom I’ve never passed on an award. This leaves out my oldest non-family commenter Bossy who I read regularly and who still occasionally pops in for a gander. DJ and Dhor and Lady Macleod who are amazing bloggers I read all the time. It leaves out Jenny and Elsie and Darth who are wonderful writers and I can’t remember all who else, frankly, because it’s nearly midnight and I’m re-writing a carefully researched but sadly deleted post after imbibing a mugful of spirits.

So, in no particular order, here are seven other bloggers who have enlightened my blog and provided me with hours of entertainment on their own.

Self Employed Mum who found me quite early in both of our blogging careers. She’s recently been very patient with wat sounds like a terrible house full of 8 year old girls

Sue from Sunny Days who lives in Calcutta and has a son the same age as the spud – only blogs could have bought us together to read about the similarities and differences of raising sons in different worlds. She’s a great writer however she claims not to be a ‘Mommy blog’. Sue. Do You Read Your Own Blog?!!

Driving with the Brakes On whom I have to confess I read largely on the offchance she is going to have a rant because then I can read while muttering ‘yes’ and ‘me too’ under my breath like a madwoman because I always agree with her.

Jen at Rants and Raves whose son is around the same age as the spud and getting into about the same mischief. If you pop over right now she’s just posted up some of the amazing cards her hubby has made her over the years.

Jennie from Copenhagen Follies is raising two kids while studying and speaking about 100 languages. She’s very funny and clever and I sense she may be able to drink me under the table.

Ilana of Pengelly Pastimes and Deeply Felt Felting Studios. She hasn’t been commenting around here for long but you know what? She’s SUCH an old friend of mine it doesn’t bear repeating and we have found each other again after going on 20 years via the magic of blogs and you know, that deserves a prize. And, her felting is AMAZing.

Suki who is getting a proper education while maintaining no less than 4 of her own blogs and who reminds me what it’s like to be young.

So, thanks to you all for having wonderful blogs - and also to those wof you I haven't meantioned here but read regularly - Happy Christmas and a big martini to the lot of you!
x

Monday, December 17, 2007

in the name of peace and quiet...

I am giving the spud full access to the keyboard as he is desperate to play with my computer. Here is what he has to say:
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Sunday, December 16, 2007

that's my excuse...

DJ has given me a blogging buddy award with kittens on it no less... I will post it up and pass it on once I feel well enough to think straight. Kittens and all!

Unbelievably we are sick yet again – and by ‘we’, this time I do mean all of us. Honestly, if I’d known it was going to be this bad I’d never have stopped breast-feeding the spud as for the first year of his life he was sick only rarely. Since we stopped however it’s just been one thing after another. This week it’s a chest infection and after five days of listening to him steadily trying to dislodge his lungs we’ve finally caved in and let the doc put him on an antibiotic. This is both banana flavoured and unsweetened and given that it is penicillin-based you can imagine how foul it is. Very foul. Very, very foul. I know this because being violently allergic to penicillin I naturally had a taste. Once I remembered I was allergic, I gargled with vodka in the hope that vodka out-ranks penicillin in the rock-paper-scissors game of microscopic death-dealing. Since I have yet to swell up or break out in hives I think it’s safe to assume that vodka kills penicillin. In case that’s something you ever needed to know.

Given that we are trying to feed him liquid mould enhanced by benzene rings (and dyed a fetching shade of neon yellow) I’m sure it’s not difficult to imagine the reaction we have gotten from the spud while trying to get his medicine into him. Suffice it to say that we have been fairly comprehensively spackled in the stuff and the microbes in his lungs have been breaking out the champers at a lucky escape three times a day. It takes two of us holding him down to get anything into him and whoever is wielding the spoon has to hold down his tongue to get him to swallow. It’s probably no coincidence that he’s not eating anything else we offer him at the moment either – I mean, would you trust me after I’d put you in a headlock and fed you poison while pressing down your tongue?

We’ve tried hiding it in porridge, milk, sticking it in a syringe and squirting it down the back of his throat to avoid his taste-buds… we’ve tried feeding him yummy yoghurt and then tricking him with a spoonful… it’s worse than trying to get a pill into a cat. I tricked him into swallowing half a spoon in the bath this evening and he was so horrified that he plopped himself face-first into the bathwater in protest and came up crying and looking at me like I had just skinned a puppy in front of him and then pushed him under the water myself.

Anyway, so that’s my excuse for being tardy about posting. It’s a rubbish excuse but we’re all coughing up lungs at the moment and it’s hard to get to the computer amidst all the clouds of flying tissue.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

set the controls for the heart of my son...

Today has been exhausting. We’ve been gearing up for this day for a long time, although we probably didn’t quite realise it. I suppose I should have been listening harder to my Mother and to Those Who Have Gone Before, who have all been very clear that at some point you stop having a baby and you start having an individual – a child with its own will and desires who will no longer sit around adoringly letting you do things to it, like dress it or feed it or put teething gel on its sore gums, or cuddle it when you feel like it. A child who would rather starve in charge of its own fork than accept a spoonful from its Mum. A child who will not longer let you simply haul it up for a butt-sniffing but would rather tool around in its own stink than submit to the indignity of a clean bottom. A child who when swooped up for a cuddle after a nasty fall will stop crying and start pushing its parent in the neck to get put down NOW thank you very much rather than receive the Mummy Mantra (“Mummy Make It Better (kiss)”).

Along with this new-found independent streak is an ever-increasing diagnostic ability, massively heightened curiosity and a remarkable ability to reach and grab given the enormous height of this child. This particular child, I mean, as in my child, as in the spud, who is now virtually unstoppable and as willful as a raccoon in a bin full of chicken wings. My child, who suddenly doesn’t give a damn what I think, or say or do and who is only interested in following whatever whim has taken his attention. My child who was recently described by a fellow Mum as ‘a gentle giant, but a giant none-the-less’. On today’s evidence, I think we may have to quietly stow that ‘Gentle’ for a while.

I’ve had a pretty productive week and one of the things I managed to get done was to sew some snugly bumpers for the spud’s cot. Thinking that he is now old enough to get out of trouble on his own should he find himself nose first in the fabric and that the main reason he wakes up in the night is because he’s bicycled himself head-first into the bars, we figured some padding might help us all get a better night’s sleep. So, I wandered over to the market and bought some soft black fleece and some padding and diligently sewed them up much to his fascination. He tried to turn the machine off while I was sewing, tried to stand on the foot pedal, tried to touch the fly-wheel while it was spinning and desperately begged to sit in my lap while I was feeding fabric underneath a rapidly moving needle.

Surprisingly, it all worked and he is now peacefully sleeping with his head jammed into a corner of his cot, breathing gently and crucially, not waking up with a head injury. The bumpers also serve double duty as they block a sliver of light from underneath the black-out blinds I’ve never managed to sort out. I know, because I have doubled over into his cot and rested my head upside-down on his mattress for a look-see. I quite fancied staying in there for a snooze to be honest but I don’t think I’d fit.

So, he’s getting a good night’s sleep which seems to be giving him an amazing energy boost. He slept until nearly 8 today, played happily in his cot for half an hour after his bottle and cheerfully trundled around the flat most of the morning. Once out of bed and fed his breakfast he rounded up the remote control and handed it to his Dad with the little call of ‘eh eh’ he makes which means ‘please turn on the TV’. I was once a person who swore I would not let my children watch TV however now I am a person who catches myself in the middle of a business meeting with the ‘Finley the Fire Engine’ theme song running through my head. So, anyway, he sat down to watch TV for a moment or two and then he got down and turned his bedroom inside out, tried to open a locked door by fiddling with the key, turned all the electronics he could reach on and then off and then on again, pulled things off the top of the hall table that we didn’t think he could reach and turned on every lamp in the house.

Nothing that we do escapes his attention. One can think that one has pulled the wool over his eyes but a few moments later, when he thinks one isn't looking, he has insinuated himself as close to whatever it was one was doing and is trying manfully to replicate the motions. He is very close to working out the lock on the stair-gate and he can spend long periods of time crouched in front of the front door with my keys thrusting them at the bottom lock in hope. Things go into the washing machine. Books are opened and puzzled at. Watches are looked at hopefully. Glasses are put on his face. Hats are perched precariously on his head. My hair ties are pulled behind his head. PIN entry pads for credit cards are to be stabbed at, but only after the card is pulled out of the machine and then shoved back in again which is great fun for the queue of people behind me in the shop. Tops are screwed onto bottles and off again. Cups are carefully picked up and sipped from before being knocked over on the way to open the fridge.

His natural exuberance is lovely. He can be made to laugh at very simple things, such as watching me fall backwards the length of the flat after he shoves me, or watching me weep in dismay as he knocks down yet another tower of bricks (and, damnit, I get quite possessive over my towers of bricks these days. Who knew bricks were such fun?).

He does, however, hate to be stopped once he’s decided to do something and as a full 50% of the things he decides to do are destructive (eating the phone), dangerous (standing on the coffee table) or both (slamming his fingers in the top drawer while taking out spoons to throw in the bin) he is stopped on a fairly regular basis and this is bringing out the exuberant side of his rage. This takes one of two forms – either he sits down on the floor and slumps his head between his knees (something he does less frequently since he tried it out in the bath) or he lies down and arches his back, a pose he can hold for an impressive amount of time.

There’s no point in going through all the other things he did today, the pens chewed, the food thrown, the tantrums in the supermarket, the kitchen things tossed on the floor, the cat tormented, the suspicious blockage in the loo. There’s no point in going on about how many times he struggled or screamed or flailed around and how many times I was forced to put on my big 'no' face.

