The Turd On The Wall

Crappy Fathers Day everyone! I say this because we’re elbow deep in wee and poo right now. Lucky us! I would love to hear your experiences. Please share. Or just put a little smiley poo in the comments box so I know you’re with me!

I’m writing this post as I sit in the cinema watching some annoying scarily eye-browed dungaree-clad girl called Daisy dance around like a twat with poor replica Peppa and George puppets (if you have to ask “Peppa and George who?” then what are you doing here?). I want to head butt the floor but my beautiful first born of two and a half years is utterly entranced. She’s munched her way through a tray of popcorn bigger than her head and she hasn’t said a word since the film started. Occasionally her little chubby hand reaches out to pat me and check I haven’t gone anywhere but other than that she is in her element. 

We are here because we are in the midst of toilet training. The potty, step and toilet seats have been in our lives since before Girly no2 was born seven months ago. My (now seemingly laughable) aspiration was to only be changing nappies in one size, not two. Ten nappies a day instead of fifteen. Two turds a day instead of three. Before no2 arrived, Bare Bum Bum time, as it’s catchily known in our house, was faring well and we were probably at 80/20 chance of success of wee landing in that days’ receptacle of choice. When no2 arrived, the slightest mention of a pot was met with a lot of screeching and stamping. I believe the technical term is “we regressed”! We left the potty and toilet seats casually strewn around but didn’t push it, we were waiting for the day she announced: “Mother! There will be no more nappies forthwith!” However it has not been forthcoming. Some days, she will insist on wearing pants and using the toilet. Others, she wouldn’t do it in return for episodes of Peppa. Actually that’s a lie. She would lie in the road for Peppa. She would even stand under a hand drier in a public toilet and she hates those. I desperately hope that she never meets a red t-shirt wearing, pink faced, snub-nosed boy with a really annoying voice. It’s just now how I picture my future son-in-law. Girly no1 has been in no hurry to add items to her to do list. Least of all things that, when they go wrong, piss Mummy off. Sorry, make Mummy cross. I stopped asking about Bare Bum Bum time. I promised myself we would be led by her. Occasionally she would surprise me and ask to leave her nappy off, which I duly did, hoping that just this once I wouldn’t be on the playroom floor on my knees with a bottle of detol as the spaghetti boiled over and the baby started screaming. Sometimes my wishes were fulfilled, but they were few and far between. I tried (and try) my best to be very unmumzilla (great new word for you all there) about it, but come on! Does anyone enjoy cleaning up someone else’s wee? Isn’t there already enough to do?!  

Off we go Peppa….

The next time she announced she was wearing pants we decided on some gentle encouragement. The first was some fancy pants. I say fancy, they’re not ball gown fancy. They have glittered ponies and rainbows on, akin to that of an 80’s tshirt that is frequently spotted in Shoreditch and in hipster movies. The problem with these is that her indecisiveness got the better of her and she started deliberately wee-ing in them so she could wear a different colour pair. Fail. I put it behind us and went back to nappies. And hid the pants. Then, about a week ago, she again announced that she no longer wanted to wear nappies, she would wear pants. I had done some research which suggested 3 days was all it took once they decided. Great, I thought! Let’s do it. I knocked up a Peppa Pig reward chart, inspired by Pinterest, using an old colouring book and some reward stickers from Tescos. Little smiley faces for a wee, big smiley faces for a poo, treats for the coloured spots. We were ready. 

Day one – stay home and just wear nothing on the bottom: Ok, good. One accident, good job all in.

Day two – wear trousers with no pants and go for a walk for an hour: Again, good job. One tiny accident but she was excited running away from waves at the beach. We managed a lunch out, a couple of uses of a restaurant toilet, all was going well. Even better that she was going to Mother-In-Law’s for the night! She has far more patience than I do. Tomorrow we will be done!
Day three – wear pants and trousers: Just one accident which happened when she banged her head. I totally get that. If someone bumps into me when I need the loo then a bit of wee comes out. It’s the Displacement theory. More than forgiveable! She even managed a daytime nap with no accidents. Winning at life! 

Day four – You’re on your own with your newly potty trained child: Wee’s all fine. But we have a problem. A quick review of the last few days confirm that no poo has left the building since day zero. Having suffered with constipation previously, we jumped on it, plying her with Movicol which we are never without. As her reward for hitting 10 wee’s on the toilet, we go to see Peppa Pig at the cinema. No accidents there either. However as we were saying goodbye to Paramedic and her firstborn (someone had to suffer with me!), I saw her adopt a familiar squat in front of the Despicable Me poster. I whisked her off to the toilet and after 20 minutes of sweating and pushing, nothing. No poo poo. When we got home, we put a nappy on and she eventually poo’d aided by Husband (I won’t go into detail but the poo needed some help coming out). She went back into pants afterwards, and had only one accident in the early evening. 

Day five: This was a nursery day. They’re not allowed in until they have three consecutive days dry. She wore a nappy in, poo’d so much she leaked out of it and she didn’t ask for the toilet once. In the afternoon she didn’t want to wear pants, she wanted to keep a nappy on. Hmmm. The problem with following someone else’s plan is the lack of trouble shooting. What do I do at this point? Force her to carry on? Leave it? Keep her off school? Throw the nappies away? 

Day six: Same as day five. “No pants Mummy, I’m wearing a nappy”. Hmm. I can’t be bothered to argue. 

Day seven: A home day. She refused pants to start off with but I reminded her of the glittery unicorns just waiting to be loved by her peachy little bum. She had one accident mid morning but we had a successful trip to and from swimming via M&S with no accidents. I can’t guarantee she didn’t pee in the pool but who would ever be silly enough to admit to doing that?! She had her nap sans nappy, no accidents. All good. Then the afternoon happened when she did a huge turd in her pants. Not so bad I thought, at least she did it without a nappy on. I was slightly discombobulated she didn’t mention it was on its way but that’s ok. Deep breath. Calm mum. No making her feel bad. What happened next though tested all my motherhood calm skills. Firstly, there was the blanket wee. I asked after dinner if she needed a wee. She shook her head vociferously and insisted she didn’t. I took some plates into the kitchen, filled the sink with water and looked out of the window into my sunny garden. I was greeted with the view of her bum in the air with her peering through her legs. I fleetingly wondered if she was wee-ing but surely not. After she had finished inspecting her bits from the ground up, she ran in and told me she had just done a wee on the new blanket. Great. In my best (passive aggressive) mum voice I reminded her I had just asked if she needed the toilet and she said no. “We must try and use the potty or toilet next time!” I said with as much positivity I could muster. I should add here that it wasn’t just any blanket…it was brand new – first time use – family rug from the Great Little Trading Company (#middleclassproblems). A little treat to myself for the beach this summer…and now it was covered in no1’s wee. I brushed off (most of) my annoyance, put it in the washing machine and we moved up to bath time. As Girly no2 was poo-ing on the bath mat (her very own laxative, she does it every day), Girly no1 was suspiciously quiet. I thought nothing of it as I was elbow deep in water wipes cleaning curry sauce off my knees. No2 came in a few minutes later saying she too needed the toilet. I gave myself a virtual pat on the back for her asking, we might nail this after all. Then we spotted some poo on her foot. Where did that come from sweetheart? (She makes me call her this since I explained a few days before that it meant I loved her). She blamed no2 saying that she had poo’d on her foot. Without being too graphic, this was impossible. It was like confusing Korma with Bhuna. It could not be done. Husband and I looked at each other and started searching for signs. I spotted some poo patches on the carpet in the hall coming from the direction of no2’s bedroom. More on her new rug (great), more on her bedroom carpet (brilliant) and then a big pile of turd over by the wall (oh crap). I started to rub my temple and cover my eyes, the universal sign for an “over it” mother. Husband guided me out of the room by my shoulders telling me to get the other two in the bath while he cleaned up our shitty house. 

