mummy is always tired

To shop or not?

Is it a good idea to take your child food shopping? Discuss. I’ve just read an article debating this and I am very much in the ‘no’ camp. So imagine how much my eyes rolled when I read about one mum’s delight at taking their child supermarket shopping.

Apparently, it’s really enjoyable to teach your child about where your food has come from – yes that’s right, because all food originates in a windowless box uniformly stacked on shelves in tins and plastic wrapping. It’s important apparently for children to realise that someone has chosen their food and learn that it doesn’t just appear on the table. Indeed, someone has carefully chosen your food, a buyer in a smart office even before it’s arrived in said windowless box.

Apparently it’s fun to turn food shopping into a game and have your child select tins from the shelf and tick them off your list as you go along. Really? Who is this child? Whoever they belong to, do you want to swap?

I’ve taken my two supermarket shopping and each time I’ve vowed never to do it again. If my youngest isn’t demanding to get in the trolley, then out of it and then in again she’s probably being helpful in other ways. Like licking the shopping list so my beautifully annotated notes disappear in a soggy blur. Or my eldest announcing to no one but everyone that that she needs a wee and quite possibly ‘needs to do a poo as well’ halfway through the shop.

My children would not carefully gather tins from the shelf. They would storm the aisles, touching EVERYTHING in their path. My eldest will suddenly decide is cold in the chiller aisle (she doesn’t ‘do’ coats under any circumstances, except when we went skiing she relented and wore a fleece) and want to go home – now. Or they both insist on holding the same thing, which inevitably leads to a meltdown of epic proportions. Or we make the fatal mistake of venturing out on pension day and getting in the way of someone old and irritable.

Then there’s the checkout. This is its very own nightmare scenario. I have a 3 year old on one side and a 2 year old on the other, each wanting to put things on the conveyor belt (which they are too short to reach). I have a queue of impatient (despite having all the time in the world, or perhaps not?) elderly people behind me and a checkout assistant who is processing the trolley contents so fast she could be propelling them into space. By this time I could quite easily forget I have two children and walk straight out. So, is it a good idea to take your child food shopping? Absolutely. Definitely. Not.

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The haircut

Our eldest could try the patience of a saint. Sadly, I’m not a saint and so not only has my patience been sorely tried, it has been exceeded more times than I can remember. Although she usually ends up doing what I’ve asked, the method of getting there is nothing to be proud of.

So, I made a pact with her. I promised I would try and stop shouting at her if she did as she was told. And it actually seems to be working……so far.

Now, I’ve tried the no shouting thing several times but usually something happens that makes me resort to my favourite method of control. So what has changed? Could it be that I have a new job, one that doesn’t make me angry and hostile. Or could it be that this new found parenting skill actually works. Or could it be the embellished tales of terrible consequences that I’ve been telling my eldest that has resulted in this turnaround?

Now embellished tales do not mean lies. It just means that I have exaggerated things ever so slightly. So, in response to her no hair brushing policy, I told my eldest that tiny little creatures would nest in her hair and start nibbling away. It worked. But only once. Time for another non shouty tactic.

My eldest’s hair had certainly become an issue. Her fringe was so long she couldn’t see, the rest of her hair was a bedraggled mess. The length combined with the snot production factory in her nose meant hair sticking to her face and slowly hardening throughout the day only to be peeled off with much protest at bath time.

Something had to give and so we ventured to the hairdressers. She has been before and we’ve not had any problems, she has sat docile and willingly. This time, obviously was different.

Nothing could convince her that getting her hair cut was a good idea. Sweets, biscuits, Peppa pig magazines, not even chocolate could sway her. So there was only one thing left to do. We held her down. Suddenly our three year old had developed the strength of 1000 men. It took two of us to hold her still while the scissors worked their magic. It sounds cruel but what was the alternative? Mucous encrusted hair is neither endearing or hygienic. A trip to the hairdresser would have been something I’d have been grateful for as a child but sadly no one told my mother that bowls, scissors and a round face do not equal a good haircut.

Although the method of getting her hair cut was pretty drastic, I didn’t raise my voice. So that’s good right? I’m sticking to the no shouting rule.

