A Resolution Not A Revolution

And the gin too?’

 

Mother wavered momentarily, a wistful look flashed in her eyes and then she nodded. Firmly. ‘Yes. That too. Bung it in.’

 

I was watching, bemused, from my vantage point in my high chair as Mother marched around the kitchen, flinging cupboards open whilst Father tailed behind in her wake with a black bin bag. I’ll be honest, it was the most energy I had seen her expel in a good few weeks. Up until this point, her preferred position had been prone on the sofa, shovelling in the chocolates which were now being discarded so ruthlessly into the bag in Father’s hands.

 

‘Are you sure?’ he asked, uncertainly.

 

‘Yes. Definitely.’

 

‘But…you don’t think you want to keep a few treats back?’ he probed, delicately.

 

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These were just the tip of a treat iceberg

 

 

But Mother was adamant. ‘No. Look at this,’ she said, prodding her tummy. ‘And this,’ she added, repeating the motion against Father’s own stomach.

 

‘Hey!’ he shouted in protest.

 

‘All that cheese,’ she muttered, sagely. ‘No,’ she continued. ‘New year, new us,’ she snorted haughtily. ‘And besides we’ve had more than enough of this over the last week,’ she added, gesturing, distastefully to a selection of empty bottles by the bin. ‘Christmas,’ she lamented, sadly, shaking her head.

 

This ‘Christmas’ had been the excuse for a while lot of trouble recently. Like Father’s injured hand, incurred by a tumble on an evening out: ‘My hand is less painful than this,’ Father had complained as Mother had given him a lengthy scolding for his ‘idiocy’. ‘It wasn’t my fault. It’s Christmas. You have to have a drink,’ he’d defended. It had also been responsible for Mother’s demolition of 20 mini sausage rolls in one sitting. ‘Oh, it doesn’t matter,’ she’d laughed, brushing the extensive crumbs off her top. ‘It’s Christmas.’ And the reason for the pair of them sitting around in their pyjamas until the night had almost rolled around again? That’s right, you’ve guessed it, ‘Christmas’.

 

‘I’ll be healthier in the New Year,’ Mother had said, blasé. ‘It’s one of my new year’s resolutions,’ she’d added. One of many. (It took me a while to work out what was meant by a resolution but after listening to Mother and Father I soon came to realise that it is a lie that you tell yourself to justify indulging massively in the final weeks of the year).

 

After many, many months (felt like. Have you ever spent any length of time in my parents’ company? It is quite simply excruciating) the New Year came around. And that was an entirely dull affair. I had heard promise of great excitement, of singing and celebration at midnight. Sadly, try as I might, I didn’t manage to stay awake til 12 – but when I woke up at 2am (and then stayed awake until dawn) I can tell you, there was nothing exciting to see.

 

‘It feels wrong to start the resolutions today,’ Mother had said, unhappily on the very first day of the new year. ‘It will be too much of a shock to the system,’ she’d added as she reached for a bar of chocolate.

 

The following day, though, her mood was transformed. ‘Right, what next,’ she asked as Father knotted the black bin bag and she carried me through to the lounge. ‘Let’s get the decorations down,’ she added, decisively before putting her feet up and watching as Father got to work.

 

Only, as Father packed away the tree, it left behind sprinkles and sparkles from the decorations. Similarly, the cards, once cleared, revealed dusty shelves. ‘Perhaps we should have left them up,’ offered Father. ‘Don’t be so stupid,’ muttered Mother, unconvincingly, as she nodded in agreement.

 

‘They need to be packed away too,’ Mother added, gesturing to my two new pals, Frosty and Christmas Bear. And then I watched, appalled, as Father picked them up and put them in a box, along with the rest of the decorations.

 

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Frosty and Christmas Bear – fine fellas

 

 

‘Hey!’ I screamed in protest. ‘Let them out.’

 

‘Shush darling,’ said Mother.

 

‘I said, let them out.’ And I screamed. Longer and louder.

 

Eventually, they relented and gave Frosty and Christmas Bear back to me. ‘See if they’ll quieten her down,’ shouted Father. ‘But they’re only meant to be for Christmas, not life,’ tutted Mother, but she let me have them. Good.

 

But if I thought my troubles were over, they weren’t. ‘She got so many toys for Christmas, we should have a sort out. See, she doesn’t play with that any more,’ she began pulling an elephant shaped rattle from my toy box and putting it to one side. To be honest, I barely recognised it as my own – it must have been a toy from my early days, which are a bit hazy to me. That wasn’t the point though. ‘Oi!’ I snapped.

 

‘What about this one? I never see her play with this anymore?’ Father asked. I looked across to his hand in which was proffered none other than my good friend and teddy bear RoRo.

 

‘He is getting a bit manky,’ agreed Mother. ‘She’s outgrown it a bit I think.’

 

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My good friend and teddy bear RoRo

 

 

Well, nothing can be further than the truth. RoRo and I are still excellent pals though I must admit I probably had neglected him recently. This was going to change though. And one thing was for sure, RoRo was going nowhere.

 

I yelled. I screamed. I cried. And I got myself into such a tizzy that I almost couldn’t calm down. Eventually though, a bottle of milk and a cuddle restored my equilibrium.

 

Mother and Father didn’t look so relaxed. ‘Half an hour she screamed for.’

