TV Dinners: Weaning with the Pontipines

Not quite what I envisioned when I set out my Ultimate Weaning Strategy.

I thought I had it all figured out.  I had all the books, the recipes, all the baby led weaning tips.  And almost a year on from Piglet’s “first tastes” (which were obviously the components of a full meal with all food groups, lovingly cut into baby-hand sized pieces for easy gripping, no spoons allowed) I have allowed myself to break the Golden Rule of Absolutely No Television At Mealtimes.

And to think that some parents don’t allow their children to watch TV at all!  All I can say to them (hats off to you) is LORD, HOW DO YOU COPE?

Now, as regular readers may be aware, I am not one for enforcing rigid routines, much to the chagrin of my mother and occasionally other family members.  However, one thing that I did insist upon as a “family rule,” starting from when Piglet had his first taste of solid food at six months (and it was six months, TO THE DAY.  There was no way I was straying from NHS guidelines.  I was going to be in that exclusive breastfeeding one per cent if it killed me), was that there would be no television watching during mealtimes.  Oh no, we were to be one of those perfect families (albeit one with only two members, one of whom was sitting in a Bumbo seat at the time) who had civilised conversations at the dinner table, savoured their food and had table manners worthy of a trip to Buckingham Palace for a state banquet.

Oh reader, how naive I was.

Our weaning journey was not a smooth one.  We very quickly went from this

The first "taste" of solid food. What is this stuff Mummy, and why am I in this seat?
The first “taste” of solid food. What is this green stuff Mummy, and why am I in this seat?

to this

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You said “weaning” was about eating, Mummy.

and then to this

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Why bother with food when you can just eat the tray?
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It wasn’t me.

Needless to say, mealtimes became fraught experiences which involved food throwing, Bumbo seat-wrecking, getting up and running away, refusing to eat and all manner of other unspeakables that would probably not be welcome at Buckingham Palace.  Or even in Wagamama, where Piglet once almost took out a passing waitress with a carefully aimed piece of tofu.

I started to feel marginally less judgemental of the family I had seen in Costa Coffee plonking a tablet of recurring episodes of Peppa Pig in front of their baby while she ate, and which had made me, in my innocence, almost pick up my feather and ink to write to the Daily Mail in disgust.

And so, since I moved in with my mother (TEMPORARILY, I remind you.  Piglet and I still intend to move out.  ONE DAY) things have become more Royle Family as opposed to Royal Family.  Every evening, without fail, Piglet is placed into his highchair and turned AWAY FROM THE TABLE, the hallowed table of family meals which I had been so keen to promote, and fed a steady diet of fish fingers and baked beans, whilst my mother and I feast on curry, risotto, or whatever other family meal the baby books say he should be joining in with, and that I had been keen to enforce, until I discovered that enforcing anything with Piglet was likely to lead to tears, stamping of feet and the point-blank refusal to eat anything other than blueberries for a week.

The highchair is then strategically placed right in front of some combination of Waybaloo, Abney and Teal, The Clangers, Old Jack’s Boat, Katie Morag (and I appreciate that this is somewhat off-topic but WHY DOES SHE WEAR THE SAME CLOTHES EVERY DAY?  Are there no clothes shops on that island?  Are they in fact making their own clothes up there like it was 1750?) and In The Night Garden.

That’s the same Night Garden where they drink nothing but pinky-ponk juice and eat what appears to be a diet consisting purely of jelly and hundreds and thousands.  Like, cheers Pontipines, I’m going to tell Piglet that your 100% sugar diet stunted your growth and made you a hundred times smaller than everyone else, lest he thinks that it’s normal to go around eating whipped cream sundaes every day.  Although, I have to hand it to you Mr and Mrs Pontipine, you have your children extremely well trained, getting them to carry that dinner table across some serious terrain for your many family picnics.

I salute you, O Pontipines, with your family meals, for you have succeeded where I have failed.

