Pushed to the Limit By Small Child

There has been many a day when I have returned from work to find my mother slumped on the sofa, a look of exhaustion and despair etched on her face.

“It’s been a difficult day,” she would croak, as Piglet played with his cars around her, in front of Abney and Teal, making cute little noises of contentment as the Poc Pocs hopped across the screen.

“He really is naughty you know,” she would add, for effect, as I cheerfully headed for the kitchen and a cup of tea, before settling in front of the cooker and flinging pots about, cooking our dinner while my mother chased Piglet around and desperately tried to keep him from emptying the entire contents of the cupboards.

And how I would scoff.  Piglet is not naughty, I would say.  He’s a completely normal toddler.  Completely normal.  You have forgotten what small children are like, I’d say.  You imagine that we were the most perfect children who ever lived.  I would remind her about that time my brother, in his own wayward toddler years, put his head through the living room door, pointedly adding that I still remember him with his head stuck in that door.  It’s never been the same since.  We had to get rid of it and get that ridiculous bit of plastic sliding door that’s hanging off the hinges.  There you have it, EVIDENCE.  We were terrible kids.

Well that was different, would come the response.  That was an accident.  Piglet’s misdemeanors, by contrast, are deliberate and calculated, like he is actually sitting there plotting the downfall of his loving grandmother.

I would look upon Piglet’s angelic visage and know, I would just know, with the intuition that only a mother could, that Piglet was doing nothing of the sort.  He was a wondrous child, the sort that would never, could never even contemplate such a thing.  He was a paragon of virtue, a model child and, of course, nothing out of the ordinary.  All his behaviour was perfectly normal and expected.  Developmentally normal.  There was no need for a visit to the psychiatrist.  All would be well.  This too shall pass.

Well reader, now that we live on our own and Granny sits in the restored peace of her own home and watches Great British Railway Journeys each evening in restful solitude, I sometimes wonder.  It appears that I have now taken the role of tormented guardian, to be run ragged until I too am a shell of my former self. Today, for example, he deliberately poured milk all over one of my bar chairs from Dwell (RIP Dwell.  How I miss your glossy red tables and your overpriced statuettes of diamante covered skulls), and then pushed its sister chair over, just for the hell of it.  Those chairs were from Dwell.  Like all the best shops, Dwell has now gone bust.  There will be no replacing those chairs (even though I saw identical ones in B&Q, but DWELL).

My response to this, after keeping my cool throughout the previous onslaught of a) the throwing of dinner on the floor, b) the deliberate spillage of milk on the floor and up the walls and c) the near-destruction of a standing lamp underneath the television which Piglet has gleefully discovered can also be pushed over, was to be really annoyed.  Annoyed enough to put him in his pushchair for a couple of minutes and leave him to cry, feeling like a monster, whilst I attempted to fix the damage and finished my already cold cup of tea.

I now know how my mother felt on those days when she lay, pale and exhausted, on the sofa, an empty husk of the woman she had been just that morning, before she had been pushed to her absolute physical and mental limit by a particularly exhausting toddler.

And I’m hoping it’s still normal, right?

The Terrible Twos: This is Normal, Right?

My mother is convinced that Piglet is afflicted with the developmental curse generally known as the Terrible Twos.

I am going to assume that in ordinary parlance this means that toddlers are expected to have a lot of tantrums.  Now tantrums I can handle.  I think I understand them.  I definitely read some stuff on the internet about it, which may or may not be accurate.  Something to do with said toddlers being unable to manage their emotions, so having a total meltdown.  That I can understand.  It can’t be easy when the extent of your vocabulary consists of shouting “CHOO CHOO!” at real and imaginary trains, and a repertoire of animal noises, mostly domestic animals plus a generic “RAAARRR” for everything else.  Despite having a vocabulary I consider somewhat satisfactory, and the ability to make myself heard most of the time, I’m pretty sure I only grew out of the tantrum stage myself a few years ago, and there are times when I think I might still be in it.  What I am more worried about is the defiant behaviour.  I’ve written about this before, but it seems to be escalating with each passing day, especially since mastery of the word “NO.”  Is Piglet destined for a career as a master criminal, or just a common or garden ASBO-collector?  Either way, I am looking for you all to tell me that this is normal, right?

