Thursday, 29 December 2011

New Year, New You? .... No Hope.

New Year on the horizon .. the traditional time to make new resolutions but you can keep your striving to a thinner/ non-drinking/ non-smoking/ BETTER you to yourself, thank you very much.

I might *cough* enjoy a bit of a drink, and I smoke - not often and in the greenhouse, in a mask, while surrounded by yellow police tape OBVS -  AND I might wear a mini skirt at the unsuitable age of 47. And I probably (definitely) have cellulite.

(I sound like Liz McDonald. I am not Liz MacDonald).

But you know what? I DON'T CARE.

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

So, How Was It For You?....

Is it over yet? It should be over. It must be over.

Christmas. What is it for? Really?

I KNOW it's SUPPOSED (theoretically) to be a celebration of the birth of Christ but I'm not religious and the kids, to my unending pride, despite attending a CofE establishment of education, have a healthy disinterest and skepticism in all things religion-related.

Though they have, to a child, related specifically to one aspect of the Christmas story and that's the bit when some blokes in beards bring the infant boy child gold, frankincense and myrrh or, more importantly, presents. Santa of course is all too real, has a much more impressive beard and is far easier to believe in that an omnipotent being or a virgin birth (the Teen Twins ARE 16 after all). Santa brings presents, in sacks, ergo Christmas is mostly about presents? Well, to the children it is.

Friday, 23 December 2011

Sweet Sixteen ... The Birthday Party, Part 5

Last night was THE night ... THE night of the Biggest, Bestest 16th Birthday Party in the world EVER and it all worked out rather well. No, really. It did. *bewildered shake of the head*

The band at the birthday party


The lead singer of Teen Twin One's band Rentacorpse MIGHT have twisted his knee about an hour before he was due on stage and teenagers MIGHT have run around shouting "Call an ambulance" before he discovered his knee wasn't actually really THAT twisted....

Various fathers MIGHT have been dragged from the bar to charge off into the night to fetch yet more wires when other wires failed to live up to their wire-ness and the same fathers MIGHT have had to hang around to lug the PA out when the band finished....


Sunday, 18 December 2011

Sweet Sixteen ... The Birthday Party Saga Pt 4

TWO days to go. TWO days to The Biggest, The Best Birthday Party in the Whole World Ever ... and I've started mainlining the gin.

Birthday Candle


I keep asking for a confirmed guest list, but have yet to see one. So I have absolutely no idea how many teenagers (or THEM as I have come to call, er, them) are coming. Oh, and absolutely no idea how many to cater for or what to cater with. I have bought lots and lots and LOTS of crisps and some popcorn, though I've nothing to serve them in. I AM considering just randomly throwing handfuls onto the floor during quiet moments.

Friday, 16 December 2011

Entertaining the Old Folks

I think Teen Twin Two has discovered a little bit of the true spirit of Christmas, or at least discovered Christmas is not entirely about presents and chocolate and, um, more presents.

Yesterday, she was in a group from school that went to the local old folks' home to sing to the residents and bring a little festive cheer into their lives. She wasn't entirely looking forward to it, she's sung in choirs since junior school and they're quite big on dragging them out to seasonally entertain geriatrics, possibly on the basis that they can't run away. Old folks' homes, according to Teen Twin Two, smell of wee and cabbage. But mostly wee.

Monday, 12 December 2011

My Letter to Santa

Dear Mr Claus

This year I have been a VERY good mummy, I've not run down the street screaming AT ALL (yet) or threatened my children with social services or prison or boarding school or living at Grandma's more than ooh, *crosses fingers behind back* two or three times.


So for Christmas I would like, um, World Peace OBVIOUSLY but if you could just drop the first batch of it down my chimney before sorting out the rest of the world that would be good, and at least I'd be able to put the boxing ring away ... it takes up such a lot of space and I do hate wearing the referee's outfit.

And I'd like an extra three hours in a day please, hours that no-one else will be using that I can fill with things that I like to do like, for example, NOT cleaning up and NOT cooking and NOT ironing and definitely NO explaining long division AGAIN.

And some extra ears would be good, so I can prop them in a corner listening to the children while I have a proper conversation with a grown-up because for the past 16 years I haven't got through a full sentence without someone shouting "Muuuuuum" in the middle of it.

 And I'd like a Fridge Goblin, who squats in the bottle shelf, shouting "DON'T EAT THAT, IT'S FOR TEA" every time someone opens the fridge. And a Biscuit Tin Goblin that yells "DONT EAT ALL THE CHOCOLATE ONES" every time the lid is raised.

And I'd like a bottomless laundry basket which never, ever overflows EVEN at weekends. And I'd like an ever-lasting hamster. And eternal youth. And eternal optimism. And gin, lots of gin.

Oh. And an iPad.

Thank You
Love
Mummy Cool

P.S: Please don't land the reindeers on the roof, last year they made a right racket.

*waits*

Friday, 9 December 2011

The Spirit of Christmas

*FANFARE* 

I have FINISHED Christmas shopping *sags on sofa, sighs, reaches for gin* ..... well, probably, possibly, maybe but hopefully. 

Though at roughly 3am on Christmas Day morning when I'm STILL wrapping away (inbetween glugs and curses) I WILL remember something that I have forgotten to get.

Of course, it'll be the thing that Teen Twin Two asked for six months ago as the ONLY thing that she wanted for Christmas and has never, ever mentioned since - not even on the two sheets of A4 that she filled in and said was a Letter to Santa but was mostly just a list of demands. She WILL remember about 3pm on Christmas Day and then spend the rest of the festive season threatening to call Childline and accusing me of neglect. Ahh, traditions.



And Christmas is ALL about tradition, though not necessarily traditional traditions. WE don't get the tree until December 23rd mainly because; Official Excuse: The Twin's birthday is on the 22nd ("Let's get that out of the way first FFS") but REALLY because I think Christmas should stay where it belongs and not spread itself around too much *Bah humbug face.*

Traditionally we ALWAYS get a ridiculously expensive turkey from the same farm where, apart from feeding their birds diamonds and sapphires in a suite with a hot tub, they crack the same joke absolutely EVERY single year when you arrive to collect the over-pampered bird: "Uh oh, I can't seem to find your order," the Ruddy Faced Farmer joshes and Oh. How. We. Laugh. Every. Single. Year. *weak smile*

But at least it's not frozen, so the traditional getting up a 3am to run a huge bird under a hot tap is sadly lacking. What? Oh. Just my mum then ...

