Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Lesson 23: Potty Training is Rank

I've always been bored to tears by status updates and progress reports from potty training parents. 
"George has gone four hours without a nappy!" 
"Eva has just asked to do a big poo in her potty!"
And too much information, thanks all the same,

Well, today is Day 4 of no nappy for The Toddler and I sort of get the proudness. I'll admit it, the highlight of my work day yesterday was receiving a text from said toddler's Granny to inform me he had successfully sat and shat on his potty. I was elated. High fives all round for the toilet training team of coaches. 

So far so good, bar a few accidents as rightly expected.

However, I feel it is necessary to point out the reality of this proud milestone journey:

Potty training is, to all intents and purposes, really quite rank. Sure wees are all good. Wee accidents resulting in soaking shorts and shoe puddles are part of the package. No dramas. 

But nothing prepared me for the day I would be faced with a fully formed human turd in a plastic pot. 

Granted that is where it is meant to go. A poo in the potty - fantastic! 

But Jesus Christ. HOLY MOTHER OF GOD.
The smell. The sight. The sound

Never before have I displayed an external reaction so at odds with every bone and sense in my body. "Such a clever boy! Well done my darling!" I beamed, whilst physically urging on my way to drop this longed for potty deposit down the toilet (cue more urging, an immediate requirement for a toilet brush/bleach and having to open every downstairs window). Then you have to run after a small person who is charging around without having yet been wiped. Use your own imagination for the challenges this brings. Mainly to previously un(skid)marked furniture.

4 days in and I am coping better. I have been told I would have been better encouraging a transition straight from nappy to child's toilet seat (duly noted for Baby Two's turn), but having already encouraged the fateful potty I feel I am committed to seeing it through. At least until he is more confident.

So my wonderful and bright boy is doing exactly what has been asked of him and I am proud. Truly I am. I am just also starting to realise that nappies weren't so bad...and that I have more of a tendency to gag at smells than previously thought. 

Lesson 23: Potty training is pretty gross. If you have a weak stomach, maybe skip the Plastic Poo Pot bit and migrate straight to the toilet. 

The Unmumsy Mum

Monday, 14 July 2014

Lesson 22: Everyone does it (NCT that is)

NCT groups represent everything I used to imagine life as a parent would be. Largely because they are so very middle class. I don't think that's a sweeping statement (you'll tell me if it is) - NCT groups bring together middle class strangers and plonk them together at summer picnics on Cath Kidston blankets, in John Lewis caf├ęs with rows of iCandys parked up... 

Perhaps the last bit is a slight generalisation, but I feel I am liberty to comment because if I could afford it, this would be my life too

Everyone does NCT. My sister, my best friend, my work colleagues. It is what you do. To me, prior to having Boy One two years ago, NCT was how mums made friends. I planned to sign up straight away. 

Except when I fell pregnant first time around my nearest NCT 'hub' was over 35 miles away. So I decided to go it alone.

Effectively, I decided not to buy myself a new friendship group. I hope that doesn't get taken the wrong way - if anything, at the time I would have paid good money for a guaranteed Mummy Wolf Pack.

But it wasn't to be. And instead, I had to make friends the old fashioned way. I had to force myself to go to  antenatal classes, coffee mornings and Bouncing Baby groups (really not my scene) with other parents. There was no circulation of group contact details, no new network of similar due dates, no automatic organisation of a Group Reunion. 

I had to strike up relationships with strangers who had their own friendship groups, ask them for their numbers, and initiate play dates. I had to make eye contact and small talk and hope a glimmer of common ground would blossom into a friendship, when sometimes all I really wanted was to stay on the sofa and watch Homes Under The Hammer. It was bloody hard work. 

The realisation of having to face Bumps and Babies again.

I have spent two years wondering if I missed out. When my sister/best friend/colleagues/world and his fucking wife describe their NCT Friends, it all seems so easy. You go to the antenatal classes (posher than the 'bog standard' NHS ones an NCT Attendee informed me), and then BOOM, you become a network, you wait for each other to drop a baby and then you become friends for life. 

I'm well aware it doesn't work out this way for all groups. I occasionally hear of 'nightmare NCT friends' and 'the odd one from our NCT group', but above all else I have witnessed (with some jealousy) endless schedules of happy NCT gatherings, birthday parties and all round good support. Whilst I plodded off to another random group in the hope I would find some pals. 

And pals I did find. Not a ready-made group, but a very select number (okay two pals if you must know), who I clicked with straight away. My sort of people. Not people I wanted to like because I would have to meet them monthly and force my husband to bond with their husbands. People I genuinely did LIKE. A harder journey but I have no doubt that we will be friends for life. 

Now preggers for the second (and final) time, I have since moved to an NCT area (not too far away but unfortunately quite far from those special friends) so I am back to square one and have again been faced with the NCT conundrum. 

I don't really need the posh classes this time. I've already passed a small human out of my body and Expressed With The Best Through These Holes in My Chest (god love the Fiat advert). So I put my name down for an NCT Refresher Course. 3 evenings, and the Holy Grail of a reunion (and allocated network) post-birth. To be honest, with a toddler in tow, I could do with the Rent-A-Friend service. Anything to not have to start running again on the making friends treadmill. 

And then I got the email. Bang smack in the middle of a nightmare week of our car going wrong, the kitchen ceiling leaking and the death of my uninsured iPhone via a 40 degree spin cycle, I received registration instructions. And a bill for over £100 (£140 I think it was, there or thereabouts). 

I won't bore you with our financial situation, but in a nutshell whilst this is completely unaffordable for us at the moment we do not qualify for any 'help' with fees. On paper, we have an almost respectable income. In reality, we now buy the thin toilet paper that scratches your arse and the shampoo that looks interchangeable with washing up liquid. 

So I phoned the nice NCT lady and told her she could take me off the list. Farewell Mid-September Exeter baby friends. It was nice almost knowing you.

Hubby has been brilliant. He said we could work something out if it is really important that I do these classes. But it just doesn't sit right with me. 

I don't even want to do the sodding classes. I would be paying £140 or so purely for a new group of friends. Whichever way you look at it, this is expensive for Forced Friendship Fun.

Last week at work, an NCT advocate casually expressed the following when I explained I wouldn't be signing up: 'Such a shame, at least with NCT you know the sorts of Mums and Dads you will be mixing with, if you know what I mean!' 

Well I do know what she means. And despite longing for a network of buddies I don't want to be a part of The Elite. Variety is the spice of life, and I will happily take my chances sharing classes with the other sorts of mums. Some of whom may not be with the Dads. Some of whom may buy substandard toilet roll. Some of whom may just become genuine friends for life. 

So wish me luck as I plod on with my non-NCT journey for the second time. I'm sure I will envy the odd NCT group BBQ or Country Farm Park outing stumbled across on Facebook. I'm sure I will have to drag myself to breast feeding groups (if they keep calling it nursing I'm leaving). I'm sure sometimes I will fail to tear myself away from Homes Under The Hammer. But mostly, I'm sure I will be just fine. 

The Unmumsy Mum