Thursday, 30 July 2015

"My Wee (Wee) Problem"

Squit and I have a problem.  We have reached an impasse.  At 3 1/2 he is clever, funny, and easily possesses the best disposition of anyone in our entire family - extended or otherwise.  But he's still not potty trained.  Not even close.

In fact, if there was a neutral position on the subject, he would be to the far LEFT of that.  It's not even something he's willing to discuss anymore, and should I be foolhardy enough to drop it casually into conversation, he will stop what he's doing, fix me with a unwavering glare, cross him arms insolently and leave the room (usually with an entirely age-inappropriate expletive that would have Super Nanny huffing in horror).

A few weeks ago he had an induction afternoon at the nursery he starts part-time in September. There are strict guidelines regarding the soiling of oneself, and should I fail to deliver a wee-free toddler in  6 weeks, he shall not be going to nursery and I shall not be kiddie-free five mornings a week.  This cannot be allowed to happen.

One day a few months ago, whilst untangling the daily mountain of damp towels on the bathroom floor, I noticed that someone had placed the blue potty seat on top of the regular toilet.  Further inspection revealed a few tell-tale amber droplets left behind and a big sopping wet discarded nappy I had NOT had any dealings with, plopped triumphantly by the bidet.  Now curious and confused, additional sleuthing in his nursery revealed a turned over top dresser drawer, an empty plastic packet devoid of its new undies and an incredulous peek at Squits bottom downstairs revealed the tell-tale Gap band peeking above his little Levi's.

I was flummoxed.  I assumed it had been a brother job, but Egg and Dumps were as astounded as me. It suddenly dawned on all of us that incredulously, Squit had quietly taken matters into his own hands, potty trained himself, and had gotten on with it stealthily and without fanfare.  

At that moment, believing that I had given birth to an utter genius, excited calls to Aunties and Grandparents ensued, and an impromptu family celebration was declared for the evening: pizza, popcorn, chocolate, a movie, sleepover with his brothers, etc.  For the remainder of the day Squit was treated like a Saudi Prince - no request too big and no pleasure denied. The little man plopped himself into the best chair in the front room whilst we all scurried around doing his bidding, practically worshipping the chunky little deity for his ingenuity and potty pragmatism.  Shaking our heads in wonder and awe, laughing at the absurdity of it all, we couldn't believe that months of worry could be over just like that.

That night after bath time he insisted we cover his chubby white bottom in a nappy again.   Which he promptly then soiled. 

The new Gap superman undies were flung with derision across the room, landing unceremoniously askew on his little stuffed monkeys head. Squit stood with his arms crossed, stubbornly clutching his little elbows and refusing to budge.

So there you have it.  Impasse.  I need to be smarter.  I need to be brimming with cunning maternal genius and resolve.  I need to attack this situation with the military precision of a general.

Instead I'm sitting here defeated in my front room, in our home which will not sell, staring glumly out the window at the cold wet grey day that perfectly encapsulates the state of my aching head and spasming back. Our cleaner arrives in a few hours and two out of three of our bathrooms are currently not fit for human occupancy.  Squit is demanding his third breakfast of the morning and I am dimly aware that in a few days we shall potentially be heading to the Suffolk countryside for a weekend of likely WET family camping.

I am not feeling particularly powerful.  Nor optimistic.  Rather I have the sinking feeling that Squit is purposely holding out on the potty training for the sole purpose of putting off further education indefinitely and staying ensconced in the safe cozy realm of 'Mama-land' here at home.  And who can blame him?  A bit of wet discomfort in the nether regions in exchange for lie-ins, endless repeats of Mr. Tumble (fyi I swear I might top myself if I have to listen to even one more jovial exclamation from that televisual terror of an entertainer) and of course - three breakfasts daily.  

There's no competition.

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

"Latitude Festival En Famille..."

Like everything fun in life, there is always a price to pay.  And as any 80's kid will recall, that hard-as-nails dance teacher in Fame said it all: "Fame costs...and here's where you start paying!"

Tell me about it.  Festivals cost...and laundry, camper van clean up, and three nights of bad/no sleep is where I start paying.

