Toddler (3) and the trip to A&E

It’s five minutes to bedtime.  Today the stars were in allignment: nobody currently has chicken-pox, the weather has been sunny; we had picnic food in.

We have only needed Frozen once today.  And they ate all their veg at dinner.  What’s more, they are now chomping apples while Mummy loads the dishwasher, singing ‘For the first time in Forever…..’  because she’s awarded herself a Golden Mummy Star.

A full evening’s writing beckons.  What could possibly go wrong?

 * * *

I think I might be at the laid-back end of risk-assessment the spectrum.

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Yes I did let my kids play on the stairs / swing / grown-up swing / slide / climbing frame as soon as they felt ready.  Yes they did feed the animals at the farm / look a little too closely at the cow-pats / let Canada geese take bread straight from their hands.  Yes I do let them walk on the ice without holding on / eat out-of-date food / eat things that have touched the floor (within reason) / climb on chairs.  I even feed them my own cooking.

So I never go a month without somebody forecasting some terrible accident for them:

– that kid’s going to hit the deck.

– you’ll be in A & E with both his legs broken

– I can already hear the sound of his skull hitting the table.

Now.  I am not so stupid as to maintain that it will never happen to my children.  But I am also averse to teaching my children to be afraid.  Let’s just say there’s a balance point and that if you place any two parents in a room together, there will always be two different ideas of exactly where the balance falls.  There will always be someone in your life more paranoid – and someone shockingly less paranoid – than you.

It still makes me chuckle that Naomi was stopped in a department store by someone ‘not wanting to criticise her parenting style’ but just wanting to point out that she was exposing her daughter to the risk of being kidnapped by standing too far away from the pram.

Anyway.  I don’t think even Naomi’s concerned woman in John-Lewis would have found fault with my letting the children eat apples while i filled the dishwasher.

But I’m sure you realise there is an A&E trip coming.  It went like this:

‘Mummy.  I’ve got something up my nose.’

‘What sort of something?’

‘A bit of apple.’

‘How did that get up there?’

‘I poked it up!’  The word ‘poked’ was given animated, high-pitched emphasis.

‘Let’s have a look.’

Actually, I have pulled something out of my daughter’s nose before:  a furry red pom-pom about the size of a small conker when unsquished.  For that I used a headtorch and a pair of forceps (I wouldn’t have got a gold Mummy star that day).  Anyway, here we go again.

I can see the apple.  I banned those pom-poms after that (can you imagine one in a small intestine?  Shudder!) but at that moment I was regretting it:  bits of apple are harder to grab.  I don’t try too hard because she keeps wriggling, and because I know it’s badness to push it further in or damage the mucous membranes.

*sigh* What I ought to be doing is getting an educated opinion on the matter.

‘Mummy,’ says Toddler, looking over my shoulder at the letters on the screen.  ‘Is that word ‘Google?’ ‘

Anyway, the NHS website suggested A & E.

What a gruelling place.  Tiny babies look limp or fight for breath; toddlers cuddle up to their parents.  A happy, bigger child plays in the soft-play bit, completely oblivious to the grotesque-looking eye / wound / head-lump that is worrying the rest of us.

My two just look excited.  It’s past their bedtime and there’s soft-play!  A girl accompanying her toddler sister is soon chasing them around, pretending to be a shark.

I want the ground to swallow me up.

‘Scream quietly, Toddler!’ I hiss, as she leaps over a pile of foamy blocks and bounces, giggling, off the wall.  ‘Calm down!  Look ill, can’t you!’

‘Why?’ says Toddler

‘Because we’re in hospital.’

‘I like hospital.’

(Sometimes I think we give kids the wrong idea.  They also think that ‘medicine’ means ‘special treat’, ‘Mummy’s Medicine’ being wine gums and their medicine being Calpol).

Anyway, the triage nurse was fab.  What I should have done when my kid got something smooth and round lodged in her nose:  blocked off the opposite nostril with a finger, made a seal round her mouth as though doing mouth-to-mouth on an adult, and blown.