Much as he exhausts me, it is an amazing thing to watch one's child become a reasoning individual and hopefully he'll start taking control of a few more useful things such as putting on his shoes and making his own dinner. All we have until then however is one little boy who just wants to be in control of something, to do something all by himself; and, if the bumpers work their magic again tonight, he will be doing it all again tomorrow with just as much gusto.

Sayonara!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

kiss kiss bang bang

I picked up the spud from his minder yesterday and from the confines of his buggy he made a little kissing sound at me. He’s done this before, it was his party trick a few party tricks ago. As cute tricks go, it’s a good one, however when it comes to planting a proper smacker on the cheeks of a hopeful parental unit, his skill-set is limited to a damp, open gape lined with fresh, sharp baby ivories. This lands on one’s cheek fairly enthusiastically, however tends to leave a wet trail at best, bruises at worst. Frequently it is merely the prelude to a big juicy raspberry blown on one’s neck in invitation to a giggling, raspberry-blowing battle.

While all this jolliness is very sweet it does take rather an imaginative leap to translate into the belief that my little spudlet is actually bestowing affection upon his aged parent’s cheek. Things, however, appear to have changed.

I pushed him home in the damp, him singing loudly nearly all the way, a little song whose lyrics go something like ‘oooahh, oooahh, duguyduguyduguy AH! AH! AH! and which translates, I think into ‘I’m ok, I’m ok, here I come here I come here I come Look At Me Look At Me Look At ME! I pitched in occasionally, counter-pointing his chorus with some off-beat ‘AH’s just to spice things up a little. We arrived at home leaving a trail of bemused commuters in our wake and potentially a few love-lorn cats. I unbuckled him from his restraints safety belt, picked him up for a cuddle and he landed a perfect smacker on my cheek, complete with a little kissy sound and a pucker. He then proceeded to take my face in his hands and lean in for a second one on the other cheek. After I came down from my motherly-love cloud I thought, ‘My god, he really is French.’

Following this triumph he has been handing out kisses to everyone which I have to say is not helping his relationship with the cat who is only within reach in the hope that the Spud has spare food.

This isn’t his only party trick this week. He arrived home on Monday with some random paintings of, er, Blue… and some Green… which apparently he had done without any help at all and he was, his minder informs me, the only child in the nursery who consistently put the paint brushes back into the pots. Well, you can imagine how much my motherly-love brain puffed itself up and strutted about the room at that one. I practically laid an egg while I was passing this information along to the Frog I was so full up with it all. My child! MY child! Finally leading the pack in something that doesn’t have to do with his being big and strong but with him potentially actually being clever. OK, so it’s not pointing at a picture and correctly verbalising the word ‘crocodile’ but face it, Everything Counts.

The Frog, however, had news for me on this one.

A new Spuddy favourite is the slamming of doors which means swift investment in those foam rubber door stops that save little fingers from becoming little fleshy spatulas. It also means that nobody is safe on the loo as the slamming doors trick is only possible courtesy of his opening doors trick. He’s been able to reach the door handles for months and has been opening them successfully for weeks. Now, however he’s become obsessed with the whole process and every door must be opened and shut the minute it is spotted on his route through the house in the cat’s wake. One must therefore remember to lock oneself into the WC whenever anything of importance is happening in there or one is liable to find oneself with one’s knickers around one’s ankles, exposed to whomever is unfortunate enough to be visiting at the time. Not to mention being exposed to the spud who is very curious about the whole goings-on and intent on investigating the entire process. This is perhaps educational if one has decided not to mind, however the trouble is that while he is too little to imitate the core of the matter, he is keen to demonstrate his understanding of the peripherals, such as the pulling of the loo roll, the button that makes the water flush and, crucially, the brush one uses to clean things up with.

Being of a rather hygienic nature, shall we say, the Frog is a regular cleaner of loos. This involves regular use of the loo brush which is kept in it’s own pot by the commode. The brighter of you may now see where this is going. Apparently, for the past few weeks, the spud has been watching his father clean the loo in the morning and then imitating him. This involves taking the brush out of the pot, putting it into the loo and then trying to put it back into it’s pot again – and hopefully, then having his hands washed by his father. Ahem.

What this is, apart from a ‘4’ on the disgusting scale (are you ‘1’, not disgusted at all, ‘2’ mildly disgusted, ‘3’ fairly disgusted, ‘4’ very disgusted or ‘5’, completely disgusted?), is perfect practice for getting a skinny little paint-brush back into a wide-mouthed jam jar. It also explains the little scrubby brush marks limited to a small corner of the paper and rather takes the wind out of my puffed up feathers.

I guess this week I’ll just settle for the kissing and hope that next week the nursery can deliver a different triumph – perhaps something that involves slamming a door.

.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

food for thought

The Spud has his appetite back. It’s hard to imagine my little larded roastie suffering from a desire not to eat but there he was, mouth clamped firmly shut refusing all food, even scrambled eggs which the spud NEVER refuses.

First we had the cold and then croup and then flu and then no Papa Frog for 5 days then a molar and then jet lag and then another cold and no Papa Frog for another 7 days and then walking and then another molar and then more jet lag and then another molar and then a cold and then another molar - and all over a 3 week period. In this three weeks he’s had 3 colds, cut 4 molars, learned to walk, gone to Canada, missed his Dad and been very sick. He was becoming extraordinarily un-spud-like – one might even have used the word 'lithe' – and I got a cross-channel bollocking from Grandmère on the subject because while French Women Don’t Get Fat, apparently French babies are supposed to be rolling in the stuff.

Anyway, now that the Spud has surmounted all his trials and unglued himself from his father’s trouser legs, he has re-discovered the joy of food. Pasta, potatoes, fish fingers, scrambled eggs, baby chilli, sandwiches, bananas, chicken, parsnips, peas, the lot. Further, he’s decided that being fed is for babies and since, according to one of the hundreds of toy catalogues that seem to have gotten my name on their envelopes he is no longer a baby but a ‘wobbler walker’, he insists on feeding himself.

This isn’t quite the disaster that I would have imagined it to be. Yes, he is only 14 months old and hasn’t got what one would call total (or even, sometimes, partial) control of his digits but he also hates to be messy. This is a child who will spend three minutes trying to lick a bit of food off his chin rather then let me just wipe it off. So, I can leave him parked in front of his dinner and he normally manages to get three quarters of it into him, which is highly gratifying given the care and attention I lavish on his gastronomic needs.

The other quarter, however, goes into the cat. This is not because Sammy is up on the table demanding a tithe with his claws out, or because the spud only has a 75% food-to-mouth success ratio. No, this is because the spud adores Sammy and has cottoned on to the fact that Sammy hangs around waiting for food to drop – so he feeds him. There we were yesterday, the spud stabbing away at the eggs with his baby fork and wrangling it to his mouth, me standing back adoringly thinking all sorts of insipid Motherhood things about how big and clever my son is when he put down the fork, grabbed a handful of egg, leaned back in his chair, waited for Sammy to look up and laconically tossed him the eggs. Then, he calmly resumed feeding himself with a new rhythm – two mouthfuls for the spud, one for Sammy.

This naturally made Sammy very happy, as he has a thyroid problem and basically needs his own fridge to get him through the day. This made the spud happy because he was getting Sammy’s undiluted attention rather then seeing nothing but a fuzzy little cat-butt disappearing from under his grasping fingers.

The only trouble here is that we are trying to break our deaf, 16-year-old rescue cat from what is likely the begging habit of a lifetime and he already sees the spud as a source of extra meals. I say ‘we’ however the Frog is also feeding the cat off his plate so I suspect, as in many things these days, like insisting the spud go directly to bed after his book and not play on the floor with his father for another hour, I am alone.

Still, he’s eating again and when he sits on the floor with his little belly out he looks like my very own laughing baby Buddha. I hope Grandmère will be happy. Now excuse me, I have to run out and buy cat food.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Two steps forward, one step back...

The spud is getting more and more sure of himself and this walking business. He has worked out that if he walks around with this chest thrust fully out and his arms akimbo like something out of a zombie movie, he is less likely to fall forward. This however means that sometimes he topples back very slowly and stiffly like a statue and doesn't bend at the waist until the last minute, meaning that nappy hits carpet at some velocity. This is fine until just before bath time when I strip him off and let him pee on the carpets wander around the house naked while his bath runs. At this point his strategy doesn't work so well and the shock on his face as his unpadded little bum hits the floor is either comical, if he doesn't cry, or very sad if he does.

Choosing when to laugh at one's offspring is a risky game. Sometimes when my little potato has had a particularly comical roll off his bean-bag and ended up face down on the cat he gets up beaming as though he's just crossed the Zambesi under his own steam and then laughing at him is wholly permissable. Other times he can sit down softly yet suddenly while emitting a loud fart and yet be inconsolable with self-disgust at having lost his balance in so unmanly a fashion. Laughing at him at that point would be clearly Beyond The Pale and so I have to stifle myself and pick him up for a Mummy cuddle.

He has also developed a sense of humour and has discovered he can use this against us. This is not to say that he hasn't found things funny in the past, but rather that he has now worked out what it is that we adults find funny and then will repeat these things until, frankly, they're a little tedious. Take splashing in the bath, for instance. A few months ago he started splashing me from the confines of the tub. I made the big 'no' face and the sign but he kept it up. Two more 'no' signs later and he flapped his hands down to the water... and stopped, hands just touching the surface as I said 'no' again. And he laughed at me. AT me. And he had a cute little 'I Am Playing A Trick On You' face. And yeay, it was funny. At least for the first ten times. After that I pulled the plug, because secretly I am the grinch.

