My kids, especially Screecher Creature No. 3, have a thing about bathrooms. Other peoples’ bathrooms that is. For them, bathrooms possess, the mysterious X factor. But for some reason our own is not half as novel to them. Like everything else there are exceptions to this rule, too. For example, despite them having been asked do they need to use the loo before the front door is even opened, they wait till all 6 of us are packed up in the car and ready for the off. Bearing in mind this exercise can take a good 10 minutes or more, it is annoying in the extreme when one of them announces that unless they don’t go now, well, you can imagine the implied aftereffect. In a way I can relate to their interest in the john. When I go somewhere new, I cannot rest easy until I source the nearest restroom. Other people check out the location of the fire exits, but yours truly must ascertain the closest loo. Weak bladder syndrome? Maybe, but until I know where the bog is, I can’t relax. The Screecher Creatures, however, operate from a nosiness level. They’ve got their favourite haunts and it can be a tad messy if one of them decides he wants to go to a particular bathroom over the others. The ladies lav in Dundrum Shopping Centre is a firm favourite thanks to those machines that promise to dry your hands in 4.9 seconds. You know the ones; you place your dripping wet appendages down into it, the machine is then activated with a noise akin to that of a meat grinder. Probably depositing little dried bits of shit onto your hands in the process. Yuk! Why can’t the lads use tissue paper like normal people? Oh wait, sometimes they do. But it has to be dispensed from another motion activated mechanism. Wave your hand in front of the machine with the little sticker that has a palm printed on it, there follows a gentle whir for a nice change, one that is designed not to frighten the bejayzus out of sleeping babies in buggies, and out comes a length of tissue paper. Probably recycled. One piece is more than enough for one person but the boys have to take turns procuring their own piece of paper so the wastage does not go down well with me. One day I left the trolley perilously close to the machine and Screecher Creature No. 4, all 14 months of him, had the time of his life whilst I was otherwise engaged wiping bums in the cubicle. I have discovered that funky little bottles of foamy soap on the sink in our own house do not hold the same fascination for the boys as those in public latrines. Hands are washed with OCD intensity even if the liquid soap is girly pink. I wouldn’t get away with that at home. Sometimes, if we are in particularly posh comfort stations, a squirt of moisturising hand lotion will be the order of the day too. I’m all for hygiene but the Screecher Creatures can pick their moments too. I swear they watch, waiting till that scone is perfectly spread with jam, or the muffin sliced in half, a bite sized morsel about to be devoured and then it is announced that poo’s or wee’s are imminent. And always in the one café we frequent where the loos are upstairs. It is just way too risky to chance with Screecher Creature No. 3. Although a freezing cold toilet seat one winter’s morning put paid to that. Mister Husband heard him yowling in shock from downstairs. So did everyone else. Even when we are in close proximity to a downstairs bathroom, I live in fear that one of them might take a mad notion and trot out to us with pants and trousers around their ankles, and in full view of everyone present, announce that they need their bum wiped. So you can imagine their excitement when we visited an arboretum earlier on this year and found that they had installed novelty sanitary wear in the bathrooms. You literally got to spend a penny on top of a daffodil or a tulip, whichever took your fancy. There was a whole lotta merriment goin’ on! The boys took home a couple of things that day; four fruit trees for the garden and the memory of the flowery urinals. These days, “Mammy will I water the flowers for you?” has a totally different meaning in our house.
