Tuesday, 31 March 2009

"Doctor Drama"

Dumpie just came in from the terrace, wiping his mouth with a grimace and bearing a rotten strawberry and a plastic cup of ancient apple juice with at least a dozen dead ants floating in the bottom.  "Dumpie did you drink this?" I asked horrified.  "Yep.  Yuck."  

Yuck indeed.  It is a wonder that boy hasn't succumbed to something or another in the two short years he's been alive, seeing as he tastes first and asks questions later (except when it pertains to vegetables of course). He's just walked back in now, this time bearing a tiny plastic bowl of rotting melon, also rife with ants (but of the alive variety), and has handed the whole swarming mess over to me to dispose of...urghhh.

We were sooooo late to pick up Egg from school this afternoon because Dumpie had hidden my keys.  He does this a lot.  The worst thing about it is that we have the kind of front door that needs to be locked shut or it just swings wide open - so you can't even just chance leaving it unlocked and hope for the best.  Egg was not pleased about being the second last child to be collected, and therefore 'punished' me by careening down the dangerous sloped road on his little blue scooter at a million miles an hour as I frantically raced after him screaming.  Other mothers watched with open-mouthed horror, gasping with fear or perhaps disgust (it was hard to tell) as Egg hurtled toward oncoming traffic - only narrowly swerving in time to take a sharp left and avoid sudden death.  I HATE that slope - it's almost enough to make me want to change schools.

Tonight I have to go to a local hospital for a consultation for an upcoming surgery on my mouth.  Seems the root canal I paid an utter fortune for here in London several years ago has ultimately caused an abscess.   Talk about a dental waste: two root canals and a crown on the same bloody tooth which now has to be removed...and after all that pain and expense...how depressing.  Anyway, as it is my mouth, of course a simple extraction cannot be performed (assuming I was high enough to let my current dentist have a go), but rather demands a complicated surgery involving bone graft and all sorts.  

I am of course utterly devastated, quaking in fear and hoping against hope I'll go tonight and hear that it's all been a huge mistake and off I'll pop with a sugar-free lollipop in hand (for being such a good girl) and a tap on the bottom.  Okay maybe not a tap on the bottom...  

I just want to be one of those lucky ones who gets medically miraculous news and can't believe her luck as she skips gaily out of the doctors office and dispenses the full sum of all her loose change into the upturned hat of the first homeless person she passes and does a bit of 'Singing in the Rain' style click-clacking of heels as she boards the number 47 bus triumphantly....

This of course being real life, and not a technicolour Disney family movie, I suspect I shall have to endure a horrid, smelly bus ride in rush hour traffic, get hopelessly lost within the confusing hospital complex, show up panting and soaking wet, and then be examined by a disinterested specialist who had garlic for lunch.  I'll then hear the inevitable, fight back tears of dismay, and go outside to wait in the cold for a bus which will be so horrendously late that I'll be beset upon by a violent gang of youths who will mug me for my handbag (containing a near empty wallet, uncharged ipod, and half-eaten bits of toddler snacks).

The only (and I do mean only) positive spin I can put on this whole situation is that maybe I'll be given nitrous oxide.  Then I can spend the whole harrowing procedure giggling idiotically at the surgeon's nose hairs as I breathe in more and more of the potent gas.  And when I get home I can curl up on the sofa, feel terribly sorry for myself and attempt to get through an entire tub of Ben & Jerry's 'Phish Food'...

Monday, 30 March 2009

"Pole Dancing Midgets" (or "Vertically Challenged Gyrators")

Here I am, sat at my well-worn kitchen table (once brand-spanking new it now boasts crayon marks, unidentifiable stains and is a bit wobbly due to Dumps practising his pole dancing by swinging off the fruit basket and gyrating like a randy little midget). Dumpie, as always, is in the background making some mess or another which eventually I'll have to see to. He's my naughty shadow, my ever-constant sprite, and even now as I type he's on his hands and knees enthusiastically 'scrubbing' our kitchen floor with a big mug of apple juice and a sopping wet dish towel.

I've said this before, but I feel like in Dumpie I'm raising my father and my husband combined. Both men being the most strong-willed, complex and sometimes difficult creatures I've ever known, it is no surprise then that I find myself challenged every single bloody minute. Sometimes he's my miniature Mussolini and rules this household with a will of iron, screaming orders at me like "More milk MaaaaMaaaa!" and "Buy me looons!" (balloons) and whipping unwanted vegetables across kitchen when I have the audacity to adorn his dinner plate with broccoli, carrots, or anything not crisp or carbohydrate-based. At the ripe old age of two he has a definite idea of the clothes he wants to wear and will simply un-dress himself if you force him into an outfit he's not 'feeling' that day.

Other times he is the most charming, loveable creature that ever lived. He'll clamber onto my lap, stroke my cheek and say lovingly, "Maamaaa...." making me feel like I am the madonna personified. (True, this behavior often occurs just after he has once again raided my secret sweetie drawer and is riding high on chocolate-fueled seratonin...but still) The thing is, he is rather good company; we often have ridiculous back-and-forths in changing rooms when he'll say "Like" or "Don't like" to various outfits I'm trying on, and I'll try and persuade him otherwise. The salesclerks must think I'm a touch unbalanced as who in their right mind would ask a two year old their thoughts about the new seasons fashions? (Um...a socially starved fashionista with a 'two-going-on twenty' toddler perhaps?).

I mean, as long as you've clocked the exit and have made provisions to bustle the two of you out at a moments notice, there is no reason why you can't enjoy the odd Starbucks or Cafe Nero visit - even if Dumpie thinks it's funny to pop extra sugars or even some salt into a coffee mug of some neighboring unfortunate who has been foolish enough to turn away for a moment. Given your undivided attention, in public, Dumpie will reward you with all number of pranks, which given his diminuitive size is made all the more hilarious.

He loves to hop out of his pushchair when we're grocery shopping, and unbeknownst to me, fill the bottom compartment with all manner of odd confectionary and any products which happen to catch his eye. I now know to check the pushchair for unpaid goods before exiting, but of course occasionally I forget and hence sometimes arrive home, confused, with a jar of pickled beetroot or something else equally as random.

Once we were exiting a clothing store and just seconds before we passed through the alarmed doors I just happened to glance down and see that Dumpie's arms were tangled up in some weird black and red polyester material. It turned out to be some slutty, cheap 'lingerie' that he's obviously grabbed off a passing rail, and I just KNEW that we would have been stopped and I would have been blamed for trying to use my young innocent to set up Mummy for a night of third-rate passion. Panicking, I yanked the horrid panties and garter belt out of his hands and and flicked them into the pile of empty carts near the door, hightailing it out of there before I could be questioned by the glaring security guard.

Eggie in contrast is a lot like myself at that age. He has inherited his grandmother's sweet and sensitive soul, but has also inherited his genetic share of clever craftiness, a touch of moodiness, and a rather alarming propensity to lie as of late. I am hoping that this compulsive lying is merely a stage, as I don't much relish seeing my beloved firstborn on a televised 'Most Wanted' special about some genius but botched white-collar crime in the future.

Most of the time though he's just a cool little kid, whizzing down the streets of Southwest London, blond hair flying in the breeze, Adidas All-Stars on his size 10 feet and decked out in his little black leather jacket, managing more effortless style than his father ever could (sorry but it's true my darling former 'Chino-wearing', sport-socked hunk of burning love...lucky thing you ended up with a fashion-crazed wife or you might have been relegated to 'Dad-wear' for the rest of your days).

Egg is happiest when surrounded by OUR friends, and his upcoming birthday party this summer shall be interesting given that he's now into the 'birthday party circuit' at school and will for the first time in his life have a celebration that doesn't involve a load of thirty-somethings lounging around drinking wine, playing loud music and giving him pointers on how to pick up girls :)

When I was five I remember being terribly precocious and lecturing my dear mother on relationships, spiritual matters, and even advising her on consumer purchasing. Not much has changed I suppose, except now I have learned to keep some of my more controversial thoughts hidden away and tucked out of sight where they shall not offend or cause problems. Though how I am supposed to reconcile my love of honest discourse with a totally public, easily accessible BLOG I do not quite know.

