The nipple tassel and the fairy hidey hole…

Keeping make believe magic alive for children is – for whatever reason – just something that we parents are supposed to do. We buy a sackful of Christmas presents and then pretend some fat man broke in and put them at the end of the bed. We skillfully lift sleeping heads up by the pillow to slip quarters underneath on behalf of that lazy ass tooth fairy and we run round the garden looking for perfect places to hide plastic eggs (not too hard – not too easy) that we spent two hours the night before stuffing with melty candy, and then lay all the thanks at the paws of the Easter Bunny. It’s a rough deal – but, whatever.

However – in a situation entirely of my own making, I have managed to notch the whole hooplaha up a level, and it’s all come to backfire on me in the way that only the very best of intentions can.

I’ve somehow invented the presence of a secret ‘fairy hidey hole’ that must be magically restocked with precious gems, rocks, broaches etc. every day in order for my child to sleep through the night.

So how did this come about?

A while ago Finn went through one of his ‘not sleeping’ phases. And online I read that I should spray lavender water around the bed so that when he woke up in the night he’d smell the same smell he went to sleep with, be comforted and go back to sleep. It was either this or I was going to have to start grinding up ZzzQuil to put in his milk at night so I duly bought some lavender water and started spraying it around his bed at night telling him it would help him sleep.

Finn: How does it work?
Mummy (very tired): The fairies smell the lavender and then fly down and watch over you all night.
Finn: Will I see the fairies?
Mummy (very very tired): No.
Finn: Why not?
Mummy: Because you’re not English. (?)
Finn: Then how will I know they’ve been there all night?
Mummy: Maybe they’ll leave you a present.
Finn: It’s important that I see the present now. Or I won’t be able to sleep.
Mummy: Ok. I’ll go and see if they left one.
Finn: Where will they have left it?
Mummy (delirious): In the fairy hidey hole.
Finn: And where is that?
Mummy. I can’t tell you.
Finn: Why not.
Mummy: Because you are not English. (?)

So I stumbled off, found some old broach and came back – Volia! A genuine fairy gift. He slept like a rock all night safe in the now ‘proven’ knowledge that the fairies were watching out for him. Every now and then I produce the odd rock or piece of jewelry that ‘the fairies’ have left in the secret hidey hole and all is well.

Recently he found a few pieces of onyx that I had inside a candle in my room and, over the moon, came to find me and tell me that he’d found the fairy hidey hole! And now he must be 100% English! Argh.

So now – every morning – he rushes in the bedroom room to see what the fairies have left for him. So far he’s had a jade lotus flower, a bell on a safety pin that my ex MIL once gave me, various polished rocks, a turkey with a bobbling head etc. Yesterday I ran out of items. I’d ordered a job lot of stones from Amazon but they hadn’t arrived yet. I searched the house and found…nothing.

Nothing, except for a sequined, red, adhesive-backed nipple tassel.

No. I’ve not had a past in a titty bar – a friend gave me them one year for a saucy b’day gift and, needless to say, they’ve never been used.

So. With no other options ahead of me, I put the red sequined nipple tassel in the fairy hidey hole. ’ It’s all about context,’ I reassured myself.

The next morning Finn was, of course, delighted and asked what it was.
Mummy: A fairy party hat.
Finn: It’s soooo cool! I’m going to take it to school for show and tell!
Mummy: No Finn – you can’t do that!!
Finn: Why??
Mummy (thinking quickly): Because then all the other children will wonder where the fairy hidey hole is in their house, but they won’t have one.
Finn: Because they’re not English?
Mummy: Ex-actly. Finn, exactly…

Got kid trouble?

So kids. We love our kids of course but every now and then – or perhaps more often that than – we just want to throttle them. But we don’t, because jail time.

My son is six these days and I love him dearly but ever since he turned one-and-a-half he’s been a very challenging child to parent. Maybe it’s the shared custody? Two different therapists says more likely it’s just his nature.Whatever the reason – it hasn’t made life easy.

