New school blues

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“Go home mummy. Just go!” “Why am I not allowed to come?” “Because both of you here is just embarrassing.”. And so it begins, aged four, and the small child is already mortified by my very presence. LSB and I have united forces to walk the small child down the road together, as it’s her first day of school. Couldn’t come soon enough I can tell you. She slept poorly, with a tickly cough, so we were all up in the night tending to her, then from 7.15 onwards we’ve been listening to her complaints. “I’m getting dressed now!” “Oh please don’t,” I implore.     “You don’t go in until 10 O’clock.” “Don’t care! And I DON’T WANT BREAKFAST!” She refuses to let any liquid pass her lips as she is “BORED WITH DRINKING.” (so am I to be honest after that holiday but if this continues I’ll be back on the grog by tonight.) “I don’t like this school bag, it’s ho-ble (horrible) why did you choose it for me?” “My lunch box is too small. You always get me ho-ble things.” Exasperated sigh from the mother. “Will I just go back to the mummy shop. “NO.” “Why not? I’m clearly getting it all kinds of wrong here.” “Dad needs you.” “Really?” Well at least someone does.

The grumbling continues despite the pair of us pointing at cats and dogs and blackbirds, usual items of interest to her.  “Where did we get her from?” I ask LSB. “Must I answer that?” he replies. Fair enough. My P1 photograph shows a small child with a similar mutinous expression.

I feel sorely tempted to say fine then, clear away off, but I don’t. And as we approach the school gates, a wee hand slips in to mine. I look to see if she’s taken LSB’s too, for if that were the case she’d be instigating that we give her a swing, but she hasn’t. Lovely Mrs T is waiting at the door, and two of her friends are playing together at a table as she goes in. “I am so, so glad to see the back of that one,” I tell her teacher, who having had the older one last year, is well used to my ill-humour, “but I have it on good authority that she’ll be better for you.” “Course she will,” smiles Mrs T with a confidence I don’t entirely share. As we turn to go both wee friends wave enthusiastically, and when we take a final peek through the window, one even pushes her nose against the glass. Ours approaches too and we wait expectantly for a smile. Then she grits her teeth into a sort of snarl. shaking her head like a bulldog with a chew toy. “And we’ve to be back here at 11.45,” I sigh to LSB. “Let’s go and get ploughed into some caffeine.”

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PS. Small child came out of school pleased as punch, only raging because she’s not in again until Monday, since she enjoyed it so much. I too, am irked that she’s not in until Monday. Anyone want her tomorrow? 😉

SWB lets off some steam

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“God Almighty I’ve no bikini bottoms on!” I leap up from the sun lounger having just looked down and seen that I’d forgotten to change into the lovely new Spanish bikini pants and am sitting wearing a fetching floral top teamed with flesh coloured knickers. To add insult to injury I’ve been up and about, rearranging sun loungers and moving bags, applying sun cream and exchanging pleasantries, all blithely unaware of my gaff. But no matter, for it is the annual meet up in Spain with my friends and we’re all too excited and happy to be worried about wardrobe mishaps. “Errrm though, did nobody notice that I was wearing pants by the poolside?” I enquire, (it’s not yet 11-30 so it’s not even as though anyone is already on their merry way.) “Oh no,” they chorus. “I actually thought you’d worn them on purpose, a kind of stylish combo,” says Anna. “Me too” Jojo hastily adds. “I think it’s a good look, leave them on.”

 

Ahhh, they’re a great bunch of gals altogether which is why in January when my phone pings with gentle enquiries as to who’s in and who’s out of the August bank holiday trip I’m the first to say “Me! Absolutely and totally, me!”

 

You know the craic yourselves. All year you make decisions, tick off ‘to do’ lists, and suffer the vagaries of Irish weather, and you’re pure melted. “What’s this you say? (Those loyal readers who’ve seen my earlier post) Were you not just on holiday?” Well yes indeed I was, and I waved my family off in a taxi before stepping on a train and choo-chooing my way back down the coast to Calella on the Costa Barcelona. But that was a family holiday, and while I’d be the first to say that I’m somewhat keen on LSB and am reasonably fond of my children, there’s still quite a degree of being on, being at their service, being a general harried dogbody. A holiday with a four and a five year old can be quite an intense experience; hence I recommend an immediate trip afterwards to recover. Preferably with an all-inclusive deal so there’s no bickering or standing around being polite debating which tapas bar to frequent and thus precious time is saved to sip cava and sun yourself until all’s no more.

