Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Mother's Morning Prayer

Every day, after the alarm clock abuse ritual is over, I say the Mother's Morning Prayer:

"Good morning to you, if you are awake at this ungodly hour of the day. I bet you are past the kid phase now. Either that, or you have teenagers who don't get up until midday.

First of all, I implore you to give me the patience to deal with my exasperating children. (If my darling husband were around, I would ask for composure to put up with him too.) Fill my cup with a proportional amount of patience to the red wine I imbibed last night. Help me to have a tantrum-free day. By that, I mean, please don't force me to bang my head against the wall in frustration.

Please give me strength to carry all the sports gear and other junk associated with children. In fact, let me have turned into an octopus in the night so that I have eight arms. Actually, make that a whale and then I won't have to force my blubber into a swimsuit or feel cold in the pool. I will also be guilt-free at meal times.

I pray that Henry will not put his shorts on first, followed by his underwear, and hop around laughing hysterically, expecting me to find it amusing. As you know, I never find anything funny before 12 noon. I ask you to return my stolen sense of humour along with the missing portion of brain, both of which went AWOL when I gave birth to my two lovely monsters.

Please don't let me have to do "a bite for me, a bite for you" with Emily at breakfast today. It makes me want to vomit, sharing mashed up kids' cereal.

I pray that it did not really rain all last night and that I did not actually leave the sunroof and windows open in the van. On the other hand, if it did, I ask that it continues to rain for long enough to cancel soccer practice. I pray that Henry and Emily don't ask to go to the park to play in the blocked drain water, and make me feel like a bad mother when I refuse to take them. And I beg you not to let Henry fill his rain boots up with water from a dirty puddle and then empty them out onto the driver's seat of the van again.

Please don't let last night's hole that got bashed in the wall still be there when Jimmy returns from his business trip. And please let the most recent cat sick stain remain hidden under the rug.

I beg you to ensure that we do not need any band-aids today since the children used them all up on their not-so-private-parts and their stuffed animals. Please don't let Henry return from school with used toilet paper in his ears today.

Let there be peace in the world, or if that is too much to ask for, let the fighting be confined to fists and plastic weapons, but not involve the removal of teeth or eye balls. I don't want any of that eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth stuff going on in my house today thanks. And on the subject of pearly whites, please let Henry's baby teeth come out by themselves before he is seven, so that he does not feel the urge to tie fishing line and dental floss around them every day and ask Emily to pull. I feel that he does not quite understand the purpose of dental floss. I am a bad mother. But, by the time the kids have cleaned their own teeth and those of six or seven bears, dogs, cats, and other toys, I really feel that my instruction on flossing might be a little on the aggressive side. Oh, and forgive me for swearing at the animal nurse again when she suggested that I clean the cat's teeth at least once a day. She clearly does not have children.

I ask that the preschool teacher does not notice the steady stream of green snot dribbling down Emily's face. I have given Emily strict instructions to say she has allergies if the teacher does remark upon it.

I repent for ramming that miserable woman with a trolley (cart) when I had PMS-induced supermarket rage. (I guess I do not have to translate into American English for you, since you know everything). I hope and pray she does not turn out to be the mother of one of Emily's preschool friends or, worse still, a first grade substitute teacher at Henry's school. He is in enough trouble without having his mother identified as a foul-mouthed lunatic.
Please accept my travel prayer to make sure that the Safeway delivery man is safe on his way here this afternoon and arrives early with my supply of red wine, so that I don't need to resort to using my emergency bottle of Two Buck Chuck.

And finally, I know I have asked for an awful lot, but I beseech you, to please help me to lift my weary body out of this bed and give me protection from the kids jumping all over me. Amen."

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Tick Tock, It's Wine O'clock

Tick tock.
It's wine o'clock.
Time for a glass of wine I think.
Now shall it be white, red or pink?

I yell at the kids, "Don't you whine!"
It's the hour for Mum's wine time.
"Whoever hides the corkscrew needs to stop."
Oh thank God for inventing the screw top.

Whatever the weather, never mind the reason.
Wonderful, cheap wine is always in season.
With kids around it's hard to stay sane.
It must be time for bottled sanity again.

