Sunday, March 30, 2008

Watch with Mother

Whoa, is that the date? Somehow this week has totally disappeared. I say ‘somehow’ but really I know exactly what’s happened and I’ve been dreading this week for ages. A combination of out-of-town meetings and in-town social engagements with good friends meant that this was always going to be a week where I spent less time with my little bundle of fatness than I would have liked and more time roaming out and about like a real human. Luckily for my Motherhood brain, the Frog has been working all the hours in the world and so spud and I have had weekends together. All this loveliness in the state of my working, social and home lives however does mean that anything involving my own personal life, such as, oh, I don’t know, brushing my hair, paying my bills, er, blogging, has been pushed into the cupboard under the stairs with the ghost of Harry Potter.

So, here I am. Today was quite a good day, not least because it marked the end of all the busy-ness but partly because me and my spud had some tickets to Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends live on stage. A very clever friend of mine has put this show together with the proper Thomas people and it was really rather good. Hordes of screaming boys - and I think the audience was mainly boys – hordes of little, sticky, screaming boys waving lit-up Thomases on sticks and tugging giant Thomas balloons were shouting ‘toot toot’ on command and standing on their seats so that they could better see the trains.

I showed up with three friends, two of whom had boys of the Thomas age who already have all the Thomas books and half the toys and one with a small Einstein aged as the spud – a year and a half. And speaking 81 words.

Now, I must confess that I have not introduced the spud to Thomas the tank engine as yet, mainly because I don’t think he’d be that interested and partly because I am hesitant to introduce that level of pester power to my life given the alarming number of Thomas-brand toys on the market.

Given that the spud is therefore a Thomas-free zone and that he is, as I believe I may have said, only 18 months old and still formulating early relationships with things like stuffed toys and books, it rather seemed to me as though I may have wasted our tickets and that all that singing and dancing and giant train content might just be so much noise to him. My vision of the day went something along the lines of ‘find seat, spend fifteen minutes restraining the spud, lights go down, spend half an hour stopping the spud from tearing out the hair of the person in front and then slink out accompanied by Einsein’s Mum and her equally uninterested infant and head somewhere sane for coffee.'

Not to be. He loved it. He was transfixed the entire show – both halves he sat in my lap absolutely enthralled, munching on his cheese and raisins and watching everything intently – even struggling to stand up in my lap when someone in front blocked his view.

Well well well. There we have it – I have underestimated my little pomme de terre and I perhaps owe him an apology. I may have to wrap it in Thomas the tank engine wrapping paper however that will have to wait for another, less busy day.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

soft in the head...

So much for pig snot. The morning bloomed freezing and rainy and everyone cancelled on the idea of paddling through the zoo in the wet and so, seizing the chance to entertain my son without leaving the confines of my house I invited everyone over and two hardy souls turned up. We even managed to each get half a cup of coffee down us while our sons took turns on every toy they could push or pull or squabble over. Of the two boys who came, one is Spud’s genius friend, two weeks younger and already speaking 80 words, according to my excellent friend his Mum. I don’t want to believe her either, you know but I did hear him clearly say ‘helicopter’ as well as possibly another dozen words and given that all Spud can reliably say is ‘hello’ ‘allez’ ‘Daddy’ and ‘uh oh’ it would be foolish to question her. The other boy is a wonder in that he is the only child I have ever met of the Spud’s age who is actually bigger than he is. Clearly this takes the spud off the Guinness list for ‘biggest toddler’ and so I may have to plan something else for the spot where I was planning to hang that plaque. He’s another semi-frog child, something I forgot to ask his mother about, possibly because every time I see her I come all over wobbly with envy as she is 7 months pregnant. Apparently the wonderful world one enters when pregnant for the first time disappears the second time around as everyone just expects you to shut up and get on with it so perhaps I should have plied her with chocolate and cupcakes, although I suspect a decent Beaujolais and a massage would be more welcome.

After lunch, during which the spud lived up to his name by eating only chips, I went to meet another friend and her two boys at a soft play area in Croyden.

