Monday 29 October 2007

Big Brother

"Some-one is in charge" said Boy #1 darkly as he chased the last of his chocolate ice-cream around the bowl. It was the end of a very long day - no, scratch that, the end of a very long week. And only Monday.

I should explain. As most of you may know, last week was Half Term (note the Capital Letters), and since Husband is working like the devil, it was just me. And the Boys. And swimming lessons every day. And a visit from the in-laws. And a chest infection / tonsilitus for Boy #2 (still not sure which, as he wouldn't let the doctor close enough to find out, but after two weeks, 3 trips to the surgery and lots of sleepless nights I refused to leave without drugs). Not to be left out, Boy #1 then developed a nasty barking cough which of course a week of swimming lessons did nothing to dispel. Yes, of course I should have stopped taking him, but the alternative (tears, tantrums etc etc) was too depressing to consider, and since he was fine apart from the cough, I lived down to my Slummy Mummy aspirations and took him anyway.

Then, on Saturday, we got back from visiting friends of ours who have made the jump to out-of-London-living. Never, by the way, ask people in that position what they paid for their new place. It results in feeling rather above your station and a frenzy of activity looking through Cotswold Life & similar, dreaming of the vicarage with 7 bedrooms and stabling for two horses near the en-suite paddock, and with hot & cold running aga's. Until you remember that to run said vicarage Husband will need to continue working in the City and you will see even less of him than you do now. And that you don't do mud. Or horses. And especially not horse-poo. And that Barbour-green is so not your colour.

Anyway, after leaving their mansion, we got back to our box-room in central ex-pat-ville to be greeted by that ominous tick-tick-tick sound that means only one thing. A leak from above. In this case, a leak from the flat 2 floors above ours, that is currently being redeveloped (so is unoccupied) through the flat immediately above ours where the owner is on holiday (and so it was unoccupied), and into ours (which had been empty all day). The water was coming straight down (through the light fittings, of course) into Boy #2's bedroom. Luckily, the water was being soaked up. By our sofa bed.

Boy #2 is temporarily sleeping in our room until normal service is resumed and the building insurers get their butts over her to assess the damage. (Yes, of course I can stay home indefinitely for 3 days of your choosing next week. Sorry, did I sound slightly hysterical?)

Anyway, Boy #1 was off sick today with the final remnants of his cold. It's not that I'm particularly public spirited on the issue of sharing germs, just that his nursery operates a particularly fierce 'stop and search' cold policy, and I didn't really want myself singled out for public humiliation via an unscheduled 'sending home' experience. Having won his battle on the nursery front Boy #1 settled down for what he imagined to be his brother's and my normal schedule without him; a day of unrivalled fun and frolics. Ha! By lunchtime he was clearly bored witless (enough to ask if he could go back tomorrow), and I was going out of my mind. All of these years I've held it against my mother that if ever my sister or I were sick we were met with a complete lack of sympathy and the comment "Well, you know what's wrong with you? Too much chocolate and not enough exercise!" Now, however, I know exactly how she felt. And, am ashamed to say, dished out similar supportive attitude myself. Not fair on a 4 year old, I know - but I had just been through Half Term, m'lud.

So, back to our dinner conversation.

"Who is In Charge?" I asked (believe me, I really wanted to know).

"Me. And then Boy #2." (Pointing over the table in case I had forgotten his brother)

"Why? Why not me? I'm the Mummy (again, note the Capital). Mummy's are always in charge."

"No, you're not. You're just a girl."

At this point my natural feminist instincts demanded clarification. Well, actually they demanded that I make him sweep the floor, cook, do the laundry and shopping for the next 20 years, but since he's only 4 years old that seemed a little harsh. And also, I had my suspicions that there was more to this than misogyny.

"If I'm just a girl, who are you?"

"Silly mamma. You can't be the boss because you are too little." (In my wildest dreams...) "I am Steve, he is Terri, and you are Bindi."

This one could run and run...

Friday 26 October 2007

Set the timer...

This will be a short post too (are those sighs of relief I hear?), due to Boy #1 surgically attaching himself to the side of my chair. This is cramping my style, and I must say to give him credit, is not an easy job in a cupboard the size of a postage stamp where we keep our computer (the estate agents called it a 'Home Office'. Yeah, right. If you're an ant).

