Thursday, 29 July 2010

But why, Mummy?

We are in the first week of the summer holidays and Betty is literally under my feet ALL THE TIME. If I try to walk to the kitchen, or to the loo, or just two steps in front of me, she is there for me to trip over or tread on.

In addition to this, I cannot carry out any manoeuvre, however big or small, without her saying 'But why are you doing that mummy? and 'Can I help you do that mummy?' or 'How long are you going to do that for mummy?' Be it brushing my teeth, taking a sip of water, blinking, or breathing.

Yep, we have entered the why, where, when, how phase and whilst I am thrilled that my darling sweet daughter is demonstrating such a quizzical interest in the world, or rather in me, it can be pretty exhausting at times. I have found that THE ONLY THING that will give me a few minutes peace is to plonk her in front of a home video of herself.

Wednesday, 28 July 2010


From about the age of 25, I had a niggle in the back of my mind that I might not ever find Mr Right, get married and have children. At times I would feel lonely, and worried about ever meeting The One - the chances seemed pretty slim to me.

I spent my twenties in London, partying, watching Ally McBeal, dabbling in Internet dating, and eating cold Chinese takeaways for breakfast. I would go out to bars and clubs with my friends, always with half an eye on trying to find my suitor. As the years went by and I got closer to thirty, the niggle got bigger.

Then I met Tom, through mutual friends. We spent the first two years of knowing each other, forming a purely platonic relationship, and although we weren't 'together' I stopped fretting over whether I would ever find the one. I just enjoyed my relationship with 'Platonic Tom' as my friends used to call him. We would go to Hampstead Heath and Primrose Hill and throw frisbees to each other. We would sit and talk for hours. We would feed each McDonald's chicken nuggets. We would go to the pub and have a pint and play chess. We would pretend to be tourists and get real tourists to take photos of us standing next to all the attractions in central London. We would cook for each other. We would listen to his depressing music together. We would paint and draw pictures together. We would play pool at the Elbow Rooms together.

We enjoyed each others company, we were best friends and neither of us were in any rush. I never worried about the fact that our relationship was platonic for so long, because I knew, really and truly, that I had found The One...

(This was written for Josie's writing workshop)

Monday, 26 July 2010


Peace was temporarily restored following the whole rabbit charade, but bedtimes have been turning into a bit of a circus once more.

Betty has taken to getting out of her bed, when she is supposed to be asleep, and entertaining (bordering on terrorising) Dolly. Dolly's hysterical laughter often turn to cries of despair. Betty's nightly antics begin with sweetly singing and dancing for her sister, and very rapidly descend to taunting her by removing all her cuddly friends and placing them in the laundry basket, or wedging them between the cot and the mattress so that Dolly can't get to them, or piling board books into the cot so that Dolly has nowhere to lay her head, or unzipping Dolly's sleeping bag and getting her out of it. Considering Betty is only a couple of feet tall and has to carry out these maneaouvres through the cot bars in the dark, it's all quite impressive.

Tom remarked that things were getting out of hand up there again, of late, and perhaps we should try to do something about it. So after a bit of brainstorming, we introduced Betty to Tinkerbell - an invisible fairy who watches her at night to make sure that she doesn't get out of bed. And if she manages to stay in her bed all night with no baby taunting, Tinkerbell is so happy that she hides a sweetie somewhere in the house or garden for Betty to find at some point the following day. Tinkerbell has worked absolute miracles. Ever since her arrival on the scene, Betty has toed the line in all aspects of Button daily life. The threat that she might be making Tinkerbell sad will make her do exactly as we tell her. We have been feeling very smug.

Then my friend came over with her little boy, and I began relaying this triumph to her, discreetly, and quietly, and mostly in code. My friend applauded our success and then said 'so where do you hide the sweets?'. She didn't shout it, but she didn't whisper it. However Betty was about 100 metres away from us and having her own animated conversation with the little boy, so I assumed she hadn't heard it.

After breakfast this morning, Betty sighed, and coolly said to Tom: 'So has mummy hidden the sweetie yet?'

A father's pride

Betty has been getting pretty adventurous in her handling of stickle bricks. Here is one of her creations.

Tom asked her what it was. She said: ‘It’s a sigguda-digguda-digguda-dee.’ Tom blinked: ‘A what?’ Betty repeated the word exactly as she had said it before. Tom looked absolutely delighted.

Sunday, 25 July 2010

Barry Island - La Isla Bonita?

