Friday, 25 November 2011

On Onion Goggles and School Gate Snobbery

People ask me what is it like with three children, and how we are all coping. 'Coping' is rather strong to describe our state of being from dawn till dusk on some days, but I usually reply cheerfully,"Oh it's utter chaos!" as if to suggest that although I don't have a minute to myself it is all jolly-bedlam-in-a Darling Buds of May type-way.

It reached new levels of absurdity though as I did the school run yesterday. Gilby and baby in tow, I noticed that some of the other Mums were giving me quite peculiar looks, focusing somewhere above my forehead. I reached up to find that a rather conspicuous pair of onion goggles was perched up there. "BUT I'VE BEEN MAKING CHRISTMAS CHUTNEY!!!!!" I wanted to screech (for the first time ever, actually, but nobody needed to know that bit) "AND I GOT CARRIED AWAY AND THEN WE WERE NEARLY LATE SO I HAD TO RUSH OUT OF THE DOOR..."

Instead I hastily removed them, smiling and nodding as if they were the latest fashion accessory but I really didn't like to show off. I then got chatting to another Mum whose daughter only arrived at the school a couple of weeks ago since they just moved to the area. I mentioned that Gertie talked about Lucy quite a lot, and hoped that she was settling in well.

"Oh yes," she replied. "And it's so good that Lucy gets to play with all sorts of children now." She must not have noticed my horrified look as she continued, "In our last village everyone was so nice, but here there's a real mixture..."

"ALL SORTS????? ARE YOU SUGGESTING THAT MY CHILD IS NOT 'NICE'????" I wanted to screech out, for the second time in about two minutes.

I know there's been much discussion of school-gate snobbery of late, but perhaps I'm overreacting. Maybe her perception of our family results from the slightly manic look and frequent desire to screech out loud that I seem to have recently developed. Or perhaps it was just a reaction to the onion goggles.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Olympic Sleeping

Young Eddie had his second swimming lesson yesterday. He is just short of eight weeks old. It was not entirely successful...

Gertie began swimming when she was about twelve weeks old and was a complete water-baby, loving it from day one. Aged four and a half she is now a competent swimmer who can also dive with...ease if not grace.

Gilby started lessons at about the same age as his brother has: eight weeks. He loved it at the start but his first year was beset by ear infections and he has never quite achieved the confidence of his big sister, though he enjoys his weekly splash around in the pool.

It is fair to say though, that despite being born in the water, Eddie hasn't taken to it at all. He has now spent two lessons more or less screaming the whole way through, even though he hasn't been back under the water completely yet.

Though unlikely to make the 2012 Olympic pool, the fact remains that he has now slept through the night for eight nights in a row. I'm reluctant to even write that down in case it all changes, but he seems to feed between 5pm and 8pm, repeatedly, then sleep from about 9pm until just before 7am. That's nearly ten hours, and I don't quite believe it myself. He's also the first of the three to sleep on his back in the recommended way, unlike his siblings who both still sleep bottoms up.

So we won't worry to much about the swimming, but we'll concentrate on the sleeping. I wonder if there are plans to make that an Olympic event?

Tuesday, 15 November 2011


Gertie's school-starter inquisitiveness is relentless. She was pre-occupied with poppies in the run-up to Remembrance Day, and wanted to wear one. But in typical Gertie fashion she also wanted to know exactly what it was all about. I tried to explain as gently as I could (after all, she is only four) that we were remembering all the soldiers who had died in war.

"What's war?" she asked.

Where do you begin? I was reminded of trying to explain the word 'hate' to her about a year ago, which really signfied the start of the end of innocence.

I gave as sanitised an explanation as I could and bought her a poppy.

She rushed home from school the next day and looked at me as if I was stupid. "Well you didn't tell me that poppies were a symbol and they were red to represent all the blood, did you?"

I suppose I should have been ready for that after she came home a few weeks ago in the run up to bonfire night fascinated by the idea of the 'plotters', the notion of being hung, drawn and quartered and heads on spikes.

On a happier note, there is cause for another day of national celebration: Eddie slept for nine and a half hours last night, hooray! This is impressive at seven weeks old, and particularly exciting after his nocturnal start to life. Mummy and Daddy high-fived in celebration upon waking this morning...

It may have been helped by the fact that he had his very first swimming lesson yesterday afternoon too. A big day for the little man, and a big night for his parents.

And let's not leave Gilby out; the big man has quietly got on with his potty training, does the whole thing without being asked and is now regularly having dry nights. Go Gilby!

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Box Office Babies

Eddie is six weeks old today, so as a special treat (well, really a treat for Mummy) we went to our local cinema which was screening The Help as part of their 'Box Office Babies' season.

This ingenious arrangements means that you can bring your baby along to the cinema for a day-time film for not very much money, safe in the knowledge that you can all scream along to the soundtrack together and nobody will mind very much.

I was a little bit late and was ushered in to the darkened studio just as the film was beginning. About fifteen other mums were already settled with their babies, strategically positioned around the room. Etiquette seeemed to demand at least eight spaces between each new mum, so I duly joined the fray. A constant background baby gurgle reached a cacophany of newborn cries at times, (usually at quiet and crucial moments of the film) but babies could be quickly settled by a discreet breastfeed or bottle. There was also constant movement...patting, soothing, sucking, standing and swaying in the aisles, even some singing as we all attempted to keep our babies under some degree of control. And then there was the changing bag relay. It seemed as though somebody was away from the film changing their babies at all times. And we gravitated towards the door towards the end of the film, as babies became increasingly fractious after two hours and twenty six minutes of being 'shushed'.

Two hours and twenty six minutes is significant, because I had only fed the carpark machine enough to cover two hours, but was having such a jolly old time watching the film (and the surreal sight of all these other mums) that I forgot to keep an eye on the time and came back to a parking ticket courtesy of Horsham District Council. So my treat for 'not very much money' suddenly turned in to a horribly expensive morning.

Still, the film was magnificent and the company hilarious. Quite the thing for a wet and windy Tuesday morning of maternity leave. I thoroughly recommend it, assuming that you choose your parking arrangements carefully.