Now, it’s difficult for me to judge whether Piglet is above average, average or even below average in terms of behaviour “episodes,” because besides my aunt’s constant reminders of That Legendary Tantrum I had whilst in her care once in 1982 when I refused point blank to use a toilet and held in my effluvia until a suitable potty was duly purchased, I have no useful benchmark of toddler behaviour with which to compare Piglet’s relative performance on this score.  However, I do know that my mother is increasingly worn out at the end of each day she spends looking after him, and today, one of those rare days when I had the privilege of his company all to myself, the tantrum line up was as follows:

  1. Lying down on the floor of the bus in protest because I wouldn’t let him climb onto the back seat and look out the back window without my holding him there in case the bus came to a sudden stop and he went flying.
  2. Persistently running around in circles during an outdoor carol concert, to the point where I judged that he was increasingly likely to get either run over on the nearby main road or lost in a crowd of people, so I had to swiftly take him home.
  3. Refusing to sit in pushchair (various times throughout the day)
  4. Refusing to go to bed.
  5. Refusing to climb into bed, and hitting me repeatedly when I suggested he do so.
  6. Refusing to put on clothes.
  7. Refusing to take off clothes.

This is all perfectly normal toddler behaviour, right?  For the love of God somebody please tell me this is all perfectly normal, because I am currently worried that I have ruined Piglet by not getting him into a routine by the age of three months that involved a bottle of expressed breastmilk before bed, a nightly bath and bedtime at 7pm on the dot, to be followed by a night of uninterrupted sleep, as prescribed by Gina Ford.

Am I supposed to be giving him time outs?  Am I supposed to put him on the naughty step?  Am I supposed to be a gentle parent and do some gentle parenting shizzle I haven’t quite worked out yet that doesn’t involve either of the first two options?  All I can do is repeat the mantra that this too shall pass, and hope that it passes soon, rather than continuing into his teenage years leading inexorably to the dreaded weekly call from the head teacher’s office, as I am called upon to defend him in the face of yet another exclusion.  What was it this time?  Hitting?  Kicking?  Lying on the floor wailing?  Is he still refusing to wear clothes and having to be chased around screaming with just a vest on, draped around his shoulders like an obscenely short toga?

Just tell me this is all perfectly normal, and I have not birthed a monster, right?

Bridget Jones’ Baby

I have yet to see the new film, but I like to imagine that Bridget Jones’ baby is rollin’ something like this. At least they will be if they are anything like my, um, toddler.

10th September 2016

Weight: About a stone, apparently (Mummy says scales not entirely accurate as keep saying she is half a stone heavier than she was yesterday?)

Calories: 800 (v.good. Mostly chips and chocolate cake.  V.v.g.)

Breadsticks: 0 (v. bad)

Milky-pops: Substantial, as is Saturday (v.g.) so Mummy not at work (v.v.g.)

Well, it’s the end of a long day and I am keeping Mummy awake.  Not sure what time is but maybe 9.30pm? It is weekend though, so acceptable.  Busy day.  This morning went swimming.  Wore my new blue swim nappy with dolphins on.  Looked very fetching, but slightly too big so had soggy big pants situation when exiting water, and the lady had to come into the changing rooms and mop it all up.  I was v. impressive dragging the cot in the changing rooms around at the time like a big strong boy.  I think she thought I was cute, although Mummy was cramping my style big time by telling me stop it and don’t go near that window blind as the whole street will see me in the nuddy getting changed out of my cozzie.  Honestly, that woman is SO difficult sometimes.  She’s always telling me no Piglet, don’t do that.  No Piglet, not milky-pops time now, wait until bedtime, and I’m like, Piglet is not even my real name.  You must treat me like sensible human being and not airhead with mind of goldfish just because I can’t speak yet.

Anyway, went home in pushchair and it was SO EMBARRASSING because other babies’ mummies and daddies all have cars and I had to look at them in their car seats swooshing on by while we walked down the street getting rained on like plebs.  However, light at the end of the tunnel as got bus home and I was like, braps to all you other babies, look who has the biggest wheels now boob-suckers.

At some point I must have fallen asleep on bus, because when I woke up I was at home, still in pushchair and all my clothes, wondering how I got there.  That’s what too much milky-pops does to a boy.  Granny keeps saying I need to cut down and it’s about time I grew up, settled down to sleep on my own and ate proper food like all her friends’ grandchildren do.  Apparently I am an embarrassment and a disgrace because little Sophie and Emily go to bed at 7pm, never bother their parents during the night and eat all their peas without throwing them on the floor, and I will never be a good boy and will still be coming home milk-drunk at thirty-five, pestering my poor mother for milky-pops.

