Friday, 15 February 2013

Something to Shout About

One day stood out amongst all of the others in the logistical nightmare that was last week.  I had ONE thing to do:  get the boy to a doctor’s appointment.  Having started planning it several days beforehand, I had decided that driving would be the easiest, quickest and less stress-free way to get there.  Every single time I drive in London – even if it’s just to the end of the road – I get hassled.  So it’s probably my own fault that the day unfolded as follows: 
Get self and three children up, dressed and fed.
Get self and two children into car, EARLY.  First time ever.
Tell older one of lovely morning we’re going to have:  peaceful drive through our glorious capital, happy chats, jingling music;  quick drs apt to have ears checked (his);  lunch in “the place with the funny pictures” (Prets);  fun drive home.
Get caught in traffic on ½ mile drive to nursery.  Sit there shouting at idiot removal van, who has , in all his 3-ton wisdom, come the wrong way down a one-way road.
Apologise for (multiple) use of term “FUCKING IDIOT”.  Agree that it is indeed a very strong word.
Race into nursery and dump the Girl, who, on realising that her brother is not staying screams so much I fear she’s going to vomit.
Decide nursery staff much better equipped to deal with her.  And with vomit
Cunningly take backroads to avoid traffic.
Backroads blocked because some helicopter had the temerity to crash in the middle of London the previous week.  In fact every road out of, in to, and through Clapham is blocked. 
“Mummy, why are you banging the steering wheel like that?”
“Mummy that is the strongest word I have ever heard”
“Mummy why are you shouting at me?  I haven’t done anything.”
“Mummy why are we turning around?”
“Mummy is this the way home?”
“Mummy, this is the way home!”
“Mummy are we going home?”
“Mummy, why are we going home?”
Brain melts from all the questions.
Park car directly outside our house.  Look at watch.  It is now 945am.  We set out AN HOUR AND A QUARTER ago from this very spot.  Drs apt is in 15 mins.
Ask Boy firmly: does he need a wee?  Because NOW is the time to tell me.
Definitely not?
We RUN to the Tube, narrowly avoiding slipping on my coughed-up lung on the way.
Of course I don’t have my travel card.
Of course the down escalator – down down down, into the pits of South-Clapham hell – isn’t working.
First bit of luck – the train arrives as soon as we get to the platform.   The train is empty. We are on a roll.
The train pulls out.  “I need a WEE WEE.”
Find one of the baby’s nappies at the bottom of my handbag.  Also – half a banana, and a rubber crocodile.  On balance, decide that teeny tiny nappy probably has best chances of absorbtion.  Get out at the next station and huddle in the corner (“DON’T TOUCH ANYTHING”).  Wrap the nappy around his willy.  Look of absolute bliss passes over his face. I am about to smile when someone taps me on the shoulder. 
Over 2 million people use the Tube every day (most of them on the Northern Line). What are the chances of bumping into someone you know?  Appears that if you are kneeling in a dirty platform corner with a wad of padding around your child’s bum, chances increase substantially.
We chat, and she tries not to notice as I wrap the sodden nappy up and put it in my handbag.
Get to apt.  Only 10 mins late.
Chat to Dr about Boy’s hearing.  Dawns on me that I am, possibly, the worst parent in the world, as now quite obvious that he is as deaf as a plank, and has been for some time.
“These things usually get triggered by an ear infection.  Has he ever had one?”
“Um, yes, once”
“When he was [mutter] nine months old
Tests confirm hearing at 50% normal range.   All that  SHOUTING because he was BLOODY IGNORING ME, when in fact he was actually, disabled.  (Cannot help but wonder, hopefully – will this entitle me to a disabled parking badge? Silver linings etc.)
Bring my deaf* child to lunch in Prets.  Keep forgetting he can’t hear me.   “Choose whatever you want. WHATEVER YOU WANT”.  “EXCEPT THAT.”  “OR THAT.”  “OH FOR F... YOU WON’T LIKE THAT.  YOU WON’T.  I’M TELLING YOU YOU WON’T.”  (Pause to glare at everyone staring at us.)  I have a yummy healthy granola thing. He has a toasted tuna meltie thingy.  Inevitably he gags, spits out the tuna meltie, and wolfs down my granola. 
Leave prets, feeling sick from tuna meltie.  “DO YOU NEED A WEE? ARE YOU SURE?  BECAUSE THIS IS YOUR LAST CHANCE."
Tube.  Packed.  Doors shut.  “I need a wee wee.”
Same manky tube station as before,  same manky corner, same – ohgodthehorror – nappy.  Alas, a different technique, resulting in piss spraying everywhere.  All over me, him, and the platform.   Only possible upside – if you can call it that - is that we meet no one we know.
 Get home, wet, smelly, stressed beyond human endurance.  Spend the rest of the day SHOUTING.  And not just at the deaf child.
Just as am sitting on the bottom stair holding on to my head to stop  it from BURSTING ALL OVER THE WALLS, the post arrives, delivering the only good thing to happen to me all day. 
The Knackered Mother's Wine Club - 9780230767645 
I had planned on devoting an entire post to it, but you’re all just going to have to believe me when I tell you you HAVE to buy it.  It’s wonderful.  It’s fun and funny and chatty - like a wine guide version of The Best Friend’s’ Guide to Pregnancy (except about something way way more interesting than pregnancy.) Like the blog from which it derived, it’s beautifully written, full of brilliant information, and just a damn fine read.  Who ever thought that a wine guide would benefit from references to Thomas the Tank Engine / Fifty Shades of Grey / the hassles of mid-winter hair removal?? You won’t even realise you’re LEARNING STUFF.  Make yourself the most popular friend ever by sending copies to every knackered mother you know. 

