Have you ever tried to tuck into a beautifully crafted Roast Dinner with all the trimmings, with a strange aroma of sweet stools floating across the mint sauce? Then you, my friend, are on to the latest diet craze – the extraordinarily effective appetite suppressant we call having children.
Firstly a newborn will not let you eat. It senses when a meal is near by and will demand your full attention and both hands.
Secondly, the Mac an’ Cheese you’ve prepared does not pair well with baby upchuck.
Another thing that can put you off your fajitas is a baby clamped to your bleeding nipples draining the calcium from you.
Now – when a child starts weaning they have the power to put you off all of your solid family favourites. My friend, once you’ve seen Lasagne, Cottage Pie, and, God forbid, Tuna Pasta Bake go through a human and re-enter the atmosphere an hour later in much the same form – trust me – those meals will not be a part of your weekly food diary again.
You will also be generally full already when your meal arrives because you have been tucking into disgusting leftovers strewn around your house – burnt ends of fish fingers, crusts from toast, peanut butter from the jar, cold beans, lurpack.
Ever had to scrape chilli con carne out of a child’s neck rolls? No more Old el Paso for me ta.
I can honestly say I haven’t fully enjoyed a Christmas Dinner for five years now. Who wants to wolf down a load of stuffing balls when you’ve spent the morning removing your children’s own balls of stuffing from their Pampers and rubbing Sudacream into bum holes?
And meals out? Ha!! Ha!! forget it.
So there you have it – want your appetite suppressed? Forget any Kim Kardashian sponsored lollypop – no, no, just have kids.
Adult parties (I mean parties as an adult – not orgies or anything) are great.
I don’t get invited to any – but what I imagine is that there’s usually prosecco in fancy glasses, nibbles (not nipples) from M&S, no cringe worthy party games and great talking points. I imagine people stand around getting pissed, some classic George Michael plays in the background and there is intelligent natter about Brexit and Love Island.
Children’s parties, on the other hand, are the worst. The absolute worst. They’re shite.
First off when you arrive you realise you know no one. The kids run off together screaming towards the soft play and there you are with a GROUP OF STRANGERS. You might have nodded to them in the playground before but you don’t know anyone’s names. You need name tags – you know the kids but you can’t rock up and say “Hi Teddy’s mummy! How was your journey?”
You have to mingle and try to think of acceptable things to talk about with these strangers that will make you terribly interesting and worthy of friendship (because you’re so lonely) but can’t think of a single thing to say. My poor husband could only think of the following opener with another dad “how did you find parents’ evening?” What have we become? The most boring mo fos to ever grace a soft play? Me – I have word vomit. Within about five minutes I was talking to a stranger about how racist Super Ted was. Why? I can’t tell you. I really can’t.
There are no lubricating tools – no prosecco, no wine – you’re basically thrust into an awkward social situation with name tags and no alcohol. You’re at an AA meeting in a f#cking soft play.
There are no nibbles – there are only nibbles for the brats. And even though the nibbles are chanting your name – cocktail sausages, frazzles etc – you can’t touch them! Because the other parents will look down on you – for taking food off babies and all that.
There is cake snobbery afoot. You have to have made it yourself to even consider yourself being called a mum. It has to be a great British bake off masterpiece. A fucking rainbow unicorn three tiered ensemble. If you can’t do that then it has to be bespoke made by a professional; a hundred tiny handmade sylvanian family members on the top. Mine was from Sainsburys.
The blowing out of the candles is bloody terrifying. There are twenty kids sat around in fabric with the same flammability as a pringle – Pirates and princesses that could go up at any second. Open flames are not, I repeat, not a good idea.
The party games are barbaric and only serve to make children cry. They are also the most excruciatingly dull things to watch. Have you sat and watched OTHER PEOPLE play pass the parcel? There is literally nothing in it for you. Like – nothing. And sure enough your child won’t get a haribo or a crayon or whatever and will come to you screaming that it’s not fair. If pass the parcel isn’t bad enough – musical statues is horrendous – it’s where you repeatedly point at kids that move and say “you’re out.” causing tears and misery. Who invented these things?
