29 May 2008

The Chickie Pox

Chickie was thrilled this morning to see his mummy dressed as a Ninja in a black hood and mask.

Having suspected his suspicious rash from the day before might be thinking about being chicken pox, I was taking no chances. My Italian girlie holiday was just a 21 day incubation period away. Without a anti-contamination suit handy, I got creative, fashioning a balaclava out of a pair of knickers. Accountant peered at me from underneath his eye mask as I crept out of the bedroom wearing my new frilly high leg hat. He let out a snort before turning over to resume his snooze, uncaring that this might be the day I’d been dreading my whole adult life.

Wearing woolly gloves and, using extreme caution, I lifted Chickie’s pyjama top. “Baddies” confirmed Chickie excitedly as I scowled at the sinister gathering of red spots scattered across his torso. I retreated slowly.

“Chickie’s got chicken pox” I informed the back of Accountant’s grunting head.
“Chickie pox?” he drooled into his pillow.
“This isn’t funny. I haven’t had it”. Or at least I didn’t think I had.
“You’ve had glandular fever. Oh, and whooping cough” said my mother.
“Yes but what about chicken pox?”
“Ohhhh, I don’t know?”
“How can you not know? Everyone knows whether they’ve had chicken pox?”
“Well, you’ve definitely had glandular fever and your father had scarlet fever and double quinsies”.

It seemed no one was taking this seriously. The pox at my age were no laughing matter if the images on Google were to be believed. Not to mention that flesh eating scabs were not considered lakeside chic.

“Would you mind if I moved out this week?” I mumbled through my pants to a sleeping Accountant whilst Chickie counted his dots. “That was the Emergency Plan in the event of an outbreak”.
Ever the forward planner, I had considered this scenario and remembered Accountant vaguely nodding along to my suggestion that, in the event our child contracted any infectious disease to which my immunity wasn’t guaranteed, a quarantine period would apply.
“2, 8, 7, 3”, said Chickie poking his finger into each of his new blotches in turn.

Resigned to the fact I wasn’t going away, Accountant turned toward me. Accepting of my eccentricities concerning preventative health measures, he made no comment about my homemade face mask. “You’ve probably already got it. You’ve been with him all week” he said reassuringly.

I thought back, reliving the moment Chickie sneezed into my beef sandwich and when he’d tenderly kissed the end of my nose. A heart warming gesture I’d thought at the time but, no, just the point of entry for his infected airborne respiratory droplets.

Some days later, I sat counting my very own batch of Chickie pox. “145, 146, 147...”. I sighed, wondering if God had chuckled to himself when I’d bought a polka dot swimming cossie in anticipation of my holiday.

21 May 2008

Not So Magic

Recently, whilst watching the Gardening channel, I began wondering what it was about Alan Titchmarsh that was so appealing. Was it his soft Yorkshire accent, the way he filled his wellies or how tenderly he handled the delphiniums in his care? I couldn’t tell. I flicked over to the Hallmark Channel to see if there were any cheesy Canadian straight-to-TV films on. Disappointed and not in the mood for spending my time productively or like an Under 50, I trawled the channels, finally landing on ‘How to Look Good Naked’.

It left me with a burning question that needed answering. Can any woman really live happily ever after if, behind her glamourous new facade, she’s secretly been compressed into a punishing polyester/elastane mix body suit with out so much as an air hole? Wouldn’t she feel like a fraud – knowing that beneath that washboard stomach and super pert bottom was a suffocating weeble desperate to get out? Wouldn’t she always worry about that unexpected gust of wind that sends her skirt flying around her ears and publically outs her Spanx flesh coloured power panties? And how good for your internal organs can it really be?

In the name of research, I decided to find out.

One ‘Better Bum Control’ expense claim later and I had the perfect occasion to trial my new ‘wonderwear’. A wedding.

At 7am, I tucked flabby tum tums into the ultra snug pants and, for security reasons, wore two vests that got tucked in too. Underneath, a padded bra, for propping and inflation. And finally, a pair of tights, pulled up to my armpits. Et voila. The foundations of my new fake body were built.

The chafing began at midday, a numb right bottom cheek followed at 3pm and complete loss of circulation in both legs at 8pm. Toilet visits took ages as the unpeeling, untucking, repeeling and retucking ritual left me considering flushing the lot down the loo. It was only the thought of the astonished gasps of my fellow guests as I returned to the table one stone heavier that stopped me.