The other problem we have is the ‘wearing of new things’ issue. Our eldest doesn’t like to wear new clothes. At all. Ever. Especially shorts it seems. Which is becoming a problem because she is getting bigger and the shorts, are not. So, because we are doing ‘no shouting’ I had to resort to other tactics.

And so I threatened to put every other well worn item in the bin. By the time I got to her beloved Buzz and Woody pyjamas she gave in and on went the new shorts. Extreme? Yes. But it worked and most importantly, I didn’t raise my voice.

There is though, one remaining issue. The issue of the number twos. Our eldest only wears a nappy at bedtime but she has timed the passing of larger deposits so perfectly that they coincide with the nappy being on. So I’m going to have to think of another non shouty tall tale of terrible consequences to try and resolve this situation. It could be interesting. Perhaps involving partially melted mars bars?

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Nursery rules – ok!

There are some ground rules at nursery that our eldest has informed us of: “no running, no shouting, no biting and no opening the sandwiches!”

The first 2 rules didn’t take us much by surprise. But the ‘no biting’ and ‘no opening the sandwiches’ certainly made us do a double take. Although we were aware of the biting it’s clearly a bigger problem at nursery than we thought, especially if it warrants its own catchphrase.

We’ve had personal experience of ‘the biters’ or at least our 3 year old has. She has been bitten a few times and one bite mark took several months and a tan from a Spanish holiday to erase. The ‘no opening the sandwiches’ is an odd one and,  as we have learned, aimed at one particular child who likes to separate the sandwiches prior to selecting one to eat. Sensible perhaps? after all, we are constantly being told we can ‘try before we buy’ so some would say he is simply exercising his consumer rights.

But the most recent nursery rules have come about because our youngest has been ‘visiting’ the upper end of the nursery. Up until now they they have been separated at nursery by classrooms and fences. Now that our youngest is moving up she will now share ‘the biggie garden’ as it is called. No more baby toys and padded mats for her.

We were told at one pick up how our eldest had had a ‘moment’ when she clocked her younger sister in the same garden as her. Perhaps ‘moment’ doesn’t do it justice, it was one of those frighteningly silent episodes of sheer fury. That type of anger that rages so fiercely internally that there are no ways of communicating it to the outside world. I can understand this as this is usually how I deal with ‘situations.’ But to realise my 3 year old has inherited this trait, is slightly disturbing.

When it came to bath time that evening, my eldest decided she ‘wanted to do talking.’ She has developed a love for ‘doing talking’ from her father who ‘likes to discuss things.’ I, on the other hand, do not do talking. I, prefer to lock thoughts away in a box, only to be opened at your peril.

So the ‘mummy can we do talking’ filled me with a sudden anxiety. It transpired she wanted to discuss the discovery of her sister on ‘her turf.’ The root cause of her upset was basically that she felt her little sister was cramping her style.

Even at 3 she understands the subtleties of credibility and how hers was being crushed by the antics of her baby sister and all her baby friends. Made extra cringe worthy from her point of view by her little sister demanding cuddles every so often.

Now despite being chalk and cheese they play well at home together. At home we have nicknamed them ‘Brains and Brawn,’ eldest in age she may be but it’s definitely her smaller, younger sidekick who is in charge. Nevertheless, our eldest declares almost everyday how her little sister is her ‘best friend.’

I reminded our eldest of this ‘best friend’ statement and therefore shouldn’t she enjoy having her little sister there to play with? ‘No mummy’ she said with fierce head shaking, ‘she is only my best friend at home!’ And so there it is, the nursery rules regarding even the most ballsy of little sisters: to be seen and ignored until such time that they too can earn their nursery cred.

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Another soft play party – sigh….

Our eldest has been invited to another soft play party. It’s great she is so popular but I hadn’t realised just how ‘involved’ I would have to be at these parties. This will be the second soft play party (at the same venue) in less than a month so at least we know the drill. It basically entails the children jumping, climbing, sliding and throwing air filled plastic balls at each other – and me. Most parents can get away with dumping their cherubs at the base of what is essentially fancy scaffolding and squirrelling themselves away in a corner to have a gossip. Not me. Sadly I have to tag along with my eldest which means crawling along padded corridors and going down slides in a sack. The alternative (as she is going through a clingy phase) would be to have her sitting on my lap on the sidelines watching everyone else have fun, as much as I would prefer sitting on my backside watching other people exert themselves, this would defeat the purpose of her invitation.