Played for a bit and ate whole packet of Pom Bears (v.g.) although I think Mummy stole some, as she is flagrant Pom Bear stealer.  Refused sandwich as on sugar and salt diet (v.g.) recommended by friend at nursery who says that if you refuse all food, eventually parents will cave and offer chips out of desperation.  Is working brilliantly.  So far I have seen Mummy and Granny beg, plead and almost cry with tears of frustration, so diet must be having desired effect.

This afternoon went shopping which is obviously v. boring activity, but was able to salvage some joy from the situation by grabbing passing coats and flinging on floor, and almost hitting Mummy with a flying cup in Patisserie Valerie, though was thwarted by Granny in attempts to throw china plates and bits of cutlery.  Diet v. successful.  Managed to eat plate of chips, steal half of Mummy’s chocolate cake and some garlic bread for a bit of vitamins, then refused entire plate of fruit (v.g.).  Mummy bought me stripy top in age 3 (proud moment.  Despite being only two, I am becoming big boy in big boy clothes) and was squealing in excitement about how I would look like her now.  Horrified as she is perpetually covered in chocolate and bogies, which was not the look I was going for.  Clearly if it was, I wouldn’t bother wiping my nose and mouth on her all the time.

Anyway, off to sleep now as I have been drinking milky-pops and doing my leg-bicycling exercises solidly since 8pm, and starting to feel the effects now.  Hiccup.  Sleepytime bigboy milkypops night night.  Hiccup. Love Mummy but wisssshshe would buymore breadsticks.  Hiccup.  Zzzzzzzzzzz.

Pink Pear Bear

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I Am Not A Strict Parent.

Before having my son, I didn’t give much thought to what kind of parent I wanted to be.  However, there was one thing I knew for certain.  I was going to be Strict.

Nine years of being a secondary school teacher, and observing countless children-and therefore the long-term consequences of the actions of countless parents-and I knew Strict was best.  I once asked the parent of a particularly pleasant child how she had managed to raise such a wonderful daughter, and although she didn’t actually say the answer was Being Strict, I was sure that was what was behind her success.

Fast forward almost two years into my own parenting journey, and I am not so sure.  Not only am I not particularly inclined to start setting boundaries for a baby, but when said baby does do something that probably shouldn’t be encouraged, I find it hard not to laugh.  Especially when he is laughing too.

This is yet another source of disagreement between my mother and I.  Mother believes that the reason that meals with Piglet frequently result in dropped food is because he is undisciplined and, with yours truly for a mother, has become accustomed to running riot.  Conversely, I believe it is because he is a toddler, and such is their wont.

However, recently there have been some worrying developments (clearly the fault of my louche parenting style), including throwing things at people, as opposed to merely throwing things around indiscriminately without any particular aim.  Today, it was a piece of banana.  Tomorrow, who knows?  A toy car?  The kitchen crockery?  A molotov cocktail?

I enjoy my civilised* meals out with Piglet.  I enjoy the one-to-one mother and son bonding time, and the intellectual conversation and debate (the latter is something I’m still working on, but I have managed to get him to say two more words “adder” as in the variety of snake, and “Adele,” as in chart-topping songstress Adele.  The fact that both of these sound exactly like his default sound “A-da” is neither here nor there).  I also enjoy the indulgent looks of the other diners as they gaze at Piglet adoringly, enquire about his age and give knowing looks when he does something cute that they recognise from when their own children were small.

I don’t think they will be looking indulgently for much longer if Piglet persists in throwing pieces of food around.  And this time, it’s personal.  The food in question is not merely being thrown to the floor, it is being aimed squarely at other people.  For the moment, Mummy (with an occasional side order of “Granny”) seems to be the main target, but who knows where this could lead?

He has started to literally pull his arm back and take aim.  Today the missile was a bit of half chewed banana, which I suddenly found being launched at me as if from a catapult.  The banana bounced off my face, and landed underneath another child’s high chair (always good to be able to pin the blame on somebody else).  Piglet then burst into peals of laughter.  Watching Mummy humiliated is always a good sport for a child.

Try not to trip on this one, fellow diners.

The trouble is, I wanted to laugh.  Like I wanted to laugh the time a group of Year 11 boys smuggled one of their friends from another school into the classroom and tried to pass him off as a Dutch exchange student with a dodgy accent; and like that was probably bad teaching, laughing at the flying banana was probably bad parenting.