To that end, I have now turned on the COMMENTS option on this blog and would love to hear from anyone who has an opinion on anything or everything. If you are not a screaming two year old or lying four year old - all the better.

So please, if you care to, do feel free to enlighten, scold, mock or deride, where and as you see fit (oh, and by the way I hope you know that this does not include YOU dear husband - you forfeited that right the moment you put that ring on my finger and promised to make out like I was a goddess for the rest of your days).

Sunday, 29 March 2009

"Sunday (Bloody) Sunday"

I took the boys to Sunday School this morning. Bad move. In retrospect I should have spent the morning in bed with the Sunday papers bemoaning the collapse of the financial world and sipping on a lukewarm cappuccino. Dumpie was a disaster. He refused to join in with the singing and lay face down on the floor screaming unintelligible insults at me, occasionally interspersed with the demand for "NANNIE!!!!" (candy). I don't know exactly how it has happened, but Dumps now expects that his inherent right as a two year old is that he should be showered with sweets every day. He's got hardcore "Nannie-on-the-brain" and if none are forthcoming he's not afraid to spur you on to action with whatever means necessary.

Thankfully, this week I was spared the 'Exorcist' voice (which as you can imagine does not go down terribly well in a place of worship, the exception being perhaps a satanist gathering...). Instead I got the full fury of a 2 foot despot leveled at me, and from his formidable, legs-apart stance and steely eyes I knew I was in for it.

"Nannie Mama" he started matter-of-factly. "No Dumpie, after Sunday School I will take you to the store and buy you a treat ok?" I countered desperately, glancing apologetically to the other parents and teachers watching this scene unfold. "No...Nannie!" Dumps repeated stubbornly, standing his ground and wrinkling his little brows in anger.

"Please Dumpie, let's sit down and you can sing some songs and ------" "NAAAAAAANIIIIIIEEEEEEEE!!!!!!" he screamed, throwing himself dramatically face down onto the floor and kicking his legs, causing some concerned glances from onlookers. I grabbed all 18 kilos of pure brute will off the floor and managed to bundle him outside into the corridor, all the while stepping delicately over the bodies of all the nice little children who were sat down quietly to hear Bible stories.

Once outside, I did the one thing you're never supposed to do to a two year old tyrant, and I turned my handbag inside out and produced a chocolate biscuit. He grabbed it out of my hands accusingly, as if I had been depriving him on purpose, carefully unwrapped it, and then proceeded to nibble on it contentedly whilst enquiring with a mouth full of chocolate and crumbs, "More Nannie?" as if it was the most logical question in the world. I temporarily forgot that I was a good thirty years older than him and thus glared silently at him, checking my watch. "Be-Bop?" (lollipop) he suggested helpfully a moment later, bearing absolutely no resemblance to the ill-mannered brute who had just screamed an entire church down and put my parenting skills into question.

"No, after Sunday School", I lied, grabbing him by the wrist and leading him stubbornly back into the hall. I then made an impulsive getaway and raced downstairs to join the service before he could follow me. I imagine he was alright after I left as there were no ear piercing screams, nor was a frenzied assistant dispatched to find me because all hell had broken loose upstairs. No, when I went to collect him an hour later, he was standing near the window, attempting to shove aside a sweet little blond girl who was obstructing him from collecting an armload of big coloured blocks. We made eye contact, and without missing a beat he ran right up to me and said, "Nannie?"


Saturday, 28 March 2009

"This Woman's Work"

I truly don't think that popular culture encourages realistic visions of parenthood. I just don't. You know the 80's movie, "She's Having A Baby" with Elizabeth McGovern and Kevin Bacon? You don't? Okay, well whatever. But if you're a bit of a John Hughes junkie or a retro chick like moi, then perhaps you'd like it. It's about a sexy loved-up couple who get pregnant and go through the whole "are we ready to be parents" rigamorole (and by 'they' i mean the fellow-she is totally ready). Despite the fact that the Kevin Bacon character has a fantasy affair with some model in his mind, by the end of the film he is a smitten new father, adores his wife and even beautifully plays out a tear-jerking scene wherein the labour goes wrong and the life of his wife and baby hang in the balance whilst the poignant Kate Bush song, "This Woman's Work" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r3dnFmwQy04 plays in the background and he sheds what look like genuine crocodile tears, slipping painfully down his teen idol face. He realises then that he is the luckiest man on earth and even manages to extract himself from his shitty corporate job by writing a book about his journey from selfish young 'f__k' to responsible, doting Dad.

There are countless other films which also convey the journey that men make towards 'fatherdom', and although there are often hiccups along the way, the fellows always seem to re-emerge out the other end with a newfound respect and adoration for their wives, a mysterious dollop of responsibility and a sudden, deep desire to cradle a mewling infant lovingly in their arms while swaying to 'Simply Red'. But I digress.

What no one ever tells you is that a few short days/weeks/months after giving birth, you and your beloved will be having whispered fights in the middle of the night about who should go check on the baby, who changed the most nappies that day, and whose turn it is to bathe the little bugger. You will find yourself defending your pockets of 'me time' while your partner tries to garner sympathy for having to venture out into the big wide world on a daily basis to earn enough money to keep your offspring in Huggies and you in elasticated Topshop cargo's. As it stands, my husband and I have an ongoing trick (which we're both wise to by the way) whereby as soon as the first whiff of dirty nappy permeates the room, he suddenly has to make an important work phonecall and I suddenly have to empty the washing machine. Eventually Dumpie will lumber up to one of us (why is it always me??) and say "Make poo-poo Mama" and after a few feeble attempts to coerce my husband (who is studiously ignoring me in the other room) pointlessly with guilt, I will bend down, heave the chubby chicken under one arm, and lumber up the flight of stairs to put things to right in the bottom department.

At no point do I ever recall my husband stroking my face tenderly and saying, "Thank you for giving birth to our precious child", or even massaging my swollen ankles or aching back during pregnancy. Instead I got, "Have you eaten the rest of the Ben & Jerry's?" when he found me exhausted, slumped in front of the telly, spooning the stuff mechanically into my mouth while watching late night re-runs of 'Big Brother' in an attempt to garner enough energy to trudge up two flights of stairs to bed before the next feeding. Or how about the time I agreed to a several kilometre country-walk 'hike' just days after giving birth to Egg - in a feeble attempt to prove that I was still cool, up for anything, and that birth hadn't fazed me....Huh!

The bottom line is that women when they become mothers have NEEDS. They need to believe that you still find them attractive (even if they perpetually live in track pants and baggy t-shirts for weeks on end)....they need you to realise that deep inside they are STILL that sexy, fun, party girl who shone and inspired envy in all your single friends (even if the only outings they get these days are 'Tumble Tots' sessions)....and most of all they need to feel loved, adored, appreciated and...not just glorified waste disposal units.

Hence, that is why I purchased a lovely glam piece of uber-trendy jewelry for myself on Mother's Day. It is a present for the REAL me, and not the "me" who nags about dirty socks left on the dining table, inspects nappy contents with a studied gaze, or the me who silently acknowledges the landmark washing of my 1000th bowl this year...sans acknowledgement.

No....this jewelry symbolises that the REAL ME is still in there....presently buried elbow deep in toilet bowl cleaner perhaps...but alive nonetheless and liable to emerge at any moment...in skinny jeans....without a sippie cup in sight.

Thursday, 26 March 2009

"Him Make Burp!"

I miss my mom (sigh)...she flew back to Canada this week. Dumpie is especially going to miss her as he has enjoyed keeping a steady inventory of her various moves throughout the house and has delighted in keeping a runny tally of all her misdemeanors. He has definitely inherited his Grandfather's naughty side as was evidenced when he patted his little behind, called it his 'Mum-Mum', then pointed at his Grandma and giggled, spontaneously naming her "Mum-Mum". So now, probably till the end of all time, poor Grandma shall always know that however cute the moniker of "Mum-Mum" might be, it does actually in fact originate from a two year old's witty attempt to correspond his most loving relative to his beloved and most smelly behind. C'est la vie.

