Wednesday, 27 August 2008

The 'Omen'

I have lately begun to question whether I might have accidentally given birth to the Anti-Christ. Dumpie is without doubt a fiercely engaging creature with the most charasmatic smile and a bigger than life personality...but he also possesses an uncanny ability to make other children and even grown adults cry (myself mainly).
I don't know what it is, but lately he's gone off the scale on the naughty-factor and now a good 90% of my day is spent chasing after him, wailing in dismay at the latest disaster, and apologizing for his behaviour. I may as well save my breath and wear a sign that reads, "Sorry for everything Dumpie is about to do, has done and will continue to do".

Yesterday a group of us went to Toronto Island, bought the kiddies ride passes and watched amused as they spent the day riding toy cars, ponies, giant bumble bees and toy boats. All went well until the toy boats when Dumpie enjoyed it so much that he refused to come off and screamed the place down when removed by a loving but firm Auntie Kristy (Jay's sister).

Later on in the day as we were leaving the island, we made the mistake of letting the kiddies have one last ride on the boats. The first round was fine, but then I impulsively begged the ride operator to let them stay on for one more turn as it was our last ride of the day and their favourite. Well I shortly came to regret that when Dumpie first began to plunge his hand in the water, then tried to climb over into the back seat to sit beside his cousin Taylor while the boat was in motion! Two grandma's, an auntie and mother all stood in disbelief and horror as we watched this potential disaster unfold.

The operator must have been blissfully unaware or I'm sure he would have stopped the ride. We were all covering our eyes, and screaming to Jake and Taylor to hold Noah down and not let him stand up, climb over the sit, and to make him get down from where he was precariously balancing up on the edge of the door....leaning back delightedly and taking great joy in our unabashed horror and fear everytime the ride came round again. We were seconds from leaping the fence, and watched in dismay as first Taylor got her hair pulled, then Egg, and both were bitten as they tried in vain to keep the Dumps seat bound. We were traumatized for a good half hour later, but Dumpie just lay back in his pushchair, arms casually thrown back behind his head in his customary pose, and surveyed us all through angelic eyes (though I swear there was a glint of a slightly patronizing and knowing smile).

Still, that is nothing compared to what occured at the lovely upmarket french bistro we took my beloved father to two nights ago for his birthday....

Myself, Auntie Ba, my dad, my mom and of course Egg and Ollie Dumpie dressed ourselves up and were only slightly late for our 7:30 reservations. The owner/manager of the place greeted us kindly and sat us near the back (I was later to be ever so grateful of this). We spent a good 20 minutes trying to choose a fitting bottle from their immense wine list, and I suspect this is where it went all wrong.

Both boys became simultaneously bored and intrigued by the setting. Such gleaming, heavy cutlery, such sparkling wine glasses, such lovely unsoiled cloth was a too tempting to bear. Dumpie of course was passed from person to person in an effort to amuse and keep him contained on one of our unfortunate laps. That didn't work - obviously. So we found ourselves having to get up, run and chase him through the restaurant where he was pausing at tables, smiling engagingly and pointing at peoples food. This I could have handled...but what came next I couldn't.

We were seated at a banquette which was mirrored and had a decorative corner...just about the perfect size for a naughty 21 month old to use as a viewing platform from which to survey the entire restaurant. Distracted while the delicious hot bread was being served, we failed to notice that Dumpie had removed his sandals, and clambered up onto the platform, stopping only to grab a ciabatta to nibble on. In utter and absolute horror (I kid you not - Auntie Ba and I were positively blushing red with humiliation) we clocked the owner walk by, do a double-take and register the fact that in his fine dining establishment, there now appeared to be a giggling baby chomping on bread and sat up high for all to see, with his big fat toes hanging over the edge and wiggling in glee at the commotion he was causing.

We were whispering furiously, "DUMPIE! COME DOWN NOW!" but it was to no avail as whenever we tried to grab his foot to pull him down, he'd snatch it away and scream (what sounded phonetically like 'Die'! but is likely just 'bugger off and leave me alone'!).

We did not know what to do, and were waiting for the owner to have us immediately and discreetly removed. It certainly would have been well within his rights. Just then the waitress came up, clocked Dumps and said in surprise, "Oh my! There's a baby up there!". We couldn't even meet her eye, and it was with some quick thinking and even quicker grabbing that we swung him down and Mom sacrificially forewent her lovely dining experience to whisk him swiftly and resolutely out of the place and allow us to eat in peace.