So what to do?  Do I hotfoot it to the library in search of the Gina Ford Book of Really Strict Parenting?  Or do I keep muddling along, hoping that a combination of love, laughter and civilised mother and son intellectual conversation will see us through?

In a few years time, I want it to be me that my child’s teacher is asking for tips on How To Raise The Perfectly Behaved, Well Adjusted and Motivated for Learning Child.  I don’t want to be the one being called in for countless meetings at the school, and being told that it would probably be for the best if I quietly withdrew him from full time education.  Home schooling is all the rage these days, you know.

Perhaps I am over thinking it. As I keep reminding my mother, he’s not even two, and there will surely be many more opportunities in the future for confiscating mobile phones, shutting off the internet and grounding him indefinitely.  For now, I’ll just stick to trying not to laugh.

*They aren’t very civilised.  Unless “civilised” means eating straight off the table and throwing anything you don’t want over your shoulder.  I’ve heard that was the kind of civilisation that went down at a medieval banquet, so I’m claiming it.


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The Twenty Stages of Getting a Toddler to Sleep

When you are 20 months old and a tiny tyrant, there comes a point in every day, sometime after the closing bars of the CBeebies Goodnight song, when the time has quite literally come to say goodnight, to say sleep tight until the morning light.

That time rarely comes until at least an hour and a half after those closing bars.

So now, for your amusement and delight, Piglet is here to explain what happens in those ninety-plus minutes.

The time has come to say goodnight…..which means running around, throwing things and jumping on Mummy’s head.

1.) Mummy and Granny are singing again.  I like their singing, but I don’t know why they are singing that the time has come to say goodnight, because bedtime another two hours yet.  Oh no, TV has gone all blank.  Has Mummy switched it off again?  Back on please.  There might be Ball on.  I like Ball.  Lots of men run around green place and kick Ball into big net, and sometimes Ball on in the evenings, so I can shout “Ball!” to show everyone I know what it is, and point at Ball.  Or maybe Top of the Pops 2?  This is also favourite.  Mummy makes obligatory comment about how have they managed to find any episodes in the archives not presented by someone from Operation Yewtree, and I dance to some bad two-tone from 1982.

2.) NO, NO, NO, NO, NO.  They are singing again.  That song about nappies and poo.  Mummy is picking up the changing mat.  Time to run away.  OH NO!  She’s caught me and is taking my clothes off.  Time for a lie-down protest before she can get nappy off.  Argh she’s carrying me to the changing mat.  No, I will not lie still.  Quickly roll over and am off again.  Spend ten minutes outwitting Mummy (HA!) but am eventually wrestled back onto mat.

3.) Now they are coming at me with pyjamas.  I’M CALLING CHILDLINE!

3.) Oh, Mummy says go and get book.  I fetch book.  It’s about a polar bear with magic pants, which is strange as I’m a big boy so I know animals don’t wear pants.  I have been to the zoo, so I know about this.  Also today we looked at cat in neighbour’s garden for AGES and I played with dog in the park.  None of these animals were wearing pants, but maybe this polar bear is different, I don’t know.

3.) Book finished.  I get more books.  This one about Gordon the big grumpy engine is BRILLIANT.  Mummy read it four times.  I ask read more times please, and Mummy says no.  Something about teeth?

4.) Let’s get Percy the green engine book.  No wait-apparently I need to CLEAN MY TEETH?

5.) RESULT.  Mummy has let me stand on the toilet seat.  I am quite literally the King of My Castle, and I am going to celebrate by banging these cars on the sink repeatedly and trying to grab everything on the window sill.

6. ) Apparently that’s not allowed?  Mummy is trying to clean Piglet toothy-pegs.  Time to clamp mouth shut and practise nose-breathing skills.

7.) Thank you very much, I will have that toothbrush.  MINE ALL MINE, and to prove it, throw toothbrush on floor and into potty, then grab it back again and refuse to let go.  Love toothbrush.  I think I might take this toothbrush to bed with me actually.

8.) Apparently that’s not allowed?  Mummy has wrestled toothbrush away and put it back in the bathroom, which is like, UNFAIR.  She says take toy instead.  Giant fire engine please!

9.) NOT ALLOWED?  She said pick toy so I picked toy.  This mummy thing is, like, SO UNREASONABLE.  Take police car and ambulance instead.