Friday 25 May 2012
When people tell me that the much fabled urban myth, aka the lie-on, will come my way again, I get all excited. When will it? When will the 5am wake-ups end? I’m told when they’re teenagers. Fek that. That’s too far ahead for me. But this week I got a brief glimpse of it. There were two mornings where 8am loomed and the school goer was still comatose under his duvet cocoon. And why wouldn’t he be; in his nicely dimmed and cool bedroom? The first morning we had to make the journey to the school gates ourselves. The second, we caught the bus by the skin of our teeth. The gloriously long summer evenings were taking their toll. I know in my heart of hearts that the weekend mornings will not pan out like this. I also suspect growth spurts played their part in the burn outs. Never ones for big meals, the Screecher Creatures prefer to graze, but this week they took it to a whole different level. There were endless demands for Rice Krispies, batch bread with jam, cheese strings, toasted ham and cheese sandwiches, yogurts, (they ate more than 20 this week!) croissants, and pancakes. Suits me. I’d rather provide unlimited small meals that require no cooking than slave over an oven when the weather is this perfect. Isn’t it great? And the smell of sun block! It’s a quint essential summer component. The Screechers get a kick out of making “zombie arms” while I rub on the cream. They don’t know themselves in the morning when all they have to put on is a t-shirt and shorts. Screecher Creature No. 4 is finally without those long sleeved vests and is free to crawl around in the dirt outside the back door. It means a bath or a shower every night now as dust and dirt sticks to the sunblock and they end up with dirty sweaty streaks on their faces. A sure sign they’re having fun. Today I inflated a girly pink, disappointingly small paddling pool and tipped in a couple of saucepans of water. I left it on the decking for them to do what they wished with it. It really was ridiculously small but it served as a splashing area for Screecher Creature No. 4. The warm weather is great, although driving a car with broken windows is no fun. The passenger windows can be manually wound down but Screecher Creature No. 3 dislikes his Bridget Jones “do” as a result of the incoming breeze. There is a tiny downside to the good weather as anyone with hay fever will attest to. Last summer saw us at A&E with Screecher Creature No. 1 who suffered an asthma attack as a result of his hay fever. So we’re road testing a new cure. I’m going the homeopathic route as I am not thrilled with syringing 10mls of gunk into him every day for the next couple of months. It’s also looking like Screecher Creatures No.’s 2 and 3 might have a touch of it too. This week I have been trying and failing miserably to complete a 7k circuit in an effort to go for the 10k. I managed it one night but it was a struggle from beginning to end and I did not enjoy one minute of it. The next night I decided before leaving the house that I wasn’t even going to try; I would just do the short run. Which I did but again, it was sheer drudgery. It’s only a 4k circuit and it normally takes me 20 minutes. What’s that all about? Maybe I need to drink more water during the day. How and ever, I was delighted to discover that I still managed to shed another pound this week. Something else that cemented itself in my mind; kids don’t need toys to play with. Mine certainly don’t which is a very good thing indeed as they don’t possess too many. A big bin of blocks is the only thing that has survived several demolition derbies in this house. I promised them a long time ago, that when the good weather arrives, they can play with water to their hearts’ content. See, I was banking on the good weather never arriving. I thought I was safe. The Screecher Creatures knocked huge enjoyment out of some empty Mr. Muscle bottles this week. Thanks to the misting spray nozzle the water didn’t run out too quickly so I wasn’t driven demented with requests for refills and didn’t have to hunt them out of the bathroom as I normally would when they decide to do such jobs themselves. Keep all of your plastic bottles. Great fun to be had. And if you’re lucky, they’ll water your flowers while they’re at it! It seemed to be Screecher Creature No. 2’s week. He was most excited by the fact I attended a school meeting for his attendance there in September. He thinks that time won’t come quick enough. How do I tell him this is going to be for the rest of his life? He will forever be governed by the clock on the wall now. And true to form, he had some interesting questions that required answers. It’s just a pity he chose me to answer them. He wanted to know: What is the first time? (Of what I don’t know) What is the first day? (I think he meant of the week, definitely nothing theological) How long is a second? (He just looked at me blankly when I clicked my fingers to show him). And last but definitely not least, the most popular question in our house; Why? I’d make a better attempt at explaining the Fiscal Treaty yokey. He was also very interested to see me eat chocolate. It’s not like it was the first time and when I turned the tables on the question and answers session and enquired of him was I not allowed, he seemed to think grown-ups “don’t eat chocolate.” Daniel son, you have a lot to learn. There was a school tour as well for Screecher Creature No. 1. Excitement was high but I suspected from the offset it was due to the probable contents of a bigger lunchbox than the tour location itself. I was reminded several times about the need to bring an extra drink, a raincoat, and sun cream. All of this, naturally, went right out the window this morning. The same boy is also delighted with his recent ability to shinny up the washing line pole and dangle there for as long as his arms will allow. He believes it’s as a result of eating chicken. I’m going to try a green vegetable next week and tempt him onto the roof of the house. “It’s my third skill, Mammy. “ He informed me. I asked. Well, you have to, don’t you? “My first skill,” he took a breath and I swear he grinned at me, “is farting.” (or faaartin’) “And my second one is burpin’. CV material to be sure. In fact I think there is a whole other blog post in that one!