Immediately after that we both said that was it. We were done with potty training. She could go to school in nappies for all we cared! However after a nights sleep, and realising we were down to just one or two accidents a day we decided to persevere. Come on Team! We were knocked again yesterday after the “turd on the wall” incident however it was so ridiculous that we could do nothing but laugh. Girly no1 was wearing her pj’s sans pants when she waddled through saying she had poo’d. I ran her to the toilet, whipped her bottoms off and sat her on the toilet where she finished the poo. There was very little in the bottoms so we waited a while to see if some more would come out. After a couple of minutes Husband appeared at the door to check all was ok and let out a noise I don’t think I’ve heard him make before. “Is that poo on the wall?” As I started to laugh at the absurdity of his question I looked over my left shoulder to see, a couple of feet away from us and proudly sticking out like a stag head, a massive lump of shit stuck to the white wall. I was momentarily stunned then fell about laughing as no1 started crying that there was poo on the wall. The whole thing was ridiculous. It is ridiculous. 

That’s it…look more closely…no it’s not a stag…hello poo!

My Mum used to say to my Dad “You’re sick and I’m poo”. I get it now. He’s sick and I’m poo. Whilst I find comedy in these things after they happen, I am unduly appalled by poo. I think it’s because an ex once left a big old heap of shit on the floor of our previously co-owned flat, which I had to clean up despite not having lived there for four months. I find poo the height of disrespect. But when your baby girl poo’s on you, or your new carpet, or your wall, you just have to suck it up and crack on (pardon the pun) with the toilet training. I know that she’s actually doing really well. We are half way through our third day and so far we are dry. But we’ve yet to poo today so who knows what crappy treats there are in store!

I would love to hear your tips, stories and comedy moments with your toilet training. Who doesn’t love a poo story?! Add them below or on my Facebook page in the comments box. Let’s share the shit out of it!

THE HAPPY TURD
The happy turd

Beggleybooglebeggkeyboog

I’ve been a little uptight this week. A little short and snippy, the odd growl of frustration emerging. I don’t think I have been the best Mum, wife, daughter, sister and friend I could have been, and that makes me feel bad. It’s not my fault though, it’s the beggleybooglebeggkeyboog. 

My slightly irritable mood is down to a few things. The first is some “what’s-my-future” stress. At this same point in time with Girly no1 I had a bit of an identity crisis. What am I now? Where am I going in life? How do I be a great Mum and be Me? What should I be spending time on? So many questions. I am the best version of myself when I have answers to these questions and I know my life goals I am working towards, so I need to figure this stuff out. I’ve been a bit hot, sweaty and wriggly, permanently feeling like I’ve just got dressed after swimming but am still in the changing rooms. My hair has been sticking to my face so I’ve toyed with shaving it off. I should note here that I love the heat and the sunshine. I’m not complaining about it at all, it’s just that I’m feeling far too “fleshy”. I’m still too fat for most of my summer clothing and not really keen on having all my extra flesh on show. I’ve had a couple (cough cough) of hangovers from my birthday weekend. Yes I have a weekend, not just a day, it’s the queen in me. I have stopped breast feeding, nearly seven months after starting again, and I think my body is probably flooded with hormones as the last big shift in my post-baby body is made. I found a lump on my breast last week – that didn’t help my mood. It turned out to be a blocked milk duct that I was able to massage out over 3 or 4 days but it wasn’t very nice regardless. Everyone has been ill with some weird bug. That hasn’t helped. And maybe I have also been feeling this haze of terrorism that’s around us at the minute. Seeing parents lose their children is devastating at any time and it does make you stop and think about your job as protector of your babies. It is so scary when this is interrupted by forces outside of your control. All of these things combined are making it much easier to rattle me. Normally I would shake it off the small things and carry on about my life, processing along the way. But I am flaring up with annoyance regularly. Some of this is due to a certain small person poking the bear. 

Girly no1 (aged 2.5) had a new noise, it goes something like this: beggleybooglebeggkeyboog. And she says it over, and over, and over again. She says it when I ask her a question. If I speak to her sister. If she doesn’t want to eat her dinner. If I don’t respond immediately to her every demand. If I am on the phone. If she doesn’t like what I’m saying. Anytime really. She looks at me with goading eyes, dribbly chin lifted in the air and says it at varying volumes. Beggleybooglebeggkeyboog. It makes my hackles rise. Actually, it makes them stand on end and start doing somersaults – whatever they are. I can feel annoyance rising up from my stomach to my throat threatening to bubble out in a blood-curdling scream. That’s a lie, I hate screaming. I would never scream. But maybe I would shout. I can cope when she walks around saying it to herself – babble away little one, I think, that’s fine. It’s when it is her response to something I want from her. I ask her to be a helpful big sister and grab a nappy, “No Mummy. beggleybooglebeggkeyboog beggleybooglebeggkeyboog beggleybooglebeggkeyboog”. Or when I ask her to stop waving her spaghetti clad fork in circles around her head flinging it over the white walls and the wooden floors “beggleybooglebeggkeyboog beggleybooglebeggkeyboog beggleybooglebeggkeyboog”. Or sometimes randomly mid-conversation about what lovely things we should do today…”beggleybooglebeggkeyboog beggleybooglebeggkeyboog beggleybooglebeggkeyboog”. I just don’t know why. I know that these noises, like other habits she has picked up along the way, are normal and will go away and I should ignore it. She’s testing me. But this week I am flunking her test. I know she’s pushing me. But this week, I’m falling over. I’m tired and irritable and it’s making me snap. I should note here that if you don’t know me, I’m pretty calm. I’m not a shouter, I don’t get too mad and I’ve never had a fight. But this week I have raised my voice daily and I have hit both the steering wheel and the kitchen worktop with the palm of my hand, in pure frustration. Do you remember when you were younger there would be those songs like the one from the Club advert that people sang over and over again – “if you like a lot of chocolate on your biscuit, join our club” or “pss pss, chukka chukka mwah tut aaah”. And who could forget the “Whassuuuuuuup” face circa the late 90’s Bud advert. Our current version of these is the beggleybooglebeggkeyboog. Her new noise is the mother equivalent of locking me in a dark room and playing the Crazy Frog or Gangnam Style over and over again. It makes me want to cry. It’s driving me fucking nuts. By 4pm each day, I am done. I consider prosecco or cider. Sometimes I can abstain, particularly if I am hungover, but not always. I wait until 6. That’s far more acceptable. 

It’s not just the noise that is winding me up, though that is the main perpetrator. She has become difficult in conversation and she asks the same question over and over again:
G1: “Mummy whose drink is that?”

Me: “That’s yours darling”

G1: “Is that my drink?”

Me: “Yes, that’s yours.”

G1: “Whose drink is that Mummy?”

Me: “Whose drink do you think it is?”

G1: “Mine! Is that my drink?”

Me: “Yes baby. We just said that didn’t we?”

G1: “Is it mine though Mummy?”

And so on until I want to stab myself in the eye with a rusty screwdriver. In isolation, I don’t mind. I can do this a few times before I lose control. But all day, it is relentless. She also plays with the doors, a big No-No following numerous trapped fingers, scraped toes and lots of tears. Just yesterday, having repeatedly asked her to leave the doors alone and calmly reminding her of what happens when she doesn’t, I had had enough so we introduced the Naughty Step. I put her on it telling her no toys and no talking to anyone. She seemed very non-plussed as she lounged on our thickly carpeted stairs in full view of the widescreen TV in “The Other Room” as it is known in our house, just like the Other Stage at Glasto. I thought I had done OK as I asked her at the end of her time why she had been on the step and she told me it was because “I keep saying ‘no’ to Mummy” (no apology for the beggleybooglebeggkeyboog noise though, I thought haughtily). I didn’t get it quite right though. Later in the same day I was met with “No Mummy, I don’t want to talk to you. Stop talking. Just. Stop. Talking”. On a good day this would really make me laugh. What do you even say to this?! It’s hilarious to have her little chubby finger pointed at me through her mane of blonde curls. And a part of me is pleased. She is naturally quite compliant and Husband and I talked a few weeks back about not quashing her desire to question and challenge, not wanting her to be too “yes sir, no sir, three bags full sir”. I stifled my laugh and reminded her what she had been on the Naughty Step for. “Can I go on the Naughty Step now Mummy?” she asked me. Hmm. 

