Sunday, 28 October 2007

"It’s My Party and I’ll Come If I Want To...Come If I Want To..."

"In which alternate universe is it all right to lie in bed all morning?" I bark at Jay over my shoulder this morning at 8am as I heave myself out of bed and negotiate the minefield of books, dirty nappies, small chokable plastic toys and biscuit crumbs which litter our bedroom floor.

Dada and I are valiantly nursing big hangovers from last nights shenanigans - Auntie Kenz's birthday party - held in a private room at a local nightspot. I should have known we'd be in trouble when Jay left his card behind the bar (it's so much easier to drink more when you just have to slur out the words, 'tab 53') and after copious amounts of champagne and cranberry vodka's, I had even failed to notice my 11 month old being bounced on the knees of a complete stranger across the room, and my 3 year old carrying on an animated conversation with a rather attractive blond in the corner.

No, you did not hear wrong. Egg and Ollie attended their first ever 'big boy' party last night. Hell, at their ages it's about now I can explain where Dada is all the time when he's not home :)

As it was a private party (and our friends made the bar more money than they make in a week) we were allowed to bring the boys, and I must say that for rugrats, they were a big hit. (Given the large number of gay men in attendance it proved a very amusing pastime to plop a baby on their knees and watch them cringe and try not to look as horrified as they felt whilst jiggling them up and down and looking frantically across the room for some sort of escape.)

Egg sipped on his apple juice box like a sophisticate and Ollie charmed the ladies with his long-lashes and half-smiles, and a great time was had by all (especially me, since I barely saw them at all during the evening...this might have been less about trying to give me a break, and more of a conscious group effort to keep the darling kiddies away from an inebbriated and slightly too jolly mummy...don't know and don't care - either way it was a result)

I do faintly recall an episode at the bar whereby the bartender was measuring up a 'redbull & vodka' for me in a giant pint glass, and asked whether i'd like a single or double shot. I started to say 'double' but was drowned out by a bark from my husband requesting a 'single'. He of course was one to talk given the photo evidence I collected of him in various ridiculous poses throughout the night - clad in a short-sleeved black shirt and red bow tie no less.

Shortly after midnight the four of us headed home across the park, and though Egg withstood the transfer from pushchair to bed without waking, Ollie was not so lucky (or rather I wasn't) and was up for the next hour, watching me devour cold pizza and maltesers with a solemn gaze. He insisted on being cuddled and would only fall asleep in the crook of my arm in bed, but as it turns out it didn't matter anyway as my old 'alleycat' of a husband snuck right back out to continue festivities out from under the watchful eyes of his family.

Nevermind. This morning whilst I was fashioning cappucino's for us downstairs with a bloody hand (knives and hangovers DO NOT MIX) Dumps lived up to his nickname and dumped a whole glass of cold water on Jay's side of the bed. I am currently curled up on MY dry side now, and can almost ignore the wailing of Dumps in his cot next door as I type these words and continue to recline like a vegetable in bed.

Plans for the rest of the day include a dvd, lazing around reading the sunday papers and trying to the best of our impaired abilities make sure that our sons survive another day unscathed and live to see tomorrow without burning the house down, flooding the bathroom or throwing each other down the stairs. In other words, just another day in paradise.

Wednesday, 17 October 2007

Bricks and Mortar

Go figure. It's a beautiful day outside and I'm stuck inside with a sick little infant sleeping off the effects of probably too much Calpol (administered earlier by a somewhat heavy-handed Dada...). Egg came home with a cold yesterday and has passed it on to the Baby Dumps it would seem, but he still ran off merrily to school this morning with Dada, despite being awarded an ominous 'late mark' by his stern teacher yesterday. (Dada did fess up on email when he got to work and promised it wouldn't happen again).
On another note, Auntie Mo picked up Egg from nursery yesterday and treated him to lunch out and his favourite 'lemon poppyseed muffin' from Cafe Nero. Apparently she overheard the teacher telling one of the other parents that they were going to make fruit salad the next day and requested that the child bring in a fruit. Now i shouldn't take it personally that Egg was excluded from this info, so we sent him in with two big shiny red apples this morning - plus an assortment of odd tinned goods for the disadvantaged (they are having a collection - I am not merely trying to rid my shelves of unwanted foodstuffs)

On another note, I think we found a lovely tenant for our rental flat. He is a friendly young brazilain named 'Fernando' and that alone makes him a top contender! He appears genuine, sweet and claims to be a neat freak - that's all i need to know. He and his Lithuanian wife want to move in asap but of course nothing runs smoothly and our current tenants are being shady about when they want to move out and keep pushing back the deadline. (As Jay and I noted last night, we're a bit too soft to be 'landlords'...not cut-throat enough).