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Thomas and his Friends, the Patriarchy

Today Piglet and I went to the library. The reason for this was that I had a book on helping child language development which was due back (having been barely touched.  I have resigned myself to the fact that Piglet’s vocabulary is likely to consist of no more than “ball” and “A-DA” for some time to come, as I have written about here).  However, while we were there I availed myself of the opportunity to look like a shining example of motherhood by reading books to Piglet and successfully not allowing him to pull piles of them off the shelves or rip out any flaps that happened to be lurking inside.  I steered him towards Charlie and Lola, which turned out to be a bit too long to hold his attention, and after briefly being interested in some books with pictures of animals in, he settled on several of the apparently limitless collection of books known nowadays as Thomas and Friends.

I’m assuming that the words “tank engine” were removed simply because no one knows what a tank engine is anymore, since there is barely a person still living who remembers steam trains when they were actually a thing, right?

However, despite the removal of “tank engine” from the title, very little else appears to have changed in the past 60 years in Thomas-Land, also known as the Isle of Sodor.  Based on the Thomas books I have seen so far (I admit I haven’t seen the TV series in a while), let’s take a closer look at the evidence.

1.) Thomas and his Friends are all steam engines.  And unlike Real Life present-day steam engines, they are not lovingly restored museum pieces that run on special lines a couple of times a year staffed by enthusiasts.  They do ACTUAL REAL WORK, like pulling passengers and freight around the Isle of Sodor.  Given that the entire Isle of Sodor was probably shut down by Beeching around 1962, this is surely a lie of epic proportions.  I am more inclined to believe that the moon is actually occupied by the Clangers in their natty fabric body-armour outfits than I am to believe that the Isle of Sodor is representative of any real present-day island.

2.) As Thomas and Friends are all steam engines, there is an underlying current of menace and threat surrounding the few resident non-steam-powered trains.  Diesel, for example, is considered the enemy.  Luddites, much?

3.) Thomas and his Friends all have massive faces.  This is seriously creepy.  I have seen some books where everything at Brendam Docks has a big, scary face, even the cranes.  A CRANE WITH A FACE, people.  This will HAUNT MY DREAMS.

4.) Where there are traces of modernity, these appear to be glaring anachronisms on Ye Olde Sceptr’d Isle of Sodor.  For example I have seen a helicopter in one book-a helicopter!  In the 1950s!  Pass the smelling salts for I hath glimpsed the future and it is TERRIFYING!  A flying machine with a great big propeller on top.  Who’d have thought it?  The helicopter is called Harold.  As in, 1066, or tuba-playing Neighbours character of yore.  Who would even call a helicopter Harold?

However, the fifth, and most important beef I have with Thomas (and his Friends) concerns the Friends themselves.  Let’s take a look at these Friends: James, Henry, Gordon, Edward, Percy, Victor, Harold (don’t forget Harold!), Douglas, Diesel, Bertie, the Fat Controller…..are you noticing a pattern here?  Of course, how could I have missed it, these Friends are, without exception MALE.

So apparently there are no females on the Isle of Sodor.

A splendid specimen of the 1950s if ever I saw one
A splendid specimen of the 1950s if ever I saw one

Oh yes, of course there are, I had forgotten Annie and Clarabel!  Ah, Annie and Clarabel, Thomas’ CARRIAGES.

I get it now, on Sodor the females are seen and not heard, quite literally.  They are mere passive vessels, to be pushed and pulled about by the men.  I’m starting to think that this Sodor isn’t quite as idyllic a place as it likes to present itself.

Not only that but even the characters who are humans as opposed to inanimate methods of transportation are male.  Take this guy, for example.

OK so he's a figure of fun here, but I can guarantee he's having the last laugh, as long as patriarchy still reigns supreme.
OK so he’s a figure of fun here, but I can guarantee he’s having the last laugh, as long as patriarchy still reigns supreme.

Surely there can be no better representative of patriarchy, the world as literally controlled by pompous middle-aged white men-possibly wearing top hats-than this one.  I also particularly like the fact that the other characters in this picture are also white males.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen any railway worker in a Thomas book-and there are quite a few-who was not a white man.  I’m also enjoying the future leaders of Sodor-apparently public schoolboys-in the corner here.  Do the girls on Sodor not go to school?  Was it wash day when this picture was taken, or were they all on their period and hence confined to some outbuilding for a week or so, so as not to pollute the crisp air of Sodor’s houses with their uncleanliness?