There is something tempting about soft play zones. Everything is padded like a welcoming cell and kids can run pretty much completely wild with little danger to life or limb. There are always balls and things with ropes on them and things to ride on and the spud naturally loves them, although his favourite bits are the gates, the loos and anything that looks like it might not be a toy. They are however, universally filled with screaming children hopped up on sugar drinks and frazzled Mums handing over chocolate. There are bars and tunnels and dark soft areas and a feeding area and things to climb on and nesting areas and you have never seen so many children having their butts sniffed in your life. Where-ever I looked, another child was being held aloft as if for a blessing while its parent nosed around its backside for tell-tale whiffs. All it takes is for one little tyke to indulge in a number two and the sensitised noses of parents the length and breadth of the building were heading for their little lamibkins' padded bottoms.

We, that is, the children, had a great time up until we had to leave at which point we each had leaving tantrums of fairly epoch-ending scales. After I left, my friend apparently spent another 40 minutes trying to get her 4-year-old into his car-seat and this is a public apology to her for not having my hands-free with me and therefore not getting her call until I was miles away. Given that her son was always smaller and sweeter than mine at the same age I can only assume that this sort of thing is lurking malevolently in my future.

Luckily the Spud is too small to resist a well-coordinated car-seat restraint plan however by the time we got home he was completely over-tired, had refused his dinner and was wandering around the house all floppy, screaming and crying and asking to be picked up then demanding to be put back down. He cried through his bath and was all sniffy through his bottle, however thanks to the miracle of Wibley Pig he was ready to snuggle in to my shoulder and fall asleep, indicating that perhaps missing on the chance to visit the pigs in the rain was a Bad Plan.

So we didn’t go to the animal zoo but we got a fairly good look in at the human one and I suspect I won’t be going back there for quite a while…

Thursday, March 20, 2008

...and the little one said 'roll over, roll over'

Another day, another morning waking up with the spud… and, I suspect, tonight will be no different. He’s been breaking out sobbing in his sleep every ten minutes or so again and once we turn out the lights and go to bed and everything gets dark and quiet he wakes up and worries - and if he doesn’t feel right and can’t settle back down, then that’s it for us.

I think we both quite like having him in bed with us as long as it’s not every night and if he’s sleeping soundly then it’s kind of ok. Last night he made it across around 3am again and unlike the night before, once he was in with us he actually didn’t stir again which was great. The main trouble is Sammy who is getting a little batty in his dotage and forgets that he has a perfectly serviceable and clean litterbox in the cellar and begs to be let out around 5am. If we ignore him then he scratches at the catflap making enough noise to wake the people three doors down and if we ignore THAT then he does the bladder dance all over us, tromping up one and down the other taking especial care to dig his paws into as many soft areas as possible, yowling all the way. If the noise wasn’t enough to wake the spud then the feeling of kitty paws in his belly certainly is and then we have a wide-awake child gleefully chasing the cat around the bed. Good Morning!

Tomorrow, weather permitting, Spuddy and I are going to the zoo where, if the last visit was any indicator, he will go down the tunnels into the mere-cat lookout and refuse to leave for an hour then spend fifteen minutes shoving his hand up a pig’s nose before racing to the stationary tractor and refusing to get off for any child come hell, high water or ice-cream.

Now to get a few hours sleep before our four-in-a-bed 5am romp.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

...and the Mum snored on...

After four glorious nights of sleep I woke up at 6am this morning being joyfully bashed around the head by my son and, as my back went out I remembered his trip into our bed at 3:30am following several hours of molar-related tears. He slept peacefully between us, each little fist clutching a parental hand, occasionally kicking one or the other of us in the gut until we were both lying half off the bed with our poor imprisoned hands contorted around us... No tears from him, proof that part of his night sobbing is the feeling of being alone with a sore mouth.

