Friday, 28 December 2007

Christmas Day

Firstly I'd like to thank everybody who bought our children a noisy present, or one full of sugar. Cheers. The two work remarkably well together I must say, the cure for narcolepsy must surely lie here like a coiled spring waiting to be unleashed. Isla is at this moment on her third jelly Santa (how many ways can sweet companies dress up gelatin and chemicals? I'm waiting for the Jesus on a crucifix one)and running around the house with her new CD player/karaoke machine turned up loudly like a teenager with a ghetto blaster. She's three. Jack can't run around, being seven months, but he is sitting on the play mat rediscovering his multicoloured toys with awe, drooling unnecessarily, leading me to believe he may possibly have been fed one of Isla's Santas. Other than that it really is acid and I have some questions to ask.
Christmas day saw the arrival of our third child, Barbie. She's proving to be the most expensive of our children demanding both of practical everyday necessities and tropical island paradise experiences. So far Husband and I have furnished her with: A horse (complete with moving legs and a life like neigh), a fully fitted bedroom, a dressing table and accompanying monkey, five new outfits, a fairy castle and (though we feel she's a little young) a boyfriend. It seems though that Barbie is never satisfied, and despite all these 'welcome to your new home gifts' she's also after the Malibu mansion. Well she'll have to wait until her birthday.
Barbie is an uncomfortable bed fellow, at best the companion that Isla seems unable to find in Jack, at worst everything that Isla yearns and aspires to be. Why oh why can't Barbie be a lawyer? Struggling with her weight? Flat chested? Have a girlfriend? Anything but this insipid blonde bombshell who admittedly has everything in life including the car and who says (and I quote) 'Let's see what we can do to be glamorous.' I'll never compete. Why should Isla listen to me when Barbie is obviously on the right track? How else did she get everything her heart desires? Obviously glamour is the way to go, if that's what it takes to get the mansion then glamour it is.
I'm planning to market a new doll: Sarah, the flat chested, overweight lawyer (possibly lesbian but it's never clear) who has a great personality, is interesting (I quote 'let's see what we can do to change the World today') and above all shuns worldly goods for the more satisfying carbon neutral option of living in a commune. Sarah requires very little to be happy in life, saves money diligently, pays her own way and above all listens to her mother. I'm not sure what Isla will make of her new companion next Christmas, but she'll make a much cheaper daughter.

Monday, 17 December 2007

Books I am planning to write

  • Puree your way to madness
  • How to make 7am a lie in
  • Make food fun - fill it with sugar
  • Puddings - not a nutritional alternative
  • Top ten stress busting wines
  • Husband training in three easy steps: loo seat, air freshener, soap
  • Stains - removable if you bother
  • Disposable nappies save your marriage
  • Child rearing with dummies
  • Bribes through the ages vol 1: 0-6 months
  • Lose your mummy tummy in 50 years
  • Comfort eating - the sure fire way to happiness
  • Make yourself heard by shouting loudly
  • Pushy parent your way to a guaranteed pension
  • The Margaret Thatcher Way - doing it all on four hours sleep
  • Speed reading - better than no bed time story at all
  • Calpol + benylin = good night's sleep

Wednesday, 12 December 2007

Things I have said to my husband today

  • I don't know why I'm crying, I just am
  • no it isn't hormones
  • how dare you say it's hormones?
  • well you never take me seriously
  • can I help it if I'm right?
  • well if it is hormones, which it isn't, my feelings are still valid
  • valid
  • they mean something
  • yes, they have meaning
  • and logic, yes
  • Please don't jiggle Jack like that he's just had his dinner
  • there, that's what he had for dinner, down your shirt
  • He's crying because he needs his nappy changing
  • it was my turn last time
  • upstairs
  • on the changing table
  • cotton wool
  • water
  • take the dirty one off and put a clean one on
  • well change his trousers too
  • it is not inhumane
  • because I did the last 32
  • I tell Isla not to do that
  • it teaches her bad habits
  • no, I don't think you're a bad example
  • or have bad habits
  • because I want other people to like being with her
  • yes I like being with you
  • it's not that simple
  • If you take the bins out I'll start clearing the kitchen
  • where have you been?
  • it doesn't take half an hour to take the bins out
  • yes the kitchen does look nice
  • I used magic
  • It was a funny joke darling
  • I laughed on the inside
  • it's just I've heard it before
  • no, no you are funny
  • very original
  • I think I got the two jokes mixed up
  • yours was the funniest
  • Can you just feed the baby
  • I haven't had a shower yet
  • what do you mean if I just got up ten minutes earlier
  • I don't know why I'm crying I just am