Come on Thomas, get with the programme.  Chuggington has a female mayor you know.  And she’s black.  Sodor is over.  Embrace the future!

My Random Musings

Thank God, they put the right one in

Most people’s birth stories seem to fall into one of the following categories:

1.) URRGGHH that was HORRIBLE.

2.) UURRGGHH that was HORRIBLE.  There was blood everywhere.  And stitches.*  And it REALLY HURT.

3.) It was amazing.  I was in a birthing pool.  I had the intervention-free, drugless labour I always wanted.  There was whalesong.  It was orgasmic.  I want to do it again, but on my own this time.  Who needs a midwife anyway?  I can just pull the baby out myself.  I am woman, hear me roar!

Obviously it goes without saying that everyone hates anyone who says anything along the lines of #3.  But that doesn’t really matter, because those people largely don’t exist outside of educational videos and hypnobirthing books anyway.

I have yet, however, to meet anyone else whose first thought, upon meeting their baby, was “thank God, they DID put the right one in, after all!”

You see, with IVF there’s always that chance.  That chance that the baby that you have lovingly nurtured for the past nine months, isn’t really *your* baby after all, but a random one that somehow ended up inside you, and that someone is going to come and claim it back.  Someone who’s probably married, and sensible, and a whole lot better at looking after a baby than you.

And that’s assuming that something went wrong at the clinic.  There were so many other steps along the way that could have gone wrong.  What if the sperm bank got it wrong?  What if the baby that I was expecting, the one that looked a bit like a mixture of me and the sperm donor, what if that baby looked nothing like either of us?  What if that baby had a different donor by mistake?  Would I ever get over the shock?  Would I not love the baby if it turned out to be different from what I expected?

As it happened, Piglet came out looking EXACTLY as I had expected, but I was so scared that it would be otherwise that I wouldn’t even hold him, and had to get my mother to do it.

The newborn Piglet, looking bizarrely like my brother, to my great relief.
The newborn Piglet, looking bizarrely like my brother, to my great relief.

I don’t know why I started thinking about this again over Christmas, but I think it had something to do with Call The Midwife, which despite being quality viewing, albeit in a schmaltzy, rose-tinted 1950s Cockney sort of way, with everyone eating jellied eels and leaving their doors unlocked while the children play on bomb sites, is in many ways the most unrealistic programme ever screened.

“Bring back any memories?” my mother asked brightly as we sat watching the Christmas episode, where a woman on the screen was delivering breech twins with the proverbial two pushes and a bit of panting. I was about to change Piglet’s nappy, or more accurately run around the house in pursuit of him, removing bits of clothing every few minutes-a sleeve here, a leg there-until he is sufficiently unclothed to have his nappy removed.

I gave my mother the withering look that says, it was hardly like that now, was it?

“It won’t be like it is on TV,” said the woman in the NCT class.  “Their waters always break with a huge gush.  In Real Life, it might only be a trickle.”

Well, thanks for that.  And also thanks to the many TV births where those waters broke just enough to make an interesting plot point-Miranda’s amniotic fluid drenching Carrie’s new Manolos, just to pick an example out of the air from a programme I never, ever mention on this blog-but never enough to flood the entire hospital (like, er, mine.  Seriously, it just KEPT ON COMING).

Now I know that TV dramas don’t make stuff up just to make me feel bad, and I know that the only outcome that matters is a healthy mother and a healthy baby, but I can’t help but feel that my birth story is a little bit, well, disappointing.  All those hypnobirthing classes, and in the end it was all I could do to listen to the hypnobirthing track once before I decided it was utterly useless and it was far better just to resort to hard drugs.  All those yoga classes and hypnobirthing books and breathing exercises, and telling myself that pain was all in the mind, and all that stuffing my face with sandwiches as it’s always a good idea to eat in labour, say the hypnobirthing books (until you start throwing up).

