Beast 2: A day in the life

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5.35 am

Wake up. Must’ve fallen asleep again last night by accident. I’ll really have to work on that. Being a Big Boy because I’m 3 now is hard work. Look around the room, noting the darkness all around and the silence in rest of the house. It’s a bit quiet so I decide it must be time to get up. Holler for mummy and daddy and give the wall a few kicks for good measure. Can hear mutterings and grumblings from down the hall but no one comes. Huh. They probably didn’t hear me. That happens all the time.  Better up my game. Hop out of bed. Rattle the door handle a few times until it opens. Leap over that silly gate they put there. Run down the landing as loudly as possible. Actually I ought to yell for my brother too, he’s going to want to get in on this action. Smash his door in while calling for him to get up. Throw open mummy and daddy’s door, leg it inside and leap onto the bed. Realise I’m not quite tall enough for that yet so grab the large person laying there and pull myself up, clambering over the top. Be sure to do it the wrong way round to ensure they get a good load of wet, nappy clad bum in the face. Jump up and down until the grumpy hairy one – daddy – says “for the love of God Oscar get back in your room, it’s not time to get up yet.” Ignore completely until taken downstairs. 

7am

It’s time for breakfast. I’m definitely hungry because dinner was a long time ago. Mummy – the squidgy warm one – asks whether I want cereal or toast or porridge for breakfast. I tell her toast. Ignore her when asked to get up to the table. Repeat until she comes in and pulls me up by my armpits and tries to put me in that plastic chair that she always straps me into. Go stiff as a board so she has to grunt a bit while trying to force me in whilst shouting for the hairy one to come and help. Decide it’ll be even more funny to blow raspberries in her face at the same time. Huh. She doesn’t seem amused. Oh well. Look at the toast she’s put down. Swipe the plate off the table onto the floor and scream “I DIDN’T WANT TOAST!”  because clearly she didn’t understand that when I said I wanted toast I meant cereal. 

9am

It’s time to drop my brother off at school. He always gets way too much attention when the squishy one is leaving him in the classroom. Anyone would think he’s special or something. Decide they all need to look at me again so I think i’ll cause a massive scene by sitting on the floor, kicking anyone that comes close, hissing like a feral cat and crying because I’m not allowed to play with the pencil sharpeners. 

10.30am

Squidgy’s taken me to heaven. This place is great! Slides, ball pits, padded cages, sweets and so many other people to barrel into. Squidgy doesn’t seem quite as thrilled to be here as I am; especially when other grown ups go over to her and then point over at me and wave their arms around. Oh well. I’m having a great time. She even lets me have a jam sammidge for lunch. What a time to be alive. 

2pm

Back home and squidgy’s doing boring things like getting the “bloody lunch boxes” ready. She really hates doing lunch boxes because she complains the whole time about having too much to do. She seems busy so I’ll help her do some cleaning. The washing up liquid is right on the edge of the sink. If I just reach up a bit more….got it. Right. The floor probably needs a wash. Give it a good squirt all over the place…bit more…but more….ahhhh that’s the ticket. This is going to be so clean. Oh look, mummy’s seen how helpful I’m being. She’s coming over to admire how clean the floor is – wha – why is she making those funny squeaky noises? Oh she’s shouting now. I don’t think she appreciates my help. Well that’s just rude. Now I’ve been sent to have a timeout? What? Well that’s the last time I help her out.  Ungrateful. 

3.15pm

Back at school to pick up the other one. I was quite enjoying having her to myself but now we’ve got to pick him up. Squidgy makes me walk all the way, muttering about how I seem to have “too much energy” and how it’s “driving her crackers.” Actually I’d quite like some crackers right now but she keeps saying she doesn’t have any. This isn’t acceptable so perhaps wailing “I NEED A SNACK! I’M EMPTY! EMPTY!EMPTY!  will produce some results. Nada. She says I can have an apple when I get home. Hmmph. She tells me to shhhh so she can talk to the other grown ups about more boring things like dieting and work while she watches out for my brother. Jeez. She’s so obsessed with him. 

5pm

Dinner time. Peas. Eurgh. I don’t know what she expects me to do with them other than flick them across the table or flatten them with my fingers. I mean, she can’t possibly think I’m going to eat them? Squidgy’s back in the kitchen drinking her grown up red juice and looking at her phone. She doesn’t seem to care about the peas anymore. 

6pm

Bath time. I’m enjoying splashing around in the lovely warm bubbly water. Such fun. With the bubbles and the toys and splashing…what could possibly go wr- OH GOD IT’S HAIR WASH NIGHT WHY DOES SHE INSIST ON WASHING IT SO OFTEN OH GOD SHE’S TIPPING IT OVER MY HEAD – I’M TRYING TO PROTEST BUT IT’S GOING IN MY MOUTH AND NOW IT’S UP MY NOSE ABORT ABORT ABORT THE ONLY THING TO DO IN THIS SITUATION IS THRASH AROUND AND SCREAM HYSTERICALLY UNTIL SHE STOPS TIPPING IT OVER – oh. She’s finished. Well I guess that wasn’t so bad. Wait a minute. What does she have in her hand now? Is that a toothbrush? Again? She only brushed them this morning! I guess she really likes getting toothpasty phlegm in her eyes. 

6.30 

Story and bedtime. Best part of the day. Squidgy reads me The Gruffalo and tells Jasper to stay in his room so she’s all mine again. Then daddy comes in half way through and starts making me laugh. Mummy gets cross with daddy and tells him to stop over exciting me at bedtime. Daddy ignores her (he probably can’t hear her because he’s so hairy) and carries on. We have to start The Gruffalo again once mummy tells daddy he can “deal with it” when I won’t go to sleep and he soon leaves the room. We have a big cuddle and I make mummy sing twinkle twinkle. She laughs when I say twinkle because it comes out like ‘tinkle’. I don’t know why she thinks that’s funny but, ok. God adults are weird. Anywho, then I make her sing it again. And again. The next time I ask she says no so it’s time for the waterworks. Here they come. Ah yes there we go…twinkle twinkle little star….lovely. Finally I let her switch the light off because I suppose I am a little bit tired. One more cuddle and off mummy goes. 

7.30. Actually as it happens I guess I wasn’t that tired. Meh, who knew. This bed’s good for bouncing though. And the walls are great for kicking again. Maybe I’ll sing everyone a song because I’m so happy and awake. Oh. It doesn’t sound like mummy likes my song because she’s telling me to “pack it in” before she calls grandma. I wish she would call grandma because grandmas is much better than here. Oh well now she’s saying I can’t go to grandmas again if I don’t stop singing and kicking. Well I guess that’s that then. Best give it a rest because I do want to go to grandmas. Maybe I’ll just close my eyes just for a minute. I hope I don’t fall asleep again by accident…

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The mums’ night out: when you’re so over the hill you can’t even see the hill anymore

Organising the night out
*group chat* *bazillions of messages every time you check your phone*

Mum 1 – I’ve got a wedding that day – then there’s a family do that weekend. Mum 2 – That night husband is working so can’t go out then. And that one there’s a work do so can’t do that one. Mum 3 – That next one we’re on holiday and the one after that it’s our anniversary so had better not book that. Then I’ve got that thing the week after. Mum 4 – Oh and that one is one of the kids’ birthdays so not that either, then the next one there’s a family barbecue…so er… I guess we’re all free in about 6 months? That sound ok for everyone?

A week before

Oh god I’ve agreed to go out next week, I’ve just remembered. What will I wear? *looks through wardrobe half heartedly* Those lovely pre children jeans? Nope, can’t even get them over my knees. That mini skirt there? Oops no, not that either, that makes me look like a sausage.  A proper meaty sausage that has a tear in the skin so some of the sausage meat bulges out in an unsightly manner. Oooooh I know, what about that beautiful dress from about 8 years ago? Ah. That appears to have been half eaten by moths. Ok. Well I guess there’s that tent-like smock thing? It does appear to be the only thing that fits so it’ll have to do. Maybe if I add a belt or something, how does that lo – oh Jesus – that looks even worse, I really should lay off the cakes and biscuits. Ok, looks like this is the one. *trudge downstairs*

Husband how does this look? Fine? What does ‘fine’ mean? Could you be a bit more specific? ‘Nice’? Really? Does it make me look fat? No? Why are you lying? It clearly does. I CAN’T BELIEVE YOU JUST SAID I LOOK FAT.

Think about painting your nails because it’ll take a week to get all ten fingers done in between all the distractions & consider plucking eyebrows so they don’t look like two caterpillars chasing each other.
Wonder whether, if you did the cabbage diet for 7 days straight, you could end up fitting in something other than the tent. Remember that cabbage is disgusting and end up wearing tent-like smock anyway with unpainted nails, bushy brows, and just settle for telling everyone you meet that you have two children so are still carrying a bit of baby weight. When they say “ahhhh how old is the littlest one?” Mutter “three” as quietly as possible and hope they think you mean three months and not three years.