He did this for a few weeks but showed no signs of expanding his repertoire until we were in Vancouver and Auntie Shelley was trying to stop him playing with Uncle Hoto's stereo. He then spent most of the time we were there camped out in front of it waving his hands in it's general direction hoping to catch us out while secretly pushing the limits until his hands were all over the thing and we'd stopped noticing. And that, folks, is his hidden agenda - make us laugh until we're bored and then just carry on. He did it again in the restaurant where he walked, pretending to eat a crayon to much hilarity until we were past caring. Come to think of it, I don't remember seeing that crayon once lunch was over.

The trouble is that now he knows how to play us, he just puts on his 'Trick' face and it's SO hard to not to laugh. I have lost coffee out of my nose, which, apparently, is Great Fun. I tell you, I am chewing the skin off the inside of my cheeks these days trying simultaneously to keep a straight face while teaching 'No', 'Bad' and 'Stop' to a very small giggling thing.

Anyway, so here he was today, doing his March of the Zombies walk into the kitchen while I was making his dinner. He tottered in, opened the top drawer, pulled out the tea-strainer, wobbled to the bin, opened the bin and dropped in the strainer. It was so choreographed, I thought as I put on my big 'No' face, that he must have planned it. As I pulled the tea-strainer out of the bin, slammed the lid shut and started my routine, he put on his 'I Am Playing A Trick' face, wove back to the drawer, opened it up and took out a teaspoon. As I marched purposefully over to remove it from his fingers, he looked up, cocked his head to one side and smirked at me... and the insides of my cheek started to bleed.

Friday, November 09, 2007

the sleep

So here's the thing. Since we got back, the spud has been manfully trying to get himself back on schedule but it’s just not happening. Resultantly, I am also not back on schedule, however work waits for no man (or, apparently, woman) and so I seem to be operating in two time zones at the same time. Greenwich Mean Time, and plain old Mean Time. So, I am not posting. I’m just trying to stay awake, day after day.

The lovely DJ Kirkby passed me an ‘I love your blog’ sticker which I of course am sticking up with pride. I’d like to pass it on to quite a few people, forgive me for not putting up the links just now, I’ll come back and do it when I can see straight… but for now, here’s three blogs I love: Bossy, Mountain Mama and Braveheart Does the Magreb. These are only three of about 12 blogs that I visit regularly and love to read and about 10 more that I dip in and out of. I’d be a blogoholic if I had more time and energy, as it is I’m lucky to get into each of them once a week, sometimes less. Anyway, thanks for your blogs, all of you. Here you go:



The spud is sleeping and is likely to be up in a few hours if the past week is anything to go by so I am going to bed. He has a massive molar coming through right now – well, two in fact but only on is poking like Vesuvius under his gum and about to commit GBH on his mouth. I’ve dosed him on baby pain killers and packed his gum with teething gel and this has worked but the poor thing has been miserable today. There’s nothing more pathetic than the sight of one’s baby bravely standing up and trying to walk while bawling his little eyes out and cramming his hand in his mouth. Makes one go all weak at the knees. We surmounted the problem by snuggling up on the big bed together this afternoon resulting in a dangerously long and late nap for both of us which was heaven, but possibly a contributing factor in his inevitable 4am wake-up call. This I suspect will also end up with him in our bed. Sleeping in the big bed has become a ‘thing’ since coming back from Canada where he slept with me due to lack of cot facilities (why I didn’t make him a floor nest I don’t know, I am obviously challenged) and he does get rather irked if he’s not invited over for the 4am equivalent of tea and cakes, ie, a bottle and a snuggle.

See you on the other side of dawn.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Baby steps

We’ve made it home, I’m not sure why it is that I’m still vertical, particularly after all those gins with my sis the night before the flight.

We bracketed our trip to see my gran with a visit with Uncle Hoto and Auntie Shelley at their perfecto Vancouver flat complete with sea views and half the organic produce of British Columbia stacked on their doorstep, not to mention personal shopping trips guided by Auntie S and long martini evenings governed by Uncle H. The spud needless to say turned his nose up at all that loveliness preferring instead to chow down on their last remaining sausages and gorge his way through pots of yoghurt. In fact, the little thing barely ate the entire time we were away, preferring instead a serious course of constant snacking interspersed with boxes of apple juice and bottles of milk. Anything else was clearly foreign and inferior, except perhaps for the tasty pasta cooked by the lovely Diane on our last night which rendered my siblings’ pied a terre nearly uninhabitable when it made it’s exit via the spud the next morning, just before we left. Well, you know, one has to leave one’s mark.

We have survived and like true survivors we have our war stories. Yesterday, for example, finding out that our flight was delayed, necessitating a 7 hour wait in Vancouver airport. This was ok however because one afternoon while spending a lovely, lazy day with my sis, the spud chose to take his first steps. In a White Spot.

For you non-Canucks out there, this is like your precious bundle of joy taking their first tentative steps in one of those restaurants that only seem to exist in motorway services, 20 years past their last paint job and filled with people eating meat out of baskets. Why were we there? Because we had driven miles out of our way just to get the spud to a park where he could, you know, stretch his legs and practice his walking and there was nothing else within reach. We didn’t think he would actually walk in the place. If you’d asked me, I would have thought he would walk during the Kodak moment we’d had fifteen minutes earlier where he was sitting on the path surrounded by fallen leaves looking all cute in his new jumper and smiling at us. Perhaps he was just waiting for carpet.

Either way, there he was, toddling across the floor looking ridiculously pleased with himself. As he had first crawled to the other side of the restaurant and I had hared after him, we were surrounded by total strangers engrossed in their wickerwork and so I stood up and yelled ‘Shell! He’s Walking!’. Possibly several times. I think he may have even gotten applause.

So, anyway, there we were in Vancouver airport, the picture of the perfect Mother and Baby, the spud grimly walking three steps and falling over while I walked backwards in front of him brandishing biscuits and trying to tire him out. Most of the time we, meaning the spud, pushed the baggage trolley. This was rather a theme during our time in Vancouver as I made the spud push anything with wheels in a bid to tire him out enough to get a night of sleep. As he was sleeping in my bed (or rather, H and S’s bed while they scrumpled themselves up on their futon under the mistaken impression perhaps that letting him lie in luxury in the master bedroom would gain them a sleep-in) I thought that tiring him out was important, but the spud just walked in his sleep, wind-milling his body so that I was alternately woken up by his feet, his butt, his arms, his head, his arms again, his butt again and then back to the feet. Oh wot larks.

We had more than just walking in Vancouver. We had another tooth. We had eating with forks (yes I know). We had swings and slides and kids in Halloween costumes. We had family and friends and shopping and even a view into a whorehouse.

It’s good to be home, although I do love Vancouver. Possibly because I always get spoiled to bits while I’m there and chauffeured from lingerie to shoes, via baby clothes and back again. Possibly because of the martinis. Possibly because Vancouver is where I was born and something in me seems to wake up a little when I’m there. Possibly because of the company. Either way, here we are. Me and the Frog. And Spud. In London. Pinch me. Now put me to bed.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

flight pattern

And here we are in Canada. Although, when I say ‘we’, I’m really just talking about me and the spud as the frog, having spent 5 days in France doing Frog things without us is now back in London working. This means that I have been a single Mum for nearly two weeks now and it’s good that I’m on holiday because it’s the easiest way to explain all those extra bags. Under my eyes.

The spud has missed his Dad, rather sweetly, although this has taken the form of waking up several times in the night hoping that THIS time, Daddy will come. While this was bearable when we were at home and he was sleeping in his own bed, now that we’re on holiday in a cot-free zone he is sleeping in MY bed, meaning that he is looking for Daddy in my ears and on the ends of my nerves and while the Frog is sometimes to be found in those zones, sadly for us all he is currently otherwise disposed

The flight to Vancouver was a marathon 12 hours including a stopover in Calgary. There were other children his age on the plane and they all spent considerable amounts of time sleeping. Considering that we got up at 5am to catch the plane and it didn’t land until the equivalent of 9:30pm, the journey encompassed several times in which the spud might usefully have been expected to nap. This was not to be however as clearly aeroplanes are remarkable things and need to be explored on fairly exhaustive basis. So, we had aisle crawling. Relentless aisle crawling. And some aisle cruising as well, as he pulled himself up by the hair of sleeping passengers and uttered sweet nothings into their ears at fairly substantial volumes. We had a lot of exploration in the stewards area which is usefully full of metal things on wheels, lights, levers and various exciting, not to mention boiling hot and sharp things. We didn’t have much screaming but there was some substantial struggling.

The good part was that his ticket was only £25 return and he had his own seat – my lap. We got onto the plane rather late in the boarding process and our hapless seat-mate was comfortably ensconced with his i-pod and his legs stretched languidly into the aisle. As we walked down the length of the cabin, me clutching my bag, his bag and him, gaily slapping me about the face and repeating ‘Ah’ very loudly ever second or so, every eye on the plane attached to someone sitting beside an empty seat was riveted on us nervously. ‘Hello!’ I said gaily. ‘You drew the short straw’ as we pulled up alongside our hapless victim. Very sweetly, however, he turned out to be a British policeman now working on the force in Calgary and possessed of enough useful charm to get the stewards to move him to a new seat allowing the spud and I to have both seats to ourselves, without even HINTING that perhaps this was for his own benefit. I could nearly have believed that he would have been happy to share his seat with a 28-pound octopus and it’s woebegone mother for 12 hours if it wasn’t for the alacrity with which his i-pod went back on his head once he moved seats. That and the fact that he never looked us in the eye again.

