Sunday, May 31, 2009

a night off...

We survived our first sleepover last night. I was dreading it but it was sort of a win-win situation in the end. We got to go to a friend's wedding and drink Bucks Fizz and stay in an hotel and the spud got to go to his friend's house and run his friend's parent's ragged.

It's funny. I have just got to the point where I have come to terms with the fact that the baby I had for five minutes has mutated into a toddler but now the toddler has turned into a little boy who looked at his father yesterday and said 'That's a nice jacket Daddy' and then went off to find one of his own to model in the mirror.

My Mummy-brain quite pleased by this. I have, you see, this secret dream to raise the perfect man. Oh yes and I also know I'm the first woman to ever have this plan. Er. Anyway. Yes, so this is my cunning plan, to raise him to look after his appearance, respect his education and have the freedom of expression to be anything he wants to be. You know. Except, say, a footballer. But I'll teach him to work out. And wash. And to study. And read. And to be compassionate and funny and aloof. And to know music and what to wear and how to shop with women. Anything so that he's not the bespectacled, ridiculed spod sitting on his own in the cafeteria that I used to be. Mind you, I'm pretty sure my Mum had a go at trying to tell me what to do but I suspect I may not have been listening. Much.

But this thing, this thing of posing in mirrors... it might have to go. Today he was showing off in his underpants. I mean, with his parentage I have to say it's an unlikely scenario but can you imagine the horror of your son becoming, say, an underwear model? Oh yes, handsome and wealthy and attractive, great; but I can't quite imagine being able to come to terms with driving into town and seeing my boy's nether regions blown up on a bill-board. It would either bring back some vestigial urge to give them the once-over with a pack of wet-wipes or make me drive into a wall out of embarrassment. I just think that by the time he's at an age where he would rather die then have me see him naked I'll be more than happy to give up the privledge.

Anyway, where was I? So yesterday afternoon he walked out of the door with his Dad carrying his little suitcase; he kissed me goodbye and waved and then apparently behaved beautifully all evening, slept like a dream and woke up bright as the day. When we got home they were all playing football in the park and he was pleased to see us but not enough to come running over until we were close enough that he didn't have to raise a sweat.

And that was that, the first sleepover, done and dusted. Think I might wait for the next one, he may be ready to be a little boy but I'm not quite there yet.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Me and my...

Friday and an all-day-spud-day here. It's been boiling hot here and we started out with a little picnic in the park with some friends. After much eating and running we had an actual nap and after that we went to the Brixon Lido for a swim. Yes, that's right. Swimming outside. Madness.

As we were walking across the park with the sun behind us I waved at him and my shadow waved back. I pointed at it - 'look' I said 'it's Mummy's shadow' (because I STILL bloody talk about myself in the third person in front of my son). 'Ooh' he said and he waved too. 'Look, it's Charlie's shadow (because he always talks about himself in the third person too.... er, is this cause or effect? Why didn't I notice this before?). We spent a few moments waving to each other and we carried on to the pool.

Tonight I read him his final story of the night and turned out the light. 'Mummy' he said 'Where's my shadow? My shadow's gone!' We then had ten minutes of me convincing him that his shadow goes to sleep when the lights go out before I could leave the room.

Well done me; one more thing the spud can fixate on before he goes to sleep. Well done.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

white rabbit

The moment one gives birth one slips swiftly, silently and almost imperceptably Through The Looking Glass and an entirly new world is revealed beneath the surface of the old one.

It's like one of those magic pictures one might have found in a 70s comic book where you put a piece of coloured cellophane over the top and a completely different picture emerges. What was once a high street populated by shoe shops becomes overnight a street full of children's clothing shops. Cafes one has never noticed are suddenly hot on the destination list because of their toy box.

Anyway I realised the bleeding bloody obvious today when I was nearly late to pick up the spud from nursery which is that most of the people I used to work with who jacked off home early were not simply slackers, they were probably just trying to avoid late fees at their nursery.

Today, once again the penultimate parent, I noticed as I beetled out having signed the forms and dutifully admired the spud's home-made frankenlolly, that the streets at that hour are actually thronged with harried parents either struggling home with over-excited offspring or checking their watches. Parents who usually stop in the street to natter wave their wrists at me and shout as they rush past 'gotta run or we'll get a fine'; it's ten to six and a significant percentage of the parental universe is running late.

