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.