We’ve followed CLAIRE BATES through weaning, whining and weeing in triplicate, and now, with her youngest a toddler, life has to be getting easier. Or not.
A lot of my mates hate toddlers.
They love the baby bit, all the helpless, can’t-live-without-my-Mummy, snuffle, snuffle spit-up bit. But they loathe what comes next.
Now me, as with most things, I’m the other way round. I just love it when they become little people, have personalities, speak, sleep and don’t spit-up. Number Three is now three and finally through the baby phase. When they can pour their own Cheerios, wipe their own bums, operate the remote and boost my needy esteem by saying “I love you Mummy” on demand, that’s when I feel I can pull my head above the parenting parapet and breathe a slight sigh of relief.
But this weekend I found myself seriously considering my ‘I love toddler’ fan club membership.
We’re in a lift.
A small lift.
And on floor four a lady gets in.
“Why does that lady have a beard?” asks Number Three. Loudly.
I do that Mummy scary face – the one that never fails to stun the other two into silence.
But Number Three is my “spirited” one and ignores me. “There – look Mummy. On her wobbly chin. Hair!”
Mentally, I’m flicking through the pages of Debretts, wondering exactly what the etiquette is for stuck-in-a-lift-with-hairy-man-woman.
Physically, I’m grinning.
She’s glaring. Furious. I know this because the hair is quivering on said wobbly chin …and yet, I’m grinning.
Do you remember when you were at school, someone had said something funny, teacher turned around from the blackboard and stared at you, and there was absolutely NO WAY you could wipe the huge, slightly demonic grin that had stretched across your entire face?
That was me.
She grunted, sighed heavily, then fell silent, clearly expecting me to say something.
“Toddlers eh?” was all I could muster and when she left on floor one, I totally lost it. Real hysterical, belly aching, can’t-catch-your-breath, good old fashioned laughter. Cancel my toddler fan club membership? Never. Who’d wanna swap that moment of life gold for piles and sore nipples. Talking of which, Number Three did me proud in Waitrose the other day too. He’s at that stage where anything poo or genitalia-related is naughtily funny so, trying (too hard) to be cool Mummy, I pointed out the Belgian buns at the bakery display.
“Don’t they look like Mummy’s boobies?” I whispered slightly too loudly, giggling.
“No. They’re round,” he said matter-of-factly. “Yours are oval”. With unusual restraint and, probably because I was in Waitrose, I resisted the urge to spit that ‘oval’ is due to having three hungry boys hanging off my ‘boobies’ for a YEAR AND A HALF of my bloody life.
Later, I could hear him recounting the story to his older brother in the bath and an argument ensues. Number Two says they’re not ‘oval’ in fact, but more like “fat sausages or iced buns. Oh, or actually more like party bag balloons a loooong time after the party”.
All right, all right. Easy boys.
The following Sunday it was a friend’s daughter’s birthday party at one of those urban farms. Now most of them are fabulous, educational, fun days out. This one wasn’t.
The five pigs and three, I think, goats had seen better days and as far as I could see it, the overpriced Made In China gift shop trinkets had absolutely nothing to do with farms, ‘highlights’ being an eraser shaped like the Eiffel Tower and a ruler with only inches on it. Excellent.
Anyway, Numbers One, Two and Three had finished their party lunch, billed on the menu as ‘nuggits’ and chips and complete with a sinister-looking glossy film on it.
It had been served in the ‘eco education hut’ which in the damp, dingy barely lit heat, struck me as less eco or educational, more Osama’s Pakistan hideout. As we came to leave, I deployed scary Mummy face again, meant as a reminder to the boys to say their totally unrehearsed “thank you for the party, it was wonderful” bit, but clearly Number Three took it to mean something else. “I didn’t do anything,” he said, eyes widening. Oh Crap.
Obviously he did.
“What have you done?” I hiss at him, just as Party Girl’s Mummy trips over, all floaty dress and Jo Maloney.
“I didn’t like my nuggets he smiled, so I gave them to the Show and Tell rabbit.”
I breathed a slight sigh of relief, mentally trying to gauge how bad a bit of deep fried chicken could be for a brainwashed bunny.
It couldn’t be that bad.
Not that bad – if it had eaten it, that is.
Roger the Rabbit is OK now. The farm vet was able to remove the mashed-up nuggets from both ears quite easily after the anaesthetic kicked in.
I’m looking forward to the teenage years now. I’ve gone off toddlers.