On Courting Disaster

People often say that bad things come in threes. I disagree. I would say they come in eleventy-millions. That’s how it feels at the moment, anyway.

In my opinion, going through such a trauma as what happened last week should give me and the girls a get-out-of-jail-free pass for… oh, a few millenia or so? But life doesn’t work that way. In fact, I’m starting to think that there is a seriously vindictive bastard out there somewhere, whose sole job is to fuck with me.

And I'm not even talking about the kids, this time.

And I’m not even talking about the kids, this time.

On Friday morning our pet budgie chose, with impeccable timing, to die. Half an hour before school. I mean, what the fuck? Cut a woman some slack here! Of course Big Girl and Little Girl found him, I expect you guessed that. What a fucking shitstorm.

Somehow I managed, tearfully, to get them into school. I was tempted to just keep them off, but I figured that they’d at least be busy and distracted all day. And it left me with only one child to occupy while I engaged in Operation Bird Removal.

Now there’s a job I would have usually passed over to my partner. But not any more!

I wouldn’t allow myself to be bested by an animal that doesn’t even have opposable thumbs. Not even if I loved him. So, through floods of tears, I slowly dismantled his cage. I sniffed and I sobbed and I howled. Was I crying about the bird? A little bit. But I suspect that mostly I was releasing a lot of the pain I was feeling about the loss of the life I had hoped and planned for.

Never did I think being a funeral director for an animal could be so therapeutic.

I placed him on a kitchen roll bed in a shoe box, and left him in the corner of the kitchen until the girls came home from school. That evening, we had a little birdie funeral. They drew him pictures, and we said our goodbyes. It was so fucking sad. But they were so brave, and just wonderful. When we were done, I pulled them into a soggy floor-cuddle, and there we stayed for a while. Then Big Girl looked at me and said, “I don’t want to cry any more. It makes my throat hurt.”

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Kid, I fucking hear you!

I am finding that I am really missing that little bird. Sure, he was a grumpy little shit who never let the theme tune of my favourite programmes go by without squawking his damn head off, but he was mine.

The next story is a touch funnier, although it wasn’t at the time! On Sunday morning, I took the kids out shopping for the usual mundane crap: milk, washing powder, yawn. Our little shopping centre has a bit of raised flooring, with steps and slopes and handrails. Remember the handrails, they play a big role in this.

So we got all the stuff we needed, and began to make our way home. The girls always want to go up the steps and run down the slope. It was quiet, so I just left them to it. Big Girl made it down with no problem. But not Little Girl…

Can you see where this is going?

I was chatting with Big Girl when I heard a shriek of epic proportions. I looked up, hoping and praying that, just this one time, the sun would shine on me and give me a break.

Nope, still cloudy.

At first, it was hard to see what the matter was. So Little Girl helpfully clarified with a high-pitched yell of, “I STUUUUUCK!!!”

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Fucking hell.

She had decided that, instead of running down the slope, it would be an excellent idea to walk between the handrail and the wall. It was not an excellent idea. It was a spectacularly shitty idea, in fact.

But I think she’d worked that out for herself by then. Because she was absolutely and completely wedged in there.

It was at that exact moment that I decided that someone, somewhere, seriously had it in for me.

I tried to calm her, but she was freaking out. I tried to get her head out, but it was really stuck in there. And how many genius ideas did I have to fix this problem?

None. My mind was completely blank. All I could think of was the humiliation of having her cut free by firemen. I know a few of my friends would be positively delighted with that occurrence, but that’s just not how I roll.

Thankfully, someone with a functioning brain passed by, and suggested that I walk her backwards until the gap widened a bit and she could escape. Which was really fucking obvious, actually. I mean, she had to get in there somehow, right? So we did it.

And, thank God, it worked. She sobbed and clung to me, and I may have shed a few tears as well.

Now just to put up with the four months of repetitive telling of the story from Little Girl, every time we go shopping.

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Yay.

There was one more, fairly trivial but extremely irritating thing which happened this week. My hoover developed reflux.

Yes, reflux. Oh, you know what I mean. You spend ages hoovering the carpet. Then you stand back to admire your handiwork, turn off the hoover, and sigh as everything you just picked up is regurgitated from the end of the nozzle.

So fucking annoying.

I wasn’t going to let a little plastic piece of crap get one over on me, though. My carpet is clean now, and the hoover has been relegated to the rapidly expanding rubbish pile.

This much.

Fuck you, hoover.

As much as I feel buried under the enormous, cascading pile of shit that has been thrown on me recently, I will endure and try to focus on the positives. There are small victories, and I am grabbing them and holding them close to me to keep me going. Here is one.

