Friday 20 February 2009

Great granddad

During visits to my grandparents’ house, my granddad would joke with me and say: ‘Hasn’t Betty learnt to speak yet?’ or ‘Is she thick?’ and he would openly mock the name ‘Betty’. Whenever Betty left a trail of biscuit crumbs along their sitting room floor it made him grimace. He’d tell her off for sticking her head in the washing machine, or for pulling the window blinds too hard, and he had to leave the room when Betty’s excitable squeals caused interference on his hearing aid. (Betty would then go off in hot pursuit, barge into his bedroom and cheerfully say: ‘HELLLOOO’ and he would grumpily grunt something back at her.)

But all this was just the surface. When we visited their house, my granddad always came to the door to greet us, gave both Betty and me a big kiss, and then took Betty by the hand and guided her carefully up the steps, chatting affectionately to her as they went. And although at 94 years old he was frail and achy, he mustered up all his energy to pick her up and sit her on his lap, and happily let her feed him half-eaten soggy crisps. When Betty trotted into the garden he’d follow her and coax his old dog out of her kennel so that Betty could say hello to her. And I often caught him looking at Betty with genuine warmth and love. He and my grandma were Betty’s very first visitors in hospital when she was just a day old. I’ll always remember them peering into her crib and seeing her for the first time, and both looking like they were going to cry.

One time, when he and I were watching Betty racing around the room, he started reminiscing about the moment he found out that I had been born. He was on a fishing holiday in Scotland with my grandma and they were woken in the early hours by the landlady of the B&B, who brought them a cup of tea with the news.

When I was little, he and my grandma used to come to my birthday parties. Thirty years later they came to Betty’s first birthday party. My granddad was even apologetic when they had to leave early because it had started snowing heavily.

Up until recently this funny and caring man was healthy and active, walking his dog, driving into town, and even going fishing. Last week he passed away in his sleep, having been taken ill just a week before. I’m dreading the moment when we walk into my grandparents’ house and Betty asks where he is.

Monday 9 February 2009

Don't let it snow

The snow has been great fun and Betty started off on the whole thing with huge enthusiasm, with every other word being ‘no’ (That’s snow to you and me. It took me a whole day to work that out – I thought she was just being negative and difficult).

However, the snow meant that we were housebound for most of last week and both Betty and I started going a bit stir crazy, and really started getting on each others nerves. There is only so much painting, fairy cake making, sledging and ‘let’s pretend mummy is having another baby’ games a little girl can tolerate.

Saturday was the first time we had been able to venture out since last weekend, and so Tom very kindly offered to take us out for breakfast at the local farm shop. Betty had obviously been cooped up for far too long, but wasn’t that impressed about the ‘going out for breakfast’ plan (specially as she had already had her breakfast), and so it seems that she went all out to provide as much of her own entertainment as possible.

Whilst we queued for our breakfast with our trays, she excitedly pointed at the (rather manly) lady at the till and very loudly shouted: ‘MAN! MAN! MAN!’ I swear Betty knew what she was doing. She never normally feels the need to point at someone and inform them of their gender.

We sat down and started heartily tucking into our huge fry-up. Betty promptly began carefully placing every baked bean on her plate into her ketchup and then pretended to get upset by saying: ‘BEAN BEAN. UTT-OH. OH NOOO’ and would only calm down once Tom had fished out each individual bean and placed them on her toast. Once she had tired of this charade, she began hiding particular crayons either behind her or under her, and then doing the faux-upset thing again by saying: ‘PINK BLUE UTT-OH. OH NOOO’ and would only quieten down once Tom had located the pink and the blue crayon, and so on.

Betty proceeded to do a very elaborate poo accompanied by all the grunting and then turned to the teenage boy on the next table (who was sitting with his parents and minding his own business) and said: ‘POO. POO’ whilst purposely nodding her head at him.

We hastily finished our breakfast and just as Tom and I were feeling openly relieved that we were about to get the hell out of there, a waitress came over to clear away our plates, and Betty pointed right at her and excitedly squealed: ‘MUMMY! MUMMY!’

Please don’t let it snow this week.

Friday 6 February 2009

New Button denial

Last weekend I was busy. I decided that as we now have approximately two months to go, it was time to try to start mentally preparing by giving myself a jolt, forcing myself to believe that there is another baby on the way.

I dug out all of Betty’s tiny baby clothes and began sorting them into piles by age. I bagged them all up (while Betty busied herself mixing up my piles) and labelled each bag carefully: ‘Newborn’ ‘0-3 months’ ‘3-6 months’ etc, and placed the newborn pile in the laundry basket. I ordered a new gliding crib, which I (perhaps naively) think is the answer to a crying baby in the middle of the night and wish I’d had one for Betty. I bought a hammock style baby-sling in a lovely vibrant red, which I strutted round the house in for a bit, and flicked through the baby names book I found in a cupboard. I began knitting a stripy hat, and I bought a Sudoku book (which is something I became obsessed with during my pregnancy with Betty).

However, by Sunday evening I felt like a fraudster and a fantasist. Rather than feeling like an expectant mum it was like I was playing one of Betty’s baby role-play games and sorting everything out for a new doll. Even though I am regularly getting some pretty hefty kicks in the stomach, I am usually so busy with Betty that I do not take much notice and subconsciously put it down to indigestion problems or something.

Even though I feel so unbelievably broody, and excited about the new baby, I can’t seem to believe that it is true for the majority of the time. It is only at night when I go to bed and all is tranquil and silent in the Button household (after I have scoffed a bar of Galaxy, tried to conquer yet another Sudoku puzzle and knitted a few rows), I drink a glass of cold water very fast (to wake the baby up) and then lie back with my hands on my stomach and have those special moments with my new baby.

Thursday 5 February 2009

Hen horror

I had to wake Tom in the middle of the night because I really freaked myself out and began questioning my sanity.

I had a dream that our new baby had been born and was just minutes old, and there were two mangy hens running around in our kitchen which my mum had just rescued from a battery farm.

Tom, my mum and I were trying to catch them so that I could breastfeed them. We chased them round the table and then they ran outside into the mud and rain. I was despairing. I had never breastfed a hen before and not only am I scared of them at the best of times, I was terrified that during the breastfeed they would flap their wings in my face, make me muddy, peck me, or pass on some horrible germs to my precious baby.

Just before I woke up, thankfully it suddenly occurred to me, why do I need to breastfeed these pesky hens anyway? And with that I picked up my beautiful baby and shut the door on the hens. THE RELIEF.