Tennis whites, trips to the off-licence and other reasons to love Wimbledon…

I’m very partial to watching a bit of Wimbledon on the TV.  I mean, what could be more charming than a sport where people dress all in white and a score of zero is called ‘love’?  This year, I was so excited by it, I decided to get a few games in myself.  Obviously I’m no Serena Williams, but if I let gross ineptitude stop me doing things, I’d never have learnt to drive.

I rifled round the bottom of the wardrobe for my old tennis skirt, but the triumph of finding it was quickly dulled by the pain of realising it is now at least three sizes too small.  To rectify this, I went online and ordered a white one (for a respectfully vintage look) and a pink one (for tennis with a dash of rock’n’roll).

wimbledon leopard

This is Betthanie Matthek at the US Open taking the whole ‘tennis is the new rock’n’roll’ thing too far

The white skirt arrived the next day, but was too tight to zip up and so short it was practically gynaecogical.  The pink skirt arrived whilst I was out, and was delivered to the local off-licence.

It’s good to know that my neighbours don’t feel the need to buy alcohol before 10.30am, but it’s frustrating to make a special trip to a shop only to find it’s shut.  So the next day I had to make a second visit to the off-licence to collect the skirt I already knew didn’t fit. But the lady behind the counter didn’t want to give me the parcel because I hadn’t brought photo ID.

It could have been that I had an honest face, or maybe she was worried that my hysterical sobbing would put off the other customers, but she eventually relented and handed over a package so massive I looked like I was carrying a fridge-freezer home instead of a teeny-tiny tennis skirt.

And then my luck turned.  Due to high levels of incompetence on my part, it turns out I had accidentally ordered the size I should have ordered if I weren’t so dishonest with myself about the true impact of eating so much cake.  Happy days!

And now I have fallen in love with tennis all over again.  It may be that I play like an over-excited Great Dane – that is to say, with a great deal of enthusiasm but without any actual skill.  But that’s ok, because running round with a racquet in my hand whilst wearing an appropriately-sized tennis skirt makes me brim-ful of joy.  Every time I whack the ball and it lands in, I feel like I’m Roger Federer.

All I need now is the body of Maria Sharapova and a fridge full of strawberries and cream and it will be like Wimbledon has come to south east London…

PS  Writing this blog has reminded me of the brilliant joyful poem about tennis, love and Miss Joan Hunter Dunn by John Betjeman – if you’ve never read it, I recommend it!

Thanks to party.pack.co.uk for the pretty picture of strawberries and cream which comes from their page about how to throw a Wimbledon-themed party.  

Fetid trainers, missing gloves and mystery parcels: welcome to the average morning at my house

All those people who don’t have children, all they have to do is get up in the morning and go to work.  I bet some of them even manage to eat breakfast before they leave.  Sometimes I fantasise about the luxury of making and then eating my own breakfast!  In my house, I have already broken up two fights and emergency hand-washed a pair of school tights before 7.30am.  (For some reason we are always short of tights, even though I do more washing than the laundrette.)

So if you’ve seen me on the school run, or had the misfortune to sit in a meeting where I’ve arrived sweaty and slightly frazzled, let me tell you about a typical week in my house…

Monday:  Due to the unseasonally cold weather, my youngest daughter says she would like to wear her gloves to school.  She watches me search all the usual places gloves might be.  Then she watches me painstakingly empty The Cupboard of Doom, in which all things that haven’t been put away in their rightful place generally lurk.  There are many interesting and useful items in The Cupboard of Doom – some of which have been ‘lost’ for months – but my daughter’s gloves are not amongst them.  After ten minutes of diligent searching, and with the entire contents of the cupboard arrayed around me, I admit defeat.  “Perhaps you could wear mummy’s gloves instead?” I suggest.  ‘Or,’ says my daughter helpfully, ‘perhaps I should wear the ones in my pocket?’ “Oh yes, darling” I say brightly.  “That’s a great idea.  Why don’t you do that?”  Grrrrrrrrr.

morning tarmacTuesday:  When I get home from the school run, there is a card on my doormat from the Post Office saying I have a parcel.  I go to the Post Office to retrieve said parcel, but have to pay £1.50 as the sender has underpaid the postage.  As I turn away from the counter clutching the mysterious package, I notice that it isn’t actually addressed to me.  There is no return address on it, or information that might enable me to forward it to the person it is addressed to, so the kindly man at the Post Office says I should keep it.  When I open it, the parcel contains a small chunk of tarmac.  There is no note or explanation enclosed.  This is definitely the worst way to spend £1.50 I can think of.