Anyway, must just say, if you read this before 6.50pm this evening (Friday 26th Oct), and are resident in the UK, and have digital, sky, freeview, whatever, run (I MEAN RUN) to the tv and switch on to C-Beebies.

There you will find the beauteous Rupert Penry-Jones , star of Spooks and general top piece of totty, reading the bed-time story. I always thought he was OK but nothing special until I saw him reading last night's story. Now, I am converted.

Don't miss it - you won't be sorry.

(And yes, I know I'm sad. Husband's been away all week and am missing the male company...clearly. Oh, you noticed?)

Wednesday 24 October 2007

Running to stand still

Brief post today, just to show I still can, despite the fact that I am:

1. ...beset by Boy #1 home from nursery on half term (damn those school holidays, damn them). If I have to deal with one more whimper about his brother, having the tv on before lunch, things not going the way he wants, the cheese in his sandwiches, the pencils not going back in the pencil case, etc etc etc I will not be responsible for how much chocolate I eat. Wow. Pretty big threat, huh... (God, I hate feeling impotent)

2. ...exhausted after staying up half the night worrying about Boy #2 who has a very nasty cough - like half the kids in the UK right now - and a streaming cold. I was pathetically grateful to the doctor this morning when he assured me that despite the fact there is nothing we can give him right now, I was right to bring him in. I am living in hope that he doesn't have me down for an over-anxious mother. I am so an over-anxious mother.

3....rushing to get to Boy #1's swim lessons which are happening every day this week. It seemed like a good idea at the time I booked it.

4. ....trying to prepare for a state visit from my brother-in-law's family for lunch. Thank god the cleaner is here this morning, our slum-like existence is temporarily masked...

5. ...what else? I know I'm forgetting something...

Sunday 21 October 2007


It's been what feels like for-ever since my last post, but I have great news;

Party season is over.

I have dragged myself, battered, bruised and aching to the party of what seems like almost every child within a 5 mile radius over the last 2 months, and I can report the following:

1. Gambado's parties suck. I have run out of paracetomol, and patience (see previous party posting). Never again - until the next time.

2. Parties in a restaurant basement are never, repeat NEVER a good idea. Something about the lack of natural light turns children into extras from some low-budget horror movie.

3. Children's entertainers are great if you are a 4 year-old. If you are an adult they are just too plain creepy.

4. Party bags are a boom business (way to go, Frog in the Field). At least 50% of the parties we went to featured a party bag worth more than the present we took. On the plus side that could mean we get invited to fewer parties next year. On the minus side even my delightful son reached the stage where by the end of our rollercoaster 'season', he was asking for the 'gift' when we left. God, the shame.

5. Even the loveliest mums will surprise you and put nuts in their child's birthday cake. Sorry to go on, but when they have to comfort a crying child who can't eat the pirate cake that 39 other children are tucking into, they might think again. Next time I might just send Boy #1 in their direction and let them explain why it was necessary to put walnuts in there... (seethe, seethe)

6. Face painting rocks. Until you reach home with a child looking like an extra in the chimney sweep scene in Mary Poppins, who refuses to wash what's left of the tiger off, as of course his sheets will do that for him...(not going to happen - cue large amount of shouting and crying in the bath, and soaked mum).

7. The children of Kensington and Chelsea will only eat cake with a fork. WITH A FORK!!!! What the fork is going on? I seem to remember shoving it down with both hands at that age. Clearly we are spending far too much on their edikashun...

8. There will only ever be one man at these parties (apart from the creepy entertainer, that is). Poor Dad, asking himself what he did to deserve this (let alone pay for it), socialising gamely with the embattled mums who are all desperate for any male conversation since their own husbands are far too busy at work (on a week day), at work (on the weekends), or recovering from being at work (on the weekend) to make it to any of the parties. My beloved made it to one party. Boy #1's party, to be precise. He has ground to make up...

9. Boy #2 starts nursery in January. Based on my (probably rubbish) calculations, that means that from next year on we will have around 24 - 30 birthday parties to go to per year for probably the next 5 or six years. If I ever needed a reason not have more kids, there it is.

And now I must go. Because I have just spend the weekend with my in-laws, and delightful as they are, I am in desperate need of quiet, a schedule, healthy food, and privacy. (Clearly a post for another time...)