Potential renovations on the kitchen next door aren't faring so well either. We had two different quotes. The first was from two Polish brothers who said they'd do the whole job for a hefty cash sum. One was the wise-cracking brains of the outfit - short, stocky and shifty-eyed. The other, Bart, was the tallest person Jay and I have ever seen in real life....maybe 7 feet? A HUGE, lumbering giant, he was sweet, and aside from being distracted by his sheer mountain of a frame, he had nice eyes and a gentle spirit. Whether this translates into us ending up with a good kitchen is anyones guess, but we're a wee bit wary. The second quote was from a cheeky chappie East End builder who hasn't returned our calls and is clearly not interested in our terms (I guess calling him on some outrageous costs on the quote didn't go down so well...).

I'm realising that this property business is a huge headache. Yes, there is potential to earn some real money someday...but given that our properties are metres away from the river, there is every chance that in some not so distant future, all our savings will be underneath the water, and Jay and I shall recieve this news with calm, fated breath as we recline in our sun loungers in Goa (where we have retired for the past several years).

It will simply mean that Jay must begin a new career as a motorcycle repairman and I as a fine gem trader. Or by then the boys will be big enough to trawl the beaches selling cashew nuts to tourist and practising their Hindi. See, it will all work out one way or another. In the words of the 'cottaging' George Michael, "you gotta have faith".

Monday, 15 October 2007

The 'Poo-ey Poulet'

It's been awhile since i've had a chance to write. Things are kicking off for the 'Abou-John's' round here and our days are being spent trying to find builders to do renovations on two flats, trying to find tenants for one of our flats, trying to help plan a wedding for sister Mo, trying to buy a new home, plus planning for three upcoming birthdays in the next month....URGHHH!

So you see, it was rather a surprise to find that despite all this we managed to have a pleasant-enough weekend. Yesterday we basked in the green green grass on Wandsworth Common under hot sun in our t-shirts, lying around with friends of ours who have 2 year old twins. Egg was in his element and even Dumps enjoyed himself - helping himself to their oatcakes when they weren't looking and refusing to give up the little box of filter tips he found after routing around in our friends handbag.

The day before we treated ourselves to a lunch at a pizza place in Kennington. That was nice (thank you very much mr. nice bottle of red wine) until our 10 month old dove over and out of his highchair - narrowly avoiding cracking his head open by landing strategically on his left shoulder. That was fun. And don't forget the sobbing which preceeded that when Dumps over-enthusiastically knocked over Eggie's 'baby cappucino'....ah, these are the days.

Bad parenting aside, my husband came up with a verbal stroke of genius (and provided much amusement for the rest of the weekend) when he coined Dumps 'The Poo-ey Poulet' early Saturday morning. When sung to an old melodic 'They Might Be Giants' song entitled "Triangle Man" the lyrical possibilities are endless and we had probably too much fun making up lines. The fact is, our chubby chicken was desperately in need of a new moniker and 'Poulet' gives a friendly nod to our neighbours on the continent whilst aptly describing the body shape of our youngest.

Speaking of 'Poo-ey Poulet's', this morning i traded a rather fiercesome nappy change for a ten minute back massage. Judging by the smell it was well worth it on my part and I sent my husband on his way to work with a looser neck but somewhat squiffier right hand...oh well.

On Friday I went in for a brief 'parent teacher' meeting with Egg's nursery teacher - a rather portly, young, stern, brunette Swedish lass. She informed me that she was pleased with Egg's progress and that he had learned to share. She said that he has an amazing imagination (developed from trying to hatch escape fantasies from his rather dysfunctional living-on -top-of-each-other inner city home life??...) and along with his little friend 'Abdul' he likes to spend ages in the play kitchen cleaning dishes and whipping up feasts for the other children. Hmmm....wonder where he gets that from? She also said that he likes to question authority (now i KNOW where he gets that from!) and though polite, often asks, 'why do i have to clean that up?' when spilling yet another milk carton.

I'm currently writing on a large wooden table in the cafe section of the 'Young Vic', listening to great old French music, sipping an overpriced and lukewarm cappucino, and preparing to pack up in a few moments and go and collect Egg from Nursery. Next week is 'half-term break' and he's off school until the following teusday....HELP! I've grown so accustomed to these few hours in the morning when i roam the streets with my crusty-oatmeal-mouthed infant and daydream my life away until it's time to pick up L'Oeuf. Then it's home for the usual 'cheese and pickle sandwich' followed by an hour or so of destroying our newly clean home (courtesy of Memory Zulu who as we speak is trying pointlessly to right the wrong which is our flat), and then it's 'scream-nap-time' whereby a half hour of blood-curdling yells is followed by an hour or so of peace while both babies nap.

This of course is broken immediately when the phone rings....which it inevitably does...and I want to murder whoever it is on the other end (usually some innocent Indian lass at a call centre in Bangalore who is quizzical as to why I am damning her and her ancestors to hell for simply enquiring as to whether I might be interested in a good rate loan....). Life is hard.

Tuesday, 9 October 2007

These Are The Days...

