Monday, 30 May 2011

That Was The Week That Was...

I didn’t much like last week.  In fact I’m glad it’s over, and plan on staying indoors for most of this one, Just In Case.  
It all got off on the wrong foot on Monday – the day that crime came to our little corner of Clapham.  (Anyone who lives in South West London will be guffawing aloud at the notion that crime doesn’t pervade its every nook and cranny; but we were, as yet, oblivious to it - unless of course you count the occasional shoplifting by the Boy).  It was my own fault entirely – as every Londoner who owns a bicycle knows, you must keep it superglued to your bottom at all times.  I didn’t – in fact I left it out by my side gate ALL ON ITS OWN for about 12 minutes, while I made my way through the house, through the garden, and around to the side door to bring it in.  (Yes, that takes 12 minutes.   Not, unfortunately, because we have a 15-acre garden, but because there are at least 12 minutes of distractions en route).  Anyway, by the time I got there, Mr Bike had been taken (by a gang of marauding 10-year-olds, apparently).  Bye bye Mr Bike. And my incredibly expensive (and incredibly unlocked) lock.  And the child-seat attachment.  Grrr.  What a pisser. 
So I called Clapham Police to report it – purely to have a reference number for the insurance people - and naturally expected them to snigger and roll their eyes*. This is Clapham for God’s sake - be glad you weren’t murdered and disembowelled and had your innards sold on Venn Street Market for a tenner. But actually, they were fantastic.  I was still on the phone, having a nice little chat, when the door rang, and by golly if it wasn’t the patrol car squad come to offer me sweet cups of tea and counselling. 
While all this was going on, the Boy was in the garden making a slurry pit, within eyeshot of the living room.  So when he looked up and saw not one, but TWO policemen actually in his house, I thought he’d pass out.  He stood there with hanging jaw, went a bit pale, and stumbled over himself when I waved him in.  Then he stood transfixed at the living room door, his face a mixture of disbelief, terror, and pure awe. 
“Hello young man”, kindly PO #1 said. Boy just looked at him, then his bottom lip started to tremble, and suddenly “I’msorryI’msorryI’msorryIwon’tdoitagainIpromise” gushed out.  The Policeman looked at each other with some concern – maybe this wasn’t going to be just a routine stolen-bike-ditsy-cow call after all...  Transpired that I had managed - both unwittingly and unintentionally, but by gum, happily  – to put the fear of God in him about the omnipotent policemen and their all-seeing all-knowing eyes and ears when it comes to Boys Who Don’t Sit In Their Car Seats Without Shrieking. Once we’d cleared up that misunderstanding he had a gay old time.  First he ordered Standing PO#1 to sit down beside him on the sofa (“Shoes OFF!”  - Yes! It’s sunk in!), then he wrapped himself around him, stroking his head like a cat, and started whispering Godknowswhat in his ear, laughing maniacally.  He grabbed the talking walkie talkie, managing to press a few buttons and respond before it was retrieved, all the time stroking stroking with his embarrassingly filthy slurried hand.  I left them to it and went back to the pointless task of Answering Questions Imperative For Getting My Bike Back (“The Brand? Well it had a sticker of a tiger on it. Or a lion. Bikes have registration numbers?  Really?  27 gears, definitely.  Or 18?  Maybe 18.  15?  Do they come in 15? It was silver.  I know that for a fact.  The child-seat attachment thingy was black.  White? White. Or Black...”)
By the time I’d finished the Boy was being given a tour of the Police car, including flashing the lights on and off, and even doing the nee-naw thingy.  How cool was that? The glow of sheer bliss on his face for the rest of the day was almost worth having the bike stolen.  (To coin a phrase, every cloud has a copper lining...)  