When Mum was here I was constantly alerted to her whereabouts by Dumps, who especially liked to note her periodic visits to the toilet. "Mum-Mum make poo poo" was a favourite of his, and my mum would exit the lavatory not understanding why I was giggling and Dumpie was standing guard outside the door with a rather impish smile upon his face. Whether she had in fact just been innocently brushing her teeth or having a bath was not the point - Dumpie was steadfast in his verdict and insistent that a 'number two' had taken place. The other morning breezing into the kitchen after a much needed lie-in, I was alerted to Grandma's serious breach of etiquette when Dumpie pointed accusingly at her and said, "Him make burp."

Poor Mum. Being the most ladylike of women, and priding herself on never broaching certain standards of etiquette (this being the self-same mother who enrolled her four young daughters into 'Charm School' after all) she was I think quite horrified to hear this particular accusation being leveled publicly against her. Even worse, after a few days it had morphed into "Mum-Mum make Toot!" and no amount of indignant protestations on Grandma's part would make Dumps renege on his story. Any attempt to do so would lead to infectious giggles on Dumpie's part and a reddening of face on Grandma's.

I am not in the greatest of moods it has to be said, given that I had another distressing visit to my dentist yesterday. The drill broke halfway through the procedure and by over-numbing my mouth with two excruciating needles, she left me looking like a stroke victim for the rest of the day. As a dentist she is lackadaisical at best about the health and upkeep of my mouth, and doesn't seem too bothered about my legitimate health concerns regarding regular check-ups and any preventative measures I might embark upon, so as to limit the amount of time we are forced to spend in each others company. Her motto is not so much preventative dentistry as 'patch-up dentistry', and it puts honest-to-goodness fear in me when she scratches her head and admits to being perplexed about what treatments might be needed.

I don't know why I'm so surprised. It's not like I haven't run into similiar worrying levels of commitment in health professionals in this country. I mean Dumpie was born on the bathroom floor of our old flat after all. My midwife had been too busy scribbling fastidiously in her files in the front room to actually register that her patient was on the verge of giving birth and she had botched any chance of me getting to the hospital in time because she was too busy sipping mint tea and filling in forms. (Then again, she did later admit that she had only been working as a midwife for less than a year, after having grown disenchanted by her last job...at McDonald's.)

I won't even get into how three days after giving birth I had to be admitted to the hospital due to a mysterious and severe infection because the instruments she had used to get the last little bit of Dumps out into the world had been dropped outside onto the muddy, wet pavement by my sis who had been frantically dispatched to retrieve them from the midwife's car down the road. I suspect it was my scream of, "I can see the head it's coming NOOOOOOOOOOWWW!!" which alerted her to the fact that she'd best put aside her notes for a moment and see what the heck was going on in the bathroom. Apparently my running from the front room in utter agony minutes before hadn't been a clear enough indication that birth was immanent. Anyway, I digress. The point is that I am well seasoned in the varying standards of healthcare in this country.

The other night as I was cooking dinner I happened to wander out in the hall and much to my horror I looked down and saw our front door swinging wide open and my 4 year old outside on his scooter about to head off into the great dark unknown. I ran down the stairs screaming for him to stay put and managed to drag him back inside only to discover that he was off to "find another family". When i asked him what had prompted his first runaway attempt he admitted that my failure to locate his beloved Nintendo game AND my forgetfulness in not bringing his scooter to school that day had caused him sufficient distress and anger so as to begin the search for better, more thoughtful parents. He then confessed that the fact that he had magically just figured out how to unlock the outside door might have played a part in his impromptu escape plan.

If that isn't worrying enough, the other day Dumpie figured out how to unlock and open our giant front room windows which when open, lead directly to a potentially lethal fall of several metres below. URGHHHHH!! We are really in for it now. The monsters are clearly gaining in intelligence and ingenuity every day whilst their father and I, judging by our ever-increasing wine consumption appear to be worryingly heading in the opposite direction and are disposing of much-needed brain cells willy-nilly. (I have always wanted to use that expression...don't be alarmed...it's a one-off)

Just keeping Dumpie in his cot these days is an exercise in futility as he is growing ever more spry and athletic. He now doesn't even need Eggie's help to lift him out of bed - he merely high jumps over the rails with the dexterity of a gymnast and lands with a loud, satisfying thump on the floor. Now in the mornings I am greeted by my own personal alarm clock, "Hi Mama...WAKE UP...WAKE UP!..." he shouts in my ear while attempting to wedge his mini plastic toys ("Go-Go's") into my ear cavity. The other morning I was even greeted by the perplexing site of his motorised 'choo-choo' train bearing down on me from the headboard as I pointlessly tried to cover my facial area so as to avoid a painful collision round about the eye area.

The one good thing of course is that here in Britain it is perfectly acceptable to send ones miniscule offspring off to boarding school when they're barely out of nappies. Though saying that, Dumpie is adamantly refusing to give the toilet even a cursory attempt and looks set to be in nappies for a good many...years (sigh). Better come up with a Plan B.

Sunday, 22 March 2009

"Happy Mama Day"

This morning two tousle-haired hobbits trundled up the stairs into our top-floor bedroom, bearing precariously-balanced plates of chocolate croissants and special 'Mother's Day' cookies. Egg gave me a quick kiss and cuddle before disappearing back downstairs to pummel his beloved Nintendo some more, but Dumpie was not to be separated from such scrumptious fare and so took up position at the side of our bed staring pointedly at the plate and gently fingering the pastry.

"Do you want a bite Dumpie?"

"Yep," said Dumps, and promptly bit into the croissant spraying chocolate slivers all along the bed. I couldn't get a bite in edgewise after that and so a few minutes later I sent Dumps down with one of the plates and instructions to share the rest with Egg. (In all likelihood Eggie never saw a crumb as it's a pretty good bet that a quick pit-stop was made en route for a sneaky gobble before the goods ever made it to the kitchen.)

Anyway we went to church this morning and right after prayers Dumpie thought it would be a good time to pull out his 'Exorcist voice' (he does this scary hoarse voice once in awhile) and hankering after something sweet all of the sudden demanded, "Nannies!" I tried to ignore him, but of course that was futile, and he continued in his louder and louder scary voice to hold me ransom for candies. All I had was some bubblegum, so with strict whispered instructions I doled it out to the monsters and bought myself ten more minutes.

Anyway, I had a lovely Mother's Day and my dear husband pretended not to notice the extravagant display of my new jewelry (pics of the 'bling-bling' to follow tomorrow). Moreover he got top marks for having picked up the not-so-subtle request for CHOCOLATE loud and clear and I'm pleased to announce that I am now the proud recipient of a gourmet box of two dozen hand-picked choccies....oh yeah - and some killer jewelry :)

Friday, 20 March 2009

"Love Is a Nine Letter Word...And It's Brown"

Last night le husband returned from a week long business trip in Mexico City. He 'brought me back' a giant bottle of tequila (a spirit neither of us drink) with a big fat white drowned worm floating around in it. He also brought me back a Mexican Nestle Crunch chocolate bar. Normally such 'gifts' would have elicited a disappointed, half-hearted 'thank you' and prompted a trip down to the kitchen to seek solace in the biggest glass of Merlot I could pour without being labelled an alcoholic. This time however, I took him into my arms and said, "Nevermind Baby...I didn't expect you to bring me back anything".

Now, this ultra-mature and loving response of mine just might have something to do with the fact that I was very naughty and had an unfortunate for me, but fortunate for them, run-in with a posh jewelry establishment yesterday. Yep. Let's just leave it at that.

Mind you, this Sunday being "Mother's Day" I reckon I'll get off lightly for my slightly indulgent purchases from yesterday (which my husband knows better than to query about in any great detail...we've been together for eighteen years). Instead, I hope to be lauded as 'World's Best Mother' or some such accolade of which I am admittedly, entirely undeserving. Nonetheless the monsters seem to think I'm great as they don't know any better, and so I'm going to stick with that for as many years as I can get away with. Eventually of course, they'll get wise to all of my parental shortcomings - but if I can just ride out the 'glory days' until adolescence, by that time they'll hate everyone anyway so it will be no great shakes not to be a minor deity in their eyes.

