Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Fun Run

Our local Fun Run this year marked an extraordinary developmental stage in my life as a terrible mother; I remembered the SAFETY PINS!! with which to pin on the race numbers - first year in eleven!!! Hoorah hoorah hoorah! Previously, we have used needles, pins, blue tac, sellotape, and we've borrowed safety pins from various sad and pathetic people who thought ahead, but never, ever have we had our own.

I’ve done the 10K myself actually (not to boast!) I sourced a running group a few years back (all females – don’t be shy!) which coincided neatly with bath and bedtime. Alan was supportive of the get fit campaign (what with the golf), but a little cool about three runs a week. Nothing was said exactly, but if we’d taken positions it would have been I’m knackered and need a break versus I’m knackered and need a break more, with a subplot of ‘who’s bringing home the bacon/are you saying that’s more important?’. Anyway, I powered on, jumping from foot to foot at the pelicans as you do (don’t let the heart beat drop!), doing that lunge and stretch thing in public places, until I realised I felt so guilty about my absence from home, I was spending more time with the children before and after the run than if I’d just stayed home and ignored them as usual! I hammed up a slight knee-ache into a ‘sports injury’ and resumed faffing about in the kitchen furtively reading a book at that time of night. And I convinced myself that if everywhere I went I walked really really fast, I would get almost as much exercise (but look odd).

Back to the Fun Run, this year's 10K-ers trotted off in their undies, boobs-a-bobbin’, jowls-a-joggin’, ’you’re only as old as you feel!’, followed by the gorgeous tinies, Knees Up Mother Brown, arms akimbo, crying, laughing, a doughnut at the finishing line! Naturally I was far too busy being sycophantic about other peoples’ brilliant children to see my own actually run their races, but then other people were being sycophantic about mine, so it all evened out in the end. Can’t wait ‘till next year – perhaps I'll have a real hamper by then, darling!

Saturday, 22 May 2010


I was easing myself gently into the day this morning - speed-buttering sandwiches, shouting 'PRACTICE YOUR DAMN VIOLIN OR I'M STOPPING THOSE LESSONS!', reading out a mental maths test unutterably slowly, usual stuff - when Maddy said 'today’s the day for injections at school but I am not having one’. I could feel that overload was imminent, so I took a break to pour someone’s left-over cereal into my mouth. I waited for a solution to occur; ‘Don’t be silly, Maddy, of course you are having the injection!’ I said - brilliant! Whereupon major fit from my second-born 'Don’t you care about me at all?!’

I’m not great at dilemmas when circling the kitchen like a goldfish just before school, but I do try to be reasonable. Maddy hyperventilated after the last injection(and I nearly did carrying her home), but injected she must be, so what to do?? I rang school while the chldren all talked to me about different things (‘SHUTUP EVERYONE – sorry, not you!!) who said I must come in to support my child through this traumatic situation (sub-text - if you have a heart, you mean old cow).

What they didn't appreciate was that my presence would give her the nerve to say 'No'. Should I schlep up to school to demonstrate to the medical team that I care about my daughter, but can't control her errant behaviour? Or should I not? They might keep a list of nasty mums at school, and I was sure to go on it!

Of course, I did what I was told, trudging into school (quite sulky) at the appointed time. I linked arms with Maddy when I saw her, and by holding her tight enough to stop the circulation, I was able to frog-march her into the torture chamber, teeth bared in a mad smile for the nurses who chatted away casually, Maddy poor love sweating with fear, me silently screaming 'GET ON WITH IT!' And...POW! It was done. ‘You brave, brave girl – you did it!’ I gasped, flooded with relief, hugging and kissing my girl. ‘I got a good nurse that time' she said, 'You owe me some Sensations’

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Fishy Wishy

Depressed after slopping out the zillionth packet of Batchelors Supernoodles whilst delivering another of my obviously pointless healthy eating lectures, I did a deal with Bonnie and Alfie; if they came shopping for something nutritious, they could leave their homework. I turned my back to shove a few toffees in my mouth and off we went to join the well-heeled foodies in a polite but firm queue at the fishmongers, warning the children before we entered that if they said ‘pooh’ as we entered there'd be no Supernoodles for a year.

This was, for us, an exceptional foray into the world of inconvenience food. My fellow customers probably separated the fish from the finger before their children could say ‘more asparagus please!’, encouraging good eating habits – and interesting conversation - around the family table. Not us! I’d tried, but my children were strong, and I was weak!

‘One fillet of rainbow trout, one of mackerell, please’, I bellowed excitedly, obvious fake, explaining the fillet and the steak as we waited. ‘We get our fish-fingers from Iceland’, said Bonnie, advertising to all and sundry my supermarket of choice, newly discovered (fish fingers two packets for £1, come on). My inner snob screamed 'Shut that child’s trap!’ and I leaped on her, fishes flapping, and tickled her violently out of the shop.