The moral of the story? Fine dining and babies do NOT matter how well-intentioned and deluded the participants are. Second lesson? No matter how big your tip, you will never be allowed to make another reservation under the same name once you have dined with The Dumps.

Looking back we should have gone to McDonalds, sat in the parking lot with the doors open and toasted my Dad with vanilla milkshakes. All the champagne in the world will not make you oblivious to the fact that people are staring daggers at you and wishing you dead. Believe me.

Sunday, 24 August 2008

"Toronto, Toronto, I Love You Toronto...You're Only A Sea Awaaaaay"

Sitting here with a mini sugar donut in one hand and a skinny vanilla bean latte in the other, the irony is not lost on me. I'm attempting to jolt my nervous system into action by way of a sugar overload to the brain. Disgusting? Yes... Effective? Absolutely...
I blame my current zombie-like state on Dumps. Grandpa must have lifted him out of his cot this morning and at 5:30 a.m. he trundled in to where Egg and I were sharing a bed and unceremoniously whacked me over the head with a large round candle. When he figured out how to turn on the clock radio and brain-cell-destroyingly loud classical music piped through at random 17-30 second intervals, I'd be lying if I didn't admit that my sleep-addled brain had momentarily rattled through the possibilities of various locations within the condo where I could lock him up in for the next few hours.

It was when Dumpie stuck the tiny end of an aerosol spray up a tenderly sleeping Egg's nose, about to unleash a stream of 'phyto hair spray' into his unsuspecting nostrils, that I jumped up and admitted defeat. It's one thing to be abused by your 21 month-old insomniac toddler, and another to allow child-on-child abuse just because you stayed up too late the night before watching the stupidest film known to man ("27 Dresses"...DON'T watch it if you know what's good for you...will melt your brain and have you considering suicide 20 minutes in).

Yesterday, a gloriously warm sunny day, we journeyed through a crazy traffic jam (caused by thousands of excited Canadian car owners eager to dispense with hard-earned cash in an effort to park as near as possible to the Canadian National Exhibition which is currently on). We were en route to High Park (a gloriously massive green area smack in the middle of West Toronto) where our Egyptian relatives had laid on a lip-smackingly delicious feast. It was a reunion of sorts, as the boys and I only get back to Toronto once a year in the summer, and it was great to finally meet my cousin's three little girls (1, 2, and 3...I kid you not) and loll about in the late afternoon sun catching up with everyone.

Dumps held various relatives ransom and would scream like a banshee if anyone tried to remove him from his beloved swing. Egg for his part was spreading the love among his newly-met 2nd/3rd(?) cousins and placing delicate little butterfly kisses on the little girls cheeks - except for when he was wrestling them to the ground in order to procure the only un-popped balloon remaining for little Dumps (who was probably behind the whole hijack if you ask me).

It felt really nice to be part of a large family gathering, and I marveled at how much things had changed. Years ago I would have preferred to listen to my walkman, slouched against a tree and smoking cigarettes. Now here I was playing at being a 'normal mom' and realizing that any passing observers would just see a typical family scene and not know all the complexities lurking behind the surface. Family secrets, family trauma's, family angst...every family has them I'm convinced, but I can't help but feel that ours has enough material lurking underneath the seams to fill an epic trilogy.

Anyway, our holiday back here in Toronto is flying by at a rate i'm not comfortable with. I look forward to coming back here all year and it proves a nice contrast to my 'other' life - which is a Stepford wives-ish existence in Clapham, London amongst all the middle-class aspirational 'mummie's who strut and waddle their way up and down the Northcote Road in search of cappuccino's, midwives and multi-grain baguettes.

I am rather dreading Egg's first day of proper 'big boy school' the day after we get back. Not only because it signifies the end of an era (and because I'll be left with sole care of Mr. Dumps and there will be no Egg to alert me bi-hourly to the latest disaster about to unfold), but because it means that I'll be entering the dreaded 'school run' territory and frankly, my wardrobe is not up to it...nor is my head.

For some reason I don't think my cut-off customised Levi's mini and slogan t-shirt is going to go down a treat. I'm also incredibly shy around other 'mums' and abhor kiddie small talk, and will have to paste an idiot grin on my face while mumbling nonsense about holidays, PTA and possible play dates...