Fine.  We could go home.  Which was just as well as the risk of my children being strangled by some other parents was probably rising.

‘Oh no! You ddin’t venture into A & E!’ says another parent the next day.  ‘They’ll probably come down with viruses now.’

And 48 hours afterwards of course, they did.

How are my Stories Going?

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I was in the middle of an in-depth discussion (read, ‘disagreement’) on Facebook last week, when suddenly I realised that the other person had been right all along.  I decided to say so, but buried it in lots of ‘but-I-was-sort-of-right-about this-tangent-because’ bullshit.

The reply I got started ‘WTF!’

I said something like, ‘I just agreed with you – but I probably used too many words.’

Now then.  To me, ‘using too many words’ is being verbose, excessive, indirect. Packing so much crap in that the point is not being made.  Bad writing.

I completely failed to notice that the way that the other ninety-nine point nine per cent of the population read it, I’d obviously just insulted her by calling her thick.

So you could say, I’m living on a different planet. that my writing’s not getting better, but worse.

But never-the-less, I think it might mean that I’m a writer.

I have this little gang of imaginary friends, or ‘characters.’  I spend quite a lot of time trying to make their voices speak to me.  I have their lives and personalities mapped out in arrow diagrams in notebooks and try to make them do things on paper.  They have a really unpleasant habit of rebelling and wanting to do something else.  When that happens, I have to end the scene, quickly.  My scenes tend to be quite short.

I think I’m taking it a little bit too seriously.  One story happened in a vets and I kept discovering things about veterinary science that I do not actually know.  Surely, if a vet isn’t sure on the exact accuracy of some minor detail, the rest of the population will probably be fine, but I keep finding myself messaging other vets for second opinions on imaginary cases.  Do I need to be worried about this?

My Google search list is getting to be amusing.  I Google-imaged ‘Real Middle-aged Ladies, UK’ tonight, to try to work out how a minor character might look.  Not like any of the pictures that appeared, that’s for sure:  they were of models, celebrities and David Cameron.  I was distracted for a couple of minutes to notice how many came from websites about women’s weight.  It was a shocking proportion.  I nearly made her a feminist campaigner and maniac google-imager in order to point this out.  (That’s something I have to do a lot, actually:  delete scenes in which characters discover things by google-image something.  Just because I suddenly do it all the time, doesn’t actually mean it’s a likely thing for a character to do…..).

Writing and google-imaging is all I want to do at night. I rarely even write this blog now, and you will see there has been no attempt to edit.  I keep forgetting to have a bath, and baths are my favourite thing.  Our TV has somehow got permanantly stuck on the CBeebies channel and i really do not care!  The kids are in bed, the computer goes on.  Sometimes I am still typing at two in the morning.  I once had to use a Frozen DVD for distraction the next morning while I have dozed off my ‘writing hangover’ under a duvet on the reading chair.  Luckily, the kids thought this was marvellous and ‘snuggled’ (read, sat on top of me) mesmerised, until Anna got frozen when I had to wake up to hold someone’s hand.  The bad news is that the big one now sings ‘For the First Time in Forever’ on loop (not the whole song, just that line) all day long.  And that I now stick to a bed-time to keep them safe and me sane.

Sometimes i put them in nursery so I can go for a run.  I am supposed to be training, but actually I am thinking.  About my novel.  And if you ever watch what happens to your feet when you walk or run while thinking hard, you will notice that they stop.  I keep finding myself stopping on my runs, staring up at a trees.  The trees don’t seem to know the answers.

It said in one of my ‘how to write a story’ books that you don’t have a story if you can’t pitch it to a friend and are not ready to start your first draft.  So I tried to tell a friend my story.  I’d been talking for an hour or so and not getting the words out, when the friend said, ‘What sort of book is this again?’ – but I keep telling myself that the ‘how to write a story’ book is actually probably wrong….