 

As a group our pleasures are uncomplicated. There is much sunbathing and swimming. We paint each other’s nails and share make up tips and practise the perfect fish-tail braids. (Note that I am only ever the recipient of such beauty advice because such things are not my forte. I love it: I practically bask, luxuriating in the pampering session). We take in the absolute wonder that is the evening attire of continentals, saying things like “Check out that fascinator on yer wan over there,” or “Canary yellow jeans, hmmm, it’s a courageous choice isn’t it, for yon fella, and him near seventy.” (As if I’m one to talk, me of the aforementioned pants.)

 

And it’s not all sloth and gluttony, oh no, I’m far too Protestant for that. Happily my friend Fie is there to take me in hand and I accompany her with whatever her training programme dictates. Fiona, you see, is an all-round-super-person and is only going to compete in Calella’s Iron Man competition next month. Yes, I was pacing her up and down the sea front, all thrilled with myself that I was fit to train with a proper triathlete. Plod plod plod we went, for kilometre after kilometre and then WHOOSH! straight in to the surf for an epic cool down before heading back for a hotel breakfast of champions.

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Training is infinitely more fun in Catalonia: so much to feast the eye upon. There are always muscular men striding past with the flimsiest of chihuahuas, or cycling by gamely with a Yorkie in their bicycle basket. (I always think the Southern European men are more comfortable with their feminine sides.) Or the sheer loveliness of seeing the elderly enjoying a gentle stroll hand in hand, or having a pedal at an outdoor gym. “I’ve a business idea,” I puff to Fie, as I try to match her stride. “Catalan trips for the very old. No tours or sight-seeing, none of that bollox, no. Tapas. Beautiful Rioja. Gentle trots by the beachfront and let them feast their eyes on the waves. Simple pleasures. You’re guaranteed that the sheer beauty of it will do for at least one of them, but you could get a deal with a local undertaker. I mean if I was going to die at 95, I’d be delighted if it was after a slice of manchego and a plate of Iberian ham.” Fiona just nods, and jogs on. She’s nice that way.

So other than a wee go down the slide by the pool it was quite calm until the Sunday, when the cava levels in the system were at a peak and suddenly we were throwing ourselves with gusto into pool side zumba; LOVING the bippity-bop of the Euro-pop; participating with glee in the impromptu foam party and some amongst us maybe even had a teeny little (partial) skinny dip after a strong mojito at the glorious beach bar on the final night. Yes, it would seem as though a little steam needed to be let off and happily we’ve all gone our separate ways somewhat decompressed.

Sour? Me? No, you’ve definitely mistaken me with someone else.;)

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If you can keep your MAC when all about you are losing theirs and blaming LSB

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“I should update my blog,” I say to LSB. “Facebook has been pestering me to post something, although I can’t really be arsed.” “Well just check in and say you’re on holiday, so you haven’t had anything to be sour about,” he suggests. “Ahem?” I raise an eyebrow. “Fair enough,” says he, “you were fucking furious for the first 4 days.” I couldn’t disagree. It started in Belfast, at the airport. Normally I try to pack light but this time we decided to check in a big bag, and so thrilled was I at the prospect of lots of different ensembles that I went berserk accordingly. All the shite of the day was chucked in: piles of clothes, emollients of every kind, books, kids’ stuff; no end to it.

So we arrived with 5 bags of differing sizes and at the last minute I threw in 2 cartons of Ribena for the girls, because the little one doesn’t drink enough and I have a terrible fear of children being dehydrated. Some people would encourage this on an Easyjet flight, but not me. But sure I forgot all about the juice and a commotion at security ensued: LSB apologising about liquids while putting his shoes and his belt back on and throwing his loose change all over the joint, while I grappled with the children and was X-rayed to rule out harbouring anything incendiary on my person.  We both acknowledged the grey laptop lying in the bottom of the self-same grey tray but each assumed the other had it and the upshot was we found ourselves at 36 000 feet and LSB turned and said do you have the Mac there and I said no, it’s in your bag, you know the LAPTOP bag and he says but sure you use it as much as I do so it could be in your bag, so no, it was left at Aldergrove. There was plenty sourness I can tell you. The only incendiary thing about me was my temper.

 

(Incidentally, when the long suffering father-in-law comes out a week later to join us, so we can inflict our children upon him, he collects the Mac, then forgets his own keys at departures and so we’re all now on first name terms with Derek, who’s in charge of lost property at the airport. And very civil he is too.)