Never mind. What’s 12 hours in the great scheme of our lives? Nothing, that’s what. Nothing at all. Although, it has taken us 5 days to get over it and have a full night of sleep and to celebrate we’re doing it again in 48 hours but never mind, it was, I swear, nothing.

We’ve been here 5 days now and have successfully managed to terrorise practically the entirety of our Canadian family either in person or over the telephone and, while I am certain they have all enjoyed parts of it, I am equally sure that they are all rather relieved to be seeing the back of us. We have been royally entertained and the spud has even consented to be babysat while I had a whole 2 hours of extra sleep. We’ve seen my 99 year old Grandmother successfully discharged from hospital, we’ve seen both of my parents and my uncle and aunt and the spud's uncle and aunt and the spud has been spoiled royally rotten by all concerned. It is, however time to go home.

For my part, I have never missed the Frog so much in all our days. I dearly, dearly hope he is ready for us.

Monday, October 22, 2007

back in its box

Well. Apologies for the extended delay, it appears that we hadn’t had all the viruses in existence as of my last post however, while I’m certain that there are gazillions more out there in the world, I’m now fairly certain that we’ve had all the ones on our street.

The Spud is now asleep and snuffling gently to himself. I hesitate to use the correct words to describe what he’s doing at the moment because it’s so hard to reconcile the term ‘snoring like a Harley in a hailstorm’ with my little spud. See cute pic at bottom of last post for reference.

He’s charting at 98.6% on all three official scales, height, weight and cuteness. For such an enormous potato he really is still just a little, little thing and watching him be ill has been tough on the old motherly love brain. Still, there are all the moments in between to feed off, such as, for example, the time he met his Uncle Hoto for the second time.

The first time, last Christmas, Uncle Hoto spent a lot of time trying to teach my little tadpole to say his name. This time, it was much the same. On the fallacious theory that ‘Hoto’ is easier to say than, for example, the Spud’s other uncle’s names, my brother spent most of his time here (when he wasn’t throwing up) singing nursery rhymes with all the lyrics surgically removed and replaced with the word ‘Hoto’. Over and over and over. No matter that one of the Frog’s brothers is call ‘Didier’, a sound which comes out of the spud’s mouth approximately a hundred times a day, Hoto Will Have His Way. Perhaps. To ensure that outcome, this time he came complete with large head-shots with the caption ‘Uncle Hoto’ on them.

The spud for his part loves his Uncle Hoto, who is happy to spend serious time making faces and fart noises at him and Hoto’s quest to be favourite Uncle is surely on it’s way to success.



I think he’s missing the main point here though. Considering that both my brother and my husband are manic clean freaks, it’s not Hoto’s name that the spud is in terrifying danger of repeating at the tender age of 1. Aged 2, my brother burst into tears on being given an ice-cream cone because it made his hands sticky. He wouldn’t play in the mud or the sand and would freak out if things weren’t sort of in order. Aged 17 he moved away to music college and sent me a photo diary of his digs in a state of pig-sty disarray. He didn’t actually have to tell me that he’d staged the whole thing, by that point I’d spent 15 years in the same house as him and I had nearly as much fun imagining him neurotically washing his dishes after the photo-shoot as I did looking at the pictures.

The Frog, on the other hand, brings the whole business to a completely new level. I can send him into total melt-down simply by moving the furniture in the living-room an inch out of place. A dark smudge on a white wall will have him scrubbing away the day’s disappointments until a satisfying expanse of clean paint is revealed. Hours of fun!

So, you see. Two of the Spud’s closest male relatives and role models are, shall we say, a trifle fastidious and to date there is every sign that my snotty bear is going to be following in their footsteps - if one could see their footsteps, that is, after all that polish.

I present as evidence his loathing for the feel of a dirty nappy; his look of distaste as he obsessively opens and closes his sticky hands at me waiting for the wash-cloth and his need to wipe his nose and mouth on my trousers or shoulder, whichever is closest in a crisis. I had been hoping that that badge of motherhood, the shoulder of baby sick, would have disappeared by now however it is not to be as I now bear epaulettes of dinner, boogers and spit on a regular basis.

I know that this is a good thing, that having a son who actually wants to clean his room will be a blessing in my old age. I love that he looks like a cross between his Dad and his Uncle Hoto. I’m thrilled that he takes after them both so much – however while sitting in his room covered in his lunch and trying to build a tower out of wooden bricks while he took each one and obsessively put it back into it’s bag, I rather wished my darling men-folk could be a little more random and, er, scruffy once in a while.

.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

It's the little things that count....

...like viruses

In one way or another we, the Royal We, as in, The Spud, although also 'we' the parental units of said spud, have managed to be ill for two weeks and posting has been an effort. Also, I'd hereby like to request that the bloggers I read regularly stop posting so frequently as I haven't been to see any of you in ages and the amount of reading time I know I have in my future to catch up with you all is going to be enormous!

First, it was a little rash of a Tuesday afternoon. A bit heat-rashy and sort of t-shirt shaped. This didn’t seem to bother the Spud much, only if he was naked he would rub gently and happily away. He also had a bit of a low fever which doesn’t normally come with heat rash, oddly, so after a professional appraisal (a half dozen Mums standing about the playground looking at my topless spud on a sunny afternoon) off to the docs we went on Wednesday afternoon to establish whether or not it could be measles, or you know, meningitis. Not that he had spots that wouldn’t disappear, just that you know; spots, fever, panic.

So, off to the docs to reveal the culprit, a minor virus, no treatment necessary.

All well and good for the rest of the day. The next two days saw the rash fade but the spud started succumbing to a cold and at 5:30am three days later we had… croup! Again! Ah the joys of A&E at 7am on a Saturday morning. Listen as your son struggles to breathe. Watch as he crawls wheezing around A&E pulling things apart and pressing buttons on life-saving equipment. See him touch the toys just touched by that limp-looking little girl whose parents are in deep conflab with the doctors and who is wearing nothing but a nappy to bring her temperature down. Listen as she coughs. Pray.

By Sunday night the croup was gone but a fearsome cold had set in. My poor little bear snuffled and snotted and occasionally still harped like a seal. We had him in bed with us one night as his breathing was so bad and by Monday he was coughing up something that seemed to be chewy and so it was back to the doctor to listen at his chest. All well, apparently, just a little cold. Yay, we thought. Just the remnants of the virus. He’ll be right as rain soon (and how right, exactly, does rain get?)

Not very, apparently.

Wednesday night he was very restless and he greeted Thursday morning by vomiting copiously. He vomited all day. The Frog vomited all the next day. I vomited all the next night. My brother, Uncle Hoto who is here on a visit, vomited all the next day.

In fact, apart from the spud we’re all pretty much basket cases.

Still, in good news, the spud is well enough to eat ice-cream. Should I be feeding ice-cream to my one-year-old in the park in October? Probably not but you know, he’s been sick for two weeks and it made him very, very happy. And, as I ate most of it, it made me happier still.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Dreams and smiles

Dreams – Sue has tagged me to write about my dreams and it’s an interesting tag. For a period of four years when I was in my twenties, I wrote down my dreams every morning and it was a really interesting experiment. Firstly, I only remembered one dream a night, if that. By the end of the four years, I was remembering four or five dreams a night. I wondered at the time if that was because the act of remembering my dreams meant that I was accessing the part of my brain that creates dreams and therefore stimulating it to dream more, or if I was just getting better at remembering. Certainly I realised that if couldn’t remember a dream, I could lie in the position I was in when I woke up and the dreams would come back to me.

Since then, I have lost the habit of remembering my dreams and only remember them infrequently. I used to have a lot of heroic dreams about rescuing people and saving the world but now the Spud features pretty heavily. When he was very little I had some heart-rending dreams about losing him which used to jerk me awake but those seem to have calmed down, thankfully as the last thing I need is less sleep.

Last night in a blend of the two, I dreamed that I and a team of my friends were being lowered on a platform into a pit deep below the city in order to try to avert some catastrophe. As the platform began to lower, I handed the spud over the railings to my brother and asked him to look after the baby because I knew I wasn’t coming back. I think it’s pretty obvious where my subconscious is these days... ie, I feel the need to star in a Bruce Willis movie as Brucie himself. I'm sure if I did some judicious re-distribution of flab I could look a little beef-cakey.

On another note, DJ Kirkby has kindly given me the ‘You Make Me Smile’ award which has made me smile a lot. I don’t know how she finds the time, she has 3 children and is writing two books via blog and she makes a lot of people smile herself.

I’d like to pass this on to three people who make me smile: Elsie, Darth, and Jennie

Thursday, October 04, 2007

a little perspective

If there was any doubt about my sanity in the past, I would just like to remove it – or rather, to remove the doubts about the doubts. On top of working and volunteering and trying to be the sort of Mum to the spud who isn’t found face down in a puddle of vodka at 9am by social services, I agreed last night at short notice to take in another 1 year old baby for the three hours which span dinner time, bath time and bed time. I mean, I always wanted twins, how hard could it be?

Now, this baby is very cute indeed. She’s walking and saying ‘och’ and ‘wow’ at everything and she has a very big gummy grin – and, crucially, the spud thinks she’s ok and doesn’t try to steal her toys and then bash her about with them. I also realised having managed to hold on to a little of the sense God gave me, that this would not be easy however at least it would be short-lived.

What I didn’t realise is how truly distraught a small girl can get without her Mum – and, what a truly, ear-crushingly awe-inspiring sound a baby can actually make. I mean, I’ve had a baby now for an entire year and I thought I had heard it all.

The spud makes what I refer to as ‘That Sound’, as in ‘please stop making That Sound sweetie, Mummy can’t bear it’ or ‘We don’t respond to That Sound so please stop making it’ and other phrases all containing the words ‘please stop’ and normally heralding the onset of a white-noise headache.