Wednesday:  We leave the house a bit late, but cleverly make up time by scootering to school at top speed.  My youngest daughter is just about to run into school when I notice that she’s not carrying her school bag.  When I ask her where it is, she looks at me blankly for a moment, then says helpfully ‘By the front door at home.’  She is resistant to my suggestion that she might survive without it today, as it contains ‘important things’ that she will need later.  So reluctantly I scooter home, collect the bag and then scooter back to school. On the scooter trip home it starts to rain.  Later in the day I phone my husband and mutter darkly about how I literally have no life of my own and everything I do is subservient to the requirements of our children.  He makes a vague tapping sound at his computer and says he’ll have to phone me back later.  He does not call back.

morning heroThursday:  Despite both daughters vigorously assuring me on Wednesday evening that they have absolutely, definitely, beyond a shadow of a doubt, done everything they needed to for school, on Thursday morning both children announce that they may have slightly, somewhat, maybe a little bit, exaggerated how much of their homework they have actually done.  In an unexpected burst of commitment to their education, neither child is prepared to leave for school until said homework has been completed.  Resignedly I take my trainers off and make another cup of tea.  I might as well be refreshed for scootering to school at top whack.

Friday:  My youngest daughter can’t find her trainers and toady is PE.  Apparently she last wore them pond wading on a school trip, after which she put them in a plastic bag.  Questions about where she might have put the bag are treated as unreasonable.  After a brief search the bag is located.  It smells like a skunk has crawled in it to die.  My daughter is upset and disbelieving when I tell her she can’t wear the trainers, even though they are soaking wet and smell like a tramp’s armpit.  Eventually I persuade her to wear her sister’s trainers, which although they are slightly too big, are completely dry, and have the added bonus that you can’t smell them from ten paces away.  I put the fetid trainers back in the bag to tackle later.  #winning

morning breakfast

After school drop-off, I have breakfast in a café with my bestie Sarah and recount the challenges of my week.  Sarah nods sympathetically, even though her week has actually been much more challenging than mine.  We both agree that the other is a total hero.  I head home with my spirit invigorated and then I type emails, make calls and generally work like a demon until school pick up – because there’s only a narrow window of opportunity before the madness starts again…

7 questions that make normal relationships tick

Relationships are tricky things, aren’t they?  And great communication is one of the pillars that sustains them.  I recently read an article full of questions to help you better connect with your partner. But I won’t be using them any time soon, because questions about who would play me in a movie of my life are not the questions that make a normal relationship tick.

We all know that the real questions that matter are:

  1. Did you put the bins out? This is basic gamesmanship.  Whoever asks the question first has cleverly implied that the other person should have put the bins out.  That person is now obliged to shift their lazy arse off the sofa and put them out, whether they think it’s their job or not.
Couple questions Mark Wright

Last person to ask has to put the bins out.  Those are the rules

  1. Is this the best thing that’s on the TV? This is a euphemism.  What the question really means is ‘The programme you have chosen is utter tosh and I don’t want to watch it’.
  1. Where’s the remote control?  This question is like using the indicator in a car.  It signals that you want to change channel.  If you can’t find the magic buttons, it’s probably because your partner loves the programme that you have just dismissed as tosh and is sitting on the remote.
couple questions wrestling

Give me the remote control and nobody needs to get hurt

  1. Why did you do that?  I think we all know that this is not actually a question.  It’s a reprimand taking the grammatical form of a question.
  1. Could you unload the dishwasher?  Also not a question.  This is a politely phrased command.  Everyone in a long-term relationship knows that you fail to unload the dishwasher  at your peril.
  1. How do I look?  This is a question, but it’s a trick question.  There is only one correct answer and if you don’t know it by now you will probably never be able to hold down a stable and fulfilling relationship.

    couples questions Elizabeth taylor

    Was the dress code for tonight smart-casual or casual-casual?

