Thursday, 21 February 2008

The God of small socks

I have 29 odd, small socks in my laundry basket. I've just counted (it's a slow day). Why? Why? Where are they? Who has taken them? Is there somewhere, in a parallel universe, another laundry basket with all the matching pairs in? I want to stage a protest outside Mothercare, Gap, Next and anywhere else they sell baby socks. Stop selling them, they don't work! I'd like to meet anyone, anyone! who has ever held onto a matching pair of baby socks (and it's cheating if you bought lots of pairs of the same socks). No matter what you do, however carefully you apply said socks in the morning, by the evening one of them will be gone. And that's the weird thing, it's only ever one of them. I'd understand it more if it was the pair: obviously someone is stalking me secretly and stealing the socks from Jack's feet when I'm not looking. But one? No, that doesn't make sense. Who would stalk me to steal only one sock, only a crazy person and the only one I know is my mother. But she hates socks, so it can't be her.
I have tried to observe at close quaters the transition from socked foot to un-socked foot that occurs through the day but to no avail, yes, sometimes I catch a live one just about to drop and deftly return it to it's correct positioning but the euphoria is short lived. However vigilant I am the sock always manages to exploit a weak moment (usually involving chocolate) and escape with admirable speed and skill.
I do know that Jack has especially wriggly feet, in A&E (ER to my American readers) yesterday (oh so much you don't know, more of that another time) the nurse tried valiantly to take his blood pressure with one of those things that attach to your finger. Only with babies they put it on their toes. Jack kept the non monitored foot very, very still but wriggled his monitored foot with gusto, not what you want when trying to accurately record data. I held his foot, he wriggled only the toes, I held his toes except for the monitored one, he wriggled the monitored one. Fab, we had a quick guess at what his blood pressure might be and reached the conclusion that he was fine. Anyone who could wriggle their feet with that much vigour can't be particularly damaged. (Or can they? Cue the dark of night, lying awake, and the thought that wriggly toes might be the first sign of brain damage doesn't do much for insomnia. I also worried about a future of arthritic toes, it was a busy night).
Anyway, while I acknowledge Jack's excessive toe wriggles I don't accept it as an explanation for the phenomenon, simply because Isla's toes were literally comatose (sorry) in comparison, and she reached the heady heights of losing two-socks-a-day (not matching ones, she was my first child and I stupidly replaced the missing one with a new matching pair, my mother has never recovered). So the parallel universe theory still stands I'm afraid. And before you think you can come up with another, less other worldy, explanation, hear my final argument: you never, ever see single socks while out and about. Think about it, how many times have you come home and noticed the baby has lost a sock again? Answer: Lots. But, how many times have you been out and found single socks? Answer: Almost never (never in my case). So that proves it, there must be some big, black hole that suctions up any baby sock the minute it's wrested free from a tiny foot. It's the only logical conclusion. Can you think of a better one? Me neither.
I have a solution though, I've tried and it works: every new pair of socks you buy, sew a long piece of string (or wool, it's your choice) between them, therefore attaching them to each other. Genius. Then, when dressing baby, put one sock on and thread the other sock up through the trousers (or skirt, it's so much easier with a skirt, who cares if people call Jack she?) and down to the other foot. Place the second sock on this foot. Do you see? It's fool proof, if ever a sock drops off it's attached to the other one, and, if the child's in trousers, trapped in the clothing. Let's say one did get lost (it's unlikely but not impossible) it will never just be one, the second will have to go with it, this renders the odd-sock-laundry-hamper useless, and is beginning to save my sanity. It's perfect. The only place to go with the idea now it to apply it to my husband's socks, although I'm not sure how well he'll take the string intrusion.

Thursday, 14 February 2008

Valentines day

I have just spoken to my sister who lives abroad. She and her husband have only been married a year, and they have no children. She has sent her husband 'O' out so that she can prepare the house for Valentine's night. The house is filled with balloons, she's cooking a special meal, been for a wax, put marshmallows to toast next to the barbeque (it's hot where they live, and I don't mean just the weather), she's baked heart shaped shortbread, iced in pink with silver balls for decoration, crikey she's even bought him an egg that when watered spells out a love message. With her cooking skills (she heats soup and that is that) I'd like to say that all the fuss is to detract from the food but it's not. This is what young, free couples do for valentines day. It's de riguer, expected, love is lavished at every oppourtunity. I'm so pleased for them. Delighted in fact. Delighted.

Husband and I have had a lovely valentine's. We both forgot to write our cards last night so there was a slightly awkward stand off this morning as we both tried to second guess whether the other was bluffing to save feelings, then we agreed to give them this evening. Husband then sent Isla into the kitchen with some supermarket, yellow 'roses' that he'd bought home last night then forgotten and left to die in the car. It was a special moment.

I myself had forgotten to take Husband's request for a special dinner. I made a rare call to his work, I don't call more than once a day for fear of damaging his chances of promotion due to his clingy can't-make-a-decision-on-her-own wife (how little they know). He requested spaghetti bolognese. Fair enough it's a treat to have carbs in the evening but other than that even Isla could have come up with something more adventurous. So spaghetti bolognese it was. Just as I was saying goodbye there was a pause, here it is I thought, happy valentine's day sweetheart. Husband shuffled around as I held the handset close to my ear, not wanting to miss the moment. Hey, he said, want to listen to your valentine's day card? It played I got you babe. Into my ear. I couldn't wait to see the flashing lights that he promised came with it as soon as you opened the flap. Couldn't wait.