10.) Ah, time for milky-pops!  Deliriously happy.

11.) Oh hang on, it’s still light out there?  This is surely a trick!  They are making me go to bed in the daytime?  It’s not bedtime, it’s not bedtime!  Time to run around the bed.  Mummy is lying down, pretending to sleep. Who does she think she is kidding?  Maybe I will stand on her head.  Oh, hang on what’s this?

12.) Looks like Mummy has hidden bag of clothes next to bed.  This must be a new game.  I LOVE bags of clothes!  Take all the clothes out, one by one, and hand to Mummy.  She must be so pleased as I am helpful boy!

13.) Mummy is grabbing me and trying to lie me down.  Unhand me, Parent!  Where is that Esther Rantzen when you need her?

14.) Aha!  Mummy says something about I give up, let’s go downstairs.  Now I get to watch Countryfile and play with Ball!

15.) Cows on television, and tractors!  Shout at TV for a bit, then decide more fun to throw ball around, and Mummy plays.  Love Mummy!  Oh, hang on, looks like Mummy and Granny don’t want to play Ball.  Granny not happy when I threw car at her head, and now we have to go back to bed.

16.) Maybe will run around bed again…..Oh hang on, milky-pops!

17.) Milky-pops is loads more fun when you pretend to be drinking milk, then come off the boob and poke it instead.

18.) Mummy has covered up the milky-pops!  Such a spoilsport.

19.) Launch self at Mummy’s head.

20.) Milky-pops again…….starting to feel a bit sleepy now…….night, night.  Is it 9pm yet?  No?  10?  Hang on, WHERE’S THOMAS THE TRAIN?  Mummy lying down.  Oh, Mummy asleep.

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The Public Badge of Good Motherhood: What’s so great about it anyway?

Picture the scene.  You are in a cafe.  Your toddler, having just had a floor-hugging, rigid back arching, high-decibel screaming meltdown over not being able to push his own buggy into the centre of the cafe and then spend the next twenty minutes using it to bash tables, and the legs of anyone who happens to be sat at those tables, while Mummy sips her coffee and gazes at him beatifically as though she has never clapped eyes on a more charming child, is now having another meltdown. This time it’s because he has spotted something on a high shelf that he wants, and which may or may not be a packet of crisps, the very Food of Satan, which you were not planning on allowing him to have until he is forty-two and probably capable of taking full responsibility for the resulting obesity.

As you desperately try to calm him down with your soothing Mummy-voice and consider doing a deal with him that he will be allowed to have said crisps, but only if he sits nicely in his high chair, which he is at that moment refusing to do, then finally give in and allow him a chocolate covered cereal bar and slump into your seat, relieved that nobody has yet launched a complaint with the management or chased you from the aforementioned cafe with torches, never to darken the threshold again, you look up.  There is a woman on the next table who is looking at you with an air of sympathy.

“You handled that well,” she says, approvingly.  “I would have given in ages ago.”

How do you feel at this point?  I’ll tell you how I felt.  I felt as though I had just received the Public Badge of Good Motherhood, the Order of Mothers, the OBE for Services to Motherhood, bestowed by the Queen herself.  No, forget the Queen, her children were raised by nannies.  This is an honour bestowed by Our Lady of Motherhood, the vision of pure motherly love, the Holy Mother of God herself, the Virgin Mary.  I am literally going to Heaven for the day to be crowned with my own personal motherly halo.

That is how great that felt.

But why is it that we feel that we need the approval of others to validate our own status as parents? Why do we need that constant reminder that it’s OK, we’re doing a good job, we’re all still intact, it’s going to be OK and we’re probably not raising a monster?  Is it because as women we are encouraged from childhood to seek the approval of others, to be liked, to be the popular girl with the impeccable manners and great hair?  Being a mother is a high stakes job, and we wouldn’t want others to think we’ve got it wrong.

The following day, as I basked in the contented glow of sunlight reflecting off the gold from my Public Badge of Good Motherhood, I took Piglet to soft play.  I could feel the approving looks of other parents on me as I played with Piglet in the ball pool and he squealed with delight, clearly deliriously happy that the Fates had given him such a wondrous mother, overflowing with such selfless maternal love that she had actually abandoned a full cup of coffee to watch him repeatedly try and climb onto a mini scooter.

