Sunday, 30 June 2013

Week 95 - buttons, boobs and catching a stranger with their pants down

I wish my day could be turned around as easily as Nancy’s.

She can be having a major melt down, her world totally falling apart. And then sees a button, and all is right again.

I don’t mean the kind of buttons you get on clothes; she’s not a simpleton.
I’m talking about the buttons for electric doors, computers, mobiles. That kind of thing.

An ideal afternoon for Nancy is going round to Ulrika’s, where she can ring the doorbell, followed by a trip to the big Boots in town, where we take the lift up to the first floor, Nancy having pressed the number 1.

Buttons don’t just cover electronic devices, mind.
Turns out nipples fall into the same category.
Nancy loves nothing more than pulling up my top and pushing ‘mummy’s buttons’, which, although I have very little feeling in my boobs post-breastfeeding, I can certainly feel that.

It all went a bit tits up on the train back from my mum’s the other day though.

I’m right on top-of-it in terms of knowing which carriage to get on to have space for a buggy. Coach F on the East Coast service, and any carriage with red stripes around the door for Southern Rail, FYI.

It’s a bit grim, mind, as the buggy/ wheelchair area is right next to the loo.

Which is in constant use, and smells like twenty years of fermenting piss.

Now, after an hour in the car, two hours on one train, a trip across London on the underground where there’s no lifts so I have to lurk around like a desperado/ weirdo, waiting for someone to grab the other end of the pram; I am keen to get Nancy out of the buggy.

As Nancy sits on the seat next to me on the train, both of us with magazines; mine- Grazia, Nancy’s- In the Night Garden, I feel like it’s a window into the future. Nancy and I hanging out, the girls together.

But Nancy’s got other ideas.

Just as a woman in her thirties goes into the loo, Nancy hops off her chair, eyes wide with anticipation, and gleefully shouts, ‘button, Mummy!’ as she presses the large flashing OPEN disc, next the toilet.

Unfortunately, the woman inside must have pressed, close, but not lock, as the arced door starts to slide open, in what feels like slow motion.

But once the door is in motion, it doesn’t stop until fully open, so I’m panicking my face off, frantically pressing the button on one side. And the woman inside is doing the same thing whilst sat on the loo.

We lock eyes as I mouth, ‘sorry!’ before the door starts to slowly close again, about a millimetre a second.

A few moments later, the woman emerges, pants up.

We ignore each other, and I strap Nancy into the buggy for the remainder of the train journey.

Whereby melt down extravaganza prevails.
But I suspect that's better that than watching half the Southern Rail customers going for a poo.  

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Week 94- getting served, losing your V plates and tag-teaming dinner

Nancy has started putting herself to bed.

This is a bigger high than passing my degree, losing my V plates AND getting served for the first time, all rolled into one.

It had all gone nuclear again.
We’d stopped giving Nancy her baby bottles before bed, and with it came tantrums on an epic scale.

And I just thought, this is how it’s going to be from now on. Tag-teaming dinner, whilst the other one tries to sooth her, or sing louder than her screams.

I haven’t exactly been proactive in writing in the evenings, but there was no way to get the old grey matter working creatively after 2 hours of non-stop tears. Often mine.
I’m not even sure how long the not-going-to-sleep went on for. When you’re in the midst of a crisis, or ‘phase’ as all the baby books understatedly refer to it, it feels like forever.

Then on Monday Nancy had a bath, had her teeth brushed, said 'night night' to Ben, then, as we went into her bedroom, whispered, ‘go to bed, Mummy.’
I put her in her cot. She snuggled down with a plastic duck meant for the bath that she’d nicked off her cousins last weekend.

And shut her eyes.

I didn’t breathe for such a long time that my chest started to convulse a little bit.
Then I shut her bedroom door.
And that was it.


I have no idea how long this will last, but suddenly we have our evenings back.
There might even be the possibility of asking someone other than immediate family to babysit.

Without getting too ahead of myself, I could go on a date with Ben again that isn’t just downing a pint in the pub opposite our house at 9.30pm, back by 9.45.
I can write the play I’ve been pretending to write for the last year.

