We’re all going to the zoo…

20160806_161504

Last Saturday my husband and I decided to brave the zoo with our tiny lady. It’s a wonder we have never gone before but then I didn’t really feel it was worth the hassle involved until our daughter was actually old enough to appreciate that yes that’s an actual elephant! I am not the type to put myself through unnecessary hardships and I like to have some kind of pay-off in the end…you know like an actual reaction from the child! If I sound slightly bitter it’s because last year we ventured to an animal park with the grandparents in tow and she slept the whole way through it. She was awake to see the ducks…and that was it!

I planned the outing like a military excursion. There were two bags. One with extra snacks, pull-ups, clothes etc. I had another to carry with me, just the essentials (or so I thought). I was quite smug at how organised I was. This smugness was not to last. I should have known. Since the poor child’s birth I have been forgetting things; I once went out when she was teeny, tiny and forgot to bring a blanket. I had a whole heap of mama guilt after that outing; how could I forget a blanket?? The poor cold child.

But I digress. The zoo. We booked our tickets online thinking we could beat the queue. However, when we arrived the queue for online tickets was nearly as long as the one for people who hadn’t booked in advance. My smugness took a small hit here I’ll admit. However, I was pleased to note that the zoo was only pleasantly busy. There was room at picnic benches and lots of space to actually see the animals. We stopped for a quick sugar hit – hey you have to have treats on days out then my husband made up a brilliant name for the tiny lady’s buggy; he called it her zoo car. The backstory to this is our lady hates being in her buggy, she wants to walk. But the reality is a toddler is not going to last very long walking around a zoo and we were worried she would tire herself out before seeing anything. So the genius idea of a zoo car was invented. She clambered in and for about an hour all was well.

Then 12 o’clock hit. This is usually her nap-time. Spirits began to flag. She wanted to walk. So we let her out. That’s when I discovered she was soaked through. Her pull-up had leaked (and it never leaks!). I then had to confess I had left all the spare clothes in the other bag…back in the car! My husband ran the ten minute walk to the carpark and back. I stripped her down and got her nice and dry….five minutes later she pooped. Naturally. I was already becoming far too familiar with the changing room (kudos to Dublin Zoo it’s lovely and clean).

This change required two parents because guess what? The tiny lady was beginning to turn into a mini-beast and she refused to lie on the mat. Of course there was another couple next to us quietly and calmly changing a small baby. Meanwhile our little terror screamed and kicked while sweat ran down our faces and we fake laughed at her, ourselves and the whole situation though inside I felt like crying.

We decided lunch was the best thing to do next. After that well…we should have left. But we didn’t. My mama instincts were yelling to get the hell out of there but my husband wanted to show our daughter the giraffes. This involved a ten minute walk with a child who definitely didn’t want her zoo car anymore. It was also becoming hotter and more crowded with every step we took. The final straw was my girl kicking off her shoes then refusing to put them back on while simultaneously trying to walk on the grit laden floor. I grabbed her, signalled to hubbie we were done and literally pushed my way back out of the African Planes. That’s when B**** Ann-Marie took over.

B**** Ann-Marie made her first appearance on one long ago summer when I lived in London with a boyfriend (now ex) for two whole months. I learned quite quickly that in order to survive I would need to toughen up. Getting around on the Tube was a necessity and it absolutely terrified me at first. But after a few weeks I was an old hand at it. So much so that I would look pityingly at the tourists nervously moving their way around on the carriages and clutching their bags ever so tightly. The following year I returned with my mother for a visit. It was as if I had never been away. I think I may have scared my mother slightly with my hardened Londoner edge.

So London Ann-Marie came to the fore as I battled the crowds at London Zoo. I have never been so glad to see an exit sign! We still had one stop to make before we could head home. The shop, ever so cleverly placed next to the exit. A visit to the zoo wouldn’t be complete without a furry animal to take home so a little elephant was bought and promptly named Dumbo.

What a day. I can only imagine how people cope with little tots while on actual vacations. As we were driving away I noticed a couple with their six children (including what looked like toddler twins – yikes). All I could think was they must have better organisational skills than me.

Toddlers & Bra Fittings

It was that time of year again. My bras were beginning to let the team down and showing serious signs of wear and tear. So I bravely faced the Annual Bra Fitting. I decided to wait until I was visiting my parents as I could rope in my own mother to help mind the tiny lady. She has been quite calm these days (for a toddler) and I didn’t really expect any bother but still it would be foolish not to plan ahead for contingencies (toddler meltdown caused by tiredness, hunger, general just-being-a-toddler).

Typically she did not nap that day and was hyper as only a toddler on very little sleep can be. There were no tears, however, just a lot of high-pitched shouting and giggles. Then we walked into the shop. The change was immediate and loud! Two of my mother’s friends came over to see her…oh she is the image of you….suddenly the smiles disappeared, the whimpers turned into wails and the women were quick to make their excuses and disappear. The small body strained against the straps of her buggy angrily. We let her out. She made straight for the escalator. The sight of this magical, moving stair-case cheered her right up and the tears dried on her cheeks. She was enchanted…not enchanted enough to actually step on to it herself, however, I had to carry her. The problem arose when we got off and again, again, again! Suddenly the stairs was ‘broken’ (yes I do frequently – far too frequently – lie to my toddler), there were some tears but she was soon distracted by a mirror (a source of endless fascination for your average toddler).

