Saturday, 25 April 2015

Lesson 57: Things that never happen in Soapland (with babies and toddlers)

Real-life shizzle that is largely neglected in Soapland. Corrie scriptwriters take note...
During soap births, there is no mention of a placenta. Where the fuck is the placenta? Whether the baby pops out in the back of a car, or in a phone box, or in a hospital bed clearly not soaked in amniotic fluid, once the cord is cut the placenta is forgotten. The 'newborn' baby (who is always miraculously clean, at least 10lb and never has a cone-head or forceps bruising) is handed over and everybody gets on with their day. I blame soaps entirely for my ignorance around this, and my look of bewilderment when the midwife asked if I wanted the injection to get things moving afterwards. What do you mean there's more? Unsurprisingly I also didn't know that the placenta could fail to deliver and get stuck. Yes that happened.  

Recovery from childbirth is immediate in Soapland (after a quick waddle and wince). There is no mad dash to Dev's to stock up on maternity pads or six weeks of avoiding car seat lifting post-section. That said, who needs a car seat? They don't venture further than the 500 square metres surrounding the house.

The baby never has reflux. Colic is mentioned in passing, as they all head off for another child-free drink at the Rovers (don't worry though as Sophie Webster must be babysitting). Nobody says 'Fucking hell have you seen the sofa? There are pools of vomit in the cushion creases again' or
'Why are his neck folds so cheesey?' 

Baby? What baby? Pic via What's On TV
Nobody is sat on the sofa with their boobs out, but everybody is armed with a bottle and steriliser from day one, which I find surprising. In real life, some people bottle feed, some people breastfeed. Of course this isn't real life (the residents of your average street don't enjoy every hot drink in a café and every cold one in a pub, or 'The Bistro') but still, surely amongst the bottles somebody could be sat eating their Roy's Rolls sarnie with a baby on the boob? No?

Soap toddlers rarely behave like arseholes. You never see Lexi lying on the floor of the Minute Mart screaming, or Lily Platt lobbing her Ella's Kitchen snacks at David's face. In fact, where the fuck is Lily Platt? I expect she's upstairs in one of the many bedrooms or bathrooms that Gail's two-up two-down must be hiding (with Sophie Webster supervising, obvs). Sometimes these soap children hold onto an adult's hand and stand quietly whilst a conversation about adultery or pre-mediatated murder of a family member goes on around them. Where are the 'Mummy, mummy MUMMY' interruptions and demands for Star Wars Angry Birds on the iPhone?

Equally, these kids only ever come out with boring stuff. Like 'can you read me a story?' as they blatantly look at the camera crew and wonder who the fuck the stranger is masquerading as their dad. They never shout 'knickers poo poo bum bum head' or ask Siri what the fox said ("Fraka-kaka-kaka-kaka-kow!" if you're wondering).

Clearly I have too much time on my hands because despite all of this, I bloody love the soaps (except Hollyoaks, because that was an omnibus reserved solely for Hangover Sundays, and they died in 2012).

I'd love to hear your own analyses of kids in Soapland...

The Unmumsy Mum


Thursday, 9 April 2015

Lesson 56: Eating out with (small) children

"Let's go out for lunch!" I declared the other weekend.

Mr Unmumsy looked nervous. "Is that really a good idea?"

"Probably not. But it might be fun. Let's risk it."

Bless us. I love our optimism. Three years (and two children) into the parenting adventure and we still have selective memory. I wonder if it's an evolutionary tool? Perhaps, alongside other traumatic childcare memories, we are programmed to gloss over horrific restaurant encounters to ensure we don't all stop at one child. I mean we very nearly were a One and Done household (out of choice) and that would have been fine too, but our gut feeling was always to have another one. In for a penny and all that...

So when we deliberate over having lunch out, we tend to recall with fondness the time the baby slept in Café Nero, or the time we actually finished a pizza because we had bribed the toddler into submission and induced an Ice Cream Factory sugar coma...[side note: does anybody else view 'unlimited drinks/ice-cream' as a challenge? I could barely function after my fifth Pepsi re-fill and second bowl of ice-cream topped with budget dolly mixtures, but I felt that somehow Martin Lewis would have been proud of the food per fiver I'd achieved].

Thank fuck for crayons
But eating out is a bloody mission. Best case scenario is you've packed everything you need in the change bag, the baby is having an actual nap (not on your boob), the café or restaurant is quiet, the food comes out quickly and you have a fully charged iPad or smartphone (loaded with toddler apps, naturally). And, dare I say it, I'm sure a dummy is a must-have at such times. Neither of our boys would take a dummy, and we often encounter 'oh you must be so glad they don't have dummies' comments as though we have achieved something by raising children dummy-less. In actual fact I have often observed the 'life-saver' testimonies of dummy fans and thought 'I could use my life saving right now.'