And well, I ended up having an emergency caesarean, and I know this is silly, but after all the hypnobirthing and yoga and books, I felt like a failure as a mother and as a woman.  THANKS WORLD.

“Did you feel like this?” I asked my mother, veteran of three C-sections.

“No.  You read too many books.”

I think that will be written on my gravestone.

*There is something which has always puzzled me about stitches.  What did people do in the olden days-i.e. before stitches-if they, like, tore?  Did they just have to walk around with lacerated vaginas for the remainder of their days?  As any sane person would, I have googled this in an attempt to find out.  And there is literally NOTHING out there on the subject.  NOTHING.  This is yet another depressing example of women’s stories being erased from history, I am sure.  I WANT TO KNOW ABOUT THE MEDIEVAL STITCHES.  WHY IS THIS NEVER SPOKEN OF?

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Single Parent Pessimist

Single and Terrified to Mingle

As you may have guessed from my last post, I am starting to feel old.

No matter how long I spend in front of the mirror pulling them out, the grey hairs continue to multiply.  No matter how long I spend pouting into the phone when taking a selfie (usually a matter of nanoseconds.  I find the whole concept of selfies excruciating, especially when you take one at the train station *below* to see whether you really do look hideous in the parka you have been wearing non-stop since the baby was born, and then someone rocks up at the station, just like that, and catches you in said act of extreme vanity, as though you were Kim Kardashian in the middle of a contouring session).

Looking a bit old. And weirdly cross-eyed. I bet this never happens to Kim K.
Looking a bit old. And weirdly cross-eyed. I bet this never happens to Kim K.

And being old, being the age when all the received wisdom says your fertility “falls off a cliff,” as though all my remaining eggs (hello to the three of you!) had entered into some kind of communal suicide pact upon realising that they would almost certainly never be needed, is depressing.

I wish I could say I am “embracing it.”  I wish I could say that I have never felt better*.  I wish I could say that I had achieved everything I want to.

But I don’t, and I haven’t.

FOR EXAMPLE, although this is hardly the end of the world, and there are clearly bigger things to worry about than this (hello, war in Syria), I am a teeny bit disappointed that I have not so far managed to get married.  Just a teeny bit.  *I CAN’T BELIEVE I HAVE JUST ADMITTED THIS.  CALL YOURSELF A FEMINIST?  WHO NEEDS MEN ANYWAY?* It’s probably for the best that I wasn’t married at twenty-four, as at that time I anticipated the venue being an imaginary pink castle; but I do still frequently window shop wedding dresses, and think about how if I ever do get married, I will by that time be so old that I will have to eschew anything vaguely frivolous in favour of a sensible white suit, like Carrie in Sex and the City (what do you mean the whole point of weddings is love?  It’s the dress, right?  Right?  SAY YES TO THE DRESS!)

I will also be so old that I won’t be able to have another baby.  Again, not the end of the world.  I am, after all, lucky to have Piglet and he is fantastic, but I should probably let go of the idea of having another.  Where would I meet someone in time?  If I have not met anyone in twenty years of looking, the chances of my doing so now, in my Mum Uniform of parka and leggings, with a grand total of two evenings out in the past year and a half, are diminishing rapidly.

And don’t suggest online.  Just don’t.  Yes I have considered it.  Yes I have many years of experience with it.  No I did not meet anyone.  If Match.com are still doing that six months free if you don’t meet anyone offer I must have built up about five free YEARS by now.  And anyway, how would I ever go on any dates?  Who would look after Piglet?  And my mother wouldn’t approve.  I can see her Face of Disapproval now.

When I said that someone in a tiger onesie chatted me up the other night and I was FLATTERED, I was not joking, although of course I would never have done anything about it, as the thought of anyone seeing me in my Mum State (i.e, as my mother so eloquently put it, “not as thin as you used to be”) is too hideous to contemplate.

So here it is, all my love is dedicated to Piglet, and he alone.  Hopefully he will not be too messed up by having a clingy neurotic mother who helicopter parents him at every turn and won’t let him leave home until he’s forty.