And traditionally the Christmas Eve carols are "Get to Bed," "Santa Won't Come If You're Not Asleep" and "Don't Come In" (falsetto). 

I, traditionally of course, wrap presents and IT DOESN'T MATTER if I start wrapping them in September, come Christmas Eve I will be up until the early hours of Christmas Day wrapping stuff ... the cat, the fridge, a passing pizza delivery man. It does NOT matter. Not until the Christmas tree looks like it's been planted on "Exciting Present Island" I CANNOT REST AND I WILL NOT REST *pulls cork out of bottle with teeth, slashes at sellotape with sabre*

And - traditionally - I deliver the Christmas stockings in the deepest, darkest depths of the middle of the night to the background music of  "Shh, Shh, Thump, Thump, Rustle, Bang and Bugger" and, traditionally, I will fall into bed approximately 33 and a half seconds before there's a huge squeal and a very loud clarion call of "Santa's been" (Note to self; bribe Teen Twin Two to STOP DOING THAT).

And, traditionally, just after I've finished Christmas shopping ALMOST .... Daughter3 has just asked for slippers for Christmas (I DO NOT HAVE SLIPPERS) .... I feel the warmth of the Christmas spirit.
 
Yeah, and this particular Christmas spirit is Gin *clinks glass* Cheers.


Wednesday, 7 December 2011

The Gallery; My Awesome Photo

This week I'm joining in with The Gallery for the first time and not just because there's a chance of winning your photograph on a huge canvas ... Oh no, not at all *looks a bit shifty.*

I'm a bit of a photo addict and take loads and loads, much to the irritation of the children whose posing abilities are stretched beyond boredom point on a regular basis, so it's been very hard choosing just one.

But this is it and it's not technically brilliant or clever, but it brings back some special memories AND they all look happy AT THE SAME TIME ... an almost impossible thing to capture on camera. It was taken on holiday a couple of years ago on Goathland train station and stars The Small Boy and his big twin sisters.



In fact, I like the photo so much that when we back this year... I took it again.




Go to Sticky Fingers The Gallery to see everybody else's entries ... I bet they're Awesome.




Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Sweet Sixteen - The Birthday Party Saga Pt 3

SIXTEEN days to go to THE biggest and best sixteenth birthday party EVER of the Teen Twins ... and I'm only on the one bottle of gin a day so far so it's going better than expected.


The invitations have gone out ... designed, printed and distributed by Teen Twin Two though it is a little unfortunate that she forgot to put on the date. Soooo further amended invitations are to be issued. This time we will include the date though we might just miss out the venue and see which of their fellow teens will get to the right place at the right time. I might even award a prize.

Saturday, 3 December 2011

The Death of The Hamster

Last night the hamster died. Sorry for breaking the news so bluntly, but it did ...  Daughter3 found it all curled up, small and, well, dead in it's sleeping nest. And if it wasn't ACTUALLY dead at the time, it was breathing it's last or expelling distasteful gases, who can tell.

Not that it was really OUR hamster at all. The Small Boy found it at in the Spring, cowering between some inappropriately placed plant pots in the summer. "Mum, mum," he said, charging up, dragging me by the hand, "Come and look." And so I looked and you CANNOT leave a defenceless animal in the street when a five-year-old believes he's found a rare and unusual gift. Even if you try really, really hard.

We (I) tried to find it's original owner. Invented a mythical small child (possibly in a gingham pinny but definitely with rosy cheeks) who was sobbing over it's loss just in case it was reclaimed but no-one did claim it. After it had eaten it's way out of it's temporary home and started chewing a cable, we threw over £40 at Pets at Home for an excessively excitable cage with inbuilt tubes and wheels and a mezzanine floor.

Despite misgivings, it had moved in. The cat - who has for the past 16 years been a fantastic, loyal and very valid reason for never having any other small animal in the house - showed a disappointing acceptance of it's new housemate. A poll (fight) was held on what it should be called and The Small Boy, because he had rescued it, given the final say. And lo, the hamster was named Toast.

RIP Toast
It has mostly spent it's time trying to escape, which it did about three times a week, and chewing things, anything and everything. But it was loved, very loved - it and it's cage were regularly cleaned, it's water always topped up and it's food replenished and ALL by the children which, frankly, was astonishing.

But now Toast is - I'm sorry - toast.

The Small Boy was heartbroken for about three minutes. The ten-year-old, gulping down sobs, put on her brave face and within 45 minutes was asking for a new hamster " .... or a chinchilla." Teen Twin Two was stoically accepting after a bit of a wobbly lip. Unexpectedly, rock 'n' rebel Teen Twin One - 16 years old in about three weeks - is STILL sobbing.

We buried Toast, The Man and I, in the garden in a damp and not particularly solemn ceremony. The Small Boy and Daughter Three didn't attend because: "Muuuum, it's raining" and they watched through the window looking a bit sad but a lot drier than we were. Teen Twin Two didn't attend because she was doing her hair. Teen Twin One didn't attend because she was prostrate with grief across her bed.

The house is just a tiny bit quieter without constant rustling, the endless, annoying trundling of the wheel and the occasional dull thump of it falling from the monkey bars. And I am NOT googling chinchillas *googles chinchillas*.


Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Let's (Not) Talk About Sex, Baby

IN those heady, hazy days of imagining what your own particular style of parenting might be - ie before actually having children - you might make promises to yourself. They might range from never shouting at or slapping your child, never letting them near an e-number, rationing TV to 15 minutes a day or never, ever buying them a Barbie.

Of course within thirty seconds of actually giving birth you realise parenting is basically a juggling act of panic, fear and tears. Oh, and then your mother buys the damn kid a Barbie anyway.

