25 October 2008

Tumble Tots

On Saturday morning, two boys entered the woods on their bicycles. “I saw some other kids doing a jump over there” said one to the other, pointing to a grassy knoll in the distance.
“Cool. Do it!” instructs his friend.
The boy lines his bike up whilst his friend stands and eggs him on from the side lines. “Really go for it!” he says.
“Okay” he shouts back over his shoulder as he mentally prepares himself, speeding up for take-off. And take off he did, flying through the sky like a big, pink torpedo before landing face first in the undergrowth.

Dog walkers, hearing what they assumed were the frantic screams of a young girl, rushed over to see what had happened. To their surprise, the high pitched whimpers were coming from a 32 year old male who looked up at them pathetically through mud splattered glasses. And that’s how Accountant broke his collar bone.

As we had 3 hours to spare whilst waiting in A&E and Accountant was a conveniently captive audience, I decided to raise some discussion points.

1. What was a 14 stone grown man who had never gone out on his bike without falling off thinking - dirt jumping in the woods?
2. And, why was he catapulting himself across the countryside at the very moment he’d promised he’d be arriving home?

Turning toward me like a robot in a neck brace, Accountant winced as he explained that it was all my nephew’s fault for showing him the jump and then went on to blame his friend for making him do it. I mustered an eyebrow raise, marvelling at how little the adult male develops from childhood.

“And you weren’t home when you promised because....?” I prompted.

Accountant suddenly took a turn for the worse, sucking in air through gritted teeth at just the same time his name was called over the tannoy to attend minor injuries.

One hour later, with no operation or plaster required, I could tell Accountant was very pleased with himself as the pretty young nurse lent over him to tie his sling instructing him gently to take it easy for the next six weeks. He nodded seriously, a smug smile tugging at his lips. I resisted an urge to poke his shoulder.

Back at home, I began to get a taste as to what my life would be like for the next month.

“I need a beer” he hollered from the sofa. It was hard to hear him above the footie. “Can you turn the tv up too? I would do it but I can’t move” he added, pointing to his sling.

Once Chickie was delivered back from Nanna’s, he was briefed on daddy’s minor injury. “Poor daddy” he sympathised, bounding over to cuddle him.

Accountant’s screams were delightfully shrill as he realised that recuperating avec toddler might not be as cushy as anticipated.

16 October 2008

What's Motherhood Really Like?

“So, what’s motherhood really like?”

As I looked into the well-rested eyes of the girl I’d just met at a friend’s birthday party, I considered how best to respond as she went on to explain that she was considering having a baby but had concerns about her white carpets and matching sofas.

As I listened to her talk about the protective blue plastic socks that were issued to her guests and the drawer dividers she used to keep her blacks knickers separate from her white, I was beginning to feel a dastardly longing for her to have a baby immediately.

To be honest, I’d put more thought into purchasing my fridge freezer than into having a baby, and had simply assumed it would comply on the basis I was bigger. Baby would while away its days looking like a model from the mini-Boden catalogue whilst I baked cupcakes and praised it occasionally from the kitchen for sitting so nicely for a whole seven hours. The labour was going to be all drugs and no pain and baby would respect the home that mummy had spent two years renovating. It would eat, sleep and behave impeccably at all times because I’d read its instructions, twice (Contented Little Baby Book). Baby would enjoy international travel and adapt effortlessly to changes in routine. Baby would always use a coaster.

The nice girl’s husband stood by her side, a loving arm around placed around her waist. They were waiting for me to say something.

What’s motherhood really like? The question danced around my few remaining brain cells.

“Well”, I tried to focus on their content little faces through eyes that hadn’t enjoyed a full night’s sleep since July. “Take photos of your little white house then at least you’ll have your memories. The plastic slipper socks shouldn’t be a complete waste of money, they’ll probably be quite useful to wear on your head during the reflux stage, when you start weaning and for potty training too. You might want to consider an extra drawer compartment for disposable pants and giant nursing bras. Then, once you’ve finished breastfeeding, a padded bra section might be useful.” I took a deep breath.

“Once baby’s mobile, the game changes. You need to put everything you own in storage. I’m not just talking ornaments. Curtains, sofas, rugs, bedding, lampshades, literally everything. Keep the tv though, it’s essential.”

The husband’s arm fell from his wife’s waist. They exchanged glances.

“The word ‘holiday’ will no longer apply to you. Wipe it from your vocabulary and your memory” I continued.

“Perhaps we’ll wait a bit longer” she interjected.

My mobile phone beeped and I showed them my ‘Chickie in his Spiderman outfit’ screensaver, followed by my gallery of Chickie photos from birth to date. By photo 64, their interest was waning. I kept going though, every photo reminding me that my little boy is the greatest thing I’ve ever done.