The concept of soft play is great and one which in theory I’m sure most adults would really enjoy. One thing which always makes me laugh is the disclaimer at the bottom of the invitation: “….avoid wearing man made fibres as these can cause burns when going down the slides.” This doesn’t seem to bother anyone else. But what if no one has read this and turns up head to toe in polyester? What then? The images of spontaneously combusting individuals fills me with horror but a curious mirth at the same time.

Plus, the reality of soft play is that you’re never quite sure what is lurking in the ball pit – after all how often are those balls cleaned? My eldest is really snotty – snotty in epic proportions, if we could convert snot into fuel we’d be self sufficient, but because I’m with her (wearing only the most natural, organic cotton I can find) I can clean her nose. But what of all those other snotty children whose parents are lucky enough not to have to follow a trail of screaming children? What happens to their mucous snail trails?

Also, my eldest sometimes dribbles when she is especially excited (a bit like our Labrador when he sees us eating apples) I’m sure she can’t be the only one who does this? Your own child’s snot and dribbles are one thing, potentially coming into contact with that of another child is something else.  So it’s with some trepidation that I sit inside the ball pit, usually huddled in one corner with my hands firmly in my lap.

At the last soft play party I ended up wiping the bloody nose of another child in our group whose parent had disappeared somewhere (to safety in the parent pack I assume). I had been well aware of this child’s runny nose, it wasn’t a real bleeder it was that icky snot trail tinged with blood where I guess due to excitement he’d burst a blood vessel in his nose. I was hoping to be able to ignore it until he went away but another child (not of our group and a few years older) shamed me into action by pointing it out to me in a very loud voice. “Oh dear so he has” I replied as innocently as I could whilst quietly cursing this do gooding child – clearly someone was being raised not to mind their own business.

I think ultimately I dread these birthday parties because of my own lack of contrived schmoozing ability. After all the only thing all the parents of the invited children have in common is – the children. And these aren’t even children old enough to properly articulate why they like each other enough to be invited/do the inviting. And so conversation is usually fairly stilted and by the time I get to the “so what school is ‘X’ going to in September” my repertoire has been exhausted. I used this line of conversation at the last soft play party, the answer was one word and I had no idea where this village school was geographically, so that was the end of that conversation. Awkward doesn’t do this scenario any justice whatsoever.

My other half calls me a ‘bah humbug’ but I’m of the thought that I have enough trouble keeping in touch with my actual friends. I have no compulsion to make chitchat with other parents whose lives really don’t interest me. Frankly I don’t really care where so and so will go to school or what they do for a living or where they’re going on holiday – I’m just being polite. So when my better half calls me a ‘bah humbug’ I say to him well why don’t you take our eldest instead? He just laughs at me and walks away……..right then……I’d better brush up on my small talk then hadn’t I?


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A confession – of the shouty kind

I have a confession.  I am Shouty Mum.  That terrible mother that is always yelling at her kids in the car.  That dreadful mother screaming ‘don’t do that’ at the top of her voice.  That awful mother who yanks her children by the arm, dragging them away to be berated in (semi) privacy.  That is me.  It’s definitely got worse in the last few weeks, my eldest is almost three and a half and I think it is the start of what I hope will be a short phase in awkwardness, of pushing the boundaries, of her sheer bloody mindedness.   Our youngest can be equally testing, I’d like to say she is testing in smaller doses but the bottom line is that she isn’t.

Sometimes it starts first thing in the morning – at about 6.30am.  Some mornings are great and I can get up and get ready for work without any input from the little people.  Sometimes though it’s an early wakeup call of heavy breathing, sadly it’s not heavy breathing of the exciting kind.  It’s the heavy breathing of a small child who is otherwise silently staring at you whilst you are sleeping (or trying to).  Most of the time I am aware of her not so quietly coming into the bedroom, creeping over to my side of the bed and then standing next to me whilst I am intently trying to keep my eyes shut in the hope she will get bored and go away.  Unfortunately there are some days when I am not aware of how she gets into the room I am only aware that she has suddenly appeared by my side like in a badly made horror movie – being shocked out of slumber is not a good way to start the day – believe me.

