As I mentioned previously, Himself the Elf is being trained in the art of sleep. He is not, so far, a natural but progress is being made. He rails against this regime of no feeding to sleep, and I am keeping my clothes fully buttoned before he is placed in his cot. Sometimes he’s fine with this (i.e. a bit disgruntled but lies down and goes to sleep) and other times he is apoplectic with baby rage and could give Dylan Thomas’ father a personal demonstration of how to rage, rage against the dying of the light and the lowering of the blackout blind. Continue reading
“I have winned you!” Dulcie gleefully caroled as she reached the bottom of the stairs. I winced. Yes, the grammar is awful and of course it isn’t really a fair competition when she goes down fancy free, while I had himself the Elf under one arm, the nappy bucket in the crook of the other and an empty cup in my hand. But I am irked by the fact that everything has to be a competition, from who gets to press the button for the pedestrian crossing when out with her friend to who has the longest skirt, the biggest apple, the loudest fart. And if she isn’t the ‘winner’ of these inane competitions, you’d honestly have thought someone had told her a life hewing coal and without any birthday parties awaited her. Devastation, tears, snot.
“Would you rather have the biggest stick or would you rather have a good friend?” I try to reason after she meets up with a pal she’s not seen for over six months and immediately falls out with them over some dog-chewed sycamore branch you’d frankly have to pay me to touch, but which both children have become passionate rivals for.
“The STICKKKKKKKK!” is the predictable but highly unsatisfactory answer. Continue reading
Himself the Elf is learning a new skill. And it isn’t one he especially keen to learn. It isn’t climbing (learned it), or getting up steps (easy peasey), or throwing clothes out of a drawer that he’s opened (mastered that long ago) or wiping his nose on someone else’s trousers (simple). He needs to learn to fall asleep without my nipple in his mouth, but for him, this is pretty hard and unspeakably unpleasant. After seeing a sleep specialist, his favourite routine of me feeding him to sleep at night, gingerly placing him in his cot when he’s milk-drunk, and then him waking up every two hours and romping around during the night and refusing to go back to sleep, well, it is hopefully coming to an end. And so is his preference for waking up at 5am and cockadoodle-doing that the day is starting. We have been introduced to the mysteries of something called ‘the vanishing chair’, which isn’t linked in anyway to the The Wishing Chair sadly, meaning I won’t be getting any assistance from Molly and Peter, or Chinky the pixie. Continue reading
There is a gentle slope from our house to the town, perfect for Dulcie and her new scooter. She should be able to glide down it, feeling a freedom and independence in her speed but so far, she hasn’t. I am wary of it but that isn’t the reason. I might be obsessed with hand washing, and five a day of fruit and vegetables, and only having 20 minutes screen time a day, and avoiding t-shirts with slogans on or franchised characters, and only using the phoenetic alphabet, and paraben-free baby wipes, and having no bubbles in the bath, and other middle-class preoccupations about child-rearing, but I’m pretty relaxed about her possibly falling off her scooter. Continue reading
“Is that a little girl?” asks Dulcie as we walk home from the playground, as a girl with pretty bobbed hair and wearing a tunic and leggings rides past on her bike. She is very clearly a girl, aged about eight, and I wish I was confused as to why I’m being asked this. I am bored with my own little homilies which are being completely disregarded, clearly.
“Yes, a girl,” I say firmly.
“She has hair like a boy and is wearing trousers. I thought she was a girl, but I’m just checking.” Dulcie has many, many times made me regret her bell-clear tones, forthright views and fog-horn volume, but on this occasion, the cyclist is well out of earshot, thank goodness.
“Her hair looked very nice – being a boy or a girl has nothing to do with the length of someone’s hair – and anyone can wear anything, it doesn’t matter as long as they’re clean and warm enough. It doesn’t change who you are.” We have this conversation about three times a week at the moment. To Dulcie, unless a girl has long hair (the irony being that her own very fine hair is growing so slowly that she has never needed a haircut and still looks almost bald in the bath when wheezing and blowing like a little seal, she dunks her head under the water) and is attired in a dress, preferably long, preferably pink, then gender is dubious. “I’m wearing trousers, and I’m a girl,” I point out. Continue reading
Poor Dulcie feels like a pincushion. After a perfect day playing with her best friend in a Sylvania setting – barefoot – she has a whooping great splinter in her foot that she will not allow me to touch or try to remove. It hurts her and looks as though it is getting infected. I call the doctors, wondering if this marks me out as a particularly hapless and useless mother, for failing to deal with it like the capable women on Dettol adverts. But no, it is apparently a regular occurrence. Dulcie screams merry hell out of the consulting room as the splinter is squeezed and prodded and tweezered out. Just as I’m doling out the praise for being so brave and about to reach for a consolation box of raisins, there’s a cough from the practice nurse.
“I think she’s going to need a tetanus jab. And her pre-school booster injections are due, which have a tetanus shot in. Shall we do it all now, and get it over with? Or just a tetanus shot, then the boosters another day?”
Dulcie is going puce with rage that we’re not leaving. Can I put her through anymore? But equally, can I bear to come back and make her suffer again? Better, I decide, to do it all today. I tell the nurse and see Dulcie’s eyes go huge like Bette Davis’ in Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? in the really mad bits. Himself the Elf is in the buggy, and has ceased chewing his socks to stare at the commotion. I briefly wonder if he thinks he’s next. I have to hold Dulcie very still, clamped like she’s about to have her arm amputated without anesthetic. This all feels terribly brutal and over the top from the vengeful gods for the simple pleasures she enjoyed the day before.
When we get home, I administer Calpol, CBeebies and a chocolate lollipop in the shape of one of the Olympic mascots that was drastically reduced in the supermarket. She cheers up. We decide that reading a book is probably the next step in her recovery, so when Himself the Elf is persuaded into his cot for a nap, we browse the bookcase. “Everybody was a baby once?” We agree that is just the thing. Continue reading