I’ve tried many different things to improve the behavior and that’s included reading about 80 million books. Ok, perhaps 20. All these 20 books have had 20 different methodologies to supposedly sort out your kid’s behavior and I’ve tried them all. And done them to the letter. None worked.

About six weeks ago during a ‘how can I solve my parenting woes’ google fest I stumbled across: ‘The Kazdin Method for Parenting the Defiant Child’ – by Alan Kazdin.

This guy is a child psychologist and has been working at Yale studying delinquent children for the past 30 years. Over that time he’s devised a SIMPLE method for getting your child to act like a rational human – and it works. It’s based on science, involves no punishment and is instead based on positive reinforcement.

I know you’re thinking that sounds like namby pamby westside fu fu but all I can say is if the punishment/timeout/yell-till-you-bruise-your-vocal-cords thing is working for you – awesome. If its not – you might wanna try this book.

It’s a game changer.

So THAT happened…

Sorry. Six months gone by and not a peep. I’m sure you’ve all been more than happy, off enjoying the Internet elsewhere but incase there’re any lingering bad feelings, here it is, official like: Sorry. I make my kids apologize continuously so it’s probably good for me to eat a bit of my own bread and butter from time to time.

‘Eat her own bread and butter?’ you say. Doesn’t she mean ‘take her own medicine’? Well no. Firstly because I’ve had quite enough medicine over the past six months and secondly, I do like to change up the sayings for the occasional ha ha.

So two things about this blog: 1. It is not a naughty blog (despite people finding it via search terms such as ‘f*ck in the cervix’ (is that even possible??) and 2. It’s not a bummer blog. However, having said that, I will tell you that the reason I’ve not been blog a logging the past six months is that I’ve been doing that whole cancer thing again.

Bla bla, chemo, surgery, radiation, adult diapers, vomiting, hair in the plug hole, arms like an angry heroine addict, Michael Jackson mask out in public, lots of food delivered from co-workers, should be sorted out now but I’ll never know for sure, etc. etc. and so forth.

As you can tell, I really enjoying talking about it in lavish detail.

Anywho I thought I’d probably let y’all know what’s been going on for the following reasons:

  1. If you have a great excuse for abandoning your reader for six months, you may as well get it out the lock box and use it like you mean it.
  2. Recent big influx of Facebook likers recently leads me to think I’d better post something about something incase they all decide to de-like me. Such a shame as I’m so likeable!
  3. Next time there’s a big ole silence you might wonder if I’ve finally snuffed it (US folks, that means died). Who knows, you may lack other dramatic tension in your life and thinking about it may give you a little ghoulish entertainment. You’re welcome.

I’d like to say that I’ll be back to posting regularly now but who the frick a dick knows about that. I’m going back to work soon and any extra time artfully carved out of the day will probably be devoted to staring at the wall and cultivating a small trickle of wine-flavored drool off the end of my chin.

Happy Tuesday!

I don’t want your spooky piano

So. I have a co-worker who is haunted. I’d say that her house is haunted but when you hear the full story it’s kind of apparent that she is the one who is haunted and any house/apartment she moved into would immediately become a haunted one.

Let’s call my co-worker Kelly – why not. Kelly’s husband died of Hodgkin’s when they were both in their twenties. There’s zero funny about that. In order to try and get some kind of info on where he might have gone, she started attending a medium group. As far as I know she never really got any solid info on her husband. However what she may or may not have known was that when she started attending this medium group, she basically cracked open the doorway between her and the other side.

Listen. I’m not saying any of this is correct or incorrect. Until we die none of us know what this time-on-earth gig is or isn’t all about. So I’m not mocking Kelly and I’m not saying it’s true. I’m just telling you what appears to have gone down.