I would like to point out, also, that I am not writing a book.  I am writing stories.  The difference is that if I am not trying to write a book, then I can’t really fail at all.  They do say that every person has a book inside them and it might be true, but the truth is that most of us go completely crazy before we actually get the buggers out.

Labels

Tricky things, labels.

Be careful with them.

And not just those saying ‘salt’ and ‘sugar,’ or ‘Drip flush’ and ‘Digoxin.’  I’m talking about labels for people.  Try “Feminist” for size:

Feminism: The advocacy of women’s rights

on grounds of equality of the sexes.

I know this is right; I looked it up in the Old (deliberate error) English Dictionary.  Now that I am thus enlightened, I would be happy to get a label from my label-drawer, write FEMINIST on it and stick it to my forehead.  In fact, it has become my secret hobby.  I have that very label sticking to my forehead right now.  I am an advocate of women’s rights on grounds of equality for the sexes. 

Doesn’t sound too contraversial, does it?

Britain’s dear Prime Minister wasn’t taking the risk when he declined to wear a ‘This is What a Feminist Looks Like‘ t-shirt to be photographed for Elle Magazine last October.  Although later he appeared to have changed his mind

‘What I should have said is yes … If that is what you mean by feminist, then yes, I am a feminist.”

If that’s what you mean by a Feminist?  Where was it David Cameron went to University again?  Didn’t they have a copy of the Old English Dictionary there that students of subjects like Philosophy and Politics, could have borrowed? 

But I suppose he has a point.  People use the term ‘Muslim’ when they mean ‘terrorist’, as opposed to A follower of the religion of Islam (The religion of the Muslims, a monotheistic faith regarded as revealed through Muhammad as the Prophet of Allah)

Similarly, people will use the word ‘feminist’ when they don’t mean one who practises said advocacy of women’s rights on grounds of equality of the sexes.

So what the hell do they think it means?

Once upon a time, perhaps they thought it meant: 

The burning of one’s bra by mobs of angry ladies. 

Caitlin Moran, however, has dealt with this problem:

…to any idiot who says, “You a Feminist?  Do you burn your bras then, huh?  HUR?  You burn your bras, you feminist?”

You must reply calmly, ‘Fool.  FOOL.  Bra is my friend.  My bosomist buddy.  My inti-mate.  Except for the balcony-cup Janet Reger one that was one inch too small and cut off the circulation to my head.  Yeah.  That one, I covered that one in petrol and torched it outside the American Embassy.’   (How to be a Woman).

Bra-burning associations are old-hat now.

People view feminists as extremists.  Standing up for a cause can sometimes appear extreme.  Perhaps hate all men and are secretly planning to suicide bomb them….

OK so maybe I’m getting carried away.  But Lady Gaga once said she couldn’t be a feminist because she loved men. 

Gwyneth Paltrow famously suggested that the feminists would string her up because she had decided to work less in favour of spending time with her family.  Because a woman deciding to make her own decisions about her life / work balance couldn’t possibly be a feminist. 

And then we have the likes of Madonna, Demi Moore and Sarah Jessica Parker, who gets an extra point for knowing that playwright Wendy Wasserstein thought of this before it hit the popular culture:

I am not a feminist.  I am humanist.

Back to the Old English, then:

Humanism (mass noun) A rationalist outlook or system of thought attaching prime importance to human rather than divine or supernatural matters.

But feminism isn’t a religion!  It means – aw, forget it.

The point, beyond nit-picking about definitions, is this: ‘Feminism’ has had a bad press for as long as the word has existed.  This is because, if you approach a dominant group and say: ‘I want things to change so that you have less control and we have more control,’ there are always going to be members of that dominant group who kick against it.

If you go into any aspect of any culture in the world – be it business, family, regiion, whatever – and say ‘I don’t want things done the way we’ve done things previously,’ people of all walks are always going to kick against it.

At least Carrie Underwood gets some points for honesty:  I wouldn’t go so far as to say I am a feminist, that can come off as a negative connotation.

