Friday, January 30, 2009

Spud Fridays

Today being Friday, it was Charlie Day at our house. I don't work on Fridays and my vow has been that on Friday, the day is all about my son enjoying himself. No laundry, no work, no emails, just hanging out with Charlie and doing things he wants to do. This doesn't mean that I spend the day eating butter with a spoon and getting cramp in my hands playing with his monkey puppet but rather that I plan a day based around things I think he'll like. Usually this involves a friend or two and a trip somewhere - a museum; the local soft-play area; the park; a play group or someone elses house... some days it's just us, a big roll of paper, a load of paints and the sound of the rain outside.

Today we started with a short playdate with one of his best mates followed by... a journey on a real train. For me, the point was to see a good friend and for Charlie to meet her baby, have some fun playing in a different house and perhap feed the ducks at the village pond. For Charlie however, the point turned out to be all about the train.

He loves public transport and is ecstatic whenever we take a bus. He's keen on the tube too, his favourite thing is to try to point at the doors the exact second that they open. That, however, all faded into total obscurity the moment we stepped on to the platform at Marylebone station and he saw a real, live, not-in-a-museum train close up for the first time.

One of our Spud Days recently was spent at the Transport Museum with another of his best mates and he wasn't in the slightest bit interested in the old trains there because they were clearly Just Pretend. Today however, the trains were moving, the doors were opening, people were getting on and off - they were touchably, palpably real. He was on foot and typically our train left from the very furthest away platform. I was fully expecting him to beg to get back into the buggy but he padded along silently, hand obediently in mine all the way to the nether reaches. When we actually got on to the train I don't think he could believe it, he was so thrilled. It was fairly empty and we got a whole four-seater to ourselves. I had bought him a cornish pasty at the station expecting him to take a few bites and put it down but he sat happily looking out of the window the whole way and ate practically the entire thing.

We had a lovely visit and he fell asleep before we got onto the train home, waking up on the platform as we disembarked. I thought he would be dismayed but he was just as transfixed by the trains sitting patiently at the station as he had been at the view out of the window and he went home happily on the tube.

Tonight as I was settling him down to sleep I asked him if he remembered the train. 'Train!' he said 'I like it!'. 'Shall we go again?' I asked him and he sat up and said 'Yes Please!' and then lay happily back down and believe it or not, went directly to sleep.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

something about tedium here please

We are constantly amazed by the things that the spud decides to like. For example at the end of his Pingu DVD there is a little promotion for a very cheesy and pretty odd group call The Wiggles and they perform this little song called, unimaginatively 'Do the Wiggle'. They're quite alarmingly bland looking young men who are joined part way through by a baffling selection of fuzzy costume animals - an octopus, a pirate, a dog... one of the chaps is just there to dance but the camera is never on him... it's highly disturbing but the spud just loves this song and we have to do the Wiggle dance over and over and over every night while he sings along. It couldn't be stranger.

We have a selection of DVDs for him to watch and about half of them are in French. This is because my Frog actually is a Frog - or at least that's how he signed his emails when we were a-courting. He is a bonafide Frenchman complete with shoulder shrugs, a moue and the Big French Finger which gets waggled at the slightest provocation and not a bug-eyed, slimy, bandy-legged man. No, he is French and speaks only French to our bounding little potato of joy and as part of our drive to make him truly bilingual, the poor spud is forced to watch French cartoons. One of them, I confess, is actually Canadian - T'choupi. The DVD is incredibly bland - almost nauseous in its lack of any interest however our little boy just loves it and can watch it endlessly.

Well this post was going somewhere because he evinced interest in something else really boring this evening (probably me) but my wifi has crashed 3 times while writing this and I have lost the will to live and am suffering from a terminal case of CRAFT disease so... night night.

Monday, January 26, 2009

language barrier

I'm loving the spread of language through the spud's conciousness at the moment. He reminds me of the cartoon Brit Abroad trying to speak to Johnny foreigner... ie, he doesn't really speak my language and so if I don't understand what he wants, he just repeats it louder and louder until he stomps off in a huff making his little 'tch' sound as though I am some sort of moron.