They drag on forever. Two hours feels like two days. You have absolutely nothing to pass the time other than idle chit chat about the snow or recycling and watching your kid doesn’t catch alight.
There are dozens of them – the invites keep coming in an ongoing relay of terror that YOU started by inviting a whopping 18 kids to your child’s birthday and now they will forever repay the favour. You are going to spend a lot of money on presents – until they’re probably twelve. All eighteen of them.
You finally get to take home a bin bag full of presents that you then have the pleasure of seeing your child rip through the next day – and what do you get? A bill. And another invite to the same bastard soft play the next weekend.
Do you know what – I’m 36 this year. I think I’m going to have an adult party of my own (no orgies!) – I will invite all the school mums and none of the children. I’ll have a bespoke cake made with Idris Elba on the top of it. There will be Prosecco and NO PARTY games. I want eighteen presents mind. I’ll dress up as a normal functioning adult.
I realise I have used the following words in this post: Idris Elba, lubrication, adult parties, orgies and thrust – so I may meet some like minded mums due to Google search.
I met the man who would become my husband when I was in my very early 20s. I was working as an office Temp and he was in the same office.
I first saw his name on a work email. I read the surname several times. I thought it was the most beautiful surname I had ever seen. I practiced my name with it and thought that the two together were sublime; a proper author name (I was always looking for a good author name for when I eventually inevitably became a famous author of course). Unfortunately I couldn’t stand the bloke. I mean I could not stand him! So you could say I fell in love with his name – not him.
I thought he was arrogant and bloody annoying. All he did all day was royally take the piss out of me. One day we were on a work do in the local pub and we were arguing as usual and my best friend exclaimed “Oh for goodness sake! Why don’t you two just get a room!” I will never, ever, ever forget it.
Ten years later after a million mistakes and other relationships we finally fell into each other with the force of a sonic boom. I knew he was it.
The next five years would be a fast and furious flurry of two children and a wedding day.
Something he doesn’t get credit for is how he handles – on a daily basis – my mental health problems. He is, in fact, the only man who has been able to cope with me! When I am depressed he will sit next to me, hold my hand and listen. He understands – even though he has never been in that position. He lists what I have to be thankful for and always tells me I will be ok. He is a calming anchor to my manic highs and lows. He is amazing.
I am so glad I took that temp job all those years ago. I am so thankful that I finally got my perfect surname (even though no one in Yorkshire can pronounce it correctly).
Usual Disclaimer: Gee…I sure am lucky to live so near to my parents! We are so lucky my son has his grandparents in his life. I sure don’t know what we would do without them.
But I could do without the handover notes.
Which usually go a bit like this:
Toddler is thrust back into the house, after our much needed time off, looking rosy cheeked and full of gusto with a new attitude of “well now I know who’s really boss”.
Grandparents give me a carrier bag of half eaten brioches, soggy biscuits and a cup of squash that looks like it has been dragged through several puddles of manure.
And the Toddler Grandparent handover notes commence:
1. First and foremost – we are told how much our son did not want to come home to us in any way, shape or form. We are told how miserable he is at Departure Grandparents, Arrival parents; You know – the ones who look after him 24 hours a day and the woman who barely survived a three day labour.
We are told that he started protesting and weeping merely at the thought of coming home to us when he reached our block – as soon as he saw the familiar streets leading up to this house – well, he had a breakdown. The poor soul. How awful for him.
2. Secondly – we are told a list of information about his bowels. If he has gone, when he went, what the poo was like! Shape, smell, consistency. What they did about it – never a straight forward: “Oh we simply changed his nappy, like you do 76 times a week.” No, no, always something elaborate because there was some sort of shit based disaster that meant he had to be hosed down in the bath like an incontinent Rhino.
“And you know, there’s something wrong with those nappies you gave us, or we might have put it on backwards and inside out – or on his head – we just can’t figure them out.”
