Thursday, May 03, 2007

The most hated phrase in Mothering...

… Must be “Is it time for his feed?”

“Why is he crying? Is it time for his feed?” asked my mum yesterday at 6:30 in the morning, as I was coming down the stairs bleary-eyed, carrying a screaming Philip. “No, I just fed him upstairs; I don’t know what he wants,” I said good-naturedly enough, blinking in the bright light. 6:30 is REALLY early for a baby to wake up in our house, but I’d had a good night thus far and was feeling reasonably in control. I even decided to make the best of it after feeding Philip and giving him a nap, and get organized enough (for once) to drag my sorry self, my double buggy and the babies up the 20 minutes worth of hill to the swimming pool.

When I arrived, sweaty and out of breath but with a glowing sense of achievement, the lifeguard sitting at the front desk informed me that there was no crèche that day. “Oh… poor baby… Is it time for his feed?” he added sympathetically. I was too upset to respond; no crèche meant nowhere to leave Philip, which meant I couldn’t get in the pool with Matilda, which meant a) the walk was for nothing; and you all know how much I hate physical exercise, and b) I had to tell Matilda, who’d been saying “Go for swim! Go for swim!” all the way from the house to there, there wasn’t going to be one. In the end we borrowed a car-seat from another mum, plonked Philip in it and left him at the side of the pool, with a friendly granny who was there watching her grandchildren swim. After five minutes of blissful quiet, Philip started screaming.
“Your baby is crying,” informed me the granny helpfully.
“Yes, I know, don’t worry.”
“Oh, you don’t mind him crying, then.” About ten pairs of accusing eyes turned my way, or so it felt.
“Well, I don’t really like leaving him to cry, but I can’t drag Matilda out of the pool yet, she’ll be gutted, ” I muttered guiltily.
“Do you mind if I pick him up?” she asked (you heartless wench… she implied.)
“No… Go ahead if you would like to, I just didn’t want to ask you to do any more, but I’m happy for people to give him a cuddle.”

After about 15 minutes of on-off crying, the granny was looking at me pointedly and I was getting more and more flustered, so I asked her if she wouldn’t mind holding him just for a few more minutes, while I got myself and Matilda out of the pool and got Matilda dry enough to be strapped into her buggy. (Our swimming pool has notoriously unsafe changing rooms. There are no changing tables or anywhere to leave a baby –well, there is one, but it’s a matter of chance if it’ll be free or not. Also, there is no safety gate or door and the children can run straight from the changing room into the pool. Normally we get around this by running into the crèche and getting them changed there, but – wohoo! - there wasn’t one.) I changed Matilda as fast as I could, dropping things constantly because I was nervous, guilty, sweaty and harassed by that point, and I ran back to the swimming pool to find Philip being passed around between the life guard and the swimming instructor.
“Sorry,” I muttered guiltily, taking him from Those-Who-Specifically-Were-Not-There-To-Look-After-The-Children-Of-Incompetent-Mums.
“Don’t worry, Anna,” said the swimming instructor. “Is it time for his feed?
“No!” I said running away to the changing room, where Philip fell promptly, instantly and blissfully asleep on the single changing table.

Then we were off to the playground, to make myself feel less guilty for cutting Matilda’s swim short; and then off to the Health Visitor, to have Philip weighed. I would like to point out, at this point, that he woke up and got fed at the playground, then fell back asleep and remained so all the way to the Health Visitor, where he was smiling and happy while he was being weighed. –Happy that he had tricked me into a false sense of security, it turned out, because he commenced with the screaming as soon as we were out the door.
“Hello Anna! Is it time for his feed?” said the receptionist cheerfully while I was struggling to strap a toddler and a writhing bundle of fury into the buggy. THEN I lost it and started yelling and crying.
“No! It’s NOT time for his feed, it’s NOT time for his sleep, it’s NOT time for his nappy-change, he’s just screaming because that’s what he does, he screams!”

The receptionist promptly turned on her heels and disappeared without a word, while I yelled pathetically after her “I’m sorry! I didn’t mean to shout at you, it’s not your fault!” She reappeared a minute later, followed by a nurse. (No, not to restrain me, although that was my first thought too. To pat my back x 4.) They led me to a nice, quiet, isolated room (without padded walls, ahaha, thanks for asking,) gave me a cold drink of water, determined I didn’t need tranquillisers right that minute and sent me on my way after making sympathetic noises.

I am not trying to claim I am not slowly going (even more) insane on my own anyway, but that question is certainly giving me a good shove in the right direction.
First of all, NO it isn’t time for his feed. He doesn’t HAVE a time for his feed. ANY time is a good time to have a face-full of boob, if you ask him. Is THAT the only reason why he would be crying, anyway? And don’t you think I, his mother, might have already thought of stopping and feeding him, if the solution was that obvious? Or do you think I’m secretly enjoying the screams? Listen closely to the string of profanities I’m muttering under my breath and think again. Oh wait, maybe you thought my “voices” told me not to feed him?

I am hereby starting a campaign to come up with alternative questions to ask unsuspecting, harassed mums.

When you’re thinking of saying: “Is it time for his feed?” why not try:

  • Is it time for his excorcism?
  • OMG, WHAT have you done to that poor baby?
  • Did someone just tell him you’re his mum?
  • So, when are you going to tell Peter that Dani Filth is the baby’s father?
  • My cat made that noise, until we got him fixed. No? Just a thought.

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Incidentally, while we were at the playground, Matilda fell down and cut her lip. Crying, blood sprouting everywhere, welcome to having a toddler, etc etc. Poor baby came home and ran to yaya to tell her everything. "Lip. It's painful. Fell down on the swing. Poor babycakes!" Today she looks a bit like a parrot:

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A few days ago she sat on Peter's lap and said "Daddy has great big feet... and a great big butt." Soooo happy she said that to Peter and not me! I would have been mortified. But since she used it to refer to Peter's skinny behind first, it doesn't count any more. Mwahaha!

By the way, she probably picked that up from the recreational activity known in our quarters as "Kiss the Butt." It involves carrying Matilda around the room after a nappy change, so everyone can smooch her yummy little tush. She absolutely loves it. Do you think it's a sign for the future?

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And a last funny: Last night she decided we had to sing happy birthday to everyone. Appart from mummy, daddy, yaya, baby Philip and Matilda, the birthday crowd included:

Curious Noah (Kyrios Noah, Mister Noah... get it?) Kangaroo, Baby Seal, Sheep, Cow, Dolly Snap (the cooking glove), Ernie LittleEye (the teddy), Frog, Nelly the elephant and Domino, looking too blase for the occasion.

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See, we DO have a good time at the beach too!

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