Perhaps though they'll assume I'm a low-rent au pair from Prague and give me wide birth. With a suitably ridiculous pair of vintage shades perched on my nose, bed-head hair, and my ipod glued to my ears, I reckon I'll be able to repel even the most determined of networking mom's.

You know, I think it's in everyones best interest that Egg is going to Belleville School 4 streets away instead of Honeywell Infant School across the road. I mean, just how tempting would it be to roll out of bed the odd winters morning (ok fine, every morning), whip across the street in my Paul Frank jim-jams, a still-sleeping pajama clad Dumps under one arm like a football, and embarrass the hell out of my 4 year old - not to mention myself.

It's for the best, it really is.

Friday, 22 August 2008

"I Feel Like Chicken Tonight...Like Chicken Tonight"

We've been here in Toronto for 9 days now and at last the sun is behaving itself and starting to shine properly! We've had rain, chilly breezy days and now today looks promising and I have every intention of getting outside and enjoying it....only the monsters stand in the way of such lofty ambitions.

Both boys have developed coughs and colds and as every woman on the planet will attest, when the male species is sick, well the whole world collapses and grumpiness reigns. 'Whine whine whine moan whine'...and on it goes...when Mama will lose it...nobody knows. The other day it got so bad I was sorely tempted to neck half a valium, but then I remembered that I had lost my little emergency Indian stash somewhere between the taxi cab to the airport and customs (sigh).

Egg has become sorely addicted to a 24 hour kiddies cartoon channel here in Canada called 'Treehouse'. The presenters on it do my head in. They are so 'perky' and 'whacky' that if you're the least little bit hungover and tired, you stare in wonder at their huge gormless grins and often feel like smashing the tv in. (Or is that just me?). Late last night four presenters donned skin tight light blue body suits with matching bathing caps and did the craziest synchronized dance with spastic flapping chicken arm movements, googly eyes and an unbelievably retarded song with call-outs from each member. Auntie Ba and I sat transfixed, not really believing that anyone could humiliate themselves in such a fashion, and we tried to decide which was worse: being a member of this kiddies dance troupe or starring in an 'I Feel Like Chicken Tonight' commercial whereby an otherwise sane adult has to emulate an excited chicken in preparation for a yummy dinner-from-a-box. We didn't arrive at a decisive conclusion, but we did agree that perhaps shows like this were probably responsible for the multitude of uncool kiddies who grow up doing weird freaky dances in playgrounds and perpetuating the amount of choosing-to-be-childless couples in todays society.

Anyway, for his part, Dumpie has incorporated into his daily regime his best ever yet facial comedy pose. He purses his little lips up in a kiss then curls them way up to touch his nose. It is beyond funny. It is so funny that sometimes I can't even laugh because I am choking too hard.

Speaking of Dumpie, he's lost so much weight recently (despite his recent pigging out on 'Smartfood' cheese popcorn and Tim Horton's chocolate 'timbits') that he just wiggles his little hips and his formerly snug shorts slide down his little tanned legs. Then he screams 'Mama' and I have to put them back on...then he does the wiggle and they come back off...then he screams 'Mama' and the whole cycle begins again.

That my friends, is how i've spent the majority of my morning.

Sunday, 17 August 2008

"Ma? Ba? Ba? Ma?"

Dumpie appears to be a little confused. He wanders around getting Ba and I mixed up. When he's addressing her it's 'Ma? Ba?' and when he's addressing me it's 'Ba? Ma'. Ba quite rightly quipped that he's started to morph the two words - and indeed the two of us - into one main entity of 'Bama' or 'Maba'...we just need to see which one takes root.

Once again reunited with his beloved auntie/surrogate mama, he's in heaven now that he has not one but two maternal figures to boss around and do his bidding. (Although I have to say that Ba draws the line at any nappy changes given that Dumps is on day four of his explosive diahrea problem.)

The little love slug is most fond of climbing up on our laps and smothering us in kisses and groaning with happy delight as he squishes noses and sings out, 'lalalalala...' He's also added another word to his vocabulary, and i suppose it was only a matter of time before "Nah Nah!" (ie. NO) replaced his usual vehement shaking of head to convey his absolute refusal to do something.

Speaking of absolute refusal, Dumps can still be conned at least once a day into doing something he doesn't particularly want to do by telling him NOT to do it. Saying, "Dumps, DON'T kiss Mama" will have him puckering up as quick as you like, and a "Dumpie, DON'T sing 'Bob the Builder'" will have him crooning in seconds. Little imp.

