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Tuesday, 27 May 2008

Going Completely Potty

Guilt levels having attained a new high I decided to take a week off to tackle at least one of my guilty secrets: the now desperate requirement to teach my wayward son the joys of self-sufficiency, a dry bottom and his very own Thomas The Tank Engine Pants.

Yes, it was time to tackle the dreaded potty training and it took new levels of self-awareness to recognise how long I had been procrastinating over this relatively simple task. How is it that I can face a boardroom of executives to present a new publishing strategy with relative equanimity, but find the potential resistance of a three year old boy to the concept of pulling down his own pants and aiming his willy in the right direction absolutely terrifying?

I'll venture the following four reasons for starters:

1. Absence of control.
2. Fear of failure.
3. Prospect of horrifying, pooey mess.
4. Familiarity with even grown men's inability to aim their willies in the right direction (naming no names).

Of course the reality is nowhere near as bad as the prospect, proving that it is almost always best to confront one's fears. And in the spirit of sharing I offer you my top ten rules of engagement for managing potty training:

1. Stock up on sweets and lollies. Rewards for potty success go a long way. By the end of this week Nathan will definitely be potty-trained even if this does require the complete sacrifice of his milk teeth.

2. Ensure that everything in range has washable covers and wipe-clean surfaces. Poo stains on the sofa covers is not a good look. And what did people do before carpets went out of fashion? Thank goodness for my wooden floors.

3. Learn to breathe deeply, count to ten silently and smile (falsely) whilst refraining from screaming, "The potty is RIGHT NEXT TO YOU so WHY ARE YOU PEEING ON THE FLOOR?!!!!" and instead saying sweetly, "Oh dear darling, have we had a little accident? Never mind! Better luck next time!"

4. Dress your child in easy-to-pull-down elasticated waisted trousers and carry copious pairs of said items as well as probably an entire bag-full of spare pants around with you at all times.

5. Try not to bend over in public places spilling the contents of your handbag on to the floor, especially if you have forgotten to remove the sodden pair from the previous 'accident' from your bag.

6. Exercise extreme levels of patience, saintliness and inner strength. Imagine Super Nanny and Mother Theresa combined.

7. Try not to compare potty training to a work project. Levels of likely success will not be comparable. Satisfaction on successful completion of the Potty Project will be astronomically higher and the rewards far greater.

8. Remember that Potty Training counts as 'Extreme Circumstances', as in, 'In extreme circumstances only it is permissible to start drinking at 4pm."

9. Related to 8, it is wise to have extra supplies of gin bought in in advance. In particularly extreme cases valium should be prescribed.

10. Did I mention the breathing?

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

Tablecloth displacement

The tablecloth is a hit. People come round and exclaim: "OOH! What a lovely tablecloth." Then they brush their fingers across its surface and express surprise that it is plastic. "And how practical!" they coo. My neighbour has bought one too in a fit of tablecloth-envy. Hers has funky green apples on it. I am a trendsetter!
There's only one small problem. I bought it to disguise the paint, biro and scratch marks decorating the table. But after two weeks in situ the tablecloth is starting to bear all the signs signs of small people itself: paint, biro and scratch marks. The tablecloth bears this marginally better than the table did because the trendy floral design merges with the scribbles so that you hardly notice them. It really *is* all a metaphor for my life: however hard you try to make your life wipe-clean, it's just too difficult to remove the stains. Best just disguise them a bit with some pretty patterns.
Actually, talking about the tablecloth endlessly is really all just displacement activity. Have been suffering acute case of BadMotherItis brought on by 20 month old refusing to walk, three year old refusing to potty train and six year old refusing to let a civil word issue from her lips. Of course, each of these things is entirely my fault! I was too distracted to notice that Ava was nearly two yet still getting from A to B on her bottom, dragging one leg underneath her and thus weakening it (a course of physio and possibly a leg brace now beckons, the thought of which makes my eyes go watery every time). I was too lazy / distracted / exhausted to spend my weekends putting my three year old on the potty every 15 minutes and now have precisely three and a half months to resolve the issue before he is refused entry to school. I was too soft on my six year old and I am suffering the consequences. Must Try Harder. Must Try Harder.
And, breeeeeeeeathe!

Tuesday, 6 May 2008

Wipe Out

Something has been bothering me for over a week now, and I have only just found the courage to formulate some sort of response to it. Thing is, last week, I went online and ordered a wipe-free tablecloth for our wreck of a dining room table. Yes, I really did. It's been bothering me ever since. What does this mean? Either (a) I have declined sadly into full-scale middle age; (b) I have lost all sense of taste, and have stepped onto the slippery slope of preferring practicality over beauty; (c) I am desperate to regain control over my so-out-of-control, scruffy house and this is a quite pathetic attempt to begin to overcome my sense of freefall, or (d) it is a metaphor for my life, which I wish could be wipe-clean. Or quite possibly a combination of all of the above. Please, no need to comment on that one. I felt only partially better when I saw that wipe-clean tablecloths come in a really quite stunning array of designs these days including those clearly targeting people like me who would like to have a wipe-clean tablecloth but would like to think they can still be 'cool' at the same time. And I felt better again when a colleague asked whether I had also bought a 'table protector' to go underneath my wipe-clean tablecloth. Thankfully, I hadn't, which apparently means I am not a fully-fledged middle aged person but am only slightly edging that way. Perhaps, you are thinking, I shouldn't let the wipe-free-tablecloth-buying thing concern me so much. After all, I clearly have bigger things to worry about. But no. I've tried, and it's still bothering me! (Is there such a thing as 'off-setting' to achieve cool-factor points? Err, for example, does it count that I still wear Urban Decay make-up?) Oh dear, perhaps I should just send it back....