Getting ready

Getting ready for a night out used to involve all your girlfriends piling into one room, several bottles of wine, pizza,  music, more makeup than the whole of debenhams, a pile of GHDs and a good old gossip. Once you have beasts it turns into trying to put a bit of slap on whilst watching the kids in the bath, and the mirror’s a bit steamy so your foundation doesn’t settle properly (because the room’s damp) then getting splashed every five seconds and smudging your eyeliner, because you’re attempting winged eyeliner again even though you know full well you can’t do it. And all the while having to answer questions like “why are you painting your face mummy” and “where are you going” “can we come” every 5 seconds.
There’s no music: “I HATE THIS MUSIC TURN IT OFF MUMMY, TURN IT OFF NOW” *wails until music is turned off* unless you count the dulcet tones of beast 2 crooning ‘tinkle tinkle’ over and over again, and no wine because you’re going to have to drive somewhere first, what with having been a grown up a few years earlier and having moved to a sensible village. Then you have to fish the little beasts out of the water, thrashing and flailing, ruining the last of your smudged mascara. Attempt to negotiate with the bedtime terrorists about teeth brushing / pyjamas / stories / whilst trying to drag a brush through your hair – realising of course that it’s probably the first time it’s been brushed it all day. If you’re feeling fancy, a go with the curling iron or straighteners might be attempted, but you’ll spend the entire time shouting “I thought I said don’t touch them? They’re hot! Do you want to – ARE YOU TRYING TO BURN YOUR FINGERS?”

So you go ahead and put on your tent, and wrestle yourself into some body-shaper tights in the vain hope they might shave off a couple of pounds. Decide that tomorrow you will definitely start that diet. Properly this time. Dig out some forgotten perfume, give it a spritz and feel pretty decadent for smelling so awesome. You might look like an actual potato with legs but at least you can afford the fancy tights now that you’re over the hill at 30. That’s right, the M & S ones – you’d never have spent that much on them back in your early twenties. Decide that in your expensive tights and fancy perfume, which last saw an outing at a wedding 18 months ago, you look fucking awesome & your husband is lucky to have you. Swan out of the house.

When you’re out

Back in the good old days before beast 1 and 2 came along, and even before husband beast came along, a weekend wasn’t a weekend unless Saturday night was spent in some packed out dive with sticky floors, strobe lighting, pounding bass and overpriced drinks, or failing that, some kind of social happening where alcohol was the main feature. You’d spend the night dancing away, not a care in the world beyond whether you’d get a kebab or chinese on the way home and wondering if the cute guy on the dancefloor was interested.

Post-kids, all of that changes. The idea of a sticky floored bass thumpy dark nightclub gives you cold sweats for various reasons:

The price to get in: A tenner for entry and there’s no guarantee it’s actually good in there? I don’t think so mister.

The smell: grubby toilets, musty furniture, spilt alcohol and a little pile of sick in the corner. Eau du gag.

The bouncers: they now call you madam rather than miss and say “nah you’re alright darling,” and try not to snigger when you ask hopefully if they need to see your ID.

The other patrons: Surely they can’t be older than 12 but they’ve managed to get in somehow and are dressed like something out of a music video in clothes which make your comfortable tent look like a sack. A tenty sack. Watching them totter around on 6 inch stilettos, your Clarkes kitten heels suddenly feel…kinda mumsy. Your earlier euphoria at having on a bit of slap and perfume swiftly wears off when faced with nubile young Abercrombie models all checking tinder for their nearest match rather then actually talking to the other people. Although they wouldn’t talk to you anyway because they’re way too cool for that so I guess it makes no odds.

The music

The day will come where you’ll walk into some kind of establishment and say “what the hell is this music? In fact it’s not music, it’s just noise. Come on ladies, we won’t be able to hear ourselves think in there. Let’s go somewhere else.” *sweep out gracefully then trip over your heels and face plant the nearest wall because you’ve had one too many gin and slimline tonics*

When you do finally find somewhere half decent, which will always be an 80’s or 90’s club,  drunk on spritzers and sweet, sweet, freedom, one of the group will shout “let’s have a dance everyone! Woooo!” and that’ll be you shaking your booty (badly) to Whitney and wham, the spice girls and s club for the next 3 hours. A few of you will be doing the mum dance (handbag on the floor, shuffle round it, wave hands in the air every few beats) and one of the group will have really let loose and be on the table fancying themselves to be one of the girls in coyote ugly. The bonus to this of course is no excersise being required for the next week because dancing burns calories, don’t you know?

In between throwing some mean shapes on the the dancefloor, showing those wipper-snappers what it’s really about, someone will be suggesting jägerbombs. It always seems like such a good idea at the time. Not so much the next day. 

Around midnight, several of the mums will begin checking watches and muttering about the time, worrying about how little Benjamin likes to get up at 5am so if they leave RIGHT NOW, jump into bed, fend off the husband’s advances and fall asleep IMMEDIATELY, they might get about 4 hours’ kip.

The next day

Pre beasts, days after drinking would be spent recounting last night’s events, who did what and to whom, eating your body weight in junk food and lazing on the sofa watching reruns of your favourite tv show. Yeah you were hanging, but you were hanging with the option of going to bed and sleeping until the next day at any point you wanted. Nowadays a hangover isn’t just a hangover, it’s an invitation. An invitation for your husband to be as irritating as possible and your children to be extra shrill and extra stinky.

Feel like you might vomit at the thought of buttering our toast mother? How about you have this massive turd that won’t flush down the toilet or this big pile of sick to clean up, do you fancy that? And while you’re doing that, we’re just going to run around screeching and poking each other so it feels like someone’s boring into your head with an electric drill. Would you like that?

Quite simply, the hangovers are not worth it. They’re 10 times worse than 10 years ago just because you’re 10 years older, and what with having two beasts to entertain all day to boot, the idea of a hangover now is more terrifying than that feeling you get when you see someone you hate in the supermarket and your kid chooses that exact moment to shout in delight: “mummy! Look who it is! Are you going to say hello? HELLO!” Then you end up in the same ailses as them every single time you manage to shake them off. Awkward.

Night out complete, the whole cycle starts again because a month or so later the group chat will restart, like a Phoenix rising from the ashes, and the usual instigator (we’ll call her sue; sue’s akways the one that starts it off) will say, “guys it’s been too long again! We really should meet up more often! When’s everyone free for a girly night?”

Erm, that’d be never sue. Never. Thanks anyway though.

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Pink Pear Bear

Whoever called it soft play has clearly never been to soft play 

Soft play. It sounds so inviting doesn’t it? So alluring. That sounds good, where can I find all of this soft play, you find yourself asking. What a great idea, you think to yourself. Softness. Playing. Happy children. Happy parents. Softly softly, lovely, gentle playing. What could be better than that?

Erm, actually quite a lot of things. 

Having spent a considerable amount of time in soft play centres during the school holidays, and coming to you live from a soft play centre right now, I thought I’d put together a handy guide for those of you fortunate enough to never have been in one.

Odour

The first thing that hits you is the smell. Most soft plays will have a cafe with a jaunty name, like ‘jungle cafe’ or ‘coffee stop’. This is a cheerful facade and what lays behind is mostly processed sugar, terrible coffee, E numbers and a host of beige / neon dinner options like potato smilies, sausages and beans, because no kid ever wants anything other than a potato smiley, obviously. Potato smilies need to be cooked fresh from the freezer, so the first thing you’ll smell on entry is processed potato, frying meat and the tang of microwaved beans. If you sniff very carefully, and I advise doing so only with caution, you’ll also catch the faint whiff of broken hopes and dreams of all the parents sat at the little plastic tables. Unless you’re sat near the toilets, in which case all you’ll smell is piss, with the occasional fart or shitty nappy floating by. 

Now for all the salty, sugary, evil goodness, these cafes will charge an exorbitant amount, which you’re forced to pay. There will be little (enormous) ‘polite’ signs scattered around the place informing you that if you dare eat food not purchased from the bankrupt cafe, you’ll be asked to leave, thus wasting the astronomical amount you’ve also paid to get in the place in the first place. So take about £300, because that’s how much you’ll need to get in and keep everyone fed and watered for approximately half an hour.

Noise

Cacophony is the only word to describe the noise level in one of the many ‘recreational’ establishments dotted all around the country right now. Adults desperate for a conversation that’s not about fireman Sam, who needs a poo, or who’s a smelly bum head, will be clubbed together in small groups supping on hideously bad coffee or scalding tea tinged with that uht milk taste, trying to get more than a sentence out before being interrupted. Kids will be running amock, screeching like wendigos, and someone’s kid, somewhere in the corner, will be wailing because they’ve just vommed all over the equipment. Add to that the sound of 90’s pop (we’ve got a bit of the spice girls and five going on in the background here) plus the go-karts, arcade games and tannoy announcements (please can all parents remind their children NOT TO CLIMB UP THE SLIDE) and you’ve got yourself a hideous clash of sounds worse than being stuck in a room with a group of beliebers who have just been told Bieber’s got a new girlfriend.

Temperature 

When you first go in, it’s freezing. Air con on full blast, presumably because in about 64 seconds your Beasts will have legged it and be rosy cheeked and sweating from the breathtaking thrill of throwing themselves down some padded stairs or squeezing through giant rollers into a dirty ball pit absolutely infested with bacteria. So the grown ups all sit around in their grown up cardigans, dark circles under their eyes and exhaustion etched on their pale little faces, shivering away. Apart, of course, from that woman who will be in a ridiculously short skirt and tank top, a pair of heels and a full face of makeup, while the rest of us scrubbers make do with our Tesco jeans and faded hoodies, which will inevitably be smeared with something or other. 

Then all of a sudden, with little or no warning, once the place is packed to the rafters and you’ve started to contemplate whether death might be a preferable alternative to never having to do this again, the temperature will rocket exponentially until it’s so hot you’re sure you’ve started the menopause early. 