Wednesday 17 October 2007

A Tale of 2 Conversations

Conversation 1: 8.00am this morning

Me: Boys! Breakfast time. Boy #1, please sit down and pull and your chair up to the table. Up to the table. Or you will -

(scream and moans and Boy #1 slides off his elegant but not so practical Stokke chair. Hugs and kisses all round)

Boy #1: Wait! Wait! I need the loo!

Me: Well, off you go then. Call me if you need help (translation - please don't end up going to nursery smelling of poo)

Silence whilst Boy #1 moves in a crablike fashion to the bathroom, pausing only to pick up a book on the way

Me: Stop right there, mister. Where are you taking that book?

Boy #1: To read on the loo.

Me: I don't think so. Now, off you go. Better hurry or you won't have enough time to eat enough breakfast for all the energy you'll need playing with Christopher later on.

Boy #1: Okaaaaaaay.

More shuffling, whilst I start spooning ready brek into Boy #2 who, whilst perfectly able to feed himself, has decided that mum does it so much better at breakfast-time. And it gives so many more opportunities to get cereal all over her nice clean shirt

Me: Are you finished?

Boy #1: Nearly...

More shuffling. I try to peer round the corner without falling off my chair and in the process drag my cuff through Boy #2's breakfast bowl. Brilliant. Boy #2 thinks this is hilarious and whilst crowing loudly, throws his cup on the floor to show his approval. The lid comes off. Double brilliant.

Me: Come on, Boy #1! What are you up to?

Boy #1: This hat is rubbish.

Me: What hat? Have you finished yet?

Boy #1: (still out of sight) I want it to go like this and it just goes down like that...

Me: Don't make me come in there...

Boy #1: I said, this hat doesn't work!

He re-appears, wearing no trousers and a pirate hat made for grown-up wear that is flopping down over his eyes.

Boy #1: Mama! I SAID, this hat doesn't work! I need it to wear at Christopher's house.

Me: Well, unless you eat your breakfast you won't be going to Christopher's house. Now please sit down and eat your Oatibix.

Boy #1: Okaaaay. (Sits down). But I need the loo!

(Repeat to fade....)

Conversation 2: 11.00am

Me: Hello?

Mother in law: Hello PM, I need to send you something by e-mail but I can't work it out.

Me: (mentally sighing and preparing for the long-haul). OK Milly, are you logged on?

Mil; Yes, of course! At least, I think so...

Me: OK, open up a new mail.(Silence). Click on the compose box.

MiL: Right or left click?

Me: Left click. (Silence). Is that OK? (Silence). Milly?

MiL: Yes, yes... OK, it's open.

Me: Fine, now -

MiL: What shall I put in the title box?

Me: Don't worry about that now, we just need to -

MiL: What's your e-mail address?

Me: We'll get onto that. First I need you to find the attachment box. It might look like a paper clip. (long silence). Milly?

MiL: I can't see it.

Me: Have you got your glasses on?

MiL: Yes! Well, I have now, anyway. Oh, there it is.

Me: OK, Click on that.

MiL: Right click or left click?

Me: Left click. Always left click - unless I tell you otherwise.

MiL: OK. Right. It's bringing up a browse box. What's that?

Me: It's how we find the right file for you to send me.

MiL: But it says open. I don't want to open it, I just want to send it to you.

Me: Don't worry about it. Click - left click - on the little arrow pointing down next to the open box, and we'll find the right file.

MiL: Right...

Me: Do you know where it is on the system? (bracing myself for the answer)

MiL: Yes. Well, I will when I've saved it.

Me: You haven't saved it yet?

MiL: Well, no. I haven't downloaded the picture from my camera yet.

Me: (trying hard not to scream) Right, well maybe we should leave this bit until you have downloaded it. What do you think?

MiL: Yes, you're probably right. I've got to go out now anyway - I wish you'd told me that earlier, I would have been able to go already.

Me: Hmmm... Ok, well, we'll talk later Milly. Husband is in town today so maybe he can talk you through it if you can't get hold of me (trans: I am going out now and will not be answering the phone when I get back - call your son in the office and get him to deal with this).

MiL: (Delighted to have an excuse to call her beloved baby at work) Well, if you think so. Have a good day dear!