Now that he's cottoning on proper-like to the use of words he no longer just wakes up yelling incoherencies. I bought him a little space shuttle from the Science Museum on Friday and after he went to bed, his Dad broke the tail off it because it was hazardous. The next morning the spud was crest-fallen but my response at the time was to say 'It's not broken, it's fine! See?' It's clear now that for the last 3 days he's been driving himself mad worrying this around and around in his little head as he woke up at 3:30am shouting 'Rocket BROKE Rocket BROKE' endlessly until I broke down and told him 'Daddy broke the rocket' at which point he calmed down immediately and went to sleep with an 'I knew it' sigh. Actually he was saying 'Rocket BATE' but I know what he meant

This morning it was 'Hot Milk Cup! Hot Milk.... cup!' but when I offered him hot milk in a cup he melted down 'NO cup, NO cup, NO cup!!!'. Right then.

Tonight it was 'finger hurt' followed, when he couldn't identify which finger by 'hand hurt' which, after careful prodding turned out to be his wrist, for which he doesn't have a word but for which he does have a proclivity for landing on during particularly rambunctious periods of jumping.

Thankfully, Mummy's kisses are still magic; let's just hope the same can be said for her vocabulary.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

A Walter Mitty moment...

Today feels as though it's hardly happened at all. Firstly, I slept in until 11am which was utterly utterly wonderful. Then I raced into town to buy birthday presents, we raced to a pub in North London for birthday drinks, raced home and now the spud is being raced into bed by his father and I am in my fancy new lounge suit racing down a gin and orange.

It's not been without it's little stresses, today. Given that I was running late with my present shopping I drove to Brixton (I know, there's no excuse) and it turned out that about 1000 other people had had the same idea and there was no parking.

I was driving slowly up my favourite Secret Parking Road when I noticed a car on my tail. Near the end of viable parking I pulled over, let her pass and started to turn around for another cruise past the spots. As I was pausing to let a car through in the opposite direction, she, having turned around on the sly, steamed past, forced the other car to pull over and raced into the lead. I cursed her as foully and as inventively as I know how (and believe me, when it comes to sordid invective, I worked for 6 years in a biker bar and Know What I'm Doing) when she found a space and cut into it at top speed.

I pulled into a spot about 50 feet up the road and walked towards her car still fuming, wondering if I had the guts to actually key her car (as if... I can't even throw rubbish that I've picked up from the street into someone else's bin) when I saw that she was still trying to park her jalopy into her precious little space. I strode past, pausing only to smirk and raise an eyebrow at her in as cutting as manner as I know how.

I know. Steer clear of me, I might eyebrow you into submission.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

intestinal fortitude

I think this blog should be sponsored by whatever organisation is currently in charge of London's effluvient at the moment. I really really really am not trying to drag you all into the gutter with me but sadly, that's where I live at the moment.

Today began with the opening of a very delayed Christmas parcel from my brother and sis-in-law (god bless Canada Post). This year's scatalogical present from my noble brother was an electronic fart machine with 6 different sounds. Needless to say, mixmaster Spud has been pressing buttons non-stop and today, we have all been farting. I have been farting in a sort of stacatto rhythm while the frog has been farting the mambo. The Spud's monkey has been farting Handel's Water Music and the spud himself has been farting the Beastie Boys. No doubt we will continue to do so until the batteries run out and beyond.

What I love about this is that it's called 'Dr. Fart'.
- 'Help, Help, my tummy hurts!'
- 'Never fear, Dr. Fart is here... one good blast and you'll feel MUCH better!'

All these fartsome frolics were some sort of ironic foreshadowing for the upset that hit both of my men this evening and which meant they both had to lie down complaining of sore tummies. This required me to leap from one sick-bed to the other for laying on of hands and bringing of fennel tea, not to mention the cladestine airing of rooms.