Then settle down with a large glass of wine, to mark the end of the most stressful day in living memory, safe in the knowledge that you’re doing homework. 

Just try not to shout.

(* Not really deaf.  V bad glue ear.  Or “mucalyptus in my head” as the Boy puts it.  Surgery – insertion of grommets - booked for next week, after which all shouting will have to cease. Hmmm.)


  1. This is seriously funny. And, of course, totally unbelievable for everybody except those who have been there (like me!). Thanks for making me laugh!

  2. You are just the most hilarious writer I love you!!!!

  3. I shall buy it straight away :-) and good tup with nappy on the tube!

    1. You must. And keep it at the bottom of your handbag - along with the nappy - for tube journeys.

  4. Lovely to meet you at The Launch Bash

    1. And you! Forgive my silence - half term (from nursery - who knew??) and sick baby. Gah.

  5. Years ago, I volunteered at a preschool, mostly just keeping the children from eating too much plasticene or smacking each other when the inevitable disagreements broke out.

    Anyway, there was a little boy there who was so willful, noisy, so physical, and always stubbornly ignoring the teachers. I thought, "my god, what a rotten little beast; am I ever glad I don't have to live with him."

    Well, as it turns out, the poor child was stone deaf, and the school didn't see fit to let any of the volunteers know. I found out later on, when the boy's mother showed up at a mutual friend's house and made some comment about how we'd probably see a positive change in his behaviour after he got his hearing aides fitted.

    When I went to the head teacher and mentioned the lack-of-shared-information, she insisted that it would have been a breach of privacy. To this day, I disagree. I'd have been a lot more understanding of his behaviour if I'd known he was being loud because he couldn't tell how loud he was, and that he wasn't stubbornly ignoring the staff; he simply couldn't hear us.

    1. That strikes me as ridiculous - unless the parents requested it. Unlike me - I asked his teacher to tell everyone, including the children. Bet they love me there, now that everyone has to SHOUT all the time...

  6. I tried to wee in a diaper once when I was rather inebriated and there was no alternative. Totally didn't work. I would have told you in advance if you had bothered to ask....

    1. It didn't work in the car on Tuesday either. Despite the very precise instructions I was giving from the driver's seat.

    2. Hey, I was in a car, too! (Now do you see why I don't drink any more???)

  7. I am not going to put any money on you not shouting anymore...

    1. I wouldn't either. I think "shouty" might be my default position. ("Here lies the Reluctant Launderer. Hated housework, couldn't quite get a handle on parenthood, loved shouting")

  8. Hope it all goes well. Love the blog.