It was only on the way home that my mask of motherly goodness began to slip.  Around five minutes into the 30 minute bus ride, Piglet’s brain suddenly remembered that it had not had a nap all day, and proceeded to send him into a tumult the likes of which had never been seen throughout the outer suburbs of Bristol.  He was determined that he was going to get off the seat, out of Mummy’s suffocating grip and walk around on the moving bus, and the more Mummy-the saintly Mummy, recipient of the sought-after Public Badge of Good Motherhood-tried to wrestle him back into his seat, the more he screamed, the more he cried, the more he thrashed about.  Hot with shame, I desperately tried not to look around, conscious of the fact that everyone on the bus was looking at us, and thinking I was the Devil’s Own Mother.

The need for approval had struck again, and this time it was sending me right to the back of the class, confiscating my Public Badge of Good Motherhood, and replacing it with the dunce’s hat of Mummy Fails.

The moral of this story.  None of us are perfect, all of us are muddling along, trying to be the best we can be, succeeding one day and failing the next.  Never accept the Public Badge of Good Motherhood, even from the Holy Mother herself.  It’s bound to slip.  Far better to know that it doesn’t matter what others think.  As long as Piglet thinks I’m doing a good job, that is enough.

Assuming he does think I’m doing a good job, and isn’t at this precise moment petitioning Brad and Angelina to adopt him.

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Life: Perfectly Instagrammed?

This is a nice photo.

Everything on Instagram is nice.  Sometimes I almost think I could be a photographer, or at least someone with a lovely lifestyle blog full of beautiful soft-focus shots of their immaculate home full of spotless white furniture and inspirational quotes.

However, as we all know, life doesn’t come packaged up neatly in an Instagram-ready box, with all imperfections filtered out.  So here’s the real story behind this photo.*

1.) It was taken in the pub.  Yes, I took my toddler to the pub!  Unhand me now O officers of social services, for I had but one one glass of wine.  And it took hours to drink that, due to intermittently abandoning said wine to chase a toddler around.

2.) Yes, Piglet ran around in the pub.  I am the mother whose toddler runs riot in a drinking establishment.  Gone are the days when we used to sit in the corner of the local after work on a Friday afternoon and swear that we would never be those raucous parents at the bar, allowing their children free rein over the dry roasted peanuts and the “lounge bar” whilst they cackle over their Bacardi and Coke.

3.) As he has spent so much time running around a pub, Piglet has been exposed to a lot of swearing and bad language (NOT FROM ME OR MY COMPANIONS OR RELATIVES, I mean from others in the pub, just casually dropping an F-bomb here or there, in the context of their pub bantz, innit).  I am now convinced that his second word (he can already say “ball”-well done) will be something I don’t approve of, like “Noel Edmonds” (see below).

3.) In a bid to stop him running around (and to give me a welcome break from chasing him), I introduced Piglet to the fruit machines.  Not to play with actual money, obvs, but it can’t be far off, as he is now OBSESSED.  There is a future as a gambling addict awaiting him, and it is all my fault.

4.) This photo was taken when I tired of chasing Piglet around and holding him aloft to look at Noel Edmonds’ face amongst the flashing lights of Deal or No Deal, and handed him to my brother.

5.) Last but not least, it isn’t Christmas any more, so instead of a little boy looking eagerly at a snowman, with shades of the Snowman movie, and a youthful Aled Jones singing in the background, it’s a boy taking a breather from running around a pub on a Sunday lunchtime pointing at the fruit machines and absorbing age-inappropriate vocabulary whilst surrounded by the last vestiges of a Christmas that is no more.  Sad times.  Until next year.

*OK, so I’m not that Australian girl who had like, 500,000 followers and got loads of free clothes and then revealed the real life behind the Instagram shots in a not very surprising expose.  My real life behind the Instagram doesn’t involve free clothes, loads of likes OR posing 50,000 times until you get that one great shot.  Have you ever met a toddler?  That camera would be going straight into their little hands, and into the Lair of Lost Toys under the sofa, or lobbed across the kitchen until it smashes into a thousand tiny pieces.

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You can tell a lot about a man by how he treats his mother….

When they were both wee nippers, one of my brothers hit the other one around the head with a toy milk float.

It was probably the most dangerous use of a milk float until that episode of Father Ted where the evil milkman places a bomb on his milk float and Dougal gets stuck driving it.