On top of this, there was the weather.  Hurrah for June tomorrow!  May in England sucks eggs.  Thursday, for instance, was a thunderous bitch of a day.   Although in its defence, there was contributory negligence on my part – in my haste to GetTheFuckOutOfTheHouse, I forgot to change out of my manky old £2 Primark flip-flops, and was slip-sliding all over Oxford Street before I knew it. But apart from my sartorial crimes (the shame the shame – especially when I found self in a shoe shop contemplating summery sandally things, and looked down at my feet to discover they’d been swopped, changling-like, for the dirty cloven hooves of a troll) the horrors of the day were entirely due to the weather.  Why can’t it make its fucking mind up? It’s all: “ooh, I think I’ll lash rain... or perhaps a blast of furnace-like heat? How about some galeforce wind just to mess with their hairs heads...”  There were several low points to that day – all of which involved stepping out of the dry indoors into sheets of wet – but the lowest was being approached by a very very sweet young man, holding aloft an enormous umbrella, who stopped to ask me if I wanted him to hold my bags while I picked myself up out of the puddle I had just slipped into (damn Primark and its lethal lurid-green plastic shoes).  The second lowest was squelshing out of the tube station to find it actually not raining for the first time all day – hurrah, nearly there, only about 200m to go – and then the Patron Saint of Pissing Me Off turned the water on FULL BLAST.  By the time I got home I was too wet to even walk into the house, and had to stand on the door mat removing my clothes. The Boy, having galloped out to see what was going on, turned on his heels and galloped away again (“Mummy, what are you doo-ning all wet like a dirty crocodile?”) and the Girl took one look at me and promptly burst into tears. 
There was only one thing for it.  Potatoes and booze.  (Separately, as I haven’t set up my potin still in the basement yet.) The following dish, a ridiculously large glass of red wine and this book took the sodden edge off the day.
Potato Gratin (AKA: Yum-Bloody-Yum)
Every time I make this – and it’s not often enough – I ask myself why I don’t make it twice a week, if not every day.  Because, it’s a teeny bit of a faff and takes forever to cook, that’s why.  Yes, there are only four ingredients, but you have to peel all those potatoes and slice then.  (Or feed them through a slicer attachment on your food processor, but then you have to wash it...)  Actually, it’s not a faff at all, I just always imagine that it is.  But it does take forever to cook – at least an hour, more likely an hour and a half -  so I’d suggest making it as early in the evening as you can, which will then allow you to get quietly, happily, sozzled while you wait for the chemistry that is heat+cream+potatoes to do its magical stuff.
You need (for 6 as a side, or 4 as a main [with salad]):
  • About 6 large potatoes
  • A generous lump of soft butter
  • A pint of single cream
  • A half pint of milk (full fat or semi-skimmed)
  • Some grated nutmeg
  • A clove of garlic, finely sliced
  • Some hard cheese, grated. (about two handfuls.  Any type of cheese is fine)
  • Slices of smoked salmon (to make it into a substantial main course.  Leave out all the other optionals if using this. )
You also need a large oven-proof dish.  
Heat oven to 180 / 160 fan /
Peel the potatoes and slice them as thinly as you can. (Or use a food processor).
Mix the cream and the milk. 
Butter the oven-proof dish generously.
Layer the potato slices in the dish, overlapping at the edges.  When you’ve used up half the potatoes, add the nutmeg and scatter the slices of garlic and most of the grated cheese, if using, or the smoked salmon (again, if using) and half of the cream mixture.  Continue layering the potatoes until all have been used, and add the rest of the liquid.  It should just barely cover the potatoes; if it doesn’t, pour over more milk until it does.   Scatter the rest of the cheese on top, if using.
Cover with tinfoil (making sure not to touch the cheese) and stick in the oven.  Remove the tin foil after 45 mins, and put dish back in the oven.  Check the potatoes after an  hour (in total) – a fork should slip easily into the middle of the dish.  Give it 15 – 30 mins more if not completely tender. 
Eat with or without a green salad, and the remains of the bottle of wine you opened two hours ago. 
* Unlike the Police, the Insurance Folk did snigger.  Apparently when they asked if it was locked, the correct answer was “yes”.  Sigh. 