So in these moments of frustration, I am trying to do better. I am trying to stay calm. I am trying to be my usual rational self. I say how we want to teach Girly no2 actual words. I try to ignore “the noise” and I ask the question again in my same calm tone. I try not to resort to “if you do/don’t…then…”. But this is really hard when everything is met with beggleybooglebeggkeyboog. What does it even mean? beggleybooglebeggkeyboog. It doesn’t even sound like anything. What is she trying to communicate with me? Is it lack of attention? Is she feeling jealous? Is she picking up on my stress? Or is it just an annoying noise? I’ve tried asking her about it. “Mummy, just say it, just like this – beggleybooglebeggkeyboog.” I say it. It annoys me even more. 

PC (Pre-Children), I used to see stressed parents growling at their heart-meltingly cute children and think “how could you be cross with them? Look at their little faces!” I didn’t know about the power of a beggleybooglebeggkeyboog. Now I get it. And I send virtual apologies to anyone I thought this about. I also apologise to my Husband, because coming home from work must be like walking into a Lions Den at feeding time. I know I am short tempered and I know I can’t always get rid of it once they are in bed. For this I apologise to you, Husband. I know that in the grand scheme of things, I am lucky to have my Girlies and that this noise is minor. But it’s still bloody annoying. I don’t know how we will find our way out of this one. How do you escape a beggleybooglebeggkeyboog? Probably just by ignoring it, that’s how any previous annoying habits have been cracked. In the meantime, I should avoid alcohol and get lots of sleep. HAHAHAHA! Cheers!

#beggleybooglebeggkeyboog #beast #annoyingtoddlers
Is this a beggleybooglebeggkeyboog?

My Mum Lives in My Mouth

A dear friend of ours once told us that when you finally succumbed to children and you have matching bedside tables, then life was over. No more sex and no more fun. We resisted bedside tables for years…8 years in fact. But now it was time. We were parents. Our parents, in many ways. I’d love to hear your thoughts on Facebook or on the blog comments, and as usual if you enjoy it then please share xx

“Please stop hanging on the gate”.

“We’ll go to the toy shop after Mummy and Daddy have got what we need”.

“That’s not how we talk – chatter has two t’s in the middle”.

“Please don’t bang those stones against the glass door, it’s very dangerous”.

“It’s important to eat your vegetables, they help you grow”.

“No more stories, we agreed two. It’s bedtime”.

And so the list goes on. The times I opened my mouth last weekend only to hear my mum come out was shocking. I was expecting to look in the mirror and see a (nearly) 5ft 6in brunette with brown eyes staring back at me. But nope! Still blonde haired and blue eyed. Still me! We were having a much needed weekend to ourselves, a straightening-the-house kind of weekend. We went to a retail park and did Homebase, Halfords, Toys R Us and then still had to go to B&Q anyway; we tidied the garage; went for a walk; batch cooked and froze a load of food; ate fairy cakes as a special treat; did a “Sunday afternoon” activity – painting and stickers, Mummy and Daddy shared a bottle of prosecco while doing it; and then we all sat down for “a nice family meal” on Sunday evening. It was the kind of weekend that used to fill me with that horrible back-to-school feeling. Before we sat down for dinner, Husband and I had a moment rolling around laughing as he walked around the house with his drill complaining about his commute and I quoted something I had heard on Jeremy Vine’s Radio 2 show and told Girly no1 to keep her head still for the fifteenth time while I tried to do her ponytail she had insisted I put in her hair. We laughed because we had morphed into parents. More specifically, our parents. We didn’t know when it had happened, somewhere between Girly no1 becoming active and then giving birth to Girly no2. We never saw it coming. We used to spend our weekends rocking round gigs in London with a box of wine in our back pack (Sainsburys Soave, classy!) perusing independent jewellery makers’ stalls and slurping cocktails in pop up bars on top of car parks in Peckham. Now we had two children, matching bedside tables and we tidied our garage at the weekend. 

It’s not just how we spend our time as a family. Lots of other things have happened recently that shock me about who I have become. I am now finally willing to admit to choosing Radio 2 over Radio 1…the playlist gets on my nerves and I don’t give a shit how Nick Grimshaw revised for his Maths GCSE. I listen to Magic FM when I want to dance around my kitchen. And X FM when Chris Moyles, Johnny Vaughan and Vernon Kay aren’t on which limits my options somewhat. In the car, I don’t admit this to anyone, I listen to Classic FM. It calms screaming children and you know what? I quite like the music. I’m too lazy to choose albums on Spotify unless I go out running (another very un-me thing to do). The radio is like having a friend in the room that you don’t have to talk back to. I spend a lot of time on my own with the little ones, sometimes I need a friend!

Husband and I had a conversation earlier in the week about how we answered questions just like our parents did. Girly no1 had asked me what thunder was. Like I was told, I said it was the clouds crashing together. Why is the sky blue? The reflection of the sea, I said confidently. Husband exasperatedly bashed the steering wheel (just like his Dad) saying “no” repeatedly! “Don’t lie to her! Tell the truth!” Not willing to admit I couldn’t remember the exact science behind thunder and lightening or what light and refraction had to do with the sea, I just laughed. Ok, you explain weather to our two-year-old. Annoyingly he broke it down into a very comprehensive explanation (I’ll get him to write it out and post it on my Facebook page). She had lost interest by this point and was shouting about boats. At least next time we would be ready. Husband felt very strongly that we shouldn’t lie or give nonsense explanations and he reminded me how I once fell out with my three best friends for two days because I swore blind that a ball bearing was actually called a bulbarian. I was fifteen when this happened in Physics class one day. On confronting Mum and Dad, they said it was one of those “cute” things I used to say so they never corrected me. I was furious at the time, but now, I must confess, when no1 sings “I hear panda” instead of “I hear thunder”, the cuteness makes me die. I promise I will tell her the correct lyric before she’s fifteen. 

My real epiphany moment of what I have become though, was to do with crumbs. I hate them. Toast in bed – never. Feeding babies and toddlers is a form of torture to me, the food that gets on the floor makes me mad. I try not to let it, but it does. This week, I told Girly no1 off about crumbs to the point that she ate a sandwich with her face square-on to the bottom of her bowl and picked each crumb up individually at the end. I looked over at her aghast, my hands on my cheeks a la The Scream. I am officially my mother. What was I doing to this poor child? She was two and a half! Of course she would make crumbs! I went and cuddled her head while she was eating, she batted me off with a grumble about the butter on her ham. I now understood the guilt my Mum referred to when she once found me sitting cross-legged on the floor eating a biscuit over a wicker bin. When asked why, it was so I didn’t make crumbs and make Mummy cross. 

We all expect to sound a bit like our parents, but I’ve only recently realised quite how far it has gone. It’s not because we want to, its because when we don’t know what to say or do, we say and do the things that were done to us. We don’t feel like parents any more than we ever have, and most of the time we’re laughing behind our hands, but our parents did a pretty good job with us so I can think of worse people to become! So I’m pretty accepting of our parent status, the fact my mum lives in my voice box, and that my bedside tables match. There might not be as much sex, drugs and rock n roll as there used to be but there is definitely fun. Lots of of it! Life isn’t over. It’s just different. Good different!

Me and the Mummy in my mouth

Put A Plug In It!

I’m not a big fan of The Simpsons but I definitely know who Maggie Simpson is. Doesn’t everyone? I see her on the street, in passing pushchairs, at friends’ houses. She has a disproportionately large face featuring two big round eyes and one big plastic plug. And puffer-fish cheeks from the sucking. It’s that dreaded slash beloved dummy!