The kids

You go to a soft play center with the idea that your little darlings are going to run off to play, maybe make a friend or two while they’re doing it, and everyone will have a lovely time. If your kids do this, then lucky fucking you because my kids must get together beforehand, fist bump and whisper “thug life forever” at each other before barelling in there like wrecking balls. We’ve had barging, shoving, pinching, arm twisting, biting, and even an attempted gouging. Not all on the same day, but they’ve all happened. Now you might be saying ‘clearly you’re not an effective enough parent’ and you’re probably right, but they’re not called Beast 1 & 2 for nothing, and it’s near on impossible to get up in those structures quick enough to stop a swift poke in the eye, especially if you’ve had one too many (packets of) biscuits like me and are not thin as a rake. I don’t want to be that headline on the front of The Sun which reads ‘OBESE WOMAN GETS STUCK IN CHILDREN’S SLIDE AT SOFT PLAY AND HAS TO BE CUT FREE’. It’s also not just my children (hopefully) that get a bit ‘Handsy’ so when you put them in a room all together, fill them with sugar and fruit shoots and let them loose, someone’s getting a swift kick for hogging the giant Lego. Think of it like anarchy in a tiny army wearing Thomas the Tank pants and adjustable waist trousers, if you will. The word savage doesn’t even come close. 

You’ll also, if you’ve taken multiple children, stand up approximately every 2 minutes and say: “wait, hang on, where did the other one go?” Narrow eyes and try to identify your beast out of a whole herd of beasts. See the top of a head, which you’re certain belongs to your beast, and sit down again.

The other parents and guardians 

“Er excuse me, EXCUSE ME? Is that your child over there?” 
Avoid eye contact, put phone down, glance over, say “gosh no, I think his parents are over there” and point vaguely in any direction that’s away from you. Then spend the rest of your stay having to pretend your kid isn’t your kid. Awkward. 

Inevitably, all the time spent playing with them or sat watching them like a hawk from the hard, uncomfortable plastic chairs, will be rendered completely pointless by the moment you decide they’re playing quite nicely so you’ll look down at your phone for a few minutes and make good use of the free wifi. This will always be the moment one of your beasts does something, and the keeper of little Rufus (who to be fair, was being absolutely ghastly and probably deserved to be rugby tackled down the slide) decides that you’re the shittest person in the world for not propping your eyes open with little sticks and staring at your beasts the entire time. 

The cost 

“Just stand up against that little measuring stick for me…that’s right… Oh look how big you both are! That’ll be a million pounds please. Oh and just remember you have to only eat food purchased here, so as you’re going to be here all day to make the most of the million pounds entry tariff, you’ll probably want another million if you don’t plan on starving.” *sweet smile*
By the time you’ve left, you’ll be considering making a phone call to the bank so you can talk about remortgaging your home just to afford another trip to soft play. 

Despite all of these things, you’ll keep going back. Mostly just for the opportunity to sit down for five minutes and know your beasts are completely contained so although you might have to deal with some moderate violence, offensive smells, clashing sounds and the odd spot of bankruptcy, it beats sitting at home trying to stop them beating the crap out of each other (and your house.) 

We also go back because The Beasts adore soft play and I do like to give myself a pat on the back for being an awesome fucking parent. So although you shouldn’t be fooled by the false advertising that is ‘soft play’ – more like ‘hunger games in a warehouse’, once you’ve started, you won’t be able to stop. So I guess the next time you do go, the only thing to do is wish you luck. And a lottery windfall to pay for it. May the odds be ever in your favour. Godspeed. 

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They’re not homeless, I promise 

Beasts come with various needs, and trying to convince them to do anything for themselves is often more trouble than it’s worth – and a perfect waste of wine drinking time, so it usually falls to mummy to keep them clean, generally well,  clothed and  fed. Unless mummy loses her shit and insists daddy does it because mummy’s about to go all Britney in the mid 2000’s.  I know I should be encouraging independence with my little monsters, but one has only so much patience  (anyone who has ever met me will confirm I have an especially small amount) before the homicidal rage / desperate frustration kicks in & I just have to intervene and do it for them. On the occasions where we throw caution to the wind and let them do things for themselves we end up 5 hours late with children that look like nobody owns them, with clothes on inside out and mismatched shoes, dirty faces and hungry bellies where no one’s eaten any dinner. 

Such simple things for an adult to do, or even a child who is not Beastly could manage perfectly fine. My children, as you know, are beastly, so:

Nose Blowing:

A task that is necessary when snot invades as mummy can’t handle crusty green slime all over noses. Or that noise they make when it’s about to drop out and they hock it back like they’re doing a line of cocaine. So when it’s time to blow, we end up with mummy holding a tissue in place and saying “just blow from your nose, not your mouth – no, no, not out of your mouth, you need it to come out of your nose…oh for god’s sake how hard is it to just blow your nose…keep your mouth closed…ok stop stop stop you’re covering me in spit” for about 5 minutes until just giving up and accepting that they’re going to keep snorting back boogers or letting nasal phlegm slide down their faces for the next week.  

Teeth brushing:

“open up, no don’t bite it please. Come on just….ahhhh….bit more….yes I know it’s minty, no I don’t think you can get chocolate flavour toothpaste…well just because people like mint ok? Look, the more you try and complain about the toothpaste the longer this will take” 

“Ok good now spit – wha – not all over the wall! Get it in the sink! In the sink! Rinse it away please – alright you can turn the tap off now. Turn it off now. TURN IT OFF NOW YOU’RE GOING TO FLOOD THE WHOLE HOUSE” 

Every. Single. Day. Morning and night. 

Hair washing: 

Given the amount of fuss my Beasts make about a simple hair wash you’d be forgiven for thinking they were being water boarded, not just having the encrusted food, dirt, glitter, glue and everything in between removed from their hair. Sometimes mummy actually closes the window before operation hair wash commences just so that good citizens walking past don’t mistake the hysterical shrieks for abuse and call the police on us.

Bum wiping:

You know you’re a parent when the sound of a cheerful “FINISHED” fills you with a sense of dread and a vague urge to vom. Plus having to buy those fancy toilet wipes; how is it impossible to get a child’s bum clean using regular old dry bog roll and yet  adults manage perfectly fine? That’s an ‘in the shower’ thought right there for you. You’re welcome. 

Giving medicine:

“Ok so he just needs these absolutely disgusting antibiotics 4 times a day for the next week, an hour before food or on an empty stomach.”

1. Stare at doctor in disbelief

2. How many times a day?

3. An hour before food or on an empty stomach? All they do is eat. All the time.

4. It tastes like dirty dishwater 

5: It looks like Kung po sauce when it’s all cold and congealed the next day  because you were too lazy to wash up the take away tub the evening before 

5. There’s no way this is possible 

In an effort to get the medicine in, mummy finds herself trying threats: (there will be no grandma’s EVER AGAIN). Bribes, wheedling, begging; (sob into hands – please just take the medicine). Outright lies; (it’s calpol I swear), wild promises; (I’ll get you a pony) and mixing it into yogurt (they’re not idiots, that never works). Ends up pinning them down and squirting it at the back of their throats out of that little calpol syringe and feeling deeply unsatisfied about the hollow victory. Cries a bit when they puke it back up three minutes later. 

Nail clipping:

Amid frantic cries of “don’t chop my toes off mummy!” And “don’t mummy! I need my nails! I NEED THEM!” – dodging sharp bits of childrens’ dirty nails flying at you to avoid taking a hit in the eye should be considered an Olympic sport. It takes some real skill to avoid shards of nail hurtling straight towards your face whist still gripping said toes or fingers to get the clipping over and done with as quickly as possible. 

Dressing: 

If I had a tenner in my bank account for every time one of my children put their clothes on the first time they were asked to put their clothes on, I’d be overdrawn. In fact I’m always overdrawn, so that was a pretty pointless anecdote.

Anyway, as it is, I end up shouting ‘arms in’ ‘feet in’ ‘legs in’ ‘head in’ OH FOR PETE’S SAKE WILL YOU PUT YOUR ARMS IN like a lunatic whilst trying to get the garments over various body parts and limbs, all of which at that moment have gone ‘floppy like a fish mummy ahahahaha’ – a floppy fish which then takes mummy’s eye out with a well aimed toe or finger.

“Oh and who’s Pete mummy?”

“Don’t worry about Pete. Just get your shoes on. Over there, where they always are. WELL IF YOU CAN’T MANAGE TO GET THEM ON YOUR FEET I GUESS YOU’LL HAVE TO GO BAREFOOT”

Blowing food:

I seem to have ended up with deficient children who can find plenty of breath and spit to blow raspberries in your face, with extra enthusiasm when being asked to stop blowing raspberries, and enough hot air to complain incessantly about everything, and yet can’t find enough puff to blow on a hot fish finger before eating it. This results in soggy orange chunks being spat out dramatically whist beast in question yells IT’S TOO HOT! BLOW IT MUMMY, BLOW IT! 

Bonus points if you’re sniggering at “blow it” (Stop it, you.)

Sun cream:

The only way to describe it is wrestling a slippy octopus and getting thick white cream (steady) all over your best jeans* and knowing it won’t come out in the wash. 