But is it really negative to want women to be treated the same as men?  No?  Well ,the word for that is feminism and if it has made people angry in the past, that changes nothing.

The other problem is that whenever you have thousands of millions of people all believing the same thing but coming at it from different angles, disagreements are going to arise. 

Worse, the core values of the cause are sometimes going to get completely misrepresented. 

Sometimes people kill innocent other people under the name of ‘God.’

Sometimes innocent people are killed under the name of ‘Allah.’ 

Sometimes you’re going to hear things on your local news station, like:  ‘The daughter of an Oldham sponsor has received rape threats from feminist campaigners if the proposed (Ched Evans) contract goes ahead….’ 

The difference between Christians or Muslims and feminists though (presuming that you are intelligent enough to work out for yourselves which is a value, and which a religion) is that no Muslim says, ‘Because people are killing innocents under the name of Allah, I am not a Muslim.’

No.  Surely the smart move is not to turn and run from a label, but to stand up for it.  I have great respect for people who say:

‘I am a Muslim.  And terror is not what we stand for.’

Likewise, I am not afraid to say: ‘This is what a feminist looks like.’

(Good link: http://rockstardinosaurpirateprincess.com/2015/02/15/feminism-is/)

Season’s Aftermath

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The presents are unwrapped, the boxes played with, the paper scattered and all that packaging rehomed to the bin. The last of the chocolate coins were eaten (I’m sure I’ve digested at least my bodyweight, most of it when the kiddies were asleep) and any family-sized chocolate boxes that aren’t completely empty, now only contain the ones that nobody likes.  My fridge is empty, save for milk and a few good cheeses left over from New Year.  It’s surprising how long you can try to feed a family on dry stuff and cheese when you hate shopping as much as I do.

The tree –

(Yes.  I bought a tree.  It wasn’t intentional:  it was nine o’clock on a Friday night, the Tiddler was crying and we were completely out of milk.  Even UHT and left-over formula.  Toddler said, ‘Make him stop, Mummy’ and I said, ‘Get dressed.  We’re going to the late supermarket.’

Anyway, there was a lovely man selling Christmas trees outside the supermarket, who didn’t blink twice to see a three year-old and a bare-footed Toddler out so late in their pyjamas.  Toddler pointed at the biggest tree and said, ‘we’ll have to get a big house to put that one in, won’t we, Mummy?’

‘I don’t think we’ll buy one that size, love.’

Toddler looked suddenly excited and I realised that I’d just consented to a Christmas tree.  It struck me that if we bought one then, I wouldn’t have to think of anywhere to take them in the morning because they’d be so excited about decorating it.

‘Twenty quid for a tree? Oh go on then.’

Then I thought about the horrors of searching for half-bricks to stablise buckets, so I paid a tenner for a stand as well.

Yeah, I know.  Duped.  And I nearly forgot the bloody milk.

Anyway, to all my friends who posted pictures on Facebook of trees their three-year-olds had decorated, you’ve been rumbled.  I know exactly what a tree decorated by a three-year-old (with the assistance of an eighteen-month-old) looks like. Still; they loved it.

A rare consolation of January:  soon I will be able to walk into my local cafe again without my Cortisol soaring.  Why is it that people get trees, cover them in lights and shiny things that appeal to children, leave them in a corner and then spend all their time tut-tutting from behind the counter as I try to place my order –

‘A coffee please.  What do we look with, Toddler?  Our EYES!’

‘OK.  You can touch one.  Gently.

‘I don’t know, do I.  Whichever one of those means a normal coffee.  With milk in.  NO!  That’s NOT gently!

‘No!  Don’t pull it ooooooff!’)

Anyway, what was I saying?  The tree keeps getting put off until tomorrow.  I keep thinking about all the Thankyou Letters I am going to write.  (I love writing thankyou letters.  They are important to me and I savour them.  Often until the summer….)