Truthfully we had a blast.  Once I accepted that every morning was going to be HELL (nothing worse than three bored little people screaming/jumping on you/fighting each other/chucking food around the camper van at stupid o'clock, while you nurse a hangover of apocalyptic proportions and would happily donate a kidney for even a micro second more sleep) the rest of the day was a lark in comparison.

Five of us in a camper van was a stretch.  The two big boys slept up top, and the husband, myself and the ever increasing in girth Squit shared what amounted to a small double bed down below.  What fun.

I spent the nights swatting mosquito's (which involved slapping myself repeatedly in the face and head like a mental patient), tried (to no avail) to ignore the husbands bear-like snoring, and got bashed about the head like clockwork by Squit.  Sleep not an option, I was sorely tempted to venture back into the festival for late night frolicking.  Had we not been camped in the furthest outskirts of the festival, and had I not already removed my contact lenses (having stupidly omitting to pack specs) I most certainly would have been found dancing the Honkstep in the hilarious and rowdy Ukrainian tent we stumbled upon one night in the forest.

The boys (11, 8, 3) had a great time.  How could they not?  Hitting us up for cash on an hourly basis in order to stuff their faces with ice-cream, chips and whatever overpriced junk food they came across, was bound to please.  As a large group of us went together, the children formed a tribe of their own and spent most of the time wandering the grounds like a sugar-crazed pack of orphans...figuring out new scams to rid the parentals of pounds in order to buy all manner of leather bracelets and bubble guns.

The husband and Squit proved best bosom buddies - the pair of them loafing about like groupies in various tents and fields listening to bands like 'Warpaint' and 'Young Fathers'.

Me?  As with most festivals, in hindsight it seems like a good 40% of my time was spent queuing for the toilet.  Seriously.  It was so baking hot that liquid intake was a necessity and get the picture.

Speaking of toilets, one of the worst things is having to go wee in the night and stumbling for ages across damp fields to the portable loos.  So a few years ago I found a solution:  "Travel John's".  A genius invention, they allow one to quietly and discreetly empty ones bladder in the privacy of a tent.

The husband duly set up a small two man tent next to the campervan for 'Mama's loo'.  Brilliant. Except one morning Dumpie poked his head in whilst I was mid-stream, tights around my ankles, and yelled out to all and sundry, "Gross!  Mama's weeing in the tent!"  I shooed him out only to have Squit pop his head in moments later to confirm for himself that his mother was indeed 'weeing in a tent.'

Predictably, a short while later whilst queueing for the toilets with all three boys in tow (giving the husband a much needed quiet 'moment' to read and finish off an entire pack of Bacon himself in the glorious morning sunshine), Squitty shouted out in front of perhaps fifty odd people, "Mama, why did you make a pee pee in the tent this morning?"  Dumpie snorted with laughter and I died a small death.

"Squitty" I stage whispered, "Mama did NOT make a wee wee in the tent...ok?"

"Yes you did Mama!  I saw you!  You had your trousers down and were making a wee wee!" he confirmed with glee...grinning at his growing audience of amused onlookers.

By now, the rest of the queue, most of whom had been queuing for almost half an hour, were not even pretending to not hear.  Many of them were downright shaking with laughter and sneaking peeks back at 'Wee Mum'.

I thought it couldn't get worse, but of course...

"Mama" yelled Squit after a few moments "You made a poo poo in the tent!"

"I did NOT Squitty!"

"Yes you made a huge big smelly poo poo in the tent I saw you!"

Yeah, so at that point I gave up trying to maintain any sense of dignity.  Squitty is a natural clown, and with such a rapt audience I knew there was no point.  Whatever.  (For the record, I did no such thing...just sayin').

So that was our festival: Fun, chaotic, messy, no sleep, junk food diet, hot sun, great bands and hanging out with friends.

We shall be going again next year.  And in the meantime I'm going to practise my Honkstep.

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

"The GRINCH (ie. 'Chelsea Banker') Who Stole Christmas"

I came across this blog post which mysteriously was never published this past Christmas.  It perfectly encapsulates how gutted and unhealthily possessed i have been in this mammoth housing nightmare for the past year.  It is testament to how fixated one can become over something as basic as a home...losing sight of L.I.F.E. in the meantime and letting a loss derail your entire life...(sigh)

Okay fine, I'll admit it.  This year, for the first time I can remember, I am finding it near impossible to muster up any sort of 'Christmas Spirit'.  I've been meaning to blog about this for a few weeks now, but couldn't quite bring myself to wax prolific about such a 'first world problem' and out myself as the entitled brat that I clearly am.