And finally, a question that probably doesn’t feature in every relationship, but which is one of my favourites and which I give you for free to use at your leisure…

  1. Does anyone mind if I eat the last biscuit? Psychological warfare at its absolute best.  I mean, who would be so rude and selfish as to answer ‘Actually I mind, because I want to eat that biscuit myself’?
couples questions biscuits.jpg

Biscuits skilfully created by my children with the help of their Devoted Granny

Thanks to Great British Chefs, The Daily Mail and Millelac County Times for the photos in this blog and Devoted Granny for all the biscuits I ate.

3 reasons ’70s parenting sucked

There’s plenty to love about the ‘70s.  Big hair was in (helloooo Farrah Fawcett); the Bee Gees were rocking out; and a cheese and pineapple hedgehog was all you needed to turn your party from slightly drab to the height of sophistication.

70s beegees

Unfortunately the ’70s were also the decade that gave us men with their shirts open to the navel, black vinyl car seats, and some shockingly poor parenting.  If you still think that restricting access to the iPad is the worst thing a parent can do, take a moment to remind yourself about parenting ’70s style…

  • Today, you can’t leave a dog in the car without someone phoning the police about your irresponsible behaviour, but in the ‘70s, leaving your children in the car was the go-to solution for any parent who wanted to do a spot of shopping but didn’t want the hassle of trekking their kids about with them. This wasn’t bad parenting.  It was the norm.  And by the way, if you remember fighting with your siblings for who sat in the front seat whilst your parents hung out with their mates at the pub, you’re one of the lucky ones.  I was an only child, so normally there was just me, the car radio and a luke-warm bottle of pop.
  • In the 70s, tanning yourself to a deep shade of mahogany was the height of fashion, and sunbathing until you could fry an egg on your back was the quickest way to get there. It certainly never occurred to any of us, least of all our supposedly responsible parents, that lying in the sun until your skin turned crimson and went slightly crispy might be a bad thing.  My mother was ahead of her time in buying factor 4 suntan lotion, but some mums I knew sent their kids out coated in Baby Oil.  I blame every wrinkle I have today on my parents’ remiss attitude to sun protection.
70s tanfastic

Tanfastic lets the sunshine in.  It’s not loaded up with sunburn protection like old folks and kids want. Tanfastic is for you 15 to 25 year olds who can take the sun.  Especially if you want to get superdark.  Superfast.

  • Health and safety was not really a thing in the 70s, which is why people treated it as a genuine infringement of their human rights if you suggested that they might want to wear a seatbelt whilst driving.  If you needed to take a bunch of kids somewhere, you just jammed as many of the little blighters in the car as would fit.  My husband claims he once travelled home from a party lying across the dashboard.  I don’t have any evidence for this, but it would certainly fit with my experience of a squirming mass of children travelling sardine-style in the boot of some helpful mummy’s  estate car.  I’m genuinely surprised that so many of us made it through the decade without serious harm to life or limb.
SAMSUNG DIGITAL CAMERA

Everything the safety-conscious parent could want: an ill-secured car seat with a steering wheel that will brain your child in an accident

All this and I haven’t even touched on some of the lesser offences committed by ‘70s parents.  Like dressing their children in shades of brown, as if they wanted us to look like a giant turd.  Or the fact that everything we wore was a fire-hazard, because in those days clothes only came in ‘flammable’ and ‘super-flammable’.

70s brown clothesSometimes I worry that I am failing as a parent because my children don’t eat quinoa salad or read Dostoevsky in Russian, but then I remember the ‘70s and, you know what, I’m doing OK.

