Monday, 30 May 2016

Brilliant behaviour

The other night I had cause to have to go out after the children were in bed, to visit not one, not two, but three different supermarkets. (And not solely due to my supermarket fetish.)

As I walked through their various aisles, I became aware of the fact that people were responding to me in a far friendlier manner than is usual. (I am blessed, as I know a number of us are, with the unfortunate trait of Resting Bitch Face, which doesn't generally incite a particularly positive response.) Thinking it slightly peculiar, but not unwelcome, I completed my shopping and made my way back home.

'What's that on your jumper?', asked my husband as I opened the front door.

Marvellous. Just what I wanted to accessorise with as I ambled around the shops like a MAD PERSON.


Thanks Beth.

Friday, 27 May 2016

Parents' Evening

I'm not going to lie: every time I apostrophise the phrase 'Parents' Evening' correctly, I get a smug sense of satisfaction like you would not BELIEVE.

I know. I know.

Away from rogue apostrophes (or possibly not)... earlier this year I had the 'joy' of attending Mr Jamie's and Beth's Parents' Evening. (As an aside, it is an interesting - and notable - coincidence that thus far this academic year, I have been the only one of their two parents actually attending Parents' Evening. (Meaning, I suppose, you could argue that it's actually Parent's Evening... I promise I'll stop now.) Neil clearly knows something that I don't, having come up with a highly plausible excuse for non-attendance each time. He's a very wise man, my husband.)

The evening got off to a fairly standard start, when I realised all of my childcare options had fallen through, and I would have the happy task of not only attending Parents' Evening, but also taking both of my children with me. Big Sigh. We arrived at the school and Beth immediately upped the ante by marching into the school hall wearing the papier-mache silver foil space helmet she'd brought home from school that day. 'Can you make her stop?', begged her long suffering brother. 'If only I could.' Beth on a mission is not a force you ideally want to have to reckon with.

Beth's appointment came first, by the end of which I was left in absolutely no doubt that the Beth personality home/school divide is in full evidence. Had you not met Beth, you would have listened to the glowing report she got and assumed at least relative normality. Which clearly could not be further from the truth.

Then it was time for Mr Jamie's review. He looked anxiously at me as his name was called. 'Mum... will they tell you everything I do at school?' I gave him a look.

Twenty minutes later, the ordeal was over. I grabbed both children, plus space helmet, and we all piled into the car. There were requests for a full and frank update on everything their teachers had said all the way home, but I held back on the big reveal.

Finally, back in the lounge, Neil now in situ, I hit them with both barrels. Beth was a child genius and one of the best behaved children in the class. 'Why can you not bring some of these characteristics back home with you?'

Mr Jamie, on the other hand... well, the phrase 'Must Do Better' could have been made for him. Easily distracted... the class clown (absolutely NO idea where he gets this from...)... not trying hard enough at his literacy... I could go on. I was frank but focused. He was bright, and he was more than capable of addressing these areas. We agreed together that he would start trying much harder from the very next day.

Getting ready for school the next morning, I thought I'd give him a bit of a helping hand. 'So then, Jamie, what are you going to be concentrating on today?'

He looked mildly panicked. 'I'm going to be concentrating on... I'm going to be concentrating on... I'm going to be concentrating on...' - a sudden look of dawning realisation and relief - 'I'm going to be concentrating on swapping all of my Match Attax cards!'

Facepalm.

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

If you're going to have a baby, read this first

Because mealtimes in our house are never a) normal, b) relaxing, or c) conducive to finding your dinner particularly appetising, on Saturday lunchtime Jamie launched into the following:

'Mum, if you're about to have a baby, you need to make sure you go to the toilet first.'

'Um... okay. Why?'

'Remember, you told me. After you have a baby it really hurts to have a wee. You said so.'

We were all a bit nonplussed.

'I won't ask what it was about your dinner which made you start thinking about giving birth, but yes, you're right, it does hurt.'

At this point, Beth decided to join in the conversation.

'And, Mum, you should also have the toilet before you have a baby, because otherwise YOUR BABY MIGHT FALL DOWN THE TOILET.' Mass hysteria followed this proclamation.