 

‘At least.’

 

‘Did you throw that bag away?’

 

‘Chocolate?’

 

‘The green ones.’

 

‘And the gin?’

 

‘You’d best pour us one. For medicinal purposes. Bloody resolutions.’

 

I had to agree. And I suspect that the ‘new them’ which had been promised for the new year was never going to materialise. Just more of the same, ridiculous, embarrassing old behaviour.

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A Baby’s Guide to Christmas

From what I’ve seen so far, the festive season is very stressful for us babies. The expectations and pressures upon us are huge. I have learnt quite a few things about Christmas during these last few weeks and so I am pleased to be able to share my guide to handling the festivities for all you babies out there….

 

  1. Garish and Embarrassing Attire

At this time of year, grown-ups undergo what can only be described as a fashion meltdown*. Almost overnight (well, from 1st December) they become style-free zones, people to whom good taste and class are alien concepts. Out go the sensible jumpers and jeans, in come the garish sweaters and the festive headwear (Father actually owns a ‘turkey’ hat). That would be almost acceptable except that they’ll try and drag you down to their unfashionable level. You might think that the flashing jumper that they pop you into is bad, but wait til they start to dress you up as an elf or as a junior Santa. Parents seem to think that us babies do not have standards, that looking stylish and elegant does not matter to us but they are, of course, wrong. There is only one way to get out of these crimes against fashion and that is through the route of a nappy explosion. Fill yourself up on those pureed vegetables or that milk and you’ll be ready to do battle. (A word of warning, you may need to exercise this approach more than once if, like me, your parents have purchased you a whole wardrobe of festive outfits).

 

*My parents haven’t had a fashion meltdown. They don’t need one. They have always been terrible dressers.

 

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This isn’t a hat…it’s a crime against fashion

 

 

  1. The Scary Man in Red

Chances are you’ll get dragged along to meet Father Christmas. According to Mother and Father, he’s a jovial fella who’ll be breaking into your house on 24th December to leave you presents. This in itself was enough to make me nervous before I’d even met the chap; I’m surprised at Mother and Father too. They’re always going around checking doors and windows are locked yet they seem positively laid-back at the prospect of an imminent trespass upon the property. Still, I tried to keep an open mind. But when I met him, that slight anxiety increased to full-blown fright. He was dressed in the most bizarre red suit, a long white beard hanging off his face, splattered with the remnants of what must have been his lunch. ‘Ho, Ho, Ho,’ he boomed in a terrifyingly loud voice. Well, I did the only thing I could do: I screamed before wailing noisy tears. In spite of this, Mother still insisted on a photo of me next to Father Christmas. ‘One for the album,’ Father had muttered, doubtfully. I screamed even louder. But the important thing was I did give him a faint smile when he was at a good distance away and the reason for that is this: he’s going to be bringing you presents on Christmas Eve so it’s vital you don’t annoy him to such an extent you get missed off the list.

 

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No, thanks.

 

 

 

  1. Identity Theft

If you haven’t already, then you will very soon be ‘giving’ cards and presents to family members. I say this in the loosest sense as in fact it won’t be you giving anything, rather it will be your fraudulent parents who will not only choose ‘your’ gifts, but wrap them and write on the cards too. And that’s one of the worst things of all. The other day I saw Mother scribbling something illegible alongside Father who was doodling some poor interpretations of festive symbols. I wondered what they were doing and suspected that whatever they were doing, it was bound to offend somebody (the recipient of the card, I presumed). I was right and wrong. They were doing something to offend someone all right: me. ‘Look darling, do you want to give your card to Grandma and Granddad,’ Mother suggested soon after when my relatives turned up. I watched, appalled, as she tried to foist upon me the terrible piece of ‘art’ they’d been attempting earlier and realisation dawned; they were trying to palm it off as MINE. The absolute audacity, trying to make me look like a moron. Well, I did the only thing I could do: I handled the ‘card’ with such roughness that it ended up tatty and torn. Not, though, sadly, that this stopped Grandma and Grandad taking the blooming thing home and threatening to ‘put it on the mantelpiece in pride of place.’ I was fuming. And I suspect I will be again when I discover what presents I am supposed to have bought for everyone on Christmas Day. The best thing you can do in this scenario is throw a massive tantrum until your offering is returned to you – at which point you can set about wilfully destroying it.

 

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What on earth…?!?

 

 

  1. Slobberfest 2016

You will be seeing a lot of people around this time. For family and friends, you’ll be wheeled out and shown off like the star on the top of the tree (especially if you are wearing a horrible Christmas jumper). People will be clamouring for your attention, they’ll want cuddles, to take photos of, and with, you and – grossly – to give you a big sloppy kiss on the cheek. It is terribly wearing, especially when all you want to do is kick back and chill out on your playmat. Now, the very best way to avoid getting slobbered all over is to do as you would when festive attire is an issue – create a nappy explosion. Trust me, those people who were fawning all over you, desperate for a ‘hold’ will back off very quickly when they get that first whiff. And watch how they suddenly make their excuses when a change is needed, they’ll scurry off before Mother can say: ‘Could you just give me a hand?’ No, this is a sure fire and tested solution. (Projectile vomiting also works).

