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
There is, I suspect, a pinch point in everyone’s day when they wish they were someone else or somewhere else. Or both. It normally occurs about the same time every day, whether it is a hellish commute, a frantic deadline rush, or children’s dinner time. Oh dinner time. At some point between 4.45pm and 5.05pm, when the food for the children is practically ready, every single day, they will both be shouting, shrieking, grizzling at the table, and I long for the days that putting one’s head in the oven was a solution to such woe.
Dulcie will be in tears because:
- She was enjoying a game which I have, with unspeakable rudeness, interrupted
- She has not approved the menu for the day, as though she were a tiny Rebecca and I her giant Mrs Danvers
- I am taking too long to serve the food i.e. more than a hundreth of second has elapsed between her bottom connecting with the chair and the food being put in front of her
Himself the Elf will be bellowing and lowing because:
- I have strapped him in a chair and prevented him licking the television or trying to plunge head first down a step onto a stone floor
- He is hungry. Or not hungry. Or tired. Or not tired.
- Dulcie is doing it, so why shouldn’t he?
I long to be the sort of woman 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
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