The Truth Fairy

Teeth are falling out of mouths in our house at a rate of one a day: daughters 3 and 4 both lost a tooth this week, as did dog 2 who is teething. Step son has been told he may have to lose a few and seemed genuinely surprised when the dentist told him the reason for this was sugar. Mine are all still in tact at time of writing this, but there is definitely something in the air. 

A year ago the tooth fairy stopped needing the teeth in our house for her fairy dust and now the loss of a tooth is just met with: ‘give us a pound please, mum’ and ‘shall I put it in the bin.’

Partner and I were truly shocking tooth fairies. Our record for leaving a tooth under a pillow was four nights – the tooth fairy was very busy that week too. 

Tooth fairy scenarios became very elaborate with daughter 4 and that piled on the pressure. Letters were written, requiring replies and once a walnut shell bath was left out, with water and a piece of cloth as a towel. 

I tried to stop being Father Christmas last year too. I thought I’d kill off two logistical birds with one stone. However, this was met with cries of mutiny, resulting in partner and I still creeping around the landing at 1 in the morning, eating mince pies, feeding the dogs carrots and drinking whisky. At least now though, we get proper thanks for our efforts – it used to kill me watching them open presents I’d sweated over choosing and buying and some bloke who doesn’t exist getting all the credit. 

The one about the Irishman, the Scotsman and the Fireman

Back at the hospital for another MRI. I have to have dye injected into my shoulder. This time the radiographer is a young woman – I worry that she is too young. Last time it was an older man and I worried that he was too old. At the end of the procedure she reties my gown. I appreciate the subtle female touch. The older man had left me flapping open all the way down the corridor. I expect he feared being sued for sexual assault. Perhaps a sign of the times. 

I wait outside the MRI room for my scan. ‘And breathe, in and out, slowly. It’s all ok, breathe for me…’  is all I can hear and so it goes on. I feel my breath slipping into perfect synchrony with the MRI’s present victim. 

I am met for my MRI by an Irishman and I instantly feel calmed by his voice. The thought of being rolled into a tiny wind tunnel for 20 minutes, suddenly doesn’t seem like a scary prospect. 

He asks me to get on the scales. I check behind me for a dog.

Perfect! He exclaims. More good feelings gush through me. 

Earplugs in, headphones on and in I go. I keep my eyes shut. Rather unnervingly, ‘looking down the barrel of a shotgun’ booms through the headphones. ‘And breathe’ I tell myself,  ‘in and out slowly’. I become fixated with two things: not opening my eyes and not accidentally pressing my panic buzzer. It’s freezing. I now worry about the effect of the cold on my nipples and only a flimsy gown between me and the Irish accent. Number 1 New Zealand friend travelled from Dunedin to Dublin for no other reason than to hear the Irish voice. Because I have time to, I then wonder how it was that she ended up in Scotland with a fisherman, but is now happily married in New Zealand to a fireman…I then wonder, that if I always had this sort of down time in my life, what other things I would wonder. 

I’m rolled back into reality: ‘that’s grand’ the Irishman beams at me. 

Number 1 NZ friend travelled 11,893 miles to hear that, I think to myself, instinctively moving an arm to my chest,  just in case that’s what he is referring to, and now, twenty years later, I completely understand why. 

The Dying Hours of January. Part 2: Always trust people who like big butts. They cannot lie.

I jump, confidently onto the scales for my final January weigh in. I’ve put on 2 kilos, I wail to partner, so loudly that the kids all come running in. Partner is laughing. I’m outraged – how can he be laughing. The scales have just torn my world apart. I’ve been denying myself bread and potatoes for four weeks. It must be the granola, I scream accusingly at daughter 1, who is lined up with her sisters at my bedroom door, eyeballing my naked misery. Or it could be the fact that dog 1’s paw was on the scales, partner is exploding with mirth.
‘Watch out boy she’ll chew you up’ the kids all chorus and then scarper.

I don’t know why you’re worried anyway, partner says, as only a man would, apparently big bums are still in for this year. Dog 1 is cocking his head to one side and has his worried face on. Be afraid, I thought to myself, be very afraid.


The Dying Hours of January. Part 1: Beads of Greatness

We are finally getting rid of January. It’s so drawn out with its 31 days, that it eeks out every last bit of spirit that’s in you. Perhaps soon we can at last move on from meals adorned with quinoa and daughter 1’s obsessive exercise regime, which has involved ever increasing amounts of burpees being performed loudly, late into the night.  ‘You’re gonna reach greatness!’ Mr Motivator has been telling her all month, ‘you are sweating beads of greatness!’

It occurs to me that in January’s dying hours, I should try out some of this language in my Taekwon-do classes, although I don’t think I could pull them off in quite the same way as he can. I can’t think of many people who can sidle up to a lady at the back of a class and get away with singing, ‘you’re a man eater,’ as she performs her jumping lunges, but somehow he does. 