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Not So Itsy Bitsy. Alas.

It’s been niggling in the back of my mind that I really should make more of an effort to use my (v expensive) gym membership.  I think the last time I went was in March - which is just shocking. Especially as in two weeks time I will be prancing about in a bikini swimsuit (does Spanx do beachwear? ) in – get this – Eye-Beefa.  Yes.  I will be Largin’ It with all the youngsters on the party isle.  I reckon that my current lifestyle of broken sleep during the night and frenetic racing around from 6am, coupled with a disgusting - and possibly detrimental-to-my-health - habit of subsisting til 4pm on crusts of toast which have fallen on the kitchen floor, then eating non-stop for three hours -  is going to stand me in good partying stead.  But said lifestyle is not carried out in a bikini.  (Maybe if it was I’d be more inclined to sidestep the crusts and the binge-eating and have a bowl of porridge at 8am like normal people).  But I digress. The fact remains that I’ve got just over two weeks to be Beach / Club Ready.  It’s a deadline which I suspect  I may miss.
The gym aversion is due not so much to the fact that I HATE THE GYM (which naturally, I do) or that it’s over-run with wankers (which, naturally, it is) but that I manage to convince myself on a daily basis that I don’t really need to go, as I get all the exercise I need running around after the kids.  (I’m like a Hollywood actress in that respect - except that I actually do do all the running around, and yet still have what might charitably be described as “areas in need of toning”.)
It’s bloody unfair actually.  There are days when it feels like I really do nothing but run around for hours on end.  Especially now that the Girl has decided to start doing something other than sitting and grinning.  I don’t mention The Girl that much - not because she’s not the loveliest little thing that ever tried to claw your face, but because at NEARLY A YEAR OLD (how??) she still doesn’t – didn’t - do an awful lot.  We have videos of the Boy at this age crawling and standing and taking steps and getting into cupboards and falling off shelves, but the Girl... not so much. 
So cue much excitement and applause when she learnt to sit from lying down! Except... The trick hasn’t yet extended to her lying back down again. And so her bedtime – never the most stress-free - now had an added aerobic element, as follows: The Boy is put in his room and told to find some hidden treasure / do 50 jumps on the bed  / persuaded to make a den amongst all the under-bed-crap, while I race with the Girl into her room, feed her, bag-and-zip her, tuck her, kiss her, and lights out.  Then back to the Boy’s room to ooh-and-ah over the hidden treasure (half a biscuit last night, the excitement) / pick him up off the floor / dislodge him from the bed-slats, before running back into the chuckling Girl and laying her back down again.  Back to check on the Boy and the treasure / floor / bed-slats, into the bathroom, top up the bath with hot water, back to the Girl, who has wrapped her arms around the bars of the cot and seems to be unsure what to do next.  More dislodging of children, back to the bath, turn on the cold tap, into the Boy, strip him down to his Big Boy Pants*, back to the Girl who has now done a complete body flip and is lying face down, head where her feet were, flaying like a beached whale, resettle, retuck, rekiss;  into the bathroom, drain half the water and turn hot tap back on, into the Boy, hunt for the missing pants, warn him of the dangers of sticking his willy in the open window of a toy car, into the bathroom, water off, towels down to soak up the overspill, last dash into the Girl, dislodge her arms from the top of the cot, remove muslin which she has wrapped around her head, hear splashing from bathroom, shriek at the Boy, he shrieks back (“NAUGHTY SOAP! NO SWIMMING IN MY BUM, HAHAHAHA”), tuck blanket over the Girl so tightly she gasps, leg it back to the carnage in the bathroom (Boy staggering about and banging into the walls, wet towels draped over his head, every bar of soap in the house in the bath) and dump him in the water before collapsing on the toilet seat with my head in my hands.
Maybe if I did all of the above while engaging my “core” I wouldn’t have to seriously contemplate actually going to the gym this evening.  I’m sure I’ll find some good reason not to go (terrible cobwebs over the front door, need cleaning;  ooh, must read about that footballer, etc) but either way, any lack of body-toning virtue will be made up for at dinner time, with my current fried rice obsession.
It doesn’t sound terribly virtuous, but since I realised that I could engineer a brown-rice-and-multi-vegetable dish that the Boy would eat without noticing complaining, I’ve come over all Gwynneth Paltrow and have been extolling its wholesome wonders to anyone who’ll listen.  IT TASTES GREAT.  I promise.  Eat it.  Gobble it up.  And don’t worry about the swimsuit season. (I mean seriously – if you’re hanging out on a beach in Ibiza, you’re hardly going to be looking at craggy old me, are you?  Thought not.  Phew.)

Fried Rice
There are two categories of ingredients here – the first are “Essential”, the second “Optional”.  I generally use all of the “Optionals” – use as much as you have to hand.  The whole idea about fried rice is to use up whatever's in the fridge / cupboard. The quantities here are vague approximates – obviously do more or less of anything you want.  I always make way too much on purpose, because it lasts for a couple of days in the fridge, and means I don’t have to worry about lunch (or dinner) for Super-Potty-Boy.
For three large portions, you need:
·         2 – 3 cups of cooked rice**
·         Some oil for frying (sesame is preferable if you have it, don’t worry if not)
·         Soy sauce
·         Whatever vegetables – cooked or raw – you have to hand.  (Not potatoes, parsnips, or squashes;  but pretty much anything else). I always use (raw) carrots, sweet potatoes and courgettes - which I grate directly into the frying pan - and a tin of corn.
Optional (but will make the finished dish sing a song of loveliness):
·         Spring onions – about one per person, chopped.
·         Clove of Garlic, sliced
·         Fresh ginger – a couple of slices about as big and thick as a pound coin, chopped.
·         Fresh Coriander – as much as you like to use.
·         Juice of a lime
To make:
(Let’s assume you have all of the above ingredients – skip anything which doesn’t apply to you)
Heat the oil in a wok / large frying pan. Add sliced garlic, chopped garlic, chopped spring onions, and leave until sizzling.
Add any raw vegetables (preferably grated) and stir.  If it starts to get dry / stick, pour in a small bit of water – about a ladle-full – and turn the heat up high. 
Once the water has been absorbed, add the cooked rice and stir like a mofo.
Add a good few splashes of soy sauce – taste to suit yourself, as some soy sauces can be v salty – then add the chopped coriander.  
If you’re using cooked vegetables (eg, tin of corn), add them now.
Once everything is combined and all heated through, add the lime juice.  Keep tasting, and if you think it’s lacking oomph, add more lime and soy sauce, and some more fresh ginger.
Et voila!  For a main course I add cooked fish or prawns at the end; chicken would work too, or strips of beef.  (If you want to incorporate raw fish / poultry / meat, add it before the rice, and give a few minutes to cook through).  
Serve while engaging your core muscles (not those ones, silly, the ones in your abdomen...) and humming a Coldplay tune.