3. Accompanied by something they have ‘spotted’ while he has had his clothes off that is a major cause for concern. A pimple or a red raw arse (according to them) or a jutting out bone or a scaly patch.
“Have you seen it? I really think you should have seen it? Do you ever look at his body? And we are sure he needs to go to the doctors asap about it, or A&E. Are you bathing him enough?”
4. A detailed description of how much he ate while he was with them – Veg! Yogurt! An adult portion of Fish and Chips! Juice, more juice! And pudding (“although you know, I want to get him some vitamin C supplements because of the tone under his eyes and how he obviously doesn’t get what he needs when he’s with you”) and
“we can’t understand what you mean when you say he will only eat egg! He seems to eat everything when he’s with us. Ha … Ha…. Ha.”
5. A list of perfectly easy and simple things they couldn’t do when they were out with him.
“We just couldn’t fold down that pushchair after all, so we have had to leave it at the train station in Scarborough. We couldn’t figure out how to fasten those reigns….that nappy…that coat. We couldn’t figure out which shoe went on which foot. We couldn’t adjust the car seat so your Grandfather just held onto him for the journey!” (no of course the last one is a joke)
6. A detailed description of how much he achieved when he was with them. “He was obviously just in the best environment for personal growth”.
“I know you say he can’t walk, talk, read, count… but when he was with us today he ran ten metres, said Grandma and Grandpa repeatedly and counted to eight in Russian.”
7. A detailed description of how much fun he had with them.
“You know dear, I don’t think I have ever, in my life, seen him so happy! It’s such a pity that you can’t do things like this with him all the time! Such a shame he has had to come back to you – look how upset he is! Poor Sod.”
And they leave.
Us waving and nodding at the door, and promising that we will give him another bath to get rid of any encrusted poo, we will get that spot checked out, we will feed him more broccoli and have more fun with him.
“Take him out in the fresh air every single day and play with him. Don’t just neglect him! Poor bugger!”
They drive off happily.
Toddler screams and wails and stamps whole body onto the floor. I gear myself up for the long evening counting the minutes before I can put him to bed and have some rest.
Once in my bed I close my eyes and hear the tick tock of the clock counting down to the next time he can go to his grandparents.
Repeated Disclaimer: Gee…we sure are lucky to live so near to my parents. Grandparents are the best and we don’t know what we would do without them.
If there are two things I absolutely adore in this world – it’s writing (I could totally be JK Rowling if I just had a better attention span) and Pizza – the food of Gods. So imagine my delight when I learned three things:
Pizza Express are supporting World Book Day by holding a ‘How to Write a Novel in 60 Minutes’ kids’ workshops for World Book Day 2018
there will be pizza there – obviously.
They are doing this in Leeds! My new hometown.
So if you have some young budding writers in your brood and are looking for something fun to do this Sunday – why not come down to Pizza Express in Leeds.
You can go to Pizza Express this Sunday (Sunday the 25th of March) Address: The White Cloth Hall, Crown Street, Leeds, Yorkshire.
It starts at 11am, and the workshop lasts for one hour.
Lunch is then at 1pm for both children and adults.
You can get tickets for free from eventbrite and the ticket includes FREE PIZZA for kids.
This is not a drill – FREE PIZZA. I said – FREE PIZZA for kids.
The workshops are aimed at 7 to 12 year olds – plus confident 6 year olds.
Parents and their children are invited to join the wordsmiths from Scribbler HQ at PizzaExpress restaurants in Birmingham, Cardiff, Manchester and Leeds throughout March.
Your child / children will create their very own novel.
They tell me there will be ‘lashings’ of pizza afterwards (they had me at lashings).
There will be a special edition of the Dough Ball Times activity pack, available in restaurants until the 25th of March, featuring a £1 National Book Token and a competition where children are invited to win a year’s supply of books by designing their own World Book Day Dough Ball Bookmark.
For more information and to see when they’ll be in your town just click here!
Hopefully I will see you there – I will be the one with my face in a Hawaiian.