For his part, Egg has developed a massive crush on a pretty blond woman in one of those annoying pop-up computer ads advertising cable television. He keeps begging us to turn on the computer so he can look at her and says that she is his girlfriend and he is going to marry her. Is it me or is he not a bit young for all that?! Moreover, Egg's turned into quite the little flirt lately. Yesterday in the lift with Grandpa he made friends with a young woman and invited her out for ice-cream. From afar, Grandpa witnessed a rather animated conversation which resulted in Egg running back and saying, "She said she was in a hurry" and looking crestfallen.

Poor Egg...he'd better get used to it. There's a long, hard road of interpersonal relationship minefields waiting for him in life. Mind you, he does seem able to bounce back quickly, so that should make things easier. Apparently, while Egg and Grandpa were having ice-cream a little later, there were two rather scantily-clad forty-something Italian women sitting behind them. They were flirting with Egg and Grandpa again suggested that Egg invite them to have ice-cream with them. Egg looked seriously at Grandpa and said, "No, they're not that good-looking".

Today we're off to Grandma's for a change of scene. She has a big backyard where Egg can kick ball to his hearts content and not send me into spasms of anxiety as I witness near-miss after near miss of expensive glass mirrors, photo frames and vases.

It also means that we can get some fresh air, as we've had to keep the balcony windows here on the 36th floor at Dad's closed for fear of Dumps either wriggling out through the bars himself or tossing down various items and maiming some unfortunate who just happens to be walking out the front door at the wrong time. I'm here on a holiday to spend time with family not deal with a lawsuit.

Anyway today is gloriously sunny, I've just changed a nasty nappy so there's at least an hour or two until I have to face that trauma again (we're on day five now...urghhh), and I'm about to sit down to one of my Dad's notorious brunches with homemade falafal and all manner of yummy things. That combination is guaranteed to put a smile on this weary MaBa's face. Tara for now...

Friday, 15 August 2008

17 Again

Yesterday, sans kiddies, Auntie Ba and I were enjoying a brief moment of respite from the monsters by sipping Starbuck's skinny wet cappuccino's outside on the grass by the harbour. The sun was shining, the grass was green and it felt like a moment from one of those perfect summer days from when you were young - that you only fully appreciate in hindsight when you're not young anymore.

Anyway, Ba was amusing me with the latest escapade about the latest boy who has a crush on her and I was lying back on the grass, shades cutting out the harshest of the midday sun, when all of a sudden we were interrupted by a young man - or rather a boy - who plopped himself down beside us, flashed a warm smile and started up a conversation.

Anyone who knows me knows that i hate being interrupted by members of the general public when i'm deep in conversation (...or have my ipod on...or am in a hurry...or - well pretty much whenever). If you want directions go bother a policeman...if you want a chat then find yourself a nice but lonely old lady...if you want to flirt and be cheesy, go find someone interested - cuz I sure ain't.

Auntie Ba being the kind and gentle soul she is, took it upon herself to answer this young fellow while I busied myself examining my toes in my Havianna's and determined that an immediate pedicure was of absolute importance. However I eventually looked over at the guy and realized he was sweet and harmless. Turns out he is from Indiana and here on a road trip with two of his friends. It also turns out that he would not have looked out of place on the cover of a magazine.

Now don't get me wrong - I am a happily (right Fen?!) married woman with two little boys and I am generally not a flirt nor am I the type of lady to go soft anytime a piece of young hot boy totty wanders past. However this boy looked like he had been engineered to the exact specifications needed to inspire lust in young girls everywhere. You know, the requisite gorgeous smile, great body, fabulous hair, perfect skin, blah, blah, blah...and the killer - he smelled great - like he'd just walked out of an Ambercrombie & Fitch store.

I was taking all this in objectively like a random stranger would, until I realized that perhaps he was less interested in tourist advice and maybe more interested in perhaps picking Auntie Ba and I up. This fact amused me to no end, and being the unfulfilled actress that I am, I switched into comedy mode and decided to try and make Auntie Ba laugh. Switching into teenage mode with ease I adjusted my ra-ra skirt (which truth be told probably did more to lead him to believe that we were his age, than the sunglasses which somewhat obscured my definately-no-longer 18 year old eyes...) and with Ba as the perfect sidekick we began to toy with him and his very ugly friend and had a right laugh.