It’s a sort of siren-y sound, although the sort of siren designed to keep sailors OFF the rocks rather, unfortunately, than to lure them sweetly onwards. It has the piercing quality of a dental drill but with a deeper, more open bottom note, hints of car-horn and delicate, nasal overtones. A fruity little sound indeed and one honed over many months to generate the fastest response from all parental units within earshot, which is most of South London on a good day.

When the spud makes That Sound I take a very deep breath and shout try very hard to modulate my voice to calming tones while not otherwise responding, on the theory that if That Sound doesn’t get him anywhere, eventually he’ll grow out of it like an old sleep=suit.

Compared, however, to the unspeakable blast emanating from the lungs of this sweet baby girl who is possibly only half his size, That Sound is a Mozart string quartet with Yo-Yo Ma on cello and Vanessa Mae on violin. At the slightest hint of a thwart – the spud looking the other way, the cat sitting out of reach, she would open her mouth and utter a noise so tremendous that even Sammy, who is profoundly deaf, would look up at her and twitch his whiskers. She can yell so loud that her entire body vibrates with it and more than that, she can yell on two notes at once like a fog-horn – one an ear-piercing shriek, the other a rasping, Tom Waits-y growl. I felt awful. Here I was, baby-sitting this sweet little thing and not only would she not drink her bottle or go to sleep, she shrieked herself into hysterics for most of the evening most of the evening. Poor Spud didn’t know what was going on. At first he cried in sympathy but in the end he just stared at her in bemusement, gave me a puzzled look and got on with finishing off his bottle.

By the time her Mum arrived back, her baby was mercifully sleeping on my shoulder, having finally collapsed with a deep sigh after about the 40th verse of ‘Twinkle Twinkle’. Handing this adorable little bundle of sleepiness over I confessed all, to be told that in fact, this was fairly normal. I think I may have stood there gaping for a momnt or two too long... I tried not to believe her as this Mum is one of those wonderful , terribly clever Alpha-Mums with bags of style and an easy, unruffled way about her which suggests that in fact she doesn’t spend most of her evenings being experimented upon by sound-wave weaponry. However, the look that flashed across her eyes when she said this suggested that she had certainly experienced the full force once or twice.

As she settled her offspring in for the walk home, I had an overwhelming urge to rush over to the spud, pick him up and tell him that he can make That Sound all he wants – Mummy suddenly doesn’t mind it so much. I guess sometimes a little perspective is a good thing.

Friday, September 28, 2007

All hail

Another night, another bedtime routine, another sleepy baby. The spud has not only been sleeping through the night for the past two months, he has been happily going to bed with no complaint and for this I thank the God 'Routine'. I have to confess that for most of my life, I have not been the most faithful of worshipers at the shrine of this god. In fact, I would go as far as to say that I worshipped the Anti-Routine. Oh, yes I did. I have, in my wilder youth, stayed up all night and sat in a diner watching people get on the tram to go to work and sneered – oh, I did. You see, back then I had no need for routine. What is this thing ‘routine’? I would ask myself. But now, now, I have paid for my sins. I have suffered at the hands of the 3am fuss, the 4am cry, the 1:30am tantrum and the 5am wake-up and I am sorry, I will never doubt the power of the God of Routine, or, may I just say the 'Great' God Routine, ever again.

At the start of the spud’s little life, I confess that we played fast and loose with his bedtime. I mean, we tried to get him to sleep every night around 7, but if he wasn’t tired or if he kicked up a fuss, we were pretty flexible total walkovers. I can’t count the number of times we ate dinner with the spud perched happily in his little bouncy chair making googly faces at his toys and every few minutes or so looking meaningfully at my cleavage. He’d go to bed, sleep a bit, wake up and shout at us and the Frog would leap up and have him watching CSI before you could say ‘let him cry it out’.

After considerable reading and listening to friends, I finally caved in and worked out a sort-of-a routine. Slowly, slowly, we started to stick to it. And you know what? Bugger me golly gee if it didn’t work.

Now, after several months, our sort-of-a-routine has firmed up into something robust enough that the spud is now anticipating every little step. Come 6pm he’s whining for his sippy cup and I put on ceebeebies and he sits on his beanbag with juice and a little snack gaping at Upsy Daisy while I put out his dinner and then put him in his high chair. After a variable amount of food, he gets down and stuck into some serious playing – we’re talking Speed Playing here - throwing every toy out of his box and clambering around the house clutching a ball in one hand and often something in his mouth as well. It’s important, you see, because it the Last Play Of The Day and he has to cram it all in at once.

Up until a couple of weeks ago, he would stand by the bath while I undressed him and, inspired by the water running, might have had a little wee-wee while he watched intently as it filled. Now, however, he's not interested in the water running At All. Now, the bath running is like the final bell signifying 'end of playtime' so as soon as his clothes are off, my little naked son tears off across the floor as fast as he can crawl, giggling and cackling while I stomp behind him saying things like ‘I’m going to get you’ and ‘I’m right behind you’ until squealing, he throws himself headlong onto the sheepskin rug (I know, I know, it’s like a Mills and Boon novel round ours) to be tickled. It’s about as cute as a baby can get, frankly and I’m still not quite sure how I managed it. I guess I figured I’d probably pop out a baby who already had a tattoo and both Joy Division albums. But there you go, or rather, there he goes, giggling away madly. The end of the routine sees him lying with his bottle while I lie beside reading him a book. If he’s perky, once he's done he wriggles off the bed and tries to rush to his toys before I can stop him but once I pick him up and carry him into his room, no matter how lively he was the moment before, he snuggles into my shoulder and sighs a bit and most of the time, he’s asleep before I even put him to bed.

I do credit the routine for this. Every step of the way, from the moment Iggle Piggle gets into his boat until the moment he gets carried into his room he knows what’s coming next - and it all leads to a nice big sleep and, not to forget, a nice big martini for Mummy while the Great God Routine rumbles away happily in his alphabetised heaven.

Amen to that!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

2B or not 2B? 5G, in fact.

Here we go again, time is passing by without leaving much of a trace, except, perhaps, on my skin which I swear is looking saggier every day. I’ve got to the point now where no matter what the spud does I am scarcely surprised and I seem barely to notice changes in him, until one day I just can’t get that t-shirt over his head and I realise he’s grown out of yet another wardrobe. This led to a major milestone in the spud’s life last week – his very first pair of Clarks shoes.

Those of you who have not grown up in ye merry olde land of ye gin and tonics may never have experienced that most British of childhood experiences, the regular visits to Clarks to have one’s feet measured. When I was a child, this involved putting one’s foot onto a metal box while the sides excitingly slid in, stopping when they hit foot. When one pulled out one’s foot, one’s new shoe size was revealed to the ponderous sighs of one’s parents. The shops were inevitably dim and slightly dusty and filled with navy Mary Janes and black daps. Lots of places sell children’s shoes but really, there is only one Clarks - which is why, despite putting out only one fashionable shoe a decade, there are still Clarks shoe shops on every high street in Britain.

These days, not much has changed. The shops are brighter and the Mary Janes are now pink but a machine which is undoubtedly a mechanical foot-measurer still exists. The spud’s feet however were measured by a nice man who I am certain sold me shoes when I was 6, using a sizing ruler with a little slider on it. Of course, baring the spud’s feet and crouching down beside him gives him a great excuse to kick a stranger totally senseless while grinning widely and sweetly, like a miniature Malcolm McDowell but without the bowler hat. ‘Aww’ said all the shop assistants as the nice Clarks man retrieved his teeth from the floor.

‘What size is he?’ I asked, having no clue what size a baby’s foot ought to be. ‘5G’ said the nice Clarks man, maintaining a rictus grin while backing away. ‘Is that big?’ I asked again ‘Well’ he said with a smile, pointing to the cute little baby shoes ‘none of these go up to that size’ and he indicated a small shelf of serious looking shoes. I wasn’t sure at that point whether or not a satisfied little smile crossed his face as he watched me furtively clocking the price tags. Mentally I began cancelling holidays for the next ten years as I calculated how regularly we would have to repeat this routine. As we bumped our way out of the shop in the buggy, me clutching to my chest the precious bag of shoes, the nice man called me back. 'Here' he said, holding out a little card with a date scribbled on it 'come back around this time so we can check his size. He should be out of these shoes by then'. I looked at the date. It was next week December, meaning we would be doing this every three months until the end of time the spud stops growing.

The real trouble is of course that now we know the spud's shoe size, suddenly we are obsessed with buying him shoes. The Frog is the only man I know who can compete with me on 'size of shoe wardrobe' and therefore, as two shoe obsessives, we have already bought the spud a cute pair of size 6 boots for later because they were on sale. Suddenly, time passes not in increments of days but in the spud’s shoe sizes. I’m not sure what this means for my skin, but my bank balance is surely going to be in need of artificial enhancement fairly soon.

Monday, September 24, 2007

oh, wonderful

I am so busy at the moment, working away in my cellar (I am a freelance project manager and sit in my cellar office wielding an electronic whip and chair at various techies while calming panicky and technophobic clients) that I haven't had time to craft the post that the spud's recent activity deserves.

Therefore I'd like to hand you over to my marvellous brother who is staying in the old family house one last time before it goes for rent or for sale and who has said it all for me today.