 

I had these romantic notions of tapping away on the balcony while the children slept, sipping a Limón Damm and doing writerish things by the light of the moon. I also had a deadline to adhere to so there was a certain urgency too. But alas, the hotel room to which we are assigned lacked a balcony altogether, and played Godawful Euro-pop til 11 each night. It was small and cramped and we may aswell not have bothered bringing all the clothes because they ended up strewn about, since the children like at least 3 changes per day we found ourselves trapped in a sea of sandy, trampled garments.

In response to not having to do any work I got stuck into the wine with lunch then after an attempted siesta with the mad children launching themselves about, I endeavoured to shake off the inertia with the delightfully named carajillo which is an expresso with Baileys. Before you know it then it’s time for dinner with lovely Rioja. So between the shite disco music and the messy room and the hyperactive children, plus my fully indulged alcoholic tendencies, I started to get crabbed in the extreme. Then I would berate myself for being in such a sour mood when the sun is shining and that aside from the rubbish room the hotel and staff were actually lovely and the Catalans are being stoical and ‘business-as-usual-like’ when terrorists are ploughing into civilians only 70km down the road. In fairness maybe that’s what had me demented, with poor LSB leaping with alacrity in front of any TV screens and discreetly pointing to the concrete barriers which had been hastily installed as a deterrent to any would be terrorists in our neck of the woods.

So alas, I was none to sane for the first part of the trip but now LSB has flown home with the minis and I’ve found a most pleasant hostel for the night, before I traipse back down the coast again to meet my friends and sip cava by the poolside while putting this topsy-turvy world to rites. I am now in sole custody of the laptop so if I lose the fecker I’ll only have myself to blame, and I bet I probably won’t even open it after tomorrow.

SWB is sunny-side-up

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I’ve given up trying to eat breakfast with the family. I only end up with indigestion and that seems an inauspicious way to start the day. So I sip a coffee or a ginger tea while assembling lunches and being ordered about by my mini-dictators, and once they’re deposited at school or summer scheme I break my fast in peace, and usually in one of my favourite coffee shops.

I blame my mother. I usually do, if you’re familiar with my blog, but the woman has a lot to answer for. Sure who could settle for a bowl of cornflakes after the the decadent breakfasts she used to put down to us when we were little.  Not really a morning person, (how could she have been, neither my brother or I slept until 4am until we were about two,) she deliberately booked us into the later session of nursery so mornings could be a more relaxed affair. Being a child of the country, she was always keen on a good feed of a morning, and indeed she dished out a veritable smorgasbord. There was freshly squeezed orange juice, carefully checked for errant pips. Sometimes there was sliced pineapple or mango, but inevitably these were served up with deep sighs of disappointment, for back then the fruit didn’t seem to make the journey from the tropics unscathed and were inevitably deemed bereft of flavour “and at the price of them too.” Then she would fastidiously de-seed grapes, so we’d be spared the indignity of having to spit the seeds out ourselves. I remember being horrified when I saw a wee friend having to de-seed her own grapes because her mum didn’t get going with the paring knife. To me, that was tantamount to neglect.

After the fresh fruit course came soft-boiled eggs, with a knob of butter  on top, for added cholesterol. “Soldiers or sailors?” she’d inquire as to what our morning preference was for the width of our dippers (sailors were wider, apparently). Then we’d plough in, my brother and I, digging out every last bit of yolk and white (“mind the shell now!”) and requesting more buttered toast to complete the task at hand. We’d finish by up-ending them and presenting them to our granddad (who lived with us) who’d pretend to tuck in to one, only to find its innards already gouged out. Oh, how we chuckled….

There may have been more toast, cut this time in triangles and liberally spread with homemade preserves, usually from strawberries picked by ourselves from the ‘pick-your-own’ fields in Ballywalter. Particular tableware was employed, because children can be fussy creatures and woe betide the thoughtless parent who serves up such dainty fare as boiled eggs in a displeasing receptacle. I recall the vivid primary shades of a plastic tablecloth, and the way the sunlight spliced diagonally through the dining room, illuminating our repast.

While Mum would be preparing this feast I’d be generally clobbering her round the legs with a book, or battering her with a doll that needed its dress put on. In these instances she’d shout “Take that away in to your granddad!” who seemed never to grow tired of reading my favourite story, “The Little Lamb” or wrestling some doll into the chosen attire for the day ahead. (You can deduce from this that I was a right royal pain in the arse).