Got to love Father Ted

Luckily, the damage was minimal, and since then the design of children’s toys has improved and been made safer.  For example, toys are now generally not made of steel, with sharp edges.  Indeed, Piglet’s toys are now mostly bright plastic, huge (so they cannot be swallowed) and with no little fiddly bits.  That is, except for the ones he has inherited from generations past.  Ones like the toy Volkswagen Beetle which he was bequeathed by my brother (the aggressor in the Act of Violence Perpetuated by Milk Float).  Well, I say “bequeathed” as though he was given it, wrapped up in tissue paper and hidden at the bottom of a drawer like a family heirloom.  Actually Piglet found it lying on a high shelf in the living room.  And by found it I mean that one day, when he was walking past in Granny’s arms, he spotted it, pointed at it and then shouted until lo, it was presented unto him.

I’m not sure what the obsession is with this toy, but it certainly seems to hold a hypnotic sway over Piglet and, apparently, its owner, Uncle Milk Float Attacker, as every time Piglet plays with it Granny reminds him not to “break it, as it’s your uncle’s and he’ll be very upset!”

Uncle Milk Float is 30.  I’m not sure he has much use for a toy Volkswagen Beetle.  Also, as it is made of metal, it is more likely to break Piglet than be broken by him *MORE ON THIS LATER.*

On an entirely different note, Piglet loves his Mummy.  Arguably, he loves his Mummy even more than he loves the Volkswagen Beetle, as he often cries when I leave the room.  Although to be fair he also cries when a bit of old tissue is taken away from him so that doesn’t necessarily prove much.  Yesterday, when Uncle Milk Float Attack Victim (as opposed to Attacker) came to live with us (he’s fully recovered now), Piglet spent about two hours crying and gripping on to Mummy’s hair at the fearful sight of there being a man in the house.

Piglet also likes to show affection by launching himself at my head, opening his mouth (“ooh Piglet!  Are you giving Mummy a lovely kiss?”) and then clamping his little jaws shut over whichever part of my face is nearest (“PIGLET!  YOU JUST BIT MUMMY’S NOSE OFF!”)

At least, I think this is a show of affection.  Either that or he actually hates me, the Horrible Mummy who denied him a father, spends far too much time on Twitter and won’t let him play with the oven when it’s on.

Today, for example, I ignored Granny’s cries of “careful mind!  He’s got that Beetle!” (he wouldn’t hit his Mummy, would he?  He loves his Mummy), lay on the floor and waited for my delightful baby to shower me with kisses.

And, in a chilling echo of the violent incident with the milk float, he hit me in the face with the Volkswagen Beetle.

So what does the future hold for little Piglet?  Is this a foretaste of things to come?  Will he be excluded from nursery for hitting another child with Thomas the Tank Engine or one of his Friends?  Will he end up in juvenile court for hitting someone with a REAL car?  Will he wind up in prison, serving a life sentence for……

I mean, they say you can tell a lot about a man by how he treats his mother, right?



Modern Dad Pages
Mama Mim

Piglet Takes First Steps. Mummy Misses It.

As you may have guessed from the title, today was the momentous day that Piglet started walking.

I am henceforth to be found training for the one hundred metre sprint at the 2016 Olympics. After all, I am going to be running after him from now on and he is FAST.  Very fast, for somebody who has only been walking since this afternoon.

Look at him go! He’s all blurry and everything!

Anyway, it’s lucky that I finally managed to get a picture, albeit a blurry one, as I actually missed the first few steps.  Yes, missed them.  HIS VERY FIRST STEPS.  My firstborn child’s most exciting milestone, and where was I?  Oh yes, I had my back to him, and was buying a can of diet coke and some cheesy chips (for me, not Piglet.  Put down your phones people.  There will be no social services involvement regarding the nutrition.  Piglet’s sudden burst of energy was not caused by trans fats and aspartame.  No need to make like that bloke on the tube who accused me of feeding Piglet diet coke because I was HOLDING A CAN and was therefore complicit in the destruction of my innocent child’s milk teeth and start having a go, OK?)

We had taken a trip to this exciting destination

No we weren’t in the water. Piglet didn’t walk on water. That would have been an event of biblical significance indeed

And before you ask, no it wasn’t Wales.  Piglet did not take his first steps in the Land of My Fathers (great-grandmothers, more accurately, in his case.  The Land of Piglet’s Fathers is *technically* America), nor did he take his first steps on the M4 (put down your phones people).  He took his first steps in a place called Severn Beach.  See? There’s a beach.

