Grey Day (or the one about wee and poo)

We parents are so trying. So obsessed with our progeny are we that every gurgle enthralls us, every damp squirt has us studying the wonderment of their bodily functions and on top of that we won’t stop going on and on about it. We bother you with our stories of poo and sick, like you could care less. And ‘mummy bloggers’ we’re even worse, so it was only a matter of time.

Here we go then. No mercy.

We start the day with a wet bed. All night long A has been coughing up her guts, to the point where she projectile vomits a mucusy yellow liquid over her pillow. She crawls into our bed and I give her some paracetamol and a few sips of water. Her lips are all rough and she keeps asking for more water to soothe her dry throat. She’s been throwing everything back out, so I only let her have tiny fimble-fulls at a time. She coughs continually for what seems like for ever. She flings the covers off, then flings them back on. She sits up and asks for the bucket. Nothing comes out this time. I prop her up with pillows to try to reduce the coughing. She lollops from side to side slipping off the mound of cushions. Eventually she falls asleep and the paracetamol must kick in because the coughing dies down for a while. When she wakes up the non-stop hacking cough is back. She grabs for the bucket just in time. Well done, no sick in the bed! She’s puking up last night’s water.

“I need a wee” she says

I try to shake myself awake. P jumps up

“OK, let’s go downstairs” he says

But A has got the bucket under her chin again. A few more dribbles of slimy water.

“OH” she’s whimpering in between spews “wee wee”

I look down and see a wet puddle spreading onto the middle of the sheets. The retching reflux has made her let go of her bladder.

We clean her up but she’s floppy and lies miserable on the sofa for the rest of the day.

The remainder of the morning consists mainly of doing hulking laundry runs and struggling to lift our ten-tonner of a mattress, replenishing A’s tea, administering spoonfuls of warm apple juice, running about in my pyjamas after S who is not phased by his sister’s illness at all and shoves his big yellow tractor into her face expecting her to join in. At midday I see a delivery man waving at me through the front window. I am a bit sheepish about opening the door to him in my red christmas snowflake pyjamas that my mum gave me last year but he’s carrying a large parcel so I open the door a crack.

Well done mum, there I was scoffing at the pyjamas, but they do the job a pair of pyjamas is supposed to do. And here you are coming up trumps again with this year’s offering already. It’s a large parcel full of various wrapped goodies.

“You can open one each today” I say “and the rest are going under the tree.”

Early Christmas presents, perfect just when today was looking like a total loss. S gets some wooden skittles which gives him something to bash about instead of pestering his sister and as luck would have it the one A chooses to open is a DVD of Annie.

I prop her up on the sofa and stick it in the machine.

Maybe far away, or maybe real nearby,
He may be pouring her coffee,
She may be straightening his tie

I plonk down the washing and join her on the sofa.

Something strange has taken grip of me, I’m singing along, I know all the words! How did this happen?..I’m watching A watching this film and I’m taken back to a misspent childhood of musical appreciation. Hours of listening to the Annie soundtrack. And I always thought I hated musicals!

So my mum is at it again, indoctrinating the next generation.

Only the early 80’s could whitewash a story of alcoholism, child labour and kidnap to this extent.

She’s sitting playing piano,
He’s sitting paying a bill!

Harmless romanticism or should I cover A’s ears and protect her from dangerous gender conventions?

Bet they collect things
Like ashtrays, and art!
Betcha they’re good —
(Why shouldn’t they be?)
Their one mistake
Was giving up me!

Why would I want to collect ashtrays?

So maybe now it’s time,
And maybe when I wake
They’ll be there calling me “Baby”…
Maybe.

“Ahh,” I think stroking my ailing little girl’s arm “my baby”

I’m getting sucked in watching her giggles at the ‘hard knock life’/pillow fight scene. By the time we’re at the turban helicopter rescue, a dose of stage-school sentiment is pepping through her bloodstream. She agrees to honey on toast and a bath.

They both get in, but S is screaming. A realises she needs a poo. I wrap her back in a towel and she runs to the toilet, which in our house is unfortunately nowhere near the bath. S keeps crying, so I end up having to wipe one child’s bum with another naked shivering child wrapped round my waist.

Back in the bath, S is farting.

“Poo poo coming” he says.

Shit…I run and fetch the potty. I fish him out of the bath for a second time and try to plonk him on but he locks his knees rigid and shouts “NO”

“No poo in the bath” I explain “On the pot”

“No”

After a minute or two of potty face-off the poo threat seems to fizzle out so he gets back in the bath.