Here's to you all. Lots of love and more later.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

eyes wide shut

Well, it’s been a long couple of weeks of things happening and I haven’t had much focus or will or anything but here we are in the middle of the cliché that life goes on… and here it is, going on. We’ve actually had some wonderful days here at the end of the summer, with the Spud and friends. We visited the Wetlands Centre in Barnes where the Spud tried to climb dutifully backwards down the slope and into a pond and where he followed the older boys around adoringly and then when he couldn’t keep up, painfully sweetly he played by himself until there were other children to follow. We’ve played in the park, in the garden, in the nursery, in the studio, at other people’s houses, we’re professional players now. We play with blocks and cars and things that go ‘beep’ and things that go ‘bang’ and things that go ‘jangle’ and I’m not just talking about Mummy’s nerves here, although mainly, I suppose, I might be.

I don’t know how all you other Mums out there cope. Really I don’t. Stay At Home Dad once posted that he’d looked longingly at a beer at the Numberjacks hour and I can confirm that not only is that really rather early, it’s also the time at which my vodka receptors tend to have a little twinkle themselves. Not, you understand, that I am making the Spud’s lunch while face-down in the sauce, just that sometimes, on some days, it seems like a tempting choice. I think, if I had even the smallest moment of my own that I might not be so resistant to the attractions of the potato's purest moment however it is astonishing just how much time a good play can take out of the day. I mean, really, by the time we’ve emptied the brick box and knocked down a few towers the morning has disappeared and suddenly there I am in the middle of sandwiches and apple juice and then it’s off to the swings and suddenly it’s time for In the Night Garden and Somebody’s not in bed! Who’s not in bed?

On the days that I work I beetle away down there in my cellar until I happen to glance at the clock and have to lurch up into the light blinking damply to pick up the spud from his Dad after lunch. If I’m very lucky I can sneak in a trip to the shops, or, god forbid, a load of laundry before the afternoon turns into one of those cartoon cyclones with bits of stuff poking out from them – a toy here, a nappy there, an unpaid bill, a dozen grabby fingers and three flailing baby feet, only one of them with a shoe on it. I find myself sitting limply on the sofa at around 9pm having magically scoffed a plate of food that I barely remember because, not having eaten all day, my body has absorbed it before it hit my belly and trying to find something to say to the Frog – who, if he has had child duties that day, is equally washed out.

I was speaking to another Mum today about this and we agree that it’s not actually Motherhood that’s tiring – at least, not with just little spudlet. It’s the rest of life that is tiring. Looking after a child all day is a hoot – wandering around parks and historic buildings, playing with bricks and going on the see-saw. It’s all the other stuff that suddenly seems impossible. Doing any work. Taking the laundry off the line. Paying the bills. Cleaning under the armchairs. Give me a pile of wooden bricks and I’ll amuse myself the spud all day. Give me a pile of laundry and suddenly, I’m exhausted.

Tomorrow I do a few hours work and then it's just me and the Spud with an entire afternoon to waste. Unfortunately we are going to have to waste some of it playing with the vacuum cleaner and so I think I need to get in some extra sleep in preparation. Who's not in bed? I'm not in bed.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

All my old ladies

I was in the process of writing yet another post based on my boobs when I got a call that my cousin had succumbed to pneumonia this afternoon. She turned 89 a few weeks ago and she was a good friend of mine. I don’t buy the ‘she had a good innings’ line although it has an element of truth and I used it myself a few weeks ago when we nearly lost her the first time. She may have been old but she was still a girl inside, still capable of laughing at fart jokes and swearing at her doctor and having conversations that rambled everywhere because there are so many things of interest to talk about. She was a proper intellectual and the sort of botanist who would climb Snowdon in the rain to see a rare grass. She constantly surprised me, was endlessly good company and was never shy of dismissing something as rubbish if it patently was. I’m going to miss her a lot.

My Gran is 99 and hoping to make her 100th birthday in February and two days ago she fell and broke her hip. She’s recovering in hospital now but she’s in pain and I guess nothing is certain when you’re 99. She’s one wonderful woman, I get my picky fingers and love of textiles from her. She taught me to weave and when her shoulder finally gave out, gave me her loom on which I am a faltering learner. She also taught me how to play cards but didn’t pass one enough of her skill to make me rich at poker, unfortunately, however she did pass on her prodigious ability to absorb gin, not to mention her boobs which, when she saw them sprouting on my 15-year-old-frame she immediately recommended I reduce via surgery. It was she who taught me about structural architecture as it relates to the female form, not least by displaying some of the most unbelievable pieces of 1950s engineering nestled in her top drawer which I would give my eye-teeth to own these days. When she was 76 I stayed with her for a week and we stayed up late playing cards and drinking and skinny-dipping at midnight. I’d like to see her but for now I have to wait to see if she’s going to hold up.

I once had a vision of myself at 80, living happily somewhere wild and vaguely cut off. It’s stayed with me and maybe that’s why I get along so well with women who've got a few decades on me, I guess I’ve always assumed I’m going to be one, one day. I’m lucky, I know a few and I’ve known them well and I get to spend good time with them, if not always enough of it. I’ve picked up some pretty good tips and I’ve been able to introduce the spud to them all so that one day when the time comes he'll know enough to be nice to his own old lady.

Here’s to Liz, I’m glad I got to tell her I love her, I’m proud to have known her. She’s leaving a big hole. Here’s to all our elders and betters, let’s hope we can live up to them.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Nice matters?

I’ve been very kindly given another award, the ‘nice matters’ award, from Laurie over at Just One Sheep. She outed herself in my comments as otherwise she’s known by the very scary moniker ‘Threat Assessment and Response Canada’ which is a Toronto crime blog that I wish existed here in my area. It’s quite un-nerving reading but also riveting, even for an ex-Torontonian like myself.

Nice does matter, of course however I do worry that this is never going to sink into the small hard ball of matter that is the Spud’s head. He greeted our friends’ nine-month-old girl with several large taps to her head and followed up by a serial stealing of her toys yesterday; and, while he appears to realise that ‘no’ means Mummy is upset (but heck, who only knows why?), for the most part he is yet to connect the word and gesture with the concept ‘oops, better stop fiddling with the cat food’. Hence, he is still menacing the cat, the cat’s food and any electronic item unfortunate enough to exist within the same square mile. This, despite copious uses of the word ‘no’, the gesture for ‘no’ and all sorts of other new-parenting-type alternatives such as exclaiming ‘but Sammy will go hungry. Why don’t you play with this?' {moves Spud to other room, offers wholesome wooden toy, is spurned and spends rest of afternoon fishing Spud’s fingers out of the cat’s bowl}.

It’s a worry. One spends one’s time trying to be a reasonably decent human being despite one’s rampaging inner urges and finally, having made it through cough cough forty cough odd cough years one pushes out a new human who has NO idea what it can possibly mean to be polite or nice or to share his toys. Back when I were a young ‘un (any sentence referring to one’s youth has to be said in a Northern accent… blame Monty Python) society as a whole was fairly polite and after some serious mind washing instruction from my parents it was easy to play along as there were examples of good manners all around. Now, however, it seems as though it will be impossible to teach the spud any sort of manners when there are grown adults in the playground (as there were yesterday) who themselves are sitting on the playthings and not getting off even when a circle of babies has formed around them crying and reaching out their arms. OK, so I exaggerate but I don’t see how that Mum yesterday could have sat for so long on the motorbike rocking toy with all those little boys around her watching hopefully while her own daughter ran up the slide pushing other kids out of her way and kicking them on her way down. I’m sorry but some people are appalling and, with those sorts of examples, it’s no wonder the spud can’t understand why manners are so important. Oh, that and he’s er, only one year old… but you get my drift.

It’s quite a wake-up call watching the behaviour of some people in the playground. While most parents smile at each other and at least give the pretence that they are teaching their children sharing and caring, there are some who are actively in there encouraging their little ones to be first, to be fastest, to stay on longest. These children then spend their time wrecking the park for all the other children, who then have to act in the same dreadful way just to get a trip down the slide. They then go on to menace others - and so on and so on until 20 years later they're pushing each other to get on the tube first and everyone's miserable.

Nice should matter to everyone, I guess. Another martini, bartender - and one for yourself.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

in the sand pit

We have a massive sand pit in the park next to our house. It's like the king of sand pits, it's about twenty feet square, is sunk 2 feet into the ground and has a slide and climbing frame in the middle of it. I've always held off from taking the spud in there for obvious reasons. You know, sandy fingers, sandy knees, sandy nappies, sandy buggy, sand in the house... oh, and sand on my boobs.

So, today, after running into a friend in the park who was taking her daughter to the sand pit, I took the spud down and let him loose. It's kinda good, the sand pit. It has walls and no stairs so he can't get out; there's lots of kids playing in the sand for him to pal around with and, apart from hitting his head on the bottom of the slide, nowhere for him to hurt himself. In fact, it's kinda great in the sand pit. I mean, even nearly brilliant.

What has become clear however is that my dear little spud is in no way as socialised as I would like to believe. He really doesn't understand that just because he wants to play with something it doesn't mean that he has any right to it for any length of time. As I wasn't expecting the sand pit, I didn't bring any sand-pit toys. Other Mums however have already had their moment of sand-pit satori and come to the park specifically to let dear diddums get sand in its ears. They therefore carried buckets and spades and rakes and cars with big wheels, all of which was like catnip for the spud. He would crawl up to a group of children, insert himself cunningly into the middle and wait for someone to lose interest in a toy, then grab it up and start energetically imitating whatever it was the other child had been doing.

