Friday, 14 August 2015

I am a moustachioed, hessian-wearing librarian, and proud of it

My response to this.

Let's consider another example of what he might have said, to see how ridiculous this is.

"I don't know what it is with all these mothers these days, feeding their children bananas in public.  Don't they understand that I-and probably some other fellas for that matter-don't like to look at bananas?  They make me feel uncomfortable.  Don't they realise that bananas are quite phallic in appearance, and therefore they remind me of sex.  How inappropriate to be feeding your child-yes, a child-a banana in public!  It gives me associations in my head that I really do not want.  It's practically peodophilia.  And besides, bananas don't grow in this country so it's totally unnatural.

"Of course, it was different in the Stone Age, when people didn't have their own teeth.  Back then they had to eat bananas as they couldn't eat anything harder, what with the lack of teeth and everything.

"It seems to me that it's only these right-on, free-thinking librarian women that feed their children bananas anyway.  What's wrong with a bag of crisps?  They have some really nice flavours these days.

"However, if it's an attractive woman eating a banana, then of course that's fine.  I bet all the other fellas would agree too." 

Thursday, 13 August 2015

O Sleep How You Taunt Me

Piglet went to sleep at 7.15pm today.  ***KLAXON***

I am braced for a rough night when he inevitably wakes up in an hour or so, having regarded his current period of sleep as nothing but a later-than-normal nap, and sits bolt upright in bed, before launching himself at me head first and emitting a high pitched scream into my ear, headbutting me and biting my face.

This sort of physical attack is, I believe, what passes for a sign of affection with Piglet.

Either that or he actually detests me.

He is, of course, sleeping in the bed.  I would hardly be so bold as to put him in his cot.  For a start, there is no sheet on the mattress as the combined intellects of myself and my mother couldn't work out how to fit one on without the ends of the mattress curling up, and secondly, he will not sleep in a cot anyway.

An old photo, but one which I feel sums up roughly how Piglet feels about being in a cot.

I had long suspected this to be the case, but I had spent so many months gathering him up into my arms and taking him into the bed with me at the first sign of a whimper that he had barely spent any time in the cot and so I couldn't be sure.  Then, last week, when we were on holiday in Cornwall, came the acid test.

The travel cot we had ordered had been placed into what I can only assume was supposed to be the children's room in the caravan, judging by the size of the single bed in there, which was slightly narrower than the average shelf.  O the folly of these holiday caravan people who have never met Piglet and I, and who must have assumed that he has something known as a "routine," and sleeps at a time of his parents' (they must have assumed there were two, sleeping in the double bedroom) choosing, in a room which is designated for the exclusive use of a child or children plural.  O what folly (*shakes fist at the idea of a nuclear family with a routine*)

And so I bravely steeled myself for a night on the shelf (metaphorically, surely the story of my life), and laid Piglet down into the travel cot for his slumbers.

After feeding him to sleep of course (*guffaws heartily at the idea of him doing any of that "settling himself to sleep" that the parenting books are always talking about*).

It lasted about an hour.

I duly fed him to sleep again, and popped him back in the cot.

Another hour.

Now this, I told myself, was normal.  Piglet always wakes up at least every few hours and I then feed him to sleep again.  The only difference was that it would normally involve simply rolling over and proffering a boob rather than lifting him out of the cot, but still.  I even started to think that Piglet was getting the hang of this sleeping in a cot lark.  Who knows, perhaps in a few years time he'll even progress to settling himself to sleep like the parenting books say all babies should by the age of three months.

Again he went to sleep, and again he woke up an hour or so later.

Only this time, he was sitting bolt upright in the cot and surveying the room with interest.  Not a good sign.

The next two hours included the following:

Breastfeeding repeatedly in a desperate attempt to get him to go back to sleep
Leaving the room to find a fresh nappy only to wake up the entire caravan (damn you thin paper caravan walls!)
Piglet greeting the rest of the caravan's occupants with squeals and giggles
More breastfeeding

And finally:

Lying down on the very edge of the shelf with Piglet on there next to me, crammed against the thin caravan wall and intermittently banging on it, keeping my brother and his partner (in the "parents" room next door) awake.

I should probably add here that since I started writing this post I have had to put the laptop aside twice to feed Piglet back to sleep.

One day, he will learn to settle himself to sleep.  One day.