Me Bye!

Is it any wonder I'm addicted to chocolate?

Monday 15 October 2007

Holy Smoke

We took the boys to mass on Sunday, as we do most Sundays when we're home and not hungover, exhausted, trapped in the house by poo, or doing the weekly shop. So not that often then.

With a 4 year old and a not-yet 2 year old this can be challenging, but for a change it was relatively straightforward, until I took Boy #1 to the catechism class (always a good wheeze as it gets accompanying adults out of the need to listen to the sermon) and it became clear there had been an 'incident' with the incense in the corridor outside the main part of the church; probably an over-enthusiastic altar server over-egging the pudding in their excitement at being given responsibility for the special effects. Whatever the reason, it was pretty hazy out there, and a number of children - my son included - asked loudly where the smoke was coming from and whether the priest had called the fire engine (it was 999 week in nursery, so this was of course fresh in his mind).

Once we got back into the church the priest decided that this Sunday would be a good time to get all the children to come and stand around the altar whilst he did the business with the eucharist. Scenting trouble immediately, I tried to persuade Husband to accompany Boy #1 (there was no question we would send him up by himself) but my beloved wasn't having any of it. I can't blame him really; as I'm the only Catholic in our marriage it would have been a bit rich, but thought I would try my luck. In addition, Husband pleaded the necessity to keep control of Boy #2 who, finally released from the buggy in the interests of allowing our immediate neighbours to concentrate on the service rather than his Houdini-like escape attempts, was making a bid for freedom and kept rifling through the votive candles (helpfully left in boxes for small children to decimate) to our right.

So up we trotted, Boy #1 and I. Boy #1 straight away saw the opportunity for misbehaviour and grabbed it with both hands. He refused to go to the front when asked, and then spent the next 5 minutes staring vacantly into space, rocking backwards and forwards on the soles of his feet like some runner about to start a race. Not so bad, I thought. I can handle this. But then he turned around and stuck his tongue out at me. In front of around 400 people. I was so proud... Only a whispered threat about the promised park trip after the service being cancelled called him to heel.

What would have helped of course would have been Husband not grinning widely from the pews. As a (delightfully, of course) arrogant Dutchman he hates to think his sons will ever be sheep and do just what they're told. Fat chance. Boy #1 was definitely having a non-sheep moment yesterday; at the party he went to in the afternoon he refused to join in any of the games that the entertainer painstakingly set up, preferring instead to do his own free-form dance / acrobatic display along the side of the hall. I caught a couple of the other mums we hadn't met before looking at me pityingly. Did I care? No - the parents were serving champagne.

Thursday 11 October 2007

Happy Birthday to you...

I’m in the middle of kid’s party hell.

Pretty much all of Boy #1’s class (of 14) have birthdays in September and October; add that to the families we’ve kept in touch with from NCT, and you get the Perfect Storm of birthday parties. We are in the eye of the storm right now with none for a few days, but we’re right back into Hurricane Katrina this coming weekend; we have parties on Saturday, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday.

On Wednesday I may well be checking into the Priory.

The parties this year tend to fall into one of the following categories:

Gambado parties. This is a swanky play-centre in Chelsea Harbour with the latest in kid-centric entertainment, and a jungle gym big enough to lose a battalion of kids. This is nice in theory but when your 21 month old wants to join in it can be a little tiring - Boy #2 is so over the ball pit, apparently, and the slides, ropes and stairs are just his thing. Great.

There are also kid-sized dodgems, 5 fenced-in trampolines, and a mini-carousel. What happened to British bulldogs in the park? I always leave Gambado with a headache… And by the end of October we will have been to 8 parties there. They are clearly doing the right stuff with their marketing.

Home parties. Great in theory, but given the weather recently, can be a little claustrophobic with 20+ kids running round. The mum at a party I took Boy #1 to on Tuesday couldn’t contemplate having the children + assorted mothers in the house for a whole 2 hours so started the party in her local garden square. It was raining. A lot.

Alternative’ parties. We had one of those for Boy #1. Again, great in theory but always a bit of a gamble. We’ve got one on Monday at a theatre centre in Battersea. Am looking forward to it’s not being Gambado, but not to the traffic on the way back across the river…

‘Lord of the Flies’ parties. Not too many of these so far this year, but we had one on Saturday. These are always in basements, for some reason. At this one the entertainer was an hour late and the children amused themselves by running screaming round the room like a pack of feral chimpanzees. By the time we left both Boy #1 (dosed up on pizza and too much cake) and I (dosed up on too much diet coke) had a headache.