Anyway yesterday (while I was doing my little part in helping out the U.K. economy try and recover from the current worrying recession by plumping money back into a small, well-deserving fine jewelry store in the exclusive Sloane Square area...) my mother was taking over the school run for me. Apparently she and Eggie got there just as the class was going inside (keeping it tardy!) and since Egg can now decipher the kitchen clock, he blasted her the whole way there:

"Grammitay! You are going to make me late! Mama and Dada have only ONE rule and that is that I should not be LATE for school! Now look how LATE I am going to be!!" (etc...this went on for the entire seven minute walk to the school gates apparently).

Once inside, Mum introduced herself to his teacher and took a long look inside the classroom - promptly mortification from Egg and an outward 'blanking' affectation suggesting that the woman smiling and waving at him from the door was some crazy lady who had snuck into the school and appeared to be under the mistaken impression that they were related.

Poor Egg. I remember being that age and desperately not wanting parents or relatives to acknowledge me in school and single me out. Oh well. At least I haven't yet volunteered to help teach the class one morning. This has become a popular past time for many of the 'stay-at-home-mum's' and I have yet to decide whether to inflict this particular brand of cruelty on my uber-shy firstborn or not. Other kiddies might be chuffed to have their Mum squeezed into a miniature chair beside them and gamely wielding scissors side-by-side at craft time, but I suspect my little Egg would rather have me barefoot at home in the kitchen where I belong, whipping up batches of after-school cookies, than attempting to 'be cool' and 'interested' in doing puzzles, practicing phonics and reading stories (none of which I particularly excel at it has to be said).

At any rate, it's a luvverly day outside, the sun is pouring down on our sweet little street and I should probably wake up the lazy Dumps, toss him into his bright red but spectacularly-trashed pushchair and head on out into one of the parks where right now as we speak, millions of 'Mummies' are reinacting scenes from Mary Poppins - pushing and prancing...playing and dancing...feeding and romancing their offspring into a Spring frenzy.

Of course I would much rather set up my music, slap on some headphones and attempt to make some cool tunes...but what kind of 'Mummy' would that make me?...especially in light of it nearly being "Mother's Day"? I reckon that with the high holiday just around the corner, I'd best make a little effort and try and at least "earn" my Godiva chocolate truffles. (Hear that husband? Lose the Mexican confectionary and head out after work to the nearest, dearest chocolate establishment before heading home tonight or there will be one pissy Mama about on Sunday....jewelry binge or no jewelry binge).

You see "Love" is a nine-letter word. At least in my thesaurus...

Tuesday, 17 March 2009


This morning, eight and a half minutes before Egg had to leave for school I found myself, shears in hand, trying to do a 'reverse haircut'. What's a 'reverse haircut' you ask? Well, it's a rather complicated procedure one must undertake when one's husband has randomly chopped a three inch chunk of their child's hair off one side of their head, but has completely neglected to do it to the other side (which in itself is a conundrum - better to look perfectly ridiculous from one angle but angelic from the opposite side?...Or better to just have an all-round horrid haircut and look like your parents were too cheap to pay for a hairdresser and instead let a drunk 'Uncle' have a go for a laugh after too many sherry's...)

At any rate that is the predicament I found myself in this morning. You know that saying, "It is never right to do wrong to do right?" Well I had to completely ignore that adage as I painstakingly tried to chop off the hair from the perfectly decent right side of Egg's head in order to match the crooked left side. Do you know how hard that is to do? Especially given that I am a rather decent hairdresser.

To do this job successfully I had to feign utter incompetence and administer spasmodic suicide swipes with the scissors. It pained me but I did it. I have yet to figure out how this hair disaster occurred in the first place, and fully intend to sit le husband down when he gets back from his business trip and demand an explanation.

All I know is that when I picked Eggie up from school yesterday, he came running towards me looking like two different people sharing the same head. I was beyond mortified just imagining what the hell his teachers must think. They will assume his mother is on crack. (Or perhaps they'll think he volunteered to be a hair model for a troupe of blind hairdressers in aid of Comic Relief...??)

My poor darling boy now looks...well,,,still gorgeous,,,but like he has an 'Uncle' who imbibes a little too much sherry on occasion and....

Monday, 16 March 2009

Moaning Mums (and all that Jazz)

It is with great delight that I announce that I have purchased the URL http://www.moaningmum.com. Now instead of always having to spell out and explain the name of my site as regards my two children's nicknames ("Egg? And Ollie?"... "But I thought his name is Dumpie?"...."Oh it is? With an 'ie'?"..."So why do you call it Egg and Ollie"..."What? All one word....?" etc.) I can just simply say "Moaning Mum". Hurrah for simplicity. If you feel the need to contact me for any reason, or would like to give feedback, simply email me at: natasha@moaningmum.com

Now however, I do feel that I should point out that if for any reason you try and log on and find yourself confronted by a rather overweight middle-aged woman 'going for it' in a rather lewd manner - do not be alarmed. I have not put a hidden camera in the bedroom nor have I posted any rather ill-advised, misjudged 'fun' home movies made after a big night out and too many bottles of champers....

No, if you find yourself confronted by such a grotesque site (or rather sight), whilst doing something so innocuous as spooning Weetabix into your mouth and absentmindedly reminding your child to brush their teeth before school - please don't blame me. Rather - blame yourself. If you find yourself viewing some dodgy second rate porn before 11 o'clock in the morning, know that YOU yourself are entirely responsible for bringing such filth into your home.

For by mistaking the "U" for an "O" you will have unwittingly let in a whole plethora of rather off putting visions with a mere mistaken tip-tap on the keyboard...a botched keystroke might actually be in danger of emotionally scarring your offspring for life if they happen to catch a peek, and might perhaps even be responsible for all manner of sexual dysfunction in later life...

("Well you see, it all started with these filthy movies I caught Mummy watching one morning when I was but a wee lad...I never forgot them and I feel like it's been primarily responsible for my inability to become aroused by anyone in possession of a muffin-top or sporting rather garish hair...")

(Of course I am fully aware that having made such a big song and dance about it - and there being those of you who are understandably rather curious to see for yourselves what a "Moaning MOM" actually looks like - you may well go to that other site on purpose. But be warned. I've been there - and it ain't pretty. Just like the beautiful anticipation of watching your beloved wife give birth to your firstborn might in theory seem like a good idea - the reality is that a few moments of perplexed viewing might potentially put you off your dinner...it did me.)

At any rate I am pleased to at last have a platform from which to MOAN (goodnaturedly for the most part). It's almost as if a special little world in 'Cyberspace' now exists for me, and me alone, where little creatures like the 'Who's' from 'Whoo-ville' shall tinker about and put my little world to rights...

Then of course there is the school of thought which would suggest that I really don't need any encouragement. There are some who would I'm sure say that I have already had plenty enough opportunity to 'moan' and that now I should just 'suck it up' and get on with the art of living...pay more attention to my son's phonics training and less time furitively sipping cappuccinos in the kitchen whilst tapping away like a demented housewife. Well bugger them.

I do realise that some people are worthy enough to deserve a platform from which to expound greatly about matters which will benefit the common good...or provide comfort for needy people...or answer queries which will better the lives of their readers.

But then I would argue that my ode to the glorious Easter Creme Egg the other day might well be said to do just that...I reckon it ticks all the boxes in that regard. (Go on, go out and get yourself one, then see if I'm not right.)

At any rate, I must dash now. While I have been sitting here typing blissfully away, gleefully announcing the birth of my new 'MoaningMum' domain...Dumpie has been pestering Grandma to blow up brightly coloured balloon after brightly coloured balloon... As a result our kitchen now resembles a kiddie play area and any moment now the room is going to be filled with the frightening and inevitable sound of bursting balloons which is sure to result as they come into contact with the many sharp implements adorning my kitchen. Come to think of it my mum also looks rather faint and a bit 'peaky' from having blown up about twenty-five balloons or so in the space of half an hour.

