28 October 2007

What Happened When I Mentioned Chickie Liked Trains

Plastic choo choos. Wooden choo choos. Talking choo choos. Big choo choos. Small choo choos. Choo choo placemat. Choo choo toothbrush. Choo choo pyjamas. Choo choo scarf. Choo choo socks. Choo choo suitcase. Choo choo blanket. Choo choo helter skelter. Choo choo track. Choo choo books. Choo choo stool. Choo choo ride. Choo choo cake. Choo Choo ball. Choo choo cup.

2nd Birthday

23 October 2007

Party Pooper

At Party Central, the Operations Manager, was scooting around the church hall like a looney trying to simultaneously assemble tables for colouring, prepare dining tables to look like an advert for the Waitrose Entertaining Brochure, politely chat to the self declared, “bouncy castle man” about placing his flyers in my sealed party bags, hang spotty bunting from the roof tops, blow up balloons and attractively arrange fairy cakes for forty on duck egg blue cake stands and pink love heart platters.

Snowy had left me behind having gone back to Chez Chickie to collect one husband, a birthday baby and all the party food from the fridge. He was instructed to call on arrival to confirm what to bring. When the phone rang and Accountant was on the end of the line, I couldn't help but wonder what the hell Snowy was thinking. He knows full well stressful situations, Accountant and I don’t mix.

“Do you want the crème fraiche?”
“Two packets of sausage rolls?”
“Of course I want the sausage rolls”
“Cocktail sausages?”
“What do you think?”
“Leftover sausage casserole?”
“Do you want the remnants of the casserole?”
“Yes. The buffet wouldn’t be complete without it!”
“I don’t want the sodding leftover casserole, you utter baffoon!”
“I can’t hear her, she’s cutting out!” he says to Snowy. The line goes dead.

A withdrawn Glam-Nan arrives, the pressure of supplying a homemade ‘choo choo’ birthday cake, one of her trifles, forty five choc chip cookies and a selection of cream cheese blini’s with parsley garnish all too much. I see the panic in her eyes.

“What do you want me to do?” she asks.
“Erm.... put the crisps in the bowl!”
“Okay, which bowl?”
“This one”
“Is that one big enough?”
“It’ll be fine, just put the crisps in!”
“All the same flavour, or different flavours?”
“I don’t care. Any bowl, any crisps”
“Okay” .... “I’m putting all different flavours in, is that okay?”
“Yes, that’s fine”
“May be we should use a bigger bowl?”

Accountant, Snowy and Birthday Chickie arrive and unload the food.

"Where are the carrot sticks?”, I enquire casually.
“I asked if we should bring them but he said no” explains Snowy, nodding at the bouncy castle where Accountant, as useful as ever, was diving headfirst into the inflated activity stations.
“Tell me please, what possible reason do you think I could have had for spending half of Friday chopping up 50 perfectly proportioned carrot sticks if they weren't for this party?” I hissed.

Snowy shrugged and wandered away from his mad, red faced and sweaty daughter to start scoffing the buffet, and there he remained with a fairy cake lodged in each cheek for the rest of the party.

17 October 2007

Chickie's MoT

"Yes, that's fine for tomorrow afternoon at 2pm, lovely, see you then", I said in my sweetest mummy voice. As I put the phone down, I turned to face a still red and blotchy Chickie who had reacted badly to his new moisturiser but was well enough to chomp his way through a yellow crayon.

"It's show time" I informed him but he had little interest in the Health Visitor's impending visit to put him through his developmental paces. Scooping lumps of sunflower coloured Crayola from the inside of his cheeks, I issued my 128th warning about consuming non consumables. Even if I don't catch him in the act, the crayons have a colourful way of giving him away on exit.

The next day, the scene was set. The house gleamed and so did Chickie having been buffed and coiffed to peachy 'my mummy looks after me fabulously' perfection. That is, apart from a few stubborn red blotches, some new baldy spots where he'd pulled his hair out the previous night and the flourescent goo that was sliming its way down his face.

I wondered whether to bring the rocking chair down from his room for the 'reading on mummy's lap' domestic bliss scene or 'colouring together at the kitchen table'. Both had merits of their own but I went with the colouring as it looked more authentic. In matching mother and son spotty aprons, we set about the drawing and colouring in of choo choos, cars and all his other vehicular obsessions.

Right on cue, the doorbell rings. "The health visitor's here sweetheart, now you be a good boy. No tantrums, no eating bad things and no throwing things at the lady, okay!" "Okay" he said earnestly to the point where I almost believed him.