This was all very cute until Mums started leaving and taking diddums with them - and, crucially, diddums' toys. I was forced to sit cringing in a corner while the spud refused to give up the rake and then do that apologetic, hunched walk of shame that one does in front of other Mums as I rushed to swoop him up. He sat with his arms out, shaking and going bright red with rage and disappointment, his little face crumpled and wet, doing the very long, very silent in-breath that babies do right before they let loose with a war cry. Poor little spud, he just doesn't understand why he can't have the things he wants. After two episodes of this, guiltily I took him out of the pit and rushed him to the toy shop however failed to buy him a bucket and rake because I would have had to also buy the spade, a watering can and several nasty looking plastic things covered in cartoons, all handily wrapped in a net bag and for the sort of money I would expect to pay for a real, life-sized bucket, spade and rake. And a martini to go in the glasses. Or two.

I will however have to buy him something for the pit because despite my sandy decolletage, acquired when swooping my tearsome lovely to my breast, the sand pit is a big winner and the real reason is nothing to do with the spud, sadly, it's to do with me.

While he was off exploring other children's toy collections, I kicked off my sandals, sat next to my friend and buried my feet in the sand and you know what? It feels GREAT to bury ones feet in cool sand on a warm day. I was in heaven. I wriggled my feet so much that they are smooth as the spud's butt at the moment, completely exfoliated. In fact, I think I'm going to have to force the spud into the sand pit on a regular basis.

For his own good, you understand...

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Happy Birthday, baby!

I just want to say Happy Birthday to my son, today. OK, so I already have, like about 1000 times but this one is in writing so it's different. I think. I waltzed him around the garden this morning singing the Altered Image song 'Happy Birthday, Happy Birthday, Happy Birthday, Happy Birthday' but since I can only remember the chorus I just sang it over and over and over again until the neighbours undoubtedly put their heads under the covers (it was 9am) and prayed for silence. He bobbled around on my hip with a big grin on his face because we were outside and dancing and Mummy was being silly, presumably.

One set of his grandparents gave him money for a winter coat. The other set gave him a toy drum complete with sticks, a tambourine, maraca, xylophone and jingle-bells, ie, a head-ache-in-a-box. Guess which was the gift from MY parents????!! He loved loved loved the drum however and so I can hardly hold it against them... although I will try to do so in a creative way when it comes to their up-coming birthdays...

We had a picnic for a few of his friends in the park this afternoon and he spent all day eating organic baby snacks and being very happy hanging with a big group of people outside on a nice day. I guess it's sort of the way we as humans would naturally have lived in the past, great hairless groups of us lazing about under trees with our offspring. Not sure about the place of Pringles and fairy cakes in this historical view of mankind mind you but there you go.

Anyway, on to say Happy Birthday to my lovely son, who, having crawled and rough-housed all afternoon is now sleeping the careless sleep of the tired infant, both arms flung out and breathing the sort of deep, quiet breaths that make a parent dash frantically over to listen at his nostrils.

We sat, the three of us, before the arrival of our friends, we sat on the grass and felt like a family. Or at least, the Frog and I sat on the grass, the spud tore off as fast as his knees could carry him into the great green yonder. We sat and sort of smiled in wonder that an entire year could have passed so quickly, without us really noticing. They tell you that this is going to happen, they, the books, Those Who Have Gone Before, they say 'It'll just fly past, you won't believe it' and it does, and we don't. A whole year. Gone.

I know why though, it's because before one is a parent, one has many, many things to focus on. Work, friends, family, life, the changing of the seasons, shoe sales. One notices time going past because one is waiting for various things to happen, one sits at a desk looking at a calendar, reads newspapers, takes holidays, buys shoes. Time does pass more quickly as one ages but it doesn't disappear. Not completely. Once one is a parent however, things are crammed into the moments around the edge of one's offspring and one only takes quick bites at the life one once consumed completely. Time passes un-noticed except for the daily changes and developments. Moving, grabbing, holding, picking up, rolling, crawling, teething, standing, units of time measured by growth and development, not by the ticking of a clock or the turning of a calendar.

A year. A year of the spud. A year ago today, right here in this living room, he pushed out into the warm waters of the birth pool and bubbled up to the surface. I remember being surprised at how solid he was when the midwife lifted him out of the water and put him on my chest, as if babies should be soft and floppy and unresisting. He was a bit blue and grey at the edges and had a dreadful cone head. Once the cord was cut he was dried off and put against his father's chest to warm up and go pink while I was diverted into the mopping up part of childbirth, the bit they never show in movies, the bit where you push out the placenta and get dropped into a bath to clean up.

After my bath the midwife put him on a boob... and he's pretty much stayed there for an entire year. He could hold his head up from the moment he came out of the womb, his little conical grey noggin was questing around for the remote controls before his cord was even cut or his eyes could focus. He cried a little bit and I, who would probably have imagined that my first words to my son would be something deeply profound to put him on track for the rest of his life could only say 'and who are you? who are you?' to him as if he could possibly answer. The answer, of course, was that he was my dearest darling spud and the light of my life, but I could only guess at that back then.

A year ago he lay in the moses basket by our bed making little creaking noises and looking like an alien. We stayed up all night listening to him breathe and taking off and putting on various items of his clothing as we tried to guess whether or not he was too hot or too cold. Back then we had no idea what to expect from him and now, a year later, he lies in his big cot in his own room and we still have no idea what to expect from him, most of the time at least.

It's been an amazing year, a wonderful year and I can only hope that this next year will be the same.

Happy Birthday, Charlie, Happy 1st birthday. I love you, spudlet.


Thanks for coming by, everyone, it's been great to have the word, wit and wisdom of others in this time.

Friday, August 31, 2007

The penultimate...

This time last year, I was entertaining old friends. They were here on a visit and I hadn't seen them for a long time. I was pregnant. Very pregnant. The frog was working and I laid on a very simple brunch - if I recall, I opened a few packets and patted my belly apologetically. That, after all, is what it was there for, no? My big 'get out of jail free' belly?

I didn't much use pregnancy as a reason to stuff myself, I can stuff myself without any reason, thank you very much. I didn't use it as an excuse not to exercise, I worked out up to 6 months. I did however use it as a fine excuse to wear a bikini without shame, to let the Frog carry the groceries and to feel cheated if I didn't get a seat on the tube. Wouldn't you?

On this particular day however, I was trying not to focus on the fact that I was due to have a baby. Today. As it were. My due date. The midwife had informed me that I wasn't ready, I'd refused an appointment to book an induction on the following Monday and was girding my loins to tough out a few more weeks in the sweltering heat.

Partway through brunch, which we ate outside in the garden, I stood up to get something and I, er, wet myself. Or something. But then, there was nothing there. The next time I stood up, same thing. And again. And again. I recall being very cool about it. I remember sitting down after yet another trip to the loo, announcing that I thought my waters had broken and starting in on another biscuit. Why not?

Over the course of the day I saw a midwife, had a few pains and some wild energy and, eventually, settled in for a long night, at the end of which was a complete unknown.

There are all these occasions in one's life when one steps out from an established comfort zone into a totally unknown experience for the first time, knowing that things will never be the same again. Going to school. Having one's first kiss. Moving out of one's parents house. Losing one's virginity. Getting one's first job. Oh, and HAVING A BABY.

I had no idea what was waiting for me at the end of the night, or in the middle of it, or at the end of the next day - no idea what it would be like, when it would be coming or how I was going to handle it. I pfaffed around organising things, the house, the cat, the frog. I patted my bump obsessively. I made a few phone calls and settled in for a long, painful wait.

This time a year ago the livingroom had the birth pool set up in it and I was on my way to meet the spud for the first time. This year I'm off to bed and in the morning, I'll meet the spud once more, this time for his first ever birthday.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Mother's little helper

There is much to be said for Calpol and other baby painkillers, provided one is talking solely about the happiness of ones baby and not the condition of one’s house. The Spud has been teething again and after the last terrible episode I’m determined not to let him suffer. So, on the advice of the doctor who has said there are no side effects from baby pain medications and to feel free give them within reason whenever needed, at the first sign of discomfort we are dosing him up. The result is that we have a very happy baby on our hands at the moment. A happy baby means an active baby and an active baby means an Interesting Life.

Perhaps a short tour of our apartment might enlighten you. As one comes in through the front door, one finds oneself in a small, square entrance hall with a dark wood cabinet featuring two drawers and two doors, the contents of which are scattered all over the rug. The doors lol open apologetically while the drawers lie upside down on the floor, waving their little handles about like panicky beetles.

Straight ahead is the living room. On first glance it looks vaguely tidy however a closer glance reveals a litter of CDs and DVDs clustered together in a dark corner. There is a lot of electrical kit in this room but oddly, no remote controls, and the telephone cradle is empty and dusty, as if no phone has lived there for a Long Time.

The living-room adjoins the kitchen which also looks vaguely tidy. The cat’s bowls are empty but the food is handily beside them on the floor. The washing machine door is swinging drunkenly and the machine is empty except for a telephone. The bin is open. It is full of remote controls.

Back into the hall and straight on to the nursery. It is impossible to open the door as there is a pile of books behind it accompanied by the sound of a rampaging animal grunting and turning a lot of electronic toys on and off over and over again. This is an appropriate moment to swear.

Back into the hall and turn right into the main bedroom. As you walk in there is an open bookshelf with books on both sides, but curiously only from the third shelf up. The bottom two shelves are empty. Walk around to the other side of this shelf and one can see many piles of books on the floor, almost as if someone has pushed them right through the bookshelf. Who would do a thing like that, one asks?

The bed has clearly never been made as the cover is hanging off one side onto the floor. The clock radio is on but tuned to a station which strangely only broadcasts white noise. There is a large wardrobe with drawers in it. All the drawers are open and one suddenly realises that the room is not carpeted but that one is in fact walking on stray knickers and socks. At the back of the room is the door into the bathroom and next to that a changing table with a big shelf. On the shelf are a few stray items of nappy changing gear, the rest of which is carefully stowed in a pile underneath.