Husband pulled a classic ‘man about the house’ trick in the evening. After 2 weeks of having 4 boxes of wine towering next to the kitchen wall, he finally came good on his promise to put them away. Fantastic. However, he lost all brownie points when he came into the sitting room later and asked ‘Did you see the kitchen?’. Lengthy silence, into which I think I was supposed to drop praise and gratitude for clearing up the boxes. Think that the next time I do the washing I will ask if he’s seen that…

This reminds me of a joke a friend sent on e-mail (Sammie, you know who you are). A man arrives home after work to find his children still unwashed and in their pyjamas, the house a tip, and nothing done since he left. Chaos reigns. He finally finds his wife, in bed, reading. “What happened?” he asked, expecting some horrific tale of woe. “Oh”, she said, “you know how you usually get home and ask me what I did today?” “Yes…” he replied. “Well,” she answered, “today I didn’t do it.”

Tuesday 9 October 2007

We plough the fields and scatter...

It’s Harvest Festival week at Boy #1’s nursery, and all parents were asked to bring in a box with suitable tins, fruit, veg etc. To add to the general excitement it was suggested that the children should decorate them, and that the best will win a prize. Full of team spirit, we duly collected leaves in the park after school and last night Boy #1 and I indulged in an orgy of cutting and sticking whilst he decorated a (large) shoe box in a seasonal styley. I then filled it with what I thought was appropriate fare (a couple of tins of soup, some biscuits, a home-made jar of redcurrant jelly – home-made but not by me, Mother at Large - some dried fruit etc).

Oh, how little I knew…

Arrived at the school to drop Boy #1 off this morning and we had to fight our way through the entrance hall; it had suddenly become home to acres of beautifully cellophane-wrapped wicker hampers, boxes, cartons and (I kid you not) one pink enamel rustic style bucket, filled with the best that Fortnums, Harrods, Selfridges and Harvey Nicks could offer. Suddenly our Waitrose goods looked a little cheap… Whilst his teacher valiantly rose to the occasion and pointed out that Boy #1 was one of the few kids who had actually risen to the challenge of decorating their own harvest gift, must admit that if I were one of the ‘needy’ recipients I know which I would prefer. Am simply not sure that a foliage decorated shoebox can cut it compared with some of the grander offerings available.

Tomorrow we are getting a piano delivered. Because we don’t have enough stuff ‘inherited’ from Husband’s family, apparently. On the plus side it has meant that we’ve had to reorganise a bit; he has had to admit that various family items he was insisting on displaying now need to go into storage (ugly green glass jar, ugly copper kettle, ugly copper pot – is there a theme running through this?), so that’s something. On the minus side, I see years of scales, arpeggios and 3 blind mice stretching off into the distance. Mind you, compared to my childhood spent scraping away on the violin, no doubt utter bliss…

Potty training...

Monday 18th September 2006

Went to a friends’ house this morning and Boy #1 proceeded to christen their new carpet (so potty training not yet complete, obviously), just as Boy #2 hurled himself down a step in an effort not to be left out of playing with the big kids. He now has a lovely egg on his forehead – am expecting social services to knock on the door any time.

Tuesday 19th September 2006

It’s party season; Boy #1 was invited to smart birthday party and whilst I was panicking about a repeat of the weeing on the carpet incident from the previous day, horrors, Boy #2 threw up all over their sofa. They were of course very polite about it but can imagine the comments after we left. Will probably never be invited out in polite society again.

Monday 8 October 2007

Just when you think it's safe to go back in the water...

We took the Boys to the park yesterday morning for a run around. All was well with the world; the sun was shining, the washing up was done (me OCD? Surely not...), the children were happy, and Husband and I were content. Boy #1 was off in a world of his own, commanding pirates and rockets to attack the monsters (clearly far too many bedroom stories being read here) closely followed by his brother. Boy #2 is at that adorable age when he bumbles around after Boy #1, busying himself with sticks, leaves and various items that I don't like to look to closely at because they might have spiders on them, stopping only to fall over like a weeble, get up, and grin happily to himself.

