Friday, 30 July 2010

Happy happy

I've been annoyed with my gynaecologist for a whole month. Today I finally went to see him again, and he just completely bamboozled me by telling me everything I wanted to hear. Bastard. That's a bit like the other night when I was convinced Babes didn't care about me when I was really sad and I came downstairs to find he'd baked me a chocolate cake, iced it, decorated it with my name and put a bloody candle on top. Lit. The cheek! You just can't trust a man to be a bastard any more these days.

So - last month my doctor had annoyed me by patronising me completely. I had asked him to give me a provisional date for an induction. I didn't even definitely want him to induce, just give me a "maybe on that day." And he wouldn't. And it pissed me off. Because this is my body, and I just wanted to have an end date in mind, you know. There is no way this baby is coming on its own. I just don't believe in it. I was talking to my mother the other day and she said that in the last seventy (!) years, no baby on that side of the family has come out without being induced. I didn't even know they did inductions seventy years ago, but apparently they did. So I don't even want to believe it's going to happen to me. My previous two were induced, and this one most likely will be.

I used to have a doctor who would basically let you pick your delivery date, as long as it wasn't more than three weeks early. I don't need that kind of extreme. I would just prefer not to wait a full two weeks after my due date. That's too long if there's going to be an induction. These babies of mine are not small, and they do like to get stuck. If they're going to be induced anyway, I'd rather it was a little sooner rather than at the full 42 weeks.

Today I was ready to do battle for my rights. I just wanted a provisional date. My due date is on Wednesday, and I needed to know how long he was going to make me wait after that. I was all pumped up and ready to go. Then the doctor came in and saw that this baby is still sitting way too high (I knew that), so there is no way he can induce yet. But, BUT, but!... he's willing to see me on Wednesday and check again, and as soon as baby has descended enough for his liking, he's willing to give him a little push to come out. He's definitely big enough and still growing, so as long as he's in a good position he doesn't have a problem with it.

That's all I wanted to hear. A clear and rational argument about what can and can't happen to my body and this baby's. At least he treated me like an adult this time. I'd happily wait a full two weeks if it's safer for the baby - as long as I have had it explained to me properly and it doesn't feel like he's just saying no out of principle.

I asked him if there was anything I could do to help this baby come down a bit - walking or something. All he could come up with was that I could have sex three times a day. I don't think he's ever been a nine-months-pregnant woman. I would even consider daily, at a push. But three times a day? Ha!

So - happy happy. And now we wait until Wednesday morning. He said I could bring my suitcase, and if everything is the way he wants it I can go in and have the baby then. If not, he will send me home for a while but keep monitoring me.

Happy happy!

The dead of night

How come sleep in the morning is pure bliss and sleep in the evening is the closest you can come to death? The dark thoughts that come at night but never in the morning remind me of the irrational fear of the emptiness after death which is never matched by a fear of the emptiness before conception. (Ah yes, I get deep and thoughtful after midnight.)

It doesn't make sense that I buy a couple more minutes of snooze time off the children by plonking them in front of the TV in the morning, while at night I use that same TV to keep me awake for another little while. I understand that it would make more sense to turn this around. And yet, it's a mathematical certainty that I will only climb into bed seven hours before the very last possible time I have to get back up again.

And what is it that makes nighttime alone time seem so much more delicious than morning alone time anyway? (Delicious until the light goes out and the demons appear, obviously.) I quite like the morning when I get to see it.

I'm off to meditate death away again. In about an hour's time.

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Too bloody exhausted for words