For my part, I have truly entered middle age as today I purchased (stop laughing) a 'lounge suit' with a wrap top which I love... soft slouchy trousers and a long-sleeved top just perfect for stuffing oneself full of dinner without the nasty hampering feeling of a proper waistband. My tummy, I'll have you know, feels wonderful. The fact that I am now dressed as a pensioner is of no concern to you. Just step away.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Brevity is the soul of wit... or is it just farts?

Once upon a time this blog used to be funny however I've noticed a tendency since the spud has hit toddlerhood, perhaps brought on by stress and lack of sleep, for my posts to become rather long and turgid... please god give me the strength to avoid a poo joke here... errrrgh... hmmmfdh... hrrrgh... FAIL!

Anyway so I'm going to try to make this blog more regular and less effort... a sort of DulcoEase™ blog which will hopefully be, if not, funnier at least shorter and possibly less concerned with poo.

Cue long silence.

The problem is that back when the spud was a sweet ickle baby there tended to be a lot of references to poo in here... then we got blasé about it and it stopped making an appearance. Here, anyway. Now, with potty training, bottom brownies have once again taken the floor and it is therefore going to be difficult to give you a daily digest without any poop in it. Crap, that came out wrong. In fact I seem to be incapable of writing any sentence that doesn't whiff slightly of someone else's colon at the moment; or semi-colon. Boom boom.

Anyway, the spud has long been obsessed with farts as this footage of him at 5 months shows and I have been trying in vain to teach him that farts are not funny and that when he lets one rip he has to say 'excuse me'. The trouble is of course that farts ARE funny and that the sight of a two-year-old cracking up because he's let out a barn owl is even funnier. The upshot is that now when he cracks one out, he freezes, looks at me with his cheeks sucked in and his eyebrows raised until I say 'and WHAT do you say?' at which point he screams 'scuze me FART!' at the top of his lungs, pisses himself laughing (not, thankfully, literally, as yet) and then gets on with trying to crank out another one.

Today he managed four in a row to the vast amusement of us both; unfortunately the fifth had a little tail on it and so my friends I am afraid I must swiftly draw a veil over the rest of the proceedings.


Wednesday, January 21, 2009

What goes in...

If I have to look at one more thing that's emerged from someone else's body in the next 24 hours I may lose what's left in my own.

We've had two colds in a row, big, congested colds that have Charlie sounding like someone is revving a Harley in his oesophagus and generating so much snot that I've been finding it in his ears. The Frog is sleeping like a chainsaw at the bottom of a well and I'm sleeping with loo-roll up each nostril to stop the Nile running out and flooding the cat.

The only member of this household unaffected has been Sammy but he's made up for that by sicking up his dinner in all sorts of inappropriate places... nothing like hauling a vomiting cat over one's plate and hoping for the best to spice up one's evening.

Anyway, so I've been entertaining my snotty son by letting him help make dinner. Tonight he happily cracked eggs for an omelet and then whisked them the hell over the counter. This morning he helped me make coffee. As soon as he hears the coffee machine or a blender going on he crashes into the kitchen, pushes a stool over to me and yells 'sit down! sit down!' until I hike him up to the counter so he can put his hundred tiny hands into whatever he can reach.

Perhaps this interest in cuisine is why he has been sampling so many new foods recently; which yesterday included escaping into a corner with a jar of peanut butter and a spoon. He was, at the time, spending the day at the studio with his Dad, who is therefore entirely to blame for what rolled down the spud's trouser leg and into the close confines of our flat this morning. Happily, this was discovered at the exact moment that his Grandpere connected to us for the first time via Skype. We turned on our video just in time for poor Papi Georges to see his grandson's poo-stained foot being hauled off for a wash, followed swiftly by the pleasure of watching the cat throw up on the empty sofa and no, unfortunately, I am NOT making it up.

Anyway, we're all settled down now and off to bed for the night. Just as I was writing the above paragraph, the Frog blew his nose and the Spud crashed awake with the cry of 'sit down sit down' as though the coffee machine had just been switched on. Sammy hasn't thrown up since 9pm and I may actually make it through the night with a clear sinus, hallelujah.


