24 March 2009

Spicing Things Up!

Although we were still experiencing the odd derailment, Chickie seemed to be getting back on track. As such, I turned my attention to the other problem in my life. Also male.

After catching Accountant reading over my shoulder as I stood cuddling him, I politely enquired as to what he was looking at, peering back past him to check out his laptop.

“Nothing” he’d spluttered, pulling me closer whilst making desperate ‘mmmming’ noises.

I leant back further for a better look. Accountant’s grip on me tightened. My mouth fell open in horror as I looked up at him, my confusion clear.

“Is that a balance sheet?”
He shook his head. “No. It’s a set of accounts.”
“Oh, much better” I cried, wondering if it was as bad as it seemed and whether my next door neighbour might have a textbook on the subject.

Thirty minutes passed in which he ate his dinner, still perusing company accounts and I, sat staring at him from the lounge, arranging a babysitter. We were going on an emergency date.

“Be home by 6pm, mum and dad are coming round early tonight” I reminded him when the big day arrived. He grunted his affirmation, cycling off in the pyjama trousers he always mistook for jogging bottoms, towards the Downs.
At precisely 6pm, the phone rang. Praying he wasn’t down A&E like last time, I answered tentatively.
“Hi, it’s me” he said. It was a good start, he sounded unharmed. “I’m just at a pub in Steyning.” My mind began to wonder how that could be - what with him due home and all. I articulated my concerns.
“You should have told me I had to be home by 6pm” he growled.
“I DID!” I screeched, thinking how much easier life would be if men came with even basic functionality.

Afterwards, I sat fuming, when my mobile phone beeped. A photo message awaited. The screen revealed Accountant, sat in the pub, smiling broadly. In his extended hand, he held up a full pint in ‘cheers’ mode.

“Why that good for nothing, ggrrrr....” I muttered, pulling off my wedding ring before placing it on top of the toilet seat and photographing it with my phone. Send. (Apologies to our marriage preparation course leaders, I know this isn’t what you meant by positive acts of love.)

Romance was not in the air as we drove over to Brighton. We were seated opposite each other in the restaurant and Accountant began playing with his mobile which he’d upgraded that day to include internet access.

When he popped to the loo, I ordered our dinners, making a slight alteration to his usual Sloppy Guiseppe pizza. Accountant didn’t notice as he tucked in. He noticed soon after though as he began taking long, slow, swills of beer. His eyes gently watered as his ‘Etna’ pizza erupted in his mouth, spicing up ‘date night’ splendidly.

19 March 2009

I've Got A Secret!

It was official - Chickie had crossed to the dark side and my neighbours had begun works to block up the chimney on their side of his wall. Whether it was his sheer volume or concerns he may actually crash through into their spare room, I didn’t know but I decided it was time to do something drastic to help guide my toddler back to the light. Typically, I had no clue whatsoever what I was meant to do but hoped my prayers alone may cause a solution to present itself.

And, they did. Like a golden angel sent by Supernanny herself, my lovely neighbour stood before me, shrouded in a Ready Brek style glow, holding out the answer to my prayers. A book.
I like books. Especially ones that promise big answers to big problems. Happy little faces beamed back at me from under big, blue words - “The Secret of Happy Children”. And what a well kept secret it had been. But now, 145 pages later, I’m in on it.

In fact, this actually happened this morning.
Mummy: “Don’t eat my cardigan please, sweetheart”
Chickie: “I’m sorry, mummy. I won’t do it again. I love you, mummy!”
Hugs, twirls and kisses followed.

Chickie then fetched his stool and began preparations for breakfast, popping the toast in the toaster, getting the butter and filling up drinks. He chatted whilst he worked, informing me that he was married to Elizabeth and Hannah from nursery and telling me how the donkeys at Tilgate Park had been his favourite (there weren’t any donkeys).

I watched him as he waited for the toast to pop up. He stood statue still, his eyes never looking away. When it finally popped, he turned to me, giggling.

I felt like Ben, Elizabeth Jim Bob, Mary Ellen, and John Boy might just skip through my door at any minute.

Coupled with the relief that Chickie seemed much happier when engaged in activity from the moment his eyes opened in the morning to the moment they shut at night, came the guilt that I kept having to refer to text books to navigate my way through something I’m sure was supposed to come much more instinctively.

Accountant was quick to encourage. “So, it was all your fault then?”
“Probably,” I accepted, now completely comfortable with being inadequate.

Whilst I cooked dinner, he gave Chickie his bath. What seemed to start as some low-level squealing soon developed into some high-energy interaction between father and son.
“Stop that splashing right now!” warned Accountant in his bestest stern voice.
“NNNNNOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOoooooooo” splashed Chickie.
“If you do that once more you’re going straight to bed!”
“One more time and you’re going to bed, do you under.......”

I took a long sip of Martini, and pretended not to hear Accountant’s anguished cries for back-up. Picking up ‘The secret ...’ book, I placed it on the table, popping it down, next to his Shepherd’s Pie.