Eventually we got up and left, with Langdon (that was his name) shyly calling out to us that maybe we'd run into each other again as they were here for a few more days. Once out of view Ba and I collapsed into giggles and marvelled in the fact that we'd been taken for such young girls.

I did think to myself later that it would be hilarious if we run into him again and I'm pushing Egg and Dumps around in the double pushchair and Dumps is screaming out his usual demands, "MaaaMaaaaaa!" and the poor young boy realises that he came onto two thirty-something women by accident!

But I'll tell you what, any embarrassment sufferred by young Langdon would surely be worth it if he knew how much that made our day being mistaken for young things. It beats getting wasted on champagne, a big shopping binge or even a bathtub full of melted Godiva! Ah, youth is truly wasted on the young...

Hurtling Through the Skies on a Wing and a Prayer

Well we got here. It was HARD WORK flying 8 hours solo on a charter day flight with two children under four, but gosh darn it I did it.

Having chosen flight TS207 specifically because the bulkhead seats were available, I was somewhat hopeful that Dumpie - although under two and therefore 'seat-less' - would have enough space to manoever around and cause minimal fuss to other passengers. In that respect I was wrong.

I can barely contain the monsters in our new and spacious London abode, so I don't know why I was feeling so hopeful about 16 square inches of space. If you could have seen the look of quiet dismay which crossed the young black man's face in row 4 as we boarded yesterday, your heart would have gone out to him. (Also, being gay, the 'kiddie-in-close-quarters' thing must have been a double whammy!) At this point Egg was skipping ahead of me and loudly discussing seat options with Bacon the bear, and Dumpie was clinging to my side like a demented limpet - laughing his dirty laugh, munching hungrily on a cookie, and spraying chocolate chips all over the aisle.

The poor fellow, whose name we later learned was 'Eric' had mistakenly sat himself in the window seat, laptop open, and was quietly working on some sort of proposal. As the plane took off I leaned over to him and said, "I bet this wasn't what you envisioned when you pre-booked your bulkhead seat, huh?!" He kind of smiled then plugged in his earphones...mistakenly assuming he could escape his fate.

For the first half of the journey, the two children from the bowels of hell who were sat directly behind us in row five, managed to make Egg and Dumps look good. These little boys, at three and six respectively, were football hooligans in the making. They had shorn heads, loud mouths and were hyperactively bouncing and jumping on their seats (and over the top of ours) due to the strictly junk food diet their obese and harassed mother was feeding them (mars bars, pringles, jelly babies...). Several times the stewardess had to reprimand them, and I swear I could have clubbed them to death when they woke up Dumps who had been dozing fitfully on my lap for a good hour and probably would have continued to do so for significantly longer (thanks to swiftly administered Calpol in the boarding lounge) if they hadn't jolted him awake. Grrrrrrr. (It is worth noting that later on, at about hour six, when Egg and Dumps climbed up on their arm rests and started playing with these boys, Dumps proceeded to terrorize them to the point of making one of them cry. I think there was some hair pulling, pinching and scratching going on but I can't be sure as I was too frazzled to care and was staring sullenly ahead, wishing the flight away.

Anyway, all this to say that things were fairly manageable for the first bit. Then Dumpie got into the food bag....and Egg got chatty with his seat-mate. And i do mean chatty. At one point a spazz-out by Dumps precipitated a panicked fumbling through the snack bag to find any sort of treat distraction. Finally a mini pack of gummi-bears did the trick and turned a blood-curdling scream into a satisfied wimper as processed jelly sweets were stuffed hand over fist into the Dumps' gaping mouth.

A small scuffle broke out between the boys as Egg tried to get his hands on some, and Dumps grudgingly handed over one lone green gummi. Egg held it carefully in his palm and announced it was his little baby bear and he was going to hold it all the way to Toronto. About half an hour later Egg put it down on his seat tray for a second and within the blink of an eye it was swiped and popped into Dumpies mouth.

Egg of course broke out in sobs and Dumps to his credit after some noisy slurping eventually popped out a much smaller version into his palm and offerred it up to Egg - who spent the next hour lamenting its sticky, diminished form (sigh). Whether it was out of the kindness of his heart or a desire to get Egg to shut the heck up about the stupid gummi-bear, the next time the stewardess passed, Eric bought Egg a £2 pack of wine gums and subsequently made himself a new best friend.