  • Oh my fucking god I just had the longest day which makes me a wonder and delight to be around. (I'm sure I've written that before - dammit.) It got especially bad when I got out my sternest look and finally convinced Marie to go to sleep in her new room when a certain someone I may be married to started to make a shit ton of noise downstairs. Next thing she's standing at the top of the stairs shouting she wants to go out to a theme park. I may or may not have exploded at two people, who are now on their own to get one of them to sleep again.
  • This longest day was spent quite productively at least. Out with my mother and the children to buy some breastfeeding bits and pieces. There's this new shop in Brussels which is just brilliant. It's filled with only breastfeeding clothes and accessories. Fashionable clothes, frilly lacy bras (with matching frilly knickers!), presentable PJs and nighties for in the maternity ward. I had given up hope, really. Never thought this kind of thing existed. But it does! So hurray!
    (Anyone in the neighbourhood wanting the address, send me an email.)
  • After that, we went to have lunch in a zoo on the way back. There was a huge downpour while we were sitting eating on a covered deck, surrounded by greenery. I was deliriously happy to have all the elements all around us. The wind, the rain, the thunder overhead, all raging in the plants around the terrace.
    Afterwards, we went to check out the progress of the baby lions. They were quintuplets, but now there are only four. The smallest one was limping and staying behind last time we saw him, so it wasn't a surprise but still a little sad. The other four sisters are thriving.
  • Back at home, Babes had to stay late at work again (yes, the slut hasn't tired of him yet apparently) so there was still dinner to organise by myself and potties to empty - that kind of thing.
  • Now I just want to flop into our big new sofa, but it has a weird new sofa smell which is upsetting my inner hypochondriac - I'm sure it's some horribly carcinogenic chemical which is slowly killing us all.
  • My world is tiring today. But full. So it's all good.

Monday, 26 July 2010

t = -9 days

Nine days to go and I want to crawl under a rock until this baby is out. Yesterday was fine but I got no rest and today I just want to cry and hide. Which is not an option right now.

Yes, I am wearing my grandmother's curtains. What of it?

Tomorrow shall be better.

Saturday, 24 July 2010

The tyranny of originality

I've had it with trying to be different. I give up. Completely. Well, not completely of course. I still won't accept that talk of poo is not polite conversation, I won't quietly sit by when people spout crap about what women should and shouldn't do, and I won't straighten my hair just because both Jack and Babes prefer it. But that constant striving "not to be like everyone else?" Gone. Because it's ridiculous, that's why.

A while back there was a new advert on one of the Discovery Channels. I think it said "Whatever you do, do it differently." This irritated me endlessly every time it was on. Doing things differently is fine. I love people who will go their own way with conviction. In fact, I firmly believe in the examined life. I hate simply accepting "the way things are done" without seeing if I agree first. I even changed the way I fold my towels a while back, I'm such a rebel. So - different: great. But - whatever you do? Is that not just taking it too far? Is that not too tiring, and unnecessary at that?

The other day, browsing Ikea for new toddler furniture, I was struck by how firmly ingrained my need for originality is. I felt a stupid self-loathing because our little girl's room was not going to be "unique." In fact, it was going to look very similar to about half of the other little girl's rooms in the country. And so bloody what? She's happy, we saved some time by shopping efficiently, and she got the pink splashes she was craving.

Now my darling sister An, may her silky hair be an example to us all, has the most exquisite talent for interior decorating. She can make a house look truly different and original in a seemingly effortless way. She will pick up a piece of junk from the recycling shop and by the time it's in her house, it looks like she went to Paris and had it designed especially for her house. But this is her very special talent. And it would make no more sense for me to try and aspire to this kind of brilliance than it would for me to decide to become an Olympic synchronised swimmer by tomorrow.

The same with clothes. I know some people who attach a lot of importance to being dressed differently from everyone else. They won't say where they got their clothes, considering "their" shop out of bounds to others. I, on the other hand, would be quite happy to learn from friends which jeans make my butt look good and which shop sells affordable things I like. I will in turn recommend my favourite haunts to friends and family. (I'm not saying I wasn't completely embarrassed when I turned up to a wedding once wearing the same dress as both the maid of honour and the bride's mother, only in a different colour - some difference is fine.)

I think the change has come with motherhood. All of a sudden I quite like the idea of having some traditions. I like making a meal just the way my grandmother did. I like that previous generations made all the mistakes so that I can now benefit from the solutions they came up with. I don't need my children to have a name no one can spell - I like that their names have been used for centuries. This makes me feel connected to the world and to other people.

Another problem with constant difference is that it's so bloody tiring. At the moment, I'm sorting the cards and candy for when our baby is born. There is a local tradition which dictates that when your baby is born, you immediately send out cards announcing the birth and then when people come to look at your baby, you give them a box of sugared almonds to take home. Some of these cards and candy boxes are turned into true works of art. A lot of parents take this task as an opportunity to express their innermost creativity. Which is fine and lovely, if you are so inclined, but I am not. I picked a colour and went with it. Plain boxes, plain cards. Complain if you like. I don't care and I can't be bothered.