Friday, 25 November 2011

Mammogram's Are Made Of This...

This week I had my breasts examined and not the usual examination that sometimes occurs when having a conversation with a man. No.

I was examined under the NHS breast screening programme which, in my health region, has expanded the usual screening age range (generally 50 to 70) to start at 47-years-old right up 73. But, as it's a new initiative, it's an randomly selected "invite only" process until the system fully phases in.

And I was one of the chosen ones, OBVIOUSLY at the youngest end of the spectrum. Too young in fact because, ahem, I'm not actually 47 until Saturday.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Sweet Sixteen - The Birthday Party Saga Pt 2

The clock is ticking down to the Teen Twins 16th birthday..35 DAYS TO GO. And plans for THE PARTY have been firmed up, sorted out, sat down in the corner, given a bit of a talking to and generally been told to pull themselves together.


Apparently THE PARTY is DEFINITELY fancy dress. WITHOUT a theme because EVERY theme has already been DONE TO DEATH *expressive teenage shrug.* And you CAN NOT get in AT ALL unless you are in fancy dress and that means me and you and Grandma and EVERYBODY.

APART from the sixth former that may/ may not have been/ be/ might be/ will be maybe invited who is FAR too cool to dress up in fancy dress. He can wear what he wants OBVIOUSLY ......

And I'm not allowed to talk to him though heaven knows why. I'll probably think he is in fancy dress anyway: ("Aw, look at his trousers! He's come as an arse.") Oh.

And Teen Twin2 has ABSOLUTELY, UTTERLY, DEFINITELY decided what to wear. Three times. Teen Twin1 is wearing her own clothes, but more so. (The eyeliner manufacturers of England have been put on stand by).

AND as Teen Twin1's band is playing, why can't we have Teen Twin2's boyfriend's band TOO and "Do we get paid."
Er, NO.

Next time: Grandma tuts, grumbles, sighs and speaks of  buffet food. I hide in the cellar with gin.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Playing The Game

THERE are not many pleasures in being a mother to teenagers and not just because there's always the possibility they might turn into binge-drinking, knicker-flashing, knife-carrying, crack-addicted student-protesters the minute you have a lapse in concentration.

Thankfully my teenagers have not yet graced the pages of the Daily Mail, but they are still teenagers .. opinionated, hormonal, argumentative, rebellious, angry and resentful by turn. Occasional flashes of wit, smiles and niceness are generally accompanied by a request for money or chocolate or the moon.

But you take your pleasures where you find them and the BEST thing about having teenagers is playing The Game of Embarrassment.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Teenage Kicks

I WASN'T exactly a wild child when I was young, maybe a little advanced for my age in the going to the pub and hanging around rock stars department...

Well, I say rock stars though living in Wakefield which was (and still is) just one level up from touring some sheds, I didn't get to hang around that many. Biff Byford signed my t-shirt and I sat on Ian Gillan's knee for an interesting 15 minutes backstage in Bradford, but otherwise my rock star adventures were pretty limited.

The drinking wasn't though - for I was young in the late 70s when hanging around the pub underage was positively de rigueur. Every time the police raided anywhere, a friendly copper would tip the landlord the wink and the pub would be rather less full by the time they made the raid.

It is, of course, positively wrong to condone underage drinking. I don't obviously, but when I was young it was perfectly all right with me. And the drinking apprenticeship on the legendary Westgate Run through my teens set me up for college -  where one unlucky predatory student tried to get me drunk during Freshers Week and had to be carried back to his room with only a hangover of epic proportions to look forward to.

Friday, 4 November 2011

Sweet Sixteen ... The Birthday Party Saga Pt 1

SO the Teen Twins are rapidly approaching their 16th birthday and approaching it with a desire to throw the biggest, bestest 16th birthday celebration ever.

They want a party. But not just a party, they want A PARTY. One of such generous proportions it will require the hiring of a venue large enough to accommodate the hundreds of other teenagers they want to invite and the hundreds of relatives they also want to invite. (Mainly because relatives will bring desirable gifts being, of course, more solvent than the average teenager).

And the venue MUST HAVE  a stage because you can't have a large venue for a large party without having some kind of entertainment laid on (if only to make the poor fleeced relatives feel they're getting value for the money they've laid out on presents, one for each twin obviously.)

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

A Mummy By Any Other Name

FOR the past few months for some reason of their own, the Teen Twins have been seeking out something other than Mum to call me. Mainly I suspect because with four children in the house, the word "Mum" like any other word that you hear repeated (shouted/ sobbed/ screamed/ whined and yelled) repeatedly, has lost all meaning.

And they, being as bright (manipulative) as they are, have also worked out that after 16 years I can hear the initial rumbling of an "M.." in the middle distance and deftly develop random, specific and selective deafness.

("Mum, can I have..."
"Sorry darling did you say something? I've got to worm the cat/ sort the washing/ clean the hamster."
Child disappears in morbid fear of being requested to help with household chores.)

Friday, 21 October 2011

Parent V Teacher : The Battle for the Small Boy

IT was The Small Boys Parent's Evening this week.. his first in Class One where they do proper ("boring" says The Small Boy) learning.

Class R was all playing trains, planting sunflowers and painting any small girl that stood still long enough. Class One is spelling tests and learning to do joined up writing. I can see why he might not be that enamored, and he hasn't been.

For the first few weeks of the new term, every morning was a fight to get him into uniform. Another fight to get him out of the door and a final fight - definitely a title match - to get him into the classroom.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Other People's Children

IS IT wrong to dislike Other People's Children? I've tried my best, smiled in all the right places. Even, probably, patted some on the head in a futile attempt to look normal. But no, however much I try I just can't find it in myself to actively 'like' them as much as I like my own children.

But then my children ARE my children. They've been brought up to be how I expect them to be while Other People's Children just, well, haven't. 

Other People's Children, when invited for tea, issue menu suggestions, or perhaps, orders for what they will eat. Then they smear (literally use a knife to smear ... I KNOOOOW) tomato sauce across it all and only eat half of it anyway.

Other People's Children ask for things and look as though they'll go squealing to the authorities that you've deprived them of their human rights if you don't immediately comply.

