The First Film

Today we went to see Toy Story 3. It was Squidge’s first movie ever! Well, by first movie I mean actual going to a cinema, buying popcorn and sitting in the dark. She was initially quite apprehensive and didn’t like how loud it was.

I summoned the courage to go and ask them to turn it down a notch, after all the cinema was full of kids and it isn’t good for any of them, and even my ears were ringing a bit.

Yes, I am a total paranoid mother. Yes. I won the award.

Toy Story 3 was a success! She cuddled in my lap the entire time and loved every minute. I loved every second of the cuddles and contact. Total win-win brilliant morning.

The afternoon was spent with S and her two tots, H and M. S is a total breath of fresh air (if you’re reading this S, I already told you this today!). She’s from Barbados and she’s straightforward, easy to get on with, and so darn chilled. When I’m with her I feel completely relaxed. It’s rare for me as I’m usually quite, well, paranoid.

It was on this lush afternoon of relaxing on the beach, pootling through Brighton, and meandering through the mall that two other lovely things happened. Well, three actually.

The first was the purchase of a Buzz Lightyear toy exactly the same as the movie toy. He does all the same things! I’m not entirely sure who I bought Buzz for because the two of us have been playing with him ALL afternoon. Shooting his laser at each other, making his wings pop out and flying him around, saving each other from the evil pink teddy. Awesome. Pic above is Squidge flying him around after supper.

I had decided this morning that I had to cave and visit Schuh. They’re having a sale and I adore, adore, adore their shoes. This is the same place I got my Zombie Shoes I mentioned before. And you’ll NEVER guess what I found. Oh yes. I found MORE ZOMBIE SHOES. Except these ones are pumps. These Zombie shoes I can wear every single day. The other ones are reallllly high and I can’t wear them for long stretches, which is obviously gutting.

Now, oh oh oh, NOW I can wear them as often as I want. It took me all of ten seconds to buy them. How often does that happen? And the other great part? They’re called Zombie Stompers. I actually can’t stop laughing.

And then I found another pair of shoes. A pair that have a moderate heel and just delightful design. I slipped them on and my feet finally understood what it was like to be wrapped in a curtain. They are incredibly soft and clutch my feet perfectly.

Obviously I bought those too. All the pics you see here are of these amazing shoes. Thank-you Schuh for being in existence. I heart you.

P.S. This is finally completing another step in the 31DBBB challenge!

Gender [Non]Specific

Thanks Garrettc

I have an issue. One that has just been reignited by this post from one of my favourite bloggers. It appears that in spite of our best efforts, things continue to go full circle in the gender debate/divide.

She’s objecting to the fact that a popular UK children’s store has now become the seller of plastic tat and, not only that, advertising that continues to gender stereotype our kids.

This is not the first time I’ve been enraged by this issue. Not at all. This very evening I started to read a story to Squidge. It was from the Orchard Book of Magical Tales, retold by Margaret Mayo. I started seething from the first story and haven’t bothered to read any further. In fact, the book has been removed from her libary and is to be burnt ceremonially (kidding!).

The first story is called the Lemon Princess and starts off by saying that the Prince needed to find a wife, but no woman was good enough for him because he wanted the most beautiful woman in the world. No normal babe would do.

He gets told where to find her from an old crone (oh, fabulous), he finds her but loses her thanks to the machinations of an ugly servant girl with coarse hair and dry skin [insert irate bad word here], but beauty wins out in the end because our magical princess is not only super stunning, but she can cook, weave, clean, and serve her man too.

This book is written by a woman! What on earth? I was fuming. Then I read Vonnie’s post above and sighed. After all the hard work that the original women did to get us equal rights, it appears that it has all sort of stopped and started stagnating.

Partially dressed women are still used to promote “male” items such as cars/computers/gadgets. Youth is more important than the funny wisdom of the older woman. And women who want to stay at home and care for their families are attacked and vilified by their own gender. What’s that all about? I thought feminism was about giving us a choice? Not about deriding each other for not being some kind of ideal. That’s just slapping another stereotype onto us.

It is something I ponder a lot. My daughter is hugely into pink. She loves Disney princesses, she loves froofy dresses, she loves all girly things. All on her own bat. I never said, “You is girl. You play Barbie,” she just loves pink. She also loves Doctor Who, Toy Story, climbing and other such pursuits that should, theoretically, clash with her girliness. But why should they clash? Can’t she be a princess who likes computers? I have (I hope) allowed her to be whoever she wants to be and I’ve done my best to let her know that she’s capable of anything.