Like a lot of people, I had always scoffed at dummies. Dirty, teeth bending plugs to keep your child quiet – what was to like? If you think about it, it’s just mean! Let them talk mean Mummies! And wasn’t it just another thing to try and wean them off? The name also got me. Was it intended to be a mannequin nipple? I wanted to meet this chic it was based on because she has some funky shit going on in her bra. Or was it something to do with labelling babies stupid? That just seemed mean, it’s not their fault they’re a dribbling mess for the first 12 months of their lives. The word dummy just didn’t help. Then, everything changed. Girly no1 was born. After those first few days, when you think you’ve been given a dream baby that never cries and only eats and sleeps, reality hit. She started making all this noise and wailing. She was only happy when she had a nipple in her mouth. As they were splitting and tender (at one point, if you looked from the side, my nipples looked just like the Himalayas), I couldn’t bear to put them near her mouth for feeding time, never mind for comforting suckling. I had to make a choice between being stabbed repeatedly in the eye or the ear. Which would you prefer Mrs H?! Being slightly autistic about loud noises (if ever you want me to stop doing something, make a high pitched wail and I’ll just curl up in a ball, rock and ask for my Mummy), someone suggested a dummy. My immediate thought was “I hate dummies”. Then I looked at my baby whose moan was my kryptonite, put two fingers up to pre-baby me and Usain Bolt-ed to the Boots down the road. I bought two different kinds of dummy, mentally re-named them the far more apt, but American, name of ‘pacifier’ in my head and spent the rest of the day forcing them into her mouth. Sadly it didn’t work, she was having none of it. They flew out of her mouth like a jack-in-the-box, littering the carpet, and the grizzling continued. As I was approaching the end of my tether and considering stopping breast feeding altogether, she suddenly found this tiny little stump on her hand, which was the perfect size for sucking. Despite having little to no control over any part of her body, she managed to get that tiny little excuse for a thumb into her mouth almost constantly and noisily suckled away. Peace reigned once more. Nights improved significantly because if she woke up, she had her thumb. And best of all, I didn’t have to get out of bed! We tried a dummy again after so many people said “what about her teeth?” but it flew across the room in disgust. Who needs a rubber nipple when you have the tiniest thumb in the world to suck on?! 
That thumb became our saving grace. It was always there. It didn’t need sterilising. It obviously tasted good, even when the skin went all white and flakey. And it was funny watching her learn how to position her hand (for us, not for her). In the early days, her tiny little palm would cover her whole face and her little deathly-weapon fingers would poke her in the eye. But eventually she nailed it. Her first trip to the dentist was inevitably filled with the sideways head and the you-really-should-discourage-her-from-sucking-it. To this I laughed. I wondered how we might achieve this…Create some sort of thumb hat to cover it up (or just put a glove on)?! Pin her arm to the side of her cot in Houdini-esque straight jacket? Permanently cover her thumb in broccoli and mashed potato? Continually shout at her to take her thumb out all day every day alongside all the other things I told her off for, then at night physically remove it from her mouth? No. She was one. And that thumb was the key to our happiness! We agreed to worry about teeth later, we have a whole spare set yet. 
Girly no2, when she emerged from that initial 3-week period I like to call a lie, was a real screamer. Given my slightly more relaxed attitude toward dummies, after one day at about 4 weeks old when she had screamed for almost 3 hours, Husband gave her a dummy. The first couple of times she spat it across the room like a chicken-eating-foot-dragging-cap-donning teenager hucking up spit, but on the third time, she loved it. She went straight off to sleep. Husband couldn’t wait to tell me how he had done it. He was beside himself with excitement, he had found the answer to our increasingly desperate sleep deprived prayers. I umm’d and aaah’d a bit as I didn’t want us to fall into the dummy trap. I felt a bit uneasy about it having heard some recent horror stories about parents trying to get their little one to give their dummies up. One such story involved some ceremonial burying of the dummy in a field, only for the Dad to return and dig it back up in the early hours of the morning. I hope I read this and a friend didn’t tell me, otherwise I’m sure I would have asked about the mechanics of finding the spot – was there a dummy equivalent of a gravestone? And was the dummy loose in the dirt? How do they know a cat hadn’t pee’d on it? I digress. Despite thinking I wouldn’t really use it, the next day no2 wouldn’t stop screaming after I’d fed her for 40 minutes and was in a rush to get out the house (appointment plus newborn equals stress induced twitch) so I popped the dummy into her mouth and there was instant peace! Aaaaah! Who gives a shit if we have to dig a dummy grave?! We’ll make it fun! We can decorate lollipop sticks! Cognitive dissonance at its’ finest. Like before, I went straight to Boots and bought four different kinds. We did the grown up thing and talked about ground rules and when it would be ok to use one and when it wouldn’t be ok. 3 hours later we completely ignored them all when all we wanted to do was sleep. Strangely, after a couple of nights hopping in and out of bed to put the glow-in-the-dark plastic plug back in, I decided it might not be the way forward for us. We wanted her to be able to sleep without needing it. If she needed it in the daytime, particularly at that delightful period of the day just before bed when Girly no1 becomes the devil incarnate and Girly no2 emits a constant high-pitched wail regardless of what you say or do. You know the time…the one where you constantly check the clock to see if it’s acceptable to drink prosecco; where you question how much is ok to have before they’re in bed because there’s no way you can wait until they’re in bed; and when you wonder why the minutes last 120 seconds between 5.30 and 6.30 when the rest of the day goes so fast. She ended up using a dummy as and when we needed it for a week or two, then like her sister before, she also found a podgy little stump on her hand. Her forefinger became her pacifier, helping her go to sleep. Unlike her sister, she doesn’t suck it very often, just when she’s falling asleep.  

My conclusion is that babies suck. Not like that but they have to suck, for their own happiness and contentment. And frankly they are much easier to love when they are quiet and sleeping. If you don’t want it to be your bleeding, cracked Himalaya nipple they’re sucking on, then give them something – a digit off their own hand, a rubber teat, anything. Within reason obviously. I’m a convert to the put a plug in it approach. And I’ve learned to love Maggie Simpson. 

If you have enjoyed this post, please help me grow my readers by sharing on Facebook or Twitter! Thanks friends!

#TO DUMMY OR NOT TO DUMMY

Out Out In

This week’s post is all about the excitement of going out out and then actually wanting to be in! Please like and share if you enjoy. Big love to all you beautiful Mums!

We had been out drinking til 1am spending £25 in a bouncer-protected McDonalds right before bed. I had been harping on about not having had one for 15 months because they shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near pregnant or breast feeding mothers – drivel the child-free youth of East London really don’t care about. I woke up a few hours later at 6.45am and managed to keep quiet for a whole 15 minutes before snuggling into Husband. “You’re going to make me get up and go home, aren’t you?” he asked in a resigned, hoarse voice barely lifting his head off the pillow. He turned over and I gave him my best I-know-you-love-me smile, telling him he could stay in bed for another 15 minutes while I had a shower and made him a coffee. After our second McDonalds in 12 hours, we were home in time for Girly no2’s second feed of the day, relieving my aching, throbbing, and now pornstar-like boobs. My fuzzy (hungover) head all but disappeared as I inhaled her lovely little coconut head. 

I do this every time we stay away for the night. That day, I’m desperate to get out. Crazy excited to have some time away from the repetition and predictability of my days. Some time away from swearing at trodden-on Peppa Pig figurines; from saying “share nicely or Jack/Millie/Harper/Noah (delete as appropriate) will have to go home”; from cooking spaghetti and slicing up cheese and cucumber; from shivering in the park asking the 34th Mum that week how old her snot-clad fine-haired fairy is while we push two smiley toddlers back and forth. In the nights leading up to said outing I dream about jaegerbombs and dancing to 80’s power ballads in Be@1 til 3 in the morning. I picture an attractive glossy haired fun-loving blonde in leather clad trousers laughing and dancing (not a random – me circa 2012). The reality is pretty far removed. The stress of leaving the house is never the best start. Scribbling down routines, demonstrating to grandparents the exact position to hold Girly no2 in order to get her to sleep and what to say to get no1 to brush her teeth; which buttons to press to make the Gro-clock work; where the wellies are in case no1 refuses to leave the house without them; the dosage of Nurofen versus Calpol and in which instances to use each one and which teething ring to put the Bonjela on (this Matchstick Monkey is amazing by the way, only one worth using). Dodging the sick after the final feed, I always leave the house feeling fraught, frumpy and un-cool, welling up at the sad face on Girly no1 as I hug her goodbye. I convince myself it will be fine once we relax and have a few drinks. What actually happens is that I get all self-conscious when I arrive in the environment I used to inhabit so easily, and I end up drinking too much too quickly then panic that I’ll make myself sick. I worry about the quality of the next days’ breast milk. I sober up just as everyone else gets smashed and then I just want to eat and go to bed. Before I’ve even left whatever cool pop-up establishment we’ve been in, I wish I was at home in our bed ready for snuggles with my babies in the morning. It’s not exactly how I saw the night going and always leaves me feeling hungover, guilty and deflated. It’s like I’ve forgotten how to have fun. I was like it with Girly no1, in such a rush to remember and relive life before pregnancy and baby, but when given the opportunity I realised I didn’t quite fit-in the same anymore. It made me desperate to get back to my baby. It’s the same this time around. I know it won’t last forever, it’s just a phase after they’re born, but getting back to feeling myself is so much more of a challenge than I ever though it would be. 