Little Girl really, really hates mushrooms. With a passion. If one accidentally passes her lips, it results in a reaction akin to cyanide poisoning. Retching, gagging, the works. (I’m pretty sure that’s not how people react to cyanide poisoning, but take a look and see if I care.)

Well, I wrote that a bit wrong. Little Girl hated mushrooms.

The other day, I made a lasagne. And I put loads of mushrooms in, because Big Girl and I love them and it just wouldn’t be the same without them. I think she can always pick them out if she hates them so much.

That day, however, she surprised me. She shoved a mushroom in her mouth, chewed, swallowed and declared, “I like mushrooms now!”

Man, my kids are so fucking awesome.

Just like their mum.

Just like their mum.

I’ve Used 99 Nappies And I Still Need One

Today, Squeak had a routine hospital appointment. When she had her one year check, the nurse noticed that she has uneven leg creases. So we had to go and get her hips x-rayed, and looked at by a consultant.

I was fairly unbothered by this. Big Girl had the same check done when she was small, and it turned out to be fine. Mostly, I was just irked about the amount of faffing required to get there.

To get to the appointment on time, we had to leave the house soon after picking Little Girl up. I don’t drive, due to having the spatial awareness of a drunken bum and the coordination of a sedated donkey. So bus it was. The bus route to the hospital takes bloody ages as it goes all over the place, so we had to leave early.

I could see so many ways that this journey could go wrong. So I did what I always do, and obsessively planned ahead. I had lunch and snacks packed for hunger and distraction purposes. I had toys and drinks, plus all the regular baby stuff. For me, this is just a couple of nappies, a pack of wipes and a change of clothes. I like to travel light.

I was pretty sure I had covered every potential disaster area. In my head, it was all going to go swimmingly, and I would look like the organised and capable mother that I am (in my head.)

See, Supermum! Oh, it's a catface.

See, Supermum!
Oh, it’s a catface.

And, as always, I still fucked up.

I can’t say I was particularly surprised by this. Prior to leaving, I even pondered posting a little message on my Facebook page, along the lines of, “Off to the hospital with Squeak and Little Girl for a routine appointment. I wonder which kid will embarrass me today?”

It’s like I’m psychic, or something. Something being ‘resigned to chaos inevitably following me wherever I go.’

I’ll leave you to pick.

It started off well. Despite Little Girl’s unrelenting urge to scoot with no feet on the ground, which makes things rather slow-going, we got home in plenty of time. The food was already prepared, so all I had to do was change Little Girl’s clothes and we were ready to head to the bus stop.

I was feeling a little smug, I can tell you.

The first thing that went wrong happened just after we got on the bus. The brakes on Squeak’s pram jammed, for no apparent reason. So I had to stand for the 40 minute journey, holding it in place with my inadequate leg muscles. My favourite bit was when the pram repeatedly slammed into my poor shins, which are already bruised and battered from many scooter-carrying injuries.

Still, I totally nailed it. Kids were fed, and we got to our appointment just in time.

After a bit of a wait, we were taken through to get her hips x-rayed. And that, my dear friends, is where it began to fall apart a bit.

You wanna do whaaaaa?

You wanna do whaaaaa?

I think I’ve mentioned that Squeak is going though the separation anxiety stage at the moment. This has made her really cautious of strangers. She’s fine as long as she’s with me, and they don’t look at her or touch her.

Which is totally achievable in most circumstances. A hospital appointment, as you can imagine, is not on the list.

As soon as I lay her down on the bed in the x-ray room, she began to scream at the very top of her lungs. Nothing I did made her feel better. She just really, really didn’t want to be messed with.

Yay.

The radiographer showed me how to hold her still. I had to stretch her legs out completely straight, and keep them there until the x-ray was done. A piece of cake it was not. Somehow, Squeak had the strength of ten men, and she was fucking furious with me. I felt like I was holding down an irradiated baby octopus.

The radiographers retreated behind their screen. One said, “Have you got her completely still?”

“Yes!” I called. What I mean was, “I have no goddamn idea. Maybe?”

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But my faux confidence must have been plausible, as they went ahead. And thankfully, it worked. Because there was no way I was doing that again.

Off we went, back to the clinic to wait for the consultant. Squeak was royally pissed off by this point. I think she sensed that we were not done yet.

The examination went exactly as I predicted. She yelled and kicked and threw herself about as the consultant tried to check her. He was trying to teach a student how to do it, but I’m fairly sure she didn’t hear a damn thing.

I can’t help but have a lot of sympathy for Squeak. The poor kid was scared shitless.