Other People's Children stand in the background whispering suggestions into My Child's ear that are just NEVER going to happen..... "Yes, child, of course you can cross three main roads and go to the shop on your own. Of course you can, you must be at least 10 years old and it's dark. Off you trot." NOT.

Other People's Children use words like "sarnie" and "belly" and "bum" and then My Child says them too when we all KNOW it's "sandwich," "tummy" and "bottom." *rolls eyes*

Other People's Children come round to play with My Child's toys and break them and don't apologise even if they have, say, pulled the door off a HUGELY expensive and much treasured dolls house. 

Broken door on the doll's house
Other People's Children can wreck homes


And when Other People's Children have, for example, done that, you can't even express an inkling of an element of disappointment because they are OTHER PEOPLE'S CHILDREN..... *grits teeth.*

So, I'm sorry. But see Your Child? I don't want to know unless it comes with a signed guarantee of satisfaction and an infinite capacity for kindness and tolerance. I think I need it.

*NEVER EVER invites that Other Person's Child for tea EVER AGAIN

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Extra Curricular Activities

BY the cunning dint of having a baby roughly every five years, I have successfully managed to stave off any temptation (not that there was ever much) to be dragged into school activities and events.

Obviously I've attended all the class assemblies and special school church services required. Obviously. But with a small, sticky child in tow being force-fed pieces of fruit, raisins and, in extreme cases (when I'm past caring), Jelly Tots, to keep them within socially acceptable sound levels.

But manning a stall at the school fair? Never. Serving teas to other put-upon roped-in mothers? Not once. PTA meetings? Do me a favour.

With child four now safely ensconced in Class One, I have no defence left AT ALL. I thought about having another baby (not really) or buying a dog, but it appears I am now doomed (bullied by the Small Boy) to stick my hand up like some Pavlovian puppy the minute 'involvement' is required.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

When I Was Young (ish) ......

Once upon a time BC (before children) I worked at the local newspaper. Pregnant for the first time, with twins, I wrote a series of articles about impending and new motherhood. These are some of those articles 15/ 16 years after they were first published.


Copies of newspaper articles


Last stop before motherhood
(published November 17 1995)

  I'm big. Big enough for people to begin looking out a couple of towels and boiling up water as I hove into view.


Saturday, 24 September 2011

It's Your Party And I'll Cry If I Want To

WHEN I was a child, children's parties were inviting a few selected friends home to have jelly and ice-cream and curly egg mayonnaise sandwiches, most likely in that order. Someone's dad would do the Harry Worth thing using a door frame (you know the thing) and there'd be Pass the Parcel  And - but only if the birthday child's house was big enough and they had enough seats - a game of musical chairs. There would be balloons and the party would be punctuated with a loud *POP* and an ever louder *SQUEEAL* throughout.

Perhaps it is this nostalgic view of what a children's party should be that has made me so against the Wacky Warehouse party. I say Wacky Warehouse (mainly because the last six parties I have taken the Small Boy to have all been held in one particular Wacky Warehouse) but it could be any generic soft-play area that offers party packages - a Cheeky Monkeys, a Little Monsters.

And I hate them. Really hate them. Loathe them. Two hours of hell in an (always drafty) room with a lot of scaffolding, netting and plastic balls in the corner. They call it a play-area but basically it's a big cage, with cushioned bits. There's formica and hard chairs and primary colours and cartoons on the wall. All it's missing is a woman in a cardi in the corner to put you right back in primary school.

Your child runs squealing with excitement into the "play-area" (children notoriously have no discernment) and you have to chase after them because they've broken the cardinal rule which is "No Shoes" - the first commandment of soft play.

Already "glowing" after wrestling a pair of shoes from a child in a ball-pool, you then have to face the Party Mothers. They're the same Playground Mothers you see five days a week, but instead of the three minutes of smiling and nodding at each other you can just about manage each day, you now face two hours together. Two hours on hard chairs while your children hit each other, trip each other, fight and scream in a cage in the corner. You can't actually hear each other because of the screaming and the shouting, but you have to pretend you do. Sometimes there is tea, despite there being a bar in the next room.

A carefully assessed amount of time later - just time enough for your neatly turned-out child to turn in a ravening red-faced shouty thing - a klaxon sounds for food, regardless of the time of day. Once, you had to fill in tick boxes on the identikit invitations of what your child might eat two weeks down the line at 11 o'clock in the morning.

Now though there is a buffet option though it IS mostly what you used to tick boxes for, but is now a free-for-all leading to the last-chicken-nugget-on-the-tray scuffle.


children's-party-nightmares



Several children WILL spill their drinks on other children. Some children WILL refuse to eat anything at all. SOME children will eat their allocated individual pot of tomato sauce with a spoon *looks hard at the Small Boy.*

ALL the mothers will be smiling with the slightly deranged, glazed rictus of the much pummelled and put-upon.

Someone will say: "Well, he never does that at home."

A child will be sick.

There will also be cake. Supplied by the family and sometimes, by the newbies celebrating their first born, home-baked and carefully crafted. Though it matters not one jot. Thirty seconds after the food is finished, the cake is slid in front of the birthday child. There may be an "Oooh" from the assembled mothers (depending on the elaborateness of the cake and the politeness of the assembled mothers). Candles will be lit, "Happy Birthday" sung at a out of time trot and candles blown.

There will be games, orchestrated by a staff member in a jaunty cap who harbors ambitions to appear on The X Factor. They will remain relentlessly cheerful, even if the child they threw out of musical statues is prostrate and sobbing at their feet.

OR, if you're deeply unlucky, the games will be conducted by a dragging-knuckled effigy of boredom seething with some untold resentment most of which they relieve by picking on happy looking, shiny faced, enthusiastic party goers at Pass the Parcel reducing them all mercilessly to tantrums or tears.

Eventually, at last, you will be released back into real life. But not until the party-goers have been presented with a plastic bag replete with one small toy (that will break within 3 hours), a small packet of chocolate buttons, a piece of cake (remember the cake) and an attached helium balloon destined to float up to your ceiling the minute you reach home and hang around like an embarrassed ghost for the next three weeks.

