Posts Tagged ‘children’

“You think YOU’VE had a bad morning?!”

Wednesday, June 16th, 2021

I thought I would share my morning with you all. You know that thing where someone says “Oh you won’t believe the morning I’ve had!” And then someone else says “You think YOU’VE had a bad morning?!” Which is very annoying because the original moan-er doesn’t get any sympathy because obviously the second moan-er’s morning is far, far worse. Annoying, I know, but this morning I really am the second one in this scenario.

7:00am – My partner and BOTH teenage daughters get up because we are leaving for school in half an hour. Not one word is passed between us, we’re all too busy with the Herculean effort of waking up.

7:30am – Suddenly (and without my knowledge) I become responsible for absolutely everything that is wrong in my younger daughters’ world. “Where’s my bag? Where’s my water bottle? Where’s my blazer? Where are my shoes? What’s for dinner? Are you going to make my bed today? Do we have any Nutri-Grain bars? WHAT? Why don’t we have any? You KNOW I always take them as my snack!” We live right next door to a shop so this is easily remedied, but they only have one of them left. Don’t they know my daughter always takes them to school as a snack? But, as anyone with teenagers will know, you don’t attempt anything other than the quietest murmurs of assent first thing in the morning, otherwise you’re putting yourself at risk of a teenage death stare.

7:33am – We go to the car. ‘We’ is older daughter, younger daughter, the dog and I. Dog has decided that he’s never ever seen anyone else in his life before, and certainly no other dogs, which means that he’s leaping around the place frantically trying to say hello to absolutely everyone, getting his lead twisted and flailing around our legs as we are trying to organise ourselves into the car.

7:34am – “Why does she get to go in the front? Why do I have to go in the back? But she listens to her AirPods all the way anyway! It doesn’t make any difference!” *Younger daughter slips quietly and unseen into the front seat*.

8:06am – We arrive at school. Youngest daughter drags herself out of the car with a low moan, looking about as happy as Anne Boleyn heading off to her certain death. “Have a nice day!” I say brightly. “Urgghhh” = the response. With a slam of the car door I feel slight relief at – surely – not having sole responsibility for all of her worldly problems.

8:25am – I drop oldest daughter to her father’s house, which involves a journey through a hideously complicated one-way system through a town that I’ve never been to before. You know the type of thing, cobbled streets twisting perilously in a sort of maze where you can get so confused you end driving the wrong way. And which certainly wasn’t meant to accommodate the huge Jeep that I drive, and I nearly go wrong, more than once.

8:30am – Ahhhh, more relief! I calm down nicely on my way home, which I am almost into before I remember the dog, sitting quietly in his crate in the car. I’d forgotten that I’m going to walk him as early as possible before the heat of the day renders us all incapable of, well, anything really. If you ever want life to slow down a bit, pray for a heatwave.

8:40am – Drive to some fields, extract the dog so he can burn off his remarkable quantity of energy. I myself do not feel energised. First hurdle is a repetition of what we had before the school run – except now he can actually bomb up to people like he’s been solitary confinement for ten years. He hasn’t done that for ages and it takes a few seconds before he graciously acquiesces to me yelling his name. It’s not his fault, he’s only young, I just thought we were past that chaotic stage. Oh no, silly me, he’s a spaniel.

8:42am – I realise that I’m wearing flip-flops, which are in no way sturdy enough for a walk through the fields. My choices? Go home and change, or keep going and hope for the best. I choose option B.

8:47am – I walk through a patch of stinging nettles.

8:50am –  I walk through some tall grass and my feet immediately begin to itch.

8:52am – My dog runs over proudly showing me the carcass of what I believe to be a rat, spinal cord completely exposed. It’s roughly a foot long – have I missed a documentary series about ‘Supersize Rat?’.

8:53am – My dog does the biggest poo I’ve ever seen him do. It’s definitely a two bag job. I bend down and gently scoop the first lot up – and immediately feel warm squishiness on my fingers. Oh dear God, no. Please. But yes, it had happened, I’d managed to put my actual bodily part in his poo and it is all over my nails (I have long nails) and we are only a short way into our walk. Mindful of the increasing heat, I decide to try and ignore it and press on, bag firmly tied in a knot, along with the second one which had behaved itself.