Thanks to Scarymommy.com for the photo at the top, which comes from a hilarious article on 70s parenting.

World Book Day: challenges for the uninitiated

All good mummies know that Thursday 2nd March is World Book Day, when little people everywhere celebrate the joy of reading.  They observe this splendiferous day by wearing costumes that their mummies (or daddies – let’s not gender-stereotype here) have lovingly hand-crafted on their sewing machine in the attic.  Or, in my case, bought from Amazon.

world book day 1.PNGBut the real problem is, no matter how much effort you put in, there is always some committed parent who has done better.  At my children’s school last year, there was a little boy dressed as Around the World in Eighty Days.  (Seriously? Are six year olds reading Jules Verne now?)  His body was an enormous globe and by some feat of technical wizadry he had a tiny hot air balloon magically floating round him.  What was the parent who made that thinking?  Don’t these people know they’re making the rest of us look bad?

In fairness, there are also a wide range of parents who are panicked into dressing their child as any character, whether it appears in a book or not.  If you see any kids turning up as characters from Star Wars, you know their mummies have just done a spot of last-minute rooting around the bottom of the dressing up box.

Before my children got wise to it, there was a happy interlude when I managed to convince one daughter to go as a witch three years in a row.  It wasn’t my proudest parenting moment, but it did have a lot to recommend it as (a) she already had a perfectly good witch costume left over from Halloween and (b) there are actually a surprising number of witches in children’s literature.

But once your children are reading books without you and start choosing their own characters, that’s when the real trouble starts.  Last year my youngest daughter wanted to go as the feline detective Atticus Claw.  I confidently ordered a tabby cat costume and requisite bandana in plenty of time, but when nothing had arrived at 4pm the day before World Book Day, I had to accept it probably never would.  I then spent two hours driving round South East London in the rush hour acquiring all the bits and bobs needed to fashion the costume myself.  It was not a happy time.

world-book-day-teacher

Even teachers are in on it.  At least, I hope that’s a teacher…

This year my youngest daughter has let mummy off the hook by choosing the main character from  ‘The Girl Who saved Christmas’.  It may not be very seasonal, but I am delighted on two counts: firstly because this is a very good book, and secondly because the main character wears dungarees and a t-shirt.  Items my daughter already has in her wardrobe!  Happy days.

My other daughter has chosen to be Storme from The Long Way Home. Not only have I never heard of it, but I’m reasonably confident it hadn’t even been written when I was a child.  Worse than that though, my daughter is insisting that there is no actual description of what Storme looks like in the book.  As a result of diligent questioning on my part, I have found out that Storme lives on a farm.  I have therefore decided to go with an outdated stereotype and send her to school in dungarees and wellies.  I’m feeling pretty confident that if my daughter is reading the book and doesn’t know what Storme looks like, no one is going to challenge her on whether what she’s wearing is right or not.

Two children demonstrating their interest in diverse books from every season, whilst happily dressed in items they already had in their wardrobe?  That’s what I call #winning.  So, to committed (and less committed) parents everywhere, I wish you well with your costume, may your children live long and read much!

 

Thanks to Barnsley Chronicle for the photo at the top.

 

Stop bog snorkelling and get bonding: parenting is a team sport!

Raising children is a journey with no clear destination and only a fairly limited and often useless map.  That is why friends with kids are invaluable.  It feels so much better to share your challenges with other people who also have no clue what’s going on.  Over the last few years I have shared so many challenges and had so much support from friends with children that we have forged bonds of steel.

gang-julie-sarah-amelia-ball

Gang of three: How we want people to think we look

We are like the Royal Marines of parenting.  No man left behind.  If you’re running late and your child needs picking up, if you have to drop one child and collect another from different parties at the same time, if you’ve lost the flipping homework book and have no idea what the little darlings should be doing, and, most of all, if you’ve had a rubbish week and need a glass of wine, WE ARE HERE FOR YOU.

gang-julie-sarah-amelia

How we actually look

And naturally, like all highly specialised crack teams, not only are we trained to control an angry seven year old at twenty paces, but we have also developed our own vocabulary, a sort of linguistic short-hand of key information.  So if you want to get with the gang, you’re going to have to learn the lingo.  Here’s a couple of phrases to get you started…

  •     Personal grooming: you always need a haircut

Origins of the haircut:  Just because you have children, you can’t let attention to your appearance slip.  Which is why it seemed perfectly credible when one of the dads slipped out of a children’s party claiming he was ‘going for a haircut’.  He returned four hours later and sheepishly confessed he had actually spent the entire time in the pub with a mate.

