Hush, little spoilt baby

My version of the original lullaby. To be sung in a soft, lilting voice:

Hush, little baby, don’t you move,
Mama’s gonna buy you a soothe ‘n’ groove.

And if that soothe ‘n’ groove don’t sing,
Mama’s gonna buy you matching bedding.

And if you cover Peppa Pig in poo,
Mama’s gonna buy you a bugaboo.

And if that bugaboo is broke,
Mama’s gonna buy you a cashmere coat.

And if that coat isn’t de la mode,
Mama’s gonna buy you matching drawers and wardrobe.

And if that furniture don’t fit,
Mama’s gonna buy you a dog to hit.

And if that doggy tries to bite,
A nice Stokke Highchair will put things right.

And if from that highchair you fall down,
you’ll still be the most spoilt baby in town.

MadHouseMum©

Wake up and smell the shit!

Waking up to Norah Jones and the smell of shit is like biting into a chocolate and finding it’s a turkish delight. From then on, things can only get better.

I’ve been thinking about how I pick up the dogs’ poo. I always want to do it deftly, so as to appear professional and so that I’m not hanging around that smell. I also don’t wish to appear as if I am enjoying myself. However, perform the pick up too fast and you run the risk of missing some, or worse still, getting some on your fingers. As well this, we use cheap nappy sacks, so I have to be careful not to pick up a twig in addition to the poo and rip the bag – it can be a long way to the next bin. There is an art to poo picking. One time, dog 1 had eaten a nappy sack and I found myself in the strange situation of picking up a poo that came out almost pre-packaged.

Whenever the dogs lick me, I find myself thinking about the last thing they licked: the other dog’s nob or fox crap. I am surprised that we don’t all develop some awful skin disease, but somehow we don’t. Why do we let them lick us when we have all the information about where they have been at our fingertips. No human would get away with this sort of behaviour: Husband, “I’ve just licked a urinal. Come on baby, kiss me!” “Sorry, darling, I’d rather kiss the dog, who has just licked the other dog’s balls.”

Dog 2 doesn’t cock his leg yet. We are all waiting with bated breath. I’m hoping he’s not retarded, as dog 1 was cocking like a trooper by the same age. In fact, dog 1 seems to have unlimited supplies of wee, kept in reserve for all eventualities – all of which look meaningless to me: another bush, a discarded trainer, every available goal post. I’m glad human males are not like male dogs, I commented to partner on our dog walk this morning. It would take us forever to get anywhere if you had to piss everywhere. With that, dog 1 cocked his leg and pissed on dog 2’s head, and I might get very wet, I added.

C’mon!

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I hate technology. Mainly because it makes me feel old, but I’m also a control freak and I feel out of control. Partner consults me on updating some piece of equipment or other and I just nod and say a vague ok. Next thing I know it’s another thing that I cannot work, usually black and box shaped and it intimidates me. I try not to let it. I’m a fifth degree black belt. I teach my three year old students how not to be intimidated: shoulders back, look it straight in the eye. C’mon, I can do this. But I can’t and I end up shouting to a daughter for help and using the word fuck a lot while I’m waiting for her to appear. 

Daughters have been wondering why I haven’t set up my thumb print and Apple Pay on my phone. So this morning I thought, c’mon I can do this. So I just did. It’s easy. I feel smug. I go to use my phone. My thumb print doesn’t work. I swear to partner rather than at him and he quickly takes the phone and removes the thumb print password. This, for some reason known only to Apple, removes the Apple Pay. I swear at and to partner. He retreats to a hiding place. I say fuck a few times then call for a daughter. This is my life. I can’t keep up. I want to go back to cash in hand, four channels on the telly and Betamax. I want to go back to feeling in control. Shoulders back, looking technology squarely in the eye and winning.

Postscript
Thanks to daughters I now have more thumb prints on my phone than a five pound note…except my own. My own thumb still won’t work. That’s because you’ve got manky thumbs, daughter 1 said. You can use your toe, daughter 4 said helpfully. I settled for my middle finger – which is exactly what I want to stick up at technology. 

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Was that ‘Apple Pay’ or ‘Apple Pie’?