Kelly met her boyfriend at the medium group and they now live together. This was her first mistake. Now there are two cracked open doors to the other side and as a result their house gets continuous visitations…

During her work day when Kelly’s at the office and I have not witnessed anything spooky. However all evening and weekend Kelly is allegedly subjected to some pretty weird stuff. Her TV turns off when she’s trying to watch it. When she takes a video of her kid playing, it’s hijacked by spirits trying to leave messages. As she’s trying to go to sleep, doors round the house will start slamming, paper bags make a rustling noise like they’re being scrunched up, from somewhere in the living room they’ll be a noise like someone’s being whipped.

Now I kind of like the idea that there might be something of a two-way street between here and what’s on the other side. If I was ever to check out early it would be nice to think I could pop back from time to time check on the kids and to see if BB found himself a nice new girlfriend. However. I would not be an inconsiderate spirit. Making whipping noises and crunching bags when people are trying to sleep – that’s just rude. Just because you don’t have to do a daily 2-hour round commute now you’ve shed your human body, doesn’t mean that the living don’t have to. Inappropriate.

Kelly recently bought a little piano for her son. She set it up in the living room ready for her kid to play. However, that first night she heard the tinkle tinkle of discordant tunes all night long and no it wasn’t musical mice. She needs to get rid of the kiddy piano.

Do I want the piano, she asks?
I don’t want your spooky piano, I reply.

And that’s how I got to my intriguing title.

The end.

The difference between ‘sure’ and ‘sure’

So I’m not going to start this posting with that clichéd thing about America and England being two countries divided by a common language. Ok, I will. I’m not sure if it was Shaw or Wilde, but someone at some point in history once said: “England and American are two countries divided by a common language.” There.

I have already mentioned the ocean-sized difference between ‘fanny’ in the US and ‘fanny’ in the UK. In the US it’s a polite word for ‘bottom’ and in the UK it means someone’s vagina. Imagine the horror around the dinner table when my one-time American husband told my family that if my sister called him Chrysalis one more time (his name was Chris) he’d give her a smack on the fanny. Awkward.

Rather more tame and subtle is the difference between ‘sure’ and ‘sure.’

Take this conversation:

Doris: “Hey Rachel, would you like to taste some of my cheesecake I baked this weekend?”
Rachel: “Sure.”

In the US, Rachel’s comment would be interpreted as, “Yes, I’d love to eat some of your specially baked cheesecake Doris. How thoughtful of you to bring me some.”

However, if Rachel was in England ‘sure,’ would mean “Um. If I have to.” English Rachel is being about as rude as will be socially tolerated about that cheesecake without actually saying the words “No Doris! Your last two were totally gross plus how many times do I have to tell you I’m trying to go gluten-free? However as you keep going on and on about it SURE I will eat some of your snatchy cheesecake, you inconsiderate hound.”

That’s the difference between UK ‘sure’ and US ‘sure.’ And it continually makes me edgy. I ask people if they’d like me to help them with something at work. They say: Sure. I wonder do they secretly hope I’ll be laid off at the next corporate culling?

I ask my boyfriend if he wants to snuggle. He says: Sure. I’m suddenly wondering when he’s going to move out and how on earth I’m going to afford the mortgage payment without him. Yesterday I asked Finn if he liked his dinner and he said: Sure. I told him that was very rude and he should always say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ when I asked him that question. What? Someday he might want to live in England. This is only to stop Finn-of-the-future being socially shunned.

Also you’ll notice I’ve used the name Doris in my dramatization above. In the UK ‘Doris’ is only a name for women who are over the age of 75 who may or may not still be working as ‘tea ladies.’ In the US it’s a perfectly normal name given to normal, and even cool, women of any age.

I cannot think of anymore sure/fanny/Doris examples right now but I know they are out there. Next time I come across one I shall let you all know.

