Sunday, 30 December 2012

Week 69- The Royle Family, Harveys Bristol Cream and bum explosions on trains

There's certain stuff that you should never risk leaving the house without when going anywhere with a one year old:
1. Nappies
2. Wipes
3. Nappy bags
4. A book with pages that don't rip, or a toy that makes annoying noises
5. A plastic box of random food that can stay in the bottom of a bag for ages without going off.

So taking a five hour journey home with none of these things was a bit of an oversight. Especially when someone's got diarrhea.

Not me.

According to the the telly, Christmas is all, sitting off round an open fire and eating roasted chestnuts, while tucking into a turkey the size of Luxembourg.

At no point does anyone mention the ridiculous number of miles you have to cover to hang out with family if you don't all live round the corner from each other.

We'd done the Oasis scale tour of the north, but with Ben working the day after Boxing Day, I thought Nancy and I could kick around my mum's house for another couple of days, take advantage of a possible lie in, and then get the train home.

I thought I'd been mega organised. Washed and tumble dried all our stuff. Made sandwiches to take with us to avoid the train trolley man.

But turns out if had all gone to shit.


The first massive bum explosion happened while waiting on the platform at the station for the train.

It was then I realised I'd left all bar two nappies and everything else that might have been useful, on my mum's kitchen table.

We'd only been on the train ten minutes when Nancy let rip again.

This was during her signature move of cruising up and down the carriage, trying to get the attention and possible smiles of passengers, most of whom are minding their own business.

Only this time she was skunking everyone on route.

That's the other thing that Morrisons/Asda/M and S don't seem to highlight while we're all supposedly making snowmen in our new cashmere sweaters.

Christmas makes everyone ill.

I don't want to sound all bah humbug, because I love Christmas.

I love hanging out with my family. My extended family. The Royle Family. I love the meals that go right. The ones that go wrong. I love guilt free telly in the day. Constant tins of chocolates. Harveys Bristol Cream. Cracker jokes. Roast potatoes. Bubble and squeak. Red wine. White wine. Sparkly wine.

I love it all.

It just seems a tad unfair that the pay off is conjunctivitis, diarrhea, sore throats, flemmy coughs and never ending snotty noses.

But I guess if you've got all the stuff to self medicate then you go some way to sorting this. A spare nappy on a long journey would be a start.

Next year will be different.

I'm going to be so on it.

I'm going to be motivated and driven. I'm going to be focused and organised.

I'm not going to recognise myself in 2013.

But for now, I'm going to remember to leave the house with the change bag.

Sunday, 23 December 2012

Week 68- The Graduate, having favourites and dancing with dinner ladies

Nancy likes hanging out with Ben more than me.

I'm not being paranoid.

She does.

When it's just her and me we still have a nice time.

I make her laugh by blowing raspberries on her tummy. We can spend ages both shaking our heads to whatever Ken Bruce is playing in the morning. And there's nothing better than sitting on the floor, Nancy picking up a book from her shelf and climbing into my lap for me to read to her.

But if Ben's around, then it's game over.

I'd be lying if I didn't say it was a little bit heart breaking when she hears him in another room, immediately starts crying for him, then goes to the glass kitchen door and starts beating it with her little fists, The Graduate style.

There was a time when Ben would head out to work, and Nancy and I would happily wave him off, she'd forget moments later who she was waving at. Then, bam. She's hanging out with her number one bestie and having the time of her life.

Now, I have to prise her off Ben, finger by finger, as she arches her back and screams. Real tears rolling down her cheeks.

And she's formulated her first sentence. 'Bye bye Daddy.' She repeats it for anything up to an hour after he's left.

I know that it's just something that children do.

But seriously.

Can we have a bit of loyalty here.

I carried her for nine months. I've got stretch marks that a lifetimes supply of Bio Oil couldn't fix. I wasn't able to sit down for a month after birth. And my boobs still look like deflated water balloons.

I'm not saying I should be her favourite because my body carried the war wounds of pregnancy. But surely there was some serious bonding that went on when she was growing inside me, that must count for something.

The other day, as she and Ben were playing, she saw me approaching, and closed the door. It was like being at primary school all over again, and having to pair up with the dinner lady during country dancing cos no-one wanted to be my partner.

So I'm taking action.