Your child will bounce off the wall for several hours. Eventually they will fall asleep. They will have had a: 'Fantastic', 'Brilliant,' and sometimes, depending on the development of vocabulary, 'Awesome' time.

They will not remember anything about it when they wake up in the morning.

But you will. And the next time you open an innocuous envelope from school with THAT invitation in, your heart will sink just that little bit further... Every. Single. Time.


The Hardest Lesson to Learn

THERE'S an awful lot of things that a body has to learn and remember as it negotiates it's way from newborn to baby to toddler to child to teenager and eventually to adulthood .... Really hard things like walking and talking and that's just for starters.

Learning to read, to write, tying shoelaces, telling the time - all trials to master and duly mastered one way or another they are, but one thing seems impossible to learn. One concept is too confusing to grasp. One lesson to learn that, at least in my house, is failed on a daily basis.

Lights, lamps, televisions, DVD players, game stations, hair straighteners, hair curlers, hair crimpers, showers and taps are all left shining, burbling, gently steaming or dripping away as is their wont while the offspring spring off to do something else without a care in the world.

They don't care one jot that constantly leaking electricity costs money. Real Money. And I thank the heavens every day that we don't have a water meter or I WOULD have to sell a child a year just to pay the bills.

Should they care about the bills? Maybe not, but I have to, dull and boring though they are. So I'm constantly leaping out from behind doors and into rooms with my clarion call of "Turn that off." When they go to bed I sneak around the house checking taps and plugs, turning things from stand-by to off, like some ninja health and safety officer.

When they've managed to learn everything that they have already (and one of them has learnt Chinese for heaven's sake) would it really be so hard to learn to turn things off ..... Really *Sobs a little.*

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Silent Sunday



5 Things I Have Learned This Week:

1: The Boy can fall asleep while listening to 'Rainbow Rave Up' and it's '40 Massive Dance Anthems'  full volume on his CD Player but 'Bedtime With The Mr Men' will having him bouncing off the walls for hours.


2: That we possess a copy of 'Rainbow Rave Up,' ...... though where it came from remains a mystery. *Unpacks desk lamp and Fedora, lights cheroot*

3: The first time your teenager is late home after a date with her new boyfriend, you DO start chewing the carpet. Fact.

4: Being a parent of twin teenage girls is being 40% Pierluigi Collina, 40% Kofi Annan and 20% Sir Mervyn King 

5: Where Guatemala is.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Children Do Say The Funniest Things.. And Then Sometimes They Don't

I WAS going to write about The Boy and the hilariously, funny things he says. You know the kind of thing - every child trots out a variety of questions and opinions that are so knee-ticklingly amusing, they are pressed forever into the memory (or in the modern world, committed to posterity in the wonderful world of the web).

I WAS going to share the sheer brilliance of his asking whether we could rewind Christmas like we can rewind TV and do it all again... and again ... and again.

I WAS going to do that but then today I spent the afternoon with The Boy and his classmates on a walk around our local area as part of their learning about the environment. As we walked back to school from the allotments, after they chuckled at my stumpy carrots and oohed at my whopping courgettes, we passed one of the boy's houses.

We were just wondering if we should knock on the door and invite ourselves all in for a cup of tea when the little boy, whose house it was, said to me confidentially: "I don't have a daddy."

And trotting along besides me, clutching my hand he told  me that his Daddy lived elsewhere. That his Mummy and Daddy had been together but before he was one year old, his Daddy had left them.

He used to go see his daddy every so often until he was four years old, he said, and then they all fell out and now his daddy didn't like his mummy and didn't like him. So now he didn't see his daddy at all anymore.

Five years old and he sounded worldly-wise but not in the least self-pitying. He had his mummy and his grandma and his grandad. He didn't miss his daddy, he said but then wistfully asked: "Has Oliver got a daddy."

How I didn't sweep him off the floor and hug the very bones of him, I don't know. I was severely tempted to deny all knowledge of Oliver's daddy too, though I didn't.

Not quite Don't Children Say The Funniest Things I know. But I do think that one day, there might be one particular daddy who will realise he's missed having a whole treasure chest full of memories to keep him warm.

Saturday, 10 September 2011

5 Things I Have Learned This Week:

1: You spend the six weeks of summer praying for school to start again and the minute it does, you wish they were all back home again because it's far too quiet. And THEN you realise that this is what it feels like when the torture stops

2: I was entirely right not to take up a career in the medical profession *props post-operative man in corner, feeds him painkillers, drinks wine*

2: The easiest way to stop a teenager wanting her bellybutton piercing is to take her to have her bellybutton pierced.

3: That I wish I'd known that before spending three months being nagged about it.

4: THERE ARE CHRISTMAS ADVERTS ON THE TV, CHRISTMAS PRESENTS IN THE SHOPS AND CHRISTMAS CHOCOLATES IN THE SUPERMARKETS AND IT IS TOO SOON I TELL YOU, MUCH TOO SOON. I WILL NOT BE PANICKED. I WILL NOT BE PANICKED


5: There are http://www.xmasclock.com/  days until Christmas .......... *panics*

Friday, 9 September 2011

The Cruelty of Youth

Ah, the cruelty of youth ... or of my own two youths to be particular.

Girl One and Two are teenage girls. They are 15 years old. They are clever. They are beautiful. They are kind to children and dumb creatures alike (one of them even loves Jedward), but to me.. the woman that carried them in her womb and practically died (died I tell you) in the delivery suite. The woman from whom they obviously inherited their brains and beauty. Obviously *looks around challengingly*... To me, they are needlessly cruel.

Twin One thinks it's beyond hilarious to call me "Bingo Wings." She likes to call me it, rather louder than necessary, when we are company, whether we know the company we are in or not. The pitiful looks I've had whilst trundling through a crowded supermarket as Twin One strides along cheerfully calling "Oi, Bingo Wings, look at this." have taught me there are no holes in the floors of supermarkets large enough to swallow me and my bingo wings. Teeny, tiny little wings though they might be.