We all took part in the Grand Grilling (oily fish don’t need additional fat, oh no no!). ‘It’s so shiny! Look at the lovely crackling skin!’, we chattered, serving up, slice of lemon on the side. I dug in, and they folded theirs this way and that. Alfie even talked to his a bit as if that would count. Sadly, neither was quite in the mood for fish. ‘Eat it while it’s hot!’ I sing-songed, ‘Mmm, it’s scrumptious!’

The bile rose in my throat as I watched them stir their fish to a paste. I grabbed their plates and spooned the gloop into my mouth ostensibly not to waste, but really to make them feel bad. The convivial meal was shot to pieces. ‘I love you mummy’ said Alfie putting his arms around me. ‘I love you too’ I said, ‘but I wish you would eat your fish’. ‘Fishy Wishy‘ he said, gently. ‘Let’s give it to the cats.’

Saturday, 15 May 2010


This being election week, a responsible mother should at least have a stab at introducing the world of politics to her children. Maddy said ‘What exactly is Labour?’ ‘Um..well' I mumbled, 'it means ‘work’ and' (I was getting stuck already, hoping Alan wasn't smirking outside the door) 'the Labour Party puts the worker's interests foremost in its policies'. There. ‘I HATE WORK’ they all shouted, languishing around the breakfast table, as I fetched and mopped. ‘And what exactly is Conservative?’ Maddy continued, (enough on the Labour Party). ‘Don’t you know anything?’, Bonnie interrupted; ‘David Cameron is the Leeberal Demcras and Nick Walsh is Conservatits!’ You see - they'll pick it up from school anyway. We hooted childishly: 'Conservatits!! Conservatits!! Bonnie said 'Conservatits' Ha ha ha!' me glad of the diversion, as I really didn't have a half-baked, three word answer to this one. I gave Bonnie a big hug, which she deflected with a fork in my chest, humiliated. It was only fair.

Alfie likes maths, so I stimulated his interest in election issues by drawing a cake and presenting a fascinating mathematical anaylsis of proportional representation ('this slice might be for the Green Party, this slice for the Monster Raving Lunatic Party - ha ha!'). He was listening so intently that I was able to go on drawing more and more cakes to explain the rounds of voting with our current electoral system. Parenting can be so rewarding! Eventually I laid down the pencil to look at him and share a smile, but he'd gone. He was in the garden, laughing at me through the window: 'You've been talking to yourself for about ten minutes!'

We did feel sorry for Gordon Brown, though, when he said ‘goodbye and everything was entirely my fault’ through gritted teeth (I had a vision of doing the same on my deathbed), but his claim to be quitting his second most important job (PM)in favour of his first (father and husband), rang a little false, to my mind. I was looking at Sarah, his wife, grey-faced, perhaps thinking, ‘If you really mean that, mate, help me pack this lot by tomorrow!’. Imagine moving out in one day! At least she was standing next to him, unlike David Cameron’s other half, set back like the dollybird in a magic show. Mind you, with her impossibly perfect bump, electric blue frock, and long heeled legs she looked like a gorgeous lollipop and quite stole the show for me.

Saturday, 8 May 2010

Jam Tarts and Sag Aloo

Alone this weekend; Alan's away on a luxury golfing foray! Well, he needs a rest from the stresses and strains of life at the cutting edge of Human Resources. I am not resentful in the least, certainly not. Or noting with interest that it is raining.

I, then, am holding the fort, without car (no problem!) but hopefully with good humour. We got off to a good start after school on Friday. I'd set out an activity for Bonnie and her friends (packet of ready-rolled). There was ground to make up; she'd just had her class assembly (Greeks) and anyone could see that the 'costume' I'd provided her with was a double sheet bound round and round and round her until she resembled an enormous cotton reel. It was so heavy that she had to pin her arms to her sides throughout the performance to keep it from thudding to the floor. She gave the dances her best shot, lifting each arm dead fast - updown! updown!- one at a time, but she couldn't really let rip. When I cast an eye over the bronze chokers, the off-the-shoulder robes and the Cleopatra eye make-up of her mates, I had to admit I could have made more of an effort.

Anyway, I got brownie-points for the ready-rolled; 'Let's make tarts!' I beamed, perfect Mom. It was all going nicely, tart sale set up in the front garden, passers-by running for cover, children shouting 'Tarts for sale! Tarts for sale!', when oops-a-daisy, the whole cake-stand went down with a crash! Bonnie was in floods. I swept up the crushed tarts, blowing off the mud - 'Look!' taking a (gritty) bite, 'they're fine!' but it didn't wash. She was inconsolable.

I'd planned some quality time with Josie too, allowing her an indian takeaway while we watched a film together. But we'd just switched on when she dropped her vegetable curry onto the front room floor-boards (unfilled,until now). I swooped with a baby wipe, 'watch what you're doing, Josie!', pushing more into the cracks, and making her nervy, so then she stood on all the poppodums, which was obviously more than I could bare. 'Sit down and lift up your feet' I snapped. With my nose in the sag-aloo and my head under her legs, I didn't feel like bonding any more. Quality time can be over-rated.