It’s going to be AMAZING.
I’ve just got to not take this for granted, really make use of the time.

Or, like passing my degree, losing my virginity or getting served for the first time, it will be a bit of a waste of time once I’ve stopped showing-off about it.  

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Week 93- long journeys, weeing in the countryside and Ginsters pasties

How can a two-day camping trip warrant a car-load of stuff, so massive, that you can’t see out the back window?

I know a bit more thought goes into it these days.

We can’t just rock up at a campsite with a two litre bottle of cider, a tent without pegs, and a hope that we'll find a Spar shop within a two-mile radius that sells Ginsters pasties to have for tea.

But still.

I grew up on a diet of family camping trips. France for summer. Somewhere wet in the Lake District during the Whit holidays.

History is now repeating itself.
And, similarly, just as I made a big fuss about how I wished we could go on an aeroplane, or at least stay somewhere with a toilet in the same field, Nancy is now embarking on her own protest.

We were staying on an ace family-friendly campsite, boasting a healthy selection of farm animals.

The kind of animals that Nancy normally gets foot-stampingly excited about.

There’s pigs of all sizes and colours. Chickens. Cockerels. Chicks. Lots of cats. And a lonely goose, desperate for attention.

But, after the initial excitement wore off, Nancy turned her attention to something else.

The car.

This is the girl who, on a long car journey, goes bananas before we’ve got to the bottom of the road, shouting, ‘get out! Get out! Get out!’ whilst trying to master the seatbelt like a tiny contortionist.

And now, she’d prefer to sit in the driving seat of a stationary Fiat Punto, instead of hanging out with a humongous pot-bellied pig.

The other punch in the proverbials was that after several weeks of Nancy sleeping through the night, she decided to give that a miss.
Starting on our first night away, when you get a bit red wine happy round the campfire and stay up way past normal bedtime.
Midnight. (I can feel my younger-self, slow clapping me, whilst head-shaking in despair.)

At 4.30am Nancy starts having a meltdown.

 At home, when all else fails, she comes into our bed.

In a tent in the pitch dark, that’s not so easy.
But I have a bash, and she squeezes into my sleeping bag with me.

Now. Anyone who's ever been camping knows that 4ish is round about the time that you also wake up absolutely bursting for a piss.
And there’s a very serious decision to be made.
Get out of your warm sleeping bag. Put on a jumper that totally stinks of bonfires. Find a pair of shoes amongst a tangle of clothes, bottles and Tesco bags full of burger baps.
Then brace the harsh, cold, dark night in search of a car to wee behind, or the washrooms, depending on what’s closest.

Or, find a position to sleep in whereby you can somehow ignore your bursting bladder until morning.

Choice B, unfortunately, isn’t an option when sharing a sleeping bag with someone half your size, who kneads your tummy with her feet.

After an hour of us both getting more and more frustrated.
Nancy-  with the lack of Peppa Pig and light.

Me- with the sheer heat being generated by two people sleeping in such close proximity, and a third person, Ben, obliviously snoring and occupying two thirds of the sleeping space.

Nancy then asked to go and sit in the car.

This isn’t the outdoorsy holiday I’d envisaged.

Sitting off at 5.30 watching the sun come up, while listening to selection of nursery rhymes, irritatingly doctored to avoid royalties. (Example- the wheels on the bus go round- all day long, not all through the town.)

But on the plus side, Nancy can pretend to drive while I snooze in the passenger seat, and only have to nip behind the back of the car for a wee.

And old habits die hard.
So with an emergency Ginsters cheese and onion pasty in the glove compartment, at least we get to have some breakfast before everyone else wakes up, two hours later.

Sunday, 9 June 2013

Week 92- clothes moths, wet pants and killing woodlice

Having children is a grown-up thing to do. Obviously. But somehow it doesn’t feel grown-up all the time, especially if a lot of your day involves blowing raspberries on someone’s tummy.

That’s Nancy’s tummy, just to clear up any confusion. I don’t know how well it would go down at work.

Another thing that feels mega grown-up, is owning your own flat.