I did it again this week. I had a meeting with work in London so I took the opportunity to have a day to myself, meeting Sister Auntie for lunch and doing some shopping. After some prosecco at lunch, I walked miles along Oxford Street buying a few rubbish things like some new pants (a must after childbirth) and some dry shampoo. Clothes for the babies too obviously – at least they are guaranteed to fit! I went to Selfridges, John Lewis, Reiss and a few of the big shops in pursuit of a wedding outfit. I tried a few on, already in a hot sweaty fluster as I entered the changing rooms. I’ve never found them to be the most confidence-boosting of places. I must pause here to ask the question, who the hell chooses the lighting in shop fitting rooms? I’ve wondered this since I was 15, skinny as a string bean, but thinking I looked disgusting in everything River Island had to offer. It’s this lighting that is responsible for my somewhat expensive habit of buying things to try on at home and return next week if they don’t fit (pah! As if I’m going back next week!). Cue a lifetime of free clothes to Sister Auntie. This week was no different – lighting has not moved with us into 2017, it’s still 1997 in a fitting room. I had a few dresses I knew wouldn’t fit because they didn’t stretch and some tops that might go with a pencil skirt I’d seen earlier. I hadn’t bought it because the only one that fit was two sizes bigger than I normally wear and it made me too sad. The first top made me look like a Russian prostitute. Turns out I had it on back to front. As I was changing the top round and I wondered when fitting rooms had become like airport security, I noticed the scenic pictures on the walls of the rippling sand dunes….oh, no, that was just my thighs and belly. Lovely. The next top lasted about three seconds before I threw it all to the ground in a strop. Then, being the good girl I am, I guiltily picked it all up and put it back on the hangers perfectly. I walked towards the smiling assistant at the end of the one-way system prepared to throw it all at her when she asked: “any good?”. Instead, she held her hands out and carried on talking to the girl around the corner telling some (not very) hilarious story about getting her hair caught in a door handle or something equally as annoying. I stormed out of the changing rooms and headed to the toilet, my heart aching as I saw the baby change signs and all the shopping mums and daughters heading that way. Instinctively, I leant forward over an imaginary pram to check my not-there baby’s nappy. At that moment, I decided to go home. If I got a move on then I would make it back for bed time. 

I didn’t think I would suffer with all this awkwardness and anxiety the second time around, but I definitely have. I know that it’s just at the beginning when everything is so new and life is so different but I think it’s almost worse this time around because I am now so far removed from my old life. I suspect some of these feelings are down to my Mum Tum and unwanted Kim K butt. Flooded with hormones and being very babyfied turns me into a person I didn’t think I would ever be, but one that I am strangely proud of. It does pass as my babies get older. When my body, well a body, comes back and I’m no longer breast feeding, I start to feel more like me again. As time goes on I will force some time in to study Grazia, I will shop online to avoid the hideousness of the changing room lights, I will get a new haircut and emerge perhaps not as the old me, but as a new me. Some blend of the vaguely stylish piss head I used to be with the mumsy frump I am for the first year after having a baby. Until then I think I’ll stick to the local curry house with Husband!

If you have enjoyed this, please share it back on the place you came from! For regular updates, please follow me on here (click subscribe), on Twitter (@makinglittleppl) or on my Facebook page.  

OUT OUT IN THE FITTING ROOMS
Sweating in the fitting rooms

An Epic Battle

Every parent knows the agony of a monster temper tantrum in public. There’s nothing else quite like it. We had one a few weeks ago and it was brutal, we’re still reeling from it now! Please share your tips for handling them because boy oh boy I need them! All shares and likes much appreciated as usual. 

Picture this scene. Soft sands. Warm sun. The sounds of the tide. The gurgling of a baby. The odd squeal of joy from roaming children while parents gaze on happily. We were having a lovely stroll along the beach. It might not have been the Caribbean, but it had been a warm spring day, and everyone had enjoyed making sand castles and running in and out of the sea. We were getting hungry and it was time to go. Suddenly the little person, whose footsteps I had worshipped for two and a half years now, was facedown in the sand kicking and screeching “NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO!” She was coughing, choking and screaming. She was Hulk in pink spotty raincoat. It was deafening. And it was messy – sand and toddlers don’t mix well at the best of times. It was tantrum time. Public tantrum time! After a moment laughing at how out of control she was, I realised she wasn’t coming back from this one and my warm happy face turned to a prickly, sweaty, ashamed one very quickly. The smiling faces on the beach became judgemental, and myriad. The incoming tide became an encroaching danger. There was sand everywhere, her eyes and mouth, it was all plastered to the snot and tears that covered that angry little face. I tried cuddling and talking her down but there was no coming back. In the end, Husband picked her up, threw her over his shoulder and marched her back to the car. She carried on sobbing asking for Mummy. When she had me, she wanted Daddy. It was impossible. She was impossible. 

EPIC BATTLES with toddlers
Hulk on the beach
When this happened a few weeks back, I felt fortunate that I was with Husband, Grandaddy and my best friend, the Northerner. It was safety in numbers, I was glad of the support. If I had been on my own I couldn’t physically have got the three of us off the beach. It would have looked like a scene from Bridget Jones, with some Mr Bean thrown in for good measure. We all watched with disbelief as our tottering little angel became an enraged fireball in front of our very eyes. It was Girly no1’s first major tantrum and it was pretty epic. I was almost proud, ‘if you’re going to do something, do it properly’ has always been my mantra! Until Girly no2 arrived, we hadn’t really seen much bad behaviour from Girly no1 (I talk about her reaction in this previous post) but for the last 5 months she really has had a bug up her arse. That bug is being two years old and having a baby sister. She is acting out! A situation like this had been brewing for a while, but my dislike for conflict, along with the fact that most of the time she can be talked around, meant that a final showdown has always been averted. Not this day though! It was just the Grand Finale you would expect from a melodramatic toddler. Husband and I were actually pretty upset. Seeing her this distraught was horrible. It took about an hour for her to start breathing normally. Even longer to get the grains of sand out of her nooks and crannies. 
It brought some things to the surface for Husband and I as we realised there are more differences in our parenting approach than we thought. Our morals are very similar so on the big things, we are consistent. But on some of the smaller rebellions, Husband is quite strong, harsher than I am. I’m all about picking my battles, probably because this is what gets me through the day with her. No one likes conflict, least of a whole day of it, so I will only go into battle if I really have to. When a row is coming, I opt for distraction or conversation. If the heat is really on, I give her options accompanied by the Mum look – you know the one, head cocked to the side, eyebrows raised, mouth pursed like a cats bum, ear poised, waiting for the right answer. Outside it says “don’t fuck with me little one”. Inside it says “when the hell did I become my mother?!”. We have staring contests. Recently she has learnt to turn on the tears. Come on Girly no1! I’m a girl too! At least be creative! Normally these actions are enough to avert the looming crisis. But I still don’t want to be doing this all day every day…I’ll get wrinkles. Whilst it might annoy me that she continually opens and closes the kitchen drawer where her cups are kept risking trapping her fingers, it’s not worth a fight. Hanging off the door handle in the bathroom about to smash her head on the tiled floor, worth a fight. Wearing crocs with tights, not worth a fight (I never thought I would say this, crocs full stop would have been enough for a fight pre-children!). Attempting to poke her sisters eyes out with her thumbs, totally worth a fight. 