How to use it in conversation: Do you actually have to work late the night my mother’s staying, or are you going for a haircut?

  •     Driving skills: do a Catherine

Origins of the Catherine:  My lovely friend was so busy yelling at her kids in the back of the car, that she entirely failed to notice the rockery looming ominously at the back of the parking space.  Luckily she was alerted to its presence by the sound of her boot caving in under the pressure. (No children or animals were harmed in the making of this phrase.)

How to use it in conversation:  I don’t want you to get upset, but I may have caressed a post on the way out of the car park.  It’s more of a light graze than a full-on Catherine.

  •     Wage slave: trotter-trotter-trotter

Origins of trottering:  As part of a fulsome description of how hard she had been working, one of our friends started typing manically at an imaginary keyboard much as a demented pig in a punk band might play the drums.

How to use it in conversation:  I’d love to come for a quick drink or ten, but I’m stuck in the office trottering my life away.

  •     Coping mechanisms: Honking arsenic

Origins of honking arsenic:  We can thank autocorrect for this one.  Whatever my friend was actually trying to text was unclear, but her meaning was plain – her mother-in-law had outstayed her welcome and my friend needed rapid and permanent relief from an increasingly oppressive situation.

How to use it in conversation: Getting my kids to do their homework is draining the will to live out of me.   If I have to make them practise their lines for assembly as well, I’ll be honking arsenic.

Now you know enough phrases to seamlessly slip into our gang and act like you have always been there.  Use this information wisely and you could be joining us on our next night out.  If you’re really canny, you may even be able to persuade one of us to pick your children up afterwards…

 If you’re now feeling wistful about the joys of friendship, why not read my blog about How to be a great friend.

PS Thanks to our wonderful BBC for the photo at the top!

The great scooter controversy

If death is nature’s way of telling you to slow down, then scootering must be her way of telling you to speed up.  Freewheeling along the pavement is the most fun a woman of my age can have in public and still keep her dignity.  It’s certainly the most fun you can have whilst trying to get two grouchy children to school.  When I’m on a scooter, with a fair wind behind me and a downward slope ahead, I feel like a rock chick.  I am the queen of the pavement, and I am living the dream.

The scooter and I have history.  In our years together I have worn through two brakes, a set of foam handles and a rubber thing that snapped off and was never replaced.  So I have been resistant to suggestions from Mr B that the scooter is past its best.  He doesn’t like the way it’s battered and scratched, or that it clatters and jangles as I career along the pavement.  Mr B thinks scooters should be shiny and inaudible.  He especially thinks they should be inaudible.  So for Christmas he said he would buy me a new one.

I greeted this generous offer with the same enthusiasm as if he’d said he would set fire to my hair.  But I am a good wife, and so, with heavy heart, I trawled the scooter catalogue for a suitable option.  And after some deliberation, I decided that a new version of the scooter I already have would be the perfect replacement.

Of course, I hadn’t taken account of the fact that Mr B had already picked the scooter he wanted to buy, and it wasn’t the one I’d chosen.   So on Christmas day I unwrapped the shiny, silent new scooter that I hadn’t chosen, and I have been waiting eagerly for the children to go back to school so I can put it through its paces.

scooter-ladies

These ladies look nothing like me. Picture someone much more dishevelled

But here’s the problem.  My husband assured me, despite my protestations to the contrary, that I needed a scooter with a soft suspension (wooden footboard) not the ‘sporty’ suspension (metal footboard) of my old scooter.  But now I have it, I have found out that the soft suspension is like scootering along the top of a very large marshmallow, with the effect that the new scooter’s maximum speed is more of a ‘disappointing dawdle’ than an ‘exhilarating dash’.  Although I would have to say that this is probably a safety feature, since it is nearly impossible to use the brake on the thing.