Monday 21 May 2012
Right so, I am going to admit to something. I am quite confident in the knowledge that I am not the only person guilty of this crime. That is no excuse but as I cannot speak for anyone except myself, this is my and my admission alone. I neglect Mister Husband. There! I’ve said it. I am a negligent wife. Sure, he gets his laundry done, his dinner cooked for him every (most) days. But I’m doing laundry anyway so I may as well fill the machine and it’s as easy to cook for three as it is for one so his name goes in the pot too. I couldn’t leave him out, could I? Sometimes I even make him a cup of coffee and when I do the shop I always ask him if there is anything he needs. If I have to make a quick run into the supermarket in the middle of the week for milk or bread, I’ll pick up that little 6 pack of beer he likes. But he is well and truly neglected in the affection department. It’s something that hasn’t escaped my attention but like all the other things I don’t want to face up to, I make like an ostrich and stick my head in the sand. The thing is though, I cannot pass the Screecher Creatures without touching them. If I think I can get away with it without being swiped away in annoyance, I’ll drop a kiss on them. I usually throw in a hair ruffle for good measure. Screecher Creature No. 4 is in serious danger altogether of being squeezed to death but thankfully it’s all a big game to him and he usually responds with a belly laugh. The day will come when my kids will push me away in frustration, embarrassed with all the affection I want to lavish on them. As it is, Screecher Creature No. 1 at only 6 years of age will scoot across the road to embark on the school bus before I kiss him goodbye. I don’t want Mister Husband to do the same. Push me away that is. He doesn’t use a school bus. I can, and do use the excuse, that when I get 10 minutes to myself, I take it literally. I will escape onto the decking with a cup of tea, make that desperate bathroom visit, or just sit at the table by myself, not wanting or needing to talk to anyone. The trouble though is, once you get into the comfortable habit of a routine, it is very hard to break. Very hard indeed. I used to lavish affection and attention on Mister Husband. Fast forward four young lads later and he doesn’t get a look in. The poor Jolly Phonics*. I read some good advice on a parenting website once. It said, one day your kids will up and leave you. On that day do you really want to look at your husband and see a stranger. Someone you have side lined in favour of or in deference to the kids over the years. A true and valid point. So what can be done about it? It’s one of those annoying ones where the answer is in the question. Very simply, start showing affection, become tactile again. It doesn’t cost more than a second to kiss someone, to touch their hand when you’re in conversation with them, go mad every once in a while and hug them. I wouldn’t be known for my touchy feelyness but that shouldn’t even enter the equation when it’s Mister Husband. Once upon a time we used to walk hand in hand down the street, sometimes our arms would even be round each other. Granted, the pub would have been visited and it was necessary for the support, but still. These days, if I’m not pushing a buggy, I’ve got one of the Screecher Creatures by the hand and am running after another one. Ditto Mister Husband. So I decided I was going to start small. I was going to make a conscious effort to touch Mister Husband 5 times during the day, the objective being that after a while, it would become second nature again. I didn’t mention my game plan; I thought it might be a nice surprise. Or a bad shock. So I walked past him and put my hand on the small of his back, let it rest there for a second. I think he jumped a little bit but he definitely asked was I alright. I assured him I was just peachy and continued on. That day, yesterday, Sunday, he got his arse felt, (let’s see how you like it!) there was a random kiss placed on his cheek, he even felt the palm of my hand but as a caress and then I was stuck. What else could I do to make up my one of 5 a day? He, at this stage, kept looking at me. I didn’t ask him what was going through his head, but I’m sure he was wondering what it was I had done as clearly I was in process of trying to break something to him. Curiosity must’ve won, or maybe all of my touchy feelyness during the day, unnerved him so he asked me what was going on. He couldn’t believe his luck when I told him. He thought and still thinks it’s a wonderful idea. Now I catch him with a different look on his face and I nip it in the bud immediately. I tell him, lookit, it’s a quick smooch or nothing, take it or leave it. He reckons I drive a hard bargain. I remind him that he’s got four kids, and he hasn’t done too badly for himself. He’s forced to agree. For a man who doesn’t eat fruit and tends to ignore any veg that is on his plate, he’s awfully keen on his 5 a day all of a sudden.
Friday 18 May 2012
How many Irish mammies does it take to change a light bulb?
None. Not a one. Don’t mind me. I’m grand. I’ll just sit here by myself. And read my newspaper. In the dark. You go down to the pub and enjoy yourself. Go on, now. Don’t be worrying about me. Here all by myself. In the dark. Alone.
I love that joke. There is more than a strong hint of martyrdom there. It reminds me of me sometimes. A la Carrie Bradshaw in a well-known sitcom, I got to thinking. You know the way men are supposed to instinctively know what we want them to do? Read our minds, like? After all, it’s their baby too. D’you know the way?