So on that note, "Hi-Ho-Hi-Ho-It's-Off-To-Moan-I-Go-To-Whinge-And-Bitch-Like-Some-Great-Witch-Hi-Ho-Hi-Ho-Hi-Ho-Hi-Ho...."

Sunday, 15 March 2009

Grandma arrived today from overseas for her yearly visit to the UK. Egg and Dumpie hovered like greedy little vultures round the present-laden suitcase.
"Look Dumpie, Grandma bought you your own special little pants because you're such a big boy now! You can use the toilet like Eggie", my mom offered hopefully.

"No," Dumpie said matter-of-factly and stood his ground, looking decidedly disgusted at the three pairs of mini 'banana hammocks' laid out on the sofa. (Why oh why do I feel such a sense of dread when I even begin to contemplate potty training Le Dumps...?)

"Hey Dumpie", I countered, putting on my most excited voice and feigning enthusiasm for the albeit adorable little coloured underpants, "Look what Grandma got you, aren't they cool?"

"No" Dumps repeated. You could tell by his solemn yet resolute look that he considered the matter closed and was beginning to show signs of irritation. Auntie Mo tried one last time.

"Dumps?" she began tentatively..."Look at these little boats - should we try these ones on?" She held out one of the brightly coloured pairs and made to grab him.

"No!" he screamed, making it very clear where he stands on the nappy vs. potty debate. By the look of it I'm going to be elbow deep in wet wipes and Huggies for the foreseeable future (sigh). Great.

Later in the afternoon Jay dispensed himself off to some local pub or another to soak up the uncharacteristically hot sunshine with the implicit understanding that no matter how many ales imbibed he would NOT forget to pick up his 4 year old from a local birthday party at some point. I was slightly concerned to hear that he was planning to do a 'drop by' on the only other member of his exclusive made-up club "The P.H.D.'s" ("Piss Head Dad's"). To be fair there are probably a whole plethora of suitable candidates within a square mile of here judging by the hungover specimens who litter the park on weekends, but like I said it's a 'made up club' and hence quite difficult to organise - let alone arrange meetings for - especially given the prerequisite for membership.

Grandma, Dumpie and I ambled slowly down the street stopping only briefly to browse in a cute little shop selling pretty trinkets. Dumpie is nothing if not an opportunist, and once inside, unbuckled himself from his push chair, hopped out and cozied up to Grandma faster than you could say "Spoiled Chubby Chicken". He picked up a package of "Mon-Key's" (for those of you hopelessly NOT in the know, these are funny little monkey heads which fit over your keys - geddit?) from the shelf and said, "I like."

Now we have this joke about how Dumpie has inherited his love of 'shopping' from me - only it's not a joke - it's true. However unlike Mama, Dumpie is a rather restrained shopper, and insists on serious deliberation before making a purchase. He'll examine an article from every angle, turning it round and round in his little hands, then usually mutter "Noooo" quietly to himself, talking himself out of it and shake his head, put it back and move on. We waited for him to do the same today...but no such luck. Instead he glared as I took it from him, then stubbornly picked it back up again (several times I might add).

"I LIKE it," was all he would say, followed by "Buy it ME!". After countless more rounds of 'pick it up and put it back' we had to concur that this was, indeed the case.
As you might expect, Grandma ended up buying him the bloody things and we left the store with a supremely pleased looking Dumpie happily swinging his new purchase on his arm as he hummed quietly yet victoriously to himself.

Moments later we all come to a sudden halt as Dumpie stopped directly in front of a lovely laquered white table outside an antiques shop. We stood there flabergasted as he lovingly stroked the wood, and waited patiently for him as he stepped back and examined it from a few different angles.

Once again he said, "I like". Now an overpriced package of plastic monkey heads is one thing - but a £350 antique piece of furniture is quite another. It took a good several minutes of cajoling to convince Dumpie to move on - and that was only on the provisio that we 'think about buying' the table and come back for it later. It was with a regretful "O-Tay" that he finally turned his back on the period piece and finally consented to follow us home. (Should I be offended that my two year old assumes to have better taste than I and is potentially hatching plans for a whole home decor overhaul?....Without even consulting me?)

Egg meanwhile is worn out from two back-to-back 5th birthday parties today. He remained unconvinced when I tried to convey that one day in about, oh, thirty years, he would KILL for two invites in one day. He doesn't care about thirty years from now though - he just cares about how far everyone he knows is from 'one hundred'. (At the magic age of one hundred he believes we all die, and can therefore rattle off by heart how many years Dumps, Dada, his Aunties, his Grandparents and his cousins have until D-Day.) I have assured him that we all have an impossibly huge amount of years left together before any of us go up to heaven to be with Jesus. (Mental note to self: better make sure Egg doesn't follow thought process through to conclusion that any shortcuts to 'heaven' like crossing road on his own or riding his bicycle down three flights of stairs might prove a clever strategy.)

Anyway I'm knackered and it's time to put a lid on the weekend. As I reflect on the past few days I have to admit that both the high AND low points of my past 48 hours have revolved around fighting with my 2 year old over the last dregs of the most heavenly, calorie-laden (whoops) Oreo Cookie Milkshake. How sad it that?...

Friday, 13 March 2009

Modern Art and Other Musings...

Certain things in my life are a given. For instance at least twice a day I know Dumpie and I shall pass the slowly decaying piece of dog excrement on the pavement by school and have a brief discussion about it.

"MaaaMaaa Pooo-Poooo!" he'll say excitedly, dropping my hand and bending down to examine it yet again.

"Yes Dumps...it's still there", I agree wearily, wondering idly how many weeks it's going to take to compose. I also know that when we pass the store with the Easter decorations in the window he will yell out, "Quack quack Mama...quack quack!"

Dumpie is also the 'Boo boo Master'. Ever since his wee little motorcycle accident in Goa he's been overly concerned about 'Boo boo's'. He always knows who has got them at any given time, how they were acquired and where they are in the healing process. Jay came off his bike a few weeks ago and subsequently got a 'Boo boo' on his elbow. Dumpie is most concerned about this, and when he is not discussing his favourite subject of 'Nannies' (we've moved on from 'Nay-Nay' now and this is his new term for sweeties) he likes to discuss how Jay got his 'Boo boo' ("Fall bike Dada") and then likes to express his sadness of said event ("Awwww...Dada ouch Boo boo").

Egg I'm afraid has turned into a Nintendo junkie. I feel like he's already a teenager in some respects and yet he's only 4. He wants very little to do with anyone these days unless they can help him get to the next level on his games. He tries to trick and cajole us into helping him by saying things like, "Mama, I bet you'd be good at this game because you are so smart". If you actually try and help him (an impossible feat for someone like me whose gaming abilities don't extend much beyond Pacman or Space Invaders) he stands by your shoulder, breathing heavily and wills you on with, "Good job Mama! I knew you could do it. See, you are doing very well."

"Um thanks Egg" I say, totally confused about the screen in front of me and absolutely sure I'm going to let him down in some manner. Sure enough, moments later we hear the 'dying sound' and whichever unfortunate creature I've been trying to maneover through a forest dies a mean and nasty death. Egg sighs dejectedly and takes the game away from me. "Nevermind Mama you tried your best...(insert dramatic sigh)...but now I have to start at the beginning again." Indeed.

Surveying the state of our home this morning as I did my customary trudge down the stairs, I observed that last weekend's frantic cleaning ministrations appear to have been all in vain. We still haven't found another cleaner so it's yours truly in charge of this three-level catastrophe we call home.

Having absolutely no storage doesn't help, and means that even when every single item of clothing is laundered and folded - it doesn't necessarily get put away. In fact I'd estimate that only about 30% of clothes or toys in this house 'have a home'. The rest are free to deposit themselves in a place of their choosing - the countertops, the bathroom, the stairs, the dining table, the bedside table...anywhere really. We're not fussy.