'It's unlikely, but yes, I suppose it's a vague possibility.'

There was a brief - wonderful - pause in proceedings, before all hell was unleashed, and my two children decided to create their own list of absolutely everything they thought someone would need to know if they were planning on giving birth any time soon. If you're planning a baby... save yourself some cash and don't bother buying yourself a parenting manual... just work off the list below:

  • Make sure you go to the toilet before you have a baby (see above).
  • Don't whinge while you're having the baby. Even if it really hurts.
  • Don't throw your baby.
  • Don't hit your baby over the head with its car seat.
  • Don't leave the baby at the hospital.
  • Don't taste your baby's poo.
  • Don't give your baby wine or crisps.
  • And, most importantly... don't put your baby back in your tummy.
In eight and a half years... this is apparently what I have taught my children about parenting.

Skillz.

Monday, 23 May 2016

I don't like children

My weekend was extremely full of small children.

This is not a good thing.

You see, here's the thing. I just don't like kids.

Let me rephrase. I just don't like almost all kids. (And I don't like the word 'kids', either, and shall revert to using the word 'children' instead, forthwith.)

Obviously, obviously, Mr Jamie and Beth are the notable exceptions. I am clearly heavily biased, but they are barking mad enough to make me convinced that they are absolutely marvellous.

But children who aren't Mr Jamie and Beth?

Nope. Not so much.

(Now, if you're reading this and you happen to know me in real life... don't worry. Your children are perfectly tolerable. And yours as well. Except for yours, who definitely aren't.)

Before I had children, well meaning acquaintances told me that my stance on all things snot and noise would change the moment I popped out my own. 'You'll immediately turn into a hybrid of Mary Poppins and The Pied Piper and immediately see the error of your ways', was the general gist.

Well: no. I'm sorry, but I didn't. (That's a lie: I'm not sorry at all.) The delight of most people when faced with a small child is an absolute mystery to me. They smell. They shriek. They emit bodily fluids from every orifice. They wear their food. They can't construct proper sentences and have no interest whatsoever in yaks, pink champagne and Des Lynam. In short, we have absolutely nothing in common and I refuse to be drawn into this ridiculous conspiracy that small children - other than mine, natch - are in any way, whatsoever, cute.

Absolute bollocks. I can say, hand on heart, that I would rather be faced with a room filled with blue cheese than I would a room full of small children... and, knowing my fear and loathing of all things blue cheese, that is really saying something.

Back to the point.

This weekend, I had the good fortune to attend not just one, but TWO parties filled with children. I know. My cup floweth over.

Mr Jamie was very worried about me. 'Are you going to be okay, Mum? You don't like children, and there are going to be loads of them there.' I gritted my teeth and assured him that I would be fine.

I think part of my problem with small children - particularly en masse - is the horrendously low standards a large number of people seem to have when it comes to their children's behaviour. When your marker of success is if your child hasn't bitten every other child at the party... then we have something of a discrepancy between your expectations and mine.

Somehow, I got through both parties... accepting somewhere along the way that, alright, I suppose it wasn't all about me. (Always upsetting when it isn't, mind.) Mr Jamie remained incredibly solicitous and steered me away quickly from any small child which strayed in my direction. (Quite what he thinks I'm going to do with them, I don't know, but he's probably right in that we shouldn't hang around to find out.)

Monday morning, we were walking through the school playground. Beth was, as per usual, joined at the hip to her best friend and was telling her about her weekend. Remember: this is Beth. When I say she was 'telling', what I really mean is, she was 'shouting at a pitch and volume which could likely have been heard by all local residents in a 2 mile radius'. I was walking a few paces behind them, along with a number of other parents and carers, none of whom I knew particularly well.

'So I went to not just one party, but TWO parties, and my mum had to come too, and it was awful, because do you know what? She HATES KIDS.'

I fear my invitation to join the PTA may somehow have mysteriously got lost in the post...

Friday, 20 May 2016

Respect

Ever so occasionally, Beth's own particular brand of madness leads to almost - dare I say it - a moment of genuine inspiration.