The two chatted the entire rest of the journey about anything and everything under the sun...ending up on the topic of height (Eric was vertically challenged) and with Egg bragging that his Dada was the tallest and strongest man in the world because he had lifted the suitcases all by himself into the taxi that morning! Bless...

No one was happier than me when we emerged from Canadian customs with me pulling all our luggage and pushing the pushchair one-handed, and Eggie and Dumps walking out slowly ahead of me to much crowd fanfare, dressed in identically filthy red and white striped tops, holding hands and clutching brown bears. Grandma and Grandpa were quickly spotted in the waiting crowd and as Grandpa crouched down, first Egg then Dumps ran into his waiting arms....

I almost shed a tear did I. It was a moment forever imprinted to memory. Within seconds, as we're all walking to the waiting car, it was as if the eight hours trapped in charter flight hell had not even happened. I'd fly to Australia solo avec the monsters if I had the same sort of reunion in store.

Okay, well maybe not Australia :)

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

"No! No! Noooooaaaaaah!"

Having skimmed over yesterdays blog-a-thon, which was little more than a play by play account cathartically venting about my youngest screaming down the Big Chill Festival on the weekend, I realize that perhaps I did ever so slightly go off on one. Yes, it really was that bad, but just like other peoples bad dreams, unless you're part of it, it really ain't that interesting. So apologies for bending your cyber ears and I can assure you that i'm 'over it' and not terribly scarred by the event whatsoever. Will I be in a hurry to repeat the experience? NO. Am I glad i went? ABSO-BLOODY-LUTELY :)

A more pressing concern is little Dump Dumps gleeful enjoyment of...biting. You see, as satisfying as it is to pull out whole clumps of Egg's silky golden hair, a bite lasts much longer and illicits an almighty fuss which I think might be the whole point. Yesterday Egg screamed like he was being butchered (which in a sense he was if you've seen the size and shape of Dumpies new teeth) and I ran to find him clutching his left shoulder in agony while Dumps sat happily on the sofa beside him, pointing to the wound and giggling. A 'tap-tap' on the hand did little but provoke an even bigger smile and led to Dumps 'tap-tapping' Egg on his arm and looking to me for encouragement - as if pleased that he was clever enough to have picked up on our new 'game' (sigh). Eventually, some more hair was pulled and I had to banish him to his cot upstairs as Egg was sobbing for some 'alone time' and the little angel deserves not to be bullied in his own least for a short while.

Don't get me wrong...Dumpie is the most scrumptious little nugget of fun and joy and is constantly making me and everyone else laugh. He has the biggest personality and is a rather clever chap, resulting in pure comedy most of the time. My personal favourite is when he steals snacks right from under other peoples noses, stuffs his face, and has to hold his hand in front of his bulging mouth so as not to lose even a morsal from his overcrowded cheeks.

Dumpie has yet to tire of peanut butter sandwiches, adores crisps, and can root out a hidden chocolate from 10 feet away. He has found, and tried Jay's uber-strong 'Stimorol' gum which is even too much for me, and can often be found toddling around, jaws working on a piece, totally oblivious to his burning mouth, flaunting his gum-chewing until i catch him and prise it out of his mouth. He clearly has a stash somewhere because it's an ongoing thing.

To his credit Egg is lovely and rarely retaliates when bullied by Dumpie. He even puts aside his annoyance when he's in the middle of a favourite cartoon and Dumpie launches himself at Egg in a full-body slam for an impromptu mid-morning kiss and cuddle. Many a time I'll walk in the room to see them in a tight embrace, Egg stroking Dumpie's hair gently and Dumpie blissed out and kissing his lips. Moments later however I'll hear a scream and this same Dumps is holding out some blond hair in his fist and a confused and heartbroken Egg is sobbing again and asking me 'why did Jesus give us such a naughty Dumps?!'

I don't really have any answers. My personal belief is that God wants to teach Jay and I a lesson about what we put our own parents through, and thus has combined the best and naughtiest elements of each of our personalities and packaged it all up into the shape of a chunky little chicken.

Luckily He has blessed Dumpie with a mega-watt smile which somehow has the power to undo any damage he's just done and fill you with the desire to gobble him up and squeeze him until he roars with his 'dirty Harry' laugh. I imagine it shall come in quite handy as an antidote to all the future damage he has yet to unleash. I also expect Dumpie shall be the one to force me to forge strong alliances with the P.T.A. in future and bake cakes like a madwoman in an attempt to undo numerous tricky situations.