Maybe it's like this - I AM different in some ways. I read language textbooks for fun, including the footnotes. I have very curly hair and a fairly dirty mouth at times. I am a housewife who tries to dodge most household tasks. If I had a million euros, I would probably go back to university and get my fifth degree. One of the first games I teach my children is "try to lick my face before I lick yours." I don't like coffee and I do like news programmes on TV. Oh, and I get unhealthily excited when I have something to file numerically or alphabetically.

So - I love difference. As long as it's not a goal for its own sake. Whatever you do, do it differently if you like, but otherwise just stick with what you know. Sigh. I'm a true revolutionary. I'm off to weep at my own conservatism now.

Friday, 23 July 2010

Note to self

  • When trying to get rid of stuff, do not go to see your aunt who is purging her house of toys.
  • Do not start believing that it's dangerous to walk in a park / go out in the dark / go out alone. Don't be surprised if you don't get killed / raped / robbed. There is such a thing as watching too much Law and Order.
  • Try prunes. How bad can they be?

  • When deciding on how to organise the baby's room, do not ask husband for his opinion.
  • When deciding on the decoration for the toddler's room, do not ask husband for his opinion.
  • When looking for a name for the new baby, do not ask husband for his opinion.

  • In fact, just do not ask husband for his opinion.* Life will be easier. Quieter in any case.
    (If only this was a viable option.)

    *Just joking - honest - he's lovely. And I wouldn't want him to be less involved.

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Love thy neighbour by shutting up already!

Our garden is - let's say - neighbour intensive. We live in a terraced house with a fenced garden. Both sets of neighbours eat outside around the same time we do. We can't see each other, but we can definitely hear each other. After tonight, I'm not sure I want to meet them out front again.

Marie (petting the cat): This cat is very dirty.
Me: Yes, dear - better go wash your hands before dinner.

*lightbulb moment*

Me (to Babes): Are you sure those bites on Marie are mosquito bites? When did you last treat the cats for fleas?

*followed by whispered conversation, after noticing sudden silence both sides*

Jack (Very loudly): What are fleas?
Me: *explanation*
Jack: So have the cats got them?
Me: No, dear, they've been treated. They definitely don't have any. No fleas here, dear. No fleas, no, no. Those bites are strictly mosquito bites. We treat those cats fine. No hygiene trouble here.
Jack: So when you removed that beasty from Tom (cat) with pliers, that wasn't a flea?
Me: No, that was a tick.

*explanation about ticks*

Me (stupidly): Marie's had a tick.
Jack: How did she get that?
Me: From the CRECHE! Not from home. It was removed IMMEDIATELY.

*long discussion about human parasites*

Me: Is there any more food?
Babes: No, but I'll make you a banana split later.
Me: No bananas for me. Not now, not all week.
Jack: Mama, why can't you have bananas?
Me: *groans*
Babes: That's enough now. Keep quiet and eat your dinner.

Poor kids. So much for anything can be discussed. Anything still can. Just not in the garden. There's only so much I'm willing to share with the neighbours.


While I'm oversharing with the internet neighbours anyway, just one more for the road. At least this one happened in the living room, with the windows closed.

Me: *big fart*
Marie: Mama? Was that a wet fart?
Me: No, dear, it was a dry one.
Marie: Do you need clean knickers?

Monday, 19 July 2010

t = -16 days

I'm trying to imagine having another baby. I am in complete denial. I feel feet all over my belly. I'm having practice contractions. Hiccups in my liver are a normal part of my day. And yet I cannot imagine having a baby yet. It's probably some kind of sick self-defence mechanism. I can't feel that I deserve to have a happy healthy baby, so if anything goes wrong at least I've not counted my chickens too much yet.

Luckily I catch up fast once they put that baby in my arms. At least - I hope I will again. I feel like everything will be fine once that baby is on my breast and I get to count its fingers and toes. Actually - who am I kidding? More worrying just starts then.

And breathe. They are just thoughts. This baby has made it this far. So have my other children. They are just anxious thoughts. They are not reality.

And breathe. And breathe. And breathe.

I imagine a little boy all soft and chubby. Cute little feet, cute little hands. A round little nose and a round little belly. Little vests, little pajamas. And a big hungry mouth. Wouldn't it be nice to have one of them around?