Just a little PS for the cat fanciers out there, Sammy is indeed a bit poorly. Could be the thyroid, could be his kidneys, he's nearly 18 and they're currently battling it out to see who can kill him first. My money's on his heart murmur. He is eating again though and we're off to the vet on Friday for a check up.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Meow mixed up.

Sammy, our ancient rescue cat, is becoming increasingly picky in his dotage. Firstly, there is the matter of his pills. We get these absolutely magical things called 'Pill Pockets' from a site in the US. They're little balls of salmon-flavoured plasticene (I am only going by the flavour on the packet here folks, I've not actually tasted one) with a hole punched in the middle.

These things are a life-saver given the volume and variety of tablets rattling around in our old puss at any given moment. You shove pills inside them, pinch the hole shut and it's down in one. Sammy loves them but he's always been a bit funny about where he'll eat them. Usually he had to be beside the armchair but he'd sometimes take one on his cushion or near the rug. Now he has to be under a table and offered the damn thing three times. Sometimes he'll only eat it if I have warmed it up first in my sweaty, frustrated little palms.

Secondly there is the issue of his regular meals. He's always flip-flopped between favourite foods but these days he has to eat whatever we give him within 10 minutes or it's 'too old' and he will starve rather than touch it again. It can't be the same food more than once and sometimes he has to have his bowl on the sofa, other times under a table; others we have to move it a foot to the right to be near the door. Until we nailed it, you have no idea the amount of cat-food that was going to waste in this house given that he needs 5 meals a day to asuage his raging thyroid-induced hunger (we've downed his dosage to protect his kidneys and his pill routine requires it's own calendar). The food-dance is becoming pretty overwhelming, sometimes we have three separate flavours of cat food in the fridge plus fish, cheese, yoghurt and raw eggs all waiting in the wings.

Today, for example I brought him home some salmon that the spud had refused for lunch and Sammy would only eat it on the sofa from a flat dish or, better still, from my fingers. I put it in his regular bowl and he just sat looking both downcast and expectant until I lifted a piece out; where-upon he wolfed it down, his nose inches from his salmon-stuffed bowl.

Discovering his hidden needs was all trial and error stuff as he wasn't kind enough to inform us in writing and it took weeks. He would regularly go without food because we hadn't worked out his requirements - whole bowls of fresh, quality food were going to waste while he lapped up some water and regarded us balefully. We spent several weeks chasing him around the house with a series of different foods in different vessels before he revealed all his terms. Now that we know what to to it's a major relief as for the most part he is no longer getting us up at 4am because he is starving and we can feed him at midnight (when he will eat in the kitchen) which normally gets him through until 8.

It's not all good news though. The frog has just filled his regular bowl with new catfood and gone to bed. Sammy is waiting patiently under the dining room table, looking put out. I sense he's changing his terms again. Could be a long night...

Monday, January 12, 2009

whskrs on ktns

All I do these days is to emit these dreadful cawing noises with which I really hesitate to lambast the internet for fear of coming home to a row of scarecrows in my comments box. I was earlier going to damn the consequences and spew out a list of the things pudding boy has been up to but then I got a salutary text from a fellow Mum and realised that ultimately, the internet is better off without all my flapping about.

I met girl X while pregnant - we met online in fact, in a forum for expectant Mums and we hit it off. We txted, we dropped e (mail) to each other, we LOLed around and ultimately we met up which was nice, by which I mean that I think we struggled a bit to connect. But it was nice. She's lovely and sweet and all raindrops on roses and a good 11 or 12 years younger than me. She doesn't belong in my creaking, leathery company; by which, of course, I mean that when stood next to her black-belt fitness and clear skin, all my aged glory is clearly apparent.

So, we went back to txting and this was fine. We had a network of other Mums we'd never met who would text each other at 4am "Come in London, RU up? Just doing feed 2" and it was an amazement to me to think of the millions of us awake at 4am with a baby latched on to a boob, just getting through the night.