Monday, 10 December 2007

The nativity

Oh yes, The Nativity. If you thought you were going to get away without me blogging on this particular subject you were mistaken I'm afraid. Very mistaken. How could I miss a chance to discuss this venerable institute that is our offspring's first foray into performance art? It's a chance to wallow in parental pride as your little one delivers his or her lines with amazing aplomb and accuracy, neatly stepping on their mark, holding baby Jesus aloft (head up in most cases) and proclaiming just how well they have been raised with their acute diction and projection of voice. Oh how we weep, tender tears forming, along with the small knowing smile (hidden of course) as we see how ahead they are, advanced even, if I do say so myself.
It was Isla's nativity today, her first proper one - she was only two last year and understandably the teachers wanted to give the older ones a chance, being out shone by a two year old can be very difficult in the formative years. As Isla is our first child, and first grandchild on both sides, there was quite a scramble for tickets, luckily many of the other pre-schoolers were third, or even fourth, offspring so there were plenty of spare tickets to go around. Awash with tissues and expectant hope we sat front row (we'd camped outside the night before just to be sure) and surveyed the scene of hay bales, cardboard star and manger, the setting or our daughter's (our) triumph. We watched with awe as the children entered stage left, shyer than normal, blushingly self conscious and thrillingly excited as to their performance, each looking for their own parent/cheering team and waving brightly.
It turns out Isla was a tree. A tree. When I've made two (not one, two) cakes for every bake sale they've had, and not the easy loaf ones, but cakes with fillings, I've even run a couple of sales myself. I've sat on the committees (often bringing cakes for refreshment), walked children to harvest festival, supplied some of them with leeks or carrots for the offering, attended 'stay and play' and played my heart out with every child. A tree! At least a sheep says 'baa' (and even that was questionable with the poor boy they had allotted to this role). Even if she wasn't going to get a talking role, a tree? You're probably getting just about now that I was speechless. If they ever ask me in a court of law what I genuinely thought of the nativity I could only repeat the word tree, such was my confusion and despair.
Now I understand that not everyone can be Mary or an angel and that there are only so many female roles to give out, but there surely are much more creative ways to go about assigning non existent parts to the plethora of children. Perhaps Mary could be a shared role? Three Marys, one for each wise man, or many many angels who could each have a solo line in the rendition of 'Away in a Manger'. What got to me most was that one of the other girls played an oxen and had a line! Fair enough it was a gentle lowing, but really, a line is a line. Isla's great at lowing. She did play the tree well though, of the four trees Isla's really stood out. The way she held her arms as boughs, drooping gracefully would have made even Stanislavsky proud. This was method acting at its best. Even without a line she was able to make herself heard just by her very stage presence, that course of experiential workshops really paid off. Gradually I began to understand the message the teachers were trying to give me, she really is far too good to have a major role, let the others have their chance, there will be plenty for Isla on Broadway.

Sunday, 9 December 2007

My mother knows how to work the sky+

It's all rather worrying, my mother has treated herself to sky+. When I went round to hers the other day she was busily scanning the programmes that she'd recorded on her new fangled thingy and breezily extolled the virtue of being able to group record. Group record? I'm convinced she's made the term up just to look like she knows what she's doing. She even forgot to broach her favourite topic - The World, general failings of. So I knew something was afoot.
The thing is, isn't it some kind of unwritten rule that every generation successively outstrips the previous where knowledge of technology is concerned? Ever since I was very young I or one of my siblings has had to programme the video (golly how archaic that sounds), set clock alarms/oven timers/jellies, and generally oversee the use of anything requiring a plug/degree in technical engineering. My mother can make a mean casserole (it carries a flick knife) but put her in front of a toaster and she makes like one of her jellies (ie melts, you'd get it if you'd ever been to one of my birthday parties). So this reversal of roles was one that frightened me a little. A lot actually, hasn't she read the rule book? It's practically one of the ten commandments - thou shalt not technologically outstrip your offspring. In fact it was one until they bumped it off for thou shalt not covet thy neighbour, something to do with bringing in a crowd pleasing element (it worked as well, on first hearing it the disciples started a Mexican wave, the first recorded in history). It's a very important rule, it makes your children feel important, useful even, until they are old enough to produce grandchildren and prove their worth.

So there she was, happy as anything watching repeats of Coronation Street, brandishing the remote like a particularly dexterous gun toting cowboy, totally ignoring my obvious distress. How can she work it? Which part of her brain did she accidentally switch on? Where's mine? I'm already at a point with my three year old where I have to ask her to explain the technological world to me. Sweetheart would you show mummy how to reboot the Nintendo DS? Ah I see now, thank you, now, tell mummy what exactly a Nintendo DS is. So I'm playing my part to the fullest and following the rules as I'm meant to, but my mother had turned it all upside down. Or so I thought. Midway through a particularly gripping Midsomer Murder her new brain bit failed and she accidentally deleted everything she had managed to record, never to be found again. Even I couldn't find it and I'm her offspring. I knew that she knew she was beaten when she eyed my squarely and launched her second favourite topic of conversation - The World - how it can be saved by me alone. She then called in my three year old who had us up and running again in no time, adding as she worked that it would be best if we didn't fiddle with it in future.