*and by best, I mean the only ones that fit 

Washing:

“Right everyone needs to wash bums, willies and faces please. No, just – do your faces first please – oh god – no not your bum first…hang on, mummy will do your face, you do your bum…no mummy’s not doing your bum too, bums are private…ok yes you can stop bending over now…stand back up please” *averts eyes* 

Sometimes, given the list above, my biggest achievement in a week will just be that we all got out the house on time & nobody cried doing it, and everyone is clean, presentable, fully dressed, not covered in grub, with shoes on the right feet. Two shoes the same, not two different ones.

 Well I’m pretty sure that’ll be my biggest achievement, because I don’t think it’s happened yet 🤔

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MouseMoo

Sorry, Colin 

Spend 8 minutes 36 seconds on hold to the Gas company  – during this time The Beasts are so quiet and well behaved I have to poke my head round the door to check they’re still alive. 

Call connects. 

“Good afternoon you’re through to Colin, how can I help today?”

“Oh hi there Colin I’m just ringing to check on our tariff, I had a letter through the post about it?”

*bored sounding* “what’s your account number?”

“Oh, er, I have it here. It’s 476…” 

(Hysterical screams from the other room) “Mummy!! MUMMY! OSCAR’S PINCHING ME, MUMMY HELP, HELP!”

“Sorry Colin, one sec” – dash into room to find beast 1 completely at the mercy of beast 2 in a headlock.
(Still holding phone) “oh for goodness sake Jasper, you’re 5, just push him off and tell him to stop- Oscar leave your brother alone please. Just go and find something to do that doesn’t involve beating each other up. Jesus.” *shakes head*

Physically seperate beasts & return to kitchen. 

“Sorry Colin, here’s the rest of the account number.”

*tapping*

“Ok Mrs Patterson if you could just confirm a few security details – what’s your postcode and date of birth?”

“Yes it’s – (muffled yells) what’s that? What? You’ll have to speak up, what are you saying? A poo do you need?”

*sounds concerned and rather alarmed* “Erm no I’m ok right now thanks Mrs Patterson, if you could just give me those details and we’ll get you through security?”

“What? Oh sorry Colin, I wasn’t asking you if…oh never mind. Right, postcode and date of birth, there you go.”

“Ok and what’s your monthly payment?”

“It’s about seventy -” *beast 2 tapping leg persistently* *glance down to see a felt tip pen in his hand & immediately feel intense trepidation.* “where did you get that pen? Where did you find that?”

“Sorry Mrs Patterson? My pen? Just erm…out of our cupboard?”

“Huh? Oh, God, no not you Colin, sorry, hang on”

*primly* “No problem” (clearly the biggest problem in the world) 

“Give me that pen please Oscar, have you drawn on anything?” 

Enter dining room to see red scrawl all over the vinyl floor. Drop urgently to hands and knees and start rubbing with a baby wipe (which is how I do all of the cleaning) to remove before Daddy beast gets home. Can’t be bothered with the lecture about how they were clearly left unsupervised and have to listen to the angry Irish man muttering about “what’s the bloody point paying for nice things in this house if those little shits just draw all over them?” 

“Mrs Patterson? Your monthly payment?”

“Oh. Yes. Right. £76.”

“Ok that’s security completed, so you just want to check your tariff? Have you checked online to see what our current deals are?”

“No, Colin, I haven’t: all I want to do when I’m online in the 10 minutes I get to myself a day, is stalk people on Facebook and watch clips of cats falling off things; I don’t know which tariff is best so I just want you to tell me if there’s a cheaper one please.”

“Right then, ok, let’s have a look. When do you use most of your energy?”

“I don’t have any energy left Colin. I have two small children that may as well be called Satan 1 and Satan 2. All my energy got used a long time ago.”

“Oh – er – no…I meant like, your electricity and gas? Because that’s what you’re calling about?”

*awkward pause* *clear throat and pretend I knew that all along*

“Oh, ha ha, yes I was only joking Colin, we use it pretty much all the time because my little angels can’t leave the tv, lights, fridge, oven, plug sockets or microwave alone. And they eat constantly and need hot baths every day just to get rid of the grime where they’ve rolled in mud or smeared food all over themselves, so we use quite a lot of gas too to cook the food and heat the water.”

“Right, um, ok, well you could try a tariff called -”

“MUMMY I’M FINISHED! WIPE MY BUM!” 

“A tarrif called -”

“Yes just hold your horses a second there Colin, I’m just a bit busy right now.”

“Well…you did call us…so…Erm….usually that means you’re available to talk…”

“Yes alright Colin (sassy pants) just hang on a sec, I’m pretty sure you’re being paid to sit there and talk to me, no one’s paying me to be here you know”

(Call up the stairs with phone still attached to ear) 

“Wipe your own bum please, and wash your hands! And don’t put a whole roll of loo roll down there again either, you blocked the pipes last time” 

Meanwhile: the other beast has found the remote and turned the volume of postman pat up to an unbearable level so we can all hear what a shit postman pat is because he’s lost yet another package and secretly fancies Mrs Goggings.

*laughs uncomfortably* “look, er, Mrs Patterson…you’re clearly otherwise engaged right now, could I suggest that you call us back later when it’s *ahem* a quieter time for you?”

“Oh ho, oh no you don’t Colin. I just spent (exaggerates wildly) half an hour on hold trying to get through to you. We’re doing this now.” *sits wearily at table*

*forced cheeriness* “Sure. Well you could try our tarrif called -”

Beast 2, sensing both weakness and opportunity, scrambles up to the table faster than you can say ‘do we have any wine’, and announces: “I TALK TO DADDY NOW MUMMY”

“No no no it’s not daddy, no it’s Colin about the electricity and -”

Grabs phone, yells “BYE DADDY LOVE YOU” into it then presses the disconnect button. 

Looks at me like: 


*postman pat theme tune plays for the twenty millionth time while mummy wonders how easy it would be to fake own death* 

Guess I’ll just stick with the tariff I’m on then. 🤔

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Mumzilla

I’m the lucky one 


To give a little context to this post, I’m not usually one for long winded ramblings about why kids are so great. Usually it’s pretty much the opposite. I’m also not one for indignant rants about the ignorance of other people because let’s face it, we all know that other people can be right bellends and you’re better off just sticking to the ones you know are pretty decent. That’s just the way it is. Yesterday I overheard a snippet of a conversation and have been mulling it over ever since. Maybe I didn’t hear the rest, maybe there was more. Maybe there wasn’t. Either way it got me thinking. 

So it starts out with Beast 1 having been under the weather for the last couple of days – sore throat, bit of a temperature, general clammy-ness. He insisted on coming with me to town to pick up my new glasses and promised he felt well enough. I did get around to choosing those new frames in the end; I have to say that Sally in specsavers looked pretty alarmed when we walked back in to collect them. 

Errands run, and dodging the twenty or so people loitering outside catching invisible Pokemon with their phones *wtf*, we made our way to Costa as Jasper had a pretty sore throat again so I’d promised an icy drink to make him feel a bit better. Now given how The Beasts usually behave in public, Jasper was being exceptionally good & was waiting patiently in line for our turn. Oscar was at home with daddy so all in all, nothing much to report. It was pretty busy and there weren’t that many staff in, so the line was slow going and usually this would be cause for panic, because if there’s one thing The Beasts definitely do not excel at, it’s behaving themselves in long queues surrounded by cake and hot beverages.

In Jasper’s hand was a chocolate lolly – you know the ones in the foil wrappers that are basically just slabs of chocolate on a stick, and he was allowed to choose this in M & S as a little treat because he wasn’t feeling too great. So anyway, he’s eating his lolly and every so often he pauses to look around, and when he does so, his arm moves automatically and the melted, sloppy top of the lolly gets closer and closer to the lady in front of us. 

Now the lady in front of us was really rather perfect; perfect hair, perfect clothes, perfect nails and general perfectness all round. Stark contast to The Beast and I, who look like we’ve been dragged through a hedge and then smeared in various foodstuffs at the end. Each time the lolly comes close, she glances down in disgust and flicks the (non existent) chocolate off her perfect jeans. This happens about four times. Now I completely understand that a stranger does not want chocolate smeared all over his or her clothes. That’s not what this about, before anyone gets upset. And I wasn’t just watching and letting him do it, as I do feel it’s important to teach children to be mindful & respectful of other people, so each time I reminded him to be careful where he waves his lolly & not to get it on the lady. 

Whilst this is all going on, Jasper’s jabbering away about my glasses, how poorly he’s been, why his drink is taking so long, whether he’s allowed a cake and a Lolly and an icy drink (he isn’t) and to be honest, as a fairly well established parent, some of it just filters out and you hear the main bits (enough to say no to cake, lolly and cooler at any rate) and just nod along to the rest. This clearly isn’t a skill miss perfect in front has mastered however, because it appeared as if Jasper’s chattering was literally and physically hurting her ears, and every few seconds she’d glare at him out of the corner of her eye, wince, then roll her eyes, and then rub her ear in a rather exaggerated fashion. I felt like saying to her: “look, I get it, not everyone loves listening to a small boy talk incessantly at midday on a Sunday while waiting (ages) for a coffee, but he’s really not doing any harm and actually, just cut him some slack – he’s five years old and has as much right as anyone else to stand in this queue and talk to his mother. And the lolly hasn’t touched you once, so calm down.”