Anyway.  Welcome to ‘after Christmas,’ that long fabled time in your life when you were going to get round to doing all sorts of things.  I already told you that it’s a rubbish time of year for resolutions, so instead let’s talk about the Box Game from Hogmanay.

Take a big open box and a circle of people.  Each person has to bend over and pick the box up… in their mouths.  Without using their hands.  Or knees.  Even to touch the floor.

When everyone’s done this, you tear a strip of cardboard from all sides of the box, making a moderately lower box.  Repeat.

One by one, the players cannot do it and drop out.

Now then:  I admit to choosing this game because I am good at it.  I have played it before, with GirlGuiding types (all adult, after a few drinks, a lot of them ten years younger than me).  One by one people dropped out and I felt more and more smug, bending lower and lower.  There were just three of us left when the box was reduced to a flat peice of card on the floor.  Three of us succeeded and we were pronnounced joint winners. It was worth it, even if my legs ached one hell of a lot once I’d sobered up next morning.

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Well, it turns out that the box game isn’t nearly so glorifying when a) you have had 2 children since then, b) your friends are not a random distribution of people who happen to be girlguiders, but climbers / walkers / rowers / cyclists and that sort of thing.  In particular, if c) one of them is Emma ( https://lizziebulleyment.wordpress.com/2013/09/06/what-you-want-it-to/ ) and another of them is Gareth ( https://lizziebulleyment.wordpress.com/2014/04/08/competition/ )

Turns out, there are some rules I didn’t know about.  After everyone has picked up the flat bit of card from the floor with their mouths, you can continue to increase the difficulty by standing on increasing numbers of Alpine journals to do this….

Sigh.

Anyway, it made me think quite hard about my flexibility, which has decreased markedly over recent years and particularly since I started running.

Apparently you’re supposed to do something called stretching – who knew?

So it turns out I’ve got a New Years Resolution after all.

(NB the Box Game picture is stolen it from another WordPress blogger, https://keiradownunder.wordpress.com/2013/06/page/2/ which explains why the people are mostly wearing shorts, where as I had changed into my PJ bottoms in case my jeans were to blame (they were not).  This is the only relevant photo you get if you google ‘box game, drinking, bend over pick box up in mouth’ but a few pictures later you get one of Mary Berry and Paul whats-is-name.  Explain that.

Other picture: http://www.examiner.com/article/after-christmas-uses-for-the-tree

Pretending to dislike Christmas – One

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We Mums take great care of our Facebook pages during the festive run-up.  Prepare for snaps of presents under glittery trees; of 10-year-old Talisker left out for Santa.  Of Tiddler and Toddler done up as angels, faces rosy in the candlelight, the lisping of ‘away in a Manger;’ gasps as the Christmas story unfolds.

But you can rely on me to shatter your bauble:  Christmas has as many sides as a chocolate Euro.  I show the cute side on Facebook, but it’s important to complain about the frustrating side, too. To quote Love Actually, ‘If you can’t show your feelings at Christmas, when can you show ‘em, eh?’

Best start moaning early, as soon as the C-word first appears in the shops some short while after Easter.  To be fair, even advent is too long: it already seems to have been going on forever, yet we’re not even on the fifth day of no-you-can’t-open-tomorrow’s-window-yet-or-you-won’t-have-any-windows-to-open-tomorrow.  And that’s just hubby….. (no, I am kidding. He’s gone climbing early this year).

Toddler loves making cards, which is super-cute and potentially useful too.  But we keep having creative differences, escalating from simple things like me refusing to stick ‘On Your Wedding Day’ to the front of an otherwise servicable Chrsitmas Trees design, or to glue enormous pom-poms to the front of cards that have to fit inside envelopes.  Yes, I know what a perfect parent would do, and admittedly the mechanic who fixed our car despite being ill, was just delighted to receive his pom-pom catterpiller Get Well card, sans envelope, delivered by hand.  But his was a special case:  in general I want to post my Christmas cards. I dont want them to get stuck to the inside of the envelope, either.  I hate cajouling and am quite likely to loose my temper, so I’ve imposed a limit of two cards a day to save arguments.