No, I mean that literally.

As this whole thing was going on, she managed to crap through every single nappy I had brought with me.

Don’t even ask me how. Don’t even ask.

It reeked.

My feelings of smuggery had become a bit tattered around the edges, but at this point they completely evaporated.

I managed to get her calmed down and happy by giving her a feed in the Reception area, but the stench remained. I racked my brains, but I only had one option.

No, it wasn’t fashioning a nappy out of my t-shirt. I may be resourceful, but I have my limits.

And it’s fucking January!

The bus journey home was a nauseatingly unpleasant sensory experience. Seriously, I feel bad for the passengers. The air was thick with the smell of the Devil’s faeces and strawberries.

Ewww.

Ewww.

Oh, they had strawberries for a snack. As convenient as it would be, I do not exude air-freshening pheromones on demand. And if I did, based on this experience I would emphatically not choose strawberry as my scent.

Ugh.

Squeak had the overwhelming audacity to fall asleep before we got home. Now, full nappy or no full nappy, there’s no way I’m waking that kid up.

Nope. Sorry. Not happening.

So I had to wait until she woke up to rid the house of that revolting object. I was starting to think that even strawberry pheromones would do, for now. Eventually, and assisted by a loud and dramatic tantrum from Little Girl, she roused. I am happy to say that I then rid the world of the closest thing to hell I’ve ever encountered.

For now.

I am surprised at my naivete, in thinking that anything will ever go according to plan. But I like to think that it’s best to be hopeful, just occasionally.

I might hold back on the smuggery next time, though.

And possibly, invest in some body armour. I suppose you can never be too prepared.

One can never be *too* prepared.

One can never be *too* prepared.

Right?

Why We Hardly Ever Go Out To Eat

We were going out to dinner.

This doesn’t happen very often. I can count on two hands the amount of times we have been out since Big Girl was born 6 years ago.

Now, it’s not because the kids are particularly vile in public. I mean yes, we experience an occasional Flop or Flounce, but predominantly they save all of their epic misbehaviour for when we are at home.

I like this. It makes me look like a fantastic mother.

But however cooperative the kids may be, it always seems to go a little bit wrong.

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The day I am thinking about was back in the hazy, pre-Squeak days. That feels freaking ages ago now! Little Girl was probably about 18 months old, and Big Girl was 4.

I can’t remember whose birthday it was, but my dad had offered to take us all out to dinner. And this woman does not say no to free food.

We went to this lovely local Italian restaurant. It’s a great place to take kids because it’s not the kind of place where they expect them to be silent and perfectly behaved. Always a hit with me.

I was feeling awesome. I had recently lost a load of weight, and was wearing a dress. This is big moment for a woman who lives in jeans. Hair was done, make up on, I was looking good and feeling confident.

In retrospect, this should have been a major warning sign.

The kids were all dressed up and looking cute as hell. I had planned for all eventualities. I had plenty of quiet toys, I had wipes, every base was covered. Nothing could go DSC_0541wrong.

Ha.

Big Girl disappeared as soon as we arrived. Not in a concerning way! She ran off to play with the owners’ children. Brilliant, no bored child wriggling on a chair while we read and re-read the menu.

There was something wrong with Little Girl, though. She just wouldn’t stop fussing and crying. I couldn’t understand it, she’d been fine all day at home.

I tried employing tools from my arsenal. But all of the toys were cast aside as she turned ever redder with distress.

I decide to offer her some milk. That was sure to fix it. Now, I’m pretty comfortable with breastfeeding in public. But I did not think it through this time.

Remember the dress? Yeah, that was a shitty idea. Even with some careful jacket draping and a nonchalant expression on my face, all I could think was, I just pulled my dress up in a public place.

It didn’t bloody work, anyway.

The rest of the meal was as excruciating as you can imagine. Little Girl wailed and howled. The food I offered her was ignored. She was passed from adult to adult to give us all a chance to eat. I couldn’t wait to get out of there.

After what seemed like forever, we were done. I was super relieved. Finally I could get home and figure out what the problem was without a restaurant full of people watching us.

It was just then, as we were saying goodbye, that Little Girl decided to let us know what was wrong.

By vomiting an ocean all over the floor.

Oh God.

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I did not pack enough wipes for this shit. And there’s nothing subtle about having to ask the restaurant owner for supplies to clean up.

It splashed on everyone. My dad, my sister, me. Also my sister’s boyfriend, who will agree that he is just slightly intimidated by children.

What a bloody disaster.

Never have I been so glad to get home. This is why we hardly ever eat out.

It’s just safer that way.

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