*We are making headway.  Without wishing to jinx things, it looks like he might even be toilet trained in time for nursery. In September. 
**A note on the rice.  Brown is obviously healthier, but I think white absorbs the flavours better.  Rice is SO EASY to cook.  For white –fill a mug with uncooked rice, put in a pot with two mugs of cold water, bring to the boil, lower heat and cover, for 15 minutes.  Then test – if it tastes almost done, cover, turn the heat off and leave it until you need to use it.  Same principal for brown rice except use three cups of water to one cup of rice, and leave to cook for at least 30 minutes before checking.  It might take up to 40 mins to cook.  

Monday, 23 May 2011


Not my house, obviously.  The blog.  Just a quick couple of things. 
Firstly, normal service will be resumed v shortly. Recipes, complaints about the kids*, the usual.  Enough deviations into creative writing.
Secondly – Twitter!  Where have I been all your life?  A whole new layer of faffdom with my name now on it. Or rather, a sort of variation of my name, because apparently “@ReluctantLaunderer" is too long, and “@Laundry” is gone.  So, devoid of any inspiration whatsoever, I went for "@LazyLaunderer"  (tho’ thinking about it, should really have gone for @CrapHousewife, oh well).  AND... I actually worked out, all by myself, how to install the Twitter button thingy on the blog page.  I really should be running a country somewhere.  Until then, come follow me on Twitter.  If you can be arsed. 
Thirdly – and lastly – The Man.  I promised him ages ago that he would get a bloggy mention – apart from the usual passing references – if his prediction as to the killer in The Killing was correct.  (Haven’t seen The Killing yet?  Have 20 hours to spare, a LoveFilm account, and an unhealthy interest in Scandinavian gore?  It’s bloody fantastic, go rent it NOW) And guess what?  HE WAS RIGHT!  Very early on he pointed the finger, and kept on pointing all through the series.   (I meanwhile, got to the point where I was just pointing at anyone who came onto the screen – random extras, passers by, the victim's 7 year old brother – because I was determined to be able to say “I SAID SO.”)  But he said so, and as such he is well and truly The Man.  (I should point out however that I’m right about absolutely everything else, and this was just a random one-off...)
That’s it.  Back to work everyone.  (Except me of course.)
*Ok, that never went away.  

Monday, 16 May 2011

Bidet Jones

Wednesday May 4, 2011
No. of Wees in Potty:  7 (v v good);  No. of Poos in Potty:  2 (v good, albeit v disgusting);  No. of Accidents:  none (excellent);  No. of Daytime Nappies used: 0 (Exemplary); No. of alcohol units consumed: 6 (It is my holiday after all).
Have got to say that don’t quite understand all this hulaballoo about potty training.  Is all v simple really.  Granted, first attempts weren’t great, and several family-sized bags of gummy bears were used up in effort to get Boy to acquiesce - but now is all plain sailing.  Realised that natural state for children is to be allowed to roam free, naked,  satiating their innate curiosity, untethered by Western social norms and ideals. Man thinks that success is solely down to our being in sunny, hot climate, staying in large open-plan one-storey villa, but suspect he is jealous of my parental brilliance. 
Shall continue this brilliance once am home in cold miserable London, in pokey damp house with 374 stairs, and he will see that am clearly natural mother.  Have remained relaxed and unruffled throughout, which is now my new parenting mantra.  Shall no longer get stressed about anything, instead shall remain calm and unfazed, and emit earth mother vibes to my long-haired, un-shod offspring. (Perhaps should rename them also?  River and Flower?)

