Tuesday, 22 November 2011

The One Where We Plan the Hen Do

Ken gets married next May and I am delighted to be her Matron of Honour.

So on Saturday, with my recently ordered dress in hand, I met at Hen Do HQ, (Ken's Mum's flat), with the other bridesmaids, who are Barbie and Ken's sister Towie, (Barbie's cousin is also a bridesmaid but couldn't make it).

The dress was tried on and declared a success! We will need a panel at the back to accommodate "Morecambe and Wise" but that's nothing new. When I see people on TV wanting breast enlargements I want to scream, "Come a try and week with my puppies. Then tell me you'll pay thousands of pounds for chronic back ache and clothes that never fit properly"!

Anyway Ken and her Mum were dispatched "up the town" and like the three witches of Macbeth we plotted and schemed over our cauldron of evil intent!

The Cava flowed and so did the ideas. In the end they're not all that evil, but they are very very funny. Three days and nights of debauched partying at Bognor Regis Butlins next February will provide some amazing blogs I can assure you. If they have free WIFI in any of the Burger bars there then I'll blog live from the event!

Hubby and Ken had persuaded me to stay over so I could have a few drinks and enjoy the night out planned after the plotting had finished.

I'm so glad I did. Not only did I get to watch a bit of Strictly instead of "In the Night Garden" while we munched pizza and got ready together in that "Let me do your make up. Can I borrow your eyeliner? Do I wear this top or the new one?" way that girls do, which I really miss, but I also got to experience Felixstowe on a Saturday night!

We started off at a very sedate bar and I re-hydrated on a couple of lime and sodas after I was informed by Ken's Mum that we'd polished off 8 bottles of Cava between us that afternoon (and Ken was an hour and half behind)!

Then we moved on to watch a band at a pub further down the sea front. 

The pub was hot and sweaty. 

The band were loud and sweaty. 

The beer was warm and sweaty. 

I must be getting old because I like a drink to experience the pleasure of that drink. So for example a G&T should come in a tumbler with ice and lemon. Not tepid and in a finger print stained half pint glass! This was the kind of place where the experience is to get it down your neck with as little fuss possible, the sole aim being getting so drunk you stop noticing how much your shoes are sticking to the carpet!

That pub is what it is though and I was having a great time. The band were good, doing covers of Snow Patrol, White Stripes and Kings of Leon and similar stuff so musically I was happy. 

A fight broke out between a couple of women and their blokes waded in to join them. Ken was concerned I was ok as I hate stuff like that but I was trying to have a trunk and see who started it!

The night moved on and we were having a dance as the band were cranking it up when I spotted a women in a very short red dress with white spots all over it. Weird! I looked up. There was another. And another. And another. They had small black ears. One had even blacked her nose over.

Nine Minnie Mouses (or should that be Minnie Mice), on a hen do, had come in the pub and were dancing to the band!

Well no that's not strictly true. Two were properly dancing. One was bopping about like she needed a wee. Three were smiling in a bemused way, not unlike Dougal from Father Ted, and had no idea what to do or possibly why they were there. The bride to be, who I assume won't be seeing 60 again and really, really shouldn't have been dressed as Minnie Mouse, was looking a bit tired and emotional (not necessarily through drink but more likely through a need for her bed and a cup of cocoa) and the last two hadn't really entered into the spirit of things at all. They hadn't dressed up, apart from a half hearted attempt of a red top with white spots on. No ears, no dress and certainly no extra mouse nose adornments! They stood at the back, supped their drinks, didn't dance, rolled their eyes and had faces like smacked arses!

It was at this point I got the giggles. 

I mean real belly laughs. I couldn't look at Barbie or Mr Barbie (who'd joined us for the band) because I'd laugh more and if the mice on the mouse organ had spotted me I feared another fight would kick off. I'd forgotten to pack a wedge of cheddar and some traps in my handbag so I didn't fancy taking on nine random, slightly pissed, rodents. 

I'm so pleased the band didn't ask for requests because it would've taken all my strength to not shout out "Three Blind Mice" or "A Mouse Lived in a Windmill"!

Mind you by this point nothing would've surprised me! The pub already sported a woman in jeans and a black basque, another woman doing a constant box step wearing ripped tights, a PE skirt and a trilby hat and a massive guy in Union Jack boots and a kilt which, because it wasn't tartan and was just plain black, looked like a skirt!

The sights you see when you haven't got your gun!

Thursday, 17 November 2011

The One with the Catalogue and the Pastry Pecker

Sometimes I have the sense of humour of a seven year old!

Not just any old seven year old. Specifically a seven year old boy!

And if Lemon Cake Lady is to be believed I'm giving myself undue credit by saying seven. My mind is akin to a four year old really. 

Stupid stuff. Silly puns. Flippancy. Rude things. Trumps, willies and bums. They all make me laugh.

Sophisticated aren't I?

I've had a tough week so last night, over at Lemon Cake Lady's house, we had a couple of cheeky wines, a perfect pizza and a pile of Pecan Tassies. Making tassies involves pastry. Where there's a bit of spare pastry, some nimble fingers and my keen and mature comedy mind, there's always an opportunity for a bit of ..ahem, ahem.. "model making".

