Tag Archives: children

On the reality of spectacular plans

I write this amidst a sea of toys and half-read books, socks and abandoned crayons.

We were going to do something today. I’m not sure what. Just, well, something.

Instead, we have spent the morning making a mess without really doing anything. The day is already half over and we’ve only made it to the end of the garden. Continue reading

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The week that was, in pictures

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The one about the wedding

It’s 7am and the house is silent, waiting.

I’m the first one to wake. Butterflies are dancing in my stomach. I haven’t felt this way since Christmas Day when I was nine.

It’s my wedding day.

Next to me, still fast asleep, is one of my best friends and bridesmaids, Ruth. We had an early night after a glass of wine and some pizza with my sister and other best friend, Ellen. The baby is still asleep in her bedroom next door.

I pad downstairs and put the kettle on, to try and still the dancing butterflies. I open the back door to check the weather and smile as the sun touches my face.

Continue reading

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The little red shirt

It’s funny how something as simple as an item of clothing can bring back so many memories.

There’s the first tutu my mum made for me when I was four. I can still hear it tear as my friend attempted to lift me in a less-than-graceful balletic manouvre. Then there’s the white dress I bought in Camden on a trip with my mum and sister and later wore on the first night I ever met the (self-proclaimed) Northern Love Machine.

And there’s the little red shirt. Continue reading

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Sick note

I’ve got the lurgy.

Nothing too traumatic, I’ll survive. But it’s days like today when I wish I could get a sick note and have the day off.

Lesson #43: there are no sick days when you have a baby.

It makes me realise what a tough nut my mum is. The only time I ever remember her being poorly was when she came off her bike and fractured her pelvis. I can clearly see her lying on the floor in the living room, with just her feet poking out from behind the sofa.

Apparently it was the only place she could get comfortable as she couldn’t make it up the stairs. But I have my suspicions she was trying to find a hiding place from my sister and I. I’m not sure our constant cartwheels and requests of “Can I bandage your leg, mum?” were particularly helpful.

Anyway, I’m off to recline on the sofa and put a cold compress to my brow.  I have a feeling, though, that as soon as I get comfortable, Frog will wake up and demand something or other. Oh well, at least she can’t do cartwheels yet.

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Baby, I’m bilingual

If anyone ever tells you that having a baby turns your brain to mush, ignore them.

So called “Baby Brain” is actually an enhanced form of intelligence that women develop after giving birth. People tell us “Baby Brain” actually means we’re thick, because they are jealous. But what this condition really is, is a supernatural power to speak new languages.

That’s right, I am now *puffs chest out proudly* bilingual.

Well, actually, I am trilingual. Because not only do I speak Baby, I am also fluent in Toddler. For those of you who question if Baby and Toddler are actual, real languages, let me assure you, they are. In fact, they are actually harder to speak than Spanish, German, Japanese, Afrikaans…(you get the picture).

Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t prescribe to the coochy coo and bumty bum and gobbledeegook school of Baby that some others do. In fact, these are made up words in the language of Baby, spoken by imposters who can’t actually speak the language (rather like my own version of French, which I have been known to practise while alone, but this is a whole other post).

No, no, real Baby consists of a complicated mixture of plain English words, song and high-pitched vowels. For the beginners amongst you, here is a transcript of an earlier conversation I held with my daughter in Baby:

Frog (smiling happily): Oooooweeeeee he he he he

Me: Hello darling, are you enjoying yourself? What shall we play with today?

(Frog continues to play, ignoring me)

Me: Oooooweeeeee Frog! Frog woooooooooo what shall we play with?

(Still no answer)

Me (breaking into song): Theeeeeeeere was an Old Man Called Michael Finnegan…What is this toy? Wooooooooo yay! Ooooooweeeeee….

To an outsider, this may seem like a mixture of random sounds, words and song. But in actual fact, it makes perfect sense in Baby. I am quite proud of myself actually. It is no mean feat conversing in Baby all day long.