It's bad enough that this woman *my mother* dressed us both in matching red knitwear because she thought it was "festive." Now she's gone and taken a selfie too. CAN I GET A LEGAL EMANCIPATION ORDER YET?
It’s bad enough that this woman *my mother* dressed us both in matching red knitwear because she thought it was “festive.” Now she’s gone and taken a selfie too. CAN I GET A LEGAL EMANCIPATION ORDER YET?

*Bit of a tall order at Christmas.  I’ve just eaten most of a pack of Santa-themed chocolate biscuits.

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Single Parent Pessimist

Now I Am Old

So, as Carrie Bradshaw would say, I got to thinking…..that now I am old I think a little differently to before.  In fact, perhaps mentioning Carrie Bradshaw at all makes me old, since it is now eleven years since Sex and the City ended.  So here goes…..

Now I am old……….

1.) I am flattered, rather than annoyed, when someone in an orange tiger onesie with whiskers painted on their face in eyeliner pen chats me up on a night out.

2.) I rarely ever have a night out in the first place.

3.) My idea of a first-rate Saturday night is watching Strictly Come Dancing with my mother.

4.) Strictly is way better than X Factor.

5.) Accidentally turning over to the X Factor final prompts comments like “what are these jokers doing?  This is awful.”

6.) I find myself suddenly being a nice person and making magnanimous comments like, “well yes I know she has twelve children and is on benefits, but I’m not one to judge, and I’m sure she has a very difficult life.”

7.) I find myself wishing people behind me would just pull out any grey hairs they see, as I CAN’T REACH THEM DAMMIT!

8.) I start worrying about things like being “mutton dressed as lamb.”

9.) And wondering I should cut my hair before I start looking a bit witchy.

10.) Most conversations with people I don’t know very well include a reference to my age, usually accompanied by phrases like “you don’t look that old” and “I would never have guessed you were that old.”

I am going to start hanging out in old people’s homes.  Surely age is relative, right?

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New Mummy Blog

Today’s post, coming to you from the “Land of No Fathers.”

I think I should just cut my losses and rename this blog “My Life on Public Transport.”

After all, it seems like that’s all I have to write about.

This week, I have been lucky enough to be helped by no less than two bus drivers to lift a folded buggy into the luggage rack of a crowded bus (credit where it’s due), but sadly this laudable improvement in customer service has not saved me from the perils of Ye Great British Bus-Riding Public.

Today, as I took a seat at the back of the bus with a surprisingly well-behaved Piglet, I was greeted by one of these members of said Public, who began his conversation with me by enquiring about Piglet’s gender.

Now, there’s quite a lot I could say about gender here.  Like, for example, how as women we are expected to smile sweetly and nod along with the preposterous gobshite uttered by so many of Britain’s less educated males when they regale us with tales of how they don’t believe in Facebook-too full of middle aged women (or, as they may have been described here, “hippos,”) posting pictures of themselves when they were younger and slimmer-oh, the shame!-but I will leave this point for another day.  The same individuals always think they know all the latest trends in acceptable child-rearing policy, and can’t wait to inform you (“he’s a boy?  He needs a haircut!”  “He doesn’t have a dummy?  Oh good, it’s a disgrace, all these six year olds going around with dummies in their mouths!”)  However, today’s Gold Star comment came when the gentleman in question enquired if I was married (“do you have a hubby?”)  He was quite clearly waiting for me to say no, and when I did, he loudly stated the name of a local council estate known for high levels of social deprivation, and labelled it, “The Land of No Fathers.”

Quite what the connection of Piglet and I to this place was supposed to be was not explicitly stated, but the implication was that I was the stereotypical “benefit scrounging” single mother of the type that the Daily Mail loves to hate.  I won’t flatter myself by saying I might have passed for a teenage parent (although I desperately hope so, for reasons of vanity) but despite my liberal Guardian-reading moral outrage at the broad stereotyping of an entire geographical area (which of course, I would NEVER DO) the comment was so ludicrously inaccurate that I almost fell off my chair laughing.

Me, the benefit-scrounging, uneducated single mother.  Because that’s what we’re all like, right?

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Routine for a 16 month old

HA HA HA HA HA.