Ah well, the good thing is that if Jay and I happen to lose all our assets in the current credit crunch and somehow find ourselves penniless and living in the 'hood', I'm sure Dumpie will be just fine in an inner city school and prove more than able to hold his own. Egg of course will be home-schooled.

Monday, 4 August 2008

"The Big Chill and the Dumpie-Monster"

I'm still feeling shattered after the four-hour puke-fest which was our journey home from the festival yesterday. On the drive there, while Dumps snored contentedly for most of the way, Egg managed not one but two spectacular projectile vomiting episodes. Luckily we had stopped for lattes and had two large paper cups on the ready to catch most (but certainly not all) of the mess. (Oh well, at least it wasn't like a recent dawn ride to the airport when the only thing I had on me was my beloved cosmetic bag (urrgh) which Egg promptly filled with sick only twenty minutes into the journey.)

Anyway, it didn't help that Friday was a gorgeously hot day and we got stopped in four different horrendous traffic jams through sheer bad luck (thanks Google Maps!) which meant that aside from a quick detour to grab a car seat and a torch, we left the house at 10:20 am and arrived at the Big Chill around 6:30-ish?! It also didn't help that we'd been given a brand new rental car - with a HUGE deductible and it was tragic to see the baptism of 'fire' it was given courtesy of our hugely nauseous firstborn.

Although I'd enjoy the challenge of waxing prolific on the whole 'kiddie vomit' scenario, and punning myself silly whilst doing so, let me just say that yesterday's episodes were horrifically and hilariously notable given that at one point I lost temporary control of a sloshing vomit-filled cappuccino cup (yep, we'll never travel without one of those again) and whilst trying to get back into my seat a portion of the sick went hurtling through the air narrowly missing (and I DO mean narrowly) Jay and landing right beside him all over the gear shift. I was so taken aback I burst into near hysterical giggles - laughing even harder when I saw Jay's shocked and horrified face.

Ah well, all is well that ends well and this one did. Both boys were tucked cozily (and cleanly) into bed after a nutritiously uninspired but quick as you like dinner of baked beans, hard boiled eggs, and 'toast soldiers' (or 'toy soldiers' as Egg calls them). I got showered, lotioned up to the hilt and thoroughly scrubbed three days of festival mayhem off my body.

I suppose you are curious about HOW the actual festival was...? Well let me just say that there were huge great patches when we were parked on blankets in the hills right beside giant white letters that spelled 'Big Chill' and gave a panoramic view of the entire grounds. There were other times we were in a field and listening to some great music, in a great atmosphere, with plenty of crazy and incredible eye candy to satiate even the most hardened people watcher. (There were people dressed up as giant banana's, batman, fairies, Indian chiefs and my favourite - whole bands of friends posing as professional tennis players!)

Compared to the mammoth 'Glastonbury' which is the daddy of all festivals 'The Big Chill' has a lot to recommend it. Friendly people, great vibes and so many young families with kiddies (like ourselves) that they provide a special 'family camping area'. At first mention it sounds grand, and when we erected our giant 9-man tent beside some mouthy yet friendly single moms we were rather bemused.

Now however, we shall never be able to hear that phrase, 'Family Camping Area' without shuddering in horror.

Egg had a grand old time and took to festival life like a pro; making friends, running around and trying to out-compete his little friend Mia in every-bloody-thing! Dumpie during the day was terrific...taking in all the mayhem, climbing everything in sight and generally charming onlookers. However at night he morphed into a monster!

That first night, the boys (Jay and John) were allowed free rein to go mental and stay out all night if they wanted (they wanted) on the condition that Lee and I could have the same courtesy the following night (with hindsight i'm now wondering what kind of an idiot i was to think that was feasible). So on Friday night around 1 am we all walked back the four sleeping babies/children to the tent. The transfer from pushchairs to bed went well, but Dumps suddenly awoke at the last minute (I think he was affronted by the dodgy air mattress) and began to wail and scream. He would not stop. Not for anything.

Eventually we told the boys to head out, thinking that Dumpie would calm down momentarily. He didn't. Please believe me when I tell you that for the next FOUR hours (nearly till the boys returned just before 6 am) Dumpie continued to wail, scream, moan, sob, yell and giggle right into the quite still air hovering around the vast 'Family Camping Area'. Creating a hellish cacophany, were not only his piercing screams, but the 'tutt-tutting' and gathering hostile shouts, whispers, moans of our neighbours.