And breathe.

Friday, 16 July 2010

Breasts, wigs, gay marriage - all in a day's work

  • After last night's post, I was happy to see that our seven o'clock news had a report about breastfeeding and wasn't squeamish at all about showing the breast in question.
    The sad news was that this breast had had the police called on it. An accident and emergency doctor in his infinite wisdom had decided that breastfeeding in a hospital waiting room was indecent exposure. Must be fun, having four policemen appear while you are breastfeeding with a broken leg, waiting for an X-ray.
  • I was coming out of a shop and the shoplifting alarm went off.
    Jack: They probably think you stole a wig.
    Me: Why?
    Jack: You actually have some normal looking hair like mine at the back of your head.
  • On the BBC World News, the first item yesterday was the legalisation of same sex marriage in Argentina.
    Me: Yay Argentina!
    Jack: Why?
    Me: Finally men can marry men there, and women can marry women if they like. They have been in Belgium for ages, but it's always nice if another country follows.
    Jack: Why is that good?
    Me: Well, if you wanted to marry a man, do you think it would be nice if you were told you weren't allowed? That kind of thing makes people sad.

    ... long silence ...

    Jack: But surely if I wanted children, it would be much easier if I married a woman? Unless I already had a child.
    A view of marriage as a means to an end. Luckily it's just that easy.

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Shit, piss, tits. - Ooh, did I offend you?

I was reading in the newspaper today about which words exactly are considered offensive on American TV. They listed the main ones:

(Source: De Standaard, today.)

Isn't that just a lovely picture?

Really, I don't get it. I get "cocksucker" and "motherfucker." They are not exactly Sesame Street material. "Cunt" - fine. That may be considered offensive. But the others? Not so much. Surely, before ten one should be allowed to "not give a shit", or to "take the piss." Right? What if everything goes "tits up?" A functional "fuck off" should be okay in a nine o'clock drama or interview. Especially "shit," "piss" and "tits" seem so harmless to me. Too harmless to merit a ban in any case. Maybe this is because English is my second language, but then again if I consider the Flemish translations I'm not bothered at all either.

I am wondering what is allowed. I'm supposing "breasts" is allowed. What about "boobies?" If "tits" is out, can you have one "tit?" "Dick" is a first name, so it must be allowed under certain circumstances. Otherwise doing a bad accent becomes "doing a Penis Van Dyke" - it just doesn't have the same ring to it. But then I suppose "dick" is out in other circumstances. What about "crap?" Can you say that? What about all the other synonyms for "shit?"

Another thing I wonder - is there a list, or is there some kind of committee who judge each case separately? If there is a list, I would have liked to have been at that meeting. I can just imagine it: twenty self-righteous zealots with sticks up their asses (is "ass" allowed?) sitting around a large table, discussing the merits of "spunk" vs "semen." That would have been priceless. If there isn't a list, it must be a very tedious and ridiculous job to sit and judge each programme on it suitability.

In the list case, if you go on a show pre-watershed, are you sent this list just in case? That piece of paper would so go on my fridge. If there isn't a list, are you just meant to know magically what is and isn't allowed? Is this knowledge taught in schools? What if you genuinely make a mistake, using a word which isn't allowed, but you thought it was? Do you get fined anyway?

Another thing - can you say the words in quotes? I mean - if you want to discuss FCC rulings before ten o'clock, can you say: "The word "fuck" is out of bounds," or do you have to say "The word for "copulate" which rhymes with "duck" is not allowed?" In other words, does the context matter? Can you make a case for certain words in certain contexts? (If quotes are allowed, I'm in the clear here.)

I just thought of another one: what about people with Tourette Syndrome who swear a lot? Are they not allowed on TV, are they given special dispensation, or are they bleeped out? (The first and third option would be rather offensive, I would think.)

What a minefield!

All this just makes me wonder which of the following is true: either some American broadcasters are really filthy-mouthed people who cannot by themselves use appropriate language for their audience, or some American viewers are really touchy and cannot find the off switch on their TV. Also - which parents are letting their TV babysit their children until ten o'clock exactly, after which they punctually send them to bed?

(I never got the whole Janet Jackson booby-gate either. Breasts just seem such a non-issue that I genuinely couldn't believe the fuss to start with.)