 

  1. Unbecoming Behaviour

Whereas during the rest of the year grown-ups often feel shy about having a dance or taking part in a singsong, all sense of timidity is hurled out the window in December. Already I’ve seen Mother and Father bopping along (badly) to Christmas music and breaking into song. It’s not just them though. And I suspect it will get worse. There’s talk of karaoke and games, dance competitions and party quizzes which, quite frankly, leaves me terrified. No, I do not want to watch Mother caterwauling along to a song whilst assorted guests cheer her on. I am afraid you only have one option when faced with unbecoming behaviour and I am sure it’s not one you’ll appreciate but it’s your only choice: just go to sleep. Only slumber can provide you with a safe escape from watching Great Aunt Mildred have a go at ‘twister.’

 

I hope that your Christmas is stress-free, with as little embarrassment as possible.

 

Merry Christmas, from this baby to all you other, fabulous babies.

 

Love, Baby Anon x

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Mulled Whine

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‘Could you put down the Quality Street and give me a hand please?’ asked Father, more than a hint of exasperation in his voice as he struggled to free his foot which had gotten tangled in the trailing lead from the lights.

 

‘Chill out darling. It’s Christmas,’ replied Mother, a beatific smile upon her face.

 

‘You might want to go easy on the mulled wine as well,’ he suggested. ‘Or mullered wine, more like it,’ he muttered, almost, but not quite, under his breath.

 

Mother rolled her eyes in an exaggerated move. ‘Don’t be silly,’ she chastised. ‘This isn’t like a proper drink. It’s a Christmas drink so it doesn’t count,’ she added, making even less sense than usual.

 

I hoped my face showed my disdain but I feared that as usual, Mother and Father would mistake the visual expression of my emotions for an imminent bowel movement. I cannot tell you how many times my expressions of anger, of embarrassment, of indignation, of distaste have been roundly misinterpreted as: ‘She’s having a poo.’ Body language experts my parents are not.

 

But I hoped that they could see my disdain as today had been a usual journey into the ridiculous. A journey which had begun early when I had been surprised by Mother’s animated greeting on waking. This was unusual in itself as she – and Father – are usually the antithesis of enthusiasm at dawn, Mother complaining that she could do with another ‘hour or five in bed’ and Father moaning that ‘it’s still the bloody middle of the night.’

 

Today though there was a sense of excitement. ‘We’re putting the tree up today darling,’ explained Mother. ‘This means Christmas officially starts.’ She looked very pleased about this, as did Father. I had my suspicions why. From my limited knowledge and understanding, Christmas is a time to eat and drink excessively. From my increasing knowledge and understanding of the couple known as my parents, I suspected this would suit both down to the ground.

 

I must admit, in spite of myself, I felt a flicker of anticipation about the day’s events. But all sense of enthusiasm began to wilt away as the time marched on whilst Mother and Father scurried around aimlessly.

 

‘Where did you see it last?’

 

‘How am I supposed to know? It was last year.’

 

‘Well you must know.’

 

‘Why’s it my responsibility?’

 

Things deteriorated quickly with Mother accusing Father of being a ‘Scrooge-like festive killjoy,’ whilst Father retaliated with the suggestion that Mother’s approach to organisational skills was to ‘bung everything in a cupboard and forget about it.’

 

Eventually, and fortunately, the missing tree was located. And what a crushing disappointment it was. Small, skinny, and balding, it looked less a tree, more a withered twig. I hoped that it would look better once bedecked but before we could get to that, there were more pressing matters to attend to.

 

‘Look!’ declared Mother. ‘I knew I had some somewhere,’ she added before slopping the contents of a bottle into cups and placing them in the microwave. ‘Proper Christmassy now,’ she said, handing Father a steaming mug of a purple liquid.

 

Whatever was in those mugs made Mother and Father grimace after just one tiny sip.

 

‘It’s disgusting,’ declared Father, looking pained.

 

‘It’s meant to be like that,’ said Mother. ‘I quite like it,’ she added, though her screwed up mouth suggested otherwise.

 

I noticed that the skies had now darkened outside. But progress was halted once more when Mother determined her outfit wasn’t ‘festive enough.’ She disappeared, only to return a little later in an absolute offence against fashion; if she’d gone out in a jumper that ugly I was sure that she’d have been arrested. The garish pattern and clashing colours were one thing but the flashing lights were quite another.

 

‘Will you give me a hand please?’ asked Father, his voice tense. His mood wasn’t helped when he finally freed his trapped foot from the lights cable – only to trip, inelegantly falling onto his hands and knees.

 

Mother spluttered with laughter, emitting a fine spray of the purple liquid. ‘C’mere,’ she said martyred, once she’d stopped giggling. ‘I’ll decorate the tree. I’m much better at it than you,’ she added, cockily.

 

Her confidence was, I felt, misplaced. Mother has no style and no design skills to speak of; you should see what she’s done in my room. There’s a giant teddy bear painted on the wall which, quite frankly, terrifies me.

 

As I suspected, she approached the tree decoration in her usual cack-handed way, placing all the baubles and tinsel in one place. I had a feeling that this was down to the disgusting smelling mulled wine she was continuing to imbibe, as well as her natural lack of creativity. I felt it my place to step in and I began removing the baubles purposefully from the branches. ‘Ah, she’s trying to help,’ smiled Mother, immediately replacing all the decorations I had removed, back in the same place. We carried on like this for a while, me removing, Mother replacing, until I gave up; if they want to show themselves up with hideous festive adornments then I’ll let them get on with it. Still, I did make my frustration known with a firm scream.

