Tuesday, 25 March 2008

We bought the dog I'm afraid

Judge me at your leisure. We caved, gave in to insurmountable pressure, looked into those large brown eyes and said the immortal word: Yes. Oh dear, the look in Isla's eyes the moment we agreed to get her a puppy said it all (cue sing song voice) once you've said it you can't take it ba-ack tralla tralla tra, we didn't take it back, we took her instead to choose a puppy.
Now, don't get me wrong, this was a well thought out decision. I knew in advance that all the work would fall to me and all the playing/stroking/feeding to Isla (for the first week at least until the novelty wore off and then my job description would absorb the playing/stroking/feeding bit. I have acres of time you see to devote to a boistrous puppy. Acres.) Anyway, Husband and I had thought and thought, discussed, discussed some more and came up with two lines: How hard can it be really? and Other people do it, so I'm sure we can. I should have heard the warning drone in my ear. I had said those lines before, about five years ago. Right before deciding to come off the pill.
The problem is that those lines work, you can convince yourself of anything with them. Nobody likes to think that they can't do something lots and lots of people are doing (and with apparent ease - ah the illusion) and nobody ever, ever reckons on something so cute being hard work. I mean children/dogs just play at your feet don't they? As long as they have a loving home and food to eat you can't go wrong. (Anyone saying this to you from now on, please direct them to this blog). It was a fait accompli really, you can't combine big brown eyes and a challenge to do better than others and not cave. A puppy it was.
Regular readers will know that Isla has had this puppy in her head for a while, she's even promised Barbie a matching one, with a matching name: Patch. That's right, Patch. So, given that she wanted to call the puppy Patch we looked for a breed that commonly has some sort of patch. Any sort would do, a freckle would suffice, anything to save our embarrassment in the park of a dog called Patch without a patch.
When we arrived to see the puppy he was, thankfully, covered in patches, he couldn't move for them, there are at least a hundred marks that could decently be called a patch. Excellent, onward we go. Isla loved him immediately, picking him up and playing chase. It was a touching scene, worth all the worry and decision making. Do you want to take Patch home? Asked Husband smiling. Isla looked alarmed at Patch, then at Husband and informed him in no uncertain terms that Patch was so last season (she even tossed her hair at him! How, why, where did she learn to do that? She's so darn good at it. Perhaps she'd teach me?) His name she announced (more hair tossing, I'm considering chopping it off in her sleep), is Twizzle. Twizzle. Great. Thanks. Cheers Isla. No one would ever feel embarrassed calling out Twizzle in a loud across-the-park voice. In fact I know at least four other dogs called Twizzle, Twizzle is so last year let alone last season. It didn't wash I'm afraid, something to do with the way I toss my hair seems to give away the fact that I haven't a clue as to last decade let alone last year.
The only way around it, Husband and I agreed, is to actually teach Twizzle to twizzle. We could summon him across the park accompanied by a light waltz from the ipod. He could twizzle towards us much like those dogs at Crufts who dance with their owners. We'd look great, exemplary pet owners and parents - fresh air, exercise and classical music for our brood. A little effeminate though was Husband's worry. More effeminate than naming your dog Twizzle and shouting it across the park? Quite. We'll see you at the park. And let this blog be a lesson to you all about giving a nearly-four-year-old too much power. It's too late for us now, but save yourselves.

Sunday, 9 March 2008

(The seemingly endless list of) Things I have said to my husband today

  • What's that look for?
  • I saw it
  • You can pretend as much as you like but I saw you pull that face
  • It's just cabbage
  • I haven't given you much
  • Isla's eaten all hers
  • Well done
  • What do you mean I sound like your mother?
  • No, I want to know what you meant
  • What was that?
  • It wasn't nothing
  • You said something under your breath and I want to know what
  • I do not nag
  • I care about you that's all
  • Ice cream doesn't say I care
  • No it doesn't
  • I don't nag I explain
  • If you want to live like a pig you can
  • That's a good pig impression well done
  • You grunt away I'm not listening
  • Please stop grunting in my ear
  • Ask Isla not to grunt
  • Now look what you've taught her
  • No you aren't a good influence
  • No you aren't, you've just taught her to grunt at mummy
  • It is not clever it's rude
  • Can you put your tie in the wardrobe?
  • You just flung that in
  • Why do you think I got you that tie hanger?
  • It was not a rubbish present
  • Nintendo DS's don't keep your ties tidy
  • Are you alright?
  • It's just you've spent most of the morning in the toilet
  • With the sports section
  • There's some prunes in the cupboard if you need them
  • No, no I was just saying
  • Well, it was a long time
  • I managed all the clearing and washing up in the time, that's all
  • I just wondered if all was working as it should
  • I saved you the drying up

