My four-year-old dresses much better than I do. The Curly Girlie’s wardrobe is a dream: a perfect outfit for any occasion and the shoes to match. It’s different for little girls. Fashion is a playground when you’re four.Read More
Contrary to what modern parenting books would have you believe, toddlers are not that bright. Alright, there are moments when their precocious smarts make an impression. Alpha Blondie has mastered the English language in two years, while after six summers in Switzerland I still speak German to about the level of a Dachshund. Four-year-old Curly Girlie has got around the problem of not being able to read by memorizing all her books off by heart, while just now I had to sit and stare at the back end of Wordpress for over six minutes until I remembered the word 'precocious'.
But even cutting them some slack for being on something of a steep learning curve, this photo proves that toddlers may appear sophisticated when really they're about as canny as a large flightless bird.
'Coming, ready or not...'Read More
This is a trick question. There is no right answer. It ranks alongside, “does my bottom look big in this?” and “Mummy, where do babies come from?” as queries that should be side-stepped at all costs. Last time I got drawn into the ‘where was I before I was born?’ discussion - with Curly Girlie who was two at the time - my answer covered childbirth, God, the theory of evolution and, if memory serves me right, Islam. Now, whenever Curly mentions ‘that man who sees us all the time’, I have to reassure myself that she doesn’t mean some lurking perv, but the rather more benign presence of God.
Following the same conversation, she still - two years on - refers to the time ‘when I was a monkey’, and I don’t have the heart to inform her that evolution isn’t quite as simple as that.
In any case, the book Siblings Without Rivalry tells me that the ‘who do you love more?’ question should never be answered directly, as it only encourages competitive thinking between children. So when Curly Girlie dropped the big one today, I thought I was prepared.
‘Do you love me more than Alpha Blondie?’ she asked, while getting out of the car.
‘Curly, I love you more than you can possibly imagine. There’s no-one else in the world quite like my wonderful Curly.’ (See what I did there?)Read More
Alain de Botton, you are a bad man. Coming in here with all your philosophy and wisdom, upsetting innocent people like myself who are just standing about with their fingers in their ears going “la-la-la” and pretending it’s not happening: “To a parent of small children,” he tweets, “(it is) astonishing they might as adults move abroad so one would see them only once a year - and survive”.
Indeed, as a mother of a two-year-old and a three-year-old, it does astonish me. In fact, I will go so far as saying it is patently not true: they may well go abroad (after all, I did) but I will not survive. Not if today is anything to go by...
Walking out of the gym’s on-site creche, I turn around to berate the younger one for doing something infantile, and when I turn back Curly Girlie is gone. Vanished. Like she was never there.
Behind me, a long, empty corridor runs back to the gym. She’s been bugging me to see where I go to “do running” - has she snuck back there?
To the left, stairs descend to the toilets and other mysterious basement rooms. She needed a wee - has she come over all independent and trotted off down there?
Outside the glass sliding doors - which parent-hating numbskull designed the building with a set of sliding doors right next to the creche, I ask you? - lurks: (on one side) a swimming pool filled with green winter water, (on the other side) an industrial estate, (straight ahead and up a bit) a railway line, and (straight ahead and down a bit) a dingy underpass leading to the car park.
My heart rate hits a level I could only dream of on the cross-trainer: a railway line; an unattended swimming pool; and, my mind helpfully chips in, gangs of mad child thieves.Read More
Before I discovered that motherhood is like being permanently on Candid Camera, I honestly thought that bedtimes would be lovely. Well, what the Donald Duck did I knowRead More
Rather like a toddler who repeatedly pushes beads up its nose and wonders why they get stuck, we keep going on holiday with two small children and wondering why it’s not the relaxed experience of yesteryear. You may well recall that my lucky-mushroominess doesn’t extend to airports. This time it was a mere six hours at Heathrow’s Terminal 5 (fog). Compared with our eleven hours at Alicante back in January, this was child’s play, although the crummy situation was greatly exacerbated by the fact that there was no… child’s play. Which brings me to my point: where are the playgrounds in airports?Read More
So my fresh hell is the cat, who has taken to climbing up the house and crying outside my bedroom window in the early hours of the morning to come in.