We went to Barry Island yesterday for my birthday, and just as we pulled into the car park La Isla Bonita came on the radio, no word of a lie. I wouldn't exactly say it is a beautiful 'island' (because of all the broken glass on the beach, for one) but it certainly was good tacky fun! (Did you spot the welshisms a la Gavin and Stacey, in this paragraph?)

PS My children are becoming as thick as thieves, and are beginning to form an alliance.

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Surplus to requirements

'I don't need my Mummy and Daddy anymore, I've got my friends,' Betty said to me on Saturday, while she was doing a wee in a hedge.

We have some friends who have recently gone into the pig-rearing business and they had a celebratory hog roast in a field at the weekend. After Betty's initial ten minute clingyness on arrival in the large stormy field with a pig cooking in a hole in the ground, we didn't see her again for the rest of the afternoon. Well, obviously we saw her, we were keeping a very close eye on her and making sure she didn't fall down the hot pig hole. What I mean is, she didn't see us for the rest of the afternoon. She had hooked up with her two pals, they formed an alliance, and they were gone.

They were playing proper games like dentists, tag, and hide and seek, as opposed to toddler games like pulling each other's hair, snatching, and making each other cry. And when they weren't drilling each other's teeth they just sat together with their pork rolls, whiling away the time under a tree in the distance, laughing and joking, and looking in our direction.

Later, at the children's suggestion, we all relocated to the nearby pub. It was a beautiful summer's evening and way past bedtime, but I had decided to let 'routine' go out of the window and it felt pretty liberating for a Gina Ford-ite such as myself. I felt that this was maybe the beginning of our Button adventures to come... Tom, myself and our two little ladies, staying up past our bedtime - there was no stopping us now... Next thing we'll be taking our children on an aeroplane and jetting off somewhere exotic (except we won't, because Tom is trying to save the planet).

Betty and her friends played for a long time in the pub garden. While I sat there full of nostalgia, remembering how my brother and I used to play here when we were little, Betty and co began throwing moss at some older children and shouting 'mucky muck' then giggling raucously. The older children (who could have even been teenagers) seemed pretty unfazed by the moss assault and continued with their game of chess.

If I hadn't been so stunned and overcome with how my sweet, precious first-born baby had suddenly grown up about twentyfold over the course of the day, I might have reprimanded her for her anti-social behaviour. As it was, I continued to sip on my beer and stop Dolly from eating stones, leaving Betty and friends embraced in a rugby type scrum and chanting 'WE WANT TO SLEEP IN A PINK TENT TOGETHER TONIGHT'.

PS If you fancy nominating me for the Cosmo Blog Awards, lifestyle category, click below!
Thank you!

Friday, 16 July 2010

Preying on the weak

When I have got PMT I hate doing the school run - it turns me into a nervous and paranoid wreck. I worry that this mum deliberately blanked me, or that member of staff thought Betty's packed lunch was sub-standard etc etc. So if Tom is not too busy I get him to do it, claiming special dispensation.

This afternoon I had no choice but to do it, as Tom said he had some important conference call which he could not get out of, despite my best efforts.

Before setting off to pick Betty up, in an attempt to boost morale, I tried to make myself, Dolly, and the car look presentable. Most of the other mums are skinny and sparkly, with clean babies, and drive immaculate four-by-fours, and always have a smile on their flawless faces. On occasion I have picked Betty up half an hour early just so that I can avoid them, and not feel so inadequate.

We pulled into the carpark of the pre-school with the exhaust blowing, and parked up. All us mums entered the building and each child, on seeing their mum, ran over excitedly from the other side of the room where they were having their story, and gave them a big cuddle, and excitedly regaled stories of the day. I faux-joyfully (and perhaps a little too energetically, overcompensating for my delicate hormonal state) waved at Betty and called 'Hello darling!' Betty looked straight through me and pretended either that I wasn't there, or that I wasn't her mother. I continued to wave, but still no acknowledgment from her. So I turned away and pretended to be interested in some artwork on the walls for as long as it took for most of the other mothers and their children to leave, and then began the whole thing again 'Betty darling, mummy's here'.

Finally, after lots of prompting from a member of staff, Betty slowly made her way across the room towards me. 'Where's my daddy?' she demanded. 'Daddy's at home talking to the World Bank or something' I said. 'I want my daddy'. 'Daddy's not here, come on'. 'Where is my daddy?' She then turned to a member of staff and said 'I don't like my mummy, I like my daddy'.

