Sunday, 18 January 2009


This post could be a little free-form (any voices from the back of the hall shouting 'So what's new?' will be severely reprimanded, Frog in the Field...). Husband is travelling for a few days, and left alone with two cold-ridden children (one of whom has a continuous stream of what my father attractively calls 'British Ropes' descending from his nose), I find myself unable to marshall many coherent thoughts other than 'do we have enough tissues?' and 'Where is the Tixylix / Calpol / chocolate?'. So consider yourself warned...

The torture that is Potty Training Hell continues. It's been 2 weeks, 2 days, 14 hours and 44 minutes so far. I reckon that means approximately 42 floor-mopping incidents, 22 poo-spooning (figuratively speaking) incidents, and around 16 head-in-hands moments in total. In fact, Friday afternoon's head in hands incident graduated very swiftly to a head-on-the-dining room table with eyes-closed-for-15-minutes hiatus. I am that bored with it all.

Still. One day, he'll get there. I just hope it's sooner rather than later...

Having said all that, my sons continue to amaze and delight me. In amongst the peromptery demands, the shouting, and the broken nights, there are moments when the full force of what a gift they are comes home. When Boy #1 comments approvingly on a skirt that rarely gets worn (even aged 5 it seems that boys like their mummy to look like a woman), or fetches a tissue to tenderly wipe his brother's nose, for example. Or when Boy #2 relaxes into my arms as I rub cream into his back, and instead of breaking away to pick up his beloved Playmobil Helicopter, simply enjoys the togetherness.

But still, I'm not going to drown you in treacle; that's not why you come here, is it?

Back to free-form...

Friday morning, I climbed out of the shower. Boy #2 wandered in as I was towelling myself down. Now I'm not sure about your family, but at this moment in time, nakedness is not an issue in our house. I have no doubt it will be, and probably sooner than I think, but for now the boys are not phased by the sight of their mother in all her glory. This time, however, was different. Boy #2 had a definite agenda. I couldn't work out what it was to start with. He circled me. He bent from the waist. He checked me out from behind. He came back to the front. And then, I realised that he was looking for something. Something I don't have.

"Mama, where's your pemal?" FYI 'pemal' is Dutch for - you probably guessed already. "I don't have one, Boy #2". He looked at me uncomprehendingly. "No, but where is it?" "I told you, I don't have one, Boy #2. Girls and ladies don't have them." He looked shocked, and I could imagine him thinking 'What's she talking about? Everyone has a pemal!' So I tried again - this time hiding my modesty with a bath towel, since whilst I was prepared to admit to not having the same equipment as him, the English Catholic in me stopped short of being able to share what I actually do have. "No, really, ladies and girls don't have them..." I said. Silly me. What he said next was obvious. "But - but - but - you are not a lady, mama!"

Oh, so true.

A couple of days ago I wrote a post called 'Middle Class? Me?' Well, I admit to being middle class, but am less so than a friend of mine. She invited myself and 2 other girlfriends over for dinner on Friday night, and due to being crazy enough to have had four (yes, that's FOUR) children, and a job, had been unable to whip up some culinary delight for us. (Oh, the shame). Instead she had sorted out some fish and chips. What's middle class about that, I hear you ask? Nothing. And neither is it particularly middle class to have bought them from Waitrose.

But it is middle class is to serve them up with balsamic vinegar, because that's the only type you have in the house...


  1. Locusts and chips served with ant sauce is the middle-class dish in my neighbourhood.

  2. ewwww - balsamic on fries? Ick!

  3. A former colleague of mine said that I was revealing my "middle class credentials" when I objected to himself using my ramekins as ashtrays.

    TOTALLY with you on the not being able to come to terms with being a fulltime Mum. I laughed when I read about going to the loo with the door closed - through my tears. Youngest has just thrown his peas all over the floor...

  4. I love balsamic vinegar; put it in pasta sauces, drizzle over roasted vegetables... but on chips?! Nu-huh.

    Our potty-training attempts have been going since before Christmas. The complete change in routine and having to wear nappies at the in-laws where everything is too nice to risk getting peed on has mucked her up totally. We have just come to the end of a bare-bummed weekend, when she's done fantastically. Back to nursery school tomorrow, so it will probably all come undone!

  5. Gorilla, gosh that sounds yummy. Lucky you.

    Aims - I didn't try it. It was pushing the middle class thing too far. Give me ketchup and malt vinegar any day of the week.

    Hi RR, thanks for stopping by and commenting - and good luck with the peas. I think back to the days when the hoover only used to come out once a week with great nostalgia; now it's most days (got to keep those mice at bay...).