Sometimes I think that before I had Charlie I was completely and utterly insensate - and now I feel like one of the invisibles. I saw a Mum on the tube today with two small children and it was amazing how many people simply didn't bother to offer them a seat. On the bus a three year old was separated from her Mother by a woman carrying a plastic bag. The child was crying for her Mum and the Mum was right in front of the woman trying to calm the child down. What did the woman do? Wipe her nose with the hand carrying the bag and whack the kid in the face. Then put her hand back down and continue to stand in the way.

Anyway, so this is my apology, I guess, to all my friends who had kids before me. I just never noticed. Now, I think I want to be more visible. Red Queen outfit, perhaps?

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

raspberries at dusk

I'm sitting here, my mind a complete blank, it's like life is washing over me - work, Motherhood, wife-dom, the whole schmoo is like a tide that has just pushed me out onto the litoral of bedtime. I have one memory from today, amongst the flotsam and jetsam, the snapshots of phonecalls and emails and task lists and stolen trips to the fridge for snacks and that memory is of my son blowing a series of highly damp raspberries directly into my face in response to my suggestion that His Royal Piglet might like to take a bath.

I can't remember what happened before the raspberry. I imagine it was dinner-related but for some reason I had picked him up and we were in that Siamese standing position, one pair of legs, two heads - you know what I mean, parent carrying child, child and parent nose-to-nose. Anyway, so I suggested the bath and he blew a big, fat, juicy raspberry right into my face until I was coated in a fine spray of yoghurt and spit and apple juice.

The only appropriate response, I decided, was to blow one back, however my first few tries were fairly pitiful. For each of my little Mumsy blows I got a faceful of spit back and so I loaded up and sprayed him a good one - boy was it worth it. First I got a look of fake shock, then he wiped his face with the back of his wrist, cackling with laughter. And then he gave me both guns.

We stood there for a minute or so, trading big wet buckets of spit and roaring with laughter; however he didn't ever consent to take that bath. He probably didn't need it after all that mind you.

Monday, May 25, 2009

reading under the covers redux

My Mother, never one to miss an opportunity to rub her hands together in glee, must be seriously in need of some new skin on her palms these days.

I, you see, was a rubbish sleeper as a child. Up all night if I could manage it. Certainly, the moment I could read I was being busted for reading under the covers after lights out; something I gather my mother was busted for when SHE was young, hence her preternatural ability to detect my own nefarious bookishness. In she would come quiet as a mouse, sneaking over to my bed and ripping off the covers leaving me completely exposed, Doctor Doolittle clutched in one hand, torch in the other.

My solution from a fairly early age was to wait until everyone was quiet and then get dressed - knickers, vest, school uniform, socks the works. Extra 10 minutes in the morning you see. And then I would read under the covers some more.

Now, Charlie is only two and a half and therefore I have laboured under the impression that I have a few more years left before I in my turn am creeping into his room to the vision of torchlight leaking out from under the bedclothes. Wrong.

Two nights ago, nearly two hours after the spud had kissed me goodnight and lain peacefully down on his sofa, we heard a soft cry from his room, followed by a little bump. Fell out of bed? Bad dream? The frog went opened the door expecting a little sleepy pile of toddler tangled up in a blanket... wrong.

The noise we had heard was the spud dropping a pile of books and then, I expect, swearing. The lights were on and a puzzle book was in pieces all over the floor, amidst various scattered toys. He himself was crouched guiltily over said books and the moment he saw his Father he started chanting 'no no no no no!'. He zoomed back onto the sofa and tried to wriggle under the knotted blankets; all the while one could see his panic levels rising.

We nearly wet ourselves; it still makes me cry laughing just thinking about him in there for two hours being ferociously quiet with the lights on. He must have thought he was getting away with the moon and the stars at the same time. I mean, a two year old playing quietly for two hours - how badly must he have wanted to stay up?

Poor little bear, he really thought he was for the high-jump. He was so upset when I made him get into bed that he bawled his eyes out but I suspect it was more about his first ever bust than anything else. I kissed him, cuddled him, told him I loved him despite him being a bit naughty and closed the door. A minute later I checked back and he was already sleeping the sleep of the wicked.

Better just go and check on him now...

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

all aboard St. Pancreas station... hold the sugar

I may need to put an 'artificial sweetener' warning on this one as I think there may be saccharine ahead; if not much trouble. There's certainly moonlight and love.

In the endless chess match in which the goal is to check-mate our toddler into sleep, we have a few new moves. Firstly, since being allowed to nap on the sofa at my parent's house, he is obsessed with sleeping on sofas which I may have mentioned before. So, every night he goes to sleep on the sofa in his bedroom and every afternoon we have to cuddle on the livingroom sofa until he's out.