Storm in a Tent

So, it is possible to survive a pretty loopy storm in a tent, as long as the tent is posh. I lay awake for three hours last night, thinking it was going to blow away and working through various scenarios if it did:
1) the whole thing blows away and I will need to grab dogs, wellies and kids. Partner can sort himself out.
2) it blows away and as it does, a large piece of metal hits one of us on the head – I didn’t have any solution for this one. I just thought about how guilty I would feel, as the camping trip was my idea
3) next door’s tent blows away and we have to help with their rescue operation. I imagined that I would be useful in a panicky sort of way

All this thinking was exhausting me, so I took a break at 2am to join the kids, who were all now assembled on the sofa, for hot chocolate. They didn’t look concerned, just Famous Fiveish, but with an extra dog. I went and gave the tent mechanics a cursory look and they looked pretty solid, despite the fact that it felt like it was about to take off. I decided to do something useful, so I kept the fire going. By now it was 4am and I’d had enough of being scared that one of us/all of us may die, so I pulled dog 1 onto my head to muffle the noise and went to sleep.

I got an e mail from little sister, sent at 6.30am, subject: Welfare Check (you can tell she’s a police inspector) it read: Omg. I can’t believe you are in a tent. Let me know you’re all alive xxxxx – it’s good to know she cares.

Yes, we’re alive! We’re dirty, we probably stink like hell and you could fry an egg on our heads, but we’re alive 😃

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My Guilty Secret

I’m going to let you into a secret. One of those secrets where you hear other parents talk and feel that it’s a secret that no-one else shares. So I shall share it with you and see whether anyone else shares it with me: I don’t enjoy eating meals with my children. I know that I am supposed to enjoy them. In fact, I feel a huge amount of pressure to enjoy sharing mealtimes as a family, but I just don’t.

Over the years I have read numerous articles telling us to sit down to eat as a family. They have told me that this is important as it is a time when families can chat and discuss and plan. It is an important time for the children to learn how to develop the art of conversation, as well as table manners. Indeed, I can remember my Grandma having a roast with us every weekend and her constantly reprimanding me for not chewing each mouthful twenty times, among other things. I have engaged in both argument and debate around the family dining table with my own parents.

So, over the years I have made sure that we sit as a family and eat together whenever we can. I have been hot on table manners and have encouraged the art of conversation. However, the truth is, that I often end up feeling that rather than being a positive experience, it is rather a stressful one.

I have an issue with elbows and I find that the children’s are usually sticking out at a right angle, making me feel claustrophobic and unable to eat my food properly. I enjoy the interaction, until they start talking with food in their mouths and then I get cross. We get into a good debate and then it descends into the kids griping and sniping at one another and my own voice is no longer heard. Then comes the sniffing. They don’t know that they are doing it, but the steam that is rising from the hot food is making their noses run and they don’t know how to use a tissue. Finally, there is the food around their mouths, that I ask them to wipe, but they don’t immediately and it annoys me.

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So now my secret is out. My guilty secret. I feel guilty because I know that these are precious times spent together and I love spending time with my girls. I feel guilty because my mum enjoys cooking and sharing food with us and always seemed to. I feel guilty because psychologists tell me how important it is to eat as a family and so I feel that I must make the effort.

The reality is that there are very few times in this Mad House that we can eat together. I feel guilty that I don’t make more time.

Scottish Nanna Nellie used to sometimes recite a Scottish grace before a meal. I have my own version:
For what we are about to endure: elbows out, mouths open, griping, texting, snap chatting the contents of the plate,
May the Lord make us truly patient,
Amen.

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Easter Sunday. A barbecue breakfast. Looks idyllic…but daughter 1 sneezed with a mouthful of scrambled egg. Get my point?!

