Friday, 29 June 2012

Howe do you do... clean?

There is no pleasure sweeter than a freshly clean child...

I think that's right isn't it? Oh alright, let's not get carried away with the hyperbolical statements.

So there are other things perhaps equally sweet: new born puppies; toddlers spontaneously kissing, anything by Anne Geddes...

Earlier this year, time stopped for a while, during which, I HAD to read Vanessa Diffenbaugh's The Language of Flowers. It is that rare and special thing, a book that insists you pay attention to it. To prioritise it.

The story follows a young woman at 18 years old, coming out of the fostering system. It is based around the symbolism of flowers and their individual Victorian meanings. If you've not read it, obviously you should. Although if you happen to have any yellow roses in the garden, it might prompt their untimely demise!

There is a part in the book that has stayed with me and it relates to the cleansing of a young child. Until this point, I had never really thought about it, bathtimes had always been somewhat of a warzone with squirters, water pistols and tidal waves all primed to give any adult involved a soaking. Our two are geting so big now, it's like wrestling a couple of distressed porpoises in there. We now only bath them in our scuba gear, flippers and all!

And I'm not going to tell you that anything has changed in respect of the aqua-heavy ablutions, simply that I relish in them. It can be just another thing to tick off the list of jobs to do and I had overlooked the whole basic ritual of it. The sensations: the smell and feel of foamy bubbles; their soft skin and tiny bums; the towel dry and hair comb. Oh my God, I'm so sorry, I'd just drifted off into a Pampers advert! Don't worry, have self-flaggelated.

Nevertheless I was reminded of it yesterday, when Baby Girl was digging to Autralia through the vegetable patch. Sometimes it's nice to be encouraged to break the routine of bath, story, bed (that's my spin on the situation anyway!)

Once I'd got her cleaned up and in her jarmmies, what simple pleasure there is to be had from a warm, Johnson's Baby cuddle. The sweet smell of baby breath, damp hair and the odd trump.

Lord know's there are enough frustrations in life with our need to get stuff done versus their compulsion to explore the world. Sometimes you have to stop and smell the roses, or the backs of babies necks... preferably one's you know.

Monday, 18 June 2012

Howe do you do... dealing with a poo without a toilet?

Why oh why is it always about wees and poos?

We have just returned from our hols, a brilliant time was had by all.
Although... things have changed somewhat since those pre-baby holidays.
My main preoccupation used to be getting a tan; I now look like a giraffe, my kids having a penchant for randomly spraying me with their factor 50. I am also still finding enough sand daily to fill up an hourglass. And of course the sitting around has been curbed to a greater extent, not least on account of my responsibility for more than just my own toiletage. I'd like to regale a couple of beach-side horror stories for your titillation.

It was after our last trip to beautiful Tenerife that the nightmares started. Baby Girl - just getting to grips with potty training - told me she needed a wee.
Now I know you're not meant to admit it but we all wee in the sea. If you don't you're crazy, especially in Tenerife where walking in any other direction on the hot sand will leave you with first degree burns on the soles of your feet. Fact.

I said to her - to try and extend my own limited lazing around - "just go and wee in the sea". So off she took her naked self. I went back to nonchalantly chatting to my fellow sun worshippers, when one of them cried, "I don't think it's a wee!"

All eyes fixed with bated breath on Baby Girl's bottom, there has been no cinematic moment more gripping in our lifetimes. When finally the chocolate turtle's head appeared, we each reacted as if it was Air Force One emerging from her insides.
Being the one "in charge", it was me that had to respond. And I did, until I got to her and picked her up. Then my mind just went completely blank! I had no stock response of what to do with this situation. My heart was racing like a wildebeest as I looked around for clues. All of my support network were tittering too much to speak any words of guidance. I spotted a toilet sized cabin up the beach and set off at a pace.

I opened the door only to find it was an old fashioned changing room.

Sweat bubbles burst on my temples. I ran around the back of the cubicle but there was just a seafront cafe full of people relaxing, enjoying their elevenses of pistachio ice cream.

At this point can I remind you that I am basically wearing my underwear, carrying a naked child who's poo is - through some form of magic - still attached to her body. I look over to My People, apparently my blind panic, causing them untold amusement. One of them holds out a bucket; finally a sensible solution. I sit Baby Girl down, just in time to hear an unmistakable thud. Phew... I thought.

Crime Scene!

But no, what the hell do you do with a log the size of a Snickers, on a beach with no loo?

The Daddy, in all his wisdom, decided it could just go in the sea. I would like it noted that I did not concur but demurred from arguing due to suffering from PTSD. What was I thinking?

Minutes later when I went for a dip, the whole commotion started again - amongst the slippery seaweed and soapy foam, who should I meet but Turd McCrapstone Esq.

The Daddy got it in the neck. "You were meant to swim out with it! You can't just throw it in and expect it not to wash back again." By now, sultry beach hair and I have been estranged for some time and I am aware that I am behaving like a common, olden days washerwoman who's got a tangle in her mangle.

Finally another sensible suggestion came with the idea of catching the poo (poo catching, you should try it!), putting it in a bag and disposing of it in the doggy bin. They have doggy bins you see, the dogs are catered for!

So that was last time. In comparison, this time actually doesn't seem that bad. I'm not sure how I feel about becoming normalised to this kind of shtick.