For those unfamiliar with the engineering subtleties of a scooter, the brakes are on the back wheel and operated by your foot.  Only this one is cleverly positioned so as to make it nearly impossible to actually get my foot on it, and when I do make contact, the brake has no sense of urgency.  In fact, it seems entirely oblivious to the importance of slowing down before I hit an ambling pedestrian or darting toddler.  This certainly makes for a more exciting journey, but, overall, I would have to say that it is not a benefit.

So I am back on the old scooter, rattling along the school-run with the sun in my face and the wind in my hair.  Meanwhile the new scooter is languishing in our hallway creating a health and safety hazard for anyone who wants to go up or down the stairs.

I love my husband.  I love that he thinks I need and deserve shiny, new, things.  It’s just that the stealth scooter isn’t the one for me.  After all, if I changed something every time I’d had it a while, or it rattled a bit, I would have gone through at least three husbands by now.  And, to be honest, I’m more than happy with the one I already have.  Whoever said ‘out with the old and in with the new’ really didn’t know what they were talking about.

PS  Unless it’s a full-on hurricane with a snow-storm chaser we always scoot to school and I love it.  Both my old and my new scooter are from microscooter and they have lots of options for children and adults.

Bath salts and surreptitious sweets: let the festivities commence!

I imagine that, if you are a celebrity, Christmas is a perfectly curated thing.  It is a Winter Wonderland of glitter and fabulousness in which everyone looks elegant, the children are charming and the presents are impressive (because no-one can truly be happy unless they have a soft-top sports car, right?)

But I am not a celebrity, so in my house things are a little more shambolic.  Christmas at Boudicca HQ goes something like this:

  • Get woken by the children at 4.30am, because Santa has been and there is every danger they will burst if they wait even a second longer for Christmas to start.
  • Admire all the thoughtful and well-informed gifts Santa has left in their stockings.
  • Discover that my dress no longer zips up and regret spending the whole of December gorging on mince pies, pigs in blankets, Christmas cake and anything coated in icing or dusted with sugar.
  • Decide to stand side-on for photos.
  • Watch my children spend three joyous minutes ripping the paper off the presents that I spent hours lovingly wrapping.
  • Pretend to be delighted when my partner gives me bath salts.  Again.
  • Spend the rest of the morning with one hand up the turkey’s bottom whilst shelling brussel sprouts with the other.  Yup.  It’s all glamour in my house.
  • Eat enough food to sustain a village in Africa for a month, whilst wearing a paper crown and listening to terrible jokes.
  • Convince myself that having a large helping of Christmas pudding with cream and brandy butter does not rule out bingeing on mince pies and ice-cream later.
  • No matter how bleak the weather, no matter how much the children protest, insist that we all go for a walk to ‘get some fresh air’.
  • Put some sweets in my pocket to sustain me whilst we’re out and eat them surreptitiously when everyone’s attention is elsewhere.
  • Slump on the sofa and munch my way through a box of Quality Street, a half-eaten mince pie that one of my children has abandoned and anything left-over from lunch.
  • Feel bloated.
  • Declare that this was definitely the best Christmas ever.

I wish you the best Christmas ever and a happy New Year!

Bethlehem or bust: why you should never try to persuade a pregnant woman to travel by donkey

If you think shipping Mary across the Middle East on a donkey was easy, then you have never lived with a woman who is heavily pregnant.  The Bible may gloss over it, but you can be sure that Joseph had his work cut out persuading Mary to go…

Joseph:  My darling, darling wife, I know that you’re exhausted from carrying our wonderful baby, so I’ve arranged for us to go away for a relaxing little mini-break.