The sofa however is not enough anymore and the most recent item required to get him to sleep is his little train torch, a gift from Uncle Hoto and Auntie Shelley which has five buttons on it. One is for the torch, the rest make train sounds; so he lies on the sofa flashing his torch around the room like a little particle train making endless 'toot toot' and 'chuffachuffachuffa' noises until finally he drifts off.

Along with this (his 'white light') he also normally wants his 'blue light' which is a very cool, rubbery nightlight from Ikea which one charges up and then unplugs to stand alone.

Finally, however, he wants Dr. Seuss, and this is where you may want to flush your pancreas.

We have several Dr. Seuss books on record; and by record, I mean the vinyl records that my brother and I had when we were Charlie's age. We divided them up when we left home and one of the ones I have is The Sleep Book. I just love that he goes to sleep listening to the same record I used to listen to, it gives me some sense of continuity which having moved a lot and jettisoned most of my possessions over time, I rather lack.

Firstly, he asks for the 'music book' and we have to read along in the paper version. This takes quite a while and if I try to actually read out loud along with the record, he casually reaches out a hand and puts it gently across my mouth with no comment. Clearly my job is simply to turn the pages and shut the hell up. I am occasionally allowed to point out something of interest ("Look, he's snoring in a bucket!")

Then, clutching his blue light, his white light and either Monkey, Maisie Mouse or Thomas the Tank Engine plus his bottle of milk, (which he won't drink, he'll just cuddle all night), he allows me to cover him up with a blanket, adjust his pillow and kiss him goodnight before I put the record on again. I then leave my little mounded offspring, smelling faintly of soap and milk and moving gently under his blankets as he checks his various possessions. I close the door behind me and then, bar the sound of the narrator, there is silence.

I know, silence! When there's no Doctor Seuss on the record player we have endless tooting and parping and laughing (his blue light has a rubbery hole in the back where the charger goes and you have no idea how much one toddler can laugh over 'Stick finger up its bum, Mummy!'). With Dr. Seuss, however, the only sound we may hear out of him is the request for "Again! Again!"

Bliss. Absolute bliss.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

I'm not the Evening Standard but...

In the manner of the Evening Standard I just want to pause this blog for a few moments and say 'I'm sorry'. I'm sorry for not visiting all my favourite blogs in the last month (a list so long it takes about a month to get through). I'm sorry for not posting more regularly and for losing my funny. I'm sorry for not commenting on your blog or posting on your forum or not posting on my own blog.

Now I think I'm supposed to say that I promise I am going to change. I promise I'll try, anyway. Thing is, I've been away a lot. A lot a lot. Last week it had been 24 days away out of 36, this week it's up to 26 out of 45. It's rubbish. I always wanted to travel for business but I've changed my mind. Where have I been? France, Turkey, Canada, Abu Dhabi, Qatar and now I'm stuck in Bahrain's airport at 1am waiting for a flight in which I hopefully have a whole row to myself, unless I pissed off the desk clerk and she's shoved the rest of the flight into those seats.

I've been away so much that Charlie no longer misses me, although I do get a mighty hug. I've been away so much that my garden is growing without me and my peas are dying because I keep forgetting to ask the Frog to water them.

I've been away so long that all of the spud's books are new to me again and I can in fact happily read three goes of 'The Little Engine That Could' without my mouth drying out from all the repetition of the sentence 'and the good little boys and girls on the other side of the mountain will have no toys to play with or good food to eat unless you help us'; a sentence which trips off the tongue rather like a sack of potatoes off the top step of a ladder and is repeated enough times in the book to make one wither up completely. I take this moment to say 'I'm sorry' now to my Mother whom my brother and I reputedly made read this story to us 5,000 times. I'm sorry Mum, I had no idea.

I've been away so much that I was out of conditioner for a month without noticing because it had been that long since I washed my hair at home. I've been away so much that I forgot where I put my favourite shoes and even that I had bought new ones.

OK, they're calling my flight - that's my tune folks, I'm sorry, but I'm off.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Morning, sunshine!

It's been two and a half years since we had our little bundle of joy and in all that time, we've not had a good sleep in unless he was, as he was last night, up until 10:30 at a barbeque and so tired that he was moaning and covering his eyes at 9am begging for more sleep.