But I didn’t. We waited, I manovered Jasper back a bit, and she eye rolled, and at one point I though she was going to break her neck where she was craning it round to check there was no smear of chocolate on her jeans (there wasn’t) and everyone got their drinks. As we slowly walked past on our way out, due to the general fannying around that was going on with getting bags hooked on the right arms and making sure the drink lids were on tight, to her companion I heard her say: “God that kid was getting chocolate all over me. And he was so annoying.” *shudders* to which her companion smirks and says “not a fan of children then, no?” She then replies “eurgh no: I’m lucky enough to be child free thanks.” 

Now this turn of phrase took me aback, as if having children is just a result of terrible bad luck and no one had any choice in the matter, like when you get cancer or run over by a bus or something. Certainly not like our children were carefully planned and very much wanted, and not like there’s thousands of people on this planet that are not lucky enough to be able to have children. And yes I get it that actually, some people just don’t want kids, and I completely respect that choice, but in any event, it is a choice. It’s not random luck. 

In that moment, there was nothing to be gained from stopping and asking her what she meant, not least because the sugar bomb from the chocolate pop was due to detonate and I didn’t want to reinforce her belief any further with a hyper little gerbil hanging off my leg, so I didn’t, but to that lady, there’s some things I could have said. 

I could have said: 

Lucky is having two healthy children.

Lucky is having no problem conceiving those children, having decided that we were ready to bring them into the world.

Lucky is having few problems growing those children. 

Lucky is delivering those children in a hospital, with midwives and doctors and modern medicine, and the NHS. 

Lucky is having enough food to feed those children and having clean water for them to drink. 

Lucky is having decent schools and doctors and dentists and everything you need to keep those children safe, well, educated and (eventually / hopefully) turn them into productive members of society. 

Lucky is having bright, enthusiastic little Beasts who bring light into our lives and surprise us every day. Who make us smile and laugh (and yes, cry into our wine at night sometimes but hey ho, at least I can afford wine – lucky.) Little people who make me question how I see the world and make me consider how I can make the world a better place for them to grow up in. The conversations about whether snails are important and where bubbles come from, does the Gruffalo really live in the Deep Dark Wood and why boys have different bits to girls. What are clouds made out of (cotton wool, obviously) and if bees make honey then do wasps make jam? (No, wasps do nothing for anything and exist only to ruin picnics and fall in your sweet drinks like the bastards they are.)

Being able to get out of boring social events early by looking at your *perfectly awake* children, shaking your head, ruffling their hair and saying “best get you home to bed, SUCH a shame we can’t stay.” Or having an excuse to pile onto the sofa with a bowl (massive bag) of popcorn and the duvet to watch The Little Mermaid. (No, you can’t swap your legs for a fishtail and live with the fishies Jasper.) Reading all the books you used to love from childhood to your own children and falling in love with them all over again – seriously how great was Roald Dahl? And seeing your children fall in love with them too. Sprinkling porridge oats mixed with glitter onto your lawn on Christmas Eve (for the reindeer) and seeing their eyes alight with magic. I think that’s lucky. 

I think lucky is knowing how lucky you are. 

Other than the odd bout of gastroenteritis, which to be fair, is hideous – I can’t say that there’s anything particularly unlucky about the life we have with our children and was surprised at how flippant she was about being lucky to not have kids. Maybe it was just an offhand comment. Maybe it’s a defense mechanism because she’s being trying to conceive for years and been unsuccessful. Maybe she just hates kids. I don’t know. But I wanted to say to her: I see you, and your perfect exterior, and you see me, with my (not) perfect exterior, and you judge me for creating life. You judge me for doing the best I can and giving my child a chocolate pop when he feels unwell. You judge me for having the children that you don’t have and you judge me for allowing my child to irritate you in a queue of people in a shop. And I judge you, for how perfect you are, and how great you look, and how quiet your Sunday’s probably going to be.

It’s a question I’ve asked many times, but where has the solidarity gone? And the tolerance? Children are expected to behave like adults and to be seen and not heard, before they’ve even had the chance to understand what that means. And if you’re carting round a couple (or more) kids and looking frizzy and exhausted on a Sunday afternoon, you’re unlucky, you poor sod. Look at you, you really lucked out there with those accidental children that just appeared out of nowhere. 

Sure. Sometimes they are hard work. Sometimes you wonder if you made the right choices and whether you’re any good at this parenting lark. But sometimes I also sit and wonder if I’ve made the right sandwich for lunch & whether I should have made a different one. I’m still pretty lucky to have a sandwich at all. 

Absolutely sometimes it’s easy to be envious of those people that aren’t woken up a twat o’clock every morning with a poke in the eye and a pat on the head, and sure, sometimes you want to cry when you’ve finally managed to make yourself look presentable in something you don’t feel like ten tonne tessie in, only for one of your kids to vomit all over it or flick yoghurt at you. Yes that’s shit. But there’s so much of it that isn’t shit and that’s what never gets remembered. So to you miss perfect, I should have said, actually I’m the lucky one, not you.

Oh and I also hope that your cake was dry and that you didn’t realise your coffee had gone stone cold before you took a massive slurp. Just because you called my child annoying. Only i’m allowed to do that – because I made him. So there. 

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Should (not) have gone to Specsavers: the Beastly eye tests

I suggest you brace yourself, readers, and buckle up, because this is going to be a bit of a ride. The next time I mention that I’m going to take The Beasts for any kind of appointment single handedly, you have my permission to give me a good slap and ask WTF is wrong with me. I won’t slap you back I promise.

So the day started badly with a 5.22am wake up and general bad tempered-ness from Beast 2. If ever the phrase ‘got out of bed the wrong side’ was relevant, it was today. Two meltdowns before breakfast because 1: I wiped poo off his bum and 2: put his weetabix in the wrong bowl. But I pushed on, thinking, a bit of breakfast and a trip in the car, along with the snacks and bribes I have lined up, and he’ll be fine. Totally. Yep.

He was not fine. I first had an ominous shiver of foreboding when I had to wrestle him into his car seat. Sticking all limbs out like a starfish and going stiff as a board to boot, it took a fair amount of force to man-handle him in there and do up the buckle. He was comparable to one of those display starfish in the sealife centres that are long dead and hard as rock. That is, if dead starfish looked you straight in the eye and screamed in your face the whole time. Beast 1, while this drama was unfolding, was busy perching in his seat and yelling ‘I’M A GOOD BOY AREN’T I MUMMY, HMMM, HMMM’ over and over again.

Finally, beast contained and still snarling like a feral skunk (because he was so angry the involuntary farts just kept coming), we set off – narrowly avoiding reversing over the stupid cat who was sitting underneath the car.

The journey there at least was uneventful, other than the general hysteria that we might have squashed windmill (the cat, and I knew we hadn’t) and in we go to the opticians. Being first thing in the morning, there weren’t many customers and all of the staff had not much to do but stand around and watch us. This proved uncomfortable when meltdown no 3 occurred because Beast 2 wasn’t allowed to press the buttons on the keyboard while wearing the designer glasses on display, and had been unceremoniously strapped into his buggy. Which he hates. Beast 1 at this point is declaring to anyone who will listen (which was everyone, whether they wanted to or not) that he’s a BIG BOY and is allowed out of school to have his eyes tested. A BIG BOY don’t you know.

Forms filled out and my patience already waning, off we go to the machine thing that blows puffs in your eye and has pictures of balloons. I’ve never felt so relieved as when the lady announced that neither of The Beasts needed the puff in the eye (thank god) but that Jasper would need to look at a balloon through some binoculars. Fine – I thought. He can do this. What could go wrong? As it happens, a five year old finds it tricky to follow instructions and despite being asked near on 100 times to put his chin on the chin rest and his forehead against forehead rest, suddenly he seemed to have no neck muscles at all and couldn’t possibly hold up his own head. As well as marveling in wonder at the removable paper hygeine strips on the chin rest. ‘Oh don’t worry’ said the lady, ‘we got one eye and I’m sure the other one is  fine’ *laughs limply*.

Then it’s my turn and I do need the puffs, at which point Oscar decides that actually, he’s not going to remain sitting in the buggy so nimbly climbs out, making a mockery of the whole system by shimmying easily out of the straps, and goes to make a hasty exit. With lightning fast reflexes (if I do say so myself) my arm shoots out and I’m able to grab his wrist and (barely) restrain him. So just to set the scene, what’s happening now is that someone is blowing puffs of air at my eyeballs whilst octopus boy, because suddenly he appears to have enough appendages to beat my arm with his fist, give his brother a shove and smack the floor all at the same time, is trying to wriggle out of my grip. So that was fun – and we haven’t even got to the actual tests yet.

So moving swiftly on, we are ushered  upstairs. Having bought the buggy, mostly to secure beast 2, *scoffs* and laden with coats and bags and drinks, I have to abandon it at the bottom of the stairs, so there goes my (only) plan. We’re called promptly in by a rather unenthusiastic optician who appears to be less than thrilled at the prospect of checking four Beastly eyes along with the woman who’s dragging them around, (unsuccessfully) trying to contain them, and barely holding on to her shit. I think it was doomed from the beginning to be honest.