Well, sometimes they don’t. They don’t know and they don’t read. For example, Small Baby has an unmistakable odour emanating from his nether regions. Even to the uninitiated this would imply that a nappy change is desperately called for. But the menfolk don’t look at it like this. “Shur, he’ll be grand for a few minutes. I just want to finish this smoke/cup of coffee/paragraph in the paper/very important thing I’m checking out on tinternet.” Twenty minutes has passed and Small Baby has poo coming out of his sleeves, so now he needs a change of clothes as well.
Another example being, you’ve just sat down with a well-deserved cuppa. Small Baby is slumbering gently in his crib but as soon as that first mouthful of caffeine makes its way down your throat, Small Baby’s sixth sense kicks in and he realises he has been sleeping on the job. With the fear of being demoted, Small Baby lets loose an unmerciful roar. You’d love “someone” to step into the breach while you finish your drink and maybe fit in a biscuit. But it ain’t happening. D’you know the way now?
Two and a half years ago, Mister Husband received a text one Saturday night from a thirsty friend asking him was he on his way. He’s had many many text messages since but this one in particular was to arrange meeting up for a drink at 9pm. Bearing in mind Mister Husband’s inhabitance on another planet altogether when it comes to time keeping, people know at this stage that for him to be told the meeting time is 9pm, really means he will only be leaving the house at 9pm. The friend in question was going to be a first time dad in a matter of weeks and I remarked that he was quite right to be anxious, as all pub visitation rights would dry up shortly. Friend quickly replied informing Mister Husband that he too was going to be in the firing line as I was also due Screecher Creature No. 3 at the same time. I helpfully reminded friend that this was our third child and Mister Husband has all his escape routes well and truly covered by now. And I know this, how? Well, one day I concentrated really, really hard and I managed to get inside Mister Husband’s head. He still has no idea that I got in there and discovered what I suspected I already knew. Just for shits and giggles (a little phrase Mister Husband is fond of) these incidentally also double up as my top don’ts unless you want to Really Piss Her Off.
So escape route number one: Piss her off. Big time. So much so that she ends up screaming at you to get out of her sight; you’re about as useful as hen’s teeth. She’s sick of the sight of you.
You can (a) go to your mothers who will question what you’re doing there when your week old baby and his exhausted, hormonally riddled, sanity challenged mother need you or (b) go to the pub.
Escape route number two: When your wife, the aforementioned new mother, tells you, not asks, tells you to do something, piss her off by (a) not doing it (b) doing it your way, not hers.
Only you can know which of these has the power to infuriate her more. So how do you Piss Her Off? Read on, for a combination of Escape Route number three and the perfect way to get out of giving her a lie in ever again. Well, possibly not ever again, but certainly guarantee it won’t be a regular occurrence.
So escape route number three and how to wriggle out of giving her a regular lie in.
(a) kid(s) wake up at 5am. Magnanimously tell her that she should stay in bed and you will look after them.
(b) Take them downstairs.
(c) Do not feed them. This way they will be so cranky by the time she gets up, she will be wondering why she ever even thought about a lie in.
(d) Under no circumstances, dress them. This also includes changing shitty nappies. Just don’t. This will garner much the same desired result as (c)
(e) Allow them to make a mess and don’t clean up afterwards. Emptying the press where the saucepans are kept is a winner!
(f) Noise levels are important. Loud ones.
(g) Don’t put on their favourite Saturday/Sunday morning cartoons. Make no effort to appease them when they begin to protest. Same applies when they begin to attack each other over stolen toys. Let them on. When one or more of them end up at the stair gate, howling pitifully for their mother, make yourself another cup of coffee, take it out the back to drink and turn a deaf ear.
(h) You know all those CD’s and DVD’s she has? Kids love to play with these. Encourage them to put the CD’s in the DVD cases.
(i) It’s still only 6am and they start looking to go outside. Your neighbours are gone by 7am on a weekday morning and you’re vaguely aware that their curtains do not open before 12 midday at the weekends. You let the kids out into the back garden (with the saucepans) and hope the neighbours won’t be too hard on your wife when they call round to complain later on that day.
(j) Re going outside to play – neglect to put on their wellies. Scrubbing filthy muck off the soles of a couple of pairs of shoes with those intricate little treads will drive her ballistic altogether.