The other week they were both awake….early… which meant I was not going to get my 20 minutes of getting ready in peace and quiet. It’s hard getting changed and sorted for the day ahead with two small people milling around one of which asks questions every 30 seconds.  I wouldn’t mind except our eldest never listens to the answer (where does she get that from? Clue: it’s not me) so the same question gets asked over and over and over and over again.  Not good first thing.  So there they are jabbering away about nothing I am interested in at 6.40am, the youngest one is grabbing my leg demanding duddles (cuddles) while the eldest one is screaming because I’m not answering her questions and because she too would rather like a cuddle, but it’s never just a cuddle is it? It has to be a cuddle right now – like RIGHT NOW. NOW! And so I finally lose it.  I have never shouted so loudly in my life, even I was a little aghast at the volume and level of terryfyingness I could reach.  I just wanted to be left alone.  Is it so much to ask to be able to go to the toilet/wash my face/brush my teeth without either a blow by blow account of my actions or a constant stream of demands?

Other times it is the end of the day, when everyone is tired and tempers are (even) shorter.  The last thing I need after dealing with adults behaving like 3 year olds all day (this is a whole other story which I may tell one day), is an actual three year old and her smaller, younger, but not less irritating sidekick.  I really try and be patient but sometimes it’s just too hard.  Is it just me that gets to the end of their tether? Surely other children are just as trying or are mine a special breed?  I’ve seen those decorative plaques with the sentence: “now remember, to the outside world, we’re a nice, normal family” this always makes me smile because I can totally identify with it. Although I’m sure if we were to have a sign on the door it would read something like: “Beware of the Shouty Mum” or as my eldest once gleefully said to me: “Don’t go in there, there’s a monster in there called mummy.”

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Two Sisters – a love/hate story (but mainly hate)

Our eldest has finally realised her little sister is here to stay.  Probably much to her disgust based upon the punishment she dished out to her smaller (but not by much) sibling.  Our big, bad eldest decided yesterday she wanted to leave baby sister in the car – all night.  When I explained we couldn’t do that and proceeded to unbuckle child number 2, child number 1 took matters into her own hands and started smacking our youngest with the full force of a mighty 3 year old.  Poor number 2 wasn’t quite sure what was going on judging by the slightly confused look on her face.

Our eldest has only ever really lashed out once at her sister and but that was some time ago, on that occasion our eldest kicked her sister in the stomach – there were 2 outcomes of that.  The first was that because our youngest is so chubby, our eldest’s foot simply bounced off leaving a rather shocked younger sister who was only ever so slightly aware that her belly had deflected what could have been a big blow.  The second was that I saw red and smacked child number 1.  This was only the second ever time she had been smacked in her (then) 2 and a half years.  The look on her face was one I shall never forget – it was a cross between: “how DARE you smack me” and “note to self – don’t hit annoying little sister.”  My anger was immediate and short lived, quickly followed by remorse and visions of appearing before a disapproving courtroom of people who would obviously never, ever, ever lose their temper when their child did anything to hurt others or themselves.

So yesterday’s outburst of meanness on her part was unexpected and completely unprovoked which is what left me baffled.  There we were driving back from nursery, in silence I might add because they had both been naughty and did the whole: ‘we are going to scream and wriggle and make our bodies go rigid and limp in quick succession so you can’t buckle us up’ act.  Obviously as I was trying to belt them up (figuratively and actually) I was trying to be compromising and reasonable – mainly for show as we were parked in the nursery drop off point, I was of course inwardly fuming.  As soon as the car doors were shut they were told in no uncertain terms that their behaviour was unacceptable, not that I’m sure they understand what is or isn’t acceptable (they are only 3 and 20 months afterall) but they clearly knew they’d been bad because child number 1 looked down into her lap and child number 2 did her usual ‘I’m going to turn my face away because if I can’t see you, I can ignore you’ performance.