Tantrums are part of the whole journey, and some parents have to deal with them far more often than we do. They’re embarrassing, gruelling even, but I’m told they pass. I haven’t seen a teenager being carried back to their parents’ car like she was that day so it must be true. I’m well aware that there will be a million more battles along the way, and they will take many forms. I’m not looking forward to any of them but it’s all part of the parenting deal, it’s hard. Even harder when you don’t always agree with your partner. Even harder still when you think about the psychological ramifications of how you handle things. Unbearable! But surmountable. Husband and I agree that all we can do is talk. And do what feels right in the moment. We have to pick the things that really matter and hope that the right things rub off on the little people. So next time you see a Mum head butting her steering wheel with a screaming toddler in the back of her car, don’t stare, don’t gawp or judge, assume she’s just dragged her choking child off the beach and keep on walking. 

If you have enjoyed this, please share it back on the place you came from! For regular updates, please follow me on here (click subscribe), on Twitter (@makinglittleppl) or on my Facebook page.  


EPIC BATTLES with toddlers
Crocs and tights aren’t worth the fights

Mummascribbles

Eating’s (not) Cheating

This week’s post is about our family battle with food. Our internal battles, our external battles and my battle with myself. I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic because I find it to be one of the most stressful aspects of parenting. Please do this on Facebook, Twitter (@makinglittleppl) or the comments box below. Let’s talk! Oh and I owe you a thank you. Earlier this week I asked you to like and share my post in a bid to drive up page likes and many of you kindly did. If you can do the same again, I will be eternally grateful! Big love to you all, Mrs Hergerburger xx

Eating’s cheating used to be one of my favourite expressions. Choosing drinking over eating, what’s not to like?! It typically meant I would go out on a Friday night and drink, most often until I was sick. Cheating my body? Nope. My hangover? Definitely not. My waistline? No way, no how. So I’m not sure eating is cheating. Sadly however, I think my toddler has adopted my juvenile mantra. Not to do with alcohol, though you would be forgiven for thinking she was drunk if you heard her rendition of Postman Pat, but with food. I find the eating thing incredibly stressful. I shouldn’t, as it’s so base, but between the mess, the habits and the crap-dodging, it can really monopolise the mind. 

Once you’re over the breast/bottle saga that dominates the first six weeks of your baby’s life, the next stress is when to start giving them real food. We had heard and read so much conflicting advice – friends giving porridge at 6 months, cousins giving curry at 5 months, mums giving egg at 4 months and Nana giving apples at 3 months. Where do you even begin?! We decided we wanted to understand the science and make an informed decision. We looked like neurotic first time parents when we admitted that we attended an NCT ‘Introducing Solids’ workshop, but I’m OK with that. I always use the analogy that I wouldn’t go and see a doctor that hadn’t practised for 20 years, so blindly following the advice of family elders, without understanding the latest science, doesn’t make sense either. Listen, but follow your own path and all that. The workshop was a well-spent couple of hours. As well as learning the actual signs that your baby is ready to wean (sitting up, loss of tongue-thrust reflex and ability to pick up food) the biggest takeaway was the maturity of the digestive system. My (probably dreadful) interpretation of this is that a babies’ gut is open for the first 6 months, to allow antibodies and proteins from breastmilk to pass straight through to the bloodstream. One of the advantages of breast milk is that it lines the gut and helps protect against anything bad. At 6 months, the gut closes so the baby’s body is able to stop harmful things passing through on its own. This became one of my milestones for breast feeding, I felt better about my decision to stop once 6 months had passed. This article on KellyMom, an absolute favourite website of mine, explains it much better than I do. The other thing we learnt was that nothing will fill your baby up like calorie-dense breast milk or formula. So if your baby is waking up hungry, give them more milk, don’t think that a barely mangled bit of banana is going to fix the problem. It made sense to us. Husband and I walked out of the standard slightly-damp-smelling-rough-carpeted venue much better informed than we went in. I’ll certainly never buy a box of Farley’s Rusks (shock horror to anyone over 30!) due to the shocking amount of sugar and salt in them. And actually, even many of the baby jars and snacks are bad habits waiting to happen. I’m surprised it’s not legislated more heavily. We started feeding Girly no1 at 6 months as per the advice from NCT, the World Health Organisation, NHS, UNICEF and EOAB (Every Other Acronym Body – totally a real thing) and will do the same for Girly no2 in a couple of weeks time. But this time around I’m going to charge a pound for every person that looks at me like I’m a child beater when I tell them we’re waiting until 6 months. I might be able to afford a new sofa!  

After the ‘when’ to feed, we tackled the ‘what’. From day one we combined baby-led weaning with spoon feeding. We started Girly no1 on pieces of fruit and steamed veg, never bothering with baby porridge and I didn’t purée anything myself. There were times, I admit – shaking my head in shame – that we used pre-prepared meals. Ella’s Kitchen and later HIPP Organic meals were great and have little-to-no additives, and I eventually shook off the guilt of using these when I saw the variety of flavours, and frankly how much easier they made my life. We came to think of Ella as our family chef. Once Girly no1 was older and better with lumps, we made big batches of spag bol, sausage casserole or shepherds pie, all crammed with veg. But all that was back when she ate anything I gave her. When I worried about her being a Waitrose kid asking for salmon with asparagus spears, or beef bourgignon with a side of lightly peppered butternut squash. Six months ago everything changed as she discovered a new superpower. The ‘yellow food group’ power, designed to make Mummy twitch and growl. Girly no1, at two and a half, randomly decided she would only eat yellow foods – cheese, brioche, yoghurt, banana and cereal. It was, and is, incredibly frustrating. The Heath Visitor told me not to worry. She said to think about food over the week rather than the day. I did this….yep, still yellow. There is one exception, she will always eat spaghetti bolognese. Fish fingers have recently been added to this list, though arguably these belong in the yellow food group. I don’t know whether this is me doing something wrong or it’s just a phase. It had become a power struggle and, quite literally, wasn’t healthy for any of us. I read an article that suggested presenting the whole meal (including any dessert) on the table at the same time and letting your child pick what they want. It said to stop thinking about our concepts of sweet and savoury as they just aren’t embedded in children of that age. The idea is that the child can choose what they eat and this freedom of choice leads to them eating more (buffet mentality!). I thought this would mean that she would turn into a Petit Filous, but surprisingly, she hasn’t. She has started eating peas again, and is gradually trying new things. The other day at a friend’s house she ate raw carrot, hummus and cucumber. I choked on my own raw carrot, cucumber and hummus. At our house she would shake and shudder at the very mention. It isn’t always practical to serve lots of dishes, particularly as we eat at different times, but I try and make sure that we eat as a family a couple of times a week and she is offered everything on the table. When she eats on her own, I give her a plate with everything on it – fish fingers, peas, fruit and yoghurt. Power struggle averted. 