I'm going to get some shit hot games for us to play. I've signed us up for another course of swimming lessons in the new year. And I'm going to start carrying a cash 'n' carry size bag of raisins with me at all times, as its the only food she'll willingly eat.

I'm going to pull a right number on her. She'll not know what's hit her. It's going to be funamundo.

I'll make her like hanging out with me again if it's the last thing of 2012 I do.

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Week 67- conjunctivitis, grumpy shoppers and lifts from angels

At the point when I'd decided that Christmas spirit was running a bit thin on the ground, I met an angel.

I've got to be honest, I haven't been feeling very ho ho ho.

I've obviously had the standard cry at the new John Lewis advert. 

Advent calendar, sans chocolate, opened. 

Pictures of Nancy printed, ready to send to people we can't afford presents for.

But with just over two weeks to go, I haven't been feeling all that Christmassy.

And every time I venture into town, I'm met with an army of determined shoppers who don't open doors for you when you've got a pram anymore, cos they're on a mission.

Or willingly move out of the buggie spot on the bus cos they're sat there surrounded by bags of shopping.

Or, and this is just plain annoying, crowd the lift in Boots cos they're laden with presents, when there's a perfectly good set of escalators 2 seconds away.

To my embarrassment I gave the 'disappointed' head shake to a lift full of pramless shoppers the other day, only to have to queue with them for the best part of 20 minutes when I did eventually get to the right floor.

So after another unsuccessful shopping trip with an understandably frustrated Nancy, I wasn't surprised that things went nuclear when we got home.

But on closer inspection it turned out that it wasn't so much tears, as weeping eyes, and after a squizz at the NHS direct website, I was 99% certain that Nancy wasn't rubbing her eyes cos she was tired, but cos she had an eye infection.

Now, with near apocalyptic weather at the moment, and about 20 minutes until the doctor's shut, I strapped Nancy to me and pegged it down the street to the surgery at the bottom of the road.

The hot doctor confirmed that Nancy had conjunctivitis and we went to the pharmacist around the corner to get her drops.

The rain started to get a bit heavier, and then as we went into the health food shop for a look at stuff we can't afford and a sniff of goodness, the heavens opened.

I mean literally sheet rain.

Like you had a film of scum over your eyes and everything's in soft focus.

All out of ideas, and Nancy's bedtime creeping up, I though we were going to have to both get soaked to the skin and then risk Nancy getting a massive cold on top of her crusty eyes.

And then a customer in the shop said, 'I know that it's weird for strangers to offer you a lift, but can I drop you home?'

'No, it's fine, we'll be OK in a tick,' I Britishly muttered.

'I wouldn't normally ask, but you've got a baby, as have I, and you're going to get drenched.'

I told her where I lived, which was close, but not loads to her house. But completely unfazed, she assured me it was no problem.

And minutes later she dropped us right outside our flat. Gave me a wave, then bezzed off into the rain.

I didn't even catch her name. She just did something nice. Really nice. Because she was a nice person.

She made me want to be nicer.

Maybe next time the lift's full in Boots, I'll just let it go. Or not be so grumpy with the person sat in the pram part of the bus.

Cos let's be honest, when someone's nice to you, it can totally turn your day around.

The lady in the car made me want to be a better person.

I probably won't be.

But she made me think about being one.

And that's got to be a start.

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Week 66- ball pools, rainy days and Jeremy Kyle

There is literally nothing to do with a one year old when the weather's rubbish, and you have a flat the size of an old 50p.

Nancy's got her own cupboard. Which is a no expense spared collection of Tupperware and old magazines, which she empties, I refill, she empties, and repeat until she's bored.

That's fun for about 10 minutes.

And then there's the 30 second cruise around the flat.

A visit to the bathroom to chuck all her toys in the bath tub, as well as the candles I used to use when having a soak in another lifetime.

And finally, and I usually hold out until things are really reaching breaking point, a play on the TV remote control.

That's a total of about 23 minutes. Then we've got about another eight hours to fill.

So, Ulrika and I decided to take the girls to a soft play area.

At three quid fifty, I wasn't expecting luxury on tap, but basically, if I owned a disused air hangar, I'd stick a ball pool in it, wrap scaffolding with foam and drop leaflets round all the mums groups advertising a new funplex.

It was so cold that you can see your own breath, and when we look up, it's clear why.

