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.