Sunday, June 29, 2008

wiped out

I have been writing something for the last week to go here however due to the fact that I have been working days and nights on a project at the moment, every time I look at what I started my mind turns into puppy food.

So, everyone is, for a day or two, spared the brilliance of my son, Oh He Whose Nappies Shield The Light Of The World.

You can tell I'm not thinking straight.

We are trying to ditch those nappies, by the way. It's going GREAT guns I tell you. The other day, he actually managed to sit on the potty and emit a little posterior squeak after much effort. I think it was only for show however as moments later he created his own personal Lake Victoria about two feet away and stood there saying 'Uh Oh!' very smugly. When I pointed out the obvious, he squealed and ran laughing into the bedroom where he climbed under our duvet and posed coyly while I willfully ignored the trail of damp footprints he left behind him. Well, he was on the Frog's side anyway.

After wiping it all up while he helped by spreading it around with a set of meeting notes I had improvidently left in a binder on a shelf in another room, I practically threw him into the bath - however about five minutes later he was throwing the bath back at me and I was back to wiping up.

I seem to spend a lot of my time at the moment wiping. I never knew that wiping could take so much effort and all of a sudden I am becoming the sort of woman who might appear on a television commercial rabbiting on about a sponge. I have pretty much settled on those big flat thin sponges as they seem fairly absorbent and have the added benefit of not hoarding cat hair that they can shed later when one is wiping somewhere else. There, you see? I have reported on sponges. It's just that my son has reached a stage in his life where he seems to attract and eject an enormous amount of fluids. There is cereal milk, juice, more milk, water from the cat bowl, drool, water from the hose, water from the watering can, stuff that comes in on the soles of his feet from the garden, raisins, bits on the floor where he's been experimenting with blackboard chalk, is that a half-eaten bee?, cat sick, breakfast, lunch, dinner, yoghurt, bread crumbs, cheese, fingerprints on mirrors, fingerprints on walls, fingerprints on windows and tell me just how did he get his fingers there??? I'm sparing you the obvious wiping up of the spud's face and other regions to clean up Things That Come From Within. No wonder that half the chemist these days seems to be shelves of wipes.

Anyway, back to the project. Even the cat is snoring right now, at least nobody is going to need me to wipe anything up in the next few hours.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Where's Lou Reed when you need him?

When the frog got home this evening, the spud and I were already locked in combat over whether or not I was going to be allowed to install a night-time nappy on his ever-increasing bottom. Not, however, that it has increased as much as that of his best friend next door who's mother confessed to me recently that, during a recent 'all hang out' trip to the paddling pool, other mothers were laughing and pointing, because apparently he has a whole other bum under his top one.

Anyway, the Frog arriving home during the final moments of the spud's bedtime hour is a fairly normal thing round our way, with the frog playing the role of Daddy Hero rescuing a benighted little bean from the perils of going to sleep - however, the Frog normally arrives home an hour later. Yes, folks, that's right, my son, my son with his hundred tiny hands and his pudgy little duracell legs, my son went to bed on time tonight.

Furthermore, he has slept through the night, with the exception of a few midnight nappy changes, for five days in a row. Not that I'm counting... except obviously I am counting because the first time his son wakes in the night, the Frog will be complaining that he 'never gets a good night's sleep' and so I am announcing the new number every morning at volume into his good ear.

I didn't realise, before I gave birth, that having a baby would be such a mathematical experience. And I'm not referring to the endless subtractions one has to make from one's bank account here but rather to the equation in which 'n' equals a good night's sleep. The main factors appear to be food, sleep, exercise and health and the equation looks something like this:

(food)y + (sleep)y + (exercise)y
____________________________ = n
teething - poo

I say 'something like' because I am certain I failed maths in high school, however I am perpetually trying to solve for 'y' when I have no idea what on earth I am doing. This means that I carefully question our childminder on all known factors and then try to work out what might be missing (did he only eat (food-1)?) so that I can try to fill the gap before bedtime. Thus, we can sometimes be found out in the playground long after most children have already been gently tucked in with their ironed pjs and Thomas the Tank engines; just me and all the other Bad Mothers trying to exhaust our toddlers before social services come around in their unmarked vans. Other times the Frog comes home expecting dinner and a smile and the spud and I are sat in the kitchen debating the merits of various food groups (how about some carrots 'No!' well then, some cereal? 'No!' What about a banana 'No! Tha! Tha! Tha!' 'Ah, a biscuit - go ahead, take three'). All this in the hopes that I will one day solve for that mythical event, the Perfect Day, leading to that most ellusive of creatures, the Silent Night.

