Thursday, 15 August 2013

Time changes everything

Time changes everything!
It’s 7am and I’m desperate to catch a few last minutes of rest. The bedroom door opens in exaggerated quietness. My eldest comes in.
‘‘7.02!’.  He reads the clock. And roars ‘Yes!’ in an attempted whisper as if Man U had just scored a goal.
And that is that. He is up and getting dressed. The other three follow suit. Hangers clatter onto the bathroom floor. Socks argued over. Whispers grow. The younger ones are shushed in even louder tones.
I give in.
You see, my eldest can now read the time. Therefore, we have a  new rule - he’s not allowed get up before the clock says 7. This is a serious milestone in my parenting with equally serious consequences.
I can no longer say that it’s 8.30pm when it’s 7; that the programme is on too late or that the party is on in an hour when it’s actually in three.  And what’s worse, ‘We’re going to be late for school!’ has lost its threat. I’ve lost my spare 5 minutes. Time is now real.
My solution? All my clocks downstairs are now 10 minutes fast and upstairs, ten minutes slow. Coordinated with precision.

Monday, 14 May 2012

PPT – Post-Potty Trauma

It’s been almost two weeks since Conor’s May Day declaration – “It’s ok Mam, you no say ‘Oh Jesus’.  I did wee-wee in the toilet!” and so far he has kept to his ceasefire.
Life is returning to ‘chaotic-normal’ but post-potty trauma runs deep. Coping strategies vary. The kids are like attentive waiters in a gold-chip restaurant, pre-empting his every need, even putting the light on in the bathroom for him - just in case. I hesitate when putting on my runners - that cold squelch still haunts me. And my husband? Well, he has emerged from the study with a ‘poem’ for the children having made his own imaginative recovery:

Bladder Attack

When Conor pees
People scatter,
Barely escaping
The arc of his wee.

He pees on the floor
He pees out the door
Pees in the toybox
Pees on goldilocks

He pees down the slide
When playing outside
He pees on the plants
He pees after ants.

Instead of the loos
He pees in our shoes,
His aim’s so sharp
He’s the new Wyatt Earp.

We must watch our backs
From bladder attacks:
His crawling warm sting
Sticks clothes to our skin.

Yes, when Conor pees
People scatter,
Barely escaping
The arc of his wee.

This - I hope - is the last instalment of the ‘Wee-wee Trilogy!’

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

May-Day! May-Day!

April has been a busy month.
To date my toddler has pee’d …
- in the topsy turtle box
- behind the couch
- on the couch
- in the sit-on Thomas the tank
- in my runners  (good aim!)
- into the flower vase
- in the garden
- under the slide
- on the slide
- behind the bush
- in front of the bush
- on his brother’s back  (while his brother was innocently playing lego on the floor – we had to rush him to the shower)…
He has also…
- poured a full tub of Vanish down the sink
- attacked a box of party bags
- thrown the house phone in the bin on collection day…
That was April.
Very early this morning he arrived at the foot of the bed.
- Mam?
- Yes?
- I did a wee wee.
- Where?  I say - immediately awake.
- It’s ok Mam. You no say ‘Oh Jesus’.  I did it in the toilet.
Yippee! The terrible two’s are OVER!

Friday, 30 March 2012

I’m a little teapot

It’s toilet-training time. My baby has grown up.
Well, almost!
I'm in the kitchen. The almost 3-year-old is in the family room practically naked and just out of sight. He’s playing with Topsy Turtle – the game with the green and yellow talking musical turtle. I’m reassured by the recurrent dum di dum di dum di dum di dum dum di dum di dum di dum dum di… and lulled into a false sense of security.
My mantra - where there’s noise, there’s no trouble.
dum di dum di dum … I’m really up high …di dum di dum dum di…
The coloured pile of counters fall. He starts again.
dum di dum di dum di dum di dum dum di…
 ‘Mam’, he shouts.
‘Yes’, I reply!
‘Look’ he exclaims.
I look, automatically at first, then with that ‘oh no, what next’ feeling.
‘Wee wee’, he cries excitedly holding the Topsy turtle box.
‘Where?’ I ask.
‘Here’, he answers wide-eyed, pointing in the box.
He puts the box on the ground, one hand on his bum, the other hand on his “wee wee” and starts singing
 I’m a little tea pot
short and stout,
Here’s my handle and
here’s my spout.
The teapot box is duly filled!
The turtle is upturned, left to crawl the air.
dum di dum di dum di dum di dum dum di…

Thursday, 1 March 2012

The Merc Rat

My brother has a merc.