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Piglet Breaks His Silence; Confirms He Is Dog-Lover

Piglet said his first word today.

So, was it "Mumma"?

No it was not.  

Let's forget the possibility of it being "Dadda," as he has been repeating that sound for months without, clearly, the slightest clue as to what it may refer in some circles, since he has never heard me utter such a sound.  This naturally makes me somewhat smug when I come across parents who swear blind that their seven month old has been calling Daddy by his correct title for several weeks now, as if Piglet can identify and pronounce the "dadda" sound, despite his never having had any sort of a Dadda whatsoever, then that is surely incorrigible proof that babies make random sounds without having the slightest clue what they refer to in the adult world.

This is what I have been telling myself since lunchtime today, anyway.

We popped into our new local haunt the Cafe on the Square, a fabulous place which used to be a public toilet with "Kelly loves Darren 4EVA" scrawled on the walls in marker pen, but which has been turned into a tiny but very friendly cafe staffed by helpful Christians doing God's Work of serving lattes and paninis to a surprisingly gentrified bunch of locals, and got into a conversation with a blind lady and her guide dog (well, the human lady did most of the talking, but it was the dog who was of interest to Piglet).  The lady kindly allowed Piglet to stroke the dog, which he did enthusiastically, having recently discovered that animals are A Thing.  Yesterday he met a cat, and was similarly enthralled.  The cat, unfortunately, was somewhat less magnanimous than the guide dog, and very nearly attacked him.

Anyway, the guide dog and Piglet (via their respective guardians) were formally introduced and exchanged pleasantries, and upon being informed that the dog's name was AJ, Piglet yelled "AJ!" to the universal joy of everyone in the cafe.

Yes, Piglet's first word was the name of a dog.  He loves a random dog, that he has met a grand total of once, more than he loves his Mummy. 

An actual dog.

Later on, we went to the park and Mummy felt even worse after facing her Diane Keaton in Baby Boom moment (not the one where she starts a successful business selling apple-flavoured baby food and gets to return to her old company in triumph and then totally give them the finger.  I am still waiting for that one) after being privy to a parkside conversation about "when you did your circus skills course Hermione dahling" and fretting that not only does Piglet love a dog more than his Mummy, but Mummy has ruined Piglet's chances of going to a good university forever due to not enrolling him in circus skills, baby sing and sign, or that one where the babies get tickled with giant feathers, which he is probably too old for now anyway and it's all just TOO LATE.

There may, however, be a future for him at the Dogs Trust.

Sunday, 9 August 2015

Dangerous Times

Piglet is now a year old, and therefore almost a toddler.  I say almost, as he has not yet mastered the art of walking, and needs to be escorted around by a helpful adult, such as me or (more often) Granny, holding his hand at all times.

It's just as well that he is always accompanied, however, as he has become a walking Accident Waiting to Happen.

Basically, I have discovered that the world is a very dangerous place when you are a year old, and not just for the reasons the Daily Mail likes to dwell on (although the other day, when we were on holiday, I did insist that my mother not leave a sleeping Piglet outside the caravan because "LOOK WHAT HAPPENED TO MADELEINE MCCANN!").

Today, for example, Piglet got his hand trapped underneath a door.  Underneath.  A.  Door.  I didn't even know that was a thing.  Luckily I was able to retrieve it without breaking the skin, but he did have the imprint of the bottom of the door stuck in his hand for a while.  On the plus side, he was trying to retrieve a copy of Spot Goes to Bed at the time, so at least his injury was the result of an interest in matters of a literary nature.

During a lunchtime visit to the pub (I know!  The pub!  At lunchtime!  For shame!  I am now One of Those Mothers who goes drinking during the day while Little One runs riot amid the drunks) I had to rescue Piglet from all of the following:
A large stick, to be thrown about on a field in the manner of a dog, but which he insisted on bringing into the pub and waving around, much to my mother's horror;
Wood chippings, which he tried to eat;
A log fire (deceptively not lit, so the danger was not at all obvious until Piglet pulled a metal grill off the front of the fireplace);
Rat poison (tantalisingly placed in a location close to several rotten apples, which had naturally piqued Piglet's interest, but fortunately in a clearly labelled container, so danger was relatively easily averted);
Several older children who were very keen to befriend him, but in a way that Piglet unfortunately found terrifying, despite the fact that they were far less scary than any of the above.