So anyway. Mr ‘would rather be anywhere than right here’ optician – we’ll call him Phil – starts with Beast 1. ‘Come on’, he says, ‘sit down then.’ Beast 1 hangs back a bit, and says ‘I’m a bit scared’ while I elaborate – ‘he’s just a bit nervous.’ Now I know not everyone knows how to talk to children, me included, but he’s five. So a little empathy would go a long way. Instead, Phil says ‘nervous? Well are you not a big boy then?’ Beast 1 looks slightly abashed and sits down while I bristle in the corner but decide to let it slide because moments later, they are getting on with Jasper’s test & he’s doing marvelously. Beast 2, meanwhile, still fuming from being restrained earlier but making the most of his freedom now, has discovered the stack of maom sweets and the bag of snacks and is munching his way through while declaring, very loudly, that he wants a ‘NEW FIREMAN SAM ON THE KINDLE MUMMY’. Clearly I should have done my research before bringing the kindle out, because as it happens, you can’t watch Amazon prime unless you’re connected to wifi. And I knew nothing of the ‘offline mode’ my husband has just now, helpfully informed me, does exist. At that point I didn’t know this, and we weren’t connected to wifi, So unfortunately fireman Sam was a no go. To an already irritated small beast, this went down like a lead-bastard-balloon and he spent the next five minutes rolling around on the floor yelling for Sam. Nothing would appease him. Not my Fitbit, or my phone, nothing. Nothing other than Fireman twatting Sam. He was only distracted enough to snap out of it when Phil turned the lights off to bark some more orders at an increasingly fed up Beast 1 whilst muttering that he didn’t usually work in this (clearly godforsaken) office and didn’t know where anything was. Here’s a tip for you Phil – maybe get all your shit together before you see patients in a new office. I later discovered he was a locum optician. Finally Beast 1 was finished and good old Phil looked like he’d really had enough of us. So it’s ‘his turn now yes?’ I asked, pointing at Oscar.’Oh no,’ Phil says. ‘I can’t test him here, he’s too young.’

‘….er…oh, well I had Jasper tested here two years ago at exactly the same age so….why can’t you test him?’

‘Well I haven’t got the right equipment in this room’

‘Erm- well could we move to another room? I really would like to get his eyes checked and to be honest, no one mentioned this would be a problem when I booked the appointment – and they took his date of birth.’

‘No we can’t move to another room.’

*eyeballs me while both beasts turf out the contents of our bag in the corner.*

‘Why can’t we move to another room?’

‘Well listen’ (impatiently) ‘is there anything wrong with his eyes?’

I stare at him, mouth agape…..WTF is happening? ‘I don’t know Phil, i’m pretty sure it’s your job to tell me that, seeing as how you’re an optician?’

At this point I’m really starting to struggle with holding it together. I’m down to my last nerve and phil’s doing a bloody jig on it.

‘Well look at him’ *gesticulates towards mini beast* ‘he’s not going to cooperate is he? Does he even know the alphabet? Have you taken him to the GP?’

Somewhere in the distance I fancy that I can feel the warm sun on my face and hear waves crashing against a lovely sandy beach, until I realise that it’s actually just my temperature increasing by about 10 degrees and there’s a dull rushing in my ears where I’m about to go batshit crazy.

‘Look Phil, I’m sorry but your bedside manner could really use some work and you’re actually being really unhelpful. Of course he doesn’t know the alphabet but when Jasper was tested in this office two years ago when he was exactly the same age, they just showed him pictures of ducks and aeroplanes and bloody houses so I  don’t understand why you’re telling me you won’t attempt to test my child’s eyes and why you’re suggesting I waste the time of our GP when I’m sat I front of an *deep breath so you don’t swear* optician. So I’d like to see someone else please. Right now.’

‘Oh. Well have I done something wrong?’

I feel like a hideous monster by this point. All I want is to get this done because I work nearly full time & today is the day that was planned for eye tests. And having plenty of experience working in a customer facing role myself, I can appreciate how horrible it is when someone doesn’t  want to talk to you anymore and it’s worth noting at this stage that I’m not usually that woman. I’m generally pretty easy going and I certainly didn’t enjoy ruining Phil’s morning by demanding to see someone else, and what with being terribly British, still feel pretty dreadful about it now; but goddammit I’d driven 12 miles, paid a fiver for parking, taken beast 1 out of school and used up half of my ‘day off’ – although calling it a day off is a bit strong to be honest – to get both sets of eyes tested, so he was having his eyes tested. 

And double whammy on the guilt here now because it’s quite clear, what with the coughing and general snottiness going on upstairs that Beast 2 actually doesn’t feel very well, which would go some way to explaining his temper today. Terrible mother alert that I didn’t realise earlier.

‘Phil. Could you just go and get someone else please.’

So off Phil goes to find someone else in a different room, and lo and behold, this new optician (we’ll call him Bob) is able to check Oscar. Bob is actually really helpful and we liked Bob a lot. Bob was also pretty hot – and what woman doesn’t like a hunky optician staring into her eyes when she looks like an actual crazy bag lady and has just caused a massive scene?

Anywho, only two minutes after we get in there, after kicking up such a fuss, Oscar’s hollering for a wee and is now drunk on sugar, having worked his way through every snack in the bag. Hurriedly we’re ushered into the staff toilets where, as he’s a bit hot and bothered by this point, his willy is squashed against his little boy bits so when he wees, instead of going in the in the toilet, it goes all over his leg and the floor. To which he then responds by yelling (exceptionally loudly) ‘MY WEE! MY WEE! HOLD MY WILLY MUMMY! HOLD IT!’ So after desperately mopping up the floor with loo roll, which disintegrates as soon as it touches something wet, I turn to Beast 1 who’s managed to find a box of Biros (of course) and has taken the lid off every single one. Sorry specsavers.

Back in the room I say ‘ok Oscar your turn now.’

‘No.’

Well the man just needs to look at your eyes so come on please’

‘No.’

What about being a good boy for mummy?’

‘No. I want to wash my hands in that sink’ <points to sink in corner> and then proceeds to have a massive tantrum, number 5 if I remember rightly, until allowed to wash his hands, even though he just washed them in the toilet.

Now this is awkward after the kerfuffle I’ve caused and Bob is eyeing me beadily.

‘Perhaps it’s better to just do mine first then he’ll see it’s ok.’

Bob looks dubious but agrees and we begin. Half way through my test, Beast 1 of course decides that he absolutely needs a wee now and I feel what’s left of my sanity shrivel up and die. So another quick jaunt to the bathroom later, my eye test finished, and Oscar finally lets Bob start looking at his eyes. He did pretty well considering how long we’d been there and how fed up he was, particularly as we were way past nap time by this point. But every time he was asked to look straight ahead he looked everywhere except straight ahead and every time he was asked to look at the picture in the mirror he craned his neck round to look a the screen projecting into the mirror, thus proving good old Phil (partially) right in that he wouldn’t cooperate. So although Bob got enough done to know that he probably, possibly, maybe, needs some kind of prescription, he can’t be sure so we have to go back next week. FFS. And hats off to Bob for doing all this while being constantly offered soggy pecans by Beast 1. And of course, Beast 2 might not need anything at all because it could be a false result and his eyes might be fine. Which they probably are.

‘Well Bob, could we see you again next week? I’m free Monday and Wednesday?’

‘Oh’ *chuckles nervously* ‘I’m only working Fridays here from next week so you’ll have to see someone else.’ He struggled to keep the relief out of his voice if we’re honest.

Finally, an hour and a half later we trot downstairs, having left a trail of soggy apricots, crushed pecans and sweet wrappers, and I’m apologizing to anyone that wil listen on the off chance they find a chewed up apricot squished in any of their expensive equipment. Because let’s face it, that’s probably happened.

The helpful lady downstairs (we’ll call her Sally)  says ‘Would you er….I mean do you want to try and choose your new glasses now? I mean, what with….’ Waves arm in direction of the little monsters who by this point can only be described as Feral. That capital F was intentional, by the way. Sally’s clearly aghast at what appear to now be delirious little chipmunks full of sugar, running round the expensive designer frames. Which if we’re honest, I can’t afford.

‘No Sally. No Thank You. I don’t think I will choose my frames now. I’ll come back. ON MY OWN.’ *glares at offspring who are now hanging off my legs whilst considering whether to flip the finger to the old man staring at us in disgust. Decide against it as I’ve caused enough trouble already. And, I am a lady *holds head aloof.*

Having been significantly longer than planned and having run out of food, The Beasts need lunch. We’re not going to make it back to school in time for Beast 1 to have his school dinner there, so I need to find some food. Anyone who has a kid with a dietary restriction (like dairy) will know that being in the middle of town with no lunch planned or packed, with a hungry toddler who can’t have most of the food on offer, is less fun than the least fun thing you can imagine – let’s go with a smear test. It’s even less fun than that. So we hotfoot it to Costa because at least I know the gingerbread is dairy free and I can shut them up with a fruity cooler split between two cups. Karma finally chucked me a bone when I looked at the ingredients of the egg sammidge to see that it is in fact, dairy free. Halle-bloody-lueja.

Exhausted, we stagger back to the car so I can return Beast 1 to school, get Beast 2 home and in bed, and at least try and get a few of my other errands done with the time I have left in the day.

I’m pretty sure there’s going to be some kind of warning note attached to our records when I take Beast 2 back on Monday and I’ll have become that customer everyone can remember who couldn’t control her children and left a trail of destruction, offended staff, and squashed, sticky apricots. I’ll be surprised if they let us back in at all to be honest. 👓😱🤔

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The (beastly) weekly shop 

Upon perusing my grocery receipt, wondering how the bloody hell it was so expensive (again) it occurred to me that I buy the same things with great, incredibly depressing and mundane, regularity. I lob a great chunk of my wages at the money-sucker that is The Supermarket week in, week out. During the halcyon days of no children, (back when we had the freedom to eat a biscuit without having to  hide in the kitchen and cover up the rustling packet by running the tap, and back when vomit on the carpet was only for really special occasions like eating an undercooked sausage at a barbecue), I never would have bought most of the things I buy now. Of these items, I have discovered that many are absolute necessities when you’ve found yourself saddled with little Beasts, so I thought a shopping list would be helpful  for anyone who is in a similar situation. 