We don't have similar rules in Belgium, and I don't see children's presenters swearing all the time. Newsreaders still haven't developed a potty mouth, and neither have the weather people. Fancy that! People just seem to understand when swearing is and isn't appropriate. Without fines or rules! Breasts can be shown, as can other parts of people's anatomy if necessary, and so far this doesn't seem to have killed anyone.

I think that, for Belgians, the fact that all this can be such an issue to a whole country is the more astounding fact. Why bother caring so very much about what other people are saying and showing? We have debates on extremist views and advertising on TV, not a little swear word or a stray breast. Why the obsession with sex and excrements? (Okay, the latter I understand.)

While I'm at it, I also want to add that I find the graphic violence on most American cop shows much much much more offensive than any of the words discussed before. Give me a "cocksucker" over a shoot-out any day. I don't want my children to watch CSI or House (too gruesome) but an interview with a celebrity in which the word "motherfucker" is used? I can live with that.

I will leave you with a great song which was played to death on the Belgian radiostations when it first came out - all day, every day, any time of day:

(Warning: playing this will make you happy dance if you don't mind the word "fuck."
Also, the video is kind of crappy and the spelling not good. But then you'll be dancing, not reading, so that's okay.)

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Crappy TV and hormones have made me a paranoid bitch

It's quarter past ten in the evening and Babes is still not home. He phoned at six to say he was going to be late from work, then after seven again to say he was going to be really late. Something broke, he needs to fix it. Blah blah blah. I was rather proud of myself for not being sarcastic or annoying about it - I think I was even borderline supportive there. Well, except for the first time he phoned, but then that was during naptime and he woke me up. Do not poke the sleeping alligator!

The problem? I've watched too much crappy TV in my lifetime. And if Babes was a character in a crappy TV movie, he'd now be in a semi-dark office, getting a blowjob from his secretary or some really hot colleague. Or he'd be taking her out for a meal and then to a seedy motel, leading to sex and then perhaps a murder. Which he wouldn't have committed, but he'll be the prime suspect because of the sex. Obviously I don't think anyone is going to get murdered. I for one can't be tonight - if the wife gets murdered, it's always in a tidy house, and I've preventively left Playmobil pirates all over the floor. No one gets left for dead on top of a Playmobil pirate sloop. It just doesn't happen.

I don't of course think anything is going on apart from a computer problem and a lot of hard work to fix it. But... but... then the crappy TV movie scenarios flash through my mind again, and doesn't the wife always look blissfully ignorant, while she stupidly tidies the Playmobil in the living room after the children have gone to bed? And hasn't he been working late more often lately? And hasn't he been "going for meals with colleagues" more and more? And, AND, doens't he keep his phone switched off during those meals?

I shouldn't really complain at all. At least he works in computing, so the incidence and quality of the womanfolk are meagre to say the least. (I'm allowed to say that - I used to work with computers.) And yet lately I've been positively Victorian in my instincts. (Result of the pregnancy? Spent too much time at home myself? No! I blame TV!) Every time he mentions the women he works closely with, I have to force myself not to get catty. I've (arghhh) caught myself thinking it would be much easier if we went back to the days when women stayed at home and the men went out to work.

And then last week I heard an interview on the radio in which a woman biologist at the top of her field explained how in the sixties she was told that she couldn't go on a submarine research trip because she'd be stuck in a confined space with several men and this would obviously lead to some funny business. (She went anyway.) And all of a sudden it was chrystal clear what an idiot I'm being. Especially after spending several years at university and at work interacting mainly with men myself. Not a single one of whom ever got a blowjob from me in a semi-dark office. (Not in a light one or a completely dark one either, in case you were wondering.)

So now I am behaving my way to success by smiling when I get another story about some long-haired pretty bimbo at work (babysteps - the thoughts will take a little longer to squash) and being supportive when he's late because of work or some kind of social thing (which I am strangely never invited to - again, babysteps). Eventually, the smile and support will be genuine rather than forced and I will be back in my right mind again. Even though it probably won't be until I'm less fat and immobile, and maybe not even until I'm back at work myself, surrounded by all the handsome men who will no doubt be working alongside me.