Looking for inspiration to get me through the first half of February to Valentine’s Day, where there’s finally an excuse for champagne, I look up the rest of the lyrics: 

The woman is wild

A she-cat tamed

By the purr of a Jaguar

Now you’re talking, I think. Let’s go make February rock! 

Nature or Nurture

Daughter 3 is hoping, in the future, to pursue her dream of going to an American university on a football scholarship. But you don’t like flying, I say to her. Have you thought about that? 

Partner and I are talking about it. I hope that it’s not my fault that she doesn’t like flying, I tell him. (Because I am of the opinion that every plane I go on is going to fall out of the sky). I have been really careful to hide my fear from her, I continue. She says she doesn’t like the confined space. Partner looks at me. You don’t think that’s got something to do with that time you left her locked in the car went inside, cooked the dinner and only when you were serving it up did you notice she wasn’t there, he questions. Or that other time when you left her in the car and only realised she hadn’t come in when she poked her head through the cat flap. Or it could be that time…ok, ok, I say crossly. Isn’t it just the parents’ role to feel constantly guilty for psychologically scarring their kids for life, I say, in an attempt to vindicate myself, but they then have to find their own path through? Yes, he replies, but isn’t it also the parents’ job to help them through the obstacles and not to put them there in the first place. 

Money Talks

Daughters 1-4 and step daughter all work for us. This gives them a certain amount of disposable income and we feel teaches them invaluable life lessons on money management. 

Daughter 2 is going to Spain in the summer holidays with face time friend. I am paying for the ticket and she is paying me back in installments. Don’t forget how much I’ve given you, she said this morning, accusingly. I am writing it all down as well, she adds, definitively. You haven’t given me anything yet, I reply. 

She is off school with a sore throat and a temperature. I go to check on her. She’s had a sleep and says she’s feeling a little better. What’s for lunch, she enquires. Salad, I reply. Quinoa salad and mackerel. She doesn’t look impressed. I’ll come down in a while and get it, she says. 

Partner and I are eating lunch. The doorbell goes. It’s the Dominoes Pizza man. I look at him confused. Daughter 2 is leaning over the banister, brandishing a ten pound note. Good money management, she croaks at me with a smile. 

Shoe Storm

I had a bad feeling about this morning, when daughter 4 took off her shoes for the orthopedic consultant, only to reveal, in addition to an extra bone and dreadful pronation, two large holes in her tights, with her pink socks bursting through.

From this point it was difficult to concentrate on anything he was saying, but the upshot seemed to be further insoles, built up shoes and if all else fails, plaster.

We were ushered to the splint room, where I administered more apologies for holed tights. We need her shoes, the orthotics lady told us, you can drop them in later if you like. No, I thought, I don’t like. This is my fourth visit to the hospital in as many weeks and we don’t live next door. We’ll manage, I said stoically, throwing daughter 4 a ‘don’t argue’ look. In fact, her look was more one of surprise. How? Orthotics lady and daughter 4 chorused. We’ll sort it, I said, as I bundled a bewildered daughter 4, shoeless, out of the room.

Outside the hospital the remains of the American storm Snowzilla was raging. Why can’t our storms have cool names like that and not Frank and Gertrude. I googled it once and discovered that the name for H is my ex’s name. I read the description of criteria for naming a storm: To be given a name, a storm must ….have the potential to cause either medium or high impact. Yes, I thought to myself.

Back to the slight logistical problem of driving rain, high winds, no shoes and a walk to the car. Wait here, I tell daughter 4, I’ll bring the car to you. Except in my haste to battle Snowzilla, I forget to pay for the ticket. I get to the barrier, cars backing up behind me. It tells me my free time has expired. I need to pay at a machine. I get out the car to explain to the four cars behind. They back up for me. I am faced with a dilemma, I can’t leave the car park, but there are no free spaces to park and the ticket machine is outside of the car park. I spot a disabled space and grab it. The lady in the space next door gives me a look. I run past shouting through the howling wind: I’m having a bad day, as she pulls her disabled child out of the back seat – I feel bad.

I pay for my ticket, screech out of the disabled bay and the car park to rescue daughter 4. It is lucky she is not yet a teenager – standing in a packed hospital entrance lobby for ten minutes with holed tights and pink socks would have killed her. I block the ambulance entrance to piggyback her to the car.

On the way to school she is trying to work out the least embarrassing way to reach her trainers. They are on the second floor, she moans, and I will have to walk into a classroom full of people in my tights. Holed tights, I correct her, just to remind her that this morning isn’t going well because of her tights.

With daughter 4 safely piggybacked into school, I am able to reflect on the morning. It is only now that it dawns on me that I am back at the hospital on Friday to see that charming consultant about my shoulders and I could have safely delivered the shoes. I think I am just hard wired for a challenge.