He’s taken to falling asleep on me before bed. We sit on the nursery sofa, him downing the last of his bottle one-handed like a cowboy before the fight breaks out, me offering him a wide selection of books and him always choosing ‘Wibley Pig’ because it has one awesome four-lift-fold and ‘Bear Snores On’ because… because… well I don’t know why he likes that one, it doesn’t have any flaps to lift and he refuses absolutely to do anything as menial as point at the animals in it… perhaps it’s the rhythm of the words he likes. Anyway, I try to time the last book to the last drags of his bottle (and when he’s a few gulps away it’s amazing how fast one can read a story complete with sound effects) and then I reach over and turn the light down very slowly, take away the bottle and he lets out a big sigh, occasionally a burp, and snuggles in to my shoulder, one little hand snaking down to my waist to hang on to my fat while the other plucks at my necklace until he nods off.

I rather like this part of the day, despite the constant reminder that I am not as svelte as I think I am. It’s a little like it used to be when he was very small and I breast-fed him to slumber. The only difference being, of course, that he is four times the size he was back then and bits of him tend to spill off my lap and flap about among the sofa cushions.

Tonight I dosed him with Calpol to offset the worst of his toothache, raced through the last pages of 'Bear' and snuffed out the lights as he hiccupped gently into my neck. I have an early start tomorrow and with any luck he’ll make the night in his own bed and I’ll still have use of my lower lumbar region when I wake up.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Pole position...

My son is officially a show off. We had some friends and their son around today for the first F1 race of the season. Yes, I know it’s a waste of pretty much anything one can think of but, you see, I married into it. I have always rather despised F1 as being a boring, repetitive, polluting waste of money and fossil fuels. I don’t know, maybe I’m losing my edge but these days I appear to have swallowed my gall and have actually looked forward to the start of the season. I even found myself actively wishing sneaky little Alonso into the rails and out of the race, almost as if I actually cared.

Anyway, so there were two small boys tottering around the apartment while four adults tried to prevent them from throwing carrot sticks and grabbing handfuls of hommous then complaining about how their fingers were all mucky. One little boy was my spud, the other a well-behaved child 3 weeks younger (and, incidentally, 10 pounds lighter…). I can reveal exclusively that two small boys get very bored when faced with 2 hours of what is practically the same view on TV while four grownups sit in a row trying to ignore them. Further, two small boys, once prevented from eating all the soft bits out of the bread will start looking for other things to do. One trundled into the nursery and started playing happily with a toy. The other barged past him, grabbed a toy, barged back into the living-room, swept the food aside, stood between the parents and the TV and started loudly and proudly demonstrating his toy on the coffee table. This involved pointing and shouting and grinning and much stabbing at buttons while everyone tried to look interested.

You can guess which was our child.

He also, once gently dissuaded from displaying any more of his toys, followed his friend around trying to take anything the other boy wanted to play with. They then battled for position as first to ride his tricycle... and by 'ride', I mean 'sit on and rock back and forth very quickly' and when they were done with that, he led his mate around the place getting him into trouble – ‘here’ he would shriek ‘press this button, it makes the radio come on really loudly’. He'd then sit back and look amazed as his pal created havoc. ‘Here’ he’d gabble ‘this makes a really good bang if you slam it loud enough’ and 'look what happens if you pull this' ‘oh, and look, this is where Mummy and Daddy keep the CONDOMS!!’.

I think Hamilton might have won this race. I’m pretty sure. Can’t tell you who came second or third though, I was too busy being mortified.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

the tip of the tongue, the teeth, the fits

It’s funny how exhausting a good night’s sleep can be… The last week and a half we’ve been catering to poor spud’s sore mouth as those final four molars start pushing through the tectonic plates of his jaw on their journey to their place as peaks in his dental range. We’ve had tantrums and grumps; red cheeks and drool; unexplained tears and that’s just been me.