 

‘Come on darling,’ said Father, picking me up. ‘You put the star on the top.’

 

As I was handed the sparkling ornament I felt a momentary sense of significance. This clearly was the most important part of the job and I was being entrusted with it. I felt a flicker of respect for Father; he clearly had recognised my excellent leadership qualities.

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‘Ta dah,’ announced Father at last and I must admit, with the lights on and all the decorations, the tree did look quite…magical. Of course, the star was very much the best bit, glittering proudly at the top.

 

Mother caught me staring at it. ‘It’s not as bright or sparkling or as special as our little star,’ she said softly. It took me a second to realise she was talking about me and I was rather pleased. But the moment was sadly ruined by the lights flickering on-off-on-off before finally going off. Father looked very much like he wanted to say a bad word, he was fiercely biting his lip. Meanwhile, Mother looked as if she was regretting her foray into the mulled wine bottle, letting out a loud burp.

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A Christmas Letter

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‘We should do one of those letters. Y’know. That people send at Christmas,’ suggested Mother.

 

Father’s expression was blank.

 

‘You know. Those ’round robin’ things. Where people write about all their successes over the last year.’

 

Father still looked confused (to be fair, he frequently looks confused, as if the challenges of life are continuously perplexing him.)

 

‘We can share all our great news. All our achievements,’ she continued, becoming increasingly animated.

 

Father shrugged. ‘S’pose we could,’ which Mother took as firm and clear encouragement to proceed.

 

Only, as she started to write, she realised that there was very, very little which she could show off about.

 

‘Ridiculous idea,’ Mother tutted, minutes later, screwing up the piece of paper she had barely touched with her pen. ‘Such a silly idea,’ she added, peering in an accusatory manner at Father, as if his tacit agreement had, in fact, meant that the whole thing had been his idea.

 

It got me thinking though. Perhaps I ought to write a letter, on Mother’s behalf? Outlining exactly all the failures of the last year; the REAL truth behind those smug pictures she posts on social media……

 

Dear Friends,

As the year ends, I thought it would be an opportunity to look back over the past months, reflecting on what has gone before.

 

I’ll be honest. Apart from our absolutely incredible and amazing baby, for the most part, it’s been a cornucopia of lowlights, of errors, of humiliations, of mistakes.

 

Not least when it comes to the parenting arena. As you know, we are new at this, but I’m not sure that’s any excuse for the utter idiocy we have frequently demonstrated. Especially concerning nappy malfunctions. Who knew that the nappy was only supposed to go on one way – or that an ill-fitted one could result in the most disgusting of outcomes? And don’t even get me started on the ensuing panic when you realise, at 3am, that you’ve run out of nappies…. Top tip, friends, always make sure you have a spare pack in the cupboard!

 

We also can’t look back with pride on our continual misinterpretations of our daughter’s attempts to communicate. For example, the time we excitedly celebrated our baby’s first smile – which turned out to be trapped wind. Similarly, I personally cannot help but cringe at the memory of my utter overreaction at the noises our little one made when she was having a poo – I seriously was on the verge of calling the emergency services at the sound of all those squeaks!

 

To be honest, overreaction is a hallmark of our style of parenting. If there is a minor issue or concern, we are guaranteed to turn this into an epic drama. Like, for example, the time our baby had her first sniffle. Fair to say our approach was to panic first, panic later. Still, it all turned out ok, once we called in the cavalry (parents).

 

We can also be ashamed of the fashion choices that we have made on behalf of our little girl. Fortunately, she’s got a lot of panache and can carry off a pumpkin costume or a Christmas jumper in ways that many others (us, mainly) wouldn’t be able to. This is not entirely our fault though, given that we ourselves are completely devoid of any sense of style. I am heading up a one-woman campaign to bring the pop sock back in fashion (though I’m not sure it was ever really ‘in.’) Meanwhile, hubby has been offending people with his newly-acquired penchant for hats; rather than looking like a hipster around town, he looks like he’s sporting a cat on the side of his head.

 

There have been other mistakes too. Like the time that I had a *minor* incident when parking the car. I will maintain, however, it is not my fault, that that sign just jumped out at me.  And, my culinary skills continue to be on a par with my driving skills. We still shudder at the memory of the ‘Prawn Surprise’ which laid us low with sickness. As hubby said, ‘that’s the kind of surprise I could do without.’

 

I also managed to show myself up massively on our family holiday. Firstly, by my behaviour during take-off when I knocked back a Limoncello for ‘my nerves.’ That, though, paled into insignificance when you consider the accidentally flashing in my too tight swimsuit – but I’m still not admitting that I’m anything other than a size 12!

 

No, 2016 has been nothing but a series of embarrassments. Thank goodness then for our daughter; even so young, it is obvious that she is far more intelligent, sensible, and thoughtful than us. It’s too late for us to change now – if anything, our idiocy is increasing – and so we are pinning all our hopes on her. After all, it would be lovely to have at least one person in the family who isn’t a complete fool.