This left me facing my own mirror along with my inner demons. The sales assistant had advised me to take off my top and wait in a fitting room. The sweats began. I really, really can’t explain the levels of anxiety this whole fitting debacle induces in me. It seems I would have been far more comfortable in the Jane Austen era of modesty than our current era where even lingerie has been revived as outerwear. I tried hard to ignore my slightly wobbly belly in the mirror facing me as I waited for the fitting to actually begin. This is often the worst part; faced with a body you generally don’t spend too long gazing at in the harsh light of a fitting room. Then my assistant appeared, measuring tape in hand. She appeared unconcerned; she probably does this at least ten times a day. I immediately tensed up. This fitting business involves far too much close contact for my liking. On second thoughts the actual measurement is probably the worst part. Then comes the actual trying on of bras – black, white, multicoloured, under-wired, padded; the choices are endless and far too many. I try to narrow it down as quickly as I can. There are only so many times I can stand there in my bra and jeans discussing the merits of each piece of underwear. I am just struggling into choice number two when it happens. The tiny lady saves me.

Up until now she had been perfectly content to peep into empty fitting rooms and wave at herself in the mirror. Then she discovered mama was behind one such door and there was no pleasing her until she was up in my arms. Feigning an annoyance I was far from feeling I threw my top back on, grabbed two bras and suggested I return another day. The assistant was sympathetic and suggested I leave the tags on and return them if they were unsuitable. Relief! I could try them on at home.

But, unfortunately, the story doesn’t quite end there. I’d had a niggling feeling all along that she had measured me incorrectly. So when I got home naturally the bras were not a good fit. So now I have to return to go through the whole rigamarole again. Who knows what will happen this time but I’ll be making sure to bring my toddler along for an easy escape should it prove necessary. Toddlers; sometimes they can actually be quite useful!

The mystery of the sea

This morning we decided to go and collect some sea-shells. My ultimate aim is to paint these shells gold and silver and perhaps make a little jewellery box. But, as I’m not the most crafty at the best of times, this may or may not happen. I’m sure the shells will be painted and an attempt may be made at the jewellery box but I imagine the image in my head will be nothing like the reality!

But back to this morning. I actually expected it would be a typical Irish summer day i.e. that it would fool us with gorgeous sun and cloudless skies then release a torrent of rain just as we stepped out of the car. I even made detour home to collect the rain coats as I’d forgotten them when we first left the house. Shockingly it stayed dry. It even became sunnier and by the time we hit the beach the sea was sparkling with sun shimmers reminiscent of a Disney movie. It is really lovely to visit the beach very early in the morning. There is hardly another soul in sight beyond the odd jogger or friendly dog-walker so you can pretty much pretend that you own the beach; it’s your very own private lagoon. Granted this fantasy is slightly ruined every now and again  when a lone figure strolls by but still it’s nice to dream!

The ocean looked wonderfully inviting but my daughter has a slight fear of the sea. It seems to fascinate and terrify her in equal measure! We learned this when she was very tiny and we brought her to the beach to paddle at the shore. She hated it! She hated the feel of the wet sand on her feet. She hated the waves. She just plain hated every bit of it so we left (in a hurry being gazed at by curious bystanders). Still we realised that it was our job to help her overcome this fear so we have returned time and time again. She doesn’t mind the sand anymore but says the sea is ‘too noisy’ and likes to keep it at a safe distance.

Despite my intense love for the sea I do understand where she is coming from. It’s vast and seemingly endless, it does make strange noises and it moves closer and closer up the shore. She can be forgiven for being overwhelmed. I just hope that through repeated visits and with reassurance she can become less afraid. I would love to see her make friends with the sea as I’ve a feeling they would be really good buddies once they come to understand each other.

So Bloom…with a Toddler…thank goodness for parental amnesia

So Bloom….with a toddler….yes it did seem like quite a good idea at the time. Normally we are a bit reluctant to go too far afield with the tiny lady unless we are staying over somewhere for the night but she is about to turn two so we thought we would risk it. What’s the worse that could happen?

Indeed.

Well, spoiler alert we didn’t actually see any flowers. At a national festival of flowers and plants we didn’t actually see any. It might be some sort of record.

The day started off quite well. We timed our departure to tie with in with the all important toddler nap time and the tiny lady drifted off for the better part of the journey. Then we hit Dublin. Aided and abetted by the help of Google Maps we came very close to divorce on the M50. We circled round and round. Voices were raised. Tempers flared. The toddler woke up and wanted out. I began to regret leaving the house. But we made it at last. Or so we thought.