Wednesday, 5 March 2008

Losing it

My friend from preschool came up to me this morning, and before you laugh, yes, I have a friend, we've bonded over finding the whole talking outside the school thing quite challenging. So in true friendship fashion we sit each morning in our respective (warm) cars and ignore each other and everyone else until we absolutely have to get out. Only then do we chance a quick smile and chat as we usher in our children.
Anyway, she looked worried. Just this morning, she confided through the corner of her mouth, she'd lost it with her boys. Shouted. Screamed. And get this she whispered, thrown all their toys out of the window. The fear was palpable, the light sweat on her forehead belying the cool exterior of the mummy-out-and-about.
Fair enough this was good going for before 9am, but really, toys out the window? That's nothing! I've torn heads off Barbies, thrown perfectly good princess tippy toe shoes in the bin, thrown toys out of the car window (there's a lot of throwing it feels really good), made an Easter egg sandwich and thrown (yes) it onto the table shouting 'there's you bloody dinner, happy now?' And before you phone social services, I don't know any mother that hasn't done similar things.
It's just what happens, it doesn't do the children any harm (well none that they can't see a therapist about later on), in fact, we tell ourselves, it's good for them to see that mummy has a line (a good line in throwing especially).
I was listening to an awful, pompous man on radio four the other day (and I know that's probably what I get for listening to radio four), and he was chatting to a woman who was worried about losing it with her sons, apparently she shouts at them, shouts. OK, I was waiting for the next bit but there wasn't one. Shouts? That's nothing! I've.. (see earlier list). Anyway the point of this bit is that the pompous I've-never-stayed-at-home-on-my-own-with-the-children-day-after-day-while-other-people-get-to-be-citizens-of-the-world man asked her is if she would ever lose it public, say in Boots? No, she replied, well then he said, you can control it. Sorry? The taste of chalk and cheese stuck painfully in my throat. Boots? But there are so many more options available in Boots. Shelves and shelves of things to accidentally sweep to the floor (I've managed a whole aisle), shopkeepers to smile at as you drag your child away from the teletubby bubble bath into the corner for a good shouting at. In fact you can feel like a good mummy in Boots (and it doesn't have to be Boots either, I've done it lots of times in Thorntons). Look, you are saying as you raise you voice without embarrassment, I'm a zero tolerance mummy, I stand up to my children and lay down the Law. Hoorah for me, you won't be seeing me on Super Nanny, (though you're hoping that they didn't see last Summer's episode that you starred in, and have obviously failed at miserably hence the Boots/Thorntons tantrum). You see, when you're out in public it's not other people that stop you losing it and carrying out bizarre and, let's face it, pretty stupid punishments (it took me ages to glue Barbie's head back on, and Easter egg sandwiches have had to become part of the weekly menu), it's that other people mean company, freedom, space. A good disciplining can be admired, taken note of, I'll try that shouting-in-the-corner-thing myself you can hear people thinking, I'd look really good doing that. At home there is nobody around to admire your handiwork, and nowhere else to go but bizarre. Four walls leave you with no option , when you've tried everything else, sometimes you have to lose it, let it go, take it out on Barbie (you never liked her anyway), do whatever it takes to lose control without actually losing control. It's the only way. And if you don't agree then you don't have children.
My brother in law, Alec, has been staying with us for the last few days and I haven't lost it once. Not because I'm being polite, we know each other far too well, but because I've had some company. I don't mean to insult Isla and Jack here, they're lovely company, but it's been nice to have some that I didn't also have to feed/wipe/bath/nappy (although it's been close, he's not that domesticated). He's been someone to chat to (at), he's played with the children while I 'got on with things' (oh how blissful to actually get on with it all), he's held the baby to stop him crying instead of me holding him in one arm, pushing the dummy in with the other and stirring the sauce with my toes. He's even read stories, made mud pies, tickled, played 'you can't catch me' for two hours and generally entertained in the manner of Koko the Klown all day. It's been great, everyone should have a visitor that isn't child-jaded (it took him going to South Korea for a year but still). It has, in a nutshell, been blissful. And it's going to carry on for sometime, I've hidden his passport.

Saturday, 1 March 2008

The Ball Commitee

Isla has begun what can only be described as a daily bulletin regarding her birthday. The bulletin takes two forms; What I Want To Do and What I Would Like For My Presents (note the plural).
What she would like to do for her birthday party has progressed from the relatively simple (in hindsight) 'dress like a princess' to a full on Princess Ball 'like Cinderella has'. She chaired the first meeting of the Ball Committee last night, elected herself as Chair, me as Secretary and Husband as Treasurer, sounds about right, long live democracy. Apparently her vision for the ball is all the girls in long floaty Princess dresses, party food and a princess bouncy castle- which sounds expensive to me, I have yet to Google it but I can just feel it can't you?
Upon discussing the risk assessment that she had undertaken and presented to us regarding her party, Husband and I unveiled a major flaw. It turns out Isla is expecting a host of appropriately dressed and behaved princes to waltz the princesses around the ballroom (read: garden). Excellent. No problem. Eight princes-who-can-waltz aged about four, even Google can't help on this one.
The obvious answer is to invite all the boys from pre-school, but not only are 'all boys banned' (what on Earth does she think a prince is?) but I doubt that they are as enthusiastic about waltzing as Isla is (she practises every evening with daddy), I just can't imagine any of them in a tuxedo executing the perfect bow to Isla and whisking her off for a dance at all. So we're a bit stuck on this one. Husband thinks we should hire eight small people (I’m not sure how to put that politically correctly) to be the princes but that sounds even more expensive than the princess bouncy castle. Even so, after writing this I'm off to Google 'small people' just to check it out as an option.
What she would like as her presents centres around one central theme: a dog called Patch. Not only have we got to find her and buy her a dog it's got to have a Patch to justify the name. We're going to feel really silly calling out to 'Patch' in the park only to have a blemish free Labrador rush up to greet us. Very silly. Anyway, all the other presents have to do with Patch; a bed for Patch, a bowl for Patch, a lead for Patch and clothes for Patch. Yes, that's right, clothes. Apparently Patch is a girl and likes to dress like Barbie. Fab. A patch-free dog called Patch who dresses like a hooker. Can't wait.
We've explained, of course, that a dog isn't really a possibility at the moment citing any argument we could think of. But, being Isla, she has a counter one every time, she even announced at the Ball Committee that an extra to the agenda had been added and we now have 'Patch update' before retiring to vote (Isla's vote counts twice). We thought we'd finally gotten it through to her by explaining that the garden was far too small for a dog, and we'd get one when we had a bigger garden. But I came into the kitchen yesterday to find her Googling Estate Agents on the laptop. I'm looking forward to the Committee Meeting tonight, she's going to tell us where we'll be living next week.