Rose Tinted Glasses

Daughter 1 has stepped her healthy delights up a gear. She has found a recipe for granola bars on You Tube and led me to believe that they are healthy. She brought partner and I some of the mixture to try, as we sat and watched tv last night. It was delicious. Are you sure that’s healthy, I asked, rather surprised that it tasted so good. In my experience, anything that is really healthy tastes pretty awful, once you step back and see it for what it really is and not with rose tinted diet glasses on. I quite happily ate quinoa for weeks before our summer holiday last year, telling myself and everyone else how good it tasted. But once we hit Spain, I was eating double the amount of chorizo to make up for the assault of blandness my taste buds had endured.

They are healthy, daughter 1 replied assuredly, they’ve got almonds in. I asked for some more mixture. Partner wanted more too – it just tasted so good. I’d better make a second batch, she said, as she watched the gooey substance disappear into us at a rate of knots.

Daughter 1 went to bed. Don’t eat any granola bars mum, she said, as she disappeared upstairs, I’ve counted them, I know what you’re like. Partner went to bed. I was left alone downstairs. I found myself looking for the granola bars. She had hidden them in Tupperware, but I spotted them and they were now cut into neat little bars. There was one irregular shaped one, it was mine!

Daughter 1 comes down for breakfast. You know those granola bars mum…I was thinking about it and they aren’t really healthy at all, because of the honey and the brown sugar, the desiccated coconut and the golden syrup that’s in them.

I sigh. Back to the quinoa and rose tinted glasses.

Easily Pleased

“Have you heard about the dyslexic blogging group? They can only get a following by having sex in a car park”


Partner is going deaf. I basically want my Facebook page to be a blogging site, I’m telling him. Silence. I look up from the computer. Partner has turned the grey of our whites’ wash. A dogging site? He thinks he is repeating, with the voice of someone who thought they knew you, but is now having doubts.

I consult daughter 2 about Facebook etiquette and rules. Do I ask face time friend to become MY friend, I enquire. Sure, why not, daughter 2 replies, nonchalantly. Well, I go on, I don’t want her thinking it’s weird, or worse still seeing me as someone to share her problems with. Daughter 2 looks at me in complete disbelief, its not like that mum, she sighs.

I know they aren’t real friends, but a friend request still makes me feel happy. I’m beginning to wonder if I’m easily pleased. Back in November I saw a specialist about shoulder problems. I have had the problems a year and a half and am getting to the end of my tether. In the first week of January, when I was feeling particularly fat and frumpy, I finally received a copy of the specialist’s report to my GP. It read, ‘your patient, presenting as a slender and muscular 45 year old’… ‘Slender’ and ‘muscular’…words I can only dream about being called at my age. I was in a dreamlike state, I was on cloud nine, I was in heaven. What did the report say about your shoulders? Partner interrupted my moment of ecstasy. Oh, I have absolutely no idea, I replied.

Yes, too easily pleased.


I have a policy that I will only say ‘bless you’ to two sneezes, after that they get irritating.

I know that I would make a dreadful nurse… Partly because partner is always telling me so.

I find coughing really irritating too, along with sniffing. Right neighbour has had a cough for, what seems like months. I can hear it every time I lie in bed to go to sleep. I’d have left him by now, I whisper to partner. Partner says nothing. He is used to my complete lack of sympathy for humankind.

Dog 1 reacts to sneezes faster than he does to a treat. Yesterday, partner and I looked as though we were bringing a plane in to land, as we both used various hand signals to get him to sit. He ignored us. Conversely, when someone sneezes, he stops whatever mischief he is causing, sits bolt upright and cocks his head sympathetically to one side.

This came in particularly useful on our dog walk this morning. It was foggy. Dog 1 and dog 2 are both white. I can’t see the footballers this morning, I said to partner, so let’s just let the dogs run around the rec, rather than braving the muddy fields behind. The dogs disappeared – recall training is work in progress. I heard a commotion. It sounded like the noise of children screaming as they go down a roller coaster. Instinctively we run towards the noise and as we get through the fog we see about 25 five year old footballers, plus parents, plus coaches, running, either away from, or towards dog 1 and dog 2, depending whether they were adult or child. Dog 1 and dog 2, being puppies still, despite looking like large dogs to a five year old, thought this was the most amazing dog walk we had ever taken them on and were having the time of their lives. They had taken the ball and were merrily chasing it around the pitch. Partner and my arrival on the chaotic scene did absolutely nothing to improve the situation, as both dogs were in doggy heaven. Until, cutting straight through the screams and our shouting, one of the footballers sneezed. Dog 1 stopped, sat down and cocked his head to one side. Dog 2 followed. Partner and I scrambled for their leads and hot footed it, after sincere apologies, to Waitrose, where the free coffee has never tasted so good.