My nightlife is a wheel of fire, my rest consumed by the flames. It started with firstborn Curly Girlie, actually a pretty good sleeper all things considered, but as much a sleep thief as any baby. Then came no. 2 - Alpha Blondie - tiny, hungry, male. What a combination. Every morning rose earlier and earlier until I was getting up before I went to bed, in a stumbling cycle of pain and surrealism that owes more to over-tiredness than Monty Python.
Then I discovered the Rabbit Clock – little boys are only allowed to wake their Mummies once the rabbit is awake and, oddly enough, little boys embrace this rule with alacrity – and, finally, I slept.
Then the dog started. Afflicted with leishmaniasis, he needs to drink an absurd amount of water, very loudly and for a prolonged period, day and night. Then he needs to lick himself thoroughly. Then he needs to walk round and round and round and round and round and round on his cushion in order to, presumably, dislodge the pea that discomforts his pampered, noble, stinky-dog posterior. Then he needs to scratch his claws down the wall to improve his position enough that he can fall into a deep slumber and have an energetic dream about god only knows what but it involves running, growling, whimpering and, apparently, laughing. Then he farts a bit, by which time it is morning and the blasted rabbit goes off.
The dog’s bed was removed to the utility room and his nightly travails take place in the privacy of his own dog fug.
Then The Husband took up snoring. He’s never been a snorer: it was a significant factor in my decision to marry him. Some people might have shared hobbies or lifestyles or sexual depravities, we have our mutual lack of snoring. Happily, the snoring coincided with a lot of business travel to China, so that resolved the issue without my having to raise the issue of gum shields, separate bedrooms or wee-small-hours strangulation with a bathrobe belt.
And now, Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you, the cat. The scratchy, needy, nocturnal cat, who thinks my role in life is to lie motionless and unsnoring in bed, waiting to let her in to the house through the window when there’s a perfectly functional cat-flap downstairs, not five yards from all her bowls, bed and other business.
It’s possible that I consume too much popular culture, but sometimes I get ideas. Ideas purloined from sci-fi and drama and mini-series about what it means to be here, living this life, on this place we call Earth. What IS it all for? Is it actually a test? If so, what is my special test and how do I pass it?
God (if, indeed, He is in any way responsible) only knows, it feels like a bloody test sometimes. Here I am, on my wheel of fire, fire-fighting. Splosh! A bucket of water deals with sleep-thief number one. Fer-lump! A load of sand douses the second. Whoosh! I turn the hose on the night-owl dog! Thwack, thwack – a fire blanket puts out The Husband...
But now the cat has joined the fray. The latest in a long line of rest-robbers, slumber-stealers, catnap-kidnappers. And I’m all out of solutions.
So, if I just give in and reset my body clock to get up earlier than I feel is humanly decent, will I pass the test? Then will the Great Cosmic Sleep Fascist call off his dogs of war and let me lie in? Is this the reason for my current Karmic turn on Earth – the lesson I have to learn before I can move on to the next stage of enlightenment – that the morning really IS the best part of the day? Is that IT?
Universe – is that all you’ve got to say?
Well, OK, Universe, God, Giant Cosmic Rabbit, Dr Who-ever the frick is in charge. You win. I’ll change the habit of a lifetime and get up early enough to eat a proper breakfast and read the bloody paper. Just let the kitten live.
Sometimes, the stars align and I am able to go for a run. Today was one of those blessed days: husband available to umpire the children (check); no-one beset by illness (check); calendar empty of birthdays / weddings / christenings / bar mitzvahs (check); Mummy awake, willing and adequately fed (check).
So off I set, down to the riverside at Kollbrunn for an easy few kilometres to Kyburg, a quick glimpse of the castle on the hill, and back through the woods. Lovely.
I leave the car by the cemetery and set up my iPhone as I do my walking warm-up: Run Keeper on, select playlist and shuffle, wait for the GPS to engage... and Start Activity...