The poor little thing has been waking up in tears after naps as well as every few minutes all night and we’ve kept him dosed up on as many pain killers as we can without mortgaging our house to pay the Boots bill. We’ve tried everything – teething gel (no use, YOU try to get your finger into the very back of a grumpy toddler’s mouth without dumping your load of gel onto his lips and getting your finger bitten), Calpol, baby Neurofen, teethers and co-sleeping. The only one that worked for him was getting to sleep in our bed. Worked instantly – from crying in his sleep to deep happy breathing. The only trouble was he had to have each of us holding one hand and apart from snoring, he moves around like a windmill meaning that we got even less sleep than before. And then he’d wake up and be so happy to be with us that he’d have to thump us both resoundingly about the head and then clamber all over us shouting joyfully and trying to reach our phones from the side table so he could ring China to tell them the good news. At 5am.

Surprisingly, all this prancing about with no sleep has been like revisiting my youth – staying up most of the night and then getting up in the morning, mainlining coffee, getting through the day by putting on the Ramones and promising myself a nap and trying to forget that I’ve been up 21 hours. Unsurprisingly, when I look in the mirror I get told a different story – I need an emergency hairdresser. And a facial. And Botox. Best not to look really. I’ve been very productive however, all that manic energy is really useful when it comes down to preparing piles of documents and doing the mountains of laundry necessitated by a teething toddler who was treating the pain in his mouth with endless gulps of water and juice.

Anyway, so the molars have chucked in the towel. They’ve not come in, I think they were just flexing their molar muscle, uttering a few threats and have hunkered down to plan their next thrust. In the meantime, we’ve been sleeping and I cannot believe how tired I am. I mean, two uninterrupted nights sleep in a row and I just cannot function. It’s like, now that my body thinks it’s going to get regular sleep it has withdrawn whatever self-medication it was administering to keep me standing and I am in a permanent state of collapse. In fact, we all are. The Frog is talking in single-syllable words and the spud is spending a lot of time clutched to my shoulders sighing deep sighs.

I'm not sure what we're going to do when all this teething business is over. I mean, it's been defining our lives for the last year. Our little potato has been such an easy baby, sweet and funny, lovely and sunny - except, except when there are teeth to be grown. It's going to be interesting to see, once the fab four make their entrance, if some of the things we blame on teething are in fact down to some other cause.

In the meantime, I am going to bed.

Cross fingers...

Friday, March 14, 2008

still cheating

OK, I know I've been an absent blogger. But hey. Life is like that sometimes. I haven't even read all the blogs I set out to read last week. Blame the new molars, lurking under the surface of my son's gums... blame the extra work, blame the fact that I am playing scrabble online with my best mate, I don't know... I thought this morning 'I know, I'll blog every day again for a while and make myself write about the little things, the nothing things... It'll make my Mum happy. And my Dad. And, possibly, me. Who knows?' Anyway, so all that fell to pieces tonight because, as normal, I turn into an overripe tomato around 9pm... a little mushy, a little squidgy, a few extra wrinkles... it would help if my little sweet-potato hadn't been waking up every two hours every night for the last week but there you have it. So, no words.

I leave you with this, taken in January following the delivery of a birthday card that sings 'I love to boogie, I love the nightlife' from my brother.

Ho ho ho, Hoto... how to drive my Frog absolutely barking.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

not drowning, just waving...

I am currently waiting for something to blog about. Yes, things have happened but they involve crowing and are significantly innocuous events of the 'only a grandmother would care' variety.

Yes Mum, I know you care. What do you want to hear? He's saying 'hello Daddy' now. Has he said 'Mummy' yet? We're getting a 'maybe' on that one I'm afraid.

What else? I got a new phone with a nearly invisible 'on' button and he's worked it out. He's also worked out how to take a CD out of it's case, open the CD player and put it in and when you say "Press play Spud!" he presses 'play'. He opens the kitchen drawer, takes out the back door keys and tries them in the lock. When we let him walk down the street he correctly tries the different door handles of every car in the street like a burgeoning little car thief.

He prefers my electric toothbrush to his own baby one. When he pretends to talk on the phone, he leaves gaps in between his babble like this "He'o Daddy, diggadiggadiggabooguy! Hmm... mmm.... gabadagabadaduguyduguy AH.... mmm... mmm" as if someone is on the other end. He is scaring us.

I have been busy and I am going to read blogs instead of writing them tonight.