Fridays are Spud days. I don't work and so the two of us spend the entire day together tooling around and having play dates. Sometimes the spud even gets to play. Today we firstly went to see a friend from our antenatal class who is two weeks past due having her second child (I am trying to solve for that equation too but I can't get past 'Frog=Non'). Her first child is a month younger than the spud however, as has been previously reported, he is bigger and taller and nicer and has been sleeping through the night since he was 8 weeks old. I know. AND she gets to have another baby. I would feel terribly, terribly envious about all the sleep she's had except I happen to know she had a dial-up Maternity nurse pushing her around during the first few weeks of motherhood when one is particularly open to suggestion.

Anyway, because Tall Friend is still, effectively, on his fancy dancy maternity nurse schedule, we were effectively on it too and it was like entering a completely different world. Lunch was eaten on time and then we left just before nap time. We said goodbye, me crossing fingers (and, secretly, my legs) for my lovely, soon-to-be-mother-of-two friend and the spud then had the perfect nap, waking ten minutes before He Of The Two Bottoms came over with his older brother to play exhaustively for a couple of hours. Then, because once one has entered the routine, it seems one stays on it like a bedtime travelator, he downed his entire dinner before 6 and we had running around and playing until the perfect bathtime. It was like watching my own life through a soft filter. We danced, we sang, we put things away, we splashed, we giggled, we fed animals in the zoo... when the frog came home, the spud was hiding from his nappy so sweetly under the duvet that I could feel my pancreas starting to give out. He slipped into bed so happily and went to sleep so soundly that... that... well, that I think today, maybe just for today, we managed to solve the equation.

Of course, this means he's going to be up at 5. But that's ok. It's my turn to sleep in. Oh yeah.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Istanbul ate my shoes... but blogging ate my brain

If anyone can translate the Turkish part of this sign I'm agog to find out how this works...

Aplogies for the long delay here, but since getting back from Istanbul I've been playing catch-up... along with 'Don't Kick Mummy', 'Come Here', 'Go Away', 'Give Mummy the Keys' and 'Leave Sammy Alone'. They're from a book I found hidden under the Spud's mattress called 'Make Mummy Mental'.

I'd quite like to go back to Istanbul and see the city properly. It's bonkersly enormous, by which I mean that it must be bigger than Greater London and absolutely packed with endless, endless apartment buildings crushed cheek-by-jowl. It's modern and run down and quite fabulous. My big hint to the ladies however would be 'don't wear heels'. I walked a single block to and from lunch and when I got to the office my shoes were completely ruined - I swear they had teeth marks on them.

The main problem I had while I was there however was that the entire time I could hear a little voice running commentary inside my head and I realised that I was... writing my blog. Not this one, you understand, but an incisive, pithy, intelligent one about the comparitive differences between London and Istanbul peppered with economic references... because when faced with the array of 3-for-2 offers at airport bookshops I have a need to feel superior to the sweating hoards fingering Jackie Collins' back-catalogue and inevitably reach for something outside of my intellectual capacity. Which means I've been reading all sorts of popular economics books. Ask me anything. I am Clearly An Expert.

Anyway, the upshot of this is that whenever I am doing anything interesting such as visiting Istanbul or... or... er.... anyway, I can't enjoy anything first hand, as it were because I seem to have a corner of my grey matter (I have plenty to spare) which is constantly re-purposing events for blog material, or rather, cod travel pieces for the Sunday Times. This is hardly new for me, mind you.

I was in the park the other day watching the spud go up and down some steps a few hundred times and while I pasted an indulgent smile to my mug and tried to radiate 'Good Mother' vibes I naturally ear-wigged on the conversation of a nearby group of Mums with older children. "I'm obsessed with what to make for dinner every day" said one. "I know" said another "as soon as I wake up every day I'm worrying about what to cook for tea" and they all made sympathetic clucking noises. I turned and openly gaped at them as if a new species of cat, say, one with five legs, had just tottered by. 'Is this lurking in my future' I thought? Followed, inevitably by 'Am I A Bad Mother?' (one should never listen to other Mothers in the park). This did, however, raise a glimmer of recognition from my blogging brain, because in that over-heated little closet I Blog Every Day, which requires Things To Blog About.

Clearly, I don't post every day as luckily for everyone out in the real world, my blog brain is in direct competition for limited resource with my motherhood brain and so, while I would love to be a daily blogger, it's simply not to be. My motherhood brain, on the other hand, is clearly Taking Over. I found myself thinking, while passing a cafe in Istanbul and therefore many hundreds of miles from my son, thinking, mind you, in my head, to myself, 'Should Mummy go in and have a coffee?'.

Perhaps Mummy should have a lie down.