There was a picture but Hubby has strictly forbade me from putting it on here. He says you must all think I'm weird enough already without posting pictures of pastry penises! 

After my foray into Henry Moore sculpture, we got a free, "shoved through your door", Christmas catalogue out and, for want of a more delicate expression, took the piss! 

Now I love a bit of Christmas tat but this was on a whole new level! It was all, without exception, what LCL and I would call "handcrafted", which is our code for absolute tut!

There was a "Delicacy Tree", which is like a mini cupcake stand for sweets!

I was thinking of getting one and putting a raisin on each dish and watching the boys face go "Mum - have you gone mad?"

There was a shallow bowl for fruit, sweets or nuts 

It looks perfectly innocuous but it has a compartment for batteries in the bottom and when you switch it on, it lights up and changes colour from red to green to blue.

I'm thinking of getting Hubby one for the festive season as I'm sure he's always wanted to light his nuts up for Christmas!

What I love about this was in the text underneath, it made a point of saying "For cold food only"! 


It's glass and battery powered. Are you sure I can't put it in the oven? I've always dreamt of illuminating my Shepherds pie! 

Then as a piste de resistance we discovered something no home should be without this Christmas!

A Santa bottle topper!

I rest my case!

And do you know what's really sad?

I want to order them all!

Because as tacky as they are - I love them!

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

The One with the Unexpected Question

Jingles was cancelled yesterday due to a lack of hall to hold it in,  so we went to a local indoor play centre for the morning instead. We met up with three of the NCT ladies and their boys, plus when I arrived I spotted another friend with her little girl too.

Happy Days!

Or so I thought!

The boy is often better playing on a one to one basis. I know that. But it does him good to mix in bigger groups and he does do well at Jingles and at gym club so I wasn't unduly worried.

He took a little while to get used to the cavernous warehouse that is Play-2-Day and seemed slightly overwhelmed. He's been there before but ages ago so I thought this might happen. It happened last time. He takes time to adjust to some new surroundings, especially big noisy rooms. Well he doesn't go to nursery yet so I can see why.

He played. He ran around. He went off on his own and then he'd check where I was. He laughed at peek a boo with me in the Little Tikes play house. He ran headlong into a little girl and they both cried. He melted down at toys that didn't quite do what he wanted them to. He obsessed about the big fire engine and police car in the area for older children. He wasn't sure if he liked the ball pit or not! He had a drink and two lots of snacks. He wouldn't sit still for long. He took himself off on his own and sat in the Peppa Pig ride several times!

He was generally, the boy!

Maybe I'm just used to him but I didn't think anything of it. 

We'd been there about an hour and a half when a lady I didn't know approached me.

"I hope you don't mind me asking but is your little boy autistic?" she said

"No!" I replied. I was completely gob smacked!

"It's just that my son is eight and has just been diagnosed with autism and I recognise some of the early signs in your little boy"

For all my confidence coaching and new found self assurance I completed crumbled. Tears welled up in my eyes and when asked if I minded her bringing it up I said no it was fine.

Of course it wasn't fine. She was a complete stranger and it was bloody rude to be brutally honest but I didn't say a word.

And it was this that annoyed me about the situation the most. My complete inability to assert myself! 

She went on to talk about her children, one has ADHD the other autism and she had two others as well! She said she'd been watching my boy for a while and he seemed stressed in social situations and switched quickly from perfectly happy to a complete tantrum.

Well love you want to keep an eye on your own kids and stop watching mine thank you very much.

Did I say that? Did I hell. I think I said something weak and non committal like "I see".

I was crestfallen. You see I don't believe the boy is autistic. And believe me I was up at 4 am this morning, unable to sleep researching it on the internet! I think he's a toddler who is full of energy and personality. However, much like hubby and myself when we were little, he likes to take himself out of crowds and have his own space, particularly when he's not familiar with the setting.

The reason I was so upset, apart from not speaking my mind, was that I felt like the worst mother in the world. Was my boy so badly behaved that a complete stranger mistook his personality for autism?

Don't get me wrong, if he is autistic, and I will go and speak to a health visitor now I'm so shaken up by it all, I won't be ashamed. It's nothing to be ashamed of. I'll be scared out of my mind. I'll feel anger and resent and lots of selfish emotions like how the hell will I cope. I'll feel terrible that the boy may not fulfil his full potential. But I would never be ashamed.

I'm just angry at myself for not asserting myself more.

The woman carried on even though I had turned away, partly to try and compose myself and partly to just get away from her. 

"The doctors said the reason my son was late walking and talking was because he has two older sisters and they did everything for him" she carried on. 

Hubby has three older sisters. He was very late talking. He didn't speak until he was three and had to go and see a speech therapist when he was a school so I completely got what she was saying.

But the boy wasn't late walking and certainly not talking. Given Hubby's problems with speech as a toddler we've been really pleased with how the boy's language is progressing.

Then it suddenly occurred to me! The boy is tall. Very tall. Hubby is 6 foot 4 inches so he was always going to be.