Dumps was simply overtired, disoriented, chilly, and also happened to be TEETHING. One minute he would be rocking himself in a consoling manner moaning out, "Yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah..." ad infinitum and then he would suddenly turn and slap me sharply across the face, giggling as I reeled in sleepy stupor and yelling, "Mama mama mama mama" in my ear as he grabbed my face and pulled me in for a slobbery french kissing session. Then he'd start crying again (sounding like a torture victim) and a few minutes later he'd climb up on top of me and begin several rousing chorus' of 'Booooob the builder'...getting louder and louder each time and loving the sound of his voice. He even developed this little ditty into 'Mooooom, the Mama' at a later stage around 4 am.

I could hear Lee in the next tent compartment snorting back laughter throughout the night due to Dumpie's antics, then sighing sympathetically when she'd hear the quick hard snap of a face slap followed by the moaning which would mean that we were in for several minutes of prolonged wailing and an uptake in the number of furitive whispers we could hear from the gathering hostile mob outside who were now, thanks to Dumps, all awake and Very Pissed Off.

Dumpie finally wore himself out near 5 am, and we shared a deep slumber for an hour or so until I woke up and the boys came home and I snuck out to go and use the toilets. I was gone for only 15 minutes or so, but on my return, from down the long path I could hear plaintive wails issuing forth from the vicinity of our tent and thought, 'Oh no not again'...briefly fantasizing about doing an about-face and going out to get an early morning coffee in the green fields.

But i didn't. I went back and faced the music...which in this case was Dump-a-lumps, face contorted with pure rage, being held outwards and aloft by an incredibly hung-over, exhausted and frightened looking man (which I clocked as my husband). He was inconsolable and it took me ages to quiet him again (Dumps, not Jay), and whilst I was doing so I was filled in on the scenario which had just taken place involving one of our neighbours who came to enquire about the health and safety of the child who had kept him awake all night and who clearly sounded distressed. We were told in not such polite terms that clearly our child was distressed that it couldn't be good for the baby or for others camping nearby. I think we were supposed to meekly agree to pack up our tents at that point (if he had his way), but of course we had no intention of doing so and therefore continued to garner more and more hostile looks and ill-disguised whispers as the weekend wore on.

On our second night (Saturday) we were all hyped up and waiting for a repeat of the previous nights performance, but this time we dosed poor Dumps up on 'Calpol' (baby paracetemal in liquid form which he adores) and crossed our fingers. We thought we were home free for a time, until suddenly around 3 am we heard the wail start up and and it gained momentum and we knew we were onto a loser.

Next thing I know Jay is up, and with military precision whips on his shorts, grabs Dumps (who is not even wearing socks or a jacket), takes him outside in the light drizzle and straps him in the soaking wet pushchair. He then apparently hurtled our bright red double pushchair through the wet fields, ending up by an all-night omelette stand where Dumps apparently became so mesmerized as to calm down and eventually fall asleep.

However this did not stop a neighbour lady from calling over security to complain about us - insinuating that she wasn't even sure that 'the parents' were inside with the child and insisting the hapless security guard 'do something about us'. (This same lady had boldly invited herself over earlier with the smashing opening line of, "So you guys are the ones everyone hates!" before plopping down, demanding a cigarette, and calling us bad parents. She then went on to neck FOUR spoons of Dumpie's 'Calpol' in quick succession, all the while calling her sanity into question while giggling like a loon and pointing a very strong flashlight in all our faces. She was terminally 'M.U.J.' Mentally Unstable Judgemental.)

Anyway, suffice it to say that I suspect in many homes around the country today, stories will be told about a horrid creature named 'Dumpie' (everyone knew his name by the end of the weekend) who ruined the festival.

I don't think Jay and I said more than three words to each other on the ride home - mind you it was quite difficult to talk over Dumpie's screaming to be let out of his car seat, and Egg's nauseous moaning. Still, it was a comfort to know that we are in this together, and come what may, for the rest of our lives, there will be one other with whom to share that special feeling of parental shame and humiliation.

As for that shockingly rude woman who labelled us 'bad parents', well I imagine she's back home now, cackling away like a crazy witch and glugging down baby medicine in a feeble attempt to get 'high'. Lady, we salute you, for making us, the 'bad parents', look good :)