Monday 31 December 2012

Monday with Pictures. The Getting Lost Talk

When we had just two kids and monetary times were a lot better, we would take the odd trip to a shopping centre.  I loved it.  A one stop shop with a lovely cappuccino and a free chocolate for the car on the way home.

If I was lucky, I might pick up a new book, something frivolous, maybe some clothes but always, without fail, something for the lads to wear.  Or even a small toy.

These places are quite busy as I am sure you’re aware.  But it was always our habit to go early.  That way we would be ready to leave when the centre started filling up with the afternoon shoppers.

When I say it was our habit, I really mean we most likely would have been up since 4am and were chomping at the bit to get away. 

And because the drive up would take forty minutes or a little bit more, I always felt guilty at strapping the walking boy into a buggy for a couple of hours when we arrived at our destination.

So I would let him walk.  Which meant I couldn’t relax at all.  He liked to run ahead and while there was no real chance of him disappearing from view, I still couldn’t relax.

He also had a habit of crawling along the floors in the shops and hiding under the rails of clothes.

So I decided it was time to have the “what if you get lost” chat with him.  He was only four and a half and I wanted to do it without frightening the life out of him.

I started it off nice and slow.  Got him all comfortable and relaxed with a Happy Meal before throwing him the first curve ball of his tender years.

Me: “Conor, what would you do if we got separated in a shop?  How would you find me?”  Yeah, that was nice and innocuous.  I popped a skinny fry (size wise not diet wise) into my mouth and reached nonchalantly for another one.

Conor: “I’d turn into a superhero, Mammy and grow a long arm and swing up to the roof and find you.”

Hhmmmm. Time to change tactics.

Me:  “No, Conor, if you got lost and couldn’t find me.  I was gone.  Home.  You. Are. By. Yourself.  Who would you ask for help?”

Conor:  “I told ya, Mammy.  I’d turn into a superhero and……….”

Me:  “But, Con, say you left your superhero powers at home.  How would you find me then?  As you. Not Superhero Conor?  Just Conor?”

Conor: “Then I’d turn into Fast Runner coz he can run fast as the wind and I would run home.  All by myself.”
I left it.  Gave it up as a lost cause.

On his planet he could morph at will into a Superhero of his making. 

I settled instead for the cappuccino and free chocolate on the way home.

Friday 28 December 2012


What is the most embarrassing thing that has happened to you?  Did you ever leave a public bathroom with your dress tucked into your knickers?  Ever look down to see a three foot length of toilet tissue stuck to your shoe as you walked across the crowded pub floor?   

Who amongst us walked across that same pub floor with our top open to our waist and were not aware of it?  How about walking down a busy street in Dublin wondering why you were getting funny looks, then realising that you weren’t thinking to yourself but talking out loud. 

Pretty cringe worthy stuff, right?  But I bet they are all affectionate anecdotes now that you’ve clocked up proper redners as a parent.

Morto moments like bursting into tears in a busy shopping centre because you had just purchased your first pair of maternity jeans and thought they made you look fat?  I bet you would give your firstborn to have that five months pregnant figure of yesteryear when you are not pregnant today but still wearing that pair of maternity jeans. 

Have you ever gotten stuck between two tables having misjudged both the size of the gap and your pregnant belly?  Whose firstborn son wore vests with pretty little fairies and unicorns on them because they were white and you neglected to check out what was printed on the front?

Did you ever walk out of a shop and leave the buggy behind, only to have the alarmed and practically shrieking sales assistant come racing after you? 

Anyone out there ever put Veet on the kids’ toothbrushes instead of the strawberry toothpaste?  Dry shampoo instead of anti-perspirant anyone? I bet no-one went to a car, filled with the same number of rowdy kids as your own, only to discover you were about to drive off with someone else’s brood.  I bet none of you ever screamed bo**ix at the top of your lungs outside the school gate when your son caught the sensitive skin of your neck in the coat zipper.

Then they start talking, and it’s Let’s Embarrass Mummy. Because We Can. 24/7. 

It’s never ending isn’t it, the things our kids do to embarrass us?  I’ve been told by those in the know that it gets worse.  The teenage years are frightful by all accounts. 

Please tell me it works both ways.  Surely we can turn the tables on our offspring and get our own back.

I live in hope that this is true.  In the meantime I will hold up a shining example as a ray of light until that day arrives.

A teenage person tucked a teddy bear into her bed and crept out to the nightclub.  Her ruse didn’t work.  She was frog marched home by her slipper wearing mother complete with bobbly dressing gown in front of hundreds of revellers. 

Revenge definitely is a dish best served cold.      

P.S. Some of the above happened to me and some didn’t. But I’m not telling which.

Monday 24 December 2012

The Drugs Do Work. So They Do.

Don’t know which ones The Verve were taking coz mine are kicking in nicely, thank you very much. 

I’m sick folks, I tell you, sick.  Not as bad as a small hospital. Nor was it self-inflicted.  Or maybe it was. I don’t know.  How does one acquire a dodge throat, a sore head without alcohol and a set of shoulders that feels like they have been pumping weights when I know for a fact I haven’t touched my weights since Tuesday.  The day it all kicked off. 