In foolish days past I used to painstakingly arrange the boys closet and spend about four hours making it look like it belonged in a magazine spread - okay maybe not a posh magazine, but still. Then of course one solitary game of hide and seek in the closet (or Dada 'doing bedtime' - they are equally damaging) would render all my hard work utterly pointless and the next time I popped my head in there I would find bits of abandoned toast, cookie crumbs, orange peels, and dirty clothes mixed in with clean ones, etc. If there is anything more demoralising than having to do ongoing 'sniff' tests on random pairs of pants which belong to the three men in your household - then I have yet to discover it.

This fond reminiscing will have to stop now however, for Egg has just alerted me to the fact that Dumpie has made a Shreddies pond on the bathroom floor, complete with raisin bushes and a spoon bridge. It is something I'm sure I could rather appreciate for its its ingenuity and artistic merit if of course it wasn't my son...and it wasn't my home.

I stand there for about a minute, eyes somewhat glazed, and looking not unlike, I can imagine, a villiage idiot. I am not a morning person at the best of times, let alone when I'm contemplating the impossible task of getting one boy dressed, a huge mess cleaned up and two boys out the door in under the space of six minutes. I eventually come to my senses, shriek as expected, (I think I unnerved Dumps slightly when he gazed up to see me just staring down blankly at his creation) and both boys look relieved that their Mama is behaving 'normally' again, and totally nonplussed, hurry off to their next port of call.

Neither boy acknowledges my plea to get dressed/brush teeth/put on shoes or help clean up the mess. Egg flops down on the front hall landing, rolls over onto his tummy and begins playing yet another video game. Dumpie has trundled off to the front room under the big window where he is once again involved with his enormous pile of coloured blocks and is busy constructing his latest masterpiece. I have to admit his creations are really rather inspired such that I'll often leave them out for Dada to view when he gets home from work. They are like mini installations of modern art in our very own front room.

It's too bad the same could not be said for the now mostly hardened Shreddie Pond on the bathroom floor.

Thursday, 12 March 2009

Wrong Number Woes

Today I discovered that for the past year or so, I have mostly been giving out the WRONG mobile number to people. This would explain why almost nobody rings me anymore and my social life has dwindled down to practically nothing as of late. I had my first inkling that something was amiss when a few 'mums' came over for a cappuccino the other day (I do make wonderful homemade ones with thick yummy froth and sprinkles of chocolate on top...but I digress).

One 'mum' had tried to ring me repeatedly but said she kept getting a busy signal. Then today at the school drop off another mum asked if I had gotten her text but of course I flatly denied it. I don't know why it is, but for some reason, out of the half dozen or so mobile numbers I've had in the last several years, the one from three years ago appears to be permanently etched in my brain. (It's comprised of loads of 6's and 9's and is the ONLY one which ever springs to mind.)

I have actually blamed Dumpie for some time now for breaking my phone. He is forever sliding it out of my back pocket or slipping it out of my purse, and pressing the buttons so as to connect to the expensive mobile browser option (a practise I am alerted to every month when I get my bill with the confusing extra charges on it). He loves to talk on the phone - unlike Eggie. Dumpie will happily conduct phone calls all day if you let him, pacing about with the handset glued to his ear and resembling a miniature businessman from behind - albeit one with fluffy fine chicken hair, and a solitary, stubborn dreadlock. So long as the person on the other end doesn't mind talking about 'balls' or 'nay-nay's' (sweets) or 'bocks' (blocks) or 'poo poo's' or 'boo-boo's', then they are in luck. He will happily while away several minutes garbling nonsense and scream bloody murder if you try and get the phone off him before HE is done and is allowed to sing off with a husky, "Bye".

Egg is generally more quiet than Dumpie these days. In fact it drives me mad every morning when we trundle into the school grounds (usually just as the bell is ringing or shortly after it has rung) and the kindly teacher's assistant says "Hello" to him and Egg either stares blankly ahead or starts swinging his school bag around, accidentally catching Dumpie in the head. Then I have to stand there, trying to soothe a sobbing Dumps and do something I swore i would NEVER EVER do, which is talk stupid 'baby talk' on behalf of my mute child saying inane things like, "Say Hi Eggie! How was your breakfast? Are you excited about school today? Are you going to be a good boy today? Say Hi Eggie...Come on!" etc.

As I'm doing it I am aware of how idiotic and trite I sound. I also feel embarrassed that my son is blanking people, and so like some sort of vaudeville double dummy act I interject and pepper the conversation with moronic quips that I think a four year old might make...such as, "It's cold today isn't it? Yucky cold...." or "Shall we have a yummy snack after school? Would that be yum-yums?" and so on and so forth...until his class is ushered in and I can breathe a sigh of relief and shut. the. hell. up.

Anyway, I'm in rather good spirits today given that MY MUM is flying across the ocean this weekend for a much-needed visit. She adores the monsters and believes them to be the most exceptional and delightful children who have ever walked the earth. This is good. For although having had four daughters of her own, she has definitely changed more nappies in her lifetime than anyone deserves to (especially as my hard-working surgeon father was rather old fashioned and probably never did it more than a handful of times), I know I can count on her to take up some of the mothering slack around here and pump the monsters full of Grandmotherly Love - leaving me to do the essential things like wax my legs, paint my toenails dark purple, idly flip through fashion mags....

Saying that, they are full-on at the moment and there is every likelihood that by day three we might just have locked ourselves in the front room with the case of lovely red wine I had the good sense to pre-order, and get righteously pissed as the monsters bang incessantly on the door and wreak havoc in the rest of the house.

And did I mention that Dumpie now knows how to turn the oven on by himself and in all likelihood is gearing up for a giant barbeque wherein he shall 'bake' all the plastic and stuffed toys he owns? I can't wait. I hope it happens when my mum is here.

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

"Out Of The Mouth Of Babes"

Today I neither composed a number one hit song...nor wriggled triumphantly into a miniscule pair of jeans (which given my current Easter Creme Egg consumption is obviously understandable). I did however have the pleasure of being privy to the ongoing debate between my 2 and 4 year old about whether pavement canine excrement should be labelled as 'poo poo' or as a 'turd'. Egg favours the latter description though I am particularly unfond of it I must confess. Having grown up in a family of all girls, we were raised to shun vulgarity both in speech and in deed. In fact there were certain bodily functions we just didn't mention full stop. There appear to be no such restraints in THIS family.

This discussion was conducted at full volume as we left the school gates to begin the laborious process of walking home (a 2 year old is not the fastest thing on the road - especially when randomly stopping to bend down and closely examine unsavoury bits of feces). I wondered vaguely whether conversations such as these, representing the current mainstay of my daily communicative oportunites, might somehow be contributing to the general state of malaise in my brain and perhaps be partially responsible for the lack of inspiration I currently possess. There is boring and then there is 'off the richter scale' pathetic. Please tell me I'm not there yet...(sigh)

For literally weeks now I have been trying to carve out some space in my often frantic yet outwardly mundane existence, in order to make some new music. Last weekend with the best of intentions I waved Jay and the boys off for a few hours while absentmindedly wiping dust off a radiator. Four hours later and I had fully morphed into a cleaning lady, elbows plunged deep into not one but three urine-encrusted toilet bowls, muttering inanely to myself and sweating profusely. Rewind back several years and a sunny Saturday afternoon might have found me sipping Rioja in the park, laughing with friends and flicking shiny hair back over not-yet-world-weary shoulders, while Underworld beat on in the background.....ah how far we fall :)

Like 'making love' (a cheesy term and not one i've ever used seriously), 'making music', for me at least, involves being in a certain state of mind. Things like: a toddler grasping your elbow repeatedly and begging for more 'appa juice' even while spilling the already full cup in his hand; the phone ringing with someone from a call centre in Bangalore trying to convince you to upgrade your mobile phone plan when the only person who calls you on it anyway is your husband; the doorbell clanging because some angry delivery guy is trying to drop off a fridge and thinks you're part of the kitchen appliance shop next door; a tenant urgently emailing to alert you that water is leaking through the ceiling lights and electrocution is a real possibility...