As one walks through the flat one treads constantly on little rubber things which on close inspection are corner-shaped. All the sharp corners in the flat are exposed except for a thin veneer of glue, almost as if something has been ripped off them. Something rubber, perhaps.

One is now at the end of one’s tether and so one grits ones teeth, strides back into the hallway and forces open the nursery door. Inside, amidst the drift of toys, clothes, bedding and ripped up paper is a small, squealing potato intent on some object currently under de-construction. Just as one is considering one’s options, it looks up, beams, opens it’s arms to be picked up and then lands a big, wet kiss on ones face. Suddenly, the mess doesn’t matter much at all.

Bring on the Calpol. Make mine a double.

Friday, August 24, 2007

standing in the rain

I know I said I wouldn't be posting every day however we had such a lovely day today that I felt marginally inspired this afternoon. I thought that I’d sit down to my laptop and the words that had gone through my head would magically come flowing back to me however because I have Mother-brain and can’t remember anything that happened more than 10 minutes ago I am now sitting here with the vague memory of standing in the rain in Trafalgar Square with one of my best mates watching our boys battle it out from the damp confines of their buggies and thinking ‘so THIS is what it’s all about… must blog about it later’.

I always thought that one day I may have a baby. I never particularly wanted one more than I didn’t want one. I was sort of ambivalent. One of the clichés I had always bought into about having a baby is, well really it’s a handful of clichés. ‘Having a child lets you relive your childhood’ (but hopefully without the painful embarrassment and bullying); ‘You get to see the world through new eyes’ (which is good because my eyesight sort of peters out after 3 inches and everything gets blurry); and the old chestnut ‘They keep you young’ which is odd because I swear I have aged 10 years in the last 12 months. Taken together these are three seriously seductive concepts. Just think... all the best bits of childhood – toys you always wanted but never got, games you loved but never play anymore, that old jaded world stripped bare of rubbish and cigarette butts and suddenly revealing it’s secrets – and all that with a free face and body lift. Doesn't it sound ridiculously good?

Babies, however, don’t really give one the opportunity to experience all that doe-eyed loveliness. They can’t play games, you can’t put them on a rollercoaster or any other fun ride and besides watching them discover their own hands, which is, surprisingly, amazing, they don’t see enough of the world for it to look particularly new and unvarnished to their parents. And, crucially, they don’t let one sleep at all and make one worry oneself into the fast-track at the local Botox parlour.

What I’m getting at, I guess, is that up until now, while the spud has turned me from ambivalent female to gushing mother in a single bound, we’ve kind of just been taking it day by day and it’s been a fairly navel-gazing experience, not including the actual navel gazing done while we waited for his to shrivel up and fall off. Recently, however, he’s taken his gaze outwards and is noticing and, in his own way, commenting on the world around him. He’s starting to play and to interact with the world and it’s, well, sorta kinda maybe a bit cool.

Today, therefore, we ventured out in the hope of sun to see my good friend and her highly entertaining 2 year old for a day trip into the heart of London. Predictably, it rained, the sort of hazy, light rain that gets everywhere but doesn’t really get you wet. Starting in Green Park we strolled through to St. James’ park, ate in the restaurant and meandered our way via puddles and ducks through Horse Guards Parade and up Whitehall to Trafalgar Square, just like in Monopoly. Mr. Highly Entertaining was brilliant. He hollowed out his bun and parked his car in it. He stood in EVERY puddle and gazed transfixedly at the horse guards. I was vaguely wondering what it will be like when the spud is able to do all those things when I noticed that he was staring in wonder at one of the big, bronze statues that litter London and was really interested. He was interested in the ducks, the pigeons, the squirrels, interested in Mr. Entertaining standing in a puddle, in the horses, the guards… I held him up to one of the lions in the square and he laughed and suddenly the air cleared slightly and it was like being on a school trip (or perhaps good drugs... but I digress...) and seeing it all for the first time… the double decker buses, the taxis, the fountains… my friend and I kept saying to each other ‘This is great! Why have we forgotten about all this stuff that London does?’ and grinning like idiots in the rain. Suddenly, London is new again, fresh. It’s no longer about nightclubs and work and taking the tube in rush hour but about all this great stuff I can show to the spud.

Roll on those clichés, I guess I’m ready now.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

...rest of the schmoozers

I give up, I am clearly incapable of posting every day and so I will stop pretending that that’s what I’m doing. I would love to post every day but at the moment what I really need to do is to sleep every day... so, here goes...

I still have two more ‘Power of Schmooze’ awards to give away… from what I can gather, once one has the award one is supposed to pick three bloggers. The thing is that the most schmoozy of my fellow-bloggers already have this award and so this post started out being very difficult, then er, very long...

Lady MacLeod, for example, posts copiously every day on her own blog Braveheart Does the Mahgreb, writes articles and various complex and vaguely scientific-sounding pieces for what I can only assume are people brighter than I am – AND comments vibrantly on pretty much every blog I visit. Prime candidate for the schmooze award BUT she already has one on display already and possibly more stashed under her djebella. So SHE’s out of the question.

Then there’s Jenny, possibly the only person I know (albeit only online) who is deafer than my cat. Jenny is enormously amusing in her blog ‘Mountain Mama’ as well as often very touching. She posts regularly and is frequently one of my only readers. She’s also very prolific with her comments on other blogs and schmoozes alongside the best of them. But, she also already has the award. Onwards

Then, there’s DJ. A fellow Canadian, this is a woman with 3 sons, one of whom is a tad challenging, who has time to post on THREE of her own blogs, one a wonderfully written autobiography, one a novel and the other, er, her ‘blog’ blog, write erotica professionally, comment voraciously on everyone else’s blogs and never drops a stitch. Her schmooze power is incontestable and therefore, predictably, she already has the award.

Elsie Button, amusing Mummy blogger and fellow UK habitant – frequent commenter and major schmoozer. Got the award. Now, there are also Stay at Home Dad and Darth Sardonic who are really funny, touching, wonderful bloggers and commenters and neither are showing this award. Darth is currently in a funk waiting for his wife to come back from service in Iraq and isn’t really in schmooze mode at the moment (go on, go over and cheer him up) and Stay at Home Dad hasn’t posted in a while and I can’t choose between them really.

So. Bossy. Blogger of brilliance who doesn’t DISPLAY the award but doesn’t display any awards. Bossy has been kindly commenting on my site (and being a lot funnier than I am while at it) for a while and has one of the funniest blogs I read. She also goes to blogging conferences and bowling with bloggers and, well, basically is the schmooziest of the schmoozers. I suspect she’s too cool to put awards up, unlike me who was so damn thrilled that I’d have posted them on the wall of my house if the frog would let me That’s ok though,, I’m giving her this one anyway. Just in case

So, now I'd like to introduce you, if you don't know her already, to Bel who has been dropping in all over the place. Her blog is reasonably new but she’s commenting all over the place these days and I think she just edges in with being Ms. Schmooze so, Bel, great to see you around, great blog, post the award on your site and enjoy! Thanks for coming by as always, lady schmooze.

Me, I’m off to bed. Now that the spud is sleeping through, that old bear insomnia has woken up and attacked me and life is pretty tough at the moment.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Wibble Wibble

OK, I can't be bothered to do a daily post today. This is what my son REALLY thinks of me...

Saturday, August 18, 2007

one baby slightly worn...

I am becoming obsessed with wearing out the spud before his bedtime. The thing is; and I am almost afraid to type this in case I jinx it; the thing is that since the hysterics episode, the Spud has slept 11 hours at night every night but one. It’s almost like teeth 7 and 8 came with special magic sleepy potion. It is surprisingly easy to get used to this new, unbroken sleep that we’re getting however I do live in fear of the day that teeth 9 and 10 come along to wreck it all. In fact, to be honest, I live in fear that it wasn’t the teeth that were keeping him up at all and that this is just another one of those things that babies do randomly and temporarily, like waving their hands around and hitting the dinner spoon so that mush lands in Mummy’s eye, or loving rice cakes for months before turning around and hating them.

Anyway, the upshot of all this is that I am taking steps to ensure that these long nights are not just temporary and I have started a programme designed to wear him out before bedtime. For the last week, this has meant forcing allowing him to do seven or eight circuits of the slide in the playground, the most important part being the bit where he crawls up the ramp to get to the top. I don’t know how much this has contributed to our long, dark, happy nights but I’m loathe to give it up Just In Case - and so, when it rained today and the slide was out of the question, we decided to take him to the frog’s studio and let him climb the stairs.

Given free reign he happily clambered up and then backwards down the stairs until he was actually panting. I think it must be the thrill of the dangerous and forbidden as he was like a little stairway yo-yo. I of course knackered myself out got some exercise solicitously following two steps behind all the way up and then all the way back down again and then all the way up and then... but I digress. We’ve spent considerable time training him to climb down from things backwards and he’s finally sussed it. What he’s also sussed is that on carpeted stairs, he can pretty much slide feet first from the top to the bottom on his belly with his feet catching enough on each step to slow him down and his little chin raised carefully to stop it bobbling on every tread. Smart baby, was not sure whether to applaud him for being so clever or to have a heart-attack on the spot. It did however achieve my objective which was to tire me my little french fried potato out before bed.

The problem of course is that he’s getting stronger, fitter and able to last MUCH longer on the slide and presumably, the stairs, meaning that soon my old aching bones will not be able to keep up with him. This in turn will mean that I need more sleep which will mean tiring him out for even longer so that HE sleeps more and then he’ll get fitter and… er…

...bother it...someone pass me the phenergen...

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