But, one day (not now obviously), should I tell her that all things are not created equal? That mummies don’t get the same pay as daddies? That many men (and women) will judge her on her looks and not her brains? Or do I hope that, by then, things will have oozed outed of the stone age and that women will have stitched the gender divide right up?

And just to leave you with something to ponder, apparently a study held in 2008 shows that toys are more gender specific than ever before.

The Party

So yesterday was Squidge’s birthday. She turned an adorable four and my heart sat in my chest as prepared for the big day. This time four years ago she was struggling with me to come into the big wide world. A ten day labour that ended in an emergency C-section at 3.10am on Sunday night.

In the course of my musing I also had a side note – if she was born at three am on a Sunday night it’s also 3 am on a Monday morning so is she Monday’s child (fair of face) or Sunday’s child (full of grace) or is she both?

Anyway, I am ambling off topic here, a side-effect of post-party exhaustion I think.

So, in my previous posts I mentioned that I’d bought a bunch of Doctor Who goodies to theme up her party and that we held it upstairs at a lovely little coffee shop. I positioned the life-sized Doctor Who and Amy cutout just at the top of the stairs so everyone could see it. The effect was fantastic.

Her little face when she saw it was a complete picture and made every moment of anticipation worth it. Towards the end of the party her and M (the little boy she plays Doctor Who with – she’s Amy), were standing by the cutout and acting out their own version of the show. It was to die for. The fuzzy image above is a quick snap I got of Squidge under the cutout.

Anyway, what I didn’t mention before was that I did not know any of the parents coming to the party. We’ve only just moved to the area and so this was one trial by fire I was nervous about. Since I’ve moved to the UK I’ve struggled a bit with the other mums. They either ignore me, look horrified by me, or don’t really care one way or the other. For someone desperate (yes, desperate) to make other mum friends and get my daughter lovely playdates, this is not a great thing.

Obviously this isn’t all mums! I have some truly dear friends in my old town and my Person. But in this town there is nobody and my track record in the UK isn’t great. Basically my personality isn’t quite ideal for the reserved British human. They either love it or look terrified. I can be a little bit like an overenthusiastic and slightly damp puppy.

So, this remarkable inability to strike the right tone with the natives and a natural propensity for paranoia have left me somewhat twitchy. And this party was looming like a trial by social torture. If I messed up then it would be Squidge who suffered. How could I explain to her that the reason T or E couldn’t meet up for a playdate was because their mums didn’t like me?

Post party mayhem

Needless to say, it turned out that none of the mums knew each other either. The room was oozing with social awkwardness, a sharp counterpoint to the bouncy excitement of children on a sugar high. I have never felt so stressed. I did manage to chat to some of the mums and ultimately landed four playdates (result!) but there were moments I just wanted to crawl under a rock and die.

Unlike last year’s party that had many parents I knew attending, the last hour dragged a bit and I was absolutely gutted when everyone left at ten to 5. The last party I held lasted quite a bit longer and I didn’t really notice people going because I had family and friends there. Although having a grand total of two parties under my belt hardly makes me an expert on the etiquette of it all, I wondered if my party was so kak that everybody couldn’t wait to leave?

I tried to make it fun and exciting! We had cookies and veggies with dips on Doctor Who plates, two coloured juices in Doctor Who cups and dalek masks to growl through. Then it was pass the parcel and everybody won a prize. Although one tot (who’s parents just left her with us and went to the beach) just kept opening the layers on her one when I wasn’t looking and one tot (who’s mum was so standoffish her nose could probably have propped up Big Ben) kept crying whenever he didn’t win.

Then it was time to do pizza making (an activity provided by the coffee shop owner) and they LOVED that. Then it was musical statues which saw me reduce two tots to tears – my own and Standoffish Mum’s child – because they moved and I had to tell them they were out. I felt horrible! Nobody told me that musical statues could be so fraught!

I felt really awkward about making the child cry. Twice if you count that he didn’t win the Best Dancer competition either and that he thought he HAD won because the parents were calling out the winner saying “blond boy!” and there were two of them. Good thing that childcare is not my chosen career path I think.