Now, once you have perfected the language of Baby, you will be ready to progress to Toddler.

I have already told you about our Arthur, Frog’s next-door Brother. It is amazing, but since giving birth I have been magically able to speak his language. The only problem is, as he gets older, he is forgetting Toddler and moving onto English, which is a shame, as I seem to have forgotten English and am now fluent in Toddler.

For those of you not yet familiar with the basics of Toddler, I will give you a precious gift. It is one word and is possibly the most important one you will ever learn:

Nanoo

In English, this means I love you. But, in my opinion, the Toddler version is far better.

Conversing in Baby and Toddler

(Footnote: If you are feeling generous and would like to share your secret understanding of Baby and Toddler, please add your words below along with the translation into English. Be generous, remember, not everyone has “Baby Brain”).

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Gypsy mum

I want to be a Gypsy.

Not just any Gypsy, you understand. A Gypsy from My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding.

What a fascinating programme (on Channel Four, if you missed it). It gives a real insight into how the Traveller community live – and the role of Traveller women. Which seems, to me, to be a much simpler one than “country” women like me.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying I want to live in a caravan and be taken out of school at thirteen. But the women interviewed on this programme didn’t seem to struggle with any of the issues myself and other mums I know are currently grappling with. They have a clearly defined role. Their job is to stay at home and look after the babies while the men go out to work.

Now, I realise this could get me a lot of stick with Women’s Lib types. And I am all for female independence as much as the next person. Before I had baby Frog I never dreamed I would want to give up full time work in a fast-paced exciting job. But now I’m considering doing just that. And it’s making me feel really torn. Am I a second-class citizen if I choose to spend more time at home with my baby? Am I just being a wet new mum? Isn’t it a waste of those two expensive degrees (get me!)?

Traveller women don’t have any of these concerns. Going back to work isn’t an option, because they never left for work in the first place.

But then we meet Bridget. She is in a huge minority in that she left a violent husband to bring her children up solo. And we discover this just isn’t an option for many other women in the travelling community. They can’t leave abusive relationships because if they do, they can’t provide for their children. Many of them can’t even read and write.

And we also meet Lizzie and her twelve year old sister Margaret. Lizzie hasn’t gone to school since she was eleven. Now she’s getting married and it’s Margaret’s turn to stay at home.

And it all seems so incredibly sad. These girls have never been given the option to go out to work. They weren’t even allowed to stay on at school.

So I suppose I don’t really want to be a Gypsy after all. But having lots of money and the option to go part-time would be rather nice.

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Sitting Envy

I have a confession to make. I’m a Competitive Mum. 

I try not to be. I know it’s not healthy. But I think it’s the journalist in me, the one who has to be first to the story.

Anyway, I think Competitive Mum Syndrome is something a lot of us first time mums experience at one time or another. We want everyone to see we’re doing a good job, so when our baby does something new, our first impulse is to shout about it from the rooftops (and be secretly pleased they “beat” the other babies).

Except baby Frog never does “beat” the others. She’s always the last to do everything, bless her. At four months, all the other babies in our various baby classes were happily rolling over. Frog looked at them with something verging on pity, as if to say “why bother”. At five months, many of them were sitting unsupported. And now we’re at seven and a half months, some of them are making tentative attempts at crawling.

But not my baby girl. Oh no. She’s still trying to master the art of sitting. She’s almost got it. Almost. But not quite. She still needs a circle of cushions around her to protect against injury in those Face Planting moments.

The rational side of me knows she will do it “when she’s ready”. And that all babies develop at a different pace. But I want mine to develop faster! Why isn’t she reciting the alphabet back to me yet?! Why hasn’t she learnt how to play the piano yet?! WHAT’S WRONG WITH HER?!!!!

And then I look at her. And I realise how clever she actually is. She’s worked out how to suck her toes and shake her rattle at the same time. And that takes some doing.

Yum....toes.

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