Dancing was out of the question with such a strong chance of severing a leg, plus I was dizzy from all the shallow breathing. I longed for a deep breath but the pants forbade it.
Tired and bleeding, I hobbled back to the car where, under the cover of darkness, I spent ten minutes negotiating my release from my elasticated nightmare. It was with gratitude that I received the feeling back into my legs and my lower respiratory tract began to function again.

So, whilst magic knickers may flatten out those lumps and bumps, proceed with caution. Or, even better, let’s love our lumps – we’ve all got them after all! Let’s embrace our mummy tummies, use the damned pants to clean the windows and all enjoy a wobble around the dance floor together with a full oxygen supply!

15 May 2008

Laid Back Mummy

I’ve become disenchanted with housewifery. Specifically, the maintenance of the house, husband and toddler part.

My days are whiled away mopping up substances not meant for home furnishings, trawling round supermarkets whilst Chickie clobbers me with whatever he considers will cause the most pain from the trolley and ironing clothes so they’ll look their best when thrown on the floor. All of which prevents me from fully engaging in more enjoyable activities, such as shopping, reading and eating out.

Stuck in a rut and in need of a plan to inject some excitement into Groundhog Day, I secretly remortgaged the house and booked a one way flight to Rio. Okay, not really. Instead, I pondered my predicament whilst standing at the end of my road watching a cement mixer go round and round whilst Chickie pointed out the 136 litre drum capacity and patented mix and tip design. Three builders looked back at the gleeful toddler doing his excited little penguin dance and the glazed mummy who they all thought fancied them. The Refuse Collectors also cast me sorry glances as, every week, I wait outside (with Chickie!) to bid them good morning and wave at the driver of the truck as he crawls past.

Yes, it was definitely time for a lifestyle review. But first I had to deal with the time consuming and inconvenient problem of domestic responsibilities. It proved easier than anticipated. I stopped ironing altogether and adopted a new approach to housework. I called it, “The Speed Clean”. You dust only when others are due round and then, only the bits from their eye line down. Then, invigorated by three Red Bulls and two big bags of Skittles, you do it really, really quickly – shaving three hours off of the weekly dust.

Next I rescheduled supermarket shopping to the evening. Genius on three counts. One, Chickie can’t attack me when he’s at home asleep. Two, Tesco’s half empty so it’s twice as fast. Three, I get to go out after 6pm!

That just left my small, but time thirsty, companion. He turned round, on cue, his “I’ve just been naughty” face set to “extremely naughty”. His lips and nostrils sported a heavy layering of sand and bark and his eyes sparkled with anticipation as he waited for the fireworks.

And that’s when the brainwave hit. If my calculations were correct, I could save a whopping 70 hours a week by disregarding discipline altogether. Round trips to the naughty step alone took up 3 hours a day, tongue scraping a further 30 minutes, not to mention the endless negotiations and blackmail necessary to ‘motivate’ my poppet to comply with any of my suggestions.
Chickie, perplexed by my lack of interest, began filling his pants with sand.

I lay back in my deck chair, opened my magazine and took a long sip of lemonade, surprised how easy it was to be a Laidback Mummy after all.

08 May 2008

All Sewn Up

It’s amazing what you can come to consider as normal because you’ve grown accustomed to it.
A husband snoring by your side sporting a lime green eye mask with ‘Sleep Tight’ printed seductively across the front in a girly font. A Nanna pretending to be a Smash Robot, jerking around the lounge in pursuit of potatoes for peeling (Chickie’s the potato). Or even your child nestling down to snoozies with three pairs of socks on each hand and a t-shirt with the sleeves sewn up.

Fortunately, I have a sister who monitors the family closely to nip any disturbing new trends in the bud. In my defence, and this is exactly what I’ll tell Social Services, my child’s homemade straight jacket was fashioned out of necessity and, I like to think, an element of cunning.

My research proves that it’s very hard for a child who pulls his hair to do so when wearing his entire sock drawer on his hands. Even harder when the sleeves are sewn up too. And so the ritual began. I rather liked it. Chickie averted an incoming comb-over and the socks were proving excellent value for money.