Their latest cruelty though not just takes the biscuit, it takes an entire tin and a complete biscuit aisle too. Sat on the sofa flanking one of the boyfriend's du jour, they asked him between muffled giggles: "How old do you think Mum is?"

A tense silence descended as the boyfriend pondered which way to go, probably thinking out of the door and all the way home without stopping was the best one. He babbled and squirmed and wriggled a bit. The demonic pair that I spawned giggled and giggled and giggled a bit more urging him to guess. I pretended to ignore them from the kitchen.

"She's 46, aren't you Mum," they yelled joyously. "Mum, you're 46."

Yes, loudly announcing my age to all and sundry is their latest thrill. Family members, visitors, schoolfriends, passing strangers, all are apprised that I am, if not exactly over the hill, heading towards the summit with the speed of a gazelle if not the dexterity. Apparently this is both hugely amusing and equally as entertaining. Personally I fail to see the joke.

I'm hoping it's a phase they are going through. I suspect it isn't. Perhaps when I'm 86 I won't feel quite so wounded. Though I suspect I will.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

For Whom The School Bell Tolls

ON Monday morning, The Boy did not want to go to school.

He did not what to go to school so much that after going to school and running around for five minutes, when the bell rang and the doors opened, he set off back towards the school gate.

"Where are you going," I followed him in the I'm-not-running-after-my-escaping-son-at-all-everything's-fine manner one must employ when in the presence of other school mothers (a voracious breed inclined to cluck and tut at the slightest provocation).

By the time I caught up with him he was stomping off around the corner. "I'm going home," he announced.

We were, though, very on time for school.



After being woken on Tuesday morning, he flung himself headlong across the sofa and proceeded to relax with a fair amount of determination.

"Breakfast and school," I chimed as brightly as one can chime first thing in the morning. Probably more of a clang to be honest.

Boy rolled his eyes: "I did that yesterday," he said and continued his relaxing which was definitely edging towards full-on lolling.

"But you have to go again today," I pointed out. 

Clearly, this was not good news. Roused from the sofa, he crossed his arms: "I'm not going to school."

Things continued along this vein for a while. The clock ticking, his sister tutting.

"But you went every day last year, you know how it works" I said (or rather pleaded on bended knee while trying to thrust various of his limbs into various parts of uniform).

"But I did that," said The Boy stubbornly, "I don't want to do it again."

We were very nearly late for school.


Wednesday Morning and The Boy has to be hoisted out of bed. He is alarmingly patched in green which proves to be an over-enthusiastically wielded felt-tip pen. Nevertheless...

The Boy discovers 706 things he would rather be doing than going to school. He complains his pants don't fit, that his sock has a hole in it (it doesn't). He puts his shoes on the wrong feet. Then decides he needs to go to the bathroom much more urgently than he needs to go to school.

Not once does he say "I don't want to go to school."

We are very quite late to school.

I am very relieved. Normal service is resumed.



Saturday, 3 September 2011

5 Things I Have Learned This Week:

1: The word "Maybe" leaves my mouth but the word "Yes" ends up in the children's ears.

2: The sign language for 'Lesbian' and 'Dickhead' from Girl 2. (Though I'm not sure that it is proper sign language or that I will have the opportunity to use it or if I did use it, whether I would get punched in the face or not).

3: That we need to e-nun-ci-ate our words more carefully, particularly words like 'be-ing' for example (see below):

Daleks Killing a Human Bean by Oliver, aged 5.

4: That when they put the word Zero on a drinks can/ bottle they don't just mean zero sugar, they mean zero taste  and zero appeal and zero taste. Did I mention zero taste. Yes I'm looking at you Fanta Zero Icy Lemon.

5: I WILL mix gin with anything if we've run out of tonic. Yes I'm looking at you Fanta Zero Icy Lemon. *Slurp* *Grimace* *Slurp* *Grimace* etc.

Countdown to School

It's back to school on Monday morning and I'm waiting for a couple of the Darling Horrors to unearth some mud-spattered piece of PE kit that's been festering in a dark corner for the past six weeks while simultaneously announcing they need PE kit on Monday morning.

I expect this will happen at about 8.40pm on Sunday night despite the fact I have spent the past six weeks threatening everyone and anyone with instant decapitation if it does.

And Girls 1 and 2 have waited until today to claim they require new school shoes, flat and black and plain. They have been despatched to the shops alone - trying to find a pair of shoes both acceptable under school rules and to a pair of 15 year old girls is a journey of such will-sapping, mind-numbing drudgery I don't ever want to embark on it again. They WILL return with a pair of black ballet style pumps destined to fall apart after week one.

Girl 3 has spent a large proportion of the summer amassing a whole WHSmith's worth of pens, pencils and novelty rubbers. These will already have disappeared but Girl 3 won't discover this until bedtime on Sunday. This will mean tears. They will all be found in about three weeks time at the bottom of the Boy's toybox.

This year though the most important thing to sort out before Monday morning is The Boy who moves up to Class One and under the auspices of one Mrs Billam. She has already taught Girls 1, 2 and 3 and thanks to them, The Boy is under the delusion that her name is actually and really Mrs Killer-Billam. Things may well get a bit tense.

Saturday, 27 August 2011

5 Things I Have Learned This Week:

1: There is always one. And sometimes, astonishingly, it's not your one.

2: Ten-year-old girls should not order off-menu, demand extras and additionals and then not eat any of it. It is irritating. Oh. And expensive.

3:  I can sensibly discuss my father-in-law's testicles with said father-in-law at one o'clock in the morning without sniggering. But not for very long.

4: A heavy week of entertaining various visiting relatives can result in one's consumption of gin increasing enormously. *Reaches for bottle.*

5: I have no idea if chickens can fly.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

My Life with Jedward

THERE comes a time in every teenage girl's life when she develops a crush on a popstar. Generally it lasts for about six months ... just time enough to plaster the bedroom wall in posters, play the CD wafer thin and drive every sentient being within hearing distance into a mummified state of pap-pop induced terror.