He now has a rat, who also likes mercs.
He opened the boot and saw that his coat was gnawed through. He searched the car but found nothing. Then the groceries he had bought for his son at university were selectively munched. It liked noodles. Again no sign of the rat, no indication of how it got in or how it got out.
The next incident happened on the road. He switched on the indicator and all the lights came on. Off to the mechanic. The car was stripped down. No rat.
We cannot afford a merc, and probably never will. But my husband reckons that this rat is a metaphor for post Celtic Tiger Ireland. We all have a merc rat, he says, something never seen or caught but gnawing away elusively and dangerously from the inside… a health scare, a massive mortgage, a strained relationship, a dead-end job, or  no job.  
Well… definitely not one of his more humorous insights.  And certainly not the time to mention a new couch!
By the way, the mechanic found the internal wires eaten away – hanging by a thread.
The material damage: 1000 euros.  The mechanic told him that it only a matter of time before the car stopped dead on the motorway.
Fingers crossed for the rest of us…

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Holy Smoke!

It’s Lent. A time for penitence and reflection. And I have a confession to make.  
I set the altar on fire. It wasn’t my fault. Honestly. I was only nine.
You see, it was some feast day or other and our teacher – a nun – was marking the day. In the corner of our classroom stood an elevated altar with a statue of Our Lady adorned with a holy communion veil. On this particular day, the statue was surrounded by colourful tissue flowers which we were making in the classroom. We discovered that the more we made, the less school work we did. So the production line kept going.
With the 4-ply multi-coloured tissue boxes on the classroom tables almost empty, nightlights were added to the altar. And they were lit!
I went over to add the final few flowers. And being short of stature, even then, I stretched up to reach over the candles. The inevitable happened. I dropped the yellow and pink tissue flowers and,  ... well,  holy smoke!
So, while everyone else walks around on Ash Wednesday with the ashes of burned palms on their forehead, I am reminded of how every year I guiltily and secretly wear ashes from tissue flowers and an old nun’s altar!

Monday, 13 February 2012

Valentine’s Day

It’s the 13th of February and I am under pressure: under pressure to have a plan (a card, a meal, a bottle of wine, anything) for tomorrow.
Perhaps it’s just that I don’t want to be forced into it - forced to share a cramped restaurant or to see my husband pay ridiculous prices for roses (a lover maybe, but a husband never). Give me a box of chocolates or a simple bunch of tulips on any OTHER day and I’d be thrilled.
You see, it’s complicated.
The cynical side of me wants to step back from the whole syrupy wave of advertising. Who wants to be reminded that they are so gullible? The romantic side of me wants to enjoy an occasion when I am made to feel special. Who doesn’t? Then my superstitious side (can I have three sides?) doesn’t want to tempt fate, or the gods, or cupid by self-consciously ignoring February 14th. Would you?
As a couple we have developed a curiously Irish solution.  We celebrate the valentine sentiment but not always on the day. We come at it obliquely, furtively, from the side so-to-speak.
So, we didn’t get engaged on Valentine’s Day but settled on a few days before. That took everyone by surprise. And not during a romantic dinner, but rather during Francis Ford Coppola’s ‘Dracula’ in the Savoy cinema.  That certainly took me by surprise. The ring was in a carton of popcorn. Risky, yes, but a ring in a velvet box would have been too simple!
But the problem with coming at something sideways is that out of all the Valentine’s Days my husband and I have shared, and there have been quite a few, neither of us can remember any one in particular- a bit like New Year’s Eves.  In fact, the most memorable Valentine’s Day was when I went into premature labour with child number four, and my other three – then aged 5, 4 and 2 each brought a smiling giant daisy to the hospital to me.
Maybe tomorrow we will try and celebrate it on the day. So, I am under pressure: under pressure to have a plan (a card, a meal, a bottle of wine, anything) …