Especially when you’ve come from a lifetime of renting.

I miss having someone to ring up when things go wrong.

The washing machine breaks, so you ring up your letting agent and there’s a new one within a week.

The sinks making a funny noise, and, yippee, one call and someone comes to make it sound normal again.

There never really was any need to find out how to fix anything, as you were always a ring away from someone else sorting it out.

And then you get your own place.

And it’s a baptism of fire.

Or more honestly, a series of adjustments to just live with the things that go wrong.

There’s been a drip under the sink in the bathroom for the best part of a year now, and it’s getting worse. But instead of investigating properly, we’ve just found bigger and more absorbent things to clear the puddle of water up with.

In the beginning, one sheet of bog roll would do it.

More recently, it’s escalated to pairs of pants.

You go in the shower, come out, brush your teeth, and pool of water starts to appear. So you dry it with your undies you’ve taken off before getting it the shower, then put them in the wash box.

Job done.

We’ve also got some kind of biblical style plague of clothes moths that have recently taken up residence. Where do they come from? I’m hoping they work on the same principle as head lice and it’s actually because I’ve got an amazingly clean house.

Nancy, who’s eyesight is better than mine and Ben’s combined, has adopted the role of chief moth spotter. On locating one, she’ll stamp her feet enthusiastically, point and shout, ‘BUG, BUG, BUG!’ until one of us squashes it, then announces, ‘GOT IT!’

This is such a frequent event, that we’ve started walking around with big wadges of tissue in our pocket, ready to splat them at a moment’s notice.

The thing is, Nancy’s started to catch the bugs in the garden too, and comes running in proudly clutching a woodlouse that’s been held so tightly between her thumb and forefinger that it’s disintegrated.

It’s a tricky lesson to teach- kill the insects inside so you don’t feel like you're living in some kind of skeffy student den.

Live harmoniously with them outside.

I know I should find out how to sort these things out.

As well as learning how to put up a shelf, change a wheel and know why you can’t reheat rice.

Because, one day, I’m going to have to pass all this valuable information onto Nancy.

But for now, I’m going to continue to ignore it all.

Until things get too bad.

Then I’ll ring my dad.

Sunday, 2 June 2013

Week 91- screaming yourself purple, sitting in the dark and Prisoner Cell Block H

‘Go to sleep Nancy.’

‘No thank you, mummy.’

Seriously. How are you meant to respond to that?

Nancy has been quickly picking up words and phrases.
And then using them to make it plainly known how things are going to run now.
With her very much the boss of us.

I realised that Nancy was totally reliant on the bottle to go to sleep. The same bottle she had when she was a little baby. It was fine when she was a few months old. But she must have been turning herself inside out, trying to get anything out of it now.

So, as she seems to understand so much these days, I thought it was the right time to upgrade to a ‘big girl's cup.’

Cue absolute, purple-faced, fist-clenching, foot-stamping tantrums.

I’m a mega massive push-over normally.
But this time I’ve put my foot down.  
Partly aided by the child-minder tentatively mentioning that she’s the only girl drinking from a baby’s cup.

Two weeks ago, Nancy would nod off on my lap while having a drink. It was lovely and warm. Like a human hot water bottle.
I’d transfer her to her bed.

And I’d be glass of wine in hand, Corrie on, by 7.30.

Now, it’s 9.30pm, Nancy’s rattling the bars of her cot like Top Dog in Prisoner Cell Block H, shouting, ‘get out! Get out!’


And I have no ammunition.

Nothing to barter with.

Nothing up my sleeve.

Just, Twinkle twinkle little star, on repeat.

Which she now, incidentally, knows most of the words to. So it ends up being more of a duet than a lullaby.

It feels like we’re back to stage one again.

Or worse. Minus one.
Because when she was titchy and wouldn’t sleep, I could decide for Nancy what the matter was.

But now she hollers what the problem is.
Or, and this somehow makes it so much worse, politely tells me, ‘no thank you.’
And there we are.
All sat in a child’s bedroom with the lights out. Waiting to see who will crack first.