As we got older the breakfasts were adapted to fit the time constraints of the school run. Sausages (shortened to sages in our house) and bacon were cooked the night before and popped into a buttered roll to ensure we’d time to ingest them. On many a night Mum would leap up from Coronation Street yelling ‘The SAGES!” to go and yank their cremated remains from the oven. My grandmother, who also lived with us, used to make a large saucepan of porridge of an evening in the winter, and I would be handed a small bowlful before bed. She used to wear a blue housecoat or overall, and I remember its rustle as she stood stirring for what seemed liked an age at the stove. The bowls would be covered by a side plate and stacked, one atop the other, to be reheated in the microwave the next morning. Something about a cold breakfast seemed to send shudders down the spine of my family. It was inconceivable, that one should wake up, and eat cereal with milk straight from the fridge, especially on a morning when there was ice on the ground and it would have ‘foundered you’. There were dark mutterings about some auld doll who fore-went her cup of tea one morning and was found collapsed at a bus stop somewhere near Kilrea.

I’ve never been able to replicate eggs or porridge like that made by my mum or my grandmother, and aside from a period of buggering about with over-night oats and compote I’ve more or less given up. So in the light of this, is it any wonder that when I got my bank statement this morning there was nothing only contactless payments to Established on Hill Street and Kaffe O? As I said, I blame my mother entirely.

Anyway, we’re off to Spain on Monday, where I’ll swap my eggs for croissants and cafe con leche and tell my children to serve their wee selves from the all-you-can-eat buffet and leave me in peace. I’m almost levitating with excitement.

SWB needs her head showered

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Has anyone else’s off-spring been total melters this summer? Mine have been extremely bold the last couple of weeks; I think their aim in life has been to render me an incoherent and gibbering wreck. The house has been trashed. Many of the newly painted walls boast peeling patches, where they have ‘Pritt-sticked’ their artistic endeavours. They’ve turned into little fashionistas and go through several ensembles a day, so every conceivable space is strewn with clothes. The laundry’s a riot, I can tell you. They have erected a ‘slide of death’ in the garden, where the toddler sized slide has been placed at a jaunty angle above a short drop. This provides a thrill for them but alas proves an issue when actual toddlers visit, and mine refuse to re-situate the said slide and behave in a manner which complies with normal health and safety standards. In these instances it’s usually up to me to play ‘catch the infant’ while the poor guest drinks coffee with a bemused expression.

 

Last week’s misdemeanour of note however, was when the small one nabbed my engagement ring and chucked it in her dressing up box. Two days I spent looking for it, achieving very little else until it was located. At least in the fun charade of ‘hunt-the-ring’ I found a missing shoe, a make-up bag and a tenner. Then finally, I thought I’d take a look in their room (or pit) where I probably ought to have started, to be honest. “THERE IT IS!!” I shrieked, as I shook a witch’s costume (how apt) and clunk, out it fell. “Oh yes,” she says, mild as can be. “I dropped it in there.” She’d sworn she’d never seen the ring, let alone touch it. Amnesia when it suits her, clearly. She’ll go far if she fancies a career in politics.

 

Back to their other foibles. They have taken agin being washed, in either tub or shower. After an episode tonight in which all was well and truly soaked, the small one told me I was definitely going back to mummy shop, sharpish. “Can’t bloody wait,” I said. (My language has gone to the dogs these holidays. LSB keeps giving me wild dirty looks for shrieking “Will you pick this shit off the floor before I break my bloody neck?” It hasn’t been the most tranquil of abodes, to be sure.) “Will there be other mums there?” I enquired. “Yes,” she nodded. “What about tea? I asked. “Will there be plenty of tea, and maybe a biscuit?” “Yes” said she. “And, you can sit on a shelf with the other mummies.” Sounded fair enough, as long as there was no laundry involved. “Great. Can’t wait. When am I going?” “Now,” she went on, “But they’ll be no wine, or dancing. Just cup-of-tea-ing.” The other one nodded, solemnly. Wine or no wine, I was all for packing a bag.

 

Interestingly, there has never been any mention of a Daddy Shop. That’s probably because their dad takes them to the cinema then goes to Forestside to buy them each a pair of dungarees but comes home with a whole new wardrobe for the pair of them, plus pink hair extensions. Just what I need, more garments through which to wade.

 

I think upstairs in Brewbot could be the perfect Mummy Club. I’m happy to join any of the other ‘returned goods’ of an evening. Mums or dads, anyone’s welcome, and they’ll be sympathy aplenty for those deemed unworthy by their rude and entitled progeny. No wine, my arse.