Monday 17 December 2007

Christmas cheer

Becoming a mum has brought out the earthy, wholesome person in me, which I didn’t know existed until now. I never cared much for roasting chestnuts; or making nativity scenes and wreaths with materials only found in the wood; or making my own mince pies and mulled wine; or making homemade soft toys and Nigella’s ‘euphoric’ chutney as presents for everyone; or buying a traditional chocolate-less advent calendar from Oxfam; or learning the grown-up version of We Three Kings; or making fairy-light chandeliers out of two circular knicker driers.

This year, however, I have become the ultimate, obsessive, and slightly manic earth-mother extraordinaire, or so I would like to think. As well as doing all of the above, and more, I plan to march Betty and Tom off to church on Christmas morning, with Betty donning her little elf outfit, which I made for her to wear for the front of our Christmas card this year.

Perhaps I am over-compensating, as last Christmas went by in such a blur because Betty was only five weeks old, hence I was knackered and busy coming to terms with all the emotional and physical challenges that a new baby throws at you. And Betty was busy still feeling annoyed about being born, and having no qualms in telling us so. On top of this, I was also trying to reconcile myself with the fact that it was Christmas and I couldn’t even get pissed on rancid drinks such as Baileys and Sherry and smoke my uncle’s cigars, make a complete tit of myself, and pass out before I’d even got to watch Eastenders.

In my mind, this is Betty’s first proper Christmas, and now that she is a delightful, non-crying, solid food-eating, gorgeous little girl, I am going all out to make it the best, most homely, and jolliest Christmas ever. It will be such a joy for us to have a Betty sitting at the table with us, providing all the entertainment, and devouring her Christmas lunch whole-heartedly. And sharing in all the Christmas cheer over the festive period – the presents, the long walks up mountains, the much anticipated arrival of all grannies and grandpas, my sherry-induced purple face, the obligatory viewing of Mary Poppins (accompanied by my slurred rendition of supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, sung backwards), the Eastenders Christmas special, Trivial Pursuits (which inevitably always ends in my tears), all of which leads to the demise of any earth-motherness. Betty will marvel in it all, and Tom will be nowhere to be found, probably cowering in some dark corner hugging a whisky bottle.

Thursday 13 December 2007

Toilet taunt

Betty has recently been allowed to explore new territory, namely, the bathroom. I would never allow her into the bathroom before (apart from when she was safely contained by the bath) as I didn't want her sniffing around the loo brush, nappy bin, loo, and putting them all in her eager and inquisitive little mouth, or playing with the contents like she inevitably would.

Due to a bad bout of PMT, which quite often turns me into a cleanliness-crazed mentalist (amongst other, less savoury things), I blitzed the upstairs bathroom, through and through, with every cleaning product I could lay my hands on in Sainsbury’s. I removed the loo brush and holder, bought a Betty-proof nappy bin, and scrubbed the loo until it gleamed and smelt of roses. I then instructed Tom to only ever use the downstairs loo, as this one was now out-of-bounds (to him anyway).

Usually, whilst I am getting Betty’s bath ready, Tom plays with her in her bedroom, and gets her undressed and ready for the bath. However, Tom was in London for meetings the other night, and so, whilst the bath was running, I left the bathroom door open to see what Betty would do. She has been champing at the bit for months, trying to get into the bathroom, and spotted her chance immediately. She was off like a whippet to investigate this whole new, pretty horrible, world of lime-coloured, albeit clean, porcelain fixtures.

My goodness me, the wait was certainly worth it. Betty marvelled at her reflection in the full-length mirror, excitedly waving, pointing and chatting at herself. She then started to try to pull her reflection’s hair, which is when I knew it was time to show her other points of interest, before she ended up in a punch-up with herself. She then stood at the side of the bath, and watched in awe as the bath filled up, and delighted in putting her hands under the running tap. It was magical to watch.

Aside from appearing to Betty to be a great (perhaps even greater than her dad for once) mum for letting her into the bathroom, I had an ulterior motive – to start, probably very naively and prematurely, getting her acquainted with Mr Shanks. I have this notion (again, probably naively) that Betty will be an absolute dream to potty train. I base this on the fact that when she does a poo in her nappy, she often crawls off under the table in the sitting room to do it – a bit like a cat – very neat and tidy.

She began her acquaintance with the loo by licking the lid, all the way around, and even though I was 100% sure that it was probably now cleaner than the tray of her highchair, I couldn’t handle it, and my greater-than-daddy-ness rapidly disappeared when I promptly removed her from the bathroom, and shut the door tightly.

Tuesday 11 December 2007

Curry fantasy

I was a little perplexed this morning when I went into Betty's room, as it smelt just like our room does the morning after Tom has been on the curry and beer.

When I picked Betty out of her cot, she let out her mandatory, very energetic, morning greeting, and I was almost knocked down by her rather unpleasant, garlic breath. It felt far too grown-up and horrible to be the breath of a one year old, and I just couldn’t think where it might have come from.

We have had our suspicions that Betty is a woodland creature (she closely resembled one when she was a few weeks old) and that at night she sneaks off to the woods behind our house and plays with the squirrels and rabbits. Perhaps last night was ‘curry night’ in the woods?

I felt happy and satisfied with this explanation of magical fantasy - I love the idea of Betty playing and eating with her woodland friends. However, when I mentioned the whole garlic/wood thing to Tom, he ruined it all and told me that it was him that had been feeding her garlic yesterday, not her furry friends.

Wednesday 5 December 2007

Necklace charade

Now that I am not breastfeeding, and am now the un-proud owner of a pair of fried eggs, I very rarely get a chance to cuddle Betty anymore - though not for want of trying. When I am carrying her from the car to the house, or from the highchair to the floor, I try to prolong it for as long as possible, but she just gets impatient and starts growling and trying to catapult herself out of my desperate cuddling arms.

I have observed over the last few months that, like most babies, she is obsessed with items of jewellery. If a friend comes round wearing a necklace, it is the first thing Betty notices. She will sit there quietly, like butter wouldn’t melt, observing and eyeing up her prey, and then she will sidle up to whoever it is (it doesn’t matter who, it could be a necklace-wearing monster for all she cares) and pretend that she is being affectionate by appearing to give them a cuddle. That person then goes all gooey and cooey over my devious daughter, at which point, Betty goes in for the kill - the necklace. I have watched her carry out this act time and time again.

So, armed with this knowledge, and so intense was my longing to have a nice long cuddle with my darling daughter, I devised a cunning plan - an act of deception.

I never normally wear necklaces, but I still have quite an impressive collection of dodgy 80’s classics from my former life, and so decided to start wearing a different necklace each day. The first two days were relatively successful and went something like this:

I would put on my necklace of choice first thing in the morning, woo Tom with it, and then march merrily into Betty's room. She wouldn’t immediately spot the necklace and so I would say: ‘Look sweetheart, Mummy is wearing a pretty necklace today, doesn’t she look lovely?’ Betty would eye the necklace suspiciously with a look of distaste on her little face, but eventually would hold up her arms. I would pick her up and she would semi-enthusiastically go for the necklace. I would give her a pretend telling off and say: ‘No Betty, you're not allowed to play with mummy's necklace.’ (The mind games I put the poor girl through…) I would then get a lovely long(ish) cuddle, whilst she played with the necklace, slobbered all over my neck, and tried to strangle me.

By the third morning, Betty had outsmarted me and was not interested in the whole necklace charade whatsoever. I was very disappointed, not only because I wasn't getting the cuddles, but I still had at least five more necklace shockers to unleash on her, and was actually secretly quite enjoying wearing them.