Whether it's GMT or PST or EST or PMS
My intellect allows for a calculated guess.
There's something hard-wired in my brain
That says, "Oh, it must be wine time again."

As I hear the hubby's car pull up to the fence,
I collect the empty bottle to conceal the evidence.
But whatever the time of day, month or year,
He invariably asks, "Been on the wine again dear?"

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Praise the Lard

Ohhhh my head. I am never going to drink again. Lots of wine cured my PMS yesterday. It was great. Whatever self-help books and the Internet say about not drinking alcohol when you have PMS is utter bollocks. Of course it helps. And then the hangover masks the PMS and you don't know which is making you feel worse. But the mojitos at the end of last night were a little stronger than usual and are probably responsible for the hammer pounding the rim of my skull from the inside.

I staggered out of bed, lurching from side to side.

"Lard, I need lard. Now."

Oh joy, I found a packet of bacon in the fridge. Without contact lenses or glasses, finding the frying pan was a little more challenging. I stuck my head all the way to the back of the kitchen cupboard and Henry came up behind me and shouted, "Boo".

I smacked my head hard and swore profusely.

Soon the bacon was sizzling sexily. Of course I forgot to put the fan on. The kitchen filled with black smoke and fat was splattering  merrily all over the glass cook top.

I stirred it a bit and then saw what looked like bits of pepper in the pan. But I had not added pepper. The grim realization that there must be mouse sh*t in the pan slowly dawned on me. There was no more bacon in the fridge and I contemplated washing the already blackened offerings. But even I could not bring myself to be that gross. Whilst lifting the pan and sticking my face almost in it to get a closer look, the greasy handle somehow escaped my grip and the pan smashed down onto the already cracked cook top. A few shards of black glass amassed in the pool of grease.

"Jimmy will kill me."

Having a hangover is a bit like being pregnant. I feel nauseous most of the time and have strange cravings. This morning it was for meat. Maybe I have a bit of German in me after all, although it wasn't substantial enough to feel.

At the back of the fridge I found a lamb chop with a shiny green tinge to it. Or was it silver? The smell as I took it out of the bag was sickening. Lamb does last a long time but maybe this was slightly past its sell by date. Well, I was prepared to give it a try. I put it under the broiler, turned it on high and closed the oven door.

I fancied an egg with it but the frying pan was full of burnt bacon and mouse excrement so I decided to do a hard-boiled egg. Not wanting to risk another saucepan of mouse poo, I decided to cook an egg in the microwave. Never, ever, ever try to put an egg in its shell in a microwave! Ever!

Emily needed her bottom wiping so I left the kitchen to help her. But the stench in the bathroom was so great that I had to chunder in the sink. Bits blocked the drain which has a very sad inflammation of the U-bend anyway.

I got back to the kitchen which now contained even more particles wearing black. Jimmy stood coughing, glaring into the oven which contained a small but significant fire. The odd flame lashed out at him. Henry was watching the microwave, luckily from a distance, just in time to witness the big "BANG". The door blew off. The decimated egg came flying out, shell embedding itself all over the kitchen, yellow and white globs flying angrily through the air to the other side of the living room. The eggy microwave door had landed on top of the brand new laptop which sits on the kitchen surface.

"Cool!" screeched Henry in response to his favorite concept in abundant display - mass destruction.

"Holy f*ck!" screamed Jimmy as he tried to see through the thick black smoke that now filled the whole house.

"Why did we just buy a five hundred dollar gas barbecue?" he yelled. "It was to stop you setting the two thousand dollar oven on fire AGAIN!"

After putting the incinerated bacon and lamb chop in the bin, I hunted around in the back of the freezer for an alternative meat source.  Luckily, the light in the freezer allowed me to see a little better. There were a few gnarly sausages that had virtually disintegrated over time and had layers of discolored frost on them. There was my placenta from Henry, but that would have to be defrosted and the microwave door was missing. Something black and furry appeared. Oh, it was the missing slipper! I had thrown my other slipper away last year. Peculiar indeed.

"Fish finger sandwich - mmmm - my favourite." I hurried out to the barbecue as that was the only operable cooking device.