After a quick snack the naughtiness was reignited at bath time, this time more stealthily done – clearly our eldest is a fast learner.  She waited until my back was turned before delivering a sharp slap to her sister’s arm, apart from the sound of a little hand hitting chubby flesh and her sister’s wailing, you would never have known from her face that she had done anything wrong – she’s obviously a natural poker player.  She is also – as yesterday proved, an aspiring drama queen.  After the dramatics of bath time were over and we retreated to what I thought would be the calmness of bed time, our eldest decided to take the opportunity to play the victimised elder sister.  She placed her face in the path of her sister’s book waving – on purpose – I could almost see the little cogs in her brain mulling the best course to take.  As the book (Meg & Mog, the thinnest paperback you can imagine) brushed her cheek she let out the most terrific yelp.  “She hit me” was her traumatised cry.  Oh dear – how does one handle this without laughing at the ham acting and blatant tittle tattling (something else she is becoming very good at).  I can see that this new act of hers is something she will pursue but it does need work if it is to become convincing, perhaps on the day she collects her Oscar we’ll think it was all worth it.  Perhaps.

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The Road Trip…..Up North

We all went on a road trip last weekend.  Our destination was ‘up north’ so there was a long way to go.  Whilst I was really looking forward to the weekend away to see our friends, I was ever so slightly dreading the actual 4 hour drive up there.  Afterall – 4 hours + 2 children + confined space = potential social services intervention.  On the whole the journey up there was good, we did the usual ‘dirty lunch’ stop – i.e. fast food.  I’ve always thought that a dirty lunch stop is part and parcel of any holiday, it’s the only occasion which I feel I can justify all that salt and grease.  So we all trooped up the stairs to the Burger King at the Keele services – at least we’d done some exercise to get there I thought.

The children were most excited about their burger and chips and even more excited at the potential toy ‘treat’ inside.  The ‘gift’ if such a term can be used for a hideously bright hunk of plastic – turned out to be a rattle the shape of a bird – clearly manufactured as part of a commercial exercise for the latest kids movie.  Sadly the marketing had no effect on either us or the children as we had no idea what film this was advertising and the new toy was henceforth referred to by our eldest as ‘the rattle bird thing.’

Now, they don’t often eat fast food so there is the novelty factor, but not even I could cease to be amazed at the speed at which they shovelled up chips or how greedily our youngest could cram processed meat into her mouth.  It got to the stage where she stuffed so much burger into her mouth she choked and threw up (we apologise to the lady at the next table who saw a kids meal eaten in reverse.)  Sometimes it makes me feel like a bad parent, especially when I think back to the first road trip we took our eldest on.  On that occasion we went to a KFC – in my eyes not nearly so bad as a dirty burger – it’s just chicken, right?  So, our eldest was about 8 months at the time – well into eating solid food – so we thought, let’s just give her what we’re eating because frankly I didn’t have the time to make her a packed lunch and to be even franker – I couldn’t be bothered.  We tucked into our lovely fried chicken meal – so far so good.  Until a woman and her baby came and sat on the table opposite us and in direct contrast took out her baby’s changing bag and whipped out a 3 course homemade meal for her little darling.  Oh dear.  Well if I’d had any doubts about my parenting skills here they were highlighted right in front of me, you may as well have stuck a giant foam finger above my head saying ‘lazy parent.’

But that was then and now I am too exhausted to have such worries about my skills as a parent.  Any doubts I did have, evaporated as the weekend evolved (so clearly all that shouting doesn’t fall on deaf ears.)  The children were remarkably good – they most definitely kept their ‘company manners’ up all weekend.  We were even saved the shame of our eldest pulling out her party trick and crapping in her pants – she managed to do not just one but two number twos in an actual toilet!  She was so excited about this that everywhere we went thereafter had to be marked by a visit to the toilet or bathroom – just so she could see the set up and make sure everything was in order.

The highlight of the weekend (bar the fact I didn’t have to scrape out poo from anyone’s pants) was the wind up walking granny toy that we discovered at the parents of our friend.  This was the ultimate shut-them-up-toy, they spent 2 hours playing with this (thank you to Ken for patiently winding it up each time).  They were mesmerised and as they lay on the carpet watching granny zimmer frame her way across the hearth there was silence – actual peace and quiet.  Amazing.