Happy Glampers

The owner of the glamping site didn’t sugar coat it: if we don’t take your porch off, your tent will blow away. With that, she handed us a bottle of champagne and apologised for the shower not working. So we’re battening down the hatches for the imminent arrival of Storm Katie. The Boden brigade in the tent next door have already booked themselves into a hotel for the night. Lightweights. Our answer to the promised storm was to load up our wheelbarrow – cars aren’t allowed on site – with as much gin, wine, crisps, marshmallows and cake mix, as a teenager can wheel across a field. We already have masses of pasta, hot chocolate and the champagne freebie stashed away: bring it on, Katie, bring it on!

imageThe porch being take down, ready for Storm Katie’s arrival 

So far this glamping lark has been a huge success. The tent is so posh, it resembles a house. So much so that I thought it was a house the first night, until it started flapping and then a huge shadow of partner appeared on our bedroom wall at 4am. He was trying to relight the stove, as the owner had mentioned that it is possible to keep it going all night and his competitive instinct kicked in. I woke up to what looked like the Incredible Hulk wielding a canoe, but it was just partner and his gas lamp and a log.

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Dog 1 and dog 2 are having a ball. Last night they needed a wee. It was dark. Partner asked me to put dog 1’s lead on (on the dog, not on me – thin walls). I felt around and struggled for a bit. It won’t go on, I said to partner. He shined his phone in my direction. That’s because you are trying to get it around his bum, he retorted.

I now realise why I had four kids: one to cook, one to wash up, one to dry and one to put away.

imageDaughter 1 being mum, while her mother is getting pissed on the sofa

Meanwhile, partner and I can languish on the sofa in front of the stove, drinking free champagne and waiting for the storm to hit.

Resurrection

This is a poem that I wrote many moons ago at Uni. It’s an alternative to fluffy bunnies and little lambs. Happy Easter!

Resurrection

The couple next door
Are having sex
Passionately,
Violently,
The whip’s cracking,
She’s screaming,
And Jimmy Hendrix is
The third party.
Downstairs
My mother is celebrating
Christ’s resurrection
With friends.
The easter hymns
Are gaining
Strength,
Speed and
Fervour.
The singers
Together
The couple
Synchronised
The chorus
Climaxing

In harmony.

MadHouseMum©

 

Streakin’ Hell!

Sitting in bed this morning, looking up places to visit near our campsite. This pub looks lovely, I say to partner and its dog friendly – if the dogs are well behaved. We both look at dog 1 and dog 2 chasing each other madly around the bedroom, a ball of growling, biting fur, jumping on then off our bed like a couple of whirling dervishes. Oh bollocks, partner says.
We’ve taken time to explain to daughters that there is no electricity and no WiFi in the tent. This promoted two portable chargers to be hurriedly bought by daughters 1 and 4, using Amazon Prime – that’ll be the Amazon Prime that step daughter left us with when she came to visit and watched a movie – a movie that we have on DVD. Anyway, everyone is now making use of it for a month. The whole idea is that we get away from all this, I tell them, we are going to reconnect. But I’ll lose my streak, moaned daughter 2. I must tell my streakers so that they can keep up the streaks while I’m away. My parental voice of concern kicks into action: streakers? I ask. What the hell are you talking about? I don’t want to think about it too hard. On Snapchat mum, don’t worry about it. Oh great, I think to myself. Another thing one of my teenagers tells me I don’t need to worry about, which always makes me worried.
Daughter 2 wants to take her full length mirror camping. I’m going to wrap it in bubble wrap, she tells me. God, we are nowhere near leaving the house and I am stressed. Like we need a mirror to tell us how crap we all look in wellies and fleeces, daughter 1 mutters.
I insist that partner shaves and that I wash my hair before we go. You have to start a camping trip looking the best you can, I tell him, because each day you go gradually downhill. I’m taking my Clairol 5 in 1 shampoo, daughter 1 says. Five in one, I think to myself. I’ve heard of 2 in 1 but god they pack some shit into shampoos these days. Five in one sounds like it’s covering a multitude of needs and eventualities.
Daughter 1 has just googled post delivery on Good Friday and found out there isn’t one. Which means that, however amazing and expensive Amazon Prime is, they are not going to get their chargers today. My snap streak! she’s wailing. Partner and I run for cover. I’m taking my guitar and a bottle of whisky, says partner. To cover a multitude of needs and eventualities.
We’re all ready with our things in the hallway. Anyone seen the keys to the roofbox? Partner enquires. Oh bollocks…
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Life Could Always be Worse

Life worse

I keep bumping into things. I don’t think it’s due to a medical condition, I’m putting it down to three things: distraction, speed and tiredness. If you think about it, these three words pretty much sum up a parents’ lot in life. One daughter or another is often telling me that they told me something that I am denying having heard – I was probably distracted. I feel quite guilty about being distracted when they are wanting my attention. When they were little, I would purposefully distract myself from their whingeing and tantruming, in order to prove a point: life isn’t only about you sunshine, get used to it! However, now they are teenagers and they still need my attention, perhaps now more than ever.