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

A bloody good read

There are some authors - very few - that make me want to buy all their works. Some convince me of their genius for a while, like Salman Rushdie with Midnight's Children, and then I read one of their more human books and I give up on completing the series. Some convince me only in one genre - Neil Stephenson is stupendously good when he does historical fiction, but I just can't get into his fantasy stuff. Then there are some that I keep going back to when I want a sure thing - like John Irving, but then doesn't everyone?

One of the few authors I haven't ever enjoyed less is Irvin D. Yalom. I got quite excited today, starting one of his books. It may well be finished tomorrow.

(These are the books I could find immediately - I think I have another one at least.)

Yalom is a psychotherapist and psychiatrist, who writes both fiction and non-fiction about his experiences with his clients. For someone like me, who went through psychotherapy for a few years, it is fascinating to read about the experiences of "the other side." When I was in therapy, my therapist often seemed like a closed book. I longed to know what was going on inside her mind and her soul, but she wouldn't give much away. Because Yalom writes from the perspective of the therapist, he gives at least a possible answer to my questions. Yalom shows how human therapists are, and how humanly they react to their clients. He also knows how to tell a story, obviously, and sticks to the point. (I hate a meandering novelist - long descriptions of the exact colour of the sky will make me scream and throw the book across the room.)

I discovered Yalom during one of my longer breaks from therapy, and completely fell in love with the first book I read. Then when I went back to see my therapist after a while, it turned out she had one of his handbooks, Existential Psychotherapy, on her bookshelf. I must have been staring at this name every week for a couple of years, so it was no coincidence that I picked up his book from the bargain shelf at the bookshop.

I adore the subjects Yalom decides to write about - psychology, obviously, but also philosophy and death. Another thing I love about him is that I recommended his work to An, our resident philosopher-psychologist, and she was bowled over, too. We are normally completely incompatible when it comes to books, so extra brownie points for him.

Anyway - I just thought I would share this, as a reading tip for anyone looking for a gripping summer read. It's a bonus if you've been in therapy, but I don't think it's necessary. He's easy to read, will satisfy a basic human desire to eavesdrop on other people's quirks, while at the same time making you think about life, death and all that comes with it. (Without getting difficult or heavy handed. He reads like a train, honestly.)

Sunday, 11 July 2010

t = -24 days

24 days to go until my due date. I'm feeling rather big and slow. Last time I went to see the doctor, he said the baby was about 2 kg 900. This comes with an error margin of nearly half a kilo, but on the 3D echo we could see the face of a non-skinny baby. We have been told we can expect a 4 kg baby perhaps, if he comes on time.

The heat is too much. I can't move very well because of the summersaults on top of my bladder already, but the heat just makes me stop altogether. Babes showed me (again) why he is the best husband in the world today when he took the children out of the house leaving me to sleep through the hottest part of the day, naked next to a fan.

My world is becoming tiny. I can see only the house, my family, some chores. I seem to be incapable of looking any further. My lovely sister An, may her clouds be lined with silver and her boots with velvet, has moved house so she now is living closer to me than ever. I feel removed from the whole process. My adorable little brother has a new job, and it took me over a week to phone him to find out how he's getting on. (He loves it.) My self-absorption knows no bounds.

The baby himself is doing great. He is moving about all over the place. He seems to cope with Marie flinging herself at me/him violently whenever I sit/lie on the sofa, which is all the time really. It's no use telling her to be careful for baby - I am her mother and she will fling herself as she pleases. I can't get too cross because the world is hard enough for her to deal with as it is just now. She's being moved into a "big girl's room", potty training, just finished creche, first summer holidays, soon going to school. Her room, bed, buggy and playpen are being stolen by a baby who is still invisible apart from the big bump making her mother malfunction. She is going through a very confusing time, and coping admiringly well. Apart from refusing to sleep and hitting people. So I overcompensate with hugs, extra attention and sweets.

The temperature chart for our part of the world tomorrow is teasing me. To the West of us 22 degrees, to the East 32. We're exactly on the line between the two. I'm wondering who I have to sell my soul to so we end up on the good side of this divide. Please bring on the rain. If it stays this hot until August, I will beg my gynaecologist to get this baby out. I just can't imagine one more kilo of baby kicking my internal organs at this temperature for another month. It can't be done, I tell you. In fact, I'm going to try and visualise the birth every day, and I'm hoping to bring on the birth naturally by the end of the month by sheer force of will and imagination.