And so after many, many cocktails too yummy to remember (or was that the quantity involved) we packed up the troop and set off in the car.  Even before we’d got to the motorway there was snoring coming from the back of the car.  Clearly keeping up company manners was just too tiring and they miraculously slept the whole 4 hours back home.  So there we were, able to nurse our Eurovision hangover in the car – bliss.


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The Annual Cup of Tea

It was my birthday over the Easter weekend – 4 days off with the children off nursery and at home – how were we going to cope?  Was it going to be our own interpretation of Lord of the Flies or were we going to find ourselves blissfully hand holding and singing a la the Von Trapps?  Well, clearly it was never going to be the latter.  But it wasn’t quite the scenes of carnage I was worrying about.  Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy spending time with the girls – it’s just that I am usually too exhausted to try and reason with and respond patiently to the constant ‘buy why mummy?’ or ‘be like a horsey mummy.’  Even less delightful are the attempts at nappy changing a reluctant toddler who insists on kicking me in the face whilst scratching her bottom at the same time.

Nevertheless it was a double celebration – my birthday and lots of chocolatey goodness – hurrah!  Now, with my birthday comes my Annual Cup of Tea, (lovingly – I like to think) made by my other half.  I only get treated to cups of tea made by his fair hands once a year and then this year he announces the offer is only good for 1 cup.  Sadly I didn’t realise the rules had changed and used up my ‘1 cup’ quota before lunchtime.  In terms of presents and present opening – well, I haven’t opened my own presents for about 2 years now because usually 2 excited little hands get there first and this year I didn’t stand a chance as there were 4 sticky hands in total all eager to tear away the wrapping paper.  Luckily the children’s interest in presents begins and ends with the paper, they have no desire to know what the contents are unless it involves brightly coloured plastic, flashing likes or makes an (un)tuneful noise.

I even got treated to a cake which was a bonus because I thought I would have to make my own.  The cake continued the Easter theme and was chocolate through and through because as everyone knows Easter is about ‘the bunny that brings presents’ according to our eldest.  Perhaps it was a mistake to choose a chocolate cake – the children’s excitement pre cake eating paled into insignificance at their excitement post cake eating as you can imagine.  So now we had 2 chocolate fuelled girls and the come down to look forward to.  My, this was an eventful birthday.

It was so eventful in fact that the next day my other half declared he was tired and didn’t feel very well and had to spend the morning in bed.  Clearly the effort of dealing with the chocolate consequences and the making of my Annual Cup of Tea was simply too exhausting.  We rounded off the weekend with the stereotypical family country walk, we were one of those families, happily wandering through bridle ways and footpaths, dog in tow.  We were happy that is, until my eldest fell into a ditch and insisted on being carried all the way home.  So all in all, not quite the Von Trapps but neither did we spiral to depths of unruliness that I quite feared.  I’m looking forward to my next birthday already but I’ve made a note to self to re-negotiate the terms of my tea quota.

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The Much Anticipated Night Out

We went out on Saturday night.  Actually, properly went out – 8 adults all desperate for a drink – at least I was anyway.  It was a highly anticipated night, having been in the planning for at least 2 months by our very own PA extraordinaire, which to be honest was exactly what we needed.  We were otherwise, 7 very tired sheep with jobs and small children to pacify so a guiding Shepherd(ess ) was exactly what was needed.  This was a night I definitely did not want to miss, I truly can’t remember the last time I’d been out to a proper restaurant with a grown up menu and food that doesn’t come only in shades of brown or breadcrumbed.  Even more exciting – this was to be an evening gathering.  Well, everyone knows that nights out are far more exciting than days out!

Typically I was struck down by a cough of such body wracking proportions I was worried I might not make the ‘Much Anticipated Night Out’.  Nobody wants to listen to a hacking cough whilst making polite conversation do they? So days before the Big Event, I stuffed down as many throat sweets and drank as much cough medicine that I could find.  By the time Saturday came along I was quite giddy with medication – this topped off by several glasses of Sancerre would surely give me high that would take days to come down from – Saturday night was going to be good.