It just doesn't stop. And even when it DOES stop, it's only for an agonisingly short period of say ten minutes, and then things kick off again and you shake your head in utter frustration and wonder if you are an ABSOLUTE FOOL to be attempting to carve out a life for yourself when you have two little monsters under the age of 5 and no outside help. With the general air of 'Credit Crunchiness' about (this was my husbands excuse last night when he talked himself out of a posh Thai takeaway in favour of some homemade Italian pasta whipped up by yours truly), I can't even see a way out of my current predicament.

And then of course I have moments like when Dumpie leaps like a tree frog off the change table, into the air, and lands solidly on my ribcage - wrapping his strong legs around my back, giggling and squishing noses. Or perhaps Eggie walks quietly into the kitchen and says, "Mama I just want to tell you that I love you more than a 'Dillion'..." (it's what comes after 'a Gazillion' apparently).

As I sit beaming, content in the knowledge that I am at least adored by my two darling boys, and if nothing else am sacrificing any semblance of 'a life' these days for such worthy little recipients...Egg and Dumps are making off with handfuls of chocolate biscuits under my nose...

I guess I've always got my little stash of Easter Creme Eggs to console me for another day (sigh)...

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

"The Easter Creme Witch"

Yesterday, I hit a new low point in mothering. Egg, my 4 year old looked over at me with tear-stained cheeks and heartbreakingly whispered,

"Mama, I've just broken my heart..."

I should have just slit my throat then and there, especially as I was partially responsible for his misery.
You see, I have this little problem which occurs once a year, for a month or so, right before Easter. I get re-addicted to Easter Creme Eggs. Yes, I know they are bad for you, I know the soft gooey creme inside is composed of so many additives and E-numbers that it would cause a nutritionist to break out in hives (and my dentist to come after me with a scalpel), but I just can't help it. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that I once read an article about Madonna which claimed that her one guilty pleasure (and being 50 with a figure like that she surely can't have more than the one) was Easter Creme Eggs. I may never quite fill a leotard like the reigning High Priestess of Pop, but darn it all we share a weakness for this scrumptious seasonal confectionary.

Anyway, I have been meaning to go on a detox for...well, for several months now to be fair...but things always get in the way. So I was determined to start TODAY and thus, having tantalisingly unpeeled my absolute LAST Easter Creme Egg last night, and savoring it's delightful naked chocolate form before taking the first bite, just as I was about to go for it, Egg and Dumps came barreling into the kitchen demanding dinner. I quickly shoved it behind a hibiscus plant and turned around with my best 'Bree-from-Desperate-Housewives' smile.

"Hello my darlings, what would you like for din-dins?" I enquired.

Moments later I heard some garbled groaning and glanced down to see Egg with chocolate spittle escaping the sides of his mouth mumblng "I'm eating your Easter Creme Egg Mama".

I don't know what came over me. I was livid. My first instinct was to salvage the egg, and so i took his little mouth and tried to prise open his lips in a vain gesture of retrieving at least some of it. No such luck. His jaw was clamped shut and I watched, horrified, as he gulped down the last of it with a triumphant grin and spat out, "I did it! Haha!"

Well that must have triggered something, for I marched him over to his little kitchen chair, sat him down and proceeded to lecture him on how angry I was that my son was a thief. I think I got rather carried away with my rant, and in truth perhaps it was an outlet for all the other current angst in my life at present, and so I didn't realise when he started to shed crocodile tears. It wasn't until he alerted me to the fragile state of his dear little heart that I realised that I had perhaps overstepped the line with my sensitive little firstborn.

Even worse, I had the humiliating epiphany that all of this was over his "Mama's" OUT OF CONTROL Easter Creme Egg addiction (sigh). It was the wake up call I needed.

I now realise that I most certainly have some sort of unhealthy dependence on Easter Creme Eggs. They make me happy and content in a way that no other person or thing can at present. I'm not even sure what I can do to get myself off them. There is no way that a crispy piece of celery or healthy handful of nuts is going to be any sort of antidote for my daily treat. (Even the sight of my thighs shackled into a too-tight denim mini recently was not enough to put me off.)

In fact I confess this problem may be rather deep-rooted as my family loves to remind me of the Easter when my three little sisters and I had a big easter egg hunt. Clutching little baskets overflowing with chocolate I opened one of my easter creme eggs, gathered my siblings all around, and bit into it, making a face as I did so, and telling them how disgusting the 'real raw egg' centre was. They fell for it - totally - and like a martyr I held out my basket and sighed as they deposited all of their easter creme eggs into my already heaving basket, thanking me gratefully and profusely for volunteering to take all of their 'disgusting eggs' for them. I remember nodding valiantly and making out that it was going to be horrible for me, but that i'd do it for them only because I was such a good big sister.

My parents of course eventually cottoned on to my evil ways the next Easter (perhaps a little sister spotted me hiding behind a sofa, nibbling an egg with an ecstatic look upon my face and had a eureka moment...) and my scam was up, but clearly Easter Creme Eggs figure largely in this sugar-addled brain of mine. If I ever go for therapy perhaps someone can help me get to the bottom of this, but for now I'm going to have to work on my 'Easter Creme Rage' myself and make sure that I get this under control before I am dragged before the courts by Social Services, pleading 'Easter Creme Insanity' and making headlines for disgracing my family and myself.

Or perhaps I just need to get a life? Hmmmmm....

Sunday, 8 March 2009

"And Here's Where You Start Paying...."

You know I think it's slowly sinking in, the fact that children are 'not just for Christmas' but for - well, forever. Having spent our twenties adventuring around the world, dancing in clubs, camping at festivals, lounging in bars, socialising at parties, and generally acting like adolescents (well into our thirties if truth be told), there was a huge lifestyle change to adapt to when Jay and I became parents. You would have thought that our children now being 4 and 2, we would have completed the transition from fun-seeking hedonists with creative pursuits, into noble parents and caregivers. You might have thought that almost five years in we'd have put aside our aspirations of old and were now focused admirably on our young, attention-craving offspring.

You'd be wrong.

Just this morning I was jolted awake by Jay muttering, "Dumpie's calling you." I was in the midst of a most pleasant dream (the contents of which do not need to be made public) and after several more tries he eventually succeeded in waking me, whereupon I asked the obvious, "Well then why can't YOU answer him if you're awake?"

Jay muttered something about it 'being the weekend' and I was like, 'Uh, yeah...and your point is...?" Then I realized that loathesome subject was about to rear it's ugly head (...the "I work outside of the home so mine is a real job and you don't work" argument). Sure enough, he was quick to point out that he got up earlier than me during the week and therefore deserved a lie-in on weekends.

I didn't bother to point out that he got up earlier because he showers and tinkers about on his computer before setting off, whilst I, having little care for the impression I make at the school gates, am usually content to carry out the bare minimum of my daily ablutions before shepherding two tousle haired boys out the door, looking like i've been dragged through a hedge backwards. (I should confess that I usually get away with it given that i've got some sort of make-up on - not because I can't leave the house without any, but rather because I'm a total beauty product junkie and have the most gorgeous products lying around and playing with them is the only thing that makes my mornings a little fun...or should I say bearable?)

At any rate, i digress. This mornings little 'tete-a-tete' continued, with Jay and I discussing (in a sleepily grumpy fashion) whether me cleaning the house from top to bottom for 7 hours yesterday like a scullery maid could be computed in the same parental transaction as his staying out till 4:30am at a big poker game on Friday, and mean that I might be the one entitled to a 'lie-in' this morning? I even leveraged in the fact that I was going to take the monsters to Sunday School this morning, leaving Jay wiht a glorious undisturbed morning to himself....

No such luck. You see, just like in the Bible when two women were fighting over the ownership of a baby and wise King Solomon did a test to determine the real mother by assessing which one cared more and was willing to sacrifice her child to keep it safe...so it was determined that I would be the one to get out of bed first this morning by Jay stating the only words to really sink in and send me scampering for my contact lenses and hurtling down the stairs.....

"There's no chocolate or treats for them to get into downstairs, are there?..."

At that he had me beat and he knew it. After so many hours rubbing my hands raw trying to bring this place up to scratch yesterday (or at least making sure it was not a contender for a 'Britains Dirtiest Homes' special), there was NO WAY I was going to let the monsters loose to rubbish it - no matter how much precious sleep I would have to forfeit.