Tuesday  May 10, 2011
No. of Wees in Potty:  O (not v good);  No. of Poos in Potty:  0 (also not v. g.);  No of Daytime Nappies used:  3 (not v. g., but in plane, so forgiveable); No. of Accidents: 1 (excellent);  No. of alcohol units consumed: 3 (stress-related).
Exhausted.  NEVER going to hot sunny Florida again.  NEVER buying Boy his own airplane seat again.  In fact NEVER going anywhere beyond M25 with children again.  Girl “slept” on plane sprawled across me, Boy “slept” on floor, bitch hostesses ignored me after my 4th mini-bottle of chardonnay and bastarding infant behind me screamed for entire flight. Hardly surprising however, as his mother looked like v stressed skinny type who gets ruffled over smallest thing.  Could see her looking at me with envy as I coaxed 12kg Girl into her sling and staggered off the plane.  Cannot believe have only realised womb-like benefits of sling. (Note to self to buy a bigger one, which allows Girl to breathe freely.)
Good vibes continue to have profound effect on behaviour of Boy.  He is sweet, thoughtful and, despite wearing a nappy on flight, now fully potty trained.  I am excellent mother.  Have I said that already?   Arrived home and first thing he said was “Need wee-wee Mummy”.  Not his fault that took so long to find potty (in garden, filled with slugs and rainwater) that he pissed on the floor as soon as I took his nappy off.  Gave him treat anyway because don’t want to discourage him.  And anyway, we Earth Mother types don’t want our children to feel like performing dogs.  He should have a treat if he wants one. 
After 4 hour nap, dragged walked both kids to the shops.  (Note to self to get to Farmers Market on the weekend, as need to stock up on organic fruit and veg.  Also to the independent fishmongers. Ridiculously expensive – but what price purity? Had forgotten that fish-fingers take twice as long as you think to cook them.  Told Boy that gooey bit in middle was dip. It worked.) Met Smug Neighbour on the way, with her perfect hair and perfect nails, and her three perfect children, all decked out in bows and ribbons and looking like they’d just stepped off The Endeavour.  “How was the holiday?  And the flight – stressful?” she asked, all full of faux-concern.  Told her that in fact all was fantastic, I don’t understand how anyone could ever fly in cattle class (is true, I don’t understand it.  Which doesn’t mean I don’t do it), and that Boy is no longer wearing a nappy and all is fantastic.  Perhaps I said “fantastic” too many times.  Reassured self that while she might have class, breeding, and perfect hair/skin combo, we Earth Mothers glow within. 

Wednesday May 11, 2011
No. of Wees in Potty:  2 (good);  No. of Poos in Potty:  0 (hmmmm); No. of Accidents: 1  (v good, although quite major accident); No of Daytime Nappies used:  0 (excellent); No. of alcohol units consumed: 0 (beatific); Glasses of Organic Elderflower consumed: 9 (No. of own trips to toilet: many)
Usual afternoon jaunt to the park.  Used to think of this as time-killing exercise, but now see it for maternal-bonding session which it is.  Can now see the beauty in even the tiniest of the Universe’s magnificent creations.  Must buy stone Buddha for garden, and put beads and bits of food on it, in manner of fragrant, waif-like Thai maiden, to give thanks for all these wonders.  Strangely, Boy refusing to use potty before we left.  He didn’t drink much of his organic pressed elderflower, so likely just didn’t need to go.  Offered him treat of 100% natural sesame seed bar – which, v unlike him, he spat out after only one bite.
Things started to go a bit awry just at the point of no return. Boy kept saying “need a wee, need a wee”, but when I asked him if he really needed a wee, he just looked confused and didn’t say anything.  As we have unbelievable parent-child bond, and he now tells me everything, I trusted him.  Where are you without trust? Still, tried to quicken pace towards park cafe, just in case.  Halfway there he lay down on ground and started crying “need a poo need a poo.”  Aha!  Had cleverly packed potty under pram in case such situation arose.  Clever and prepared. But buggering fuck if I hadn’t put it under the double buggy, and then took the single one instead.  By now Boy was upright again, and on his tippy toes, looking very strange.  Then he started to hop from one foot to the other.  So I whipped off his shorts and put his emergency nappy on him.  He went ballistic.  “NO-NAPPY-NO-NAPPY-NO-NAPPY” and, for the first time in his life, managed to pull down his own shorts and whip off the nappy, which he threw into a puddle.  Left it there (was somewhat ruffled by now), yanked up Boy’s shorts, plonked him, wriggling and weeping, onto the buggy board, and pegged it for the cafe. Two minutes into sprint Boy stopped crying, looked relaxed again, and announced “no poo-poo.”  Wish he’d make up his mind. Stopped for breather (note to self to start Yoga - again) at which point he stood up and stared at his sodden shorts, then gleefully launched himself at a passing dog, while a turd bigger than his head rolled down his leg.   I nodded at the dog-owner and both of us ignored the large human poo at my feet.
On the plus side, Boy clearly v self aware and accident could have happened to anybody. (Under the age of 3 that is).
Rest of day largely smooth potty-training sailing, helped perhaps by decision to abandon park jaunt and come home to potty and semi-naked frolicking in garden instead.  (By Boy.  I refrained, out of consideration to neighbours.)