And this was just one brief lunchtime outing.  We didn't even stay for dessert.

Even our own dwelling is riven with danger, from the obvious perils of the cooker and stairs to the less clear hazards posed by the toilet roll holder (pulled off and used to attempt to smash up the toilet seat) and bathroom light switch (lovingly mouthed due to nobbly bit at the end which will at some point almost certainly break off and need to be retrieved from the said mouth before it can be swallowed).

Really, it is a wonder anyone has ever survived to adulthood.

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

These are my peeps part 2: Are these really my peeps?

Part of the joy of moving house is, of course, getting to know the new neighbours, and so today, I took myself to the local cafe (not the one where Piglet previously disgraced himself by kicking a table over.  We're lying low from that one for a while) in an attempt to do just that.

Well, actually it was more of an attempt to distract Piglet from opening all the cupboards in Granny's death-trap kitchen and extracting the contents (so far today I have had to prise ceramic oven dishes, washing powder caps and a bottle of Tabasco sauce from his little hands).

Anyway, off we went to the cafe, and I almost immediately found myself in conversation with a local.  This particular individual was well over eighty, and was presumably suffering from some sort of age-related macular degeneration, as when I happened to mention that I was looking for a place to live, she suggested the flats where she lives.

These flats are known as "Homes for the Aged."

Now I know I am suffering a daily increase in the number of grey hairs on my 35 year old head, but I hadn't considered that this aged me twenty years, but presumably it must do as you have to be over 55 to live in these flats.



Luckily at that point it started raining and the cafe was overrun with middle class mothers and their offspring, who had been in the park outside, sheltering from the rain.  Aha, I thought, these are my peeps.  Here is my opportunity to make some new, local friends.  

I mean, I am a Middle Class Mother, right?  I have a Bugaboo.  We go to swimming lessons.  Hell, I even wore a Breton top yesterday.

"Look!" I cried gleefully at Piglet, "look!  Other babies!  Maybe you should invite them to your birthday party tomorrow!"

Piglet examined the other babies with interest.  The other babies sat in their pushchairs and ignored him.  The Mothers came in and ordered lattes in paper cups (I drink lattes!  I am a Middle Class Mother, right?)  They were all wearing sensible hiking jackets and flat shoes.  I was wearing these leggings.

And I looked 55 years old.  In THESE LEGGINGS.  Just let that sink in for a moment.  After five minutes, the Middle Class Mothers departed, once all their babies had started crying, and I was left thinking two things.

1.) This area must have undergone a degree of gentrification since the 1980s, when my dad once had to lead a local boy home by his ear after he karate kicked me in the street, and
2.) Are those really my peeps?

I mean, those women almost certainly have husbands.  And they almost certainly have cars, and don't have to take the bus everywhere.  And those women almost certainly never wear Black Milk leggings.  This is possibly because Black Milk leggings are designed for teenagers and not 55 year old women like me, but I am convinced that I will not be welcomed into the Middle Class Mother fold unless I wear sensible shoes and hiking jackets AT ALL TIMES.

I will continue in my efforts to find some friends.  For Piglet's sake, at least.

Sunday, 26 July 2015

Piglet vs the World

Ladies and gentlemen, I no longer live in Wembers.

Well, it's not official.  I haven't even notified the bank I've changed addresses yet, let alone actually sold the flat.  However, Piglet and I are currently residing with my mother and are now the occupants of a room I previously shared with my brother in 1985.  It's great being 35.

The journey here was relatively uneventful, except for a few awkward moments conversing with someone I met once at a job interview who sat on the table next to us at Reading Services while I was trying to feed Piglet an appetising combination of Heinz baby biscuits and a jar of "cheesy fish pie," which was the only offering for babies (for some reason the only food available at the services seems to be chips, and I am convinced that once Piglet is introduced to chips, it will be the beginning of a long descent into morbid obesity that will end with him being lifted out of a hole in the side of the house by crane, while a finger-wagging Jeremy Kyle stands alongside narrating a TV documentary warning of the dangers of fast food).