Such an occasion arose one evening, when I found her in the hallway looking somewhat pained.

'Beth, what's up?'

'I'm trying to make myself need a poo.'

'Um... why?'

'So I can fit some more cake in.'

I hate to admit it... but the girl's a genius.

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Shit like this does not happen to normal people

In the world of most normal people, I imagine their morning routine once they've left the house goes along the lines of: get into car, drop children off at school, get back into car, drive to work, arrive at office/factory/farmyard and commence day's activities.

My life is rarely this simple. I've already shared with you my rainy day school drop off. On yet another suitably ridiculous morning, I had to stop off at Tesco having dropped the children off at school. (No tampon had made contact with my face in the playground this time around, so I was already counting it as a success.)

Now. It is well documented that I do love my ridiculous shoes. I mean, when you're lacking in coordination, why walk around in a sensible pair of comfortable trainers designed to help you remain upright... when you can put on a pair of 5 inch stilettos and end up in the gutter instead?

On the day in question, I was wearing a pair of particularly difficult shoes. They were the kind of pair which, had they been a dog, you'd have immediately booked them in for a series of puppy training classes in order to teach them how to behave in public. But, much like a puppy, they looked unbelievably gorgeous and like they couldn't possibly cause you any issues. And thus I persevered with them.

Arriving at Tesco, I grabbed my bag and made for the travelator. Distracted by a flurry of emails on my mobile phone, I had almost reached the top floor... when I realised we had a serious problem.

I WAS STUCK IN THE FUCKING TRAVELATOR.

Yes, my difficult shoes had decided to cause havoc, and one of the two (metallic, hot pink - they are utterly beautiful) stiletto heels had only managed to become wedged in one of the narrow slots between travelator panels.

I would like to say I remained completely calm, but we all know that would be a lie.

I panicked like I'd never panicked before.

'OHMYGODOHMYGOD I AM GOING TO DIE.' Due to the earliness of the hour, the travelator in both directions was entirely deserted. Even the grumpy security guard who was usually at the top of it was missing. 'WHO IS GOING TO SAVE ME IN MY HOUR OF NEED?!' I was inches away from the top of the travelator... I was going to be sucked into travelator oblivion and mashed into tiny little pieces...

... or, alternatively, I could just take my foot out of my wedged stiletto and walk to freedom.

Yep, so, immediate panic over, I managed to not entirely lose the plot and work out I was being an utter idiot who could simply step out of her shoe. Which was all good; but then I had a new crisis to deal with.

'MY REALLY REALLY EXPENSIVE SHOES ARE GOING TO GET SUCKED INTO TRAVELATOR OBLIVION AND MASHED INTO TINY LITTLE PIECES.'

I can honestly say that, at this point, I was actually contemplating whether it would be better for my foot to have been mashed rather than my beautiful shoes. All sense of poise and dignity entirely vanished, I grabbed one side of my stiletto and pulled... and pulled... and pulled...

... and, no more than an inch from the top of the travelator...

... MY SHOE AND I WERE BOTH FREE!

And a small crowd had gathered to watch the crazy lady wrestling with her shoe on the travelator.

Tried to style it out and walk away with my head held high.

Fell over.

Welcome to my world.

Monday, 16 May 2016

Rage. I has it.

Startling though it may be to hear, ever so occasionally, I get ever such a little tiny bit wound up.

I know. With such a stable, laid back personality as mine... it's a wonder, right?

It's also true to say that not all of my rants are rational.

But Oh. My. Goodness. Me.

WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH ALL OF THESE MODERN CHART SINGERS WHO HAVE THROWN ALL BASIC RHYMING PRINCIPLES OUT OF THE WINDOW IN THEIR QUEST TO BE THE NEXT BIG THING?

I was listening to a song in the car on my way home the other day. Unfortunately for me, the car, and the passing commuters, as I had a hire car for the day I couldn't plug in my phone and lose myself in my usual Lloyd Webber/Sondheim fusion. (Once a musical theatre student...) Instead, I was forced to listen to Radio 1. (Well, it was either that or Radio 2... and at the point I start listening to Radio 2, I might as well give up on listening to music entirely.) (Well meaning people keep telling me that I'm wrong to feel this way, and that Radio 2 is actually quite good these days. In response to their feedback, I gave it a go. No. You're wrong. It isn't.)