Then there are presents.  Toddler came home from nursery informing me that Father Christmas would be visiting our house, which reminded me to get a wiggle on and donate some of our toy collection to the charity shop.  You’d think someone who’s vetted greyhound races could be trusted to make tough decisions, but why are the ones I’m nostalgically attached to not the toys that the kids most like to play with?  Three hours of sorting later, very few culls had been made.

Then I wondered what she wanted: trickier still.  I’ll never forget Mum saying outside a grotto somewhere: ‘I don’t think Father Christmas actually had a clue what you were talking about.’

I tried to protest that he was magic, but Mum later said she’d caught him in the staff-room and he’d said that he really, really wanted to bring me something else, something I’ll been asking for for several months now.  He was a very busy man so she’d already said on my behalf that that would be alright.  And it was.

Then comes the actual shopping.  I dislike myself for allowing big corporates to dodge their tax, but it’s damned useful when things are cheap and arrive by post.  December is the season of standing in the parcel office.  We also talk more to our neighbour (who is in a lot) more at Christmas than at any other time of year.  He is better than the parcel office because he doesn’t demand that I remember ID when I pick things up.  In fact, he very often delivers. But I daren’t ask him whether he minds because I’m scared that he’ll say ‘yes.’  I’ll just make sure Toddler puts extra glitter on his Christmas card.

Weak-wooded- beds and resolutions

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I wasn’t going to blog again, but Hubby did two things that changed my mind.

He came back from the pub saying:  ‘Mandy’s REALLY sad you’ve stopped blogging.’  I am a sucker for that.  Thankyou to Mandy and all those who made similar noises.

He also went to read a bed-time story to Toddler, plonked his bum down on her miniature Toddler-bed and…. broke it.

Yeah.  I’m surprised too.  He’s only, like, six-foot something and fourteen stone.  All I can think, is that Toddler’s tiny bed must have been made from inadequately weak wood.

Toddler was gutted.  ‘Mummy, you need to mend my bed.’

I looked down at the wreckage. It probably wasn’t a possibility.

‘We’ll go to Ikea and buy a bunk-bed.  We’ll need one anyway soon.’

‘When will we, Mummy?’

‘Er – Now?’

It was, you understand, an emergency.  Assembling kids’ bedroom furniture can’t be done when they are sleeping or napping, so a second adult to babysit for as long as it takes to put the damn thing up is essential.  And hubby was about to go North for winter.  Toddler would be doomed to sleep on the floor for three months if we didn’t act…

‘You’ve slept on floors,’ says Hubby.  ‘Do you remember that vets’ flat in Newcastle, when you broke the bed and had to sleep on the floor for weeks, when you were really pregnant….?’

I remembered. Physcially Getting Up in a morning has never been so challenging.  I also remember the practice handyman telling everyone suggestively that the heavily pregnant locum vet had broken the bed when her hubby visited. (Honestly, on that occasion it really was made from weak wood).

But it seemed a reasonable expectation for Toddler to have a bed, so Ikea it was.

A car pulled out in front of me as we drove into the carpark.  I slammed on the break.  ‘What’s he doing?’

‘He’s getting the hell out as fast as possible,’ Hubby said.  ‘Who can blame him?’

Why did the kids look so happy all of a sudden?  Ikea’s one-way system is famous.  Shoppers are paraded past a number of show-rooms stacked with things that they definitely DO NOT NEED to buy, at a speed that most funeral processions would be impatient to overtake.

But of course, within two minutes we’d left the main wake, having spotted a sofa for £75 that would actually fit in our lounge.  It had a washable cover, too.  We sat down, experimentally….

When I looked round, Tiddler and Toddler were also trying out sofas, the enraptured looks on their faces betraying the fact that they had mistaken this bloody-minded commercialism for bloody soft play.