It’s very tongue in cheek but I bet it also sounds familiar. Here’s another joke for you. I’ve conveniently omitted the first half of it as it really wouldn’t work with this article. Newly married couple and she wants to make sure things keep continuing as well as they have been so far. She throws her knickers at him one night and tells him to put them on. He picks them up and looks at her. “Shur, I’ll never get into those.” She throws him a warning look. “Just you remember that!”
Monday 14 May 2012
It’s always good to take stock. It keeps things in perspective; helps you weigh up the good against the bad and hopefully realise that you don’t have it so bad after all. As weeks go it was an uneventful few but it’s always good when one of them starts with a bank holiday. The May bank holiday to be exact. It was also Mister Husbands Happily Birthday so to celebrate he gave himself the day off. As it turned out, his day off turned into a half day which meant he left the office at 3pm. But at least he got out for a few birthday drinks that night. And whilst he was out supping, a Vomity Virus poked its manky, distressing, vile head around the Screecher Creature’s bedroom door, liked the look of the sweetly sleeping Screecher Creature No. 2, and promptly kissed him on the forehead. When I was woken at 4am with a funny sensation in my stomach, I immediately thought of my sister in law. She was one day past her estimated due date with her second child so I sent her a text as soon as it was a decent hour, asking was I having a sympathetic labour. I wasn’t. Turns out it was more of a tummy bug on my part. Oh well. As house guests go it was a pretty awful one and we all got smooched by it. However, it was considerate enough to give me approximately 36 hours in between victims. All the better to get the laundry done. And then on the fifth night it targeted the remaining three sitting ducks and after a hell of a lot of laundry, we are finally done and dusted. Screecher Creature No. 4, however, was still contagious having a suspected, but mild dose of Rubella, following his vaccinations a few weeks ago. This meant I could not attend my beloved Group Therapy on Tuesday. But no matter. I had Thursday to look forward to where a much anticipated coffee morning had been organised with some school friends thanks to a totally innocuous Facebook comment made about a cheesecake. It snowballed from there and a truly lovely morning was spent sitting around a kitchen table, imbibing minty aero cheesecake and coffee whilst our kids made friends. Plus a bit of a mess it has to be said. I could get used to coffee mornings. I now have great plans to upgrade to luncheons. People (Darling Husbands!) may mock the ladies who lunch but I for one think they are very important for those of us who are not in the vicinity of water coolers in an office environment anymore thus cannot avail of the social outlet they provide. Similarly, there were lovely daily chats with the ladies at the school gate. Even if they only last for all of five minutes, these are very important as some days they are the only occasions I get to talk to other people. But moving on. The tin whistle made a re-appearance in the house thanks to the Gael Scoil's policy of being involved in all things Irish. Thankfully though there wasn’t one for everyone in the audience. But the one that did come home in the mala scoile was loud enough. It was allowed out for approximately five minutes, in other words, enough time to prevent my ears from bleeding, and then it was put back in again. Right down at the bottom. Underneath all the bunched up bits of paper and pencil shavings. The other usual stuff happened over the fortnight too. I put on the running gear and managed a short run one evening. The first one in a week as, unfortunately, due to a bokkity ankle, running has taken a bit of a back seat of late. I should admit that I used the atrocious weather as a pathetic excuse on a couple of occasions. But then Friday Night 80’s on the radio prompted me into trying the longer route and I knocked ninety seconds off my time. Back on track! All going really well and making it through the week very nicely indeed until the fallout from the Vomity Virus came back to haunt me. Two of the lovely ladies I shared coffee and cake with on Thursday, fell foul of the virus. Feeling guilty? Me? Maybe just a bit. I tried to reassure them that the worst case scenario would see them ill for 24 hours but if they were really lucky, it would only last for 3. I was really working the silver lining angle and reminded them that I lost 2 pounds thanks to the same bug, but they weren’t buying it. Sorry, ladies! Back to the home front now where there was a brief altercation with a Screecher Creature and a hurl. As there was no blood, I let him get on with it. But minutes later and through no fault of his own, a shove between the shoulder blades caused him to make open mouthed contact with the back of the couch. This resulted in him clamping down on his tongue. This time there was blood and roaring to beat the band. For a scary moment there was a definite refusal of ice-cream. Quickly, before my ears fell off with the sound of him, I told him he could have first choice from the box. Magic words. Nothing like a bit of one-upmanship to save the day. And the ears! And in the midst of all the mentioned happenings, I got the news I had been waiting for; my sister in law gave birth to her gorgeous little girl. The Screecher Creatures now have a second girl cousin to help soften their edges. Welcome to the world baby Fia!