8:54am – I glance down to see dog poo on the palm of my hand, all over his lead and a gentle, stinking, trace on my jeans. What?! Upon closer examination the bag had a big hole in it, allowing the excrement to ooze through and attach itself to whatever it came into contact with. For **** sake. I put the old bag in a new bag and carry on. I mean, I didn’t have much to lose at this point.

9am – Despite everything, I am actually enjoying this gentle walk in the early sun. The fields are deserted so the dog isn’t jumping up at everyone he can see, no matter how far into the distance they are. And when I say jump up, I mean all four feet bouncing off the floor, which is impressive in its own way because he’s quite a chunky spaniel.

9:20am – We come full circle back to the first field and there are now a couple of people there. I drop his lead by mistake – and accidentally step onto the second poo bag that I didn’t realise I’d dropped. As I bend to pick it up it explodes all over my flip-flopped feet. I now have dog sh*t on my hands, clothes, feet, legs, it’s on my phone, it’s on the lead – absolutely horror. I stand there for a second, wondering what the best way to deal with this is, when I spy a woman walking towards me out of the corner of my eye. Oh dear God, it’s a fellow mum from the school.

9:24am – I’ve cut and run, taking the coward’s way out, and got back to my car, which now presents its own problems. How can I get in and drive with dog sh*t all over me?? It’ll get everywhere! I glance around for something sacrificial to wipe myself down with, but of course I’d only recently had my car valeted so it’s spotless and – and empty. There are no stray towels around, or packs of baby wipes. Because of the heat I am only wearing a t-shirt, and it takes me only a second or two before I realise that in order to save my car from smelling of revolting poo, I am going to have to sacrifice the only thing that I can – my dignity. Yes, I stripped off my t-shirt, cleaned up as best I could, and drove home in my bra. Not too bad you might think, but I live in a village with no allocated parking so I then had to cross the square, with my dog poo clothes in one hand and the spaniel in the other, still determined to declare his love to anyone that he sees. I deal with this by holding my head up high and pretending that I am in a different life.

(PS. On the note of the Rudest Man in Fareham, I haven’t heard a peep. Nothing. Not even a syllable of his promised ‘belittling’. I don’t mind saying that I’m quite disappointed. I might go back and park there again out of the kindness of my heart, just so he has something to occupy him for a few minutes).









Walk a mile in my shoes, would you? I dare you, I just dare you!

Tuesday, April 5th, 2016

Has anyone else ever had the sheer, undiluted joy of unblocking a severely blocked, overflowing toilet without the aid of a toilet plunger first thing in the morning? No? Well let me tell you then – it’s not one for your bucket list.

Before I start, I promise I am not making this up. The meaning of this will shine through before long. Yesterday, I made the rookie error of acquiescing to the plans of my children without properly checking what they were.

“Can we swap bedrooms?” – it sounded like an innocuous enough question.

“Why of course my dear child,” I murmured vaguely (or words to that effect), stuck as I was in a pile of legal articles to write about such riveting matter as commercial dispute resolution. “Off you go now.”

I actually don’t know what I expected when I went upstairs later, but the scenes of Napoleonic devastation were not it. There were now no discernible beds, just bits of wood everywhere. Every single cuddly toy that has been collected over the last FIFTEEN YEARS was piled in the bath. To head height. The bathroom was covered with books which hadn’t seen the light of day since the mid-80s. Tables, chairs, lamps, pencils, created an indiscriminate, merry little tide of stuff that now flowed gently across the entire upstairs of the house, blocked only by a whacking great mattress which was placed so that no -one could get up or down or from side to side easily. Or at all, in fact. You may imagine my face. It’s too bad a mess to deal with. Note my use of the present tense.