Friday May 13, 2011
No. of Wee wee’s in Potty:  3 (v v good);  No. of Poos in Potty:  0 (not v.g.); No. of Accidents:  1 (traumatic);  No. of Daytime Nappies used:  1 (urgent and unavoidable); No. of alcohol units consumed: 0 (yet).
Starting to lose will to live a bit.  Found self loitering about on Mumsnet, which is never a good sign.  Just need to awaken inner Earth Mother, converse with Universe, and tap into earlier karma,  and all will be fine again. 
Set-back occurred on daily park visit.  Starting to hate the park.   Sniffing all those flowers giving me hay fever.  And dog shit everywhere.  Tho’ clearly am in no position to pass judgment on random scatterings of faeces, particularly after today’s  outing.  Was so well prepared.  Potty? Tick.  Spare pants?  Tick.  Wipes, plastic bags, spare shorts? Tick tick tick.  Food for Girl, money in purse for ice-cream for Boy?  Tick tick, and off we go.
Didn’t in fact set off until mid afternoon, due to bitchingbastarding jetlag.  (Will we ever sleep normally again?).  Had two wee-wee stops en route – excellent (tho perhaps not so much for passers by, or dog who stopped for a sniff) and then to park cafe.  Plan had been to sit and feed both kids inside, then give Boy treat of ice-cream while allowing him to roam free (keeping careful, but distant, watch over him, in manner of care-free parenting).  Did not account for usual tantrum in face of ice-cream counter but decided to embrace Earth Mother Go With The Flow attitude (while reminding self that is not rewarding him for bad behaviour, rather respecting his choices.) He disappeared outside just as I got Girl settled, so up we leapt, and decamped to great outdoors.  Was fine for a short while, until he disappeared from view into smells-of-piss and full-of-dodgy-old-men bandstand, so decamped again, also into bandstand.  Squatted on floor – uuugh – while feeding Girl – who was too busy whipping around to watch her brother to eat anything. 
Then crisis hit. That tippy-toe dance again, and plaintive wailing about a poo-poo. Acted with a speed and resolve that Earth Mothers everywhere would be proud of (clearly is result of lentils and organic foods now eating), picking up Girl, food, Boy, scooter and legging it to cafe, with pram in tow.  Felt like Moses parting the Red Sea as entered cafe – people, tables and chairs spontaneously moved out of way – only slight delay was trying to get self and all bastarding paraphernalia into toilet cubicle.  By time I turned around, Boy was unravelling toilet roll, ignoring his soaking trousers;  yanked them down, and large poo rolled out of pants, still warm, INTO MY HANDS.  Yelled at Boy, then at Girl – who was smirking, and thus complicit – and then at Universe, Goddesses, Earth Mother, and Karma.  Fucking Karma got her own back by causing replacement pants and shorts to have disappeared somewhere en route, and so no choice but to dress Boy in one  of Girl’s nappies (“too tight Mummy, can’t breathe”). 
Stormed into shops on way home and bought two bottles of chardonnay, large packet of Kettle Chips, Family Pizza (shag the organics) and bumper pack of Size 6 nappies. 

Saturday May 14, 2011 (1am)
No. of Wee wee’s in Potty:  0;  No. of Poos in Potty:  0; No. of Accidents: 0;   No. of Daytime Nappies used:  4;  No. of alcohol units consumed: 13.
Mrghgh. Boy can pttytrne himself. Earthmothrarse.  Shchhhhhhhhraghghgl.

Friday, 13 May 2011

Thank you for Choosing to Fly Parent-Air...