Now, I will be the first to confess that usually, with the myriad of inane thoughts racing around my head on any given day, I am a self proclaimed Does Not Listen To The Lyrics, listener. However. Turns out, if the lyrics are horrific enough, they break through even my unhinged stream of consciousness.

And thus it was, on this particular afternoon, that the voices in my head screeched to a grinding halt... when this particular 'musician' attempted to rhyme the words:

Day.

Say.

Away.

With...

Me.

Me?! Me?! ME?! As in, rhymes with 'bee', 'see', and 'three', 'me'? In what FUCKING INSANE world, you crazy, lyrics of a mad person, musician, did you think it would be okay to rhyme ME (that's MEEEEEEEEEEEE) with DAY (DAAAAYYYYYYYYYYYY). You can't just start pronouncing the word 'me' as 'may', just because it might then fit in with the theme of your song? I mean, what happens next? We start rhyming the words 'dog' and 'cat'? 'Love' and 'hate'? 'Orange' and 'antidisestablishmentarianism'?

THE MADNESS HAS TO STOP.

No, I have no idea what I've achieved with any of the above either.

Friday, 13 May 2016

Owl Juice

Even by her standards, Beth got confusing recently when she came into the lounge and asked me for some Owl Juice.

'Some what now?'

'Owl Juice.'

'All Juice?'

'Owl Juice.'

'Owl Juice?'

'Owl Juice.'

Having repeated the phrase 'Owl Juice' so many times I was in danger of losing my own mind, I asked her to show me what she was on about.

She took me to the fridge, opened it and pointed defiantly. 'OWL JUICE.'


Can't argue with her logic.

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

The Post Office

About a year ago, my best friend James came to stay. James is a male, slightly camper (if such a thing were possible) version of me. I would say we get a bit hysterical when we spend any amount of time together, but I'll be honest, I'm not actually sure that 'hysterical' goes far enough. (In an unusual moment of generous free publicity (which isn't centered around me), he's also about to open in what promises to be a fricking awesome production of Parade the musical. If you like your evenings filled with incredible tunes, staggering talent and uncontrollable sobbing... then you should book tickets immediately.)

Right. Back to me. Or, more to the point, back to Beth. So, the thing is, when James and I get together, chaos tends to follow. This has always been the case, right back to when we were co-habiting drama students, on our way up to the Co-op for another bottle of petrol-cheap Soave... clad only in our dressing gowns... We basically epitomise class.

And then we throw Beth into the mix as well.

On the morning in question, we were Doing Chores. For some inexplicable reason, I quite often save my more onerous chores up until James is with me, either to distract me from the boredom, or to simply increase the possibility of it all going horribly wrong... I can never be quite sure.

Amongst other things, we had to take a trip to the post office. Beth begged to come with us. Her idea of a great day out is frequently perplexing. Nevertheless, we agreed she could join the post office trip, and off we set.

On this particular Saturday, the post office was woefully short staffed, with the queue snaking back almost to the door. Fortunately we weren't in a rush, and Beth and I settled in to wait while James disappeared to the card shop next door to purchase some birthday cards which needed to be urgently sent. (Part of our friendship centres around our shared philosophy: why complete a task today which can be put off until you're right up to the wire and in a cold sweat about it.)

After about 15 minutes, James returned. The queue had moved infinitesimally slowly in his absence; we'd made it past the end of the sandwich fridge up to approximately the Scotch eggs. Embracing true British spirit, no one queuing was doing anything so anti-social as actually talking. Bar the murmurs of the solitary post office clerk as she dealt with each customer in turn, all was silent.

And then.

In what must have been a split second decision - leaving me absolutely zero opportunity to grab her and sit on her - Beth took matters into her own hands.

Stalking out of the queue to the front of the line, hands on her little hips, she stood centre stage and positively screamed at the poor, overworked post office clerk, not so much breaking the silence as smashing it to smithereens.