 

Merry Christmas, and may your 2017 be filled with joy!

Mother xx (NB I don’t actually know what her name is. In an entirely nauseating move, Mother and Father only ever refer to each other by their parental titles).

 

Right, I’m off to the post box….

Pink Pear Bear

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When Baby Met Santa

 

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As if meeting the real thing wasn’t bad enough, I got to bring this pretend Santa home with me

 

 

‘Ho, ho, ho.’

 

Well. I didn’t know who this fella was but I didn’t like the look of him.

 

‘Ho, ho, ho.’

 

He was badly dressed in a red coat, red trousers, and black boots with a big belt around his middle. He looked as if Mother had been giving him fashion advice; she’s a fan of a big belt. Her personal favourite is a thick brown one which Grandad says makes her ‘look like a weightlifter.’ Mother pretends she can’t hear him.

 

‘Ho, ho, ho.’

 

Aside from the dubious fashion sense, this chap also had an excessively long white beard. From it I could see that he had recently dined, the flecks of leftover food clearly visible. His whiskers were of such a length that I had a yearning to grab hold of them and pull them but unfortunately – or fortunately for him – he was far enough away for this to not be feasible.

 

‘Ho, ho, ho.’

 

The other thing I noticed about the fella was that he was mind-numbingly monosyllabic. He had done nothing but repeat himself repeatedly with a ‘ho, ho, ho’ for the last few minutes. It made no sense. I am often accused – erroneously – of senseless gibberish when I am given to screaming but in fact I am talking eruditely and intelligently on many and varied subjects. It is not my fault that people – aka Mother and Father – are too stupid to be able to interpret my engaging and interesting dialogue. This man, however, was the kind of person I suspect others avoided at social events, he was that tedious.

 

‘Ho, ho, ho.’

 

And yet, I got the sense that I was supposed to be excited about meeting this Father Christmas fella. But I was entirely nonplussed.

 

In fact, that had been my mood of the whole day. Much to the chagrin of a rather excitable (read: utterly unbearable) Mother.

 

‘It’s almost Christmas darling,’ she began, grinning inanely. ‘Your first Christmas. And do you know what we’re doing today? Do you? Do you? Do you?’ she asked persistently, even though I had replied the first time with a fairly loudly screamed: ‘No!’

 

‘We are going,’ she continued, at last, ‘To see the lights being switched on. And to meet Santa! Can you believe it! Father Christmas!’ she screeched, her tone now so high that she was only audible to animals and teddy bears (I saw RoRo wince as she emphasised her point).

 

But, I’ll be honest, I was struggling to understand what there was to get animated about. Especially when it came to my attire. Never let it be said that Mother has any fashion sense whatsoever (weightlifting belts aside, she’s also a fan of ‘pop socks’. ‘No-one knows you’re wearing them,’ she protests. They do though when you pull them up in plain sight of everyone) but the garb she had chosen for me today was excruciatingly ugly. ‘Which one?’ she’d asked Father, holding up two garish, heavily decorated sweaters. ‘Neither,’ I snapped, furiously. ‘Put me in one of my pleasant babygros.’ But if I’d hoped for any fatherly support, then I was sorely mistaken. ‘Oh, definitely the one that flashes,’ he’d enthused. ‘If we’re going to a light switch on, it must be the jumper with the lights,’ he added. If you ask me, clothes should not do anything other than sit quietly and non-offensively on one’s person. But then, no-one ever asks me.

 

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When these are the options on offer, the only option is: wear something else.

 

 

‘What do you think darling? Isn’t it exciting?’

 

I couldn’t help but think that Mother and Father could do with a new dictionary if this was their definition of ‘exciting.’ We had been stood in the same spot for the last five hours (felt like, at least), Mother and Father staring at something in the distance. It was a bitterly cold day; not for me, mind. I had been wrapped up in a toasty warm snowsuit that felt like a hug around me. And fortunately, it covered up my foul sweater. No, I was lovely and warm but from the way Mother’s breath formed in a visible cloud and how Father was blowing on his screwed-up fists I couldn’t help but suspect the temperature was piercingly chilly. Aside from those signs, there was also the fact that Mother hadn’t stopped moaning about the cold for the last ten minutes.

 

‘…. gone numb.’

 

‘Well, let’s go in then.’

 

‘No. We’ll miss the lights.’

 

‘Well, get a hot drink then.’

 

‘No. We’ll lose our spot,’ she said, looking around her warily.

 

‘Well, stop moaning then.’

 

This, apparently, was the worst thing that Father could have said because Mother spent the next five minutes complaining at length about Father’s remark. ‘….an insult. I am the least moany person I know. I never-‘

 

Luckily – for Father, who was starting to look as if he wished he could borrow Mother’s ear muffs to shut out her whines – Mother’s monologue was interrupted by:

 

‘5…4…3…2…1…..Ta dah!’

 

‘Wow!’

 

‘Ahhh.’

 

‘Ah darling,’ Mother said, turning to me, watery-eyed. ‘What do you think of the lights? Aren’t they pretty?’

 

They were ok, I thought mildly as I glanced up and saw several sparkling lights. There were rather a lot of them. I couldn’t help but wonder what Father was thinking: he is always going on about Mother leaving the landing light on. ‘Think of the electricity bill,’ he says, crossly. I looked up at him; sure enough there was a crease of concern on his forehead.