My biggest food nemesis is other people (blame everyone else, why not?!). We read and heard a lot about the impact of too much sugar and salt on babies and children’s bodies and vowed to do everything we could to keep these out of their diets. Excessive salt is so harmful to babies’ kidneys and like most things, if you never get a taste for it you never crave it, heroin being a great equivalent example. My mum never added salt to any of her cooking, so I don’t either. In fact I hate salty things. As long as we do the cooking, this one is fairly easy to dodge. Sugar, however, is an entirely different matter. Both Husband and I have a ridiculously sweet tooth and eat biscuits like there is a world shortage. I crave sugar at two or three points in my day. I would be one skinny Minnie if I didn’t eat sugar as I do. I tried to give up in January – I lasted 5 days. Now I’m even worse than when I started. I didn’t, and still don’t, want my Girlies wrestling sugar cravings for the rest of their lives. And I definitely don’t want them to be another obesity statistic – sugar is an absolute and proven driver of this problem. I read that if children can avoid refined sugars for the first three years of life, they won’t have a sweet tooth. It will be sickly to them. We almost completely dodged it for the first year but the second and third year have been so much harder as every mofo wants to ply our baby with sugar. We went to a children’s gym class the other day that gave out lollipops at the end! I love a Chuppa Chups as much as the next guy but for a two year old. Really?! One of the most frequent battles is with grandparents, who seem to think their mission in life is to fill your child with biscuits, sweets and ice cream. It’s a topic that drives me nuts. I want to ask why they want to push my daughter towards a lifelong fight with her health that she could well avoid. It’s not just grandparents though. Knowing what we know now, why do any of us give our children anything sugary? If we all nipped it in the bud now then diabetes, obesity and tooth decay wouldn’t be issues in the future. We give it to them because we like it…but we don’t give them prosecco and fags, we’d be locked up for it! Before you all hit the X in the corner and accuse me of being a ranting hippy, I should state that I’m no angel. I eat biscuits in front of Girly no1 and occasionally let her have a bit. We let her have a little ice cream in the summer. And at Easter, she had a bit of a tiny Milky Bar egg. This approach, though, is not much better than giving it to her always because with this we’re making it a special treat. All the more tempting! It’s quite the conundrum, and I don’t know the right answer. I’ve told a few people that she had no chocolate at Easter and the reactions are akin to me telling them I locked her in an under-the-stairs cupboard for the weekend. I feel strongly on the topic though, like most things this is about setting them up for the future. Both of my girls are already bloody heavy and would struggle to hit the upper end of “ideal” on the BMI scale. You know those hessian sack door stops that look like they are light but you break your back picking them up? That’s me and my girls. The three of us are lead-lined. The 8 stone scale reading will whizz by at age 10. I ditched weight-watching years ago but since having babies I’ve started back on the scales. It never used to matter because I was athletic and fit. The only time it bothered me was when my Mum gasped when I told her how much I weighed. I suppose 12 stone is shocking to someone who weighed 8.5 stone and had a 22 inch waist when she got married. Now, though, I’m not fit or athletic, I’m fat and squidgy. 5 months after giving birth I weigh way more than my “slim” weight of 12 stone. Once I’m feeling myself again I’ll get my focus on the things that matter to me and that I want to matter to my Girlies – health, strength and feeling good about the woman staring back at you in the mirror.

So the whole food thing stresses me out, for me and for them. I don’t know the answer. I’m cowardly in some ways because I’m not willing to be the big bad wolf. When all the other kids are eating crap, I give it to my child too, peer pressure at its’ finest. When someone overweight feeds my child biscuits, and I want to say “why do you want her to be fat too?”, I don’t. Because I do it too. What I do know is that as we embark on the whole food journey again with Girly no2, I’ll do most things the same, but hopefully with less sugar. For everyone. Maybe as a family we’ll even go sugar free and I’ll find the confidence to say no to more. First though, I’m going to eat the rest of that Milky Bar egg…

EATINGS (NOT) CHEATING #toddlerfood #food #yellowfood
Mix it up

That’s a Bit Weird

Last weekend we went to London. We saw these beautiful giant tortoises at London Zoo. Near the enclosure was a shell that you could climb into and pretend to be a tortoise. Sister-Auntie duly climbed in and committed to the role with a wide mouth and big eyes. Us grown ups were rolling around laughing. Girly no1, now two and a half, was not. She stood and watched her Auntie with a very serious look on her face. Then said “Auntie, what are you doing? Get up!”  I laughed so hard a little bit of wee came out. Oh my serious little girl (and the gift of childbirth). 

I knew very early on that Girly no1 had that serious streak, as I have it myself. Personality wise, she’s very similar to me. It’s a very strange thing having your quirks reflected back at you in a small person, you see them how other people see them. It can be disconcerting at times, but hugely reassuring in others. You learn that others can adore your weirdness. Laughter can be fond. And when you don’t react exactly as people expect, it’s other people’s’ discomfort that makes things awkward, not you. Since she was a baby, we have really had to work hard for smiles and laughs. I never minded, I found it quite endearing, but other people would become almost embarrassed that their last 5 minutes of pulling stupid faces and making weird noises failed to make “this funny little soul” smile. She would look at them with the most deadpan face. It was hilarious! A laugh from her was nigh on impossible, unless you were Husband or I. I once let on what I had done to make her laugh for the first time. For the next two months whenever she was left alone with one of her Nana’s or her Auntie, I could hear them singing the magic song (not Sir Mix a Lot in case you’re wondering) and assuming “the position” on the floor. The Nana’s were always caught out by their dodgy knees – can’t move so quickly in your fifties! Consequently the trick lost its’ charm and I had to find a new one. When I found one I didn’t tell anyone else, if I had to spend all day with the smaller, angrier me then I deserved the laughs. To this day she’ll only really laugh with her inner circle. She’s the ice princess to my Ice Queen! Reassuringly, Girly no2 is a different story – I can make a giggly baby and am not inflicting just my seriousness on the world. At 5 months old you only have to look at her to make her laugh. She laughs when she sneezes. She laughs if you wobble your head from side to side. She coos and gurgles and blows raspberries. She permanently has a smile on her face. It’s lovely! Different lovely. The ones that remember no1’s seriousness approach with trepidation, and are delighted to be met with smiles. Their needs met, they’re not left feeling silly and are therefore much happier. 

Girly no1 has also inherited some of my other “quirks”. My morning grumpiness is renowned amongst my friends, family and colleagues. My diary at work was generally kept free until 11am. My family didn’t speak to me before midday for all of my teenage years. My friends bring food and tea if they have to talk to me before lunch. Girly no1 is the same. Woe betide the fool that wakes her from a nap. I would recommend you go stick your head in a croc’s open mouth first. Or at least change pooey nappies and whatever else needs doing before you absolutely have to wake her. I’m just about there on a new technique for waking Girly no1 but human trials are not yet complete, and it needs tweaking before we’ll get approval. Her sense of humour is different to other toddlers. I’ve lost count of the number of times an adult has tried to make her laugh and she has blank-faced them. I find it hilarious, partly because of said adult’s slightly huffy and embarrassed face, but also because I often find myself in a room full of laughing people not getting the joke. Correction – I do get it, I just don’t find it funny. I always notice at comedy shows that I laugh at different times to everyone else…the only other person laughing is Husband, though more often than not at me. I’d love nothing more than to find the whole world funny, I feel like life would be so much sunnier. But I’m more like the English weather, not a completely miserable fucker but not always sunny either. I find specific people funny, like Girly no1 does. Sister and Husband can make me laugh so hard my cheeks hurt. And I have a small handful of friends who do the same – Northerner, Jet Set, Princess Jasmine to name a couple – though even then my mood that day can determine whether I laugh and smile or am focused and serious. I want to make sure Girly no1 grows up feeling OK with this aspect of herself. It’s taken me a long time and great periods of self-doubt to reach this feeling, something that I really would like her to avoid. Girly no1 gets angry if she can’t do something, too. Flying jigsaw pieces are the norm in our house. Our neighbours probably hear “we don’t get cross, we just take our time” in their sleep. She has also inherited my ‘did-something-die-in-there?’ morning breath, but less said about that the better. 

I have made my first born sound like a complete weirdo, she’s not. She’s a loving little girl who, a lot of the time, is just busy being two. She has inherited some positive traits from me; I praise her because I want her to be proud of her amazing determination; her incredible empathy; and her drive to master all things. I tell her she’s amazing and funny and loving, because they’re the things she’ll think she’s not if she starts to believe the serious ice-queen references that will be thrown her way in the years to come. 

I often wonder at what point we drift into narcissism and whether our reason for producing is that we’re all so fascinated by ourselves that we try and make replicas…I’ll stop there as I’m sure someone more qualified than me has written on the subject and I’m certainly no philosopher! Having this particular little person like me, means learning to love all of myself – and Husband, she’s not all me. That frown is definitely his. In her inevitable periods of self doubt in the future, I’ll tell her that people just need to get to know her. There is nothing wrong with only giving away the fun, giggly side of yourself to the ones you love the most. Just ask Husband and Auntie!

Click here to go back and like or share. Otherwise I’ll become deeply paranoid and stop writing….