‘No!  We hate shopping, remember?’   We got back on to the main path.

Did I mention that it was moving frustratingly slowly?  You know that annoying bit on Strictly when they announce who it is that’s leaving?  Well, even that has more of a rollick to it.

‘Do we actually need a bunk-bed?’  I was saying.  ‘I mean, can you imagine putting her on the top bunk and him on the bottom one?  You wouldn’t get to the light-switch before Tiddler’s on the ladder mounting a raid.  What if she booted him off?’

‘There there,’ said hubby soothingly.  ‘We don’t need the upper bunk yet.  There’s a while to go before he can climb out of his cot….’

Once we’d found a bunk-bed, however, it turned out to have an ingenious bit of wood hooked over the stepladders, to stop any kids from climbing on them.   ‘I want to buy one of these!’  I said to the nearest assistant.

Turns out there IS a bit of design innovation that you can’t buy at Ikea, after all.

The bunk-bed had a name.  Mydal.  The mattresses were called Moshult.  Hubby wrote these names down and went off to find sheets….

Meanwhile, I pretended not to be with the kids and the kids amused themselves by stepping between adjacent pillars of carpet tiles, of varying colour and height.  Pleasingly, said tile-pillars were arranged in a convenient circle.  An exacerbated parent watched them sideways for longer than necessary and I prepared to receive a tongue-lashing, but moments later she whipped the shoes off her own three year-old and he joined in the game.

Hubby came back.  We decided that it was a good time to buy a Tiddler-chair, and some crockery.  A bit of stealthy Christmas shopping might also have occured….

The second half of the Ikea one-way system is harder than the first.  The buggy was now too cumbersome to sneak through gaps: with a giant bag of goodies hanging either side and some plastic boxes (useful for Todder’s craft stuff) balanced on top of the rain-cover.  Tiddler was desperate to walk so I let him stand up, and of course the whole thing collapsed backwards without his weight.  We piled the crockery on the seat.  Now Tiddler had to walk. “Heel!”

At this point Toddler wailed, ‘but Daddy’s forgotten to bring the bunk-bed with us’ and we navigated to the warehouse while trying to explain the concept of flat-pack to an inconsolable three-year-old.

Of course, now we had to carry the flat-pack bunk-bed too.  Much trolleying of children, stuff and more stuff; much time amassing said stuff in a pile and guarding it while having the children sang ‘When you’re Happy and You Know It (boop your nose) to stop them from climbing the shelves; much checking of lists; much bribing with cinnamon rolls, much Tiddler-racing up and down, until…..

….Eureka!   We were at the loading bay ready to pack the car.

Advice to all other future Ikea shoppers, particularly those with two small children in bulky car-seats:  always unload the buggy and the rubbish from your car before you set off…..

In fact, filling the car could be another blog-post.  It’s a good thing I’m no longer blogging, really.

(Picture stolen from http://www.dadonarrival.com/2012/10/31/baby-prep-part-iii-ikea-the-true-halloween-house-of-horrors/)

Anticipating January

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January is a rubbish time of year.  A time of coldness, darkness, dankness and dreariness.  It’s the time of year with the most suicides.  The most marriage break-ups.  The time of year with the most left-over Christmas cake, chocolates and whisky in the cupboards.  And the least exciting fresh stuff in the shops.

Not a great time for making wholesome life changes.  Writing the date while coping with the fact that the year has changed by an entire digit, is challenge enough some Januaries. Resolutions should not be a January thing.

But rest assured, they are a ‘thing’.  It’s only the January bit that I object to.  This year, hubby’s off climbing early December, and I’m in charge of the kids for three months:  it’s a natural time of change in our household, so….

If I were to make resolutions, a better time would be NOW.

I considered this at the bouldering wall the other day.  I’d snook in there between errands, without thinking very hard about it being Tuesday morning, and therefore the Official Kiddy climbing session.