When Harry Met Cammy – Prince Harry Gets a New Girlfriend

So… The Royal Family. Now I’m not a royalist or anything but…OK I’m totally a closet royalist. Obviously it’s much easier to get away with being ‘into’ the Royal Family in LA than it would be if I still lived in England where that kind of behavior is seen as pretty uncool. Well, it’s seen as uncool though most people are secretly still slightly interested. I have a friend who went to Oxford and when Kate and Wills were getting wed, all the girls crowded round the telly and drunk in every detail whilst vehemently pointing out that they were not into the whole thing at all and were about to leave any minute now to go to their economics and mathematical systems lecture. So even the smartest of us have the same kind of underground appreciation.

The English often like to love and hate something all at the same time: Pop Idol, Jamie Oliver, Tony Blair, Centre Parks. The Royal Family comfortably falls into this category.

All this preamble and justification is because today, I want to talk about Prince Harry’s new girlfriend. Camila Thurlow. You read it here first: They are going to get married. Of course you’ll be wondering how on earth I know this when I don’t know either or them and have no insider knowledge whatsoever.

On a weird ‘insider information’ side note…At one stage of my life I was a massage therapist and I once gave a massage to that Sun journalist who got a job at the palace as a butler or something and then spilled the beans about a bunch of embarrassing stuff like Prince Andrew telling the servants to ‘fuck off’ when they woke him up in the morning. He didn’t stop asking me questions the whole way through the massage and his mid-back area was super tight.

This knowledge of a future engagement isn’t because I have a pal pretending to be Prince Harry’s scullery maid or anything. No. I just know it.

And yes it’s going to be awkward for Harry to have his wife have the same name as his step-mother but I suppose they’ll figure it out. At my work we have two mangers both called Kevin (again, Kevin is a normal name for normal people in America). Having two Kevins caused endless confusion so we ended up calling one of them Kev and the other: The Bear Slayer. But that’s a story for another time.

So why do I think Harry and Cammy are going to get married? Multiple reasons:

1. Prince Harry is in the zone. The marriage zone. He’s about to turn 30. The Queen’s putting the pressure on. Straight out of a story book he’s a Prince of Age Looking for a Wife. I’m surprised they didn’t already throw a ball where a black swan showed up.

2. She’s smart – straight As. Going from his academic record, Harry’s not as smart as she is. However I think he’s the kind of guy that will be super impressed by her brains as opposed to intimidated. (Again – never met Prince Harry in my life.)

3. She’s Scottish. In an 18th century kind of way, this will be a good alliance between the two countries. Especially when Scotland is considering breaking away. A royal wedding to a girl from the Dumfries will put an end to all that chatter once and for all. The Queen is thinking: Yes!

4. She’s sporty. The last one was too arty. Harry is more sporty than arty. This is a better match.

5. She was once in a beauty pageant. (She was crowned Miss Edinburgh). This more than anything makes me think that this one is the next Duchess of Whatever Title She’s Going to Get. Because of this: She. Is. Up for it. She’s worn a tiara before and liked it. She’ll not go running in the opposite direction of all that ‘duty.’ She’ll run towards it. Again it sounded like the last one was kind of being dragged towards the whole thing kicking and screaming – that scenario had disaster written all over it. Thank God she’s gone back to shellacking her pointe shoes.

One other note. Everyone keeps saying how Camila Thurston looks just like Kate Middleton. This comment has the inappropriate undertone that Harry’s trying to make up for the fact that he can’t have his brother’s wife, so instead he’s trying to find someone who looks just like her.

Um, is this because they both have long brown hair?

Everyone’s got it completely wrong. Camila actually looks just like Jools Oliver:





How to be a Mother

So seeing as this blog is maybe supposed to be about parenting (given its title) I thought I’d give you some tips on the few things I’ve picked up over the past five years of being a mom/mum:

1.Learn how to install the car seat – yourself.
I don’t care if you are a single mommy/mummy or have an always-there husband and whole houseful of helpful relatives living right next door, learn to install the car seat – yourself. It will come up. Car seats will need to be transferred into rentals/loaners/your boss’s bmw and the situation will be thrust upon you when you least expect it. The day your husband’s been called away urgently to business in Peru, your kid has a fever of 102 and you have to get him to a pediatric appointment – that’s the day your car will conk out and you’ll have to get a loaner and then…you’ll have to install the car seats. It’s not hard. It’s just important to learn how to do it before you need to know how to do it.