'COME ON!'

When James and I are not the most embarrassing people in the room: you know it's bad.

Fortunately, her outburst didn't result in the lynching I feared, and instead in a room full of smothered laughter from people who were probably slightly relieved that Beth had simply voiced what we were all thinking.

I decided not to make eye contact with the post office clerk as we posted our overdue birthday cards. And, to be on the safe side, have never been back in that particular post office since.

Mortification: thy name is Beth.

Monday, 9 May 2016

A newer model

For some inexplicable reason, a couple of times a year - presumably, just to keep us working parents on our toes - the kids' school decides to end the day at 2.45pm, as opposed to 3.30pm. Yes: hideously annoying.

Most recently, a friend of mine - we'll call her Vee, given that's her name (hi Vee!) - kindly offered to take not one, but BOTH of my children to the park in the 2.45pm-3.30pm slot on that particular early closure day, to give me a fighting chance of holding down both my job and my sanity. I practically bit her arm off.

Some time after 3.30pm, Vee returned, bearing all four children (yes: she has two of her own as well. She is a living saint) in high spirits. Apparently there had been a brief incident when Beth had fallen over and cut her knee. Vee didn't have a plaster with her, but she is a Proper Parent who knows what to do in such circumstances, and borrowed both a tissue and a plaster from another parent before patching Beth up. Beth was delighted (she loves a good dramatic story/plaster run in).

After Vee had left (I hope to drink some very well deserved gin), Beth turned to me.

'Mum?'

'Yes, Beth?'

'That was amazing.'

'What was?'

'Going to the park. And getting a plaster.'

'I'm glad.'

'I wish you did stuff like that with us.'

She is a git. 'Beth, I DO do stuff like that with you. We went to the park at the weekend.'

'Yes, but I didn't get a plaster.'

'You didn't get a plaster because you didn't cut your knee.'

'Yes, but even if I had, you wouldn't have had a plaster.'

'Correct... but Vee didn't have a plaster, either.'

'But she knew where to go and get one. When Jamie cut his knee at the zoo and blood was pouring everywhere you said it was his fault and he just had to get on with it.'

'Well it's true. He did.'

'You could have asked another mum.'

'Could have, but didn't.'

'Mum?'

'Yes Beth?'

'I wish we could have a grown up like Vee.'

'What do you mean?'

'Well... I do still like you... but I do wish we could have another mum. Like Vee.'

I took a deep breath. 'Unfortunately for you, it's not possible for you to have more than one mum.'

'Yes it is. Jamie told me that in some countries you can get married to lots of people at the same time.' She ran through to the lounge, where Neil was in situ. 'Dad, Dad! Would it be okay if you got married again so that I can have Vee for my mum as well?!'

Friday, 6 May 2016

Reasons why I'll never really properly understand the rules of 'Mummy Blogging'

(Longstanding readers will know how much it cost me to type the word 'Mummy' in the blog header. *Vomits*.)

Given I've been off the 'Mummy Blogging' (DON'T MAKE ME SAY IT!) scene for some time, I thought it was only fair that I took a look around some of the blogs who appear to be dominating the MB (phew, that's better) league tables these days. I would say that I went to suss out the competition, except we all know that the niche market for readers of blogs about tampons on faces and people licking dentists is so niche as to be almost non-existent.

Having now looked at a large number of the 'market leaders'... well, I'll be honest. I Just Don't Get It. I am completely open about the fact that I read absolutely no blogs whatsoever apart from this one (and, occasionally, Wrenfoe's... primarily due to the fact that I think he wrote something about having to do that into our marriage vows), but I also accept that most of you are far less self-centered than I am, and therefore this is something you actually like to do. However... that doesn't change the fact that the selection of blogs which appear to have the greatest number of hits these days... are absolutely mystifying.