"I'll have you lovelies in a delicious sandwich in no time." I told them.  I wandered back into the house in search of bread and ketchup.

But Jimmy had cordoned off the whole kitchen with "Crime Scene Do Not Cross" tape.

Suddenly a yellow jacket (called a wasp in all other English-speaking countries) started buzzing around in the dining room. I was horrified that the religious fly (see Sunday Morning Worship) had morphed into a more severe and deadly nun. Which reminded me that I had received an invitation to a breakfast from the pastor at the non-denominational church. I had not been there for nearly a year and I would have missed most of the service. But the lack of breakfast in the house meant that I was hungry for something, even if not spiritual arousal.

I got the kids in the car under great duress. They are not keen on going to church but I told them that there would be yummy food in a smoke-free environment. I guess swearing at your kids on the way to church is not high on the list of good religious etiquette. But I did not use the "c" word today.

As I left in the van I saw Jimmy out on the deck waving his fist at me. I remembered the fish fingers, which would now be nicely cremated on the barbecue. I also remembered that I was still not wearing my contact lenses.

We arrived near the end of the service and made the mistake of trying to creep quietly into the back of the church. What was I thinking?
Creep and quietly are not words that should ever be used in conjunction with two children under six.

There were two guest speakers answering questions about their experiences of spreading the word. I could not see that far. I could just hear their droning voices.

"There are those Jehovah guys that you showed your not so private parts to Mummy." shouted Henry at Mach 10 decibel level. The whole church turned its pious head towards us and even though I had blurred vision, I felt the intensity of the sanctimonious eyes upon me.

"What a strange coincidence," said the one Jehovah.

"There is the sinner we mentioned in our question and answer session," added the other.

My hunger subsided and I felt the urge to puke again so I dragged the protesting kids out of the church and back to the car.  I think it may be another year before I visit the lord again. And next time I feel like lard, I will just go to a restaurant for breakfast like normal people.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Sunday Morning Worship

Sunday morning is a special day for me as a devout catholic. I always go to church when I don't have a hangover - rarely actually.

This morning, the religious fly made another appearance. I think it is a reincarnated nun from the convent I went to as a child. It lies dormant during the week behind the curtains, languishing in the purgatory of the cobwebs. But on a Sunday, without fail, at dawn, before my monsters wake me up, it starts off with a slow, meticulous, reticent buzz from corner to corner to corner to corner of the window, stopping to put on its tunic, its habit, its crucifix and its rosary beads.

Suddenly the mother f, I mean mother superior, blasts out from behind the curtains, ready to rouse the entire nunnery, in full buzzing frenzy.

20 Buzzy Hail Marys and 20 Buzzy Our Fathers later, whilst swooshing down low, almost close enough to alert my nasal hairs to her impending landing, my clerical alarm clock which has been saying, "Go to churchhhh sinner, go to churchhhhhhhhhhhhhhh sinner," secretes herself for a little while to prepare the communion wine.

The only Mary I am interested in right now is a Bloody Mary to ease my pulsating hangover. Staggering around the room blindly, contact lenses not yet aroused, I lurch at the curtains with a book, trying to find the shrouded fly, mumbling obscenities which would have resulted in a lengthy stay in the nun's punishment cupboard if I had dared to utter them in the convent. I want to splat that holy mother out of existence. "Bugger off!" I bellow.

Returning to bed, I contemplate what I would say if I went to confession in this day and age.

"Please bless me father for I have sinned. It is almost seven years since I last bit a Hare Krishna on the arse and considerably longer since my last confession.

I have been swearing profusely for many years and I lost my rosary beads the night my bra also mysteriously disappeared. Please don't ask me why I took the holy necklace out drinking. I think it was part of my fancy dress costume but my memory evades me right now.

Although I have not committed murder, (unless the mouse that the cat caught in the middle of the night and I bludgeoned to death with the new toilet plunger and threw out the window counts) I have contemplated the assassination of the little bastard yapping dog next door on many occasions.