Clearly, Jay and I are still coming to terms with what being a parent really means. We used to laugh and shake our heads amusedly at each other when fellow parents would regale us with tales of woe about their weekends...the early morning starts, the constant activities planned with military precision to keep their charges out of trouble, the total selflessness sacrificed on the altar of responsibility...blah blah blah...and until now we felt immune and above it all. Not so anymore.

We still have a long way to go until we reach that point of glazed eyed robotic servitude and flustered gesturing which epitomises a run-in with a fellow parent on the weekend. Jay and I still prance about, totally delusional about the real state of affairs in our four person family, and seem to think that dark glasses, a slick of lipgloss and two novels clutched tantalisingly in beneath our arms, means that a chilled-out visit to our local cafe is do-able.

WRONG-O. How many days...weeks...months...years(?) will it take to realize just what we've gotten ourselves into? Egg and Dumpie are only getting smarter, stronger, more determined, infinitely naughtier, and show signs of completely overtaking this household within the next year or so. Just like the elf people at the end of the 'Lord of the Rings' trilogy, the time of our absolute rule is drawing to an end.

We steal kisses from their cherubic little mouths, have cuddles on tap 24/7, and spend a good portion of our time giggling at the two darling and hilarious 'little people' who inhabit our lives. Such delicious cuteness and warm fuzziness comes at a price. As my father recently (and wisely) said on ichat, when he saw me losing the plot, head in hands, moaning after a particularly hard day with the boys, "You don't think you get all the good things without having to pay for it do you?"

No Dad...I don't. I get it. Kiddies cost...and here's where we start paying...(sigh)

Friday, 6 March 2009

"Home Sweet (Hectic) Home...ahhh"

You'll notice that I never wrote about our flight home from Orlando. That is because I am in real danger of branding myself a seriously crazy lady if I continue to wax prolific on my utter hatred for fellow air travelers. Seriously. Also, it was both flattering and embarrassing to recently receive an email from the lovely fellow who runs the website www.flightsfromhell.com enquiring whether he might publish my blog on his website. Of course I happily agreed (the prospect of inspiring empathy on a grand scale was too much to refuse), but it does beg the question about whether I may have actually crossed some sort of line?

Anyway, I showed up a the Virgin Airlines check-in desk with one motive and one motive only...TO LAND MYSELF A BULKHEAD SEAT. There was NO way I was going to get back on that plane, with the monsters, and have a repeat of the hellish outward journey. The pretty young hispanic girl behind the counter went against form and instead of rolling her eyes with the usual, "I'm sorry all the bulkhead seats are taken", she calmly listened to my mini rant about my previous journey, nodding sympathetically in all the right places. Even though she possessed hips that had not yet gone through the rigamorole of childbirth, she miraculously empathised and disappeared for a short while to see what she could do.

About twenty minutes later she returned and politely ignoring a now pissed off screaming Dumpie in my arms, said that she had managed to get me bulkhead seats. I nearly leapt over the counter, took her in my arms and kissed her with gratitude, but then i realised that such unhinged behavior might land me in the position of not being allowed to board the flight on account of being under the influence of crack or crystal meth or something...

A teary good-bye was said at the gates (it only gets harder as the years go by - not easier) and I began the laborious process of getting a two year old, a four year old, two teddy bears, another stuffed toy, three pairs of shoes, a pushchair and five carry on bags through the x-ray area.

(If you're wondering why I was loaded down with so many carry-ons it was because both Dumpie and Eggie insisted on their own heaving sacks of toys, sweeties and games...and my sole suitcase had been too heavy (a whopping 31 kilo's!) so I had been told to take out approximately 7 kilo's worth of 'stuff' and put them in a carry-on instead. This had of course been done in full view of a whole hall of people who no doubt enjoyed the brief distraction of watching me on my hands and knees, pulling out kitchen implements, toys, foodstuffs, etc., manically trying to figure out what weighed the most and what I could ditch. It was of course humiliating and left me looking like a sweaty jogger - disheveled and anxious. However I did it in the end, and of course I was still riding the high of having been granted bulkhead seats so I took it in fairly good grace...well for me anyway.)

Now, as regards the flight home - let me just say that it was better than the flight out...but not by much. It was a night flight, and Eggie and Dumps were rather well behaved. That is more however, than I can say for the fellow and his wife sat directly behind us. You would have thought that they had never been on an airplane before the way they gleefully surveyed all their onboard flight materieal, commented loudly on how much wine they were going to drink, and emptied out a large bag of puzzles, books and games (and might I mention they were traveling sans children). After the evening meal, the cabin lights went off and there was a general winding down as the stewards all left to go and gossip in the galleys and everyone cozied up in Virgin's red blankets and reclined their seats. All except for me and Dumps.

I tried for half an hour to push our seats back but to no avail. I didn't understand it. No matter how hard I pushed the button it wouldn't recline. To make matters worse my television was broken but even the complimentary dvd player they brought didn't help my mood as Dumps and I appeared to be stuck uncomfortably bolt upright, while all around us others dozed. Then I turned around and realized that this was not entirely the case. The couple behind us were WIDE awake, chatting away in barely disguised whispers, laughing uproariously at their movies and were the only ones with their lights turned on. It wasn't until one of them got up to go to the toilet a little while later that I tried one last time to recline my seat and miracle of miracles...IT WENT BACK!

So it wasn't broken after all. Instead, that nasty pair had been jamming their knees against the back so I couldn't recline. Of all the nerve! The fellow when he returned to his seat was none to happy to see his space diminished, and I heard him tell the woman something to the effect of 'We'll see about that", as he climbed back into his seat and violently jerked my seat forward into upright position with his knees. Moments later Dumps had his seat shoved upright as well, with enough violent force to wake him and start him screaming. Poor little guy.

Suffice it to say, the next several hours were spent in a bizarre seat pitch tug-of-war, as I would gain a few inches through sheer deliberation (using my legs on the bulkhead as leverage to press back) and then as soon as I relaxed for a second they would take advantage of the slack and shove my seat right back up again. Whether it was total lack of any bloody sleep, or the fact that Dumpie kept drifting off only to be jerked awake moments later - I wanted to kill them. I truly did. I was honestly out of my mind with rage and it was a struggle of wills which they won - given that I was just not up to an 'air rage' incident - and that is undoubtedly what would have occurred if I had stood up and had it out with them.

At any rate we finally made it, and Jay was waiting for us outside the gates. Dumpie had done a welcome poo-poo for Jay in baggage claim and as a result came hobbling out, legs stretched apart like a cowboy, screaming after me, 'Maaaamaaaaa...poooooo-poooooo!' in case the stench alone hadn't been enough of a clue to alert me to the situation. When boarding the escalators to get down to the train platform, Jay realized a moment too late that he had left Dumpie at the top by himself and thus let go of the 30-odd kilo suitcase he had been holding, and I watched in horror as it fell in slow-motion down towards me, turning twice in the air, where I was precariously balanced with a pushchair piled sky high with carry-on bags. I don't know how I managed not to go toppling and break my neck, but I bore the brunt of it on my arm as the suitcase came crashing into me. A bruised, slight bloody arm later, I stumbled onto the train wondering whether my homecoming could have gotten off to any worse of a start (sigh).

Anyway, we've been home for almost a week now and already our trip is a distant memory. I have had to wean the boys off "Nay-Nay's" (sweeties) and 100% attention, and Eggie has expressed several times this week his dismay at having to go to school instead of playing on the beach. "Tell me about it Egg" I say to him as we bundle up for school and I glance down at yet another heating bill and think anxiously of my ever-growing to-do list...

To be honest, Dumpie has been the one keeping my spirits up this week as he is learning words at an incredible rate and is making me laugh. The other night Jay came home drenched in perspiration from his usual bike ride home. Jay went to cuddle him and Dumpie said, "Dada nink-ne"(stinky)! I laughed very hard and now as a result Dumpie goes around telling anyone who will listen, not only that he intends to "Play football Dada" this weekend in the park, but that his Dada is "Nink-ne".

Jay, as you can imagine, is not terribly amused...