 

And then it started to rain.

 

‘Right, c’mon, let’s go and see Father Christmas,’ said Mother briskly.

 

‘Ho, ho, ho.’

 

Again, with the ‘ho, ho, ho.’

 

‘And what would you like for Christmas?’ he asked, finally changing the subject.

 

Now he was talking. This was what I’d heard. That Father Christmas brings presents on Christmas Eve for children to find on Christmas Day. To be honest, I’d thought Mother was making it up; she is known for her fabrications. She once told Father, entirely straight-faced: ‘I have no idea how that got there,’ about a scratch which she’d managed to administer when parking.

 

Perhaps, though, for once, she was telling the truth. I thought carefully about my choices. I didn’t want to make a poor decision and end up regretting it. After a few moments of thought I said: ‘I would like another sheep to keep Baa Baa company. I would also like my own vehicle. I am fed up of relying on Mother and Father for transport. I’d like a friend for RoRo too. Maybe a horse? I would like my own-‘

 

But before I could go on, Father Christmas had interrupted me and handed me a packaged parcel. Excitedly, Mother took it and started opening it (I could see she was going to be a handful on Christmas Day). But, I must admit, in spite of myself, I felt a flicker of anticipation too…. anticipation which was entirely misplaced. What the…?

 

‘Ah look darling,’ began Mother. ‘It’s a…box of chocolates. She’s too young for this,’ Mother added to Santa.

 

He shrugged, disinterested. ‘We’ve run out of stuff for babies. Can’t you have it?’

 

Mother sighed. ‘I suppose I’ll have to,’ she said, barely keeping the smile off her face.

 

I was absolutely furious at this crushing disappointment. I did what I always do in these situations and let my disapproval known loudly.

 

‘Shush darling,’ Mother said soothingly. But I couldn’t be soothed. I was fuming. As Mother hustled me out, I shot this so-called Father Christmas a look that left him in no doubt: he’d better up his game on 24th December – or else…..

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A Very, Very Black Friday

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‘There you go darling,’ said Mother as she zipped my coat up with a flourish. She hesitated for a second and then popped a hat on my head as the pièce de resistance. I fixed her with a glare before pulling it off and throwing it on to the floor disdainfully. ‘We’ve talked about this,’ I yelled, in annoyance. It has recently come to my attention that I am not a ‘hat’ person. I stumbled upon this realisation when I caught sight of myself in the mirror in my new woolly hat. I looked like one of those gnome ornaments that sit in next door’s garden. I looked even more ridiculous than Father did that time when he wore a new hat in an ill-advised attempt at youthful fashion (he looked like he was sporting a cat upon his bonce). Still, Mother’s a determined sort and tried to persuade me into the head gear a couple more times before finally giving up.

 

‘Bank card. Debit card. Credit card. Emergency credit card. Absolute emergency credit card. Total and utter end of the world emergency credit card,’ she muttered to herself as she flicked through her purse in concentration. She pulled on her own coat and gloves with great determination, her face set as if she was donning armour ready to go into battle.

 

Which, perhaps we were. ‘Good luck,’ offered Father grimly. ‘Rather you than me. It will be manic,’ he added, with a shudder.

 

But Mother was stoic. ‘Don’t worry about me,’ she began, dismissive. ‘I’m a pro at this. Done more shopping than you’ve…..you’ve….had hot dinners,’ she finished, weakly and nonsensically. ‘C’mon darling,’ she said, and began to wheel me out.

 

And into the cold air. Not that I felt it mind, layered, as I was in my many, many clothes. It was quite pleasant for a while, Mother and I meandering along together. Even her absolute mauling of ‘Ten Green Bottles’ (the most painful countdown ever heard) didn’t bother me as much as usual. I started to fall into a pleasant and welcoming slumber..

 

….which was rudely interrupted by lots of noise. Which appeared to be emanating from the many, many people surrounding me. What the..?! I don’t think I’d ever seen so many people in one place – men, women, and little ones like me, many of whom were looking equally bemused. And annoyed. Some were even crying, loudly. I didn’t blame them. The lights. The noise. The lack of personal space. Where was I? It was…horrible.

 

‘Right then. Ow!’ snapped Mother as a lady caught her in the face with her handbag. ‘Watch where you’re going!’ she retorted. But quietly. I didn’t blame her. The lady in question was pushing her way through the crowd, using her bulging carrier bags to move people out of the way.

 

‘Now then,’ Mother began, pulling a list out of her pocket. ‘I need to get Grandad a new scarf. Grandma, perfume.  I’ll just find out where that is. Excuse me,’ she began, trying to get an assistant’s attention. ‘EXCUSE ME,’ she tried, louder. I was impressed, and saw the family trait, her volume reflecting my own when exasperated. ‘EXCUSE ME,’ she shrieked again but was duly ignored, the assistant turning her attention to another lady who had pushed ahead of Mother.

 

And then, to make matter worse: ‘Ow! That was my foot!’ Mother snapped, as a rather heavy set gent collided with her.

 

‘Right, that’s it,’ she spat, and steered me grumpily towards the exit.

