It’s been a mixed week.
And I don’t just mean the weather.
Ben developed a bit of a cough last weekend. Nothing to worry about. He seemed happy enough so, come Monday, we carried on with our normal week.
By normal, I obviously mean screaming, sweating and stamping my feet before 9am on Monday morning. We rather surpassed ourselves in our complete and total failure to leave the house but, in my defence, I was up against it. Before 8am Thomas had broken two things. Before 10am he had uprooted a plant. Around 11am he got an umbrella firmly wedged in the doorway.
At 1pm, after a nap and some lunch, we got really, really close to leaving the house, but Thomas upped his game. A few days earlier I had sweated and laboured for hours to convert this slightly rubbish raised bed
into this mini-beach.
Thomas loved it. I was smug as he dug and built and arranged his little men into a scene that most closely resembled some kind of post-apocalyptical exodus.
What I had not foreseen was the danger of placing large quantities of sand in the small, sticky hands of an evil genius in the making. Just as I thought we were about to make it out, Thomas thought it would be helpful to put sand on the baby.
This did not go down well.
Eventually Ben’s distinctly ruffled feathers were soothed and we were ready to make another attempt at getting out the door. And then Thomas decided to make a bolt for the road with Bob the Unreliable Electrician (yes, he finally turned up and charmed me into forgiving him as usual) in hot pursuit. I jumped up and down and yelled so much that I had nowhere to go when five minutes later he decided to play with matches.
So all in all I was slightly distracted and when Thomas and Ben’s gran pointed out that Ben really was getting quite wheezy, I wafted my hand airily and continued to refer to it as “a bit of a cough.”
Until 11pm when I had to ring her and admit that yes, she had in fact been correct, and this was more than a bit of a cough. Off we went to A&E, with Ben wheezing like a pair of old bellows and intermittently yelling at me in a tone that was clearly meant to convey his sizeable displeasure at my utterly crap parenting skills. We were whisked straight through to the children’s A&E department, on to the out-of-hours doctor and down to the children’s ward before Ben knew what had hit him. At the point at which they snapped the admission bracelet onto his ankle and wheeled a cot in for him, his brain clearly went into overdrive.
This was not good. People obviously expected him to sleep in the big, white metal cot. No way, Jose. If they put him in that thing, how could he assume his preferred sleeping position in close enough proximity to my head to pivot through ninety degrees and kick me in the face when he wanted feeding?
He therefore decided that a miraculous recovery was in order. By the time the paediatrician arrived to see him, he was rolling about in the cot, wafting his chubby little legs in the air and rapturously snogging his toy doggy which I had produced from my bag. When the doctor tried to examine him he transferred his affections to her stethoscope and gave it an enthusiastic slobbering. She diagnosed bronchiolitis and told us that we could stay in overnight if we preferred.
The NOT GOOD alarm in Ben’s head went off once again and he performed a frantic little routine of rolling, kicking, grinning and arm waving. You could practically hear him shrieking “I’m fine! I’m fine!” It had the desired effect and we were discharged. Off we went through the almost deserted hospital.
Now the RUH has an energy-saving lighting system which senses your approach and turns on lights in front of you and switches them off as soon as you are past. This is fine during the day, but at 2.30am the flickering fluorescent lights in the endless, empty corridors are worryingly reminiscent of various 90s horror films. It was all a bit “Event Horizon”. Even Ben was peering out of the sling looking a bit apprehensive. We eventually encountered another living person. A slightly harried looking elderly man appeared out of the gloom and was spotlit in front of us. “Er, do you know the way out of here?” he asked.
The temptation to whisper “There is no out” was overwhelming. Ideally with a slightly crazed, cross-eyed expression and a little manic giggle. I resisted. Mainly since he was already looking at us as though he expected Ben to slither out of the sling, produce a little tricycle and start pedalling up and down the corridor muttering “redrum, redrum” to himself. I also had a sudden, sympathetic flashback to a stay in a Boston hotel, when our assigned room number appeared to be missing entirely, and I sat in a dead-end, convinced that HWSNBN was never coming back from his trip to reception and that when I went after him I would be told that there was no record of either of us ever checking in.
We made it home eventually and, after a couple of days of languishing, Ben began to perk up. I therefore tentatively contemplated leaving the house once again. On Wednesday, with Thomas at nursery, I decided to chance a trip to B&Q for materials for a DIY project I was planning. Now I rather like B&Q. There are shiny things and stuff that can be stuck to other stuff. It gives me Ideas. Unfortunately, my contemplation of the selection of pine stripwood was interrupted by a rather flappy builder who clearly had not performed the careful set of complicated and quite-possibly-almost-accurate calculations that I had scribbled illegibly on a scrap of paper. After asking me for my opinion on whether one of the labels corresponded to that piece of stripwood or the one next to it, he decided that his life would be easier with me out of the way. Every time my hand made the slightest hint of a movement towards any particular item, he pounced on it and attempted to load it in my trolley for me, while telling me that he would help me so that I could move safely away so that he didn’t “bump the baby” due to the speed with which he liked to work. After fending him off several times, and unloading things that he had loaded, I was about ready to point out that the possession of breasts did not render me incapable of making my own DIY purchasing decisions. Even Ben was glaring at him balefully by the time we finally fought him off and flounced off with a pile of stripwood wobbling precariously on top of the trolley.
To this pile we added some No More Nails, a tin of primer, some moulding and two cut-to-size MDF pieces. That night, after both children were in bed, Thomas having been temporarily banished to the spare room, I embarked upon a Project. I am currently halfway through the Project, and cautiously declaring the Project a success so far. I would post pictures of it but if it all goes horribly wrong in the final stages I don’t want to have to admit it.
However, there was a point on Wednesday night when I was very close to admitting defeat. This was entirely due to the most spectacularly misnamed product in the history of DIY.
No More Nails.
It should be named “All The Nails. Bring Me More Nails. There Just Aren’t Enough Nails In the World. Oh Sod It I’ll Use Screws.” Or possibly “No More Nails Because All The Banging And Crashing Has Woken The Baby So There Shall Be No More DIY Of Any Description Tonight.” Or even “No More Sticking Of Anything Again Ever Because I Have The Massive Arse With Adhesives Of All Kinds.”
I’m sure there are things which can be stuck together with No More Nails. Unfortunately I don’t seem to own any of them.
Anyway, No-More-Nails-gate apart, life took a distinct turn for the better during the second half of the week. By Thursday I was on a parenting roll, having correctly identified the Bath and West Show as a prime toddler-entertaining opportunity. Thomas gazed transfixed at police dogs, watched chickens hatching, marvelled at a horse display, sat in awed silence on police motorbike and shovelled local-made farm sausages into his face. Ben looked around with mild interest before falling asleep and snoring for the rest of our time at the show.
I arrived home in a smug little glow of parenting success. Thomas would be so grateful to me for creating such Wholesome Fun that I would have a peaceful, pleasant evening. This happy little thought survived for about fifteen minutes until I tried to close my eyes for a few minutes while Ben played on his mat and Thomas watched television.
Whereupon Thomas came over, kicked me in the shins and ordered me to “Make my tea NOW.”
Normal service restored then. But hey, we had all the Jubilee fun to come......