Later edit: so, the sign translates word by word to: "Please necessary water expenses resist in second time bacillus" I think in Turkish it's telling one NOT to flush twice but am a bit worried about the bacillus bit!!!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

...ain't nobody's business but the... er...

***Grandparent Warning: Non-Traditional Post Alert... almost no news about the spud... nothing to see here... move along, move along***

I am posting from the exotic confines of a zero-star hotel room in Istanbul. I'm here on business for two days which is absolutely not exotic or fabulous in any way despite my high hopes.

It all started off well, if you don't count the hour flight delay, as I was met by my client's driver in a Jag and whisked through downtown Istanbul at breakneck speed to be handed over to a swish hotel lobby. I was feeling all smug and under-dressed until I was led to my room. Via the cellar.

I will leave to your imagination the state of things in Sparx central and furnish you only with the following words: dirty, small, scuffed, 70s. At least the pillows are new and the sheets clean.

I do feel very provincial having never been here before... and with no visits to the old town, to the bazaar or any palaces, to Hagia Sophia or the museums, I am not doing it justice. What I've seen is 100% from the taxi window and very much airport-traffic-hotel-traffic-office. Like a bad wine tasting... "I'm getting hints of the Vancouver airport area... is that an undernote of Paris? Oh, it's redolent of Tunis and... perhaps just a zip of Brussels?"

Modern highways, hotels and highrises give way to run-down 70s apartment buildings patched with character and hung with laundry; between them hide the odd deco or even nouveau buildings, often just husks. Some streets seem completely sterile while others have so many shops and businesses packed into them that there is nowhere safe to look, but I love how scaffolding here is covered in planks of wood so buildings under construction look like big old pirate ships about to sail into the street.

The one thing I hadn't realised is just how enormous Istanbul is - 17 million people and the third largest city in the world apparently. Shame that all I can think about is that 'They Might be Giant's remake of 'Istanbul not Constantinople'

This evening I went for a walk and while I didn't make it across to the old town, at 9pm the streets were packed with people doing what looks suspiciously like the Spanish promenade - walking slowly around, sampling dishes from stalls, talking, laughing, racing their engines. I ate a small meze and on the way home bought some lovely ripe, sweet cherries so that I don't have to repeat my experience of the hotel breakfast table.Sadly though it is no great culture shock to be here: I finished off my evening, cherries in hand, walking past the starbucks near the hotel.

Home tomorrow to see my little menagerie. I spoke to the spudlet on the phone today and all he did was give it back to his father. Sigh.


Sunday, June 08, 2008

A walk in the park

If I write the words 'Summer has finally come to England' in this blog then tomorrow it will surely rain. Today however, one could be fooled into thinking that this was finally true - although I'm not saying, you understand... not saying anything. Now, I know all you doubters out there across the pond... you can't believe that we actually get sunny days and heat waves over here, you've heard too many jokes and watched Mary Poppins too many times to envision this fair country with a heat haze and parched grass but it does happen. Sometimes.

My mother will deny this hotly in the comments section. She's been here four times in the last two years and will swear up and down to you that it has rained the whole time however this is simply not true. Not, you understand, that I am accusing my dear Mum of being a pants-down liar. But you know. She has a somewhat selective memory. It did, I admit, rain a lot when she was here this time but only for the final week. And a bit in the middle. But we did see the sun. Really. Anyway, so the entire country is happy today as we can talk about the weather without grunting.

Moving swiftly on, the upshot of all this sunny business today was the sort of day in which one takes ones offspring outside.

Firstly we mowed the lawn together, him with his favourite mower and me with the one that spits lawn clippings all over one's shins. Then we hung out the laundry, him handing me things from the washing machine while I dropped his nappies in the new lawn clippings. Then we had our lunch together while the Frog cracked off to do some grocery shopping. We sat outside in the sun swapping fingers of PBJ and hommous/carrot sandwiches and cut up peach. Then we watered a few things, set up the furniture and sat beside each other, covered in factor 40 sunscreen, each with our watered-down juice and a book. Once in a while he'd squint up at me and say 'haah' and when he was bored he got down and practiced his climbing skills on the back of the chairs.

Then the frog came home and after he had his lunch, we went to a garden centre and I carried a fast-asleep spud around which was good for the frog as it stopped me from buying a host of hostias and other plants about which the he was being very French... all shrugs and moues and mumbles.

Once the spud was up we offered him a trip to the park to which he gave his standard 'Yeah' ('Would you like a drink Spud?' 'Yeah'; 'Have you dyed your hair Spud?' 'Yeah') and since the paddling pool has opened, when you're talking park destinations There Can Be Only One. And this means that the rest of day went something like this:

This is the kind of day we like... and yes, that is my pin-head shadow with the deformed tummy. I was carrying a bag, people! People!