Thought it was a good moment to raise the issue of my raging hormones with my beloved. It's not that I really want to go back to new baby hell, you understand. I know that for many women it's like water off a duck's back, but I found the sleepless nights and the accompanying stress of dealing with a newborn with skin problems (it's happened twice, no reason to think it wouldn't again unfortunately) too much to handle. Add to that the fact that I'm now 40 and feel that I would be playing the genetic lottery with Downs and various other complications that become more common the older the mother is, and I find that I'm quite happy with my lot thankyou very much.

However... the realisation that, as Boy #2 gets older, there is no new recruit in the family ranks to bring up the rear is causing me to question all that. And of course, no doubt Mother Nature is playing her part, I can imagine the crisis meeting now:

OK, Ovaries. Listen up! She's over 40 now - we're approaching Last Chance Saloon. I need you to start working overtime.
Hormones? You're just not cutting it. Try harder! I want double quick time from you; everytime she sees a baby I want her to start feeling like a competitor in Ms Broody 2007.
Metabolism? OK, you're doing fine.
Brain? Shut up. No! I don't want to hear it. Just shut up!

However, I agreed with Husband that whilst Baby #3 would be nice in principle he / she would need to be subject to a few riders;

a) a trouble-free pregnancy and birth. As if.
b) winning the genetic lottery. Outside my control - and a less than optimal outcome would affect not only myself and Husband but our two Boys as well. I can't do that to them.
c) it would have to be a girl. I cannot be outnumbered 4 - 1. And that's the clincher really, since I'm not prepared to travel to Spain for the pick & mix opportunities there...

So Husband breathed a sigh of relief, even though he knew that I still had niggling doubts about the baby embargo. But something is on the side of common-sense, it seems, as after we got home Boy #1 was so involved with his puzzle that he put off going to the loo until it was too late. And we're not just talking wee. And it got all over my favourite hand-wash top. Oh, the glamour... Then Boy #2 followed up with a broken night due to vast quantities of snot and a nasty cough. Husband is ill (man cold, poor thing), so I was on duty, and think that by the time I eventually got to sleep my dressing gown was a dead ringer for an ectoplasm-covered Ghost Buster's uniform.

Need I say more? We are so not having another baby.

Potty training...

Thursday 14th September 2006

Mainly uneventful although Boy #1 had a little problem in the car the other evening. This meant I had to wrestle the car seat into the house and decipher the instructions on how to remove the washable cover, and then hope like crazy that it didn’t shrink to doll size when I put it in the washing machine.

As I was doing this I did wonder, if it were Husband in this position would he go to this trouble? Or would he simply wipe it down and hope that nobody would remark on the even more feral smell in the car than usual? (Our car is a disgrace. Driving a purple skoda – I know, long story – doesn’t really inspire me to keep it in top condition at the best of times, but right now I look both ways before I get in to check none of our neighbours see me and work out who it is bringing down the tone of the area…)

Friday 5 October 2007

Doing time...

Great start to the day today. Boy #1 told me I had a double chin. Fabulous. My 4 year old is telling me I look fat… Was secure enough to laugh loudly, as obviously it’s not true. Must have been the angle he was looking at me from.

After a couple of false starts involving last minute nappy changes and resultant change of poo-messed clothes - which by the way did not feel 1950's cuddly at all - we made it to the park this afternoon. Once there I found myself surrounded by a sea of Eurotrash, yummy mummies, and exhausted nannies, all talking 10 to the dozen to each other or on their mobile phones. The noise level was astounding… Had a surreal moment when was asking myself what I was doing there before I remembered that I was a full-time mummy too these days…(perhaps we should have some sort of ‘lifer’ prison uniform to distinguish us for easy identification. It would certainly help me when I look in the mirror).

Of course between leaving home (when it was chilly) and arriving (brilliant sunshine) the weather underwent a miraculous transformation, so we got there in 22 deg sunshine with no hats or suncream. And to cap it all, I was wearing the wrong shoes and totally stood out from all the other Birkenstock wearing mums. Oh, the shame.