Speaking of food, Mother and I are probably now barred from one of the local cafes after Piglet kicked a table over whilst remonstrating with his grandmother about not being allowed to crawl around on the floor of said cafe and pull himself up on all the other diners' tables and steal their food (which is undoubtedly what he would have been doing, had he been allowed to crawl around at will).  It would be an understatement to say that Piglet does not like being told that he cannot crawl around, especially in restaurants, pubs and train stations.  However, at least Granny is in possession of a highchair, so I no longer have to try to convince him to remain in his Bumbo seat for the duration of a meal, instead of climbing out, smearing food on every available surface, taking all the books off the shelf, pouring water over them, and then trying to push large pieces of furniture around the room as though they were toy cars.

I am pretty convinced that he is lying next to me now, having sweet dreams about which bits of Granny's house he is going to destroy first.  That is, if the house doesn't get him first.  There is quite a lot more babyproofing that needs to be done in a house than in a flat.  We should probably just line the whole place with crash mats.

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Partying it Up In Wembers

I will miss Wembley.  Where else, with the possible exception of One Direction's house (do they all live in the same house?  I sort of imagine they do, except the one who left, obvs.) can you walk out of your flat, take the baby for a walk and find yourself in the middle of a crowd of excitable teenage girls all waiting around hoping to catch a fleeting glimpse of someone famous?

At least, I presume that was what they were all doing outside Wembley Arena today watching the X Factor being filmed.  Unless there was just a really, really long queue to get in.

Piglet was asleep, so I waited for a few minutes, noting that something must be about to happen as not only was there an expectant waiting crowd, but a paparazzi photographer was stationed on the roof like a sniper.

Of course she may actually have been a sniper.  Watching X Factor sometimes has that effect on me, too, especially when Cheryl rocks up wearing two dustbin lids and shaming a teenage girl on national television for being "a bit of a bully" and everyone swoons and says she's the nation's sweetheart.  Or when they cue the Sad Music and start talking about a contestant's "journey," and how every minute of their existence up until now has been utterly meaningless because all they have ever done with their life is have a normal job like everyone else that doesn't involve singing terrible dated covers to the nation on a glittery plinth every week, and also their gran died last year at the age of a hundred and three and it was all terribly tragic and unexpected, and now she must be watching over their moment of televisual glory from that great big living room in the sky, probably wearing a T-shirt with a picture of them on it.  Anyway, I digress.  Piglet let out a squawk of displeasure at the pushchair being stationary, and I moved on, noting with interest that the real action was not in front of the Arena, but along the side street on the way back to my flat, where Olly Murs was being filmed getting out of a car.  Yes, OLLY MURS.  GETTING OUT OF A CAR.  Take that, waiting public, you missed it.

After all this excitement, (please note I also saw Caroline Flack.  CAROLINE FLACK!  She was only, like, FIFTY METRES AWAY!  And also some other presenter who I didn't recognise, who was interviewing some people whom I can only assume were PROBABLY X FACTOR CONTESTANTS!) I had to calm myself down with smelling salts, and very nearly missed the yearly extravaganza that is the Forum House Residents' Party.

This was, in fact, a welcome break from trying to get Piglet to eat his dinner, an ordeal that basically consists of me repeatedly putting him in his Bumbo seat and him repeatedly climbing out and crawling away, although not before giving his sippy cup a nice big shake so that all the water comes out, soaking at least one book in the process.

Piglet seemed to enjoy the party, and it did have the desired effect of tiring him out before bed, as he spent a glorious hour exploring the courtyard of the building, being trailed by yours truly.  I was trying to strike the right balance between being a relaxed parent who lets my child explore his surroundings, thus meeting his development potential as encouraged by the likes of Penelope Leach, et al, and being suitably firm about boundaries at crucial points such as when Piglet decided to pick up some stones from the ground and attempt to eat them.

The main difficulty in gauging where exactly the appropriate limits might be, is that there is no one else to tell you.  Well, maybe Gina Ford, but like, facepalm.  Or my mother, but is it really necessary to avoid all grass just in case a dog might have once relieved itself on that patch at some point in history?  There is no rehearsal and no going back and putting it right if you get it wrong.  Let's just say that this evening, in the courtyard, no one else's baby seemed to be crawling around.  They were all either old enough to walk, or too young to do much more than sit contentedly in their parents' arms.  And not one of the assorted children of my neighbours were in any way covered in mud and grass, as Piglet very quickly was.  Eventually I gave up and took him back inside.  He crawled most of the way back to the flat, which is probably regarded in some quarters as unacceptable, but hey, we don't have a block party every week.