Half the roof is missing. There's literally cracks in the corrugated plastic panels. You need to keep your coat on inside.

Unless you're sat in the cafe, where the strip heaters are turned up so high that you'd at best get a sun tan, and at worst, melt all your skin off.

At least it's somewhere for them to bezz about for a bit.

And Nancy looks like she's having more fun that she's had with me for days.

But after a little while it becomes clear that quite a lot of the parents of the under threes have gone AWOL, and left their children to play off on their own.

Which would be fine, if half of them weren't complete bullies.

When is it acceptable to tell off someone else's child?

When they grab a toy from your daughter?

When they push her over?

Or when they literally launch themselves through the window of the plastic car, landing on your little girl and totally squashing her, cos they can't wait two minutes for her to get out?

I know it's obviously not on to tell a three year old to bugger off, but you do want the parent to step in at some point, instead of having to explain to the little boy yourself that there are lots of cars they can sit in that are empty, and can he say sorry to Nancy for making her cry.

And then I see his parents and I think, poor little guy, he never really stood a chance on the manners stakes.

They look like they've walked straight off the Jezzer Kyle stage.

The dad, who at a guess is about thirty stone and is tucking into multiple kids meals, nods at me as I'm squatting down with his son.

To be honest, I don't know what I'd do if another parent was telling Nancy off. Ben. Fine obviously. Family, as well, no probs. Close friends, yep. Go for it.

But a total stranger? It feels a bit weird, like what they're really saying is, what a shit job of parenting your doing.

Please, please can Nancy grow up to be well mannered, kind and thoughtful, all of her own doing, so I don't have to ever deal with it?

But in the meantime, roll on summer, so we can hang out outside.

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Week 65 - Marks and Sparks and drum 'n' bass

There's a point when you suddenly feel grown up.

A freeze frame, when you realise it wasn't recently that you were in the sixth from. Even if you still call the teachers Mr or Mrs so and so instead of their Christian name. 

But it was actually fifteen years ago.


My freeze frame came last Saturday, when in town with Nancy, I went on autopilot and got the lift up to the cafe in M and S to have a pit stop.

I live in the town of a thousand cool cafes. Most of them child friendly. All of them the kind of places that play cool music, have lists upon lists of fruit teas, smell a bit joss sticky and the staff are sickeningly gorgeous, despite a face full of piercings and dreadlocks.

And I go to Marks and middle aged Sparks. And if that wasn't bad enough, I had a pot of tea and a scone.

As Nancy was shredding her ham sandwich and lobbing it all over the floor, I had a total 'punch me in the face with the mid thirties fist' moment.

This wasn't helped by the fact that my only purchase was a sensible bra.

By sensible I mean the kind of thing you definitely wouldn't wear on a first date.

Or second.

If fact you'd probably go for a dump with the bathroom door open in front of your boyfriend before you dragged out this sexless boulder holder.

And to add insult to injury, it's not to compliment a drawer full of saucy undies.

It's instead of.

I've got rid of all my pre Nancy clothes now. I couldn't bear every time I got dressed having to sift though things that, realistically, I was never going to wear again.

In fact, the only person who gets any wear out of my bras is Nancy, who likes to put them on her head.

So, as we sat amongst the table hogging grandmas, foreign exchange students, and mothers who I thought were definitely older than me, (they were probably in my school year), I spotted a familiar face.

A man was sat off with his mum, having a similar afternoon snack.

He was wearing a hoodie and jacket inside, even though it was totally sweltering.

He nodded at me, and as I nodded back, I wracked my brains as to where I knew him from.

And then it hit me.

He ran the drum 'n' bass night I used to go to when I was a student, at a grubby, sweaty ceilinged club. I used to have a bit of a crush on him, and would get a bit loud and show offy when he'd give me a flyer in the street.

He always had good looking women and cool men hanging off his every word.

And here we both were.

Eating scones in Marks and Spencer's.

As I put Nancy in her pram, and walked past him on the way out, I said, louder than necessary to Nancy, 'let's go and find your dad in the record shop.'

I feel a bit prickly skinned embarrassed when thinking about it. As it was clear I was fibbing.

I don't know why I said it.

Well I do. So I didn't feel like the kind of woman who wears bras made out of T shirts and hangs out in M and S.

It'd be just my luck to see him there again next Saturday.