OK there’s no beach, but there is a River Severn, and there is also a cafe called Shirley’s Cafe, although it is the sort of place that is more likely to be pronounced “caff” than “cafe,” which probably explains quite a bit about the sort of place it is.  The sort of place that, in the words of my companion, probably “hasn’t changed since 1992.  Or 1942.”  The sort of place where the most appealing morsels on offer are a Diet Coke and a plate of cheesy chips, and where one can purchase a second hand plastic windmill for £2, or a Jane Fonda workout video from 1986 for £3.  I didn’t think the prices were terribly competitive, which was probably why we were the only customers.

Anyway, my companion (my brother’s girlfriend) was looking after Piglet while I purchased our nutritious lunch, and I suddenly heard words to the effect of “ooh he’s walking!”  I turned around and Piglet had literally taken his first steps, walking towards me, and I HAD MISSED IT.  ALL FOR THE SAKE OF SOME CHIPS AND CHEESE.

I have to admit, I did doubt at the time that he had actually walked, just like I doubted when he shouted “AJ!” at the dog in the local cafe the other week that he had actually understood that the dog’s name was AJ (why do all Piglet’s significant milestones take place in cafes?  Oh yes, because we are always in them), until we were waiting at the bus stop the other day and another dog walked past and Piglet stopped what he was doing, pointed at the dog and yelled “AJ!” at it repeatedly.

And so it was that later this afternoon, I heard those very same words “He’s walking!” again, this time from my mother.  And what was I doing?  Oh yes, I had my back to him again.  I missed it YET AGAIN.  However, this time I rushed into the living room, and Piglet did it again.  He WALKED, ladies and gentlemen, he WALKED.  It was a bit like that scene in the Bible when Jesus heals the paralysed man *I IMAGINE.*  He literally got up, and walked.  And suddenly he was brilliant at it!  It was as if he had been walking his entire life.  It was if he had got up out of the womb and WALKED, and said “hello Mum, I’m your son. Shall I WALK to the boob or should I wait for them to stitch you up first, yeah?”

With bated breath, I now await the destruction of Granny’s entire house, and possibly the world, by a marauding toddler.

Modern Dad Pages
Best of Worst

How I Am Now Piglet’s Dadda

Piglet, as we all know, does not have a dadda.

He does, however, like to say “dadda” a lot, thus proving that the word is nothing more than a meaningless piece of baby babble.  A small victory for all mothers across the nation who are fretting that their children are obsessed with their fathers and do not care a jot for them.  When you think about it, perhaps this is why patriarchy exists; because the role of mothers has been devalued by puffed-up fathers thinking they are the more important parent because, despite the fact that it is the mothers who carry and birth the children, those children still appear to grow up to prefer their fathers, as supposedly proven since time immemorial by the fact that “dadda” is invariably the first word (unless of course the wee ones prefer dogs, which may be the case with Piglet, as I wrote about here).

Despite the lack of male parentage, since I have been living with my mother we seem to have fallen into particular roles in the house, and I am pretty sure that my role is the one that would be traditionally associated with Dadda.  For a start, I am reliably informed by those whose children do have fathers that they like to take on the role of the “fun” (i.e. letting the wee one do whatsoever they please) parent.

And this is definitely me.

It is sadly the case that I, who was previously sole carer and provider, attached to Piglet 24 hours a day without a break, now spend large chunks of time sitting on the sofa browsing the Internets while my mother runs around frantically stopping Piglet from knocking over the television or emptying the entire contents of the DVD cabinet onto his head.

When we lived in my flat, I might add, neither of these things were necessary as he was allowed to bash the television to his little heart’s content, as long as it was with plastic implements rather than metal, and preferably no bigger than the size of a pen (one has to have some standards), and knocking DVDs off the shelf, opening the cases, taking the CDs out and chewing them, was a particular beloved game.  Which he was also allowed to play.

Consequently, my mother thinks Piglet has got to the age of one without grasping the concept of boundaries, and must be re-educated in such matters as not staying up until 11pm crawling around the living room, not picking up bits of wood chip from the garden, and definitely not throwing food on the floor.  I, on the other hand, am largely if not in complete favour of all of these things, then at least prepared to tolerate them until the time comes when Piglet has a vague grasp of language and can be reasoned with.

I think this officially makes me Good Cop.  Does this mean Piglet thinks I am Dadda?