But Twin2 has developed a passion that just will not be thwarted and that passion is Jedward. Since they first, well not graced.... Since they first appeared on the stage at the X Factor auditions in 2009, she has been totally besotted.

Jedward-Lego
Jedward: The Lego Years

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

In Praise of Facebook

When I was a teenager any angst I harboured was spewed in suicidal poetry that was torn up and discarded shortly after. Every broken heart (and there's been a few), I cradled to myself and let fester. Every disappointment was stifled somewhere deep down where it lurked, shiftily, for years. I wouldn't have liked to have been my mother but to be honest, my mother didn't like being my mother either.

So as a mother of a couple of teenage girls now, I could kiss the feet of Tim Berners-Lee and lick Mark Zuckerberg all over (though I really wouldn't enjoy it, honestly).

Social media, and Facebook in particular, has given me a window into my daughters' lives I value enormously and not in a sneaky Daily Mail way either. I don't spy but I do get given an insight into their lives that I wouldn't be privy to if we just gathered around the dinner table every evening.

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Silent Sunday

The Boy running through a fountain


My Harry Potter Shame

I HAVE a confession to make, one that could see me banished from civilised society. A monumentally dark and shameful secret. Hush, don't tell but...*deep breath* ... I have NEVER read a Harry Potter book and NEVER, EVER seen a Harry Potter movie from beginning to end. There I've admitted it.

I've seen clips, course I have. Adverts on the telly, obviously. I even have a rough grasp of who's who and a vague concept of some of the plot. But let's put it this way if Chris Tarrant's million pound question was about Harry Potter's world, I'd be coming back home on the bus.

Saturday, 6 August 2011

The Son and Hair

WHEN The Boy was born he had nothing but a faint white down covering on his head. It rubbed off and hair grew. Slowly. Very, very slowly.

Now he's five years old and the hair that grew has grown more. And more. And it continues to grow. Now he has tangled fair curls that grow ever longer and unruly. I've done a bit of trimming mainly to make it fall better and keep it out of his eyes but NOT to intentionally shorten it. It IS me that can't bring myself to take him to a barbers and ask for "a short back and sides." Me too who worries that if he did have a buzzcut, his fine hair would disappear into a couple of tussocks.

I like it long. We're a long hair family. Daddy has longish hair, mummy and three sisters: long hair. We can block a plughole in one overnight stop. We're a hairy and mostly curly family. What can I say.



The Boy and Hair



But we've reached that time of his life (his hair is touching his shoulders.. A bit) when some relatives have started to make snide Little Lord Fauntleroy remarks when they think I can't hear them (I can). When an old man down at the allotment called him a girl.

A Girl? He is so much a boy he practically leaks testosterone. He has hair and it's not as it's even loads and loads of hair. A serious rock fan would be embarrassed by it to be honest. What is with you people? *Growls*

But I had to ask him if he would like to have his hair cut. He said he didn't.

At least, not yet. *Sigh of relief*

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Fun And Laughter On Our Summer Holiday...

I'VE reached THAT point of the school holidays where I have no idea what day of the week it is and I've gritted my teeth so much my jaw aches.... though at least that means I've not shouted my throat red raw. Yet.

Things That Have Made My Teeth Gritted So Far:

Friday, 29 July 2011

The Trials and Tribulations of a Bandwife (Pt I)

While The Man was playing in front of 5,000 people in Portugal last August, I was at home unpacking from a week-long holiday we'd just had in Whitby. When he was going vodka shot for vodka shot with the Russian mafia, I was at home drinking tea.

When he was called at the very last minute to join a tour in Ireland with some bloke out of Guns and Roses, I was at home with a hole in the dining room floor because he was in the middle of replacing a radiator when the call came.

And I have been at home for all the Glastonburys, for Saudi Arabia, the Ukraine, Germany, Holland, Belgium, Czechslovakia, Hungary, Chechnya and Scotland.

But as life on the road mostly involves sleeping in vans and the inside of airports or sharing hotel rooms with other musicians, all of whom appear to have either hygiene problems or mental health issues, I'm not that bothered to be honest.

Bands on tour get drunk together and stay drunk, they argue, fall out and make up again six times every hour. It's like dealing with four kids stuffed to the gills with e-numbers and sleep deprived for a week. I can do that at home AND have a hot shower every night.

Tonight is our wedding anniversary and like several other wedding anniversaries, family birthdays, special events and every New Year's Eve since we've been together, I am at home. The Man is in Filey with four people he's never played with before and a failed X Factor contestant on vocals.

I know where I'd rather be. *Pops cork*

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Lemmy Got Me Pregnant

WELL, not really. I wouldn't touch him with yours but I like Motorhead, the band of which said Lemmy is both singer and bass player, and has been since God was a headbanger. He has warts. On his face. Lemmy, not God.

I saw Motorhead (the best version with Lemmy, Fast Eddie and Philthy Phil) in 1980 on the Ace Up Your Sleeve tour at Bradford St Georges. I didn't need tickets either because my uncle was one of the bouncers.

I very nearly got to go backstage, but my uncle the bouncer took one look at Motorhead and decided that sending his 15-yr-old niece into Lemmy's lair might not earn him Brother of the Year award with my mother, a woman who has made holding a grudge into an Olympic sport and has won every medal since the inaugural games.

But I digress.

The husband is also a Motorhead fan and in a conversation with the daughter recently he was overheard to say, out loud, to the child: "If it wasn't for Lemmy, you wouldn't be here at all."

I interrupted the father and daughter bonding time with a: "You what?" I may even have spluttered a little. I demanded an explanation, wondering if I'd missed a significant event that I really should have remembered.

"Because," said The Man, "Lemmy made me want to be a musician and if I wasn't a musician I wouldn't have moved here and we wouldn't have met and .."..... Well, you get the idea.

So he did, kind of, get me pregnant, in an immaculate conception kind of way. Thanks Lemmy. 

Friday, 22 July 2011

We're All Going On A Summer Holiday....