Valentines day used to be filled, in teenage years, with that special sort of angst of the will I/won't I get one variety. Mornings at school would be filled with the refrain of did you get one? One? Oh five I used to reply breezily even though the post reached my house after I'd set off for school. This lie was only ever regretted when I did actually receive one, a good one that is, not one from your mother (or even worse your dad), but nobody ever, ever thought to enquire the day after, hence the lie. Later in your twenties it was either one from your current 'partner' (oh how grown up we thought we were) or none at all. Grown-up men don't do valentines, there's nobody around to remind them of the date.

So that brings me back to my sister. She has all the ingredients; a long term partner/husband, recent wedding, time, money that doesn't have to be spent on Barbies and above all, inclination. It's very hard to get all romantic on a Thursday night, whatever the card companies tell you. Jack's been playing up all day and threw up on my new boots, a wax nowadays is simply what Husband does to the car (lovingly of course) and champagne is the colour of the new curtains in the sitting room. There's not much inclination to make Thursday special, not when Friday is looming. If either of us suggested an early night we'd be delighted, an extra hour of sleep. Explain in any way a 'special night' to a toddler and you might as well say 'please play up as much as possible and shout if we ignore you'. It never fails.

So here we are, valentine's night. Spurs are playing, Husband is watching, and I am blogging. But I have to say at this point that where today is concerned I subscribe to one of my mother's more lucid pieces of advice: horrible, cheating men (and women) can fill the house with flowers, cook a special dinner, wine and dine you, speak the volumes of love all night. But it's the rest of the year that counts. Anyone can make tonight special, it's how you behave every day, every night that counts. And if that's how we're judging it, I'll take a million yellow supermarket roses and I got you babe can go on our ipod, whatever, because, as much as I can't stop thinking of my sister and her evening (within limits), ours is just as good, just different.

Wednesday, 13 February 2008

Role play

These are the roles I have played today
  • scary monster
  • negotiation marvel
  • strict mummy
  • embarrassed mummy
  • giving in mummy
  • shouty mummy
  • tearful mummy
  • irritable mummy
  • sorry mummy
  • environmental hygeinist
  • duck nutrition supplier
  • narrator
  • translator
  • chef (read: cook)
  • fashion advisor
  • washer woman
  • taxi driver
  • care assitant
  • general advisor (superior quality)
  • decision maker
  • time keeper (inferior quality)
  • funny, attractive, sexy, just-like-I-was-when-you-met-me, wife
  • tie selector
  • peace keeper (United Nations Level)
  • enthusiastic, involved parent
  • craftswoman (toilet rolls a speciality)
  • accountant
  • worry placator
  • bargain maker...
  • ..and breaker
  • helpful sister
  • the grandaughter that always calls
  • fantasist
  • tongue biter
  • patience keeper (failed)
  • flower arranger
  • telephonist
  • secretary
  • mother decipherer
  • elegant, witty dinner companion
  • party planner
  • calm, serene, in control person

Friday, 8 February 2008

Forward planning

It's about that time of year that we begin to plan Isla's birthday party. It was news to us, she isn't four until May, but we were informed via her daily bulletin of how old I am and when I will be four that her party was imminent. She's planned most of the details herself, who will be coming, what she will wear and what she would like for a present. Obviously princess is the word that appears most upon her list of anything to do with the party. Only princesses are to be invited, she will dress, most appropriately, as a princess, she would like a princess castle for her present, and I mean a proper castle i.e large, for the garden and able to house at least the eight princesses coming for the princess tea. It's going to cost a fortune.

Thank goodness Jack is too young to understand parties. For Isla's first birthday we invited twenty five (yes that's two-five) adults and any child we could think of under five. We had a barbeque, I handmade all the burgers (with different herby/spicy fillings), all the kebabs, concocted marvellous pasta salads (both wheat and gluten free varieties), bought oddbins' entire wine stock and threw her the party of a lifetime. Oh how we slaved, our daughter's first year was to be marked with aplomb, everyone should remember it, not least Isla, the apple of our eye, our raison d'etre. It was a roaring success. Apart from for Isla who spent the entire day sat on the path eating my car keys. She remembers nothing. If we ever ask her about it or show her the photos her only question is to the tune of why I had dressed her so hideously.

So whether it's the memories (or lack of in Isla's case) of all the hard work we put into Isla's first birthday and how thankless the task was, or it's just that second child syndrome that people keep telling us about, we're not planning much for Jack's first birthday. Not that we aren't as proud of him or love him any less, it's just that we'd like May to end without having to remortgage the house. Again. Luckily his birthday is four days after Isla's so we can tag it onto hers. I haven't broached this with Isla yet, I've run out of courage to be honest. I know for a fact that boys are not allowed to be princesses (according to the Royal Charter of Princesses tacked to Isla's bedroom door), so the only way would be to introduce a sort of prince theme. I could dress Jack and his only invited friends Luca and Bradley (because I like their mummies) as pirates. I'm sure they wouldn't mind an eye patch, and rubber swords are ever so chewable. They'd look quite the team sitting together chewing away, not a clue as to the special occasion that they are part of.

Then again, he doesn't actually know its his birthday does he? Who's to say either way? We could just skate over the whole event, let him sit at Isla's birthday in normal clothes (hurrah) with a piece of toast (it's all he eats anyway). He'll never know! Even when he's older he won't find out, haven't we proven already that no matter how much effort you put into your child's first birthday it is, for them, a truly forgettable experience. We could take lots of pictures of him in his 'party outfit' (dungarees) and tell him they were the height of birthday fashion in those days and that toast was the thing to serve. Best of all it'll cost nothing. Nothing! Ahhh that's the kind of party I want, a free non existent one. If only we'd thought of that four years ago.