Certainly I did not covet my neighbor's ox as he does not have one, nor his ass for that matter. I did, however, have my eye on the potential new neighbor's bottom as he perused the property with a view to buying it. His jeans clung just perfectly to make him look tasty from the rear. I did fall off the fence trying to conduct a survey of the front of his pants though and swore loudly enough to get his attention. But, by that point, I was lying on the ground on our side of the fence, so luckily he could not see me coveting. Rumor has it that he is the new head of Henry's school, so I am glad he did not see me recumbent in the thistles, although he may well recognize my accent when he hears it again.

As for remembering the Sabbath day, and keeping it holy, the next incident might not hold me in such good stead to enter through the pearly gates either.

The buzzing sister of no mercy had taken a pew at the back of the bedroom and was evading death by a whisker, and believe me, most of the nuns in the convent I went to had more whiskers and facial hair than your average woolly mammoth.

So frustrated and unable to go back to sleep was I, that I took a long contemplative shower (the sort that important authors take before writing a thrilling piece on the life cycle of pubic hair.)

Emerging naked and dripping, because our housemaid (that would be me) had forgotten to put any towels in the bathroom, I heard Jimmy up on the deck talking to somebody that was obviously not one of our kids.

"I have asked you politely to leave twice. Now I am telling you to please bugger off and don't come bothering us again on a Sunday morning. I am an atheist and wish to remain that way."

I thought that the fly had resurfaced after some relaxing rosary time but heard other male voices and called upstairs to ask Jimmy who he was talking to.

"Bloody Jehovah's Witnesses."

"Oooh, are they still here?" I squealed in anticipation.

I flung open the front door, still stark naked, and rushed out into the driveway, scene of their retreat. I jumped up and down in front of them, my not so small appendages jiggling in euphoria. They had not flashed men of the cloth for several years now.

One of the zealots had already hopped into his shit brown Lada replica and was reversing at some speed. The other buffoon, who had the demeanor of a pair of holey, graying underwear, but without the fortune to get as close to anybody else's genitalia, was so intimidated that he stumbled towards the rapidly moving vehicle and got the dangling piece of sock at the end of one of his Jesus sandals run over. He tripped and grabbed at the rusty door handle with all of his holy muscle. Leaping into the car with adrenaline dripping down the collar of his off-grey shirt, he almost smothered the driving ecclesiastic and caused him to reverse into and flatten a poorly tended flower bed of towering weeds.

Henry shouted out urgently, "He's dropped his library book."

Emily added, "The car has runned it over. That grumpy librarian will fine him cos the pages are all flying out."

"Oh, I am sure he will be back next Sunday to collect his leather bound bible. He will probably bring a whole bus full of happy clappers and disciples then, " snorted Jimmy with uncontrollable glee as most of his cup of tea exited through his nostrils.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Home Births Can Be Messy and Dangerous

My friend Angela came round yesterday evening. I told her anytime after 8p.m. would be fine as the kids would be safely in bed by then. So she came round at 7 p.m. instead. Well I suppose she got a taste of things to come. She is three months pregnant and full of the joys of impending motherhood. She even said she wanted a home birth.

Henry was in a particularly foul mood after several late nights and Emily could not find her beloved bear that she always takes to bed with her. It is covered in dried vomit, pee, black banana stains, orange juice, and many other unidentifiable blobs. You would think she could sniff the bear out by now as she has a very sensitive nose. She always tells everybody that Mummy has farted at a party even when she is in the bounce house on the other side of a six acre property.
Angela is a very sweet person unlike some of my friends who are bitches like me. Henry told her that her breath smelled bad and she simply replied, "Oh yes darling. I have got a craving for smoked fish at the moment." I ordered Henry to go and brush his teeth and he called me, "Fart lady." What an endearing child he is!  Angela told him how cute he is and he looked at her disdainfully and stuck his tongue out at her. He is absolutely not cute at the moment.

We all hunted for smelly bear and finally found him in the cat litter tray in the bathroom. Emily screamed that Henry had put him there and he grinned defiantly.

Eventually the screaming subsided after the pre-bedtime beasts crashed into each other and bumped heads whilst running around the table on the slippery wooden floor.

Angela offered to read Henry a story even though I had told him he did not deserve one. But he was so rude to her that she ended up in tears.