Parents are always rushing. We pack so much into our kids’ lives now, that finding time to breathe takes quite an effort and you can forget about having a leisurely crap – there’s just no time. People are often quite shocked about how fast I eat. I put it down to having four kids so close together. I had to get it down my neck before one of them needed something. Have you ever thought about how proficient parents become at eating one handed? My ex and I used to call our dinners: one handed scoff. For years we were hard wired to only cooking meals that required a fork.

Finally, there’s tiredness. I can tackle just about anything life throws at me on sufficient sleep. One bad night, however and it’s like the hangover from hell. Where’s the post, Hun? (In the freezer). Mum, where’s that form you signed? (On the back of the shopping list). Where are my keys? (Inside). Where am I? (Locked out). So it goes on and so we all go on. Putting one foot in front of the other and hoping that life is good enough and on some days, much better. I just saw this post on Facebook, written by a mum with small kids: Lovely dog walk, with only 1 Minnie (sic) disaster ☺️ As parents, our lives are 1 mini disaster after another, but we take them in our stride and things can still be lovely. Above all, despite the bruises from walking into door knobs and furniture, the dodgy choice of clothes because of the lack of time and the fact that my children sometimes feel ignored, life could always be worse.

Postscript
Life Could Always Be Worse…we could be spending Easter in a tent, with 4 teenagers and no wifi in the pissing rain…oh, we are. Well, the tent could have a hole in it and the alcohol could run out.

Easter Scrooge

A few years ago we almost stopped giving the girls chocolate for Easter. I was so sick of the stuff. Mountains of chocolate would be left in our cupboard for weeks afterwards. I would give a huge bag of it to anyone who came round to our house looking hungry in May. Even the girls were beaten into chocolate submission. Easter eggs are like Christmas decorations: fine at the time, but by January you are sick of the sight of them. 

Maybe I am just an Easter Scrooge. We had one Easter bonnet that we made when daughter 1 was 4, that did 12 years of Easter hat parades. One year we had a problem, as two daughters were in the same parade. Just share it, I managed to convince them. You wear it up until: Chick, Chick Chicken, lay a little egg for me and then shove it on your sister’s head. That Easter bonnet never won a prize once in all those 12 years. Some of the hats I see now, proudly displayed on Facebook, with captions such as: look at what I made..erm…she made…, look amazing, but they won’t last a day, let alone 12 years. They won’t have the staying power of our…erm I mean their bonnet. 

For the past couple of years, we have offered the kids a fiver or an egg. At first, the two younger ones opted for the egg, not wanting to break with tradition. However, last year they worked out that shops pop out pretty decent eggs at a pound a go, so they took the fiver and bought themselves several eggs, thus causing our plan to spectacularly backfire. 

This Easter we are in a tent. Everyone who asks if we are going on holiday, as they wave their ski poles in our faces, says: oh no! when I mention the tent. It’s a posh tent, I add, we’re glamping. But I can see it in their eyes, they are thinking: no amount of posh can stop it pissing down. 

So, this Easter I think we will break with tradition and we shall take chocolate to the tent. I feel that we need to feed our addictions this weekend, rather than shun them. We will pack our knackered old bus full of chocolate and wine and peanut butter. Peanut butter is partner’s addiction. He drove via Waitrose last night after work, because he had none for the morning. They only had organic, he tells me. He opens it and sniffs it, like one might a fine wine. Does it taste any different? I ask him. Oh yes, he tells me, as if I have asked whether Blossom Hill tastes different to claret. It tastes like a real monkey nut. I’m not convinced, but he shall have his peanut butter and the girls shall have their chocolate. I shall sit in our tent, clutching a glass of wine, watching the rain pissing on the fire pit, feeling like a real Easter Scrooge.