"Well my son wasn't late doing either" I said much more assertively. "He's only 20 months old you know. He's like any other little one who is nearly two. He has tantrums".

"Oh. He looks a lot older. My little girl is two and quarter and he's far more advanced than her" she back peddled.

Well, if his speech is more advanced than your two year old he's hardly bloody autistic then is he!

But again I didn't say it.

She sloped away without another word and shortly afterwards left.

I told the girls what had happened. They were, as always the amazing support network they always are but I was upset, troubled and frankly pissed off.

We decided three things:

1) Due to his height the boy looks about 2 and a half. I may well be plagued with misunderstandings for as long as he seems about a year older than he actually is! 

2) I have a neon sign on my head that says "Bring your troubles to me. I'm a nice person. I'm as soft as lights and I'll take your problems on for you". 

3) Some people try and make themselves feel better by offloading their woes onto others.

And I think that was what it was. Her son had just been diagnosed with autism and she was searching for a kindred spirit. Another lost soul. Maybe I just give off vulnerable "I don't know what the hell I'm doing come and make me feel worse about it" vibes! 

One of my fellow blogger Crystal Jigsaw has an autistic daughter and writes an honest, moving and very funny blog about the daily life of bringing up an autistic child.


She is inspiring, almost always cheerful and constantly proud and amazed at her beautiful daughter and they way she looks at life. 

Maybe I should've told this lady about Crystal? Because she certainly wouldn't have minced her words! 

Monday, 7 November 2011

The One with the Meal Out

The boy is being particularly trying at the moment.

On Saturday he virtually concussed poor Fairy Godmother Ken by accidentally whacking her over the head with a plastic toy box! Some tissues, to mop up the blood from the cut, and two paracetamol later and she seemed OK but I was mortified.

Today, at Jingles, he was described by a mum I know as "willful"!

That's just polite for "stubborn little sod" in my book!

So on Sunday, which was Nanny P's birthday, our planned trip to Pizza Express filled me with anticipation and moments of sheer doom!

You see I used to be one of those people.

I was a tutter!

And in all fairness so was my Mum. In fact she was worse than me.

I didn't have children, I'd paid for a nice quiet meal out with my husband/friend/parents/anyone who'd buy me dinner and I didn't want it spoilt by other people's screaming kids, thank you very much!

I cringe now when I think back and although it seems my patience levels are currently at an all time low, my tolerance is much better than it ever was before the days of the boy.

Now I understand, and even agree, that taking small children to restaurants improves their behaviour and social skills. I get it.

Doesn't stop me being nervous of it though! And bless Nanny P she is too. We are both to acutely aware of the curse of the tutter and we both feel the embarrassment of the situation and our past misdemeanors.

The problem is my Mum doesn't help and always makes me worse when we take the boy out in public. She looks permanently surprised with a wide eyed "I can't believe I'm doing this" expression on her face, coupled with an involuntary tick where she constantly looks around to check if anyone is staring at us!

But the boy is nothing but an entertainer and in these days of family orientated restaurants, any slight melt downs went completely unnoticed, such was the amount of little ones in there at 5 pm last night. I would go as far as to say he was great.

He started playing a game where he'd hide a book behind his back, say "Gone" then, when asked where it had gone, would point over to the kitchen area and say "There. Apples" and laugh as it was quite clearly not in the kitchen but behind his back.

This had added comic value due to the "Apples" in question actually being plastic tomatoes decorating the shelves above where the pizza's were being made. More importantly on one occasion the boy, showing the same comedy magic skills of Tommy Cooper, said "There" and pointed to the kitchen with the hand that still had the book in it!

So I should be braver and just get on with it. The boy is fine, as long as he has a game and a new audience to play to.

He's only trying because he needs constant entertaining and to be constantly entertaining.

So eating out with a toddler is easy, if you do it just like that........

Friday, 4 November 2011

The One with the Leaving Meal

That's it!

I've finally and officially left work.

Last night was my long awaited leaving meal and now I should have, what the Americans call, "closure".

I had a wonderful time. We ate spicy Mexican food, I downed three large glasses of Pinot Grigio and most importantly I enjoyed the fabulous company of a select and loyal band of, not just former work colleagues, but true friends.

But do I have "closure"? 

I couldn't honestly tell you. I'm not sure I'll ever know. 

Some things I do know though. 

I know I don't drink much anymore and I'm taking antibiotics (which I checked I could drink with at the last minute) , Covonia and paracetamol for my sore throat, bad sinuses and chest so I was off my tits on one glass of wine. By glass number three I was feeling no pain at all. The pain came this morning with a thumping headache and Oscar and the boy vying for my attention at 6.30 am!

I know I now have the leaving card I craved for, with messages of good luck on and something for me to keep and treasure forever.

I know that despite everything I'm very lucky to be given this opportunity to finally do something I've always wanted to. 

I know I'm more than lucky to have the boy. 

I know everything will be all right.

I know so much has changed and will change in the next year.

I know that I made amazing friends in the 13 and a half years with my old company and I always seem to have a hangover when I've been out with them.

Closure or no closure let's hope that's one thing that never changes.........