 

Stepping outside for a moment, Mother looked lost, as if she wasn’t sure where to go next. She was muttering darkly about having a ‘broken foot.’ ‘I can hardly move it,’ she suggested, which seemed at odds with the fact that she was now starting to march us forward determinedly in the opposite direction to where we had come from. ‘Let’s just go home darling,’ she said, self-pityingly. ‘You can have a nap and then we can have a sing-song to one of your CDs.’ Neither suggestion was tempting; I wasn’t the least bit tired and I wasn’t sure I could endure much more of Mother’s caterwauling.

 

But it seemed that Mother’s legs were operating independently of her because they appeared to be carrying her – and me –  towards a little side street. And into a small shop, tucked away, far from the crowds. Stepping inside: ‘Oh, that’s gorgeous,’ offered Mother as she fingered a sweater in the window excitedly. ‘Would you like to try it on?’ asked a lady who appeared at Mother’s side immediately. ‘Oh, yes please,’ said Mother, animated. ‘And that dress. And ooh – that skirt. And can I have that blouse? Are those….’

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‘What do you think darling?’

 

I was pleased to be asked my opinion. Unlike Father though, I wasn’t sugar-coating my responses, like he so often does. ‘How do I look?’ Mother had asked him recently when showing off her new shirt. ‘Hideous,’ would have been the correct answer. Instead, Father had said, lamely: ‘You wouldn’t think to put those two colours, together would you?’ I noticed he was squinting, the full horror of the disgusting ‘style’ being almost too much to take in.

 

‘I think it’s awful,’ I offered, honestly and helpfully now. ‘Whoever designed that clearly hates you,’ I added.

 

‘I know, I love it too,’ Mother nodded, deliberately misinterpreting my words. The woman is deluded.

 

‘I’ll have that too please,’ she said to the smiling assistant who added the hateful dress to a pile on the counter.

 

Mother paled a bit when the lady announced the total cost but rallied when she reminded herself that: ‘It’s good to treat yourself, every now and then.’

 

It was a mantra that she kept repeating to herself. ‘…and perhaps I’ve overspent a little but y’know, I could make Christmas presents this year. Yes. That’s what I’ll do,’ Mother’s spirits seemed to soar at this idea. ‘Why didn’t I think of that before! Everyone loves a thoughtful, homemade gift. So much more than a nice aftershave or pretty necklace,’ she added, to herself. I peered at her, appalled and wondered how long it would take her to realise that this was a terrible idea. For two very good reasons.

 

One: Mother is not in the slightest bit crafty. She once tried to knit a cardigan for me but all that happened was that she accidentally poked Father in the arm with a knitting needle and the result was an item of clothing that was peppered with holes. ‘It’s meant to be like that,’ she lied brazenly when teased by Grandma. ‘It’s the fashion,’ she added.

 

And two: if Mother’s doling out home-made gifts, then she’s going to have to accept such presents too. Like from Father. Who mistakenly believes he has an artistic streak; yet the last painting he did (of yours truly) was so disastrous Mother had to go and have a lie down from laughing too much. ‘I can’t believe you don’t recognise your own child,’ Father had snorted, indignant as he proffered the painting to Mother. Yes, I am sure that a badly sketched piece of art would be far less welcome than the new designer handbag Mother was actually coveting.

 

Fortunately, Mother came to her senses, reversing my pushchair in haste. I must say, the shop assistant was far less friendly as Mother returned her bulging bag of clothes. Mother wasn’t best pleased either. I couldn’t help but notice that her eyes had filled with tears as sweater, blouse, dress and skirt were reluctantly taken away from her still-holding-on-tightly clutches….

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Farm-less Fun

 

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This fella looked rather pleased with himself. Like Mother when she finds a bar of chocolate at the back of the cupboard.

 

‘She loves animals. Loves them. LOVES THEM,’ emphasised Mother, animated.

 

I don’t know where she and Father have got this impression from. I don’t believe I have shown any great interest in animals; to be honest, I’ve never come across a great many. Where we live hardly provides an oasis for beasts and mammals; aside from cats, dogs and a few birds, our street is distinctly populated by two-legged beings. The Serengeti it is not. No, aside from the animals on my playmat – which I am very aware are not real. I’m not a moron like Father. He recently got confused between his slippers and his work shoes with extremely embarrassing results – I have encountered very few animals.

 

The only reason for this misconception can be, I believe, that I once showed enthusiasm for Mother singing ‘Old McDonald Had a Farm.’ This in itself was unusual; generally, when Mother is caterwauling a nursery rhyme I express my distaste noisily and firmly until the woman stops. But on this occasion, instead of my normal ‘bloodcurdling scream’ (Mother’s words) I emitted a laugh that went on for some time. The cause of my amusement was the, quite frankly, ridiculous face Mother was pulling as she snorted her way through the song. ‘Honk, honk here and a honk, honk there,’ she offered enthusiastically, her face red and screwed up. She looked like Father does when he is struggling with a bout of wind. Well, I must admit, I had to chuckle. But the chuckling soon stopped and turned to tears after about the tenth rendition wailed by an over-excited mother.