My sister wasn’t so keen. “What if he gets attached to the socks?”
“He doesn’t care about the socks”
“But he might think he can’t go to sleep without them?”
“He has no interest in the socks” I reiterated.
“What if he develops a sock fixation?”
“Isn’t it better than a hair pulling fixation?”
“I don’t like the socks”

Months passed with my sister not liking the socks. She recruited mum to her cause. A weekly enquiry would be made as to whether they were still in circulation and disapproving grunts made upon confirmation. Renewed hair growth and Chickie’s complete disinterest in his alternative nightwear did nothing to reassure them. The tuts got louder until the day my sister presented her findings following her extensive research into compulsive hair pulling, or Trichotilomania, as it’s known officially.

Whilst the prognosis for younger children was encouraging and likely linked to habit, it was a habit that needed breaking. My sister closed with her recommendation.

The following morning, Chickie sat statue still in the Barber’s chair whilst I ordered a Number One all over. The Barber raised his Number Five eyebrow. “It’ll look quite severe” he warned. I nodded gravely before giving the order to proceed.

Ten minutes later, a fuzzy Chick checked out his new do, stroking a curious hand over his bristles. He attempted a small tug but, being male, soon lost interest when it became clear pulling it would now require effort.

Sister was thrilled to hear that Chickie went to sleep that night a free man, all ten digits released into the evening air thanks to her relentless campaigning.

Now freed up for other projects, it seemed an excellent time to mention Accountant’s worrying new attachment to a ladies eye mask.

So ‘Sleep Tight’ Sweetheart, while you still can!

01 May 2008

What's Up With Chickie?

Motherhood is a common phenomenon with lots of women producing at least one child at some point. A portion of these women will go on to appoint themselves expert child psychologists. Even some with no parenting experience will find something helpful to add.

New mummies to the market are particularly vulnerable. Thrust into a chaotic Sudacrem scented haze, they’re confused and highly absorbent. Even 2½ years into my house arrest, I remain bewildered. The passing of time serving only to dish up fresh challenges at precisely the moment I think I’ve got it sorted.

Last week’s internet searches focused on summer getaways, swimwear suggestions for the pear-shaped and seasonal accessories. My most pressing concern, whether the tummy control panel in the new knickers I’d just ordered, could really pass me off as having stomach muscles.

This week, hair pulling, separation anxiety and sleep apnea were gingerly typed into the computer by someone who promised her G.P. and family that she’d never Google symptoms ever again.

Chickie, sensing mummy’s attention wandering, began the transfer of mud from pot plant to carpet. Finally turning from the laptop to find Chickie standing atop his new indoor flower bed, I felt too sorry for him to be angry. According to on-line experts, I’d been right to be worried.

I phoned my sister. “It’s just a phase”. I felt better.
I phoned my mother. “You do cuddle him a lot and I’m sure he could still use a nap”
I spoke to friends. “Perhaps he’s on the cusp of a developmental leap? Or his blood sugar levels have dropped?”

More followed. “Has something happened?”
“Nope. Everything’s exactly the same”.
“He could be under-stimulated, do you play with him enough?”
“Does he have enough independent play without you?”
“He’s over-tired”
“Try a swimming cap?”
“Perhaps he went to a big bed too soon?
“Too much chocolate?”
“Demonic possession?”

Then came the article. ‘Successful Parenting’. Reading about mothers neatly categorised into Tuned-in, Sorted and Laid-Back– I hated them all. No mention that laid-back mummy, whilst chilled and trusting of her child’s judgment, sits back mutely whilst her free range poppet destroys property, freely attacks others and uses smaller children as trampolines.

I devised my own category. “Uptight Mummy”. I had 2,986 potential triggers to deliberate before I could become “Tuned In Mummy” and instinctively understand all the reasons behind my child’s behaviour.

Whilst considering the merits of Trigger No. 1823, ‘Overuse of the naughty step’, I made a decision, all by myself.

If I’d considered the obvious and still didn’t know why my child had suddenly decided to vacpac himself to my leg, then no one else was likely to know either. It was time to have confidence in my own judgment. I was ‘Uptight Mummy’ after all. Besides, I really liked my sister’s suggestion. Trigger No. 1. “It’s probably just a phase”.