Next time, Tom's picking Betty up and I'm going to do the bloody conference call.

Tuesday, 13 July 2010


Dolly has a rabbit comforter that she cannot sleep without. For the last couple of weeks, at every bed-time, she has been throwing the rabbit out of her cot gleefully and then sobbing hysterically if Betty does not get out of bed and give it back to her quickly enough. This palaver makes Betty excitable and we hear all sorts of floor-trampolining and squealing up there. The rabbit gets returned and there’s a few seconds’ silence. Tom and I look at each other hopefully. Then there’s a thump and it all begins again.

A couple of nights ago this happened about 300 times before they eventually passed out. Tom wondered if we maybe ought to do something about it. We had tried removing the rabbit and the rest of her cuddly toys from the cot but she was having none of it. The best idea he could come up with was putting Dolly to sleep on the floor so she couldn’t throw the rabbit anywhere. Instead, I spent a few minutes sewing the rabbit onto Dolly's grobag.

Tom said: ‘That is either going to drive her completely nuts or it’s a stroke of genius.’

The next evening we put them to bed and crept out, bracing ourselves for possible chaos. But there was silence. Without the whole rabbit throwing and retrieval circus, they went straight to sleep. Tom and I high-fived each other, drank some cider and praised my parenting skills.

Very very early this morning, we heard a familiar thump followed by a squeal. Dolly had thrown a cuddly seal onto the floor and Betty was on her way over to remedy the situation. Dolly was standing up in her cot with a look of undiluted triumph. I stared at the contents of her cot, bleary eyed, and wondered if there was space to sew fifteen cuddly animals onto her sleeping bag.

Sunday, 11 July 2010

Our offspring

Tom and I seem to produce babies who:
  • will only say 'Da' for the first couple of years

  • eat ANYTHING put in front of them apart from avocado

  • frequently give withering looks and sigh

  • begin walking at exactly 14 and a half months

  • don't like to be cuddled

  • look odd in dresses

  • suck their thumb

  • reject the breast before the designated 12 months

  • have comforters which seem to mean more to them than their own parents

  • love shoes

Friday, 9 July 2010

Baby and baby

Dolly and I spent the afternoon in the company of a newborn baby (NB) yesterday.

My baby is now almost 15 months old, and seeing the two babies together was a bit of a shock to me. In comparison, Dolly looked liked a little girl. She was there proudly donning her little shoes - she had properly started walking the day before and was so excited and proud of herself. She had food stains in her hair and down her top, and she was chirpily babbling in her chatter. Her favourite word is 'thank you', which at this stage obviously sounds nothing like thank you, and so her favourite thing to do is give various items to you and then take them back again just so that she can say it.

I was stunned at how Dolly was treating the newborn baby. She looked at NB in awe (in much the same way that she looks at rabbits and cats) and toddled over whilst I was holding and cooing over her, and gently stroked her bare leg with her sticky little mitt. Dolly then put a blanket over her and went off and came back with a pair of socks which she handed to NB and said the obligatory 'thank you'.

At home Dolly is the baby and is treated so, but in the company of another baby much younger than her, she suddenly and quite scarily seemed very very grown-up.

Sunday, 4 July 2010


Since having children my motto has been: Never ever be lulled into a false sense of security. This is because anything and everything I ever think, the opposite then happens.

Some examples:

'Isn't it great that Dolly loves broccoli so much'. The very next time I gave her broccoli she refused point blank to eat it.

'Isn't it great that Betty loves her new pre-school so much'. The following morning she told me that she hated pre-school and refused to go.

'Isn't it great that Tom's washing up skills have improved so much'. Etc.

A couple of weeks ago I thought to myself, 'Isn't it great that we are all fit and healthy'. Then the virus hit the Button household. Betty was burning up and in so much pain during the early hours of Friday that I desperately tried to keep her distracted with DVDs (in my bed), and promises of trips to Pizza Express and new pink scooters, when she got better. The following morning she pretended to be better in a bid to have the aforementioned things, but by mid morning she could no longer keep it up and took to my bed once more.

Yesterday however, she was genuinely better, and so Tom and Dolly (who both had the virus at the beginning of the week), and Betty, all went into town, met up with Tom's mum, had Pizza Express, got the pink scooter and had a really jolly old time. Meanwhile, I stayed at home, with the bug, and thought to myself 'Isn't it great that I am on the mend, specially as Tom is going to London for five days tomorrow'.