#AUNTIETORTOISEANDMYSERIOUSGIRL #THATSABITWEIRD
Auntie Tortoise and my serious Girly no1

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

 

The Gender Agenda

In the last few months, Girly no1 (age 2 and a half) has started to talk about boys and girls and he’s and she’s. It’s a very confusing time and I’m not sure she’s grasped it yet. She knows Daddy is a boy and Mummy is a girl, but she also thinks Auntie is a boy. I suppose she can be a bit boy-ish….if there’s such a thing. We’ll get there. Understanding the concept of boys and girls is one of those things we all learn as children, and important to understand biologically and grammatically. Socially however, the gender concept is one that is increasingly fluid. And in the same way race was tackled when we were children, I suspect gender is next to be tackled with our offspring. 

We were reading Biff, Chip and Kipper Go for Haircuts the other day. You remember them – the ones that do very mundane activities and make them last ten pages during which time your mind starts to drift. “I wonder whether your eyebrows would get caught in your pubic hair if the eyebrow hairs carried on growing and never fell out? How different would the air smell if we all breathed out a little bit of burp with every breath all the time? Focus Mummy!” It’s not immediately obvious in those books who is a boy and who is a girl as they’re all named after dogs. No1 was asking who each one was and I found it really hard to identify which was a boy and which was a girl without resorting to stereotypes like hair length, outfits or make up. The only other thing I could think of was going back to biology, but it didn’t seem an appropriate time to talk about willies and vajayjays. I am very conscious though that stereotypes driving the girlies’ self-concept and their view of others are formed at this age, so while we’re trying not to drive the boy-girl thing too hard, it’s very difficult to distinguish between man and woman without using some more traditional references. 

We ways hoped that we could bring the girlies up to be as gender neutral as is realistic in our life, releasing them from stereotypes we have felt constrained by and making sure they are understanding of others’ choices. If Grandad, the 6ft 4 house-building rugby player ever decides to arrive at our house in a dress, I would like it if they said “you look nice Grandad”. Equally if one of them wants to be an international cricket player, I would like it if they had the same visibility, standing and earning prospects as the men’s team. Sadly these are unlikely scenarios, maybe not in Grandads case, who knows, but I would like them to believe in todays gender spectrum rather than the binary view of the 1950’s. And as stereotypes are embedded from an early age, I want to tackle it from day one. Day to day it’s fairly straightforward. I change up pretty with handsome. I like to think that you wouldn’t be able to tell whether our playroom has a male or female inhabitant. I dress both girls in lots of navy and green; there is pink but it’s not the dominant wardrobe colour. In fact I dressed Girly no1 in so much navy when she was little she was often mistaken for a boy. I would tell people “Mark is 3 months, and yes a very bonny lad, thank you”. It was often easier than embarrassing them by throwing their assumptions back in their face. What we didn’t account for though, was other people’s contributions. We didn’t expressly state no pink, no dolls and no fairy princesses to everyone around us. And consequently have been bombarded with all of them! Girly no1 has 5 dolls already and all the accessories (including a bath with an operating shower!). She has fairy princesses coming out of her ears. She has books that glitter and sparkle. And an illuminous pink trampoline! I need to pause here and say the girls are not quite as spoiled brats as they sound. Husband and I both have divorced parents so she has four sets of Grandparents – as opposed to two – who don’t listen; as is a grandparents’ prerogative I guess! They are very lucky girls. I’m aware of sounding like a horribly ungrateful wench here, which I’m not. I just don’t want my daughters growing up to be Miss Piggy. We discretely combat the fluff and glitter in the best way we can. For everything traditionally girly, she had something traditionally boyie, if that’s the vernacular we’re using. For Christmas, she got a kitchen and a workbench (£30 from IKEA and second hand for £15 – FYI!). She has a fairy outfit and a Scooby Doo costume. A pram and a car mat. I am all the more committed to this balance since speaking to a Teacher friend the other day who reinforced our thinking and confirmed that the toys we play with as children influence our future choices. The reason there are so many male engineers? Because boys play with Lego and Mechano. Female nurses? Girls play with dollies. I’m grossly over-simplifying, but this has been proven time and time again and I don’t want my daughters’ future considerations to be limited because they only played with toasters, hoovers and ironing boards. I want them to build skyscrapers, be the future master of micro biology or uncover the history of dinosaurs, if that’s what they want to do. 

What we didn’t account for, however, was personal choice. And I’m pretty amazed at this. We bought our house and moved in just two weeks before Girly no2 was due and we wanted to make sure no1’s bedroom was perfect, so she had a little haven to run to when the baby crying got too much. That and somewhere she was happy to sleep so we didn’t end up with two crying children in our bedroom. I dutifully produced the Dulux colour chart offering every colour in the rainbow and asked her to pick some she liked. Her top three were Fondant Fancy, Waterlily Blush and Russian Velvet. Gleaming bright shades of pink! I did my best to push some other colours but it wasn’t happening. Much as it hurt, we had to stick by our offering and so gave her one pink bedroom wall. She’s naturally drawn to long hair, pink lips and glittery nails. She loves the Little Mermaid and Frozen. Ana, Elsa and that goofy snowman have hit our house as much as the next family. She’ll always opt for a bright pink dress over denim dungarees. I’m baffled! With all of our anti-pink efforts, it’s so unexpected. I’m not the girliest of girls. I do my hair, wear a bit of make up and am interested in, but not ruled by, fashion. I’m definitely not little-dogs-in-handbags, all-day-shopping and hair extensions girly. In fact Sister calls me a Hair Dyslexic. It makes me wonder how much of this whole gender identity is natural inclination. 

#boyorgirl #parenting #pblogger #mblogger #baby #mother
Boy or girl?

Despite our best efforts, some traditional views have snuck through too. Yesterday, we drove up to London to visit Sister. As traffic slowed to 5mph I announced our arrival in London. Girly no1 shouted in glee “Daddy’s office! Yaaay! See Daddy!” Well, that was after she argued with me that we weren’t in London because we weren’t in an office. Obviously the diverse range of people, tall buildings and ludicrous number of bikes was not how she pictured our great capital. As she nattered away (constantly for the hour and 40 minutes it took for us to drive into East London), she told me when she’s bigger, she will work in an office on the computer. I told her she could fly to the moon; be a doctor and look after people; tend to lions if she wanted; she could be anything she liked. She said yes. Then “when Mummy is bigger, Mummy can be home with the kids”. I was so appalled I nearly knocked a Lycra-clad-skinny-legged bearded man off of his bike. I have no idea where this came from. It hit me in my deepest core. Besides the fact I have some weird thing about use of the term “the kids” (I just hate it, I don’t know why, I just find it derogatory), I’ve worked since I was 16 and have a very successful career. So I wonder who has been telling her that I’m staying at home with these “kids” and is that all she thinks of me? I accept that she is only two and a half and cannot remember 6 months ago when I was working 4 days a week, but I don’t think I am OK with her only ambition for me as “being home with the kids”. As usual this is not a slur on anyone else’s choices, it’s just not reflective of who I am. I have taken time off to be with her and her sister but I want her to aspire to be like Mummy because she is independent, confident, earns her own money, and gave her and her sister a happy life, not because she stayed home with the kids. I took solace in the fact she still had ambition and wanted to be like Daddy and resisted the urge to try and explain work and maternity leave. But what it did remind me of was the importance of me being a strong female role model and figuring out the best way to do it. Particularly as I’m not currently working and am at home with the kids!

In the end, I’ve decided she’s probably a little young to talk to about gender specifically. At the age of two, there isn’t really a difference between sex and gender but when we get to a point when there is, we’ll tackle it then. We can talk boy and girl, but we’ll do it in loose terms without restriction and minimise the stereotypes as best we can. How we react in situations when the topic of gender arises is also important. The next time we’re in Clapham and the crazy man in a dress donning a red handbag and cowboy boots cycles by, we won’t point or laugh, we’ll just nod and let her ask questions. And when she asks, I’ll do what I do at work and ask her “what do you think? Why?” and hope her views are more like mine than my Nana’s. 

In researching this I came across this tip sheet that I thought was quite interesting and worth a read in case anyone is encountering the same conundrums.  

#thebeardedbaby #baby #parenting #mumblog #mblogger
The bearded baby