ALTHOUGH we're not. We're going in October because it's cheaper for a family of six. So that's five long weeks at home with the kids, five weeks. *Sobs a little*

To be sure of survival and continual sanity it's essential to ready yourself for the summer experience, the mental preparation is vital. In this house that mostly means making sure there's a plentiful supply of gin to fall in of an evening (though to be fair this is generally a year round thing. In honour of summer, I might add an ice cube).

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

An Apple For Teacher...

IT'S that time of year again.. end of the summer term and suddenly gift shops and card shops are awash with tokens, trinkets and, let's face it, trash proclaiming Best Teacher Ever and Thank You Teacher and A Gift for Teacher. Children you've spent the school year dragging, pulling, tugging, co-ercing and threatening into school every morning are suddenly skipping in desperate to handover a mug, fridge magnet or pen to the very same person they've done nothing but moan about and groan about and ignore for the past year.

I mean, just how many mugs can one teacher manage, if a class size averages out at 30 (and taking into consideration there'll be some kids with nothing to give and some kids will go down the box of chocolates route), there's still a good chance of getting seven to 10 mugs every July. That's a lot of mugs. There's probably a constant merry-go-round of cheery teacher mugs doing the rounds of their friends and colleagues who, by happy circumstance, are also mostly teachers. The charity shops too get suspiciously full of My Favourite Teacher presents every August.

Clearly the gift and greetings card business has something to answer for. In the ten years since I've been carting children in and out of schools, the last day of summer term has become an annual presentation ceremony as well as an ever expanding commercial business until now it's a fully fledged accepted and expected full stop to the summer term. And there's a cut-throat competitive edge between mothers at the school gate that perpetuates the process so that even the mother who's spent the year blaming Mr Bloody Whatsisname for Little Bobby's behaviourial problems with no sense of irony at all, presents the same Mr Bloody Whatsisname with a You're The Best Teacher EVER tie.

Me, I think we should keep things simple. Like Santa only comes to good little girls and boys, so it is with teachers - the End of Term Fairy is only coming from our house if you deserve a prize whether it be for making a difference or surviving an entire year without murdering my child. And I won't be handing over a Best Teacher Ever anything .. after a hard day at work at the chalk face (whiteboard) who wants to be reminded about it every time you make a cup of tea. No, it'll be a bottle of Gin and a valium, I might even put a ribbon on it.

Friday, 15 July 2011

That Difficult First Teenage Date

Daughter #1 went her on her first proper first date yesterday. First proper as in they didn't go out in a big gang, hang around a shopping centre and heckle old ladies which is how all previous teen twin courtships have been conducted until this point.

This date was clearly different.... a meal (pizza at Pizza Hut) with a movie (The Bridesmaids) to follow. Girl was picked up by the Youth and delivered home again (his father doing taxi duties there and back). And Girl, who generally spends her time at home slouching around in pyjamas and a hoody, HAD spent two and a half hours the previous evening trying on everything she and her twin sister own AND used about 300 quids worth of electricity on drying and straightening her hair.

Disappearing into her bedroom after school, she eventually emerged dressed up, made up and hand out for cash, before haring out the door as soon as the car arrived. Not because I might embarrass her if the poor boy came to the door to collect her. No. Not because of that. Not at all. I forlornly removed my clown outfit and put away the comedy trombone.

Monday, 11 July 2011

Three Girls, One Boy

TRAWLING the web, like you do when the kids are in bed, the man is banging his drum elsewhere (in a good way *tuts*) and there's bugger all on telly I found this article on the BBC News site: Sugar and Spice and All Things Nice, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-14036614.

Though it starts with the topical, if tenuous, link to the Beckham's then forthcoming new baby girl it goes on, if you can't be bothered to read the link, to wonder and explore what it's like to want or to have a different sex baby to the babies you've already had.

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Reaching an Understanding

"DO you understand me.." say I and the child's face grudgingly blossoms from stubborness to blank incomprehension.

"DO you UNDERSTAND?" I try again and the child slowly nods, eyes fixed on mine so I can see the wheels whirring within clearly proving they don't understand at all. The five minute painstakingly calm explanation of just why one shouldn't: put the cat in a dress; the hamster inside one's pyjamas; nail varnish on the wall (even if it does look JUST like paint), or ring 999 nine times in a row is not just forgotten, it has vanished into the mists of time.

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Uniform Thought

HALF the wonder of motherhood is watching a child learn it's way into the world - "I stand up, I fall down... I stand up, I fall down ... Ah, I stand up and I don't fall down...now what do these feet things do?" - but at no point during my children's milestone learning did I worry about what clothes they were wearing.

State education though has not the time for the indulgence of a mother watching her precious offspring realise that this-thing-does-that-thing whilst wearing a feather boa, a pair of pants and a sock. State education, in general, likes its recipients fully dressed and preferably dressed in the designated uniform.

Monday, 27 June 2011

The Rehabilitation of Thomas the Tank Engine

IT'S been an ongoing battle to detach The Boy from his Thomas the Tank Engine babywalker since he learned to walk on his own two feet.

The plastic blue, jaunty faced Thomas has, over the past four years, gone from the corner of the room to the cellar and back again. From the cellar to the shed and out again. Into the greenhouse and, inevitably, back out again. At one point earlier this year it spent a couple of months sat outside the house several more houses down the road.... they brought it back and I (almost) succeeded in looking pleased that they had. "Yeah, thanks for that" *kicks Thomas in his tender*

So Thomas the Tank Engine was condemned to languishing in the garden covered in mud and occasionally being dragged out for the boy to rattle noisily up and down the street while shrieking like a banshee or, even more excitingly, filling it with mud before rattling it noisily up and down the... well, you get the picture.

But the Thomas the Tank Engine, erstwhile babywalker, has now been rehabilitated and reintegrated into society and The Boy is even quite pleased about it. Now it squats serenely in the corner of the newly redesigned front garden. Denuded of it's handle, steering wheel and seat, it's even had holes drilled into it's bottom and now it functions, to all intents and purposes, as a plant pot.

We (I) call the garden Thomas the Tank Engine Heaven and I try to tell myself that it is in no way as appalling as having a gnome with a fishing rod sat there *secretly suspects it might be*


Thomas the Tank Engine plant pot
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