Anyway, so we take turns getting up and sleeping in and at least once a week we both, individually, get a nice lie in. This changed recently. One morning I woke up and he was insinuated beneath the duvet between us, as he is most mornings. How he gets there I often no longer know, I just wake up and there he is, eyeballs about an inch from mine and his mouth about two centimetres from my ear asking after the where-abouts of his aeroplane or perhaps his train. Then, after several tries he goes from one to the other shouting 'wake up' until one of us does.

Anyway, on this particular morning it was all different. Not at first it wasn't. There were the eyes, the request for the aeroplane... but I was tired. Very tired. I had been travelling for about 100 years and I was bushed. The frog was tired too. Very tired. He had been on his own with the spud for about 100 years and he was bushed. I heard myself say 'well, go and get your aeroplane, it's in your room' and the last thing I remember his his smiling little face as he backed down the bed, slid on to the floor and paddled off to his room.

The next thing I knew it was two hours later and there was an almighty crash. I looked at the clock and I'm not quite sure how I got into the livingroom but telekenesis may have been involved. There he was, looking guilty as hell with one of our remote controls lying on the floor, it's guts lolling onto the rug. I took inventory and it was, frankly, amazing. There were lines of cars marshalled on each arm of the sofa. His room was upside down but the rest of the flat was remarkable.

I breathed deeply and happily and for one blissful, mad second I thought 'Oh my, this is great, now we don't have to get up for him every morning.

Of course, two seconds later I realised that down this road lies not only madness but a kitchen swimming in spilled juice, smashed glasses, overflowing baths and lord knows what else. The spud being the spud, having mornings free from parents would be a license to hunt down any and all things forbidden and stack chairs and stools and cushions until they could be reached and dragged down, hopefully before the towers of furniture fall and land said toddler on his tushie. Or worse.

So, we truck on much as before, getting up in the morning and staving off, day by day, the morning we wake up and the flat is sailing down the middle of our street on a tide of tap water.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Out damn spot

I apologise for my lack of posting which anyone who ever reads this may view as the concern of a Mother with a sick child on her hands. Sadly for the wonderful world of motherhood, this is not so.

The truth is that firstly, I took my jetlag in my hands and went away for a long-planned boozy weekend with friends and left my poor boy in the hands of my frog, who we have now established has had the pox and is therefore perfectly capable of nursing his poorly little tyke. Secondly, by the next morning, most of the spud's spots had gone and those that were left were tiny and non-pustular, making this the third chicken-pox scare he has escaped and now I'm bored with the whole chicken-pox thing. Pox schmox, that's what I say.

Every time this has happened, 'this' being my son feverish and covered in spots, we've rung the doctor's office, got ourselves an emergency appointment so we don't have to wait in the lobby ready to infect the whole planet, scurried in for a bit of shirt-lifting and every time we get the same diagnosis: one of the common, low-level viruses which sometimes bring kids out in spots. Last time the doctor went as far as to say that it could be an allergy.

I reckon we're now experts on how to diagnose the actual pox and this time we was so sure. It looked classic. He had a cluster of large red spots on his belly with little raised bumps in them; he had a raging fever, he was scratching... but no... the next morning he was bright and breezy and practically spot-free. Once again I felt so let down but this time I've decided I'm over it. No, really I am. I refuse to get excited about it again. Chicken pox doesn't want my son? Hell with the thing.

No other child I know has had so many damn spots and now I'm worried that there's something more serious lurking - not that I've gone as far as actually researching it or anything because that would require energy and energy is something that I just don't have these days - but we may have to go for allergy tests at some point as it is ridiculous.

Anyway, we're still on hold for chicken pox and by the time it finally arrives we are likely to completely dismiss it - but at least we'll have a cupboard full of remedies ready and waiting.

Friday, May 01, 2009

See spot run

Here we are, another Friday, this one pretty similar to last Friday in that I am obscenely jet lagged. The spud has been home for a week and is back on normal schedule however I ended up in Abu Dhabi this week on business and it just added to my general sense of surreality, going from a foot of snow to 40 degrees celsius and cfrossing three continents and 12 hour time differentials in 4 days.

As normal, Charlie affected not to notice that I was gone but gave me about a hundred kisses when I got in and has been sweet as pie ever since which is really lovely.

All this has faded to nought however with the onset, half an hour ago, of what is surely chicken pox, given that it's going around the nursery. He's just woken up with a raging fever and a belly full of spots, demanding, rather un-characteristically, cold water in a cup. He is surely ill.