I was putting my rumbly tummy down to the beginnings of the cursed vomiting bug that is doing the rounds at the moment.  We had been in contact with some small victims over the weekend and I just thought my constitution wasn’t as tough as I had made it out to be.

No puke fest though. Instead my throat started to seize up, my chest, front and back, began to feel like I had pulled a muscle from making the dinner and being over-zealous in scooping the dog poop.

I am never sick, I mean never.   The last time I was taken down by an illness that started off pretty much like this one, was about fifteen years ago. 

The last time I was in hospital was to have a baby and I don’t even get sick when I’m pregnant so I decided to treat myself.  Seeing as it’s Christmas and all. 

What kind of sickness might I like to have?  I’ll have whichever one gets me most bed time, if you don’t mind.  I realise this is not the most politically correct way to be talking about an illness but I was feeling sorry for myself.  All wrung out, no-one to mind me and four kids doing their damndest to break the Guinness Book of Records for noise pollution. 

We are also a drug free house.  The most you might find is a child sized bottle of Nurofen under the kitchen sink, a couple of out of date sachets of Lemsip and a furry paracetamol tablet or two in amongst all the plasters.

I ripped open the Lemsip and added a fist full of cloves.  I grabbed my new Maeve Higgins book, my Christmas treat to myself, and crawled up the stairs like the ninety year old woman I felt I was and into my bed. 

Swallowing at this stage, even a soothing lemon drink, was like forcing down little bits of razor blades.

Oh yes, it is very safe to say I was feeling sorry for myself alright.  

When I woke on Thursday morning I knew I had to call in the big guns.  This, dose, whatever it was, wasn’t getting better.  In fact I felt decidedly worse. 

It hurt to talk and it was hell to swallow.  I also wasn’t eating.  Christmas was a mere 5 sleeps away and I knew I couldn’t let this go on.

I wrote some time ago about a certain little boy’s huge excitement at going to the doctors.  I was a bit like that myself on Friday. 

Which magazine will I take?  Or will I redo my shopping list?  Maybe I will just sit still in the waiting room for ten minutes until I am called.  Will I do that?   It would be like taking a little trip down memory lane, remembering what that was like to have no-one pulling out of me, banging off me or looking to have their rear end sanitised. 

Nope, this was going to be time for me.    

See, my sisters were coming over to stay with the troops when I went in to cry on the doctors shoulder.

I was a tad excited if I’m to be honest, underneath the burning throat and heavy shoulders.  Of course that could just have been the weight of the world, too. 

Isn’t it awful though, being out of action?  Even if it’s just a snivelling cold.  I don’t know how people with a real show stopper of an illness manage.  I really don’t.  I congratulate and sympathise in equal measures.  I don’t think I could be quite as humble.

I felt a bit of a fraud when I was called in.  I didn’t have a dirty cough, no aches or pains to speak of except from my shoulders up, front and back.  But wait, what’s this?  I did have a temperature.  Thank god!  Proof indeed that I was poorly.  And my throat was definitely dodgy. 

I agreed whole-heartedly with the lady doctor when she said “we can’t have you like that for Christmas.” 

Yes, Doctor.  No, Doctor.  Can I have my lovely prescription (as further proof) now please?

 And then the lovely pharmacist totally agreed with the doctor's diagnosis.  “Are you miserable?”

I shrugged bravely and told him I was grand until that morning.  Oh look, some nice cute little hand warmer mitten type things.  I’ll take these too, please.

“You of all people need to be on your game at this time of year.” He said then, wrapping my impulse buy.

I absolutely agreed with him.  A lovely little carved reindeer tea light holder yoke caught my eye.  Before I knew it, he was putting that in my bag too.  In with the anti-biotic and Strepsils.

“What were you taking up till now?”

I told him I wasn’t taking anything.  You know, Super Mammy and all of that but sure I suppose he might as well throw in a packet of paracetamol.  Just to be on the safe side.

I eventually got out of there before my wallet was emptied altogether.

It appears I do one of two things if people are nice to me when I am out of sorts.  I will either (a) burst into tears at their concern or (b) if they own a shop, spend lots of money in grateful thanks.

I took to my bed nice and early that night too and enjoyed a couple of night sweats.  I am being sarcastic here.  I most certainly did not enjoy them.  Night sweats are disgusting.

It is not quite twenty four hours later and although my throat is still in shite shape, I don’t for the life of me know why it never occurred to me to take something for the pain before.

Probably because I don’t get sick and don’t keep pain killers in the house.  That could be it.

But drugs rock!  Forty years old and no-one has ever told me this.  You live and learn I suppose.

Swallowing is still uncomfortable but thanks to the paracetamol I was able to thunder though half a tub of Salt and Vinegar Pringles in my sick bed last night.

Throat was grand but Jesus, those things can strip the inside of your gob so they can.

Friday 21 December 2012

Dear Santa

Dear Santa,

That time of year again, eh?  Tell me about it.