13 October 2008

The Leggy Legacy of Mushroom Packing

“Is that a varicose vein in your leg?”, my mother enquired, squinting at Accountant’s lily white leg poking out of the end of his shorts.
“Yes it is” replied Accountant proudly, perking up at her interest in the long term condition that had never caused him a day’s discomfort.
“How’ve you got that then?” she continued, not as savvy as I at avoiding any interest in Accountant’s bodily functions.
“I don’t know really” he replied seriously, rubbing the offending vein as if to ease the pain he’d shouldered silently for so many years.
“Has anyone in your family got them?” I rolled my eyes at Dad, who I assumed was finding the pointlessness of her enquiries as tedious as I.
“No, I don’t think so” said Accountant, his brow furrowed with the concentration of a man working his way back five generations for any history of knotted legs. “I did work in a mushroom factory once though.”
“Really?” replied my mother who I knew was working up to the disclosure of her very own varicose veins, waiting for the optimum moment to reveal her own hideous suffering as she stood for years, without breaks, hairdressing for a shilling a week.
“Yes. There were men and women who had worked there for thirty years and I always remember their legs were all gnarled up from standing for so long” said Accountant, his words tinged with concern as to the toll his time at the factory may have taken.
"How long did you work there?” I enquired, momentarily interested.
Accountant took time to calculate, delivering his answer with the utmost gravity, “About four weeks”.
Laughing at Accountant continued for about an hour. It stopped for X-Factor, and then recommenced in earnest.

As soon as the front door shut behind mum and dad, Accountant turned. Apparently I never took any of his medical conditions seriously. No one else, apart from his mother, would either but I vowed to pretend to in the future.

Somewhat conveniently, the next day he awoke with stomach pains and conjunctivitis. “I’ll need some water, a cup of peppermint tea, five cracker breads with butter and cream cheese, complete bed rest and a cold compress” he whimpered, searching my face for any sign that I wasn’t fully invested in his recovery, through his one good eye.

For the rest of the day, I sourced DVD’s, turned the pages of magazines, double checked with NHS Direct that his ‘localised’ stomach pains (as he liked to call them) weren’t appendicitis and applied eye drops every three hours.

And then, on my way to plump up his highly infectious pillows, I overheard him organising a trip to the pub the next day.

That’s when I soaked a towel in icy water and, just as he drifted into his 19th hour of sleep, laid it lovingly over his poor little tummy.

02 October 2008

The Dangers of Hormone Imbalance

It all started with some serious PMT that had reduced me to tears as I read my friend’s sample wedding invitation. “Believe me, if all those endearing young charms, which I gaze so fondly today, were to change by tomorrow, and fleet in my arms, like fairy-gifts fading away, thou wouldst still be adored...” It was all so loving and hopeful.

I thought of Accountant’s endearing young charms – or at least I tried to, but images of his ridiculously loud and excessive nose blowing and inane whistling pierced my romantic bubble prior to inflation. And the way he pressed the ‘information’ button whenever I was watching something on telly so I missed it all. Not to mention his ‘digestive’ troubles...

Not endearing and thou wouldst be adored much more if all those young charms changed tomorrow. That said, I felt the stirrings of inspiration and set about reacquainting myself with all of Accountant’s long lost fairy-gifts.

To charm out the charms, I did something I personally considered hugely magnanimous. I popped my last Thornton’s cappuccino chocolate into Accountant’s lunch box, which, short of donating a lung, was about as grand a gesture as I could ever bestow on anyone.
In an office far away, the sweet fluffy centre of the best coffee truffle available in Europe, didn’t even graze a taste bud as it was swallowed whole. The email I received at 13:56 simply said, “Thanks for the choccie”.

“Thanks for the choccie!” It wasn’t just a ‘choccie’! It was a luxury aromatic coffee and double cream truffle swirl, sprinkled with ground Brazilian beans. And it was my favourite. And my last one.

I felt disheartened and much the same as years before when I’d discovered all the greeting cards I’d ever given him heaped in the rubbish bin.

Naturally, when he arrived home, I was sulking. Naturally, he had absolutely no idea why.

“What’s wrong?”
“Nothing!” I replied.

He went to watch football. I sulked some more before realising I couldn’t educate my husband on his shortcomings silently. I reappeared in the doorway.

“Do you remember when you threw my cards away?”
“Did I?”
“Yes” I confirmed, setting my face to ‘how could you’.
“Is that why you’re upset?”
“No, this is about charms.”
“Charms?” He looked more confused than ever.
“Yes, and chocolate”
“I said thank you for the chocolate”.

I wondered how to phrase that, whilst technically he was correct, it hadn’t been the right kind of thank you nor had he grasped the deeper message of my cappuccino-truffle-fairy-gift. By the time I had formulated my thoughts, Accountant was shouting at the TV. Convinced that true romance could never be mine, I trudged up to bed, sniffing loudly.

At half time, he stood before me with a glass of water and some maximum strength Evening Primrose capsules.

“Perhaps you shouldn’t come off them again?” he suggested softly.
I nodded, deciding I adored him after all.