Is Himself the Elf on some sort of quest? Has something been hidden somewhere, in our house or any other venue we visit, something so precious that every drawer, box, cupboard and bag must be emptied in the pursuit? He is like Gollum in search of the ring, and nothing on earth will deter him from the search.
“He’s rooting in my kitchen again!” is the cry from Dulcie, and also from the grown-ups. More upsetting than him tipping out a carefully arranged shopping basket of wooden fruit from the tiny play oven, is the ice-effect he has created on the kitchen floor by opening a drawer that seemed to be elf-proof, and flinging a glass bowl onto the tiles in order to get a better look at a stray strand of uncooked spaghetti underneath. His rage as I removed him from the area gave the whole scene an apoplectic, apocalypse feel as everything disappeared under a cloud of glass, anger and icing sugar.
Each week comprises of (I’m using a calculator and still my tongue pokes out of corner of mouth in concentration) 168 hours, of which 15 of them are Dulcie-free. Put like that, it doesn’t seem much but at the start of half term, it seemed to be a yawning mass of extra minutes that must be filled to the satisfaction of both Dulcie and Himself the Elf, without the house descending into mindless squalor. “What are we doing today?” Dulcie would ask at breakfast. “Is this a preschool day or a weekend?” Neither, I would think, sometimes quite desperately. And good question, what are we going to do today? But the days have whizzed by, with Halloween celebrated, some cold time in the playground endured and a search for a particular item at the library all punctuated by the gentle narrative of Himself the Elf having a burst ear drum and a reaction to his penicillin. There have been rivers of snot from both children, which Dulcie can sometimes wipe for herself and Himself the Elf never can. My jeans look as though a colony of slugs has been crawling all over them. We have a large stash of baked good including cup cakes and jam tarts, and no-one really seems to want to eat them. Is this connected to the snot of the chef? Probably. Continue reading
We have just taken the children to France for the first time, and aside from the laundry we’ve returned with, and wheeling the buggy through the inevitable dog turd, and Dulcie’s uncontrollable tantrum about what constitutes a real meal and what is just eating patisserie, and Himself the Elf’s insistence that he will sleep badly anywhere and pull over an unfeasible amount of fire irons, pot pourri, and umbrella stands, a fabulous time was had by all.
We ate like French kings and meandered around the boulevards and rues, with Dulcie gradually bon jouring away quite happily, and Himself the Elf developing his palette to the extent that any baguette he saw was greeted with the expressive ‘Nom nom nom’ sound that is, I believe infant French for ‘That looks delicious. Pass me a chunk, won’t you?” and accompanying mouth movements. We are now all suffering terrible post-holiday comedown, so I shall keep this brief. Continue reading
In 2008, I knew everything about babies and children. I had a nice, neat set of theories of how my children would never eat sugary food and would only play with wooden toys. They would be bilingual (which would have been a miracle considering I speak halting, holiday French as my only alternative to English) and because of the gender neutrality of their upbringing, they’d adore train and babies, fairies and construction vehicles, aeroplanes and princess.
Then I had Dulcie and realised that I knew nothing about having children and that in fact, they are not little blobs of Play Doh to be formed by their parents, but are complete individuals with their own inclinations. You can add a veneer of civilisation, but you can’t flatter yourself that you’re much more than an influence. You can enthuse about Brio to your daughter as many times as you like and exclaim “Look! A tractor!” whenever you see one, but that doesn’t mean that aged three they won’t be dressed in an eye-wateringly cerise Disney princess dress, clutching a Barbie-like Aurora doll and feigning an American accent. Continue reading