We ended up parked miles away from the actual entrance only to discover an actual carpark a stones throw away once we got there. We attempted laughing it off but there were lots of dark looks thrown at the guard who had kindly directed us in the wrong direction.

Finally, however, we made it inside. Toilets were a priority at this stage. I found them…well actually I smelled them first. A queue snaked out of each woman’s cubicle while the men’s were quietly idle. Wishing I was a man I queued at the women’s. Ten minutes later I felt a little more comfortable thought I did vow I would go liquid free for the rest of the afternoon. This meant abstaining from coffee which quite frankly I could have seriously used at that point. However, I didn’t want to spend our limited time queuing at the toilets. We figured with a toddler and two hour journey home we have two hours max to enjoy ourselves.

Food was next on the agenda. We found a fancy hot dog vendors and basically scoffed some down in about five minutes the toddler helped though she preferred her banana and baby bel. We then took a quick stroll through the craft area. By quick stroll I mean I literally stopped at one stall before the tiny lady tried to grab a handful of shiny jewels. We managed to stop her but we had to pay a price.  What followed was a five minute meltdown that ended in bribery and ice cream. I never realised quite how sticky toddlers can be until the tiny lady rubbed her ice cream caked hand all over the grass and then tried to give me a hug.

My husband tried to take a brief tour of the food stalls while I entertained the toddler but after two seconds she wanted her dada again. She wasn’t happy until we were all sitting down together on the grass; preferably with food in our hands. There were quite a few meltdowns when we tried to do anything other than what she wanted to do so the main area we got to see was the children’s area where our little monkey played with tractors and watched half of a Punch & Judy show. I can’t even honestly tell you what we else we really did beyond that and eating!

But it was the walk back to the car that truly broke me. My husband suggested he walk ahead with my coffee and the bag of assorted toddler/parent crap. I figured the tiny lady and I could stroll back at our leisure as we wouldn’t have as far to go. All was going swimmingly until a steward asked us to step off the foot path to allow cars to pass. Yes cars …on the footpath. Of course the toddler didn’t want to walk on the grass she wanted to walk on the footpath. She raved and ranted. I cursed the steward under my breath allowing myself the luxury of calling him stupid in her earshot which normally I would never do. I then had to carry her all the way back to the car with an ache in the pit of my back and sweat streaking down my face. At that point I swore I would never go anywhere ever again.

The car journey home confirmed my decision.  All the way home the sounds of Mama, Mama literally every two seconds.  I curled up in a ball at one point hoping that if she couldn’t see me she wouldn’t call for me – out of sight out of mind kind of thing. This did not even come close to working.

The day ended with the least nutritious dinner – waffles and spaghetti hoops -this meant no fighting and very little washing up.

Of course we all know that with a bit of time and distance the stress will fade from my mind and all I will remember is my tiny lady’s face as she bit into her first lemon sorbet, the light in her eyes as she giggled at Punch & Judy and the feel of her warm body snuggled against mine as we walked home. That’s the joy of being a parent; you benefit greatly from parental amnesia…otherwise you might very well never leave your home again!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lazy Parenting or Sanity Preservation?

I often find myself plagued by the question – am I a lazy mother? Today I brought the tiny lady to the park and she ended up playing sticks with another little boy. By playing sticks I mean throwing random bits of wood into the fountain and creating lots of splashy wet fun! Needless to say tiny lady ended up soaked to the skin and in need of a full change of clothes. Luckily we live five minutes away so this wasn’t a big problem.

But later I found myself wondering was this just an example of lazy parenting? I knew if I stopped the tiny lady from participating she would inevitably throw a strop. I’ll be honest I wasn’t in the form for a battle to see who was boss today. I couldn’t face her throwing herself on the ground and screaming while I made ineffectual gestures at picking her up. I felt tired just thinking about it. So yes I let her play in the questionably dirty water.

The same thing had happened earlier. The swings and slide were wet. Another mother cautioned her daughter against going down the slide while I quickly dried it with a ball of tissues to avoid a possible meltdown. She still managed to get wet but I found myself just not caring. I wondered was this just mere laziness or have I managed to become a bit more chilled out about things? When she was tiny I used to change her clothes if even a speck of dirt got on them; now not so much. She spends her days covered in various forms of gunk and USG (Unidentifiable Sticky Goo – a substance that just seems to grow around toddlers). Her hair…well the least said about that the better. She starts off with a cute pony-tail and hair-clips. By the end of the day her hair is down in her face, sticky looking and the hair-clips are long gone (side note – where do all these hair-clips disappear to??).

I have given up the fight; the battle to have a well-presented child. I see these other little girls all cute in their little (clean) outfits and hair up just so. I must admit I get a bit jealous when I compare them to my little mound of messiness. But that’s who she is. She hates getting dressed and don’t get me started on trying to do her hair. So I throw on whatever is easiest, don’t change it unless it gets really, really gross and I don’t bother too much when her hair becomes a tangle of ick.

Laziness or just a way to maintain my sanity? I’m still trying to decide.