At 9 p.m. Angela and I finally sat down on the couch to chat about her pregnancy. Jimmy was working until midnight again so we had a few hours. She is a tiny woman. When she used to teach she asked the bus driver on a school field trip why he was not leaving the school parking lot. He replied that he was waiting for a member of staff to get on the bus. She had to inform him that she was the teacher.

"Do you really think a home birth is a good idea? You are very petite." I said.

I had wanted a home birth with Henry to start with but Jimmy had said that we did not want all that blood and guts all over the carpet. I am extremely thankful, in retrospect, that he was adamant about this. I proceeded to tell Angela exactly why a home birth was a crap idea.

We had booked into a very posh birthing facility that is like a hotel. They give you champagne and a slap up meal for two. The food is fantastic compared with whatever you could cook at home with half of your insides hanging around your ankles.

Two weeks before Henry was due we had a curry at home. That evening I had the worst shits ever. It was even worse than when I suffered from amoebic dysentery in India, a condition which caused me to crap my pants in smelly market places with greater regularity than a preschool child picks his nose. When traveling on a train between Delhi and Agra I had to occupy the toilet for the entire time. It was disconcerting to hover over a toilet where you could see the track between your legs. But I resisted the urge to defy the sign in the cubicle which read, "Do not stand on seat of western toilets." The accompanying picture was hilarious.  There was also a sign in a village which read, "Hurry burry spoils the curry." I repeated this to the hoard of angry locals who were bashing on the toilet door with increasing frenzy.

Anyway I assumed that my amoebic trots had returned and sat on the lavatory in agony for half the night. The pain in my back was excruciating but I could not stay off the toilet for long enough to wake Jimmy up. And so I struggled on and the privy started to look like its Indian counterpart.

Then I lay down on the floor and started screaming regularly and the cat kept running in and out in fear. In fact I think it was his wailing that woke up Jimmy. "I think I might be in labor," I said.  He called the birthing hospital and they said to wait a while before coming in.  I asked Jimmy to pack a bag for hospital, which we had of course not done yet, and not to forget the...... (aaaaaaaaaaaah another contraction that felt like an elephant was riding on my back.) ... champagne. "However much pain you are in, you never forget about the booze!" he shouted with his head inside the refrigerator.
"Well I have not been able to drink for (aaaaaaaaaaaaaah). The contractions got closer and closer and Jimmy called the hospital again. They heard me screaming as he tried to convince them that I needed to come in urgently. They agreed that it might be a good idea to start making our way carefully to the hospital.

Jimmy drove like a bat out of hell and dropped me at the hospital door. It was locked! I managed to ring the doorbell and beg them to let me in before falling to the ground. They got me a wheelchair and took me up in the elevator. I insisted that they let me get in the bath. I had been informed that no water births are allowed though and that I would have to get out before giving birth. My OBGYN arrived and told me that I was already 9cm dilated and that I needed to get out of the bath. No wonder I was in so much pain and the contractions were so close together. I resisted getting out of the bath but eventually they managed to persuade me, telling me it was for the baby's good.

It took a further ten hours of pushing, crapping everywhere (I understood now why they used to give women an enema before birth), and screaming until a more experienced doctor was called to check if the baby's head needed turning.

Well they only asked the man with the biggest fu*king hands in the whole of the USA. Despite having had horrendous pain for 20 hours, when he decided to try to insert his hand, which was also as hairy as an orangutan's, into a very small space I levitated off the table and let out the most ear piercing shriek anybody has ever heard.  It was as if the elephant that had been riding on my back had decided to try and enter its whole body into my vagina.

"That head is not coming out of there!" he confirmed.  Jimmy was relieved that another man had arrived to take charge. He had been bossed about by women for too long.

My OBGYN said that I could carry on trying to push if I wanted to. Having refused any drugs until this point I screamed, "Just give me a bloody C-Section quickly!" And added, "And lots of drugs please."

And so it took them a further hour (or fifty) to prepare for the surgery.

The anesthetist was called Mr. Anus or so I thought and at first I did not care for him at all. But then he gave me the most incredible dose of something that put me in the best humor I have ever been in. And I mean ever. After all that pain I was floating on the clouds, euphoric, laughing and joking. I invited him round for placenta and mushroom casserole and champagne. He had a great sense of humor too as if he was on the same drugs as me. Meanwhile my OBGYN and orangutan hands worked meticulously on the surgery with stony faces. Despite the size and hirsute nature of his hands the great ape was a fantastic surgeon.