A is larking about with a rubber ring splashing and S is hooting with laughter. Hopefully the coughing and gut wrenching is easing off for today. Yes tomorrow’s a new day and we’ll both be able to get out of our pyjamas.

The sun’ll come out tomorrow
So ya gotta hang on til tomorrow

A gets out of the bath and brushes her teeth.

Tomorrow! Tomorrow!
I love ya tomorrow
You’re only a day a….

“Ahhh, noooooooo”

A long brown turd is floating up to the surface of the bath water.

“Come on! I said No…poo…in…the…bath!”

I grab S quickly out of the bath, sponge him down in case any poo-crumbs have stuck to his wet skin. Then I get the cat litter scoop and start shit shovelling.

The kids are finally in bed and I’m disenfecting the bath. A day that starts with a wee in the bed and ends with a turd in the bath. Is this one of those grey days Annie means when she says you should stick out your chin and say…“Oh

“Oh” I say


Telly Addicts

Now that we live across the road from A’s school my TV anguish is increasing. I dread the day her teacher cycles past and glancing through our front window, which I have come to realise is unusually large sees A slumped infront of some dodgy cartoon. This is a Steiner school as well. TV is practically outlawed! Possibly the worst example would be the animated series about a Chinese girl who looks like manga gone too far, her eyes take up more than half her face. I’ve been putting the telly on every day after school because that’s when the baby has his nap, so A is practically imprisoned, safely held captive while I’m busy upstairs. If any of the other parents or teachers do pass by regularly at that time then they’re bound to think of me as the TV mum.

Anyway today I reached a new level of telly anxiety. I was exposed, found guilty of day-time telly watching. I am embarrassed and now I’ll have no legs to stand on in the busy busy parent stakes. I was eating lunch, which was an exciting cheese and marmite sandwich and now I was having pudding, a cup of tea and wait for it…..a nutella sandwich! A childish diet is sometimes needed to refuel the motivation for more rounds of “she’ll be coming round the mountain.”

I was enormously frustrated that my laptop was not allowing me to listen to radio four. The droning on of those proper British radio voices is reassuringly nostalgic. I am turning rapidly into my dad. I draw the line though at ‘The Archers’. This for anyone who doesn’t know is a stalwart of the BBC. A long running radio soap about farmers. There are west-country accents, probably just so the actors can enjoy the ludicrous and authentic pronunciation of the word ‘tractor’ and there are mooing sound effects in the background. In any case if I hear the well known theme-tune starting I quickly turn off the radio to try and delay the fast approaching onset of middle-agedness. As far as I’m concerned you shouldn’t really be allowed to listen to The Archers until you’ve got time for hobbies and crossword puzzles and you’ve got a shed.

Being away from the UK I can only listen to BBC radio online and for some reason my laptop has a time and calendar that is wrong and won’t match up to the BBC iplayer so it doesn’t work. I tried my phone, but the phone in this out of bounds region. So I turned the telly on for a fix of BBC. As I was standing there in front of the vast front window with the remote in my hand I worried that a neighbour might walk past and it did occur to me to draw the curtains for this illicit act of TV watching but then I thought I was just being weird and paranoid. On BBC 1 it was something to do with some people selling some apparent antique thingy in a box for 35 quid so I continued flicking until I got to a BBC Entertainment, which was a sort of drama/sitcom about 30 somethings getting divorced I think. It was a programme I had never seen before but it had some lovely familiar British TV faces in it, so I sat down on the sofa and balanced my nutella sandwich on my lap. Just as I did this I looked out the window and saw the local council politician walking past my house! He is the father of one of the girls in A’s class and he lives further up the road from us. Now this was too pitiless. I should always listen to that paranoid self, I should have bloody closed the curtains. Now I’m already aware that when this man’s daughter came to play after school that I allowed her and A to watch an episode of Dora the Explorer.

Shall I quickly run outside right now? I think

Shall I tell him the whole story about the radio not working and that I never normally would watch TV in the middle of the day, honest?

Shit, in half an hour from now I will be picking A up from school and I’m sure he’ll be there to pick up his daughter too. Strangely enough a local council politician seems to have a lot of time on his hands for bringing and picking up his kids from school and meandering up and down his street checking up what other people are up to.

Right then, I decide,

When I see him I will have to pull myself together. I will calmy make intelligent polite chit chat. I will pretend that I’m not just a daytime telly addict, but a normal capable fellow parent. I will enthusiastically greet A with a healthy interest in her day at school.

Seriously, what am I going to do? I’m looking down at a half eaten chocolate spread sandwich watching my integrity take a backslide.