Why? Well, how about this as a starter for 10:

  • NOTHING EVER HAPPENS. First rule of drama: you need to have at least some degree of dramatic tension in order to draw your readers in. Now I know that the shit that happens to me, seemingly every fucking day, is not normal... but at least write about something marginally more scintillating than your round trip on the school run, five days per week.
  • Nothing ever goes wrong. The lives of MBers appear to be effectively perfect, and filled with creative activities which will perfectly stimulate the brains of their small children and seamlessly assimilate them into their local community. As opposed to my life, where the only creative activity we've ever attempted was this
  • Blogs appear to have become one big corporate advert. Whether it's sponsored posts, free trips to this and that, or the MB version of the Daily Mail Sidebar of Shame... If there's any actual original content in there, I am really, really struggling to find it. What's more, the sponsors and adverts all appear to be utterly wholesome and therefore devoid of any interest whatsoever. I mean, let's be clear, if Bombay Sapphire, Jimmy Choo or Ann Summers want to pay me hard cash to write entertaining tales of my gin drinking, falling over in high heels, or inappropriate sex, then I am more than happy to talk business...
  • The photos. Oh my goodness, the photos. No, there's nothing wrong with a picture of two to break up your text. But when your entire PAGE is filled with - often really badly shot - photos, which mean as a result your website takes upwards of 6 minutes to load... people really bother with this shit?
  • On a related notes, apparently the done thing these days is not to bother with the whole messy business of having to write actual words at all, and simply communicate your innermost thoughts via a 'vlog'. (Video blog, for those of us not down with the lingo.) Which, given that the dictionary definition of a blog (I've just checked) is: 'a regularly updated website or web page... that is written in an informal or conversational style'... absolutely baffles me. (Don't get me wrong: I think there is absolutely a place for websites of photos or videos. Instagram... YouTube... But it does make me a little bit sad that we appear to be falling to the lowest common denominator and filling our pages with pictures and videos rather than spending the time crafting images and moments out of words and sentences. Just call me old fashioned (or simply 'old', if you really want to be brutal!).)
  • And ultimately, the thing that disappoints me the most is the lack of really really great writing out there. When I first started blogging, I could list 10 or 20 blogs out there which really inspired me to try and make my writing better, tighter, funnier, snappier, or just simply more jaw-droppingly mental. Now... well, if I'm completely honest, I've had to venture well outside of the MB-sphere to find writers who really inspire me to be better. And that is a truly, truly damning fucking indictment. 
So, tell me I'm wrong. Please. Tell me some great MBers out there whose writing is real, honest, exciting and interesting and I will gladly head on over and check them out. Because they will be out there, they absolutely will... they'll just be almost impossible to find, what with 'great writing' apparently no longer being a marker for success... Feel free to plug your own blog as well - I couldn't care less if you're sponsored by the entire corporate contents of Mother and Baby magazine or whether you've never heard of a 'Mummy Blog' in your lifetime and are only writing your thoughts down on screen to stop yourself from either killing yourself or necking all of the gin. If you can make me feel, think, or just laugh like a drain... then I'd love to hear from you.

Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Embarrassing erections

Long time readers of this blog will know that I believe very much in an 'honesty is the best policy' approach with my children. If they ask me a question, I will tell them the answer. Which sometimes works out well, and sometimes leads directly to a large number of the incidents chronicled in this blog. It's very much a game of two halves.

In response to some of Mr Jamie's never ending questions regarding all things to do with willies and bottoms, I decided to buy him a book. (Not least to ensure accuracy. My knowledge on the lifecycle of a sperm is scant to say the least.) I decided to go with Usborne: teaching children about rude stuff in a factually correct manner since 1973.

The book duly arrived, and I did a quick scan through it (yes, yes, I know you are really supposed to sit down and read these things through cover to cover before then sitting down again and reading it all through with your child... but on the basis I'm already well versed with the facts of life, I decided it was probably okay to cut some corners), before handing it to Mr Jamie. 'Here you go, this book tells you all about growing up and will help answer some of your questions. Have a look through it and then, if there's anything you're not sure about, we can talk about it together.' By 'talk about it together', I more meant 'go and talk to your father, who I can then hand over all responsibility to on the grounds that as I haven't got a penis I can't be expected to know what one does with one'.