I let the Health Visitor in and led her back to the table where Chickie had been instructed to remain to colour in Mummy's brillianty drawn choo choo's. "Oh!" exclaimed the Health Visitor in surprise as he turned around, displaying bright red lips that he'd coloured in with felt tip. "Why, you little ....!" I thought to myself. "What a silly boy" I said sweetly, through gritted teeth as a tug of war began over the red felt tip, Chickie screaming in defiance at it's forced removal. "Let's just clean you up so you can talk to the nice lady!". More screaming and throwing of crayons at mummy's head whilst the Health Visitor stood by my side, cowering behind her briefcase.

I don't know whether it prompted her first question about whether I had any concerns but after an hour of "Is it normal that he pulls his hair out? Why is he so obsessed with transport? Should I be worried that he's made up his own language that no one can understand? Why won't he eat fruit? Why doesn't he poo? He eats crayons and woodlice and Sudacrem and play doh - why? I can hear him snoring at night from downstairs, is that okay? He answers 'No' to every question - should he be doing that. He's scared of the smoke alarm and gazoos and balloons and the door bell? " I think she was regretting asking.

10 October 2007

A Rumble in My Bumble

One day you’re trotting along wondering how everyone else got so weird and thanking God for your lucky escape and then something happens that proves you’re just as bonkers as everyone else.

On Tuesday, the stomach ache began. On Wednesday, the niggling pains with occasional toilet visits. On Thursday, I could have flown to Boston and back during the time I sat in my bathroom wondering if I’d ever step outside again.

In retrospect, I shouldn’t have eaten anything at all but I did. I ate cheese crackers (intended for Chickie’s party), I ate vegetable crisps (for Chickie’s party) and I ate a mini bag of Haribo (yes, for Chickie’s party).

When the gurgling began, I knew it was bad. My digestive track churned in outrage and on toilet visit No 24, it punished me accordingly. Things turned nasty and a worrying colour. As sensitive as ever to my delicate state, Accountant eased my pain by trying to gas me with solvents, spraying an entire can of Lynx Africa under the bathroom door, before scurrying off to gag down the hallway.

As I sat on the brink of hyperventilation, struggling to breathe from the fumes and blind panic, I wondered whether I should phone Glam-Nan or an ambulance. I opted for Glam-Nan, who was thrilled to hear from her hysterical daughter at 11pm on a Thursday night. Whilst Glam-Nan and Snowy rushed over in their dressing gowns, I rang the on-call doctor. “It’s red. Am I going to die?” I squeaked pathetically. “I doubt it” said the doctor drolly. In no mood for sarcastic medical professionals, I explained again how it was red in case he’d missed it. “That can happen in situations like this” he said “or it could even be haemorrhoids” he added helpfully.

Unconvinced that the doctor had fully grasped the ‘redness’, I resigned myself to a malpractice suit and bid him farewell, looking up pathetically at Glam-Nan and Snowy who had arrived in their pyjamas. They tried their best to control my sobs and convulsions, as I broke down, convinced I was going to die soon, with a camera up my bottom.

“It’s fine” they said, exchanging worried glances as I shook uncontrollably. “It’s not” I wailed. “It’s really not”. They began whispering. “Don’t whisper. I hate it when you whisper” I ordered from the bed.

An hour of placating later and I was ready to risk a snooze, on the strict condition that Glam-Nan remained by my side. Glam-Nan eyed up my 15 togger miserably, used to sleeping in nothing hotter than an 8 herself. “Do you always sleep with this over you?” she asked 22 times before asking a further 22 times “don’t you get hot?”. Followed 22 times by “I only have an eight tog”. I was beginning to wonder whether I’d made a mistake and whether it was too late to swap her for Snowy who lay curled on the lounge floor, his 67 year old frame having a creaking competition with the floorboards.

The next morning, calmed by the lack of action during the night, I felt brave enough to drink a glass of water in bed whilst Glam-Nan endeavoured to scrape Snowy off of the floor and dealt with an exuberant Chickie. Forbidden to leave me alone, Snowy and Glam-Nan took it in turns to return to the comfort of their own home to clean their teeth.

Later that day, Glam-Nan heard three little words she wasn’t looking forward to, as I summoned her from the top of the stairs. “Mum, I’ve been!”. As Glan-Nan trudged up the stairs for her role as colour consultant, my mind cast back to the vegetable crisps I’d eaten the night before. The beetroot crisps. The red beetroot crisps.

Getting the bag out of the bin, I found a small remnant. Never a great fan of science, I decided, just this once, to conduct a little experiment. Dropping the crisp into a glass of water, I watched with interest as the water turned pink, gradually deepening to a dark shade of claret. A very familiar shade of claret.