2.Make some mommy friends.
This is not for the purposes of getting parental advice. That’s what the Internet is for. Actually the worst thing you can do if you want to keep hold of your mommy friends is invite them along to your own personal monologue of “All the wonderful ways I did it.” (I ironically note that that is exactly what I am doing in this blog posting.) The reason you need mommy friends is so you can complain to someone who really gets it – over a glass of wine.

3.Wear flat shoes.
Wear them every time you leave your house if you know your children will be coming with you. No heel, not even a kitten heel or a low wedge. None. Any elevation at all is to directly ask for trouble. As a mother you will be required to sprint, squat, pivot ,lunge, leap – trainers are the only rational footwear option. Alternatively buy some cute sandals.

4.Be or don’t be a Helicopter Parent.
Know that you will never get the helicopter/non-helicopter level right in the eyes of society. The minute you shout out ‘careful’ when your daughter looks like she’s about to dive head first off the top of the slide is the minute someone rolls their eyes and makes it clear that you’re being ‘repressive.’ The minute you turn back is the second they fall off the top of the climbing frame.

5.I’m not saying you can’t dress cute. Just not right now.
Give up on keeping your own clothes clean. Wear things that you don’t mind getting stained with bright red pasta sauce, covered in chalk dust or dirt patches. Steer away from pale pants. Leave all clothes that cost more than $60 in the closet.

6.Consider wearing ear plugs – all of the time.
I’ve been driven to this on the occasional weekend. BB sometimes gets frustrated, wondering why I’m suddenly not responding to a thing he says but aside from that – it’s golden times.

7.Try not to get too hung up on the gender thing.
I like equality. And I don’t want Mini to be held back from achieving anything in her life just because she’s female. According to the Parental Internet apparently one of the most important ways I’m to make sure she’s not being Repressed from Birth by Men, is via her selection of toys. If I let her dress up as Snow White, I’m told, it’s a sure thing that she will never want to join the Maths and Science Academy. Bummer. Well. As Mrs. Barlow always liked to say: Everything in moderation. The fact that Mini runs towards everything pink in the toy store and rams all three of her baby dolls in her toy pram and insists on taking them everywhere does not mean she’s doomed to a life in the typing pool. She also loves to play with trains and cars; she loves Legos and piles a mean stack of bricks. Sometimes Finn loves to play with Mini’s dolls and dress them up too. I think the key to dealing with this gender stuff is to introduce your kids to a good mixture of things. Unless you are snatching dolls away from your boy because it’s not manly or refusing to purchase your daughter a robotic construction kit because God knows where that might lead – it’s all good.

8.Create firm boundaries and reinforce them.
This is the most grueling one of all and one that BB and I learned the hard way. Finn likes to test the rules again, and again and again and again. If we yield and let him have iPad time when it’s not iPad time JUST ONCE, he knows he’s broken us and we’ll have to start all over again from scratch. Maybe some kids are fine with inconsistency; however I’m yet to meet one of them. In general, they will look out for a weak moment (usually after a glass of Chardonnay on a Thursday evening after a 12-hour work day) and move in for the attack. Stay strong. Someone somewhere is making a medal for you. You might not get it till you cross over to the other side – oh well.

9.Do all of your shopping online.
All of it. Everything. I’m even talking toothpaste. Not only will you save time, you won’t have to buy your kids extra toys when you go to Target and they start whining. Also you won’t have people at the store judging you because your kids are whining – bonus.

10.Take a million pictures and write down each and every hilarious thing they say.
I’m repeatedly told that this childhood thing all goes by very quickly and one day I’ll be left wrinkly and old and sitting in the rocking chair on the front porch with nothing but my iPhone-of-the-future to remind me of this time.

For now it seems like time is passing at exactly the right speed it’s supposed to.