Somehow the mattresses have bred and there are four of them whereas there are only three beds upstairs. Stationary has gone forth and multiplied to create a tsunami of felt pens, leaded pencils, glittery markers and all sorts of other hellish child entertainment ploys which are all over my gold carpets. Never again will I buy gold carpets, but that’s a separate issue. The elder girl had somehow managed to create a haven of cosy domesticity in her new bedroom, whereas the younger girl’s bedroom looked like Toys R Us had thrown up in there. It’s an unspeakable mess that will need crampons and an ice pick to tackle it, I thought, looking at it. Oh little did I know that just twelve hours later my analysis of what constitutes an ‘unspeakable mess’ would be sorely challenged. The night ended with my younger girl on a mattress and me on the gin.


“Mummy! The toilet’s blocked!” It’s not my favourite way to wake up in the morning, but I’ve had worse.

“Just try flushing it again,” I said sleepily and turned over. There was an ominous silence before I heard “Oh.” Which frankly scared me more than a scream. I leapt out of bed and dashed up the stairs amidst the toys and dolls and clothes and paper and……you get the picture. The next obstacle was a mattress firmly placed across the stairs, but once I had negotiated that to reach the bathroom, I dearly wished I hadn’t. The toilet had overflowed. All over the floor. And I won’t subject anyone to a description of what it was, but think of the worst thing you can imagine and then quadruple it. All over the bathroom floor. Seeping gently and determinedly into shoes, clothes, cuddly toys; all manner of things which have no business being near a bathroom and in the ordinary course of events would not have been. But oh no, all my bad luck seemed to have ganged up on me at once and paid a visit. It was one of those situations where you stare weakly and think – but how? How am I going to sort this out?

I’d never tackled a blocked toilet before and this one was very seriously blocked. It looked like it needed some Oramorph and palliative care. What did I do? I turned around, went back downstairs and pulled on my Dubarry boots. The soles of those have seen some sights, they’re used it. My poor, unprotected feet were not. Then I surveyed the scene and amassed my weapons. A toilet plunger was not amongst them. Google advised that I pour dishwasher liquid and hot water down the toilet. Or poke at the blockage with a clothes hanger. I tried both of those and got absolutely nowhere. I needed a plumber of course. But the thing was, there was no way I could invite a soul into the house as it was. The poor man wouldn’t be able to reach the bathroom – I honestly cannot describe the mess. And even if he did manage to negotiate his way there he would think we stored all our worldly goods in the bath. No, no, a plumber was not an option.

So what did I do? I put on a pair of rubber gloves and stuck my hand down the loo. I kid you not. I held my breath at first before I realised that all the dishwasher liquid had made this effluent smell quite nice. Which was good, seeing as it was lapping against my feet. Once I’d done that I poured a bottle of bleach down the toilet and sent up a quick prayer to God, or Allah or in fact any deity that might be listening and crossed all my fingers and toes.

I don’t know if my treatment has worked yet because I do not dare to go and check. What’s the moral of this story? If your children sidle up to you and whisper sweet-sounding plans in your ear – do not grant them permission instantly or give any reaction that can possibly be interpreted as permission. Because I’ve learned the hard way that if you do that, then life really can be sh*t.

Welcome to the playground

Wednesday, June 17th, 2015

An introduction to UBER-mothers: the frightening new addition to the playground circuit.

They’re like Pandora bracelets. We’ve all got one, we all recognise a genuine one and some are more ostentatious than others. UBER-mothers are a fierce new breed. Right at this very moment they are spilling into the Home Counties like spiders out of an egg sac. They come quietly from birthing their twins in central London with no pain relief in 26 minutes and they slide effortlessly into school life. One minute they don’t exist and then – boom! Before you can blink they’re striding around being an UBER-mum.

So what exactly is the problem? Principally, they make the rest of us feel a little bit too lazy (UBER-mum never sits down and normally sleeps standing up), a little bit too boring (uber-mum reads the Times, Telegraph and Guardian ‘just to get a little perspective’ before breakfast so she can furnish us all with her learned opinions about ISIS and Boris Johnson) and a little bit too decadent. Mention that you once had a glass of wine at lunchtime on your birthday and watch her face drain of colour.