I have obviously trained The Boy well, as is clear in his complete confusion of the sentence "just go and wee in the sea". So alien is this concept - he was busy burying himself the last time and obvs learnt nothing from the experience - that he just approached the sea, leaving a good 10 to 15 foot gap between him and the surf, dropped his pants and started peeing among the sun loungers, in particular among three middle-aged English women who had just shared their melon with us (no euphemism intended).
Looks like mine but not mine, think I had time for photos?

All might have been overlooked if I hadn't channelled my inner washerwoman and vocalised my horror so vehemently. I did the hot sand, almost naked, wobble-dash all the way to where he was, but of course it was too late. What can you do?

And so the glamour goes on...

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Howe do you do... calming a crying toddler

I'm not one of those people who doesn't stand for crying, who wants to suppress genuine emotion? But then there are times when you just need them to stop; and there are emotions that aren't so genuine! So here goes:

  • The Cuddle: the first port of call on the crying journey. Sometimes this is enough to wade through the incomprehensible syllables to the source of the tears.

  • The Magic Kiss and Rub: I'm not entirely sure how this works on bumps and grazes - as I have no recollection of being initiated into The Magic Circle - but work it does. Maybe I was hypnotised at childbirth?

  • Distraction: This is best served with a side dish of humour. A good ol' classic in the case of injury on a hard surface is "Have you made a hole in that wall/door/floor/ping pong table?" with close inspection required. Another one I discovered the other day is asking if The Boy's uvula was wiggling. This is the hangy down bit at the back of the throat and will always be on show and wiggling during a good cry. It stunned him right out of his funk!
  • Imitating Their Cry: Caution, this does depend on your child and their likely response. The Boy on the whole thinks its mildly amusing, enough to cease the tears. Baby Girl gives me a look of pure disgust and her outrage only makes her cry more.
  • The Tickle: Again you need to gauge the type of cry before deciding to proceed up this avenue. A tantruming toddler will not find this agreeable in the least. Whereas a whinger, you know the ones that sound like an untuned violin, meh, this might possibly tune them up a bit, as will...
  • The Wiggle: As it says on the tin, everyone loves a good wiggle, try it. You can't really maintain grump face when you're wiggling.
  • The Pep Talk: Along the lines of "Man up" or "Straighten up and fly right" sometimes works, worth a try if they're in the autumn of their Toddlerhood.

  • The Negotiation: OK, how about I get you a Freddy the Frog, but you must stop crying.
  • The Boundary: I don't want to listen to crying while I'm on the toilet.
  • The Ultimatum: We are not going to the zoo if you continue to make such a fuss. Warning! Side-effects are...
  • The Follow Through: You have to actually not go to the zoo, which could be more painful that the original crying but really effective if you can bear it. Done once or twice The Ultimatum holds a fair bit of weight.
  • The Outside: Very effective, especially with very small children. The change from inside to outside is like discovering Narnia apparently.
  • The Beg: Not pretty and vastly ineffective. Sometimes makes me feel better as I laugh hysterically at my own futility.
  • The Blank: N.B. Not for the faint-hearted. I find it really hard to ignore crying, it attacks my senses like napalm, but if you can, word is it works.
  • The Hospital: This may seem extreme but it might be that there is actually something wrong with the Bubba. I have done this twice: the first time, I arrived and all I could tell them was "She won't stop crying!" by which time Baby Girl fallen asleep in my arms; the second time, she had a dislocated elbow, so go figure.
Post Script: Sometimes nothing works. Once a friend of mine, a brutish Daddy figure simply said, "They might just be having a bad day". Oh yeah, there is that, I do always feel better after a good cry.

Saturday, 2 June 2012

Howe do you do... flying?

A few months ago, I cried in plain sight on an aeroplane. The worst had happened... OK not the worst worst... actually not second worst either but somewhere up there in the top 100 things that you don't want to happen on an aeroplane.
Right below having one of your children scream for the entire duration of a five hour flight is the heinous experience of having an adult turn to your three year old child and say: 'When this plane lands, I'm going to kill you'.


To which The Boy's response was to turn to me with a look of utter bewilderment and enquiry. I just scooped him up in my arms and told him it was a joke - which I think possibly was the intention. His crime had been being a three-year-old; neither kid had particularly acted out. We've never mentioned it again to him and neither has he.

So we're due to do a re-run to the sun! Yippee! But I'm anxious about the flight so I am compiling a list of activities to take with us for the collective nine hours of seated recreation. I hope you find it useful if you're doing a dash to the sun with your kids this year. If you have any recommendations, please add to the list through the comments section:

  • Comics / magazines with a toy / creative activities
  • Stickers
  • Crayons / colouring books
  • Where's Wally postcard book 

  • Small jigsaws
  • A magnetic fishing game
  • The iPod, which they just call 'the magic'.
  • My lovely friend's portable DVD player
  • New reading books (Have just bought The Snail and the Whale, and Where the Wild Things Live; there's nothing like being late to a party. Both excellent, natch.)


  • Origami paper
  • Pipe cleaners
  • Plasticine
  • My eye-spy eyes
  • A pea-shooter for any undesirables we might meet on the plane!
Nine hours? This doesn't seem enough!

Well toodleoo folks, through the wonder of technology, there'll be scheduled posts in my absence, so do check in if you can snatch a mo'.