*nothing* Hm. Hm? So where is the music? And the Run Keeper lady? Come on transatlantic fitness woman, speak to me... *nothing* OK, the ringer must be switched off. *fiddle* No, ringer is on. OK, the volume must be turned down. *fiddle* No, volume is on full. So, the headphone jack? *fiddle fiddle* Plugged in. So what? Why won’t it play..? Oh - Iggy Pop! I really like this one too. Argh! Stupid old iPhone. It’s done this before, something to do with the headphone socket getting disengaged or something, and you have to take the headphone jack in and out to get it going. Right – in, out, in, out, in, out. *Nothing* In, out, in, out, in, out, in, out! *Nothing* Bloody thing! It plays through the speaker but not through the headphones. I know the headphones are working – I used them yesterday. Bloody hell! Adele. Only decent song on the whole crappy album and I’m missing it. God! Bloody stupid old iPhone - it’ll be rolling in the deep part of this frickin’ river in a minute. Why haven’t I ordered the new 4S yet? I bet that one’s frickin’ headphone socket doesn’t disengage. Right, I’m going to phone them first thing Monday morning and order it. Maybe they’re open on Sunday? I might phone them right now. Tell them my iPhone is a piece of crappy batshit and I want a new one. Piss! First run I’ve managed to get in ages and I don’t have any music. I HATE running without music. It’s half the fun. And when I’ve got no music, I just think about how much my thighs hurt all the time. I’m not running without music, it’s just annoying. I’m going bloody home. AH! EMF – tune! Why won’t it bloody PLAY! What is WRONG with it?! GOD! Have the kids had it this morning? Little ratfinks... all the toys in the world and all they want is my phone to make endless cup cakes, no interest in playing with the kitchen we bought them at great expense, of course, but give them my iPhone and it’s cup cakes all flippin’ morning, never get tired of it. I’ll sell their bloody toys and get the new pissing 4S only that’ll probably go wrong too...
Why do I always have this shit with technology? I only want some bloody music, not the moon on a stick – pissyshittingbollockybastardbloodyarsekickingcrappycrappycrappyfrickingcatbollocks.
Just WORK you pieceofshitetotallyannoyingletmedownallthetimewasteoffrickingleccyoverhypedarsingApple-Crapplebollockypileofbollockedbollocks! GAH!
*deep breaths* Now why can I hear a tiny tinny Marc Bolan? What is THAT about?! *listens* Ah. Oh yes, that makes sense. Right. *looking over shoulder to make sure no-one’s watching* I haven’t actually put the headphones in my ears. *fits headphones, flees the scene*
I’m NOT happy! Oh, poor Curly Girlie. Why? I’m NOT HAPPY! Oh dear, are you not happy with me? No, I’m not happy with GIRL. Which girl? Girl with the JUMPER! Er, a girl at Waldspielgruppe today? Yes, the girl with the JUMPER. She had the bone all the TIME! Bone? Yes, the dog’s bone. Ah, yes I remember. The bone was on the end of his lead – so she got to hold the dog? YES, all the TIME! And you wanted a turn... YES! And did you have a turn? NO! Ah, maybe you can lead the dog next time? No, the lady said I could lead the dog on the way back from the forest. Today? Yes. And did you? Yess. So you DID get a turn? Yesss. Ah. But SHE didn’t want me to... The girl in the jumper? YES! She said “NÖÖÖD”! Nöd, huh? Yes, “NÖÖÖD...” Oh dear, it’s hard to share something you really want isn’t it? Yes, I wanted it A LOT. And she wanted it too? Yes, A LOT. So what can you do next time, when you both want something a lot? Erm... I could SHOUT at her. Mmmm, that doesn’t seem very friendly, and she might shout back... Yes, she might say “raahhh!” at me! Indeed. I could wait until she’s asleep and then TAKE IT! I see... do you sleep at Waldspielgruppe? No. Ah, not good. No, not good, so perhaps you could swap something for the dog’s lead... A stick! I think you’d have to give her something good, something she really likes... Girl likes flowers. Nice... There aren’t flowers in the forest, only sticks - I’ll bring her some flowers from home. There you go... Or she could come here and I’ll give her flowers. Can Girl come to our house, pleeeeaaaase? Ah, you want to be friends now? YES! I want to be FRIENDS with her! I LOVE HER! Indeed...