I left him in bed scanning through the pages (I'd initially assumed he was doing this to find the rude bits - I know that was what I did during my quick read through - but when I went up to check on him he was actually engrossed in a page telling you about the different food groups you needed to eat to stay healthy. Such a good boy) and went downstairs.

About half an hour later, he appeared in the doorway to the lounge.

'How's your book, love. Have you got any questions?'

'Well, yes. There is something I wanted to know.'

'Of course. What is it?'

'Well, this chapter... it's all about erections. The trouble is, Mum, I think I must be doing them a bit wrong.'

'Why's that?' (Obviously inwardly thinking: this is SO a question for your father.)

'The chapter title is: Embarrassing Erections. But I get embarrassed at school quite a lot, and I don't EVER have an erection.'

Bloody adore him.

Monday, 2 May 2016

Playdates

I fucking ABHOR the word 'playdate'. The squiggly red line which has just appeared under said word on screen suggests it's not actually a real word anyway, and should more likely be 'play-date', 'play date' or even, in this social media age (with its total disregard for Proper Spelling anyway), '#playdate'.

Anyway, regardless of spelling, it is one of those awful words/phrases (delete accordingly dependent upon which of the above you think is most likely to be correct) that, when someone uses it, I immediately judge them. (They probably simultaneously judge me for only managing to get to the second word in this blog without swearing, which I can't legitimately argue with.) A 'playdate' to me summons up thoughts of either sticky children, 'mummies' and outdoor activities... or sex dungeons. Neither of which are ways I like to spend my rare free weekend afternoons (though the latter would probably be my mild preference, if pushed).

There was a point in all of this somewhere, wasn't there? Ah yes. Despite my loathing of all things playdates, Beth had one the other afternoon. In fairness to both myself and the other parent, neither of us referred to it as that. And there were no sex dungeons either. But, by dint of the fact there were two children (Beth, and her friend), playing, on a given date, at our house... I guess I can't avoid the fact it did probably fulfill the official definition of the word/phrase 'playdate'. (Have actually realised I've written the last couple of paragraphs clenching my teeth, so cringingly awful is it as a description of what is, effectively, just two kids hanging out with each other. I shall stop torturing myself now.)

I was sat in the conservatory drinking mint tea with the mum of Beth's friend, who is absolutely lovely and very tolerant of the madness which goes on in our house. All was peaceful, when Beth and her friend suddenly appeared from where they'd been playing in Beth's room upstairs. They were holding something between them with a level of care that suggested they might have unearthed a precious artifact.

'Mum, GUESS what we have found? Kiera found it in my room. It is SO precious.'

Gently, carefully, the two girls carried their incredible find towards me and laid it on my lap in clear view of the room.

Once I'd tried - and failed miserably - to explain the reasons Beth a) had a Tena Lady pad in her room (I attempted to explain that it was my Nana's from when she'd stayed with us, but fear it just ended coming across in the classic 'it belongs to my 'friend', honestly' way), b) thought it was a suitable toy for her to play with, not to mention c) why her daughter had also ended up playing with it, and finally d) despite the fact it was unwrapped it really was completely unused, honestly... I made some more mint tea to attempt to look like I was a responsible adult, really, and then we sat back down and continued our conversation.

From upstairs, all was quiet.

Until...

'Mum, MUM! Guess what, guess what?! Auntie Helen has left her hooker in my wardrobe!'

Well, there's no way of recovering from that, is there? Thankfully Kiera's mum is the sort of person to laugh uproariously at such an interruption as opposed to removing her daughter from our premises and never returning again. Bloody Beth though. Would not shut up about sodding hookers. 'And it's not just Auntie Helen's hooker. I've got looooooaaaaaads of hookers in my wardrobe, and I've told my teacher at school ALL about them!' I bet she bloody well has as well.

Later that evening after Kiera and her mum had left, I took Beth up to bed and tucked her in.

'Did you have a lovely day?'

'Yes. I love Kiera.'

'I know you do.'

'And I love my hookers too.'

'Beth, you know they're-'

'Hangers. I know. But hookers are so much better, aren't they, Mum?'

That's my girl.

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