Because I’m the giving type, and because we’re all wading through a recession, I thought it might be fun to help you create your own global air-travel -  in the comfort of your own home, and for a fraction of the price.  Go me!
There’s a small bit of preparation for this.  (Don’t worry, you won’t have to pack.  Too much).  You need:
·         3 x large cardboard boxes. (by “large” I mean large enough for a small child to squat in)
·        A few supermarket ready-meals.  Own brand, as cheap as you can. Buy a selection and remove the labels 
·         A pair of shoes that look just like yours but are in fact a size smaller
·         3 x hyper/crazed animals. (Pop into your local pet shop;  spider monkeys are ideal, but specialist stores only.  Otherwise – goats (lure away from a petting zoo) or if all else fails, cats+a double espresso. (For ease, I use “monkey” throughout the text.  Substitute with whatever animal you’ve got))
·         3 x bottles of water
·         A hand-held dvd player
·         An electric fan
You’re almost ready to begin.  Just one last thing:  fill a small case FULL of plastic shite / books / crayons / stickers / snacks / matchbox cars / random pieces of Lego. In fact, overfill it, then sit on it to close. 
Ok! Off we go. 
Firstly, pick a destination. Make it as exotic as you can.  Thailand? Fiji? Alaska? All excellent choices.  Whichever you chose,  teach one of the monkeys to say it over and over and over again.  Until your ears bleed.  And then some more. 
Go to your kitchen and put the oven on “scorch”, then throw in all the ready meals you bought. 
Place a bucket and a basin of water inside a cupboard / wardrobe / closet nearby.  Add a few of those junk-mail menus which accumulate in hallway.
Arrange two of the boxes side by side in a corner of a room, with the opening facing out. If possible arrange to have a bare wall in front of you – no more than two feet away - and something large and bulky behind you.  A wardrobe is ideal. Place the other box also on its side, about 6 feet away. 
Put the fan on High, and aim it directly at the two boxes which are side by side.
Put a monkey in each of the three boxes, then climb into one of the two boxes which are side by side.  Yes, on top of the monkey already in there.  Do your best to get into a sitting position (kneeling is fine, as is squatting).  You can cheat and throw in a cushion and / or blanket if you want.  Any cushion however has to be no larger than your hand, and any blanket made from toenail clippings.
Arrange the DVD player so that the sound is off, the screen is an angle that allows you to only see the outline of the picture, and put the remote control just a fraction out of arm’s reach.  Excellent.
Take off your shoes.  Open one of the water bottles and lie it on top of the shoes.  Throw the other bottles off into the back of the room, where you’ll never find them. 
All the while, juggle your companion monkey on your lap / head / face and talk to the monkey in the next box. He’ll probably just be saying “Fiji-Fiji-Fiji” but will occasionally try to escape, and you have only the power of your voice to contain him. 
Tell yourself that you are not going to open the case-full-of-crap until at least two hours has passed.  Approximately 90 seconds after climbing into your box, grab the case and fling it into the monkey’s box.  Spend the next seven hours picking up items of the contents and trying to distract the monkey with them. 
At all times you must ignore the monkey in the third box who has been screaming for at least 45 minutes.  He is not your responsibility and his sole role is to scream. At some point he’ll come clambering over but you must smile at him, no matter that he’s trying to rip your face off.
After about two hours, take out your phone (you are allowed ONE CALL ONLY) and telephone whoever in your address book is both nearby, and mean as hell.  Ask them to come by for a few minutes – at their own leisure, obviously -  and to remove two of the lava-esque meals from the oven and throw them at you from a distance of about four feet. Once they have done this, be sure to ask them if the food is vegetarian;  with any luck it won’t be, and they will have to go and find some more.  They should then leave your house, never to return.
At some point, decide that the monkey in your box needs to sleep, and you must do whatever you can to facilitate this.  To this end you may leave the box and walk the length of the room and back again, over and over again, clinging on to the acrobatic monkey, and shushing it.  You know, the monkey knows, and all your imaginary fellow passengers know, that nothing short of chloroform, is going to get him to sleep.  Seeing as you didn’t pack the chloroform, you might as well crawl back into your box. 
Decide to feed your monkey into submission.  Stuff several litres of milk into him, then jiggle him up and down for a while.  Stretch over to see why the other monkey is so quiet, and with any luck, your companion monkey will chose that moment to vomit all down the back of your neck. 
Gather up both monkeys  - it doesn’t matter that the quiet one is sleeping – and carry both of them to the cupboard / wardrobe / closet you put the bucket and basin of water in.  Climb into said  cupboard / wardrobe / closet and attempt to clean yourself using junk-menus dipped in water.  While you’re in there decide that it’s a good idea to pee in the bucket.  If you must wipe, use the menus.  Do not allow either of the monkeys to escape at any time.  
Return to your box to find that the third monkey has gone beserk and has eaten all the crayons.  He is now crumbling the snacks into your shoes.  Put one monkey into your box, break up the fight between the two other monkeys – SHIELD YOUR FACE AT ALL TIMES – and retrieve snacks and any missing cars / lego pieces / stickers.  Smile throughout. 
Look at your watch.  Only 7 hours left!  Repeat all of the above seventeen times.   Occasionally you may rearrange the box so that it is upright and your legs are hanging over the side, if you think it will help you to sleep.  To relieve your dead legs, you may walk across the room a few times.  
Once 10 hours has passed, gather up everything you brought with you.  Mysteriously, this will have trebled in bulk, and you will have to resort to wearing / pocketing as much of the items as you can.  Scoop your neighbouring monkey up from the 3-inch space between the boxes where he has fallen asleep and place back in his box.  He won’t wake up.  The monkey in your box will have fallen asleep for the first time about twenty minutes ago, so try your best not to wake him (if you do wake him, you will then have to hold him, as he screams and spits at you, for the next 36 hours).
Slip on the smaller shoes.  Holding everything, including the screaming spitting monkey, hobble from the room.  Feel free to kick the third monkey on your way out.