It’s that time of year again where Mister Husband and I get to go shopping for a couple of hours by ourselves.  Well, I get to go shopping and he has the enviable job of carrying my stuff.

It is also a time of change.  On a daily basis, no fek it, on an hourly basis I can be heard bawling at the Awesome Foursome to “please stop fighting with each other,“ and “Stop shouting!!”

Ironically I’m usually shouting this a whole ten decibels louder than them. 

And the tree is up.  Somehow I think “stop fighting with each other, for god sake” will be replaced with “shut the door.  The dog is eating the bloody tree!!”

The joys, Santy, the joys.  And there are many of them.  Don’t get me wrong. But I won’t bore you with them at this precise moment in time as I understand you are a busy man.

So I will cut straight to the point and help lighten your load a little bit, ok?  I’m like that, see?  Nice and helpful.  So take note.  These are the things/yokes/useless toys I do not want to see on Christmas Day.  It’s a bit of a long list so have your red pen at the ready.  I’ll start off with the nice and easy to remember, as obvious as the nose on Rudolph’s face stuff.

Cuddly toys.  About as useful as an ashtray on a motorbike.  Awful dirt and dust catching things.  Our cuddly toys, the ones that have managed to escape the dustbin, are out in the garden for the dog to chew on. Just, I don’t know, leave them on the roof or something. 

Next on the list is anything that makes noise or has flashing lights.  I have four kids.  Count them.  Four.  They are soft and pliable, not plasticy.  They may not flash.  Oh wait, one of them does.  But they are noisy.  All of them.  I do not want to add to that mayhem ok?  Leave the noisy yokes behind.
Battery operated items that require a dolls screwdriver to open are next on the hit list.  I have big person’s hands.  Ones that are starting to seize up and it is next to impossible for me to open these gadgets and stick in a battery. 

Glittery stuff, play doh, any toy that blows out bits of tissue paper requiring the child to catch them with a net (WTF is that all about?) follow as big no-no’s.

I’ll let you away with Lego even though Lego breaks all of the above rules.  Except the glitter one.  Lego is indeed, made of small parts that require an adults assistance to assemble, but Lego, to give it its due, rocks!!  

So that’s the what not to give the kids.  I bet you’re wondering what the jingle bells can they have.

Thought so.

I’ve given my say so on Lego.  Books are always a winner. In particular those of the encyclopaedic variety.  The solar system and dinosaurs are not far behind.  Please though, try and keep the Peppa Pig ones to a minimum.  Be advised that anything with lift up flaps will be eaten by the dog. 

They love to draw so anything in that area would also be a hit.  The best part of my Christmas morning was never the “big” toys, rather the stocking that was bulging with unidentifiable shapes.  If you want to throw a few novelty pencils, some stickers, chocolate coins, new socks and underpants, I won’t stop you.

Oh, keeping them away from the comics in the supermarket hurts them more than it hurts me so if you have a spare twenty quid after all of that, pick them up some.  Word of warning though; the older two should have the same ones.  Liam will be happy with that pig creation Peppa, Mike the Knight or some such.

What’s that Santa?  What would I like?  I am so glad you asked.     

OK, let’s see.  Again, not too difficult.  Sometimes I think I would like a mid-life crisis but realistically I know I would fall asleep during it and mortify myself.

I asked for time last year, didn’t I?  I am a creature of habit it seems as guess what big guy?  It’s back up there on the best seller list again this year. 

I have enough Stuff.  I never thought I would hear myself say that.  But I do.  I could stuff a second house with all the Stuff I have.  Stuff that has not seen the light of day for two years or longer.  Stuff that I never wear nor have use for. 

I honestly would prefer for the kids to get their Stuff.  I, on the other hand, would like time very, very much indeed. 

Just a half hour.  Maybe forty minutes every day over the holidays to get out into the fresh air for a run to clear the head and the lungs. 

If you could also see to it that my new running shoes (Green!!!!!  Eeeeeeeeppppp!!!!) are in stock by the weekend, I would be very happy indeed.

That’s all. I am a simple soul with simple needs.   

Oh, wait!  I knew there was one other thing. 

I’m not sure if it’s you or some other fictitious character I should be thanking for this but we are fortunate enough as a family to enjoy rude health. 

Two, maybe three, visits to the doctor over the last 12 months for very minor complaints have been the height of it this year for us. 

I would most definitely like that to continue for 2013.  I would quite happily give up my requests for time and green running shoes for this to happen. 

And finally, definitely lastly, if I’m asking for stuff; Santa, all I really want for 2013 is a fat bank account and a skinny body. Let’s try not to mix the two up like you did last year. Ok?

Ok, so I kind of robbed that one, Santy.  I saw it on Facebook and it really tickled me so I thought I’d stick it in here.  You don’t mind do you?

But if you are into granting wishes, you might just keep that in mind all the same.

Just chancing my arm there.

I’ll let you get back to it.     

Cheers Big Guy.  All the best and please, please don’t forget to visit my gorgeous boys!!