It's been awhile since i've catalogued recent domestic let me have a quick go. In the past week the following has happened:

1. Egg and Ollie have turned the front room into a construction site by removing most of the soil from our giant potted plants and despositing it on the carpets, achieving a depth sustainable for plant life if we so desired to sprinkle some seeds on it

2. Ollie has discovered my secret stash of chocolate and red licorice and I walked into my bedroom the other day to find his brown, sticky face grinning ecstatically whilst he bounced up and down like a wired maniac at the foot of the bed, on a severe sugar high, waving a victory licorice aloft

3. I was awoken the other morning by a sharp slap to the face by Ollie before a pair of safety scissors were shoved in my face by a giggling baby....nice

4. Egg told our new cleaning lady (a lovely young black girl from Zimbabwae with the coolest ever name in the world ('Memory Zulu') to clean properly and not make a mess whilst emptying the contents of the hoover. I was mortified.

I could go on but i'm tired and bed calls. It calls insistantly. Much like the whining of a toddler. Only it has a lot more to offer...peace and the blessed absence of poo, babyfood, sticky apple juice and urine-drenched undergarments..

Tuesday, 2 October 2007

First Day of School

Yesterday was Egg's first day of school. In true 'Griswold' fashion (yes, our family nickname is 'Griswold' after that 80's Chevy Chase film 'Vacation'…if these blogs aren't evidence enough of why this is so, then give up now as you'll never get it…but I digress…)

Anyway, a few weeks back we had tried to engender excitement for the advent of 'school', culminating in a special card, present and giant box of beloved 'smarties' from Grandma, and a promise of homemade blueberry pancakes for breakfast from Mama. Sadly, Mama and Dada got pissed the night before (it started innocently enough with a shared bottle of champagne with some good friends, then descended into downright drunkenness after Dada was dispatched to the local off-license to procure even more booze in order that they both keep riding the high).

So come Monday morning, although Dada (used to indulgent booze intake any given night of the week) managed to roll out of bed at a reasonable hour, Mama was not so fortunate. She had a headache and was rendered incapable of movement until way too late. However a promise is a promise, and darn it if her darling Egg wasn't going to get his precious pancakes. So with a dopey Dada in the way, mucking about and generally causing more chaos than necessary, we tried to get our son off and out the door for the first day of the rest of his collegiate life.

He was, of course, late.

They say start as you mean to finish, so actually it was quite fitting, but no less distressing for Jay and I as we realised the combined genetic inheritance garnered from Abou-Keer/Johnston genes means that Egg (and Noah for that matter) may as well get used to arriving late at nearly all functions and events in life. 'Aim low and you won't be disappointed' is one of our family motto's. Or better yet don't aim at all – merely stab out in the dark and hope you hit something sometime.

Egg's class is currently comprised of six children: three little black boys, one girl in a hijab, a shy little slip of a girl, and the requisite 'fat chick'. Perfect. Jay and I weren't reassured to see the less-than-cursory glance Egg gave the toilets during the tour, but were pleased when he struck up an immediate rapport with the two female teachers. (He's always gotten along better with adults – much like myself at that age – and I don't doubt he'll soon be helping 'run' the class alongside them in a matter of weeks.

Weeks are all he may have however, as unbeknownst to him, Egg is likely to be suddenly and cruelly ejected from this – his first real peer group – when we move (HOPEFULLY!) early December to another part of London. Sadly, he'll have to befriend another group of thugs come January, although instead of being on the dole, in prison, or MIA, his new peers will likely have parents who earn scandalous amounts of money and holiday in places with foreign sounding names.

Being an outgoing child he'll have no trouble fitting in wherever he goes. He's lucky like that. Dada and I are another matter though, as we don't quite fit into any parenting brigade we've so far encountered in London yet. I'm as far away from 'mumsy' as one can imagine, and am known for always carrying lipgloss but rarely remembering to pack nappies. I've yet to have a package of wet-wipes on hand and my children may not know all the farm animals but are well-versed in the different coffee varieties of 'latte, cappuccino, frappacino, etc.'….a skill of which I'm rather touchingly pleased.

The other day in the park as Jay and I shared a bottle of white wine (honestly, we've only done this twice in the past several months, it just sounds bad) and some delicious fish n' chips, we watched Egg play 'king of the castle' with a group of children and noticed all the different 'tribes' of Dad's. There was 'Ponytail Dad', 'Executive Dad,' 'Weekend Dad', 'Over-enthusiastic Dad' and various others. We realised that Jay is a 'P.H.D.' (Piss Head Dad) and as befits a brilliant nickname, Jay has taken to the new moniker like a fish to water...or should i say an Irishman to Guinness.

So today Jay dropped off Egg for his second day of nursery and rang to tell me that he had been taken aback by the tiny flutter of 'awwww' he felt inside while leaving. All of our friends who have gone through this experience, and all magazines and books attest to the heart tug a parent feels when their child first begins school. My own mother still recalls the day I started nursery and how she wept all afternoon. When I finally arrived home she ran to the door and experienced the first of many child-inflicted wounds when I announced that I absolutely LOVED it and begged to go back again the next day.

Here's the thing. As I told Jay yesterday as we exited the school gates for the first time, en route to a celebratory cappuccino, I just can't muster up that first day of school anguish! I don't feel sad I feel relieved! Hurrah…two and a half hours a day with only one child on hand…

I feel positively 'child-less'. Bad Mama.