Plus, we’ve been caught off guard. We don’t know how to deal with them yet. We’ve done the earth-mother thing, and UBER-mum is not following the script. She’s not consuming lentils by the metric tonne, making her own cheese or embracing Wicca beliefs. The thing is that these UBER-mothers look normal on the outside. All right, so they’re probably wearing Birkenstocks and a smock of some description, but that’s forgivable because it’s from White Stuff or Boden. It’s not hand-knitted as she delivered the placenta or tie-dyed by an old woman on a hill in Wales.

These UBER-mums are a little like Stepford wives. They will have come from a senior role in middle management in a City based financial company. And this, they know, enables them to make the best decisions in the whole school about absolutely anything. There will be nothing they cannot do. Which leaves us lesser-mothers feeling a bit bemused. But…but….we’ve been running the committee for years….? Ah yes, but wrongly, says UBER-mum with a smile that doesn’t reach her eyes. It’s no good offering an opinion, or demonstrating your experience, because UBER-mum has a special voice that simply goes louder and louder.

And she will have a careful number of children. Not so many that people think she’s a careless, pain-addicted ninny with an aversion to contraception, but enough to give her an advantage over every single other mum. Twins? Boy AND a girl she says triumphantly. Older sibling? A boy, she says proudly, I just know he’ll look after them. No younger children then? Oh yes, a little girl. Newborns are passé, we’ve all argued the hell out of the right to breastfeed entirely naked in public and be mentioned in the Queen’s Honours list for it. So UBER-mum has thrown down her sicky muslin cloth and embraced her nursery-aged child. She’s only three, UBER-mum says fondly, so she’s still expressing herself through night-time wakings, but I don’t need sleep. I always get up at 4am so I can finish off the housework before the kiddiwinks get up. And because you are so frozen in horror at her use of the word ‘kiddiwinks’ you will forget to challenge the insanity of 4am cleaning.

Gradually this UBER-mum will infiltrate the school. She will be EVERYWHERE. Because she has a winning combination of children she will be found roaming free-range in the nursery, in the lower years AND the upper years. And that’s another thing. She will always be in the school, no matter what time of day. You won’t always know what she’s doing, but she’ll be there. And because of this she will swiftly become more familiar than anyone else has ever been, with the school. It won’t matter that your children are fifth generation pupils, UBER-mum has whizzed in and knows everyone and everything that can possibly be known. The playground has now replaced the boardroom and the staff room is her HR department.

And just when you think she’s reached a limit, you discover that she has gone one stage further. She has now befriended half the teaching staff. She’ll be on first name terms with most of them and sharing a giggle before assembly. So much so that she’s able to choose exactly who she wants in Peregrine’s class. Why did you choose that name? Oh I knew he was a Peregrine the moment I laid eyes on him. And we wanted to name him after a dear relative who died tragically in the sixth century.

If you’re not careful, UBER-mum will stalk around school being a curious combination of confident and passive-aggressive. But there is one disadvantage to being an UBER-mum – they operate alone. It makes logical sense in her head; no-one could be on a level with her. So what can you do? The very opposite of divide and conquer. Form a tight-knit, impenetrable group of mothers, each of whom has a skill that they possess Masters-level qualifications in, whether this is contract law or baking cake pops. Make sure you have representatives in all areas of the school at all times, ready to challenge. If you can harpoon an ex-headteacher or two to line the corridors akin to milk of magnesia, then do it. Do it, do it, do it.

Ultimately, UBER-mums won’t harm you. They’re just really, really, rage inducingly, annoying. So if you come into contact with one, try and channel your inner Witches defence, a la Roald Dahl. Keep your eyes down, don’t engage – and walk past hastily. UBER-mum may not harm you – but she can infect you. If you’re not careful, soon your entire wardrobe will contain nothing but polka-dotted items and flimsy, transparent scraps of Cath Kidston. You will be creating your own pasta before dawn and making it proudly clear to friends that your children are so competitive that even poo-ing is a spectator sport.

Beware the UBER-mother. You have been warned.