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Banshee Wail of the Doormat Mother

It being holiday time, I’ve treated self to a new book. Ever a sucker for punishment, this year’s holiday’s reading material is “Battle Cry of the Tiger Mother”, by Amy Chua.   You may have heard of it: high-achieving (“pushy”, according to the reviews) Chinese-American mother encourages (“forces”) her children’s natural talents, eschewing the Western parenting model (“letting your kids stomp all over you” – actually, that last bit is my own interpretation). 
Sounds perfectly sensible to me, and if I only had the energy to encourage / dominate, I too would turn my back on being treated as a slave by my ungrateful offspring.  Since the arrival of the Girl however, I have been less Tiger, more Tigger.  For reasons I don’t quite understand, this seems to have come to a head during our vacation.  Perhaps the Boy (for he is the main culprit;  the Girl can’t really be expected to do much for herself – yet) senses that unless he’s fully on his guard “Mommy” (he’s started to speak American) may actually start to  - shudder – enjoy herself. 
The enslavement starts first thing in the morning when he clambers on my head roaring WAKEY WAKEY, followed quickly by WHERE’S-MY-CHAIR and TURN-ON-TEEVEEE.  (Our hosts here have set up a tv in our room, which we have yet to find the time to turn on for our own entertainment;  the Boy, on the other hand, is making up for our lack of effective time-management, and is glued to it at every opportunity). So natch, I roll out of bed, stumble about in the living room looking for the mini wicker chair which acts as the lazy boy's lazy-boy, drag it back into our room, line it with my bed pillows, and turn on the telly.  SESAME-STREET! he barks, and I leap for the remote control.  A couple of Letters of the Day later he realises he’s hungry.  CHEESE-ON-TOAST! JUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUICE!  Off I scuttle.  (All this while the poor starving Girl is sitting placidly in a corner somewhere, her good patient behaviour being rewarded by a guilty smile thrown in her direction while I run past on another errand for King Boy.).
And so the day continues.  SOMETHING-IN-MY-SHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOE;  BEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE! (or, more likely now:  BUUUUUUUUUUUUGGGG!); and the most impressive visually - because it comes with a display of histrionics usually only seen on the Jeremy Kyle show - HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAIR!!!!!!!!!, complete with gagging sounds, spitting, and more often than not, the be-haired tongue being rubbed against my legs.  The other evening he sat at the table, refusing to eat any dinner (“NO-DINNER-NO-DINNER-ICE-CREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEAMMMMMMM”) and the Man offered to get him some water.  “Yes water, Mommy do it.” Man goes to stand up - “Daddy will do it” – “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! NOT DADDY! MOMMMMMMMMEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!” and so I stopped feeding the Girl (mid-spoonful) and pranced off to the fridge, feckign eejit that I am, as my mother would say.
But this worm is planning on turning. Let’s not kid ourselves - I am never going to be a Tiger Mother (could you imagine the reception the Boy would get in her house?  She’d have him baking his own bread for cheese on toast, weaving a whole set of matching wicker chairs, and categorising the type genus of the insect bug which had crossed his path) but I’ve recently spied the opening of a teeny window of opportunity.  He’s at that age when he thinks that some bits of house-work are fun.  Arm him with a dustpan and brush and a filthy kitchen floor, and you’re guaranteed to have at least 3 minutes to yourself.  (This may be somewhat negated by the 33 minutes you subsequently spend looking for the brush [“in the bin, Silly Billy!”] and then cleaning up the soil swept up outside and brought inside – but we’re getting there).  My thinking is that if I can channel his focus, then maybe I can share the burden of domestic toil, alleviate my own subjugated position, and perhaps even make it to house-cat-mother status.
Speaking of which, the holidays continue and I’m still not cooking.  In fact, I don’t even have to think about it. Bliss.  The kids get put to bed and by the time we stagger out, destroyed from the physical effort, mental savagery and emotional bribery, there’s a drink waiting for us, a set table, and something cooking in the oven.  I think this is probably the best holiday ever. For a slave, that is.