12 March 2009

It's Not Going Well

“He’s obviously in one of his moods, so adapt!” said Accountant, shutting the door as he went off to work.

I wanted to snarl at him in much the same fashion as Chickie had been snarling at me lately. I turned around to find him watching me. Feeling much like the pork chop that got shoved through the feeding hatch at the lion enclosure, I wondered how I was going to get out of this one without a tranquiliser gun.

It had been two weeks and there were no signs of any uplift in Chickie’s mood. Relations were strained. I was being bullied by a three year old.

"Oh, my niece was like that” soothed my friend as I described his behaviour, “and she was fine by the time she got to eleven!”

“ELEVEN!” I yelped. I hung my head in despair, wondering if she might let me spend the next eight years at her house.

“How’s he been?” enquired Accountant on his return home.
“Swell” I mumbled, picturing his devilish grins as he’d tormented me for hours.
“Where is he?” Accountant asked.
“On the naughty step” I replied.
“He won’t come off”
“I don’t know” I cried. Why did everyone expect me to know how he worked? Supernanny never mentioned what to do when poppet pants wouldn’t come off the step. It wasn’t like he’d come with an Owner’s Manual. My mobile phone had come with more instructions and you could restore the default factory settings if you made a programming error!

I needed a psychology degree and a martini.

The next day I ate a whole packet of Party Rings for lunch whilst I retraced my parenting footsteps. I’d obviously gone hideously wrong somewhere.

Then I collected my son, with trepidation, from nursery. “He’s so lovely isn’t he?” one of the ladies said to me.
“So sweet natured!”

I got her to point out the child she was talking about, to clear up the confusion. She identified Chick from the line up.

He bared his teeth when he caught me watching him but she wasn’t looking. I felt like tugging on her sleeve and telling her he’d just been horrible to me before remembering I was 32 and no one could help me. It was just him, me and 7 hours until bedtime. Or was it?

“I know” I said to Chickie, who ignored me, “let’s go and visit Nanna and Grandad!”
He almost smiled.

When Nanna produced ginger biscuits, he became polite and loving. Until they ran out. Nanna was packed off to the kitchen and told not to return until she’d baked a week’s supply.

“I’ll be back on Wednesday for more” I instructed as we left. “And don’t even think about changing the locks.” I added.

Mum and dad exchanged glances, no doubt wondering when their daughter was ever going to grow out of her ‘difficult’ phase.

05 March 2009

Break Away

Stuck in a 12 mile traffic jam, somewhere on the A30, east of Cornwall, two sets of parents, in two separate cars, were experiencing two very different starts to their short ‘break’ away.In the precision packed Vauxhall Estate, an impeccably coiffed 3 year old girl was perusing her mobile library, contemplating whether “Cornwall: Leisure Walks for All Ages” or “Truro and Falmouth – Roseland Peninsula” would be stimulating enough to amuse her for the rest of the journey.

In the VW hatchback behind, it was hard to tell just how many people were in the car thanks to Accountant’s ‘ram and squish’ packing policy. Despite the limited amount of air pockets available, the smallest, yet most audible, passenger was selfishly gulping up all the oxygen as his initial grumblings developed into howls of general outrage.

By mile 11, the little girl put down her book which she’d found to be a thoroughly informative read. She couldn’t wait to tell Mummy about the route she’d planned for the family hike but she’d wait until Mummy finished her nap.

In the other car, Accountant and I were enjoying an in impromptu game of dodge ball as Chickie launched his toy collection at us. Although I knew that hitchhiking was illegal, I was keeping an eye out for a lay by, imagining myself leaping out of the passenger side of the car ‘fugitive’ style, rolling down a side embankment before coming to a neat stop outside a health spa.

Unfortunately, I was scuppered by the child lock and arrived watery eyed, avec dependants, for our relaxing seaside break. Chickie, indisposed to alterations to his established routine, repaid our kindness of allowing him to remain in the car despite my suggestion of giving him some “time out” on the roof rack, by going on sleep and hunger strike for the rest of the week. Every night he would appear in the darkness at 2am, before circling me twice and curling up on my head.

Then came the conjunctivitis. Two more outlets to add to his ‘oozing illuminous yellow goo’ list. Eye drop administration proved a two man job and could take anywhere from 15 minutes to a whole morning. Accountant was employed as resident heavy, instructed to sit on all flailing bits whilst I jimmied his eyes open.

By the end of the week, tired and withdrawn, we presented the “Best in Show” Award for the third year running, to his little girlfriend who had outperformed in every category. Compliance, Attitude, Slumber, Sanitation & Hygiene, Regularity & Ease of Bowel Movements, Consumption, Vocabulary, Critical Reasoning, Congeniality and General Well Being.

As she took her lap of honour, hindered slightly by her covering of red rosettes, Chickie was too busy to care as he took to peeling off the sellotape now covering all the plug sockets after his foiled attempt to stick a key into one earlier in the week.