And it was.  It was lovely, you could almost feel the release of stress as soon as the first drinks were gulped sipped.  Inevitably the conversation steered towards children and family life.  One story that sticks in my mind was about a friend’s friend who drove to work passing fields on which manure was being laid.  When she got to work she couldn’t shake off the smell of manure.  The realisation slowly, dreadfully dawned upon her.  That wasn’t muck spreading on the fields.  And that wasn’t the smell of farm manure.  It was the remnants of her child’s nappy smeared on her work clothes.   And so the night’s conversation continued in a similar vein, discussing the antics of children and the various escapades we find ourselves in.

We were all enjoying ourselves immensely.  That was until, a girl and her I assume boyfriend decided to leave and as they were passing our table hissed at us: “you’re all so f***ing boring!”  My, my I thought, someone’s not had a good evening.  Clearly her terrible evening was exacerbated by listening to us talk about children’s poo and finding random masticated food stuffs in our handbags.  I appreciate it’s not the conversation many would enjoy listening to and clearly even less so when you are sufficiently bored of your date to be forced to listen to it.  But we didn’t care, we were having fun even if no one else around us was.

And so a good night was had by all (except Disgruntled Girl)……a very good night judging by some of the sore heads in the morning.  Rather disappointingly I didn’t have a sore head although I suspect my overdose of cough medicine may have had the adverse effect of heightening my tolerance for alcohol.  Oh well…there’s always the next time!



Will The Real Arthur Please Stand Up?

My eldest needs some elocution lessons.  Not that I am especially well spoken nor do we live in a mansion with staff and therefore require particularly enunciated speech.  But she said something the other day which stunned me into speechlessness.  “Can I have this mummy?”

“You can have it after lunch.”

“Ok, I can have it arfur then can I?”

“Who the hell is arfur?” was my stunned reply.  Who indeed is ‘Arfur’ but I wish he would go away and his better spoken twin Arthur would come over instead.  I hasten to add, I’m not an accent snob, I read English Linguistics at University so I appreciate the uniqueness of our accented isle.

I’m not sure why we’ve only just noticed her use of ‘fa’ over ‘tha’ I suppose part of it is that she has always been a little bit behind her peers in speech so we’ve just gone with whatever she comes out with, as progress.  It is perhaps unfortunate that her name ends in ‘tha’ but as she usually refers to herself by her abbreviated name it’s never really been obvious, she’s also never said ‘thank you’ it’s always been ‘da-du.’  So ‘arfur’ was really the first, obvious demonstration of the lack of ‘tha’ in her phonetic repertoire.

I tried to teach her the difference, “show me the tip of your tongue” which she showed me with great delight, followed by “show me your teeth please” – so far so good, “now, put your tongue between your teeth and go ‘tha.’”  Needless to say all I got was ‘fa’.  Ok, I thought, let’s try something else, say:  ‘thief’, ‘thought’, ‘thank’ and ‘through’ what we got in reply was: ‘fief’, ‘fought’, ‘fank’ and ‘frough’.  Oh dear – this really wasn’t going to plan, I was getting more annoyed (after all what’s not to get I know she’s only three but still!) and she was getting equally irritated by me, all she wanted was her bedtime story and instead she was getting a not so interesting and clearly badly taught lesson in phonetics.

So we started noticing other words that she just doesn’t seem to be able to grasp – oaty bar is one.  At the moment she calls it an ‘oaty barf.’   Now the only barf I’m aware of is the verb ‘to vomit.’  It doesn’t seem to matter how many times we tell her it’s not ‘barf’ she just stares at us as if we’re mad.  At the moment we don’t tell if our youngest will have the same trouble in pronunciation.  Her vocabulary is limited but she has mastered those words that she clearly feels are a necessity in her everyday life: ‘shoes’, ‘more’ and most importantly, ‘cake.’ In fact such a necessity is cake that rather embarrassingly at the last nursery parents evening she performed one her most alarming displays of anger yet by throwing herself backwards whilst being carried and with outstretched arms tried to reach the nibbles table whilst screaming ‘caaaaake, caaaaaake’ at the top of her voice.  So far, no pronunciation issues there, I think there could be no doubt that the girl wanted cake.

Meanwhile the quest to find my eldest’s missing ‘tha’ continues, luckily we have her nursery key worker on the case but I suppose up until Arthur can be found we’ll just have to make do with Arfur, his foughts and fanks and constant requests for oaty barfs.

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