You didn’t think I actually HAD a routine, did you?

This weekend, my mother went away.

“Are you sure you’re going to be all right?” she has now taken to asking me, even when she is only popping out to the cinema for a well deserved few hours to herself.

“Yes I will be all right,” I have to keep reminding her.  “I did look after him for a whole year without any help, remember.”

Well, I think I may have forgotten how to do it.

Piglet is sort of asleep.  It is 11.40pm and I have only just managed to get him *officially* into bed.  He didn’t have much of a nap today, and then got extremely cranky while I was cooking dinner and insisted on breastfeeding.  I obliged, and he fell asleep.

What then ensued was three attempts to get him to eat his dinner during the first three times he awoke from his slumbers, and several hours of him breastfeeding and dozing intermittently all the way through Strictly, at one point prompting my (child-free) brother to point out that all Mum has to do is go away for one night and the routine-such as it is-goes out of the window, and aren’t I going to get this child to bed at some point when he has been semi-conscious for the past two hours?

Finally, I took advantage of a break in the dozing to quickly take off his woolly jumper and pop a pyjama top on, then whizz him up to bed, all the while praying that there would not be a sudden reawakening.

I then spent a further hour and a half breastfeeding, with frequent intervals of Piglet sitting up and shouting at me for reasons unknown but which I presume had something to do with telling me I was useless at the whole mothering thing and should probably just give up now and sign the adoption papers, then gave up and took Piglet downstairs, worried that he might be hungry given that he had refused/slept through his dinner, and proffered an oatcake and a few grapes to make up for it.  He ran around, broke the oatcake up into little pieces and threw it on the floor.  It was 10.30pm, and I was officially a Terrible Mother.

Gina Ford would probably have me strung up.

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Pushchairs vs wheelchairs: let the battle commence

It wasn’t so long ago that I read a news story about a disabled man who took a bus company to court after a passenger with a pushchair refused to move out of a designated disabled space on the bus.

What a disgrace! I can recall thinking.  I would NEVER be so impudent as to claim a disabled space for my own and then REFUSE TO MOVE.  It’s like Rosa Parks all over again!  What is this world coming to, when we can’t show a bit of consideration for a wheelchair-using bus passenger and fellow human?

Well, that was before I had a child.

Now, it’s wheels at dawn.

To be fair, the bus companies don’t help, given that you have to pay four pounds (FOUR POUNDS, ladies and gentlemen, you do hear me right, FOUR SODDING POUNDS.  Did I mention the bus fare from here to the city centre-a distance of some three miles-is FOUR POUNDS?) for a day ticket and then suffer a Sunday service of one bus per hour.  That, my friends, is hardly conducive to generating warm fuzzy feelings of selflessness and agape towards one’s fellow passengers when it comes to the battle to get the window seat.

So you can imagine the depth of my sigh when I arrived at the bus stop in the driving rain on the way back from swimming on Sunday, Piglet contentedly dozing in the pushchair despite the fact that he was completely exposed to the elements as the rain cover was squashed underneath the swimming bag in the shopping basket, only to find that there were no less than three wheelchairs already there, waiting to board the bus.

The first bus came and went.  There were already two pushchairs aboard, and neither the disabled people in the wheelchairs, nor their assorted carers, appeared to be remotely bothered about asserting their rights and asking people to move, lest they take the bus company to court, so off the bus went.  It was a twenty-five minute wait, in the rain, for the next one, and Piglet was starting to stir.  Do I wait the twenty-five minutes for the next bus, knowing that it, too, could be rammed to the gunwales with pushchairs, and even if not, the wheelchairs were going to have every bus full for the next two hours?  Do I wake up Piglet and attempt to fold the pushchair, even though, fourteen Youtube tutorials later, I’m still not entirely sure how to do it, and anyway I can’t manage Piglet, the pushchair and all our swimming stuff without growing a new pair of extra-long arms like Inspector Gadget?  Or do I cut my losses and get on the wrong bus, in the hope that I will end up somewhere slightly closer to home that I can potentially walk to?

At that moment, along came the Student Bus.