  6. Love the 'British ropes' - they're 'number 11s' in our house, which is nowhere near as classy. As for fish and chips, definitely has to be malt ;)

  7. I managed to potty train my number 3 on the 3rd attempt. If they dont get it in 5 days they are simply not ready. Go back to the nappies and try again in a month or 2.

  8. British Ropes? Must be what my Dad used to call green candles! Lovely.

    And Mummy's 'missing' bit? I've been there too. As the only female in our family and having a son who could not be trusted to refrain from dangerous activities even for the short time it took for me to pee, visiting the loo with a closed door just did not happen. One day he too spotted the omission in my anatomy but insisted my 'appendage' must be 'hiding in that hair like Daddy's does'. Managed to fend him off and cover up before he started hunting for it! Did you ever envisage conversations like this before childbirth? Unbelievable the topics we discuss now without turning a hair.

    And balsamic on Fish and Chips (Waitrose or not)is just sooo very wrong.

  9. But you're not a lady, What a charmer. Pretty sure my son will also be charming my socks off at that age as well.

    Love the bit about the little one cuddling against you for awhile. I love that when Jonathan pauses in his play for a cuddle. He does it quite often actually..I'm pretty lucky.

  10. Love the balsamic vinegar story. Reminds me of a time we had a friend over for dinner and she witnessed the following exchange between me and The Doctor

    me: don't we have any white wine vinegar?
    TD: Yes, of course, we've got that really expensive one you went off and bought at the Italian deli
    me: Oh, I thought that was the truffle oil.

    We weren't having fish and chips, but the friend looked at us as if we were the worst kind of middle class foodies. Which I guess we kind of are...

  11. Don't forget the guacamole. (What? It's really mushy peas? Never!)

  12. Tasha, my thoughts are with you, sister in arms!

    More Than, I agree totally. Malt - or, at a push, white wine vinegar, if you really have nothing else. (Never happened to me though...)

    Sam, you're probably right. Not so bad yesterday - but we did spend most of the day at home. Today we have a school play and an ice-skating lesson, so am waiting to see how that goes. if it's a disaster then I will probably follow your advice!

    Sharon, no, I certainly never realised how children would open up a whole new area of conversation that I never thought of before. But then, wasn't life boring (in a different way) then?

    J's Mommy, I know. I don't take it personally. When he's 4 I will, but not when he's 3...

    NVG, I don't think any of us can be blamed for that. Think back to your childhood and the probably dearth of interesting food. Is it any surprise we get a bit carried away with it all now?

    TD - were you there? How did you know we had mushy peas too? (Harry Ramsden's, of course. Well, what else would one serve with Waitrose ready meal and balsamic vinegar?)

  13. I remember a story "What we did at the weekend" written by a little girl at my school.

    'We went for a walk on the farm. I saw a bull climbing on top of a cow. I asked daddy what the bull was doing. Daddy said "look at that pheasant darling!"'

    Maybe mummies are just better at dealing with those sort of questions than daddies?

  14. I have to say it - balsamic on chips! Ugh!
    Anyway, I got a similar "compliment" the other day from my little one. I was fetchingly decked out in long black parka, black balaclava and sunglasses. Hey - it was -20 centigrade here. I jokingly said "I look like the Stig (from Top Gear)", to which he replied, "No, you look like the Stig's mom". Sob.

  15. I don't know what chips taste like with any kind of vinegar, since in the Netherlands we only eat them with mayonnaise. I would like to try it one day, but only with the right kind of vinegar, which I assume is not balsamic. Even to me that doesn't sound right.

    I think boy #2 is not ready to be potty trained, wait a while and then maybe he will be. He will probably let you know himself when he is.

    You mean you're not a lady? Are you a charwoman then or something?

  16. I always say to my boys (on the subject of pemals) "girls don't have them, and they don't need them" - just to nip any sense of superiority in the bud.

  17. Thought you'd be interested (in a wry sort of way) to know that my daughter (aged 4) saw me reading your post. She pointed at the picture and said "what's that potty doing in the trash?" I mumbled something about "oh, just a picture" as I was trying to read at the same time, but she persisted "is it in real life? did someone put the potty in the trash in real life?"

    I bet you're looking forward to that day in real life. You WILL get there (or he will, rather). Just keep sane in the interim (chocolate springs to mind here).

  18. Mud, oh, THAT conversation. We had that one already. (At least, I did with Boy #1). Luckily I think the whole thing went entirely over the top of his head, and the next time he asks (when he's more likely to ask embarrassing questions), I will send him to his father...

    EPM, children. They do know which buttons to push, don't they?

    Irene, of course I am a lady. Just not a titled one...

    Iota, I think when the great day eventually arrives that I can get rid of the damn potty, I will take it down to the crushing yard and watch it be squeezed into oblivion. Not that I have it all planned out, or anything.


Go on - you know you want to...