03 October 2007

Nun Night Gnasher

“Come and look at Gnasher” said Accountant for the fiftieth time since Gnasher had arrived the previous day. “No thanks, Sweetheart” I replied. It was going to take more than a back flipping hamster to entice me out from under the cosy depths of my 15 tog goose down duvet.

“No, seriously, come and look” he repeated. “There’s nothing that hamster can do that I haven’t seen already” I said wearily, having spent most of the weekend ‘oohing’ and ‘aahing’ in all the right places as my nephew put his furry birthday present through it’s paces.

Accountant and Chickie had both thoroughly enjoyed the ‘Gnasher Show’, gleefully watching him roll around the room in his yellow ball as my nephew proudly commentated.

“Just come and look” said Accountant, insistently. “This better be good” I grumbled, begrudgingly poking two winceyette clad legs out from underneath the covers.

On entering the guest room where Gnasher had spent a comfortable weekend, Accountant was in the corner, his peanut shaped head craning over the base of the cage. “Look” he whispered, gesturing me closer. “What?” I whispered back, the lapse into undertones casting a sinister mood. “Do you think he’s dead?” Accountant asked suddenly. Unamused by Accountant’s attempt at practical trickery, I launched into my “don’t ever get me out of bed again unless there’s chocolate involved” speech. Accountant interrupted my ranting, just when I was at my most outraged. “I’m not joking” he cut in gravely. “He’s not breathing. Look!”.

As I reluctantly closed my mouth and inspected the red fur ball, curled in the corner of its cage, it struck me that he had been in that exact spot when Chickie had loudly bid him ‘Nun night’ five hours earlier. “May be hamsters don’t need to breathe when they sleep?” I offered hopefully. Accountant shook his head. Unable to believe or accept that Gnasher, at two months of age, could have expired on my watch, I became desperate. “Poke him” I said. Accountant prodded a finger into the strawberry blonde fur. Nothing.

“Perhaps he’s hibernating?” I tried, still optimistic that Gnasher was just a heavy sleeper. “Pick him up” I suggested helpfully. “I’m not picking him up!” said Accountant in disgust. “You pick him up!” he added. “No way!” I yelped in horror, backing away from what I was gradually coming to realise was rodent remains. “It’s your nephew’s hamster” Accountant kindly pointed out. “My dad wouldn’t expect my mum to pick up a dead hamster” I muttered, hoping to shame him into action. Ignoring me, Accountant began shaking the cage. “Well, if he wasn’t dead, he is now” I said, secretly quite pleased by his over vigorous jigging which seemed like an excellent cause of death to share with family members, leaving me innocent of all involvement.

“It’s dead” declared Accountant, with the self-assurance of a mortician. “He can’t be!” I said, incredulously. “He’s definitely dead” Accountant repeated slowly, no doubt wondering whether I would apply this level of denial to all unsavoury episodes I encountered in life. “Maybe he’s revivable” I squeaked as my panic levels rose. “I saw Eddie Murphy revive a rat in Dr. Doolittle. He gave it CPR”. Accountant shook his head again.

Glancing down at Gnasher, a ball of lonesome ginger fluff, I finally allowed myself to accept that Accountant might, for once, be right. Tears welled in my eyes as I looked at his little blue house that he’d never snuggle into again and the Willy Wonka style plastic tube that he’d been wedged into when he’d arrived.

As I began to sob for the vermin I barely knew, I wondered how my nephew would take the news that his beloved Gnasher would be leaving our care in a body bag. The crying stepped up a notch as I pictured his devastation as my Sister informed him that Accountant had shaken his cage just that little bit too hard. Then I imagined Chickie’s expectant little face as he requested to visit his new fuzzy friend, ‘NASHSHER” the next morning.

Accountant put a comforting arm around his now hysterical wife, blaming her hormone imbalance for the theatrical reaction.

The next morning, I cast a pair of red and swollen eyes over a still dead Gnasher, having hoped that my prayers alone may have been enough to resurrect him during the night. Closing the door behind me, I went into Chickie’s room. “Mum-mmmy” he shrieked excitedly. “Yes, Sweetheart” I replied, lifting him out of his cot for a cuddle. “NASHSHER” he said. “Gnasher’s asleep, Sweetheart” I replied, his innocence touching my heart, making me well up all over again. Now committed to spending the rest of the day a puffy wreck, I let the tears roll down my cheeks, wondering how I could stop the day coming along that would leave my little boy broken hearted.

Chickie looked at me and cocked his head to one side. “Choo Choo?” he enquired, Gnasher forgotten. “Let’s go watch the Choo Choo’s” I replied, kissing his little head, grateful that, for now, there was nothing more to be said.