Friday, 9 July 2010

My favourite subject in the whole world - again

I'm obsessed with poo. I always have been, but potty training is tipping me over the edge. I used to only have to worry about my own. Now I spend half the day pondering when to put Marie on her potty so I won't have to clean out another pair of pants. She's doing great with the pee, and I'm sure the other is just a matter of time so I should just relax and deal with it - but we have new sofas, you know. And she likes to sit on the carpet. And I do not like cleaning up poo.

Half of the days I get the timing right, and get her on the potty in front of Mr Tumble at roughly the right time. The other half she goes to stand in a corner somewhere, turns scarlet and then comes to tell me "Mama I did a poo." Which in turn makes me turn scarlet with the sheer effort of appearing not to care at all. "That's okay, sweetie. Maybe next time it will be in the potty. Accidents happen." Do they fuck! I don't poo in my pants every other day.

* My rant is helping. She's turning scarlet on her potty right this second and just went "Kaka!" in a cute breathless, pushing-it-out-right-now way. Hurray for us! *

I have been thinking - it must be very difficult. She's used to pooping standing up, and now she has to do it sitting down. Imagine you had to change to pooping lying down or standing up. I'm sure it would take a while before you managed. I am not going to experiment with this. My interest in the world of poo only goes that far. Anyone fancy pooping standing up and reporting back?


The heat is doing strange things to my brain. This train of thought is amusing me profoundly today. God help us when this baby arrives and I have four people's poo at my fingertips (as it were) to obsess over and report about.

(Babes' is off limits. Somehow even I know this would spoil what little mystery we have left after sixteen years and two births together.)

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

I learn a little every day

So now I know why professional painter-decorators wear shoes.

And trousers.

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Books, baby, bum wipes, books

  • Our local big chain of bookshops has finally caught on to the "buy 2 get 1 free" trend that has been going for many many years in the UK, and I'm guessing in the States, too. Just seeing the stickers makes my heart beat faster and sends a shot of adrenaline around my body. While normally I would buy one, maybe two books, I came out tightly clutching six. It is my only vice. (Honest.)
    I have to love living in Belgium. The 3 for 2 section included a whole display full of English books. (Also French ones, and I think I even saw some Spanish.)
    But sometimes I just have to have a book NOW even if it's in Dutch and the original was in English.

    What? I'm going to read Yalom in Dutch? Yes, I am.
    (Looking forward to it, ridiculous as it is. I do NOT have the patience to order the original from Amazon and wait just now.)
    This next book cracks me up:

    It was always my life plan to go get my MBA and become a cutthroat businesswoman. Seriously. It was.
    Until I met Babes and also I realised that there was more to life than work. Or that being cutthroat is perhaps not the best quality to strive for. In any case, I don't need to bother now. I'll just read the book.
    (The background in these pictures shows the colour of our brand new sofas. Nice, eh?)
  • I finally started preparing for our forthcoming baby. I don't think I could have left it much later.

    Babes is working very hard as well. We've decided to give Marie her own room anyway, so I'm giving up the study. For the next five months or so, I will have the nursery with all my books and a computer, but after that the baby will move out of our bedroom and I think we'll have to have the computer in our bedroom. For that very special romantic atmosphere.
    My back and ankle are killing me just now. I'm doing all the "easy" jobs like loading the bookcases, sorting the laundry, hoovering and - later tonight (maybe) - painting. I'm so glad the children are at my mother's for a couple of days because I'm getting a real rest. Oh yeah.
  • What gets these stains out of my carpet?

    That's right, baby: wet wipes!

    (I swear I'm not being sponsored.)
    (And yes, I know I should get off my lazy unecological butt and get a cloth and some water instead. I did tell you about my ankle.)
  • As part of the grand reorganisation of our house, I am throwing out a whole lot of stuff. Well, giving away and recycling, but it will be out of my face. We do have too much crap in this house. Getting rid of it feels so liberating that I'm considering doing it with my books as well. Looking at the bookcases I just filled, I realise I am hoarding them which is not a healthy thing. Do I really need several Dutch dictionaries, as well as English ones? Can I not throw out the chick lit I read about ten years ago? (I, too, am a mere human.)
    I have some competing plans.
    1. I could get rid of only the horrible books - eBay or charity shop.
    2. I could just chuck all my books, keeping only the very best and memorable ones. Plus the essential reference works.
      In this case, I could give the good books away in parcels as birthday presents, or to random friends who would enjoy them. Is this sensible and ecological regifting, or just being a cheap friend? I once got a CD from someone's collection for my birthday, and I was rather touched because it was a personal gift.
    3. Some kind of middle road?
    I'll probably just chicken out and do the first thing - only lose the crap.
    What do you think? Hoard or chuck? Regift, eBay or charity shop?