Soon however, her texts took a turn for the worse. Her baby was bigger, stronger, eating more, sitting up earlier, grabbing things, rolling over, crawling... I don't think she meant in a million years to be competitive but there it was, failure with every text. I started to wrestle with my urge to out-do her and the more I wrestled, the blander my texts got as I steered clear of anything competitive - but it kept coming. If I was tired, she hadn't slept for two days. If Charlie was smiling, her baby was laughing. If we'd been out for a walk, they'd been up a mountain... After two of three months of it I just couldn't do it anymore. My responses dwindled, emails sat malevolently in my inbox chirping cheerily to themselves... Eventually, nicely and naturally, we dropped touch.

Yesterday she texted again out of the blue 'just to see how you are' and immediately I knew: she's pregnant again. I texted back, enquiring and she spilled the beans without hesitation. She's up the duff, her son is big and strong and wonderful and doing this and doing that and... and... oh, internet, I shamed myself... I let the poor girl have it; both barrels. All the caws and the wing flaps and the hoarding of shiny things in two words: 'potty trained'. And there's more, I have more if I need it. Much more. Oh yes.

I am so sorry. I will do penance, I promise. I will clean the damn potty with a q-tip. I will sing 100 choruses of the 'Balamory' theme song. I will play 'Ring-a-ring-a-rosy with my son until my ears bleed and I cannot stand up anymore. I will let him jump on me until I need a new spleen. I will feed him chocolate at 8pm and stay up with him all night reading Charlie and Lola and listening him create break-beats from the siren on his fire-engine.

I will, however, do it again if I have to. Hell yeah.

Better hand me those q-tips.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

écoutez et répétez

My son is a verbal sponge at the moment, he's finally at the point most of his friends were at about six months ago where he will repeat and remember pretty much any word you throw his way which has its amusing moments for a bored parent; 'Constipation', anyone?

The downside is that often we can't understand him and he gets very frustrated repeating something to us earnestly while we cock our heads to one side and say 'banana? sofa? deck-chair?' He greets all this parental stupidity with a proper 'tch' sound now that only lacks rolled eyes and a big sigh.

The upside is that we have now worked out the meaning of all his swear words and are reckless with relief. 'Bugger' turns out to be 'buttons' and is his word for any remote control. 'Fuq' is 'fork'; 'battid' is 'broken' and 'Shih'? Well, er, it seems to mean something he's er, dropped, er, or, um, something that's gone wrong, or... or... sigh.

One of his latest acquisitions is 'Hello' which has turned him into Basil Fotherinton Thomas as he dances down the street saying 'Hello car, hello bus, hello light, hello bus, hello bus, hello door, hello bus, hello car'. Soon I am certain he will marry that with some of his new inner-city lingo and we will have 'hello car alarm', 'hello tow-truck' and 'hello crack head' but meanwhile I can cluck happily over 'Hello Mummy'. The problem is that his room is at the front of the flat and while our street is fairly quiet, there are quite a lot of late night goings-on outside his window. Tonight there was a house alarm, four car horns and someone yelling 'yeah, fuck you' just while I was settling him down with his bottle and this isn't that bad a night; I'm sure he is absorbing a lot of less-than-savoury information.

Mind you, having him to sleep in our room isn't that much better; the other night he lurched awake to inform me that 'Daddy Fart!', a fact about which I was sadly already aware. Other distractions include the alarm chuntering on at 3:30 because he'd been trying to program it to talk to the Space Station and Sammy marching stiffly over our soft parts in an attempt to get someone to feed him at 5am.

He's also speaking some French which means that some of his words are mutants - 'Daup' means either 'Jump' or 'Saute' and I suspect there are more vermin such as this breeding in his vocabulary. We'll have to go in there with a dictionary at some point and root them out.

Anyway, it is a real joy to hear him communicate, however it does rather blow my personal myth that he is some sort of latent poet as the truth appears to be that all he really wants to talk about is cars.