So, other than feeling utterly miserable about everyone leaving the second I cut the cake and worried that the other parents think I am a complete idiot, the party went well… Squidge loved it. She loved every single minute (except the bit where I made her cry, obv) and is so excited about her playdates.

Birthday girl

I hope that the mums I suggested playdates to weren’t just being nice because I am SO excited about being able to offer Squidge the company of other children on weekends.

I spent most of last night plotting this post and how I would write it. I wanted to share the funny and sad moments of the party. The fact that I felt like it was a huge flop. The squirly nerves I suffer from whenever I’m in a social situation nowadays (I used to be so comfortable with meeting new people but the coldness of some of the people here has really changed that). And in the end it has, I think, been a bit of a deranged ramble.

Funny moments: Three kids sneaking up on Doctor Who cutout in case he started talking to them, all the kids wanting to go for a wee at the same time and me being the only one who could do it, M arriving in a Doctor Who bowtie (melt).

Sad moments: Child from foster family just left alone and becoming increasingly quiet and withdrawn throughout (I was gutted by how old her eyes looked)

Dark funny moments: Making children cry because I told them they had moved in musical statues. Stand-Offish Mum telling me that her son doesn’t know who Doctor Who is because, “We don’t approve of him”. Oh, well, have a Dalek mask…snort.

Idiot moments: Forgetting the two glasses of iced water for the heavily pregnant mums (gulp), giving Doctor Who stickers to Stand-Offish Mum’s child as compensation for his losing musical statues and then remembering what she said (above).

Happy moments: Looking at my child dancing with her arms outstretched, a huge smile on her face, in complete abandon, inhibitions to the wind. Every last moment of stress gone in that instant.

Does parenthood bring you joy?

When I came home this evening I was rewarded with the most spectacular greeting in the world. Small, chubby little arms reached out and gave me a hug that involved using all four limbs. With her little arms around my neck, her legs around my waist and big , fat kisses on my cheek and neck, I thought I had died and gone to heaven.

Like this article from the New York Magazine, this joy was soon shortlived. You see, it was 8pm and my train had been delayed (again), Husband had barrelled out of the door to get to the meeting he was supposed to have been at 30 mins earlier (thanks to late train), and I had another pile of work to get through.

So, as much as I loved my darling tot for her exuberant greeting and kisses of love, I wasn’t too impressed with having to tramp up and down the stairs for the next hour and 20 minutes to the strains of, “Moooommeeee, I need a cuddle“, and “Moooommeeee, I need a wee“, and “Mooommeee, Dolly’s hairband fell off!”.

While I appreciate the fact that the aforementioned tramping is doing wonderful things to my thighs, it is also eating into the last remaining energy reserves I have left in my battered body. I was up at 6am! I signed off a magazine! I commuted! As her cries became more and more whiny thanks to her over-tired state, my levels of frustration began to seep over my neck and into my skull.

Then I recieved a text. From The Husband.

Squidge so sad you weren’t home. She drew an amazing picture of you on a train. I did the train outline and the dragon driver (on request) everything else is hers.”

Suddenly all my frustration disappeared in a flash. I raced back downstairs to find her fast asleep wearing her slippers, a doll in each hand and a little snore in her mouth. So here I am, sitting in front of my PC, awash with more emotions than one body should take at any one time. Love, guilt (oh, that horrible, horrible guilt), worry, gratitude and joy.

Did I sound grumpy when I told her, “Go to sleep, young lady, it is way past your bedtime“? Did I not thank her enough for her drawing? Did I do enough? Is she ok with this commute, temporary as it is? Is she going to grow up with issues?

Which brings me neatly to this article. The headline really does sum it up beautifully. Parenting – all joy and no fun. When put like that, suddenly I feel better. I feel as if I am not the only mum wrestling with this madness. I haven’t even begun to delve into the meat of this story. There is a lot there to muse on.

Parenthood can ruin a relationship, it can also bring you closer together. It will definitely test your bonds and, occasionally, you’re going to want to kill your partner. One of my favourite jokes when I was battling through the first six months of sleepless hell was this one:

After you have kids, the only time parents have sex is when they walk past each other at 3am and say, “Screw you.”

Does your parenthood lack fun but bring you happiness? I don’t know about you but, for me, the answer is – sometimes. Sometimes I want to walk out the door, down the road and into the bar. Mostly, though, I just look at her and think, “I made this, me. I did it. Wow.”