Aha!  I thought, it’s the Student Bus!  The Student Bus goes to the university halls of residence, which are a mere twenty minute walk from my house.  And there is never anyone on it!  Well, apart from the twenty thousand or so university students!  But they don’t have pushchairs.  This is the bus of the young and agile!  Never on this bus will I have to worry about sitting too close to the front and feeling guilt every time someone vaguely oldish looking gets on, for it is a veritable Bus of Youth!  Why, these whippersnappers could all go upstairs should they so choose, and live the life of riley on the top deck.

Wheelchair Number One having already loaded onto a previous bus that I couldn’t catch, Wheelchair Number Two got onto the Student Bus.  There was no one else on it.

I peered into the bus.

“Do you think we could fit on this one?” I asked the driver, thinking he was going to tell me to bugger off and leave the disabled alone to their disabled space, to which they were legally entitled by law, and no there would be no reasonable adjustments for pushchairs, and can’t you put that damn thing down?  That baby’s big enough to walk.

The driver shrugged his shoulders.  He couldn’t care less.

I got on the bus, and off it went.

Once the bus started going, however, I realised that I couldn’t fit the pushchair into the small space that remained next to the wheelchair for love nor money.  I was either going to have to park it in the aisle, looking like a right tit and generally posing a health and safety hazard, or the damn thing was going to have to be folded.

I woke up Piglet and handed him to the young disabled man’s carer to hold for a second while I battled with the pushchair.  It would. Not. Go. Down.  And not only that, but with the carer otherwise engaged and taking his eye off the ball, the wheelchair had done a 90-degree turn, and was in danger of flying free from its moorings and heading straight down the aisle.  Not only had I selfishly attempted to park my Bugaboo, bastion of middle class parenting privilege, basically on the feet of a young severely disabled person, but I had now inadvertently sent his wheelchair flying down the middle of a moving omnibus.  For God’s sake, no one tell Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson and that bloke from the One Show who used to play wheelchair basketball about this or they will probably have me killed.  I am an actual MENACE to disabled society.

By the time I managed to make the pushchair sufficiently small to fit into the remaining space next to the wheelchair, we were at the top of the road and the bus was quickly filling up with young students.  Again, I breathed a sigh of relief that they were all sufficiently able-bodied to be able to step over the pile of wheels at the front of the bus and take their seats on the upper deck.

And then……

Wheelchair Number One was back!  The bus ahead had only gone and broken down.

What is the etiquette here? Does one get off the bus and forfeit the one pound sixty-five one has just paid on top of the FOUR SODDING POUNDS because it’s a different bus company?  Or does one duck one’s head and pretend not to have seen the approaching wheelchair?

I will tell you what one does.  One ducks the head and hopes for the best.

It’s dog eat dog out there.

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Life with Baby Kicks


The Insane Toddler Interest in Large Vehicles: Part 1

Today, finally, following two busy Saturdays spent in London, what seems like endless weeks of work and almost a week of illness (mine.  I am still praying that Piglet doesn’t receive the gift of my pestilence) I finally spent some time with Piglet.

Mummy and Piglet time.

So, what did we do with this precious time?

Well, we sat at home quite a bit, annoying Granny who had been looking forward to her first child-free day in eons, though this naturally didn’t stop her from giving a constant running commentary on my complete inability to parent, particularly in her favoured areas of Discipline (there is none) and Eating (if he doesn’t do it, it’s your fault, but I will stand over him and make sure he doesn’t make a mess on the carpet anyway).

Then we went out to peruse the various local attractions that were taking place today.  These consisted of:

1.) The Grand Unveiling of the Great Tea Cosy, and

2.) Some Christmas fairs

Also, I’m not sure if this counts but

3.) the library was open.

Number 1, the Grand Unveiling of the Tea Cosy, was, as you may guess from the name, the most interesting, even if, as you can see from these photos, it was more of a blanket than a tea cosy.

This used to be a bus stop. Yes really.
This used to be a bus stop. Yes really.