Sunday, 4 July 2010

Overanalyzing again - the nudity issue

Summer is revealing my inner prude. Generally, we're quite laid back about nudity at Casa de Mwa. The bathroom doesn't get locked, showers and baths can be shared, nudity is just fine. The children love being naked so when it's hot and the paddling pool is out, they shed their clothes as soon as they can and frolic around in the buff. Which makes them very happy.

I'd probably join them and shed my bikini if it wasn't for the neighbours on their roof terraces, behind overlooking windows, and on the other side of an eye-height concrete partition. It would be another thing if they were all naked, too, but we don't live in that kind of neighbourhood, so the bikini stays on for now. I'd love to live somewhere that wasn't overlooked at all, though. A bikini still feels like such a random piece of fabric. Why not cover up my nose and knees instead? That would make about as much sense.

I remember the joy and freedom that comes with being naked - having been raised by nudity-loving parents myself. I love seeing Jack run off to the nearest tree and peeing as high as he can. I love it when Marie picks pieces of grass from her bum with the utmost care and attention. Why get their swimsuits dirty when they prefer it this way anyway?

... and then I'm confronted with the limits of my liberal sensibilities. Because the nudity does bring out some fierce struggles with my own personal taboos and boundaries. These children are genitally obsessed! I'm sure it's a completely normal part of their development and discovery of the world, but oh my fucking god they are in love with their bits! And the incessant and open display of this love does make me feel very uncomfortable. Which leads me to repeat the following sentences too often:
  • Please don't play with yourself when you have an audience.
  • Don't pull that. That's his.
  • Don't prod that. That's hers.
  • Get off each other please.
  • Very nice. Now please stop showing it off.
I sometimes think I should just let them get on with it. My boundaries can seem arbitrary anyway. I have no problem with them sitting on each other as long as the lower child is face down (being a horse or motorbike - obviously). It's only when they're facing each other that I separate them. I probably shouldn't, because they're not thinking about what's touching what - they're just being a boat and skipper. By separating them, I'm most likely making them self-conscious in the first place.

Of course all this would be sorted if I just put bathing suits on them, but I'm not doing that. I think I'll keep trying to tell them that some things are best kept private. Apart from that they can have the sun on their bare bottoms as much as they like before they discover shame, as they inevitably will anyway. I hope it's a little way off because there is nothing like the joy I feel when I see them together lying bum by bum on a beach towel, playing with their cars.

What do you think? Am I being a prude? Should I stop interfering? Should I be putting swimsuits on them? Am I scarring them for life? Where would you draw the line?

Thursday, 1 July 2010

The heat, the longing

One of our Flemish channels is kindly rerunning Will & Grace this summer. I'm taping it every day and then using the episodes when I most need them. They are wonderful. All the risqué jokes pass right by the children, so I can have it on while they are playing in the room. Marie laughs along with the canned laughter, pretending to understand the jokes. I watched the pilot and the second episode today. (Will had a serious haircut between the two.)

The only problem with this series is that it replaces my despair with a strange kind of longing. I love love love Will. I want him. I keep having to tell myself this is fiction. No one can be that good-looking, funny and so damn loving to his best friend in real life. The heat, the pregnancy and the longing together make for a strange mix.

My TV recorder's hard drive is filling up rapidly with the episodes (damn husband insists on taping his own stuff as well) so I will have to delete some soon, but I just can't. It feels like killing Will, like killing the fantasy of the perfect best friend. Not to mention Karen, who I don't want as a best friend but love anyway.

I want Will in my paddling pool tomorrow. I'm sure he'd criticise my choice of bikini, but he'd rub my feet while doing it. Ah, that thought may just get me through the "still uncomfortably hot" night (the met office's words, not mine).

36 degrees tomorrow.