So in no particular order: 

Wine. It’s possible that I love wine just a smidge more than I love my husband. Sorry but I’m not sorry at all. Although I would probably buy it children or no children. It’s just so magnificent. I know I just said no particular order, but wine’s always going to be at the top, obviously.

Chocolate. A close second to wine. Can also be used as a bribe or threat to control beasts in times of need. Until the sugar kicks in and they’re worse than they were before. Any that isn’t used as a (poor) parenting tool is also available for you to eat, for those ‘days off the diet.’ Or just all the time.

Tena ladies. Now you don’t have to be ashamed ladies. Especially when it’s just the light ones in the lovely fancy box, not the full on plastic knicker type ones** but as most mums would agree,  jumping on a trampoline doesn’t feel *quite*the same as it did before (because I do that all the time, obvs). 

** while we’re on the subject, just a brief interlude – if anyone’s up there, listening to prayers, I’ve never asked you lot for anything other than some 90s wedged trainers, which never turned up FYI, so unless I’ve banked some major bad karma, please let me never need the knickers. Thanks**

 Diet magazines. Having grown and delivered said beasts, and with no more excuses for not dieting,  I find myself in a constant battle between wanting to be slimmer & well – wine and chocolate. So every six weeks I’ll ‘treat’ myself to the latest slimming world magazine & read all the wonderfully motivating articles about people who have lost 10 stones or 15 stones or even just 2 or 3 stones. I’m always very careful, where I’ve been cramming it in my mouth, not to smudge melted chocolate mixed with spit onto the corners or to splash wine on the pages whilst learning about Sally in yorkshire’s life long issues with food. Those magazines aren’t cheap you know so you do need to look after them. 

Healthy fruit and vegetables. In support of the above, I find you also need to get your 5 a day in. Running around after beasts is a tiring business and a healthy diet is a must. No need for all those faddy pills or shakes, just eat an apple. And I keep telling myself that if The Beasts see me eating carrots and broccoli and *delicious* lettuce often enough, they will learn to love them too. I’m sure they will. At some point. Maybe. 

Rennie. All that wine added to the stress of remembering to *not* be a shit parent and actually read the newsletter that comes home from school every Friday, before Monday morning, can occasionally cause a bit of heartburn. So when panic strikes because Beast 1’s swimming kit is still screwed up in the bag because I forgot to wash it, and I didn’t know it was school photos or another tombola or bring your favourite book /dress up/ world book / non school uniform day – and I don’t have a bloody pound in my purse to pay for not wearing the (expensive) school uniform (which I also paid for), never fear. Just choke back some minty chalk and be on your way. 

Healthy snacks. The more expensive and fancy the packaging, the less likely they are to eat them but I buy them anyway – just to keep up appearances really. I give them a sugar free quinoa and cranberry bar to start with but we all know within 2 minutes and 24 seconds I’ll be adding a biscuit or some sweets to that bowl – and then will be throwing away the soggy quinoa and cranberry bar 10 minutes later where it’s been licked and discarded. Because it’s gross. No trace of the biscuit will remain.

Calpol. I’m pretty sure I’ve inadvertently created the country’s youngest drug addicts as they will literally feign illness in the hope of being given calpol. To be fair it is delicious, but I have to draw the line when Beast 1 runs headfirst into the radiator then tells me he really ought to have some calpol for his ‘terrible headache.’

Baby wipes,  toilet wipes, potty training wipes, anti bac wipes, clean-your-whole-house-with-them wipes. If there’s a wipe to be purchased, chances are I’ve bought it. If someone told me pre – children that I’d be spending at least a fiver a week on wet bits of material soaked in various chemicals I probably would have laughed (nervously) in their face and scurried home to immediately unfriend them on Facebook. And while we’re on the subject of wipes, who’s bastard idea was it to make the packaging so crinkly and noisy? So it’s 4am and your little angel has filled his nappy or puked down your arm just as you’re settling them back to sleep? Here’s just the thing for you – the world’s noisiest plastic wrapper with the shittest little hole to try and get the bunched up wipes out of so that little Toby or Harley or Rosie *or whatever* is now up and alert wondering where that interesting noise is coming from as you try, but fail miserably, to get your wet wipe out quietly.  That my friends is just someone having us on for the Craic. 

Coffee. My first (and automatic – I’m sorry I can’t help it) response when someone tells me she’s pregnant is to laugh a little hysterically and say ‘I hope you don’t like sleep because you’ll never do it properly again ha ha ha’. This is where coffee is useful. Anyone who can get through the day without caffeinated goodness is as alien to me as those (very peculiar) people who ‘forget to eat’. Who ‘forgets’ to eat? Literally most of my life is just me thinking about, buying, preparing and eating food. My hobbies could quite truthfully be listed as 1. Eating and 2. Complaining that I’m fat because of all the eating. 

Point of sale. Doesn’t matter what it is, if we need it, or if The Beasts have already had more sugar than a jam factory. If it’s a point of sale promotion and it means the cashier stops eyeballing me (and talking to me), any item that’s on sale at the counter when I’m trying to pay, pack bags, restrain one (or both) beasts from smacking / climbing out the trolley/ shoplift / lick the chicken, I’ll buy it. Then I’ll probably eat it so that daddy beast stops wanging on about all of the money I spend on crap we don’t need.

Overpriced magazines with plastic shit taped to the front. You know the ones. Tree fu tom and peppa bloody pig, mister maker and the one that The Beasts always  go for – the princess one with the rubbish tiara and fluffy wand. All at Beast eye level, all bright and tempting. Well all I’m going to say is £3.99. THREE POUNDS NINETY NINE PENCE. For some plastic tat and pages thinner than cheap wrapping paper, so that someone puts their finger through it within 10 seconds. Then cries because there’s a hole in the magazine. I literally have clothes that cost less than £3.99, but The Beasts love being allowed to choose one from the shelf, so as per, I usually cave.

Carpet cleaner. Mud, wee, sick, poo, jelly, play doh, toothpaste, dinner, juice, milk, crayon, nappy cream, blood (just occasionally mind – don’t call childline please) you name it and I’ve probably had to scrub it out of my carpet. So a decent cleaner is essential. Not being able to quite afford to pay someone else to do it for me, what with all the money I waste at the supermarket, I always opt instead  for DIY carpet spray. I’m aware that this gives the impression that my house is clean; it’s not. No matter how much you scrub, sudocrem is very stubborn. As is vomit. At least the expensive carpet cleaner smells nice. Nicer than a big pile of puke anyway. 

Bathroom cleaner: Anyone who owns boys, beastly or not, will verify that they can never get it all in the loo. Never. Often there’s a little puddle around the base of the toilet and little rivulets running down the trunk (which are especially pleasant for your bare legs  to touch, all cold and wet, when you’ve forgotten to check). Again this might give the illusion that my house is clean. Don’t be fooled. I do most of the ‘cleaning’ with a baby wipe 5 minutes before any guests arrive, but find that I do draw the line at my bathroom being covered in stinky wee.  

Detergent. For the *thousands* of loads of washing. It never stops. My washing basket is always full, there’s always a load on the airer or line and no one can ever find a matching pair of socks. 

Boxes and boxes of fish fingers because let’s be honest, that’s all they’ll really eat. I can buy broccoli until it comes out of my ears but neither of the little *treasures* will ever eat it. It is handy however, due to its bulk and opaque colour, to pile on top of the boxes so that avacado and quinoa mum over there with her perfect figure and perfect kid can’t see them in the the trolley, and then turn to her equally perfect twatty mate, wheatgrass and organic salmon mum, and say ‘is it any wonder her kids are so naughty when all she feeds them is fishfingers?  And supermarket own too, not even Birdseye.’*shakes head in disgust while handing perfect kid another stick of freshly chopped pepper to snack on.*

So there you have it. Next time you’re in the shop and one beast is kicking your shins while the other is running off, taking bites out of the vegetables and then putting them back (yes really), while people gape at your incompetence as a parent, and you find yourself picking up another bottle of wine and chucking it in the trolley next to your tena ladies and fishfingers, remember you’re not alone. We’re all in it together. ❤️🍷🍰

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Rhyming with Wine

The Big Tidy: one family’s story of tears, tantrums and survival 

So it’s that time again where we can’t move for toys and everywhere I look there’s a giant pile of crap with no place to go. All the days and weeks of us both  working, and life, trips out, and being generally so exhausted that the idea of picking up yet more Lego makes me want to stab myself  in the face, means that minimal tidying  has being going on, so nothing is in its sets. It makes me (perhaps unreasonably) uncomfortable that I’ve got Lego in with the stickle bricks and play doh squished into toot toot cars, dinosaurs in with diggers and knex literally in every corner, and without drinking even more wine than I do now, I don’t think I could cope with the mess for a second longer. So with all the enthusiasm of a puppy chasing a ball I decided today would be The Day of Tidying. My husband likes this day least of all the days, and his reaction on being told he’d need to get the loft ladder out and finally put the Christmas decorations away (yes, it is June, don’t judge us) & help me sort out the beasts’ toys was a mixture between this: 

And this:


Once he’d gone for a four mile run and gotten used to the idea, I enlisted The Beasts (with a hefty bribe of sweets) and we BEGAN. At first it seemed like a great idea, even though with only half the toys tipped out the living room looked like this:


Never mind I thought, if everyone pitches in, we’ll be done in half an hour. An hour tops. Max an hour and a half. 