For you see, the entirety of 2014 has been spent in the attempt to finally procure a bigger home for our ever increasing brood.  (Relax - there are no future offspring on the agenda - I just mean that the three little boys we already have are increasing in mass in what feels like a daily basis, and we are desperate for more yesterday.)  I yearn for a kitchen where I can scramble around, possibly hungover, without being hip-checked by various members of the family whilst trying to assemble some sort of packed lunch which won't have Jamie Oliver reporting me to the authorities (Cheesy fish, fruit roll-ups and a blueberry muffin do NOT a lunchbox make.  I know this.  Truly I do.)

I yearn for a KitchenAid mixer.  For me, "The Queen of Baked Goods" not owning one is like Katie Price not owning a bra, or Kim Kardashian not owning Spanx in every colour of the rainbow, to contain that famously bulging derri-scare of hers.

But I digress.  I've put off begging the husband for one (bless him I know he'd get me one in a flash if I bartered with a series of killer back rubs for which I am semi-famous) because I've nowhere to put it! I've long ago run out of counter space, cupboard space, and let's face it - headspace.

So it should come as no surprise to find that having found the house of our dreams, one street over, earlier in the year, and having dedicated ourselves to procuring said PERFECT HOUSE for our family, with a desire and singleminded attentiveness we haven't even applied to parenting thus far in our lives, to have lost it - suddenly and permanently - in one fell swoop last month, has plunged us (and by us I mean primarily ME) into a severe, dark, deep depression which appears to have no escape.

I hate myself for it, I really do.  I hate that I have become so bloody middle-class minded that the loss of this dream home has rendered me void of all joy and hope for the future - despite it being my favourite time of the year, having all my family around me - healthy and well no less - and having so much more to be grateful for than the majority of humans. was a damn good house.  The best.  The biggest.  The most beautiful.  And I am a lesser person for having coveted it so badly that I lost sight of everything else important in my life for so long, that now I can't find my way back to 'normal'.  You see, the house was magic.  I've never in my twenty odd years living in London seen a home I loved as much as this.  It was like someone read my mind and created a home encapsulating every last wish and whim I've ever had since I was a child.

This past year (fantasising in this covetous head of mine) I lived through 'Nigella-esque' Christmas parties, caught Egg making out with his first girlfriend downstairs in the basement, had candlelit baths by the dozen in the sumptuous en-suite bath, hosted brilliant outdoor cocktail parties in the twinkling garden, and had friends to stay in the glorious guest suite.  In short, I found 'the house' that was going to transform our shambolic lives into something resembling a Hollywood movie.

Now I must backtrack from my year-long fantasy, shake off the deep, deep despair, and make a call to our estate agent this weekend, telling him that we are taking our home off the market until the Spring.  The housing market has flatlined, we are NOT moving in the foreseeable future, there are no other properties that even come close to being 10% as perfect as the one we lost, and as we speak there is a Chelsea banker with his (probably) beautiful wife and (only) one bloody child, making plans to move into our dream house in the New Year.

In the meantime, I'm going to grudgingly attempt to bake my Christmas biscuits this afternoon, make myself promise to stop running past the dream house every morning like some sort of stalking freak, and try and get into the Christmas Spirit by purchasing more tree lights this afternoon and finish decorating the tree which has stood magnificent but essentially unloved and only half-decorated for a week now in our front room due to said bad attitude.

The other morning in bed the husband asked me what I wanted for Christmas.

"That house" I replied.

He groaned, rolled over and told me to grow up.

He's right.  I officially (and now publicly) SUCK.

(But I still love that house and always will, and cannot promise not to turn this frown upside down in time for the 25th.  A girl wants what a girl wants...what can I say?  Maybe it's time to sell and/or give away all our possessions and move back to India and live like the happy beach bums we were.  Either that, or pool all our money into Egg's further education at the best schools money can buy and hope that one day in the not too distant future our Maths genius will become horribly wealthy and buy that dream house from the Chelsea Christmas morning in 2034 with a "Here you go Mama - now will you finally stop sulking and get up and make me your famous Christmas shortbread biscuits already?")