The usual interesting social dynamics were in force in the sand pit; lots of kids take toys along with them, but all are fully aware that the moment they put them down, the toys become shared property for any child to pick up (it’s a jungle…). As a result, some of the kids never put their toys down, and if they do it can lead to undignified ‘tug of love’ scenarios over Muck or Scoop. However, whilst all the kids know the etiquette, some of the mummies (I was going to say ‘carers’, but it’s invariably the mummies actually) spend all their time doing impressions of security guards, patrolling their kids’ toys and asking other children to bring them back if they dare to play with them… And we are trying to teach our kids to share?

There was even a Friday afternoon daddy or two enjoying the sunshine. You can always tell which are their children because they are the ones hanging upside down from the bars or doing dangerous aerobics on the slide, whilst their fathers read the paper, and the surrounding women collectively hold their breaths…

Getting to the end of the Potty Diaries now, but I know you're waiting to find out about the hand-holding...

Friday 1st September 2006
Mystery solved. Husband taught Boy #1 the hand-holding trick.

Am mainly relieved but also a little concerned that my beloved is encouraging this middle-aged approach to having a poo by a 3 year old. What with Boy #1’s tendency to take a book to the loo with him, could this be forcing him to grow old before his time?

Another dry day, although with an interesting al fresco experience at a play park in Fulham when a friend of mine borrowed the travel potty for her daughter and made no attempt whatsoever at discretion but just plonked it down between the slides and the seesaw, which resulted in Boy #1 also wanting to be an exhibitionist (although not delivering – stage fright probably). Normally if we need to use it I try to give him a little privacy at least, say by putting it between the double buggy and a wall. Thinking about it though, am I going about this all wrong? Should I just teach him to let it all hang out rather than to be anal and stuffed up about the whole thing (so to speak)?

Potty etiquette – it’s a mine-field. The friend I was with is Dutch – perhaps they are a bit less concerned about privacy when weeing. I’m thinking specifically of those urinals on the banks of the canals in Amsterdam… Ever seen those? Or rather, ever smelt them…?

Wednesday 3 October 2007

Domestic bliss

We went out for lunch this weekend (not as glam as it sounds, it was raining and we had to have some reason to get out of the house) and saw Bob Geldof (gosh, what a cheerful chap) mooching round the Farmers Market in Chelsea. Honestly, that name should not be allowed, it completely goes against the trade descriptions act; not a farmer in sight unless you count the landed gentry.

Boy #2 wowed the waitress at the restaurant with his big brown eyes and spinach covered face, whilst Boy #1 distinguished himself with a tantrum over not being allowed more ketchup on his chips. Obviously we congratulated ourselves on what good parents we are…

Afterwards Husband took both Boys to the playground whilst I went and felt all domestic-goddess-like with a visit to Jane Asher’s cake shop. They didn’t have what I wanted (Thomas the Tank Engine decorations for a rainy day), but made some panic sugar-low induced purchases anyway and later Boy #1 and I bonded over a Bob cake making session (they are called Bob cakes instead of fairy cakes in honour of the Bob decorations we used the first time we made some, obviously). We decorated them this time with some cool dinosaur sprinkles I picked up at Ms Ashers’s shop. Felt all warm and 1950’s cuddly until:

a) I realised that my older son was punctuating his cake decorating with ‘God! God! God!’ when he dropped any of his sprinkles. It was rather like listening to myself. As a result, I have decided that even ‘God!’ is off the swearing menu. In times of stress I now sound increasingly like an Angela Brazil novel, or even worse, The Twins at St Claires, with all the gosh’s, golly’s and blast’s I utter…

b) I looked down and saw Boy #2 participating by decorating the floor with regurgitated lunch in a tribute to Pollock.

Husband is off….somewhere or other… until Friday. Is it bad that I don’t know where? Must remember to ask before he flies. In the meantime, I am sitting here tuned into Radio Boys. When, oh when, will I be able to bring myself to turn off the baby phones?

This evening I have already been treated to a rendition of Boy #1’s current favourite book (The Ravenous Beast). It’s amazing how he can remember the key words – and yet if asked, can’t remember where he put his shoes 5 minutes ago. Is this the male gene kicking in? Was recently watching the Grumpy Old Women complaining about how they are the only people to take keeping the house tidy seriously. Husband laughed uproariously – whilst I sat there tight-lipped and tried not to yell ‘Yes! God yes!’, and hit him with a poker.