Worst case scenario for a meal out is that all small children are awake, you have forgotten the raisin boxes and other appropriate bribes, the iPad has crashed, the restaurant is busy and the toddler needs a poo. This is essentially what happened last time we had lunch out. Small children cannot be expected to sit still. I get that. But Jesus. Entertaining two children under three whilst sat around a table in the middle of a busy pub should be added as the final fucking challenge on The Cube. I engaged in no actual conversation with my husband outside of 'I'll have him for a bit so you can finish your sandwich,' 'He's been sick on your shoulder,' 'Can you take him for a poo this time?' and 'Where's the bloody Angry Birds app gone?' To top it off, we paid £40 for the privilege.

Cracking out the emergency crisps
But I know the next time we toy with the idea of lunch out we will forget the spilled drinks, the shouting, the burnt fingers, the protest planking over not being allowed to eat ketchup (on its own, with a sharp knife).

And I think this amnesia is probably for the best.

I don't want us to become a family who doesn't even try. If nothing else the legacy of the table covered in crayon, sick and two thirds of our uneaten meal shows we tried. A+ for effort. And a baby and toddler meltdown outside of the house is still preferable to one inside of it, in my opinion. Not just because the public arena prevents me from shouting "For God's sake will you PACK IT IN! Right, no more treats ever again!" (as I find a treat and put Scooby Doo on) but also because these moments are the things we will laugh about in years to come. And, if truth be told, they are the things I will blog about.

The Unmumsy Mum

Friday, 3 April 2015

Surviving Soft Play

Getting through a soft play session is all about mental preparation. You need to be prepared for the shit that is about to get real. 

Psych yourself up like you are going into battle. You are going into battle. And remember that whatever happens, it can't be as bad as another rainy afternoon in the bloody living room.*

Upon entering the building, your senses will be overloaded. The sights, the sounds, the smells. Kids will be charging around like monkeys on speed. You will initially feel like you are drowning in a sea of screaming Hello Kitty leggings and snotty noses, but after half an hour your eyes and ears will become quite accustomed to this annoying orchestra.

The whinging and the screams of 'joy' merge into a steady background hum, interjected only with panicked shouts of, ‘do you need a wee?’ and, ‘IF YOU CAN'T PLAY NICELY WE'LL GO HOME!’ (this threat is never upheld because you have still not asked your friend about the text from that bloke at work, or drunk your now tepid coffee, so despite your children hating each other they will enjoy this play date if it kills you). 

Your socks will be wet. Mostly this will be Robinsons fruit shoot residue and/or Aptamil Hungry Baby spillage, but you should know that at other times your socks will be soggy because you have stepped in piss. Or vomit. I was first on the scene at a Category One Soft Play emergency once, when a newly 'potty-trained' toddler shat on the slide. This could happen. Be strong.

Trips to soft-play centres will remind you why you largely dislike other people's children (and sometimes, if we're being honest, your own). Nothing is more infuriating than the bigger boys and girls who insist on hurtling through the baby area. It says Under 5s, you prick. 

Understand that the owners of soft play hell labyrinths need to make money. It is a business, not a safe-haven for mums who’ve lost the will to live in their living rooms. You will therefore be encouraged to buy overpriced paninis and jugs of weak squash. And boiling hot tea, which you will try not to spill on the feral children running between the Play Zone and Tumble Tot areas.

'Children must be supervised at all times' state the Rules of Play. Unfortunately, some parents can't read. Or they have misinterpreted supervision to mean letting another child's parent manage the situation, while they sit on a plastic chair generally not giving a fuck. It is not your job to keep lifting little Sammy over the squashy steps, or telling Bigger Boy Billy to stop elbowing everyone in the head. Do these people think you come here in the hope of taking charge of all the kids? You must glare at them and ask loudly 'where are your parents?' Everyone has to suffer. That's the rules. Having said that, I received one of my favourite ever comments when a mum of two slightly older children noted she had done her fair share of soft-play running around (after everybody’s children) when hers were little so had earned the right to kick back with a hot chocolate and Heat magazine. ‘I’ve served my time,’ she said. This gives me hope for the future.

Don't wear low rise jeans. You will end up crawling through the Mega Maze to collect your crying child with half your maternity knickers on show. 

It goes without saying that your children won't want to leave this noisy hell hole. There may be tears and/or protest planking in the ball pool. ALWAYS make sure you have backup unhealthy snack bribes to entice them back to the car. And wine in the fridge, obviously.

*If you go in half term, or with a hangover, it's much worse than an afternoon in the bloody living room. It's total carnage. Just stick Megamind on..