Month: March 2016

Musings on Motherhood: Weapons of Mass Distraction

Bribery and babies don’t mix. Believe me, I’ve tried. “I’ll read you the cloth version of The Very Hungry Caterpillar if you stop crying?” “Cash for smiles?” The boy sizes me up, narrow-eyed, tear-stained and suspicious, contemplating the offer on the table. A sharp business mind already. But my hope is short-lived. A furrowed brow and the bottom lip-curl tells me it’s been swiftly rejected. Normal service resumes. 

Following such epic fails, I’ve embarked on a different parenting technique: Weapons of Mass Distraction. My armoury is as follows: 

  
1. The Hairdryer
Little could I have imagined when I bought my shitty wee hairdryer all those years ago that I’d be using it to pacify a 12-week-old. The discovery came during a particularly trying morning. “Mummy’s just getting ready”, I shout, as I turn it on while simultaneously trying to dress myself, pick up a sick-stained baby grow and narrowly avoid slipping on one of fifty muslins. To my amazement, as soon as I flick the switch Tom’s eyelids start to droop. Perfect! *silent fist pump in head*. Unfortunately for me the wee rascal has now cottoned on to my trick and tries every trick in the book to fight the sleep. “My hands and feet will keep moving mummy, my hands and feet will keep moving…yay!” We have a maximum sleep time of approximately two minutes. Which definitely isn’t long enough for a sly coffee. (I have attempted it.) I often daydream about slowly drinking a piping hot latte while the Hallelujah Chorus plays in the background. Magical. Wonderful. Never going to happen. 

  

Yes son, this was your mother in a previous life 
2. Singing
This is how I spend approximately two thirds of my time with the nipper. It doesn’t matter what I sing. It doesn’t matter when I sing. I sing. This method has had varying levels of success. ABC was flavour of the month until he decided he didn’t like the Jackson Five anymore. The boy doesn’t know a classic when he hears it. Tickling his toes and declaring “Tickilie tock, Tickilie tock, da da da da da da da daaaah daaaah” to the tune of Captain Pugwash is the current fave. Although I’m singing it so much I worry it will cross over into my adult life… There will come a day when I go to the bakers and skip around clicking my fingers whilst declaring “mummy’s gettin’ the bread, yeah” to the tune of MC Hammer’s U Can’t Touch This. Dear God. 

  

Roosters, roosters everywhere. Beware 

3. The Good Old Dog and Bone

Ah the mobile phone. That glorious bastion of distraction. Before Tom arrived I downloaded two albums. I was convinced he would love them and we’d sing along together, Playschool-stylee. I was smug. I was stupid. 

Of course I also committed the cardinal sin of not listening to these ‘tunes’ properly until after the baby was here. Now our home is filled with the warblings of the 50 Greatest Nursery Rhymes by The Countdown Kids (cheer, woo hoo!) A chorus of American kids with saccharine sweet voices. Some of the tracks make no sense whatsoever, and it’s not just me that hates them. Tom and I can tolerate Old MacDonald Had A Farm, (a masterclass in memorising various animal sounds), but then we get to such gems as”I had a Rooster”. Here’s a flavour:

“My little rooster went cocka doodle doo.      Dee doodle-ee doodle-ee doodle-ee do”

And repeat. And repeat. And repeat. 
Before long the boy’s in tears again and I’m planning how hunt down that sodding bird. Your doodle-ee do days are numbered my feathered friend. 

The lullabies album is a tad more sedate (clue in the title, huh), and I tend to use it at night. But there’s a spanner in the works. A fly in the ointment. Tucked away amidst all the lovely, lilting tunes, there’s a really bloody upbeat track. Why would you do that? WHY? The bambino’s drifting off, all is well with the world, then BOOM. While I may secretly yearn for a return to my clubbing days I’m not keen to have it re-enacted in my bedroom at half seven at night, thus waking up my kiddie-wink. FFS. 

  

The boy is not impressed…

Those are my tools. Unfortunately their deployment has not been a huge success. Beleaguered and battle-weary, back to the bribery it is…

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The Swimming Lesson

Babies can be hard work at the best of times. But babies and swimming pools? A mammoth undertaking.

I rock up with the bambino and two huge changing bags containing a multitude of stuff. Big trunks. Little trunks. Cardboard box. A pairs of goggles (for me, not him. Although that would be impressive for his first swimming lesson).

The reception is filled with apprehensive parents. We’re ushered through and I lug boy and bags into a teeny-tiny changing room. On opening said bags I quickly realise I’ve packed them in no real order, so the nappy and trunks are stuffed in right at the bottom. Resulting in everything being flung onto the wet floor in my haste to get him ready Great.

Trunks out. Now just to get them on. They’re made of wetsuit material so rather a tight fit. Trying to force them onto a wriggling, gurgling baby isn’t the easiest. I eventually manage, although they still hang down a bit. MC Hammer eat your heart out.

As I carry Tom into the pool I’m praying we won’t have a repeat incident of The Great British Baby Weigh Off, which involved copious amounts of urine at an inopportune time. As it turns out, another babe will trump him on that at a later date. He has a suspicious look on his face as we get into the water. His best “mummy, what the hell are we doing” demeanour. But no tears. So far, so good.

We bounce our babies around in a circle, as the instructor, a happy-clappy jazz hands type, stands in the middle shouting out instructions. We dance to his merry tune. “Sing to them!”, he exclaims. At this moment I realise I don’t know all the words. What sort of song is this anyway? Ah yes, a timeless classic apparently. What a novice.

“Twinkle, twinkle, little star,  Doo do, er, la la, er ooh ooh, you are….”

I’m smiling at Tom, who remains as bemused as ever.

After a few dittys and an attempt at holding baby in the swimming position, it’s time for the pièce de résistance: Underwater Time!! (smiley faces and tap dance).

The instructor explains he’ll take each baby and dunk them underwater. Preceding this, their parent is to shout “Baby’s name, ready, GO!”

We near the end of the line up and I feel a tad more reassured as I see other babies emerging from the water looking like drowned rats, but otherwise unscathed.

Tom’s turn. I put on my best smiling mummy face and fill my voice with enthusiasm. “Tom, ready, GO!”. Boom. Babe disappears under the water. Turns out he’s not a fan. As he emerges there’s a split second of silence, followed by a piercing scream. His hand shoots out,  and grabs my hair with a vice-like grip.

Oh crap. “Well done, well done, well done” is all I can think of to say, whilst giving my husband an “is he ok” look as he films it from the sidelines with a thumbs up.

After a while he calms down. We do some more singing, bouncing and hand-gliding and before we know it the lesson’s over.*

The following week, and it’s time for Tom’s next underwater excursion. I’m steeled. I’m prepared. Only one changing bag. Proper mummy. Organised mummy. Then my phone beeps.

IMG_9846

Welcome to #Nappygate. Thank God it wasn’t Tom. A bizarre scene then pops into my head of Mr Happy Clappy  skipping around the poolside while trying to extricate the offending specimen with a fishing net. All while Christina Aguilera’s “Dirty” plays in the background. Yup. I definitely need to get out more.

*Part of this sentence *may* be a lie.

*is