Mr. Anus told me that I would have died in child birth if this had been 100 years ago.

We were very pleased with the results of the surgery - a lovely boy weighing 7 1bs 11 oz - not a very big baby, just an enormous head with a flimsy body and some limbs dangling off it. 

I had requested to keep the placenta as I thought I might fancy a snack from it when we got home. Jimmy was reprimanded by a nurse for putting it in the refrigerator in the room. I guess other guests might not want human remains mixed with their snacks and champagne. He vented his frustration by telling the nursing staff that he "didn't want the bloody thing anyway!"

I showed Angela the mature frozen placenta. I took it out of its biohazard bag and let her have a good look.

"Would you like me to make you a placenta and mushroom casserole?" I asked.

She passed out as soon as she saw the brown afterbirth on the dining table.

She has decided against a home birth now!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Importance of Wearing Underpants

"Henry, have you remembered to wear underpants today?" I asked. It was only just still morning by the time he got dressed.

"Oops I forgot." he replied.

I reminded him of our trip back from France when I had PMS back in March.

Jimmy had flown back from England by himself - lucky bastard.

After a lovely time skiing in France, I had the pleasure of flying with two children all the way from Geneva via Heathrow to San Francisco. After a 4 a.m. start (none of us are morning people), we had to wait in a long security line to have the excitement of removing most of our clothes, our shoes, our finger nails, etc. Henry and Emily were fighting and screaming about whose backpack contained the most interesting contents. Henry insisted that his contained bombs and guns. I told him to shut up otherwise we would be arrested. They started punching each other at which point I slammed my backpack in between them.

A concerned Swiss woman behind me in the queue recommended that I take juniper. "I need a bloody stiff drink, not juniper." She then asked if Henry and Emily were twins. Henry was not amused as he had just turned six and Emily is only three. He pulled a really repulsive face at her. She was horrified but luckily stopped talking to us.

The rest of the journey from Geneva was uneventful I think. It was still too early in the morning for my brain to work.

At Heathrow Airport, Emily had a great time taunting the security man as she wrecked Harrods' Easter display. It consisted of a huge pink Easter bunny and a poodle wearing a pink collar and leash. Emily grabbed the poodle out of the mannequin's hand and dragged it around the store in between the racks of $1000 dresses. The snooty women who worked in the store looked down their extraordinarily long noses at her in disgust. The security man was surprisingly pleasant as he tried in his broken English to persuade her to release the poodle. I bribed her by saying we would go and get an ice-cream and so we left the poor security guard in peace. Unfortunately there was no ice-cream to be found. I did not look too hard. However, we did find a bar that sold a very nice New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc.

And so the three hour layover at Heathrow passed and we boarded our 11 hour flight for San Francisco. Emily was threatened with a visit by a fierce security man if she made too much noise and succumbed to sleep. I tried to doze off but Henry refused to take a rest for the entire flight. Instead he kept breaking the personal in-flight entertainment system, getting tangled up in the head phones and spilling orange juice all over my clothes and Emily whilst she was asleep. After nearly 10 long hours he decided that he needed to go to the restroom (or rather contortionist's cubicle). He had to wait a few minutes for someone else to finish.  And apparently that wait tipped him over the edge because the next minute I heard him shouting. I thought he was locked in and could not get out but he sheepishly opened the door and apologized that he had not quite got to the toilet in time. The smell was incredible and as I looked down I saw that he had filled his shoes as well as having completely brown legs. I remembered that he had not worn any underwear that day because he had been wearing the same pair all week for the ski trip. He had rejected all the other pairs because Bob the Builder underwear is apparently no longer cool. So his triceratops underpants had been packed for fear of scaring other passengers with the smell.

Now we really were up shit creek without a plastic bag. I had carefully packed a spare pair of Emily's pink and orange pants with pink bows all over them. They looked great on Henry who of course was horrified about wearing them but I gave him the option of being naked or putting them on. They were capri length and just fabulous. I told him not to worry as we were flying into San Francisco and a lot of the men dress like that there but he was not convinced.