Mary:  Are you kidding me? I’m eight months flipping pregnant.  It took me half an hour just to get my knickers and socks on this morning.  The last thing I want to do is go on a mini-break.

Joseph:  I’m sorry to hear that, my angel, but unfortunately we’re going to have to go, because Caesar has decreed that everyone has to go back to the town of their birth to take part in a very important census.

Mary:  Who does Caesar think he is?  Come here, go there, decree this, census that.  Well, we’d better be going somewhere good, because I’m not trekking about in the heat and the dust to go somewhere rubbish.

Joseph:  We’re going to Bethlehem, my angel.

Mary: Bethlehem??!!!  Bethlehem is the fungal toe on the arse-end of nowhere. Why can’t we go to Jerusalem?  At least I could go shopping in Jerusalem.

Joseph:  I would love to take you to Jerusalem, my sweetheart, and I definitely will one day, but this time we have to go to Bethlehem.

Mary:  Ok, but I haven’t been able to see my feet for the last two months, so there’s no way I’m walking anywhere.  You need to arrange door-to-door transport, and it had better be luxury.

Joseph:  Um, bit of a problem there, my most beloved.  Everyone who’s got a horse is already using it.  I’m going to have to walk, but I’ve managed to arrange a lovely little donkey for you.

Mary:  A mangy old donkey?  Every time I sit down to go to the loo, I wonder if I’m going to be able to get up again.  There’s no way I can get on and off some filthy donkey.

Joseph:  I think you might actually enjoy it, my darling.  Think of it as our last adventure before the baby comes.

Mary:  Well we’d better be staying somewhere classy.  I’m not staying with your Aunt Aphra again, she smells of goat excrement and I’m pretty sure she cooks with it too.

Joseph:  Um.  Well it was quite hard to get a room – I mean this census thing has made it a very busy time of year in Bethlehem.  Luckily my cousin Hezekiah knows someone, who knows someone, whose inn is so fancy that they’ve got a stable block, and he reckons that if we show up looking stressed enough, he might let us stay there.

Mary:  A stable block?  We’re staying in a stable block?  What if I have the baby whilst we’re there?   If I have the baby in Bethlehem, my mum will miss the whole thing.  And I’m telling you now, if my mother misses even one second of the birth, she will never let you forget it.

Joseph:  Don’t worry, my darling.  We’ll totally be home before then.

The picture above is a photo of Bethlehem taken in 1898.

Lost in translation (or what my children actually hear when I’m speaking)

All these years I thought my children were wilfully ignoring me.  Now I realise that they are listening to what I say, it’s just that they’re hearing something completely different…

What I say:  I just need to make a work call.

What they hear:  You’ve got a five minute window to take revenge on your sister for something she may or may not have done earlier.

 

What I say:  I don’t care who started it.

What they hear:  The most important thing is who started it.  We will establish this based on who can shout the loudest.  And possibly by some name-calling.

 

What I say:  Please just try the cauliflower cheese; Mummy spent ages making it and it’s delicious.

What they hear:  Under no circumstances let even the tiniest morsel of cauliflower cheese pass your lips.  Mummy has only made it because she hates you.

 

What I say:  You need to start taking responsibility for packing your own stuff.

What they hear:  Mummy’s an idiot and forgot to pack the water bottle again.

 

What I say:  Put your coats on and let’s go.  If we’re not out of the front door in 30 seconds, we’ll be late.

What they hear:  Of course you can watch the end of the TV show before we leave.  Mummy will just drive faster and swear more.

 

What I say:  NO!

What they hear: Maybe.  Try asking me again, but in a moany voice.  Mummy loves the moany voice.

 

What I say:  Please can you tidy up your room.

What they hear: Nothing.  Absolutely nothing.

Having the same problem?  I’m liking the phrases they suggest on KidFocused – starting with ‘Try that again because…’ as in ‘Try that again because we are always kind to mummy when she hasn’t had a cup of tea since 10 o’clock this morning and looks like she might drink your blood instead’.  Obviously that’s not the example they give on the website, but I think you know what I mean…