May I just say here, that the area where my mother, and now unfortunately also I, live, used to be rubbish.  It used to be so rubbish that people in Bristol had never even heard of it, even though it had been part of the city for, like, eighty years, because nothing ever happened there and there was nothing to do.  There wasn’t even a cashpoint.  All that there was was the edifice pictured above underneath the tea cosy/blanket, which at that time was a bus stop and some public toilets.

Yes, the social hub of the neighbourhood revolved around the location of public conveniences.  This was the actual geographical centre of all social activity.  Where other areas had a high street, we had a bus stop.  A means of escape.  And some loos, in case you got caught short amidst all the escaping.

Now, however, that bus stop has been transformed into a cafe.  A cafe which has great tea cosies.  And to celebrate this fact, everyone turned up this morning at the cafe to watch a great big tea cosy being put on top of the cafe-which-used-to-be-a-bus-stop.

Now all of this is relevant because……

This is now my actual life.

Yes, the most anticipated event in this month’s social calendar, this month’s December social calendar, at that, was the unveiling of a giant tea cosy on what used to be a bus stop, at the top of my road.

And to think I used to leaf through glossy magazines wistfully at the beginning of December, checking out all the latest looks for the “party season” (which, every year since 1995, which is as far back as I can remember being interested in the Party Season, have involved some form of glitter, sequins or shiny material.  Because it’s the party season, right?) and think about all the invites to all these Christmas parties that the rest of the world was supposedly invited to every night of the week each December, that were inevitably about to start plopping into my inbox left, right and centre.

OK, so I’m not suggesting that I ever had quite the number of social engagements that other readers of Grazia, Cosmopolitan and the like presumably did, and to my eternal disappointment, I have still never been to an office Christmas party that was actually held IN THE OFFICE and involved scandalous behaviour on or near a photocopier (please tell me this is a thing, people.  I need to know that someone, somewhere, is going to an office party tonight which is IN THEIR ACTUAL OFFICE), but I did used to have some semblance of a social life.  This means that I used to have things to do at weekends which did not take place at the top of my road on a bus stop, not even one which is now a cafe.

Anyway, Piglet and I made the most of our trip to the bus stop cafe and I had a lovely cup of soup and a roll. Piglet wasn’t interested in either.  He was, however, very interested in this.

"A-DA!"
“A-DA!”

Yes, it’s his favourite one of the three annoying emergency services vehicles that my mother got him last Christmas (actual toy not pictured.  This one would have been a bit big to fit under the tree), the one which periodically yells “MY LADDER IS FOR SAVING PEOPLE!” when you least expect it, like when you’ve just popped downstairs in the middle of the night for a glass of water and accidentally stand on it.

After looking at the fire engine for a bit and actually climbing in it (it was there for display, it wasn’t actually fighting a real fire at the time.  We didn’t just randomly hijack a fire engine and climb in it.  That would have been morally dubious.  And brave, even for Piglet) we went back over to the cafe so that Mummy could get a soup, and the fire engine decided that would be a good time to start flashing its blue lights, so that the children could see the fun blue lights (and they do like these things.  I once saw a fire engine give a display at a nursery, and there was so much toddler jumping up and down with excitement, I thought there was going to be an earthquake) at which point, Piglet turned in the direction of the fire engine, pointed and yelled “A-DA!” repeatedly at the top of his little lungs whilst trying desperately to break away from Mummy’s grasp and run headlong into the oncoming traffic to get back to said fire engine and get a closer look at those lovely, tantalising blue lights.  A tug of war then ensued as I tried to balance my cup of soup (plus roll, don’t forget the roll), the pushchair and a wriggling Piglet making a desperate bid for freedom.  A freedom in which he would be able to inspect the fire engine and its blue lights at close quarters.  Finally, I managed to get him into the pushchair and take him back to the fire engine in a manner more befitting my dignity as a parent with the capability to drink soup whilst pushing a pushchair and wear a fur coat at the same time too, just as the fire engine was pulling away.  Piglet then sat stony-faced, completely uninterested, as all the fire officers on board waved at him.

He then decided he was going to get excited about a passing bus instead.

At least spending what remains of my social life on a bus stop is paying off.

Mummuddlingthrough
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