The airline attendant was very reluctant to part with his duty free bags to use for such lowly purposes as housing a pair of crapped on trousers but claimed to not have any rubbish bags or other plastic bags.

We returned to our seats after I had cleaned the airline toilet floor and packaged up the nasty shoes and trousers. The smell still exuded from the luggage locker but we only had 45 minutes until we were supposed to land. I saw a few passengers wrinkling up their noses but maybe they were Harrods' store assistants and always looked that way.

Emily had slept for most of the flight but woke up grumpy and she whined that she was thirsty. Breakfast was about to be served. Why they leave serving breakfast until the plane is just about to land is always a mystery to me. Just as they came around with the breakfast cart and blocked the aisle to the restroom, Emily needed to go. After dealing with that we returned to our seats to find that Henry was fast asleep. That was really bad news because now we only had half an hour until landing. It also occurred to me that he did not have any shoes to wear. I could not find the airline socks that we had been given so I went around the plane begging clean airline socks from people. I put three pairs on Henry's feet so that he would not be cold when we landed.  The weather in San Francisco is very unpredictable in March.

We landed with an almighty thud but Henry stayed fast asleep. I waited until all the passengers got off the plane including all the ones with sticks, crutches, wheel chairs, extra large and awkward hand luggage and the ones that wanted to get extra conversation with the tired air stewardesses.

I shook Henry and woke him up but he fell asleep again. Emily tried shouting in his ear but to no avail. I tried three times and had to lift him out of his seat. I tried to get him to carry his own backpack but he shouted that he was not going to carry it. The bombs and guns or whatever that he had filled it with made it feel heavy enough to be full of weapons. I was starting to lose any patience or composure that I had managed during the flight. I pushed him along the aisle, laden with bags, because Emily would not carry hers either.

As we walked the five miles along the hallway in the airport to immigration Henry decided that he did not like the airline socks that I had put on him. He had complained about socks and underwear constantly on the ski trip and now he was crying and screaming.  I told him to take them off but he did not want to do it himself.  He howled and wailed and I completely snapped.

"Did I shit in your shoes? Did I shit in your shoes?" I screamed back at him. "Did I refuse to wear any of my other underwear all week in France?" And once again, "Did I shit in your shoes?"

We had just approached the line for immigration and were ushered to the front of the queue by an officer who asked if we had enjoyed a pleasant flight. "Shit!" I said holding up the bag of stinking shoes and trousers.

And the final delight was trying to push two luggage carts laden with car seats, oversized suitcases,  several zoo animals, and all of our hand luggage. Henry managed to push one trolley in Geneva and I pushed the other. But he was still not cooperating in any way. Poor little Emily started to push one and she could not see where she was going. As we walked through customs I felt like declaring that Henry was not mine and would they mind impounding him. A few passengers looked twice to see how the seemingly self-propelled trolley was moving along. Thankfully a very nice man took pity on me and took charge of the second trolley until Jimmy met us in arrivals.

From now on I will always carry spare underwear for both children and for myself and plastic bags on transatlantic flights.

And I will continue to remind Henry of the importance of wearing underpants.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Bloody Balloons

Yesterday was one of those bloody balloons days. Nobody can hate balloons more than I do. I am going to get a t-shirt printed with “I have PMS - no balloons today please.” I never take my kids grocery shopping. I get food delivered by Safeway. And why yesterday of all days I decided to take both kids to the local market I have no idea. They even have those ridiculous little shopping carts (trolleys) that kids insist on ramming into your arse and your ankles and into badly stacked boxes in the store, sending cascades of cans all over the floor in front of you so that negotiating aisles with your own cart is rendered impossible.

I was glared at by three store workers and two women without kids who think that children should not be allowed in grocery stores – I agree with them.

Choose your battles – never argue with children about the nutritional content of different cookies – never say that a particular packet of chocolate chip cookies contains high fructose corn syrup. I don’t know why I bothered. Soon Henry and Emily were both screaming at the top of their voices. And Emily lay down in front of my cart blocking the aisle like some sort of crazed protestor.

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