Two hours later when hubbo tips out yet another storage box full of shite – sorry – toys – this was me:


That there my friends is a look of pure regret, while I’m wondering what the hell I was thinking and if there is any more wine in the fridge (there wasn’t; I’ve drunk it all.)

 Now I like to think that I’m not alone,  and that every parent has been in the situation where you have more toys than the local nursery and yet all your children want to play with is a mouldy lemon. And all those millions of toys, regardless of how often they are (not) played with, they just seem to spread themselves around your house so that eventually they’ve crept right up, almost in slow motion, and before you know it you’re sat watching tv or reading your diet magazine and out the corner of your eye all you can see is children’s paraphernalia. Everywhere. 

That is, of course, unless you’re one of those super (possibly mythical / supernatural / sorcerer) parents who make tidying up a game, probably with a song too, and it’s so much fun that your children just can’t wait for tidy up time, and everything goes neatly back into the right boxes at the end of the day. And because of this you never have to deal with the hideous sound that is a veritable truck load of plastic toys being tipped onto the floor ready to be sorted. *cries softly* *I can still hear it  when I close my eyes.* 

It’s fair to say that i’m definitely not one of those parents but have a deep admiration for those of you who are. If that is you, bravo my pretty, bravo. 

During The Big Tidy our emotions were turbulent. We began full of hope and vigor, determined that the house would no longer be the usual shithole. All the toys would be sorted into complete sets and everything would be back where it goes. And it would stay there. This optimism however swiftly faded, to be replaced with a dull panic upon realising that as quickly as we were sorting, the pile just didn’t seem to be going down, and by hour 100 still looked like this:


Chuck in two little beasts whose idea of helping is to throw wooden beads at your head, have a fist fight over the etch-a-sketch that’s just appeared under a pile of rubble, and whine continually that they hate tidying and need (yet another) wee, drink, snack, etc, soon we felt like this:

And of course, for a small beast, having every single toy out and strewn across the floor induced a fervor something similar to being given ice cream dipped in sherbet then being told you’re getting a pony and a puppy, so to save everyone’s sanity, the only option to calm everyone down was a quick play in the garden – in torrential rain. But no matter – what’s a bit of water when you’re still in your pjs at 3 in the afternoon? 


Especially for beast two: 


Ah the taste of sweet freedom. 

Meanwhile inside we could finally see light at the end of the tunnel – and the living room floor. I like to think we also score several marraige points for only bickering 57 times, hubbo hissing ‘this was your stupid idea‘ only about 15 times, cursing mildly about the sheer amount of shit we have only approximately 698 times and managing not to drop the F-bomb in front of the beasts when one of us invariably stepped barefoot onto one of the *thousands* of Lego bits covering the carpet. Appearing to have survived the ordeal, the toys now look like this: 


And the Christmas decorations are finally in the loft. 

I’m anticipating around 7.3 weeks before we need to start the process again 😳😱 but for now am off to buy more wine. Lovely wine. Farewell my comerades 🍷🍷

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How to bake with Beasts

Step 1:

Dig out the aprons from the back of the cupboard, being sure to unstick the plastic material gently where it’s fused together from dried, sticky smears. Make a mental note to remember to give them a wipe down at the end this time, rather than just shoving them back in the cupboard because you’re too lazy to clean them again. 

Assemble your essential ingredients: For the cake you’ll need flour, sugar, eggs, spread, cocoa powder and baking powder. To get yourself through the next half an hour, you may also require alcohol, mild sedatives and / or a maid. Turn on the oven to preheat. 

Step 2: 

Attempt to convince your beasts / children to wear the aprons. Give up after 5 minutes and decide it’s more hassle than it’s worth. 

Step 3:

Weigh out your sugar and spread. You’ll have several little fingers pressing down continually on the buttons and center pad of the scales so it really is just a case of winging it and hoping your eye can tell if you’ve the right amount. Put these ingredients in the bowl and cream together. Your helpers will want to provide assistance with this part so give them both a spoon & watch the chaos unfold as one stirs one way, and one stirs the other. Don’t be alarmed if clumps of sugary margarine come flying towards you, it’s perfectly normal and I suggest just flicking them off onto the floor since the place is a shithole anyway – at least it’ll give the ants something to do. 


Step 4: 

Once creamed together, it’s time for your eggs. You need 3, so I recommend allowing 6 to give adequete capacity for breakages,  droppage or one child cracking an egg over the head of the other. Have some baby wipes or kitchen towel at the ready to wipe the egg off child’s hair before it dries hard. Add the eggs to your mixture – once again your helpers will want to assist and no matter how many times you remind them to gently tap  the egg on the side of the bowl, they’ll swing it down to the rim with Thor like strength and smash it to bits. Fish out as much egg shell as you can but accept that your cake may be a little crunchier than anticipated. Give your wine a swig.


Step 5:

Weigh your flour and baking powder. I would advise not turning your back for even a nano-second at this stage, or the floor will be as white as Christmas in the movies (you know, the ones you never get time to watch) when you turn back around. Add cocoa powder and place in your seive. This, of all the parts, is a particular favourite of The Beasts and once again you can say ‘just tap it gently, remember’ as many times as you need to so that you feel you have even the tiniest amount of control over the situation, but be aware that it won’t make the slightest bit of difference and you’ll be cleaning flour and cocoa off parts of the kitchen for at least the next three days. Add the cocoa and flour to your sludgy, crunchy mixture and combine. 


Step 6:

At this point your helper(s) will realise you now have a bowl of raw cake mixture and will furtively go in for a lick. Invariably they will manage to get the uncombined smear of marge at the top of the bowl and will make dramatic gagging noises whilst hollering for a drink. I suggest you provide one at this stage, as you can easily get away with a few bits of egg shell in your cake, but will be hard-pushed to factor in a pile of puke. No amount of icing can cover that up. Have a bit more wine. 

Step 7:

You may find at this point, your smaller beast is losing interest because they still don’t have the cake you promised twenty minutes ago. So you can go ahead and add some chocolate chips,  (what’s a bit more sugar at this stage anyway) as you’ll find that his or her selective hearing doesn’t extend to the clatter of chocolate being poured into the bowl. So although two minutes ago they ‘couldn’t hear’ your simple instructions to leave the bloody oven alone, he or she will be back over to the worktop faster than you can say ‘where’s the wine’ once you’ve opened the chocolate. Allow beasts to stir to combine – it’s worth noting that at this stage it won’t be a furtive lick you have to watch out for, it’ll be a *shove entire hand in* type of affair & you’ll find cake batter dripping down the cupboards/ washing machine / dishwasher for around a week afterwards. Shove a handful of chocolate into own mouth and promotly forget about it to avoid having to count the calories. Have a little more wine. 


Step 8:

Add batter to prepared cake tins while you try desperately not to think about how long it’s going to take to clean up & put in the oven. It is advisable at this stage to check your oven temperature / setting because, working in cahoots, one beast will have been distracting you while the other has snuck round the back to fiddle with the knobs – so unless you want your cake grilled on a low heat, just double check before you pop it in. Be mindful that you’ll need to check the oven every 2 minutes or so during the baking process to ensure the knobs stay where they are supposed to. This is not the point at which you want to be taking a charred & blackened mess out of the oven because one (or both) of your beasts has managed to stealthily jump the kitchen stairgate & give the knobs another twirl. 

Step 9:

Cave in to the persistent and incessant requests to lick the bowl. Surely a bit if raw egg couldn’t hurt anyways. Survey the armaggedon that appears to have unfolded in a remarkably short space of time. Consider going and finding that maid we mentioned at the beginning. Slurp a bit more wine.


Step 10: 

Insist that your beasts help tidy up, and then turn back around to find the room emptier than postman pat’s van (he literally only ever seems to have the one package he’s delivering in there – I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – he’s the shittest postman I’ve ever seen). Wonder in bewilderment why The Beasts can’t possibly leave a room that quickly when you’re trying to get out for work in the mornings. 

Step 11: 

Drink a bit more wine and give the kitchen a half arsed wipe. It doesn’t seem to matter how clean (or not) the house is, you can’t get seem to get rid of the bastard ants anyway because they just keep coming, so why bother exerting yourself ? *one day my little ant nemeses, one day. I will end you -eventually* Retrieve cooked cakey goodness from the oven, at which point beasts are likely to reappear like magic. Be prepared to remind them approximately 17 times that it has to cool down first before it can be eaten, amid furious wails of CAKE! I NEED CAKE MUMMY, CAKE! 

Final step: 

Hand out far more cake than you probably should, coveniently forgetting the huge amount of sugar 15 minutes later when your beasts are running around like chipmunks on speed, & reward yourself with a small (enormous) slice for being such a great parent. Give yourself a pat on the back if you made it all the way to fruition without needing the sedative drugs. And then go and buy more wine because the bottle’s empty again. So there you have it – a complete guide to Baking with Beasts.  🍷🍰

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