Monday, 3 December 2007

A Fish, a Hamster or a Dog?

Isla wants a pet for Christmas, a dog preferably but she'll settle for a hamster, Husband wants to get her a fish. His reasons, he says are well thought out and rational (and absolutely nothing to do with a fear of rodent like creatures). Firstly we have no room for a dog (he's right), secondly fish make ideal first pets; they're quiet (ever heard of a fish that likes rock and roll? he asked cryptically), they're clean (after mummy has cleaned them out), don't need walking, don't leave fur everywhere, stay where you put them and they die quite quickly.

He said this last bit with a knowing nod, you see I've thought of it all wink wink. Great, well done we'll give her a present that will die quite soon. It's like playing a trick on your children, it's only funny for you because you understand it, to them its plain confusing (never again the 'monster is under our bed not yours' trick; Isla still won't enter our bedroom and instead hovers nervously at the door. On the plus side it does keep her from waking us at six, in fact Husband has been known to growl just a little at the sound of footsteps on the landing).

Anyway, the dying quickly bit is the sticking point for me. I can see why it's a good thing, Isla gets her pet which conveniently passes away just as the novelty wears off. It also ties up the life lesson of 'people and animals die' quite well. Perfect. He does have a point. It's just that he's not at home with the children and the likelihood is that it'll be me that has to deal with the event. I'll have to cope with all the tears and explanations as to where fishy has gone. I may even have to make up some story about a heaven for fish but I'll try my best not to. It does have it's appeal though I could really go to town on the fish princesses, seaweed sweets and bedtime whenever any fishy wanted it. Next it would be up to mummy to arrange the burial (there will be no quick exits down the toilet for Isla's fish trust me) and to fashion some sort of headstone out of pasta. And the worst thing is I'll have to do all this like I care and touch a dead fish tenderly and with regret. I'm going to use an onion to produce the tears.

So we're trying to find alternatives and I'm telling you, there aren't many. Tortoises are illegal (and live an awfully long time, that 'life lesson' may begin in Isla's eighties), cats sit on babies heads and ponies are ridiculously expensive - you need a whole other house for a pony Isla, reliable as ever, informed us. We could consider reptiles, but I like to sleep as soundly as Isla will let me and not in fear of becoming a tasty snake snack. So that leaves us insect type things. In fact a stick insect could work, we could buy her a stick, or get it free from the garden and tell her all about how stick insects look just like sticks and keep very very still all the time so they can catch flies. That could really work but it brings me back to not playing tricks on three year olds. She's bound to twig (sorry) it sooner or later; if the insect hasn't moved by her eighteenth birthday she's sure to think some thing's not quite right. We could damage her for life.
So really that leaves a fish; it's the only one that won't live forever, sit on the baby's head, spread fur everywhere, eat me in the night, need a home all of its own or resemble a stick and tempt me to cheat. A fish it is, excellent. Now I just need to figure out how Santa might have got it down the chimney and we're good to go.

More things I have said to my three year old today

  • What would you like for tea?
  • We haven't got any smoked salmon
  • Or corn on the cob
  • How about beans on toast?
  • Yes it is organic
  • What do you say?
  • How does a big girl ask for something?
  • P P P?
  • Please
  • Well done, would you like another one?
  • What do you say?
  • Not please, Th Th Th
  • Thank you
  • Well done
  • It's carrot
  • But you love carrot
  • You did the other day
  • Yes Abby eats carrot
  • Oh good I'm glad you love carrot
  • Please could you put your jeans on today?
  • It's too cold for your fairy dress
  • Because it's Winter
  • It's cold in Winter
  • The sun is out, but that doesn't mean its hot
  • In the Summer the sun is hot, in the Winter it's cold
  • Because it just is
  • Abby's going to be wearing her jeans
  • OK wear your fairy dress today
  • No not with your wellies
  • Wellies are for when it's wet
  • It's wet in Summer and Winter
  • No it's not wet today
  • No, Barbie lives in Malibu it never rains
  • OK fantastic why don't you wear your fairy dress and wellies?
  • Please tell the teacher that you dressed yourself this morning
  • And forgot your coat
  • Yes and gloves
  • OK I'll tell the teacher it was me
  • Oh that's a beautiful painting darling
  • Oh really, you must have worked very hard
  • Mummy loves her seven toes
  • And green too, how creative
  • What did you do at pre school today?
  • Nothing? You can't have done nothing
  • Oh you did, I see