Even crossing the entrance hall was a gauntlet of mini-people.  My climbing was interspersed with games of ‘peek-a-boo’ with the knee-highs who were watching me from around various corners.  I couldn’t fall off anything without first checking that I wasn’t about to squash any.  There was background music:  a rousing chorus of ‘see the little bunnies sleeping.’  Not having a toddler attached, it seemed prudent to prevent myself from joining in, but not easy.

I was climbing terribly.  I spent the first quarter of an hour blaming the kids, but it is actually normal for there to be kids – normally my kids – around when I climb.  Anyway, the adult wall opened and I went through there, but my climbing didn’t improve.  I’d been running just once in the previous month and was noticing the extra weight.  By mid-session, my mental image of myself was of a pale, wobbly, curvaceous blob, centre-of-gravity around the ass, with underdeveloped arm muscles that were tense as a fishing-rod that has just caught a whale, trying to get some leverage on it.

And things were bound only to get worse when hubby went North.

Is selfishness always a bad thing?

Because, I thought, I am selfish.  Sure I’m priviledged to get three months a year work-free with the kids.  I am greatly looking forward to most aspects of it.  I love taking the rascals out, doing craft, playing ‘where’s the mouse.’  Watching Toddler learning to read could scarcely be more satisfying were I learning to read myself.

But – I want to develop as much as I want them to.  Those three months with no childcare will involve very little opportunity for exercise.  Decreasing fitness leads to deteriorating body-pride.  There will be diddly-squat social life.  There will be diabetic instability brought about by inability to concentrate on myself at meal-times. All my attempts at constructive thought will get vetoed by demands to concentrate on bloody Ceebeebies.

I have two choices, I suppose.  I can grit my teeth and pklay the role of the selfless family-centric stranger that society perceives of me.  Or I can somehow find a bit of space in my life where……

mememe

I had a shower when I got home.  There was a yellow book that I hadn’t seen before balanced on the side of the bath, next to the toilet.  A sure sign that hubby had been reading it.  I dreid my hands and went to investigate.  It was a book about running.

I opened the front cover.  It said: Gareth.

WowHe’s got Gareth’s training bible!    I plonked myself down on the bathroom floor in my towel.  I began to read.

It was very Gareth.  All about improving your running speed.

They say ‘I don’t need to work on my speed.  I’m a long distance runner.’  Well I think that’s a cop-out.

I snorted.  Cop-out indeed.  But I kept reading, and turned the page…..

Anyway, the upshot is, that I have made mid-November resolutions.  Want to hear them?  Good!

I’m going to put Tiddler into nursery a few hours every week.  Tiddler will love it at least as much as Mummy-time. Tiddler is not what has stopped me from doing it before.  Rather, it is the colossal extravagance: it will cost quite a lot of extra money and make none.  I’m going to have to get used to that: looking after your and your children’s physical and mental health isn’t always going to be free.

To maximise the expense, I will be running whatever the weather.  I am actually going to be the sort of punter who tries.  I am going to train!   If I do this, by March I will never have been so fit.   But hush!  Don’t tell Gareth – I want it to be a surprise, when I challenge him to some kind of race.

Oh and I’m going to use that wordless mental time to write a story.  Not a book – that’s the stuff of self-inflated ambition – but a story.  To see if I’m any good at it.  Give it to some people to read, see if I can keep their attention, that kind of thing.  Writing needs word-free mental space.  Running will give me that space.

I will have to stop writing blog-posts.  Now.  I love writing blog-posts.  They are distracting.  I tinker with them for hours and – just when I ought to be giving the kids attention, or just when I think about writing a story – I have a new idea for a blog-post instead.

It’s easier, you see.  The feedback is lovely.  To the fifty or so people (not the same every time, I take it) who read my blog-posts: I want to thank you for your support.  I am going to miss burdening you.

Oh yes, and the most important thing about resolutions: I rarely keep them.  So no doubt I’ll nip back occasionally, to let you all know how it went…..