And then, after that we walked hand in hand down to the duck pond where the spud decided to lead me cross-country through the stand of trees where the parakeets live, under their rawcous squawks and up through the field to the tennis courts, then back down the hill to the playground where, part-way there, he begged to be carried. So I picked him up and we walked to the playground where he decided that maybe he had just a little drip of energy left and climbed everything at least twice but didn't in fact complain when I picked him up to leave. The park was gorgeous, elder-flowers, rhodedendrons and mock orange in bloom, irises by the duck pond, deep, cool grass with flower-heads waving, the church spires at either end looking positively bucolic. Families picnicing, marquees up and flying flags, big groups of people with food and wine and hundreds of kids laughing and running and shouting.

The spud went on to eat a big dinner and fall asleep after three books, followed by a short cuddle on his sofa with him dragging my head down so I could bat my eyelashes onto his cheeks and make him giggle and yawn at the same time.

Not a bad day, in fact. And this, folks, this is Brixton


Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Don't tell him when he's older...

...but the spud has had a slightly over-emotional week this week.

I don't know why I'm using euphemisms like 'slightly over-emotional'... I guess I'm thinking that one day in the far future he may want to read these blurtings and I wish to spare his blushes. This is ridiculous as I am clearly about to spill All The Beans There Are and euphemisms will be out the window in the next paragraph. So, I'll start again.

My Spud has been a teensy bit possessive of me this week. Even my Motherhood brain, which becomes over-stimulated at the slightest movement of the spud's smallest finger, is a little taken aback by it all.

I think it all began when his childminder took on a new child a couple of weeks ago and, while he seems very fond and brotherly towards the new arrival (a nine-month-old girl) the problem is that his minder can no longer come to fetch him from the house and we have to drop him off. This is quite a big move as our spoiled little Prince Edward Island potato has never ever been left behind - people always come to get him. She comes to get him from us, we come to get him from her... in his mind, people love him and keep coming to get him. So this new thing where we take him to hers and desert him has taken him by surprise and we are getting the full-on arms-round-the-ankle-please-Mummy-don't-go hysteric treatment every time we leave him behind.

While this is to be expected, there have been a couple of unexpected side-effects to this and one of them is that he has reverted back nine months and wants to breast-feed again. This sounds very sweet, a little sad and no doubt medically and psychologically understandable but the upshot is that I can no longer pick him up for a cuddle without getting a sneaky little hand down my bra. My boobs, in which he has always maintained a somewhat proprietary interest have once again become His Property, as has everything else in the flat. I read a comedy 'Toddler's Rules' thing the other day which said 'If it's in my hand, it's mine, if I like it, it's mine, if it looks like mine, it's mine; and everything else is mine too' and I think my boobs qualify for at least 3 out of those 4 statements for spuddy boy. The worst part is that we have reached the stage where Mummy must no longer get dressed in the morning in front of her offspring as he stands wide-eyed in front of her pointing at the puppies shouting 'That! That!' or just pointing and jeering, as though I was suddenly 13 and caught naked in the playground.

I say that having to get dressed in the loo is the worst part but I lie again. Firstly, there is nowhere in our flat which is sacred or secret and the trick is to manage one's ablutions while one's partner is In Sole Charge of our offspring or one finds oneself with one leg in and one leg out of one's knickers while the door slowly opens as if directed by Hitchcock.

Secondly, however, there is The Incident which sparked my sudden retreat into the closet, as it were. Imagine, if you will, the telephone ringing while one is getting dressed. It's a call one has been waiting for and therefore one downs tools and rushes to the phone. Now. One, ok bugger it I, was sitting topless in the livingroom armchair hoping my hair would disguise the worst of my sins while happily chatting away when up comes the spud, sweeps away my hair and... latches on. Latches on, I tell you. He latched on! He's not been breastfed for over nine months and yet... all that time he was harbouring a memory. All those little pinches and prods at my boobs which I thought were just vestigial mammaries (sorry) were, in fact, Hopeful Little Hints. He was very cautious, I have to say and after gently and unsuccessfully sampling both of his old friends he looked at me reproachfully and walked away. Perhaps this was a good thing as he seems completely uninterested in my boobs now.

This is not all, however. No, the spud evinced one more possessive bit of behavior this week which I shall refer to simply as his 'Alpha Male' moment and which involved him coming up to the Frog and I during a little huggy moment, breaking us apart with a push to a parental chest, clutching my hand tightly and giving me a big kiss on my cheek while staring reproachfully at his father.

Hopefully all this will die down as he becomes used to being left behind and once again becomes comfortable with his status in the house however meanwhile I will be the one dressing and cuddling my spouse in the loo with the door locked...