P.S. The painting is the very pic posted above…

Here comes Doctor Who

We didn’t have Doctor Who in South Africa. Well, not that I knew of, anyway, and I’m a sci-fi geek. So when I first discovered the Doctor way back in 2006 it was a huge treat. Huge.

I immediately got my hands on all the recent seasons – from Eccleston to Tennant – and started to catch up. Eccleston was fabulously grumpy and Tennat was just so yummy I immediately put him on my List. (Husband has a List too, is only fair. Although, the chances of David Tennant falling deeply in lust with a middle-aged mum who’s stomach has it’s own postcode are pretty slim. But a girl can dream).

My daughter, however, enjoyed it but only developed a huge passion for Doctor Who when Matt Smith came along. Personally I was pleased that he wasn’t hot, because fancying him would have felt a bit like I was a dirty old lady in an anorak. The age gap and all that.

Anyway, I digress. Since Matt Smith took on the role of The Doctor, Squidge has been utterly riveted. She loves it and she especially loves Amy. Apparently her and M, another little boy from nursery, play Doctor Who together. He’s the Doctor and she’s Amy, and together they squish Daleks. Isn’t that to die for?

This is the cutout!

Well, obviously her upcoming birthday party has to be a Doctor Who theme, doesn’t it? I have dutifully bought Doctor Who plates, cups, napkins and a tablecloth, Dalek face masks, and (wait for it) a lifesize cardboard cutout of Doctor Who and Amy. I am DYING to see her reaction. (please god don’t let her burst into tears of terror).

This morning it was all about the hunt for the final thing – the Doctor Who cake. Sadly, because the season has ended it looks like all the stores have stopped stocking it! Still, the lovely Tesco have put in an order for me because they say the cake is still on their system. Keep your fingers crossed that this results in the arrival of a Doctor Who cake on Tuesday. It would make the perfect final touch.

The best part of all this is that everything I’ve bought has come in under £50. Oh yes! Including 10 Doctor Who activity books that will replace the usual stocking filler. The only items I’m missing now are present fillers for Pass the Parcel and I’m not too worried about those.

All in all, with four RSVPS (will the other parents please HURRY UP), and the venue sorted, now all we need to do is wait for the big day. Eeek.

Big panic? Nobody else RSVPs and she has a teeny party. Or nobody shows up at all. PANIC.

Overachiever mum

Today I bought Squidge’s schooliform and ironed on all the labels. Yes. I did. This sentence is groundbreaking for several reasons…

1. I can’t iron. Things I iron look worse when I’m finished than when I started. Even ironing on labels required several visits by Husband to explain why it was beeping, how to turn off the steam, and what temperature setting I needed.

2. I am never efficient. I have been known to emergency buy an item of clothing on the way to an event I’ve known about for months. Getting her entire school wardrobe sorted in one day should have seen the sun fall into the sea, or something like that.

3. I have folded them, tidied them, and allocated them an entire section in her wardrobe so they are easily found. I even bought spares and extras of items that usually get mangled fast, like shoes.

4. I made it in time for the last day of the M&S 3-for-2 sale.

If there’s an award for all of this, can I have it now please? I even took a pic to put here on me blog. Wahey.

The funniest thing

I’ve been commuting to London three days a week for the past few weeks. It’s awesome and exhausting. It’s nice to edit a mag again and to be part of a team, but I miss my Squidge something fierce. And the fact that “commuting” at home is walking upstairs with a cup of coffee.

So, every day at around 3:30pm, I give Husband a call to speak to him and Squidge and see how they are doing (she finishes nursery at 3pm). Some days she just won’t talk to me, others will get me a grunt, and then there are days like yesterday when she grabbed the phone from Husband and started yabbering away down the phone.

This is an excerpt from the end of the conversation.

“Mooom, are you on the train?”

“No, baby, I’m still in the office. I’m not getting on the train for two more hours.”

“You’re not on the train, then?”

“No, I’m working.”

“Are you having a wee at S’s house?”

(I must interject here by explaining that the first of these train journeys was a social one to S’s house and Squidge is determined to believe that the whole reason I went there was to have a wee. Yes, is very odd, I know)

“”No, honey, I’m at work.”

Silence.

“You’re not on the train. You’re not coming home yet?”

“Um, no?”

“I’m done with you now.”

And she promptly handed the phone back to Husband and wandered off. I haven’t laughed that hard in ages.

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