 

Mind you, it wouldn’t surprise me one bit if Mother had completely over-emphasised a fleeting interest in a song about a pig to a full-blown obsession. She’s the same about my attire which, for some reason, seems to be predominantly adorned with cats. ‘Soooooooo cute,’ she cooed in one of our early days when a ‘friend’ (I use the term loosely because they’re no friend of mine) bought me a Babygro decorated in a kitten pattern. It was nice enough but ever since then nearly every outfit I wear has some feline connection. Where will it end? I fear that I will be thirty years old, still wearing kitty-inspired fashions and surrounded by hundreds of the little blighters if I don’t stop the woman and her relentless feline fashion crusade soon…

 

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Just one off my many, many cat-inspired outfits.

 

 

‘Are you kidding me? You’re not wearing them, are you?’ asked Father appalled.  As well he might.

 

‘Why, what’s wrong with them,’ demanded Mother, jutting her chin out defiantly. ‘You said ‘boots’.’

 

‘Wellie boots,’ sighed Father.

 

‘Well,’ shrugged Mother. ‘I don’t get out much. I just wanted to dress up nicely. For once,’ she added, full of self-pity.

 

Father pretended not to hear. I didn’t blame him. Because this was a bare faced lie. Just the other week she’d woken me up on her return from an evening out, bragging loudly: ‘…couldn’t believe I’d not long had a baby. Thought I was in my twenties. Honestly,’ she added smugly. I didn’t need to be in the room to know that Father was rolling his eyes.

 

After a brief argument between the pair of them about Mother’s footwear – ’I’m not carrying you when you start complaining that your feet hurt.’ ‘I won’t. And besides, my wellies are gross. Last time I wore them I stood in a pile of manure.’ ‘That must have been almost two years ago. You haven’t cleaned them since?’ ‘To be honest, I daren’t open the bag’ – we were on our way…

 

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At least I had the good sense to wear a pair of wellie boots.

 

 

 

‘I told you,’ laughed Father. ‘You’re stuck. Even that chap on the tractor gave you a funny look.’

 

‘I am not stuck,’ retorted Mother, angrily, even though her energetic efforts to lift her leg up from its stranglehold in the mud belied her words. ‘And for your information, I think the farmer was eyeing up my boots. He looked rather admiring if you ask me,’ she added, still rolling on a continued and deluded high, built solely upon the inebriated compliment she’d received on her night out.

 

Once Father had stopped chuckling, he came to Mother’s aid and with a firm yank, she was free. Not that she was grateful. ‘C’mon,’ she berated, annoyed. ‘Stop messing about. We’re here for the baby. So she can see her beloved animals. Are you having a nice time darling, seeing all the lovely animals?’

 

Well, no, not really. Mainly because I hadn’t had the pleasure of making my acquaintance with any of the creatures living here so far. The rabbits had been hidden away sleeping, the guinea pigs cages had been positioned too far away from my eyeline, and the chipmunks were running around their cage at such speed that I couldn’t catch sight of them.

 

The only part of the day I had enjoyed so far had been when Mother had been accosted by what appeared to be several hundred ducks. It was her own fault. She’d been showing off, throwing bird feed into the air like a magnanimous philanthropist and of course, all the feathered friends had made a huge beeline for her. Her self-satisfied grin quickly slipped away to be replaced by a look of terror, especially when one of her heels got wedged under a rock.

 

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These sent Mother into a frenzy of terror. Especially the little one on the left.

 

 

‘Stupid bloody day,’ she’d complained. ‘Whose idea was it to come anyway?’ she added, shooing an accusatory glance in Father’s direction. Which took some nerve considering it had clearly been Mother’s idea; she’d been talking about this trip out for days.

 

Father was non-plussed though. ‘And it looks like rain.’

 

Mother nodded. ‘C’mon, let’s just forget about it. The baby looks tired anyway.’

 

As ever, this was wishful thinking on Mother’s part. I am rarely tired and more often than not I am ‘tricked’ to sleep with a drink of milk or a warming cuddle or a lie-down on my mat. Regardless though, I wasn’t sorry when we started to head for the exit; there’s only so much I can take of Mother and Father on a one-to-one basis. I’d be pleased to get back to my good friend and teddy bear RoRo.

 

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This fella looked about as impressed with Mother and Father as I am most days.

 

 

 

We were almost out of the gate when I spotted a face. It was a long, fluffy white face, leaning on the fence. It looked at me with its beady eyes but I wasn’t scared because it seemed to be wearing a huge grin. And any concerns I might have had were allayed by the friendly greeting it gave me: ‘Baaaaaaaa.’  It was a familiar noise and then I remembered; it sounded a little like the voice Father adopts when he is pretending to speak for my other good friend Baa Baa (I might be young but I’m not stupid. It is completely obvious Father is speaking for Baa Baa. He doesn’t even try and stop his mouth moving).

 

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My good friend Baa Baa.

 

 

Well, I was absolutely taken by this fella and I was very pleased when Mother wheeled me over to speak to him. We had a good chat; I told him all about Baa Baa and RoRo too, and he told me what it was like to live in a field with lots of others like him. At least, that’s what I imagined he was saying to me but I couldn’t be sure as all he said was ‘Baaaaaaaa.’ Unfortunately, our chat was cut short as he needed to go for a poo. I waved at him goodbye.

 

‘Ahhh, I think she likes the farm,’ said Father. And for once he was right. I suspected Mother didn’t share my sentiment as her heel finally gave way and she fell over into a pile of wet mud.

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