For those of you who have been following me on Twitter, you will know a bit about me and my daughter Amy. For those of you who haven't been following me (where were you? You've missed so much!) you can follow me on andrea_mclean.
I've had such a lovely response from you all to my twitterings about Amy and her adventures that I thought I'd start a proper blog. I'll be able to write a bit more about what we've all been up to in our crazy house; whether we've managed to get any sleep (unlikely) and what Jackson the dog has eaten to date (today, just the one chilli pepper from the garden. Still sneezing and feeling a bit sorry for himself).
I have loved hearing from you all on Twitter, but now we can swap longer stories and share our mum-type nightmares. I'm not sure how long my posts are supposed to be on this, but
I thought I'd start off with a description of a fairly typical day....
You know the start of the film Groundhog Day, when the weatherman played by Bill Murray wakes up every day to his alarm cheerily blasting out ‘I Got You Babe’? He reaches out a tired arm, casts a bleary eye at the time, and then gets out of bed to relive the same day, over and over again.
Well, apart from the fact that I’m not a weather presenter any more, and instead of hearing Sonny and Cher in the morning I am wakened by a three year-old’s yelling, my life is pretty much the same.
5am: Wake with a start as thundering feet race into the bedroom, followed closely by the body of a nuclear-fuelled child, yelling “Can I go downstairs and see Jackson?!” He’s our dog, named after the dearly-departed Michael.
This is followed by much wailing and thrashing on the floor if I have not responded appropriately within the allotted time (which changes daily like a secret service security code, so I have no idea what the correct password is).
I think the only acceptable answer is an immediate “yes!” and a leap out of bed, but as that has yet to happen I can’t be one hundred per cent sure. While still trying to focus and recover from a work-induced stress dream involving inappropriate nakedness, I lurch out of bed and drag on my dressing gown. The other half remains in a comatose state, and will only be roused by a fog horn sounding alarm, or a cup of builder’s tea.
5:01am. Amy and I wrestle at the top of the stairs as I try and open the stair gate and stop her hurling herself down like a greyhound out of a trap. We tussle over who gets through first, and I sometimes win. Then we fight over who will close the gate behind us; or rather she fights with me, I have no real opinion over who shuts the gate, only that it gets done, but she likes to get the first punch in first, just in case I might want to sneak in with a crafty shove and click it before she can. Then we battle our way downstairs; with me trying to protect her from her kamikaze self, and her fighting to slide down the banister, roll down on her side or white water raft it on her bottom. I am exhausted by the time we get to the bottom of the stairs. It is now 5:04am.
5:05am. Amy hurtles into the kitchen like a heat-seeking missile, heading straight for Jackson’s cage. Jackson has heard the commotion on the stairs and is now whining, barking and throwing himself against the metal frame like a deranged prisoner. I race to open the back door before Amy can get the cage undone; if the timing of this is out by under a second, there will be wee on the floor, closely followed by pooh, and usually followed by tears – mine. The tears that is, not the smellier bodily fluids. Jackson launches himself at us like he hasn’t seen us for weeks, jumping up, licking and wriggling with joy. “Outside Jackson!” I call, and step out into the back garden to remind him where he has to go. “Do your business Jackson, good boy!” I croon, hoping the neighbours aren’t up yet and can hear me. Both my neighbours are very old, and old people don’t need much sleep, so I always worry that they can hear my morning madness. “Good boy!” I say to him, as he pees the entire contents of his bladder on to the grass. I give him a doggie treat from my dressing gown pocket, and ruffle the fur on his head. He runs turns away from me and hunkers down, in that awkward primeval hunch that announces a pooh is on its way. He looks at me embarrassed, and out of respect (and slight nausea) I turn away. When he has finished I walk over to him and give him another doggie treat, and ruffle him again saying “GOOD BOY JACKSON! GOOD BOY FOR DOING YOUR BUSINESS OUTSIDE!” I then reach into my other dressing gown pocket and pull out an orange nappy sack, turn it inside out and neatly scoop up the (gulp) still warm pooh, tie a knot in the bag and put it in the outside bin. Jackson trots along side me looking very pleased with him self. As right he should; I would probably wee on demand if someone gave me a present every time.
5:09am. I go back inside the kitchen and open the utility room door. Moogue, the huge black and white cat that came with the other half when we got together six years ago, glares at me in a “What time do you call this?” kind of way. I give him a sachet of Whiskas, tickle behind his ear, then get out the dog food. By the time I have put the dry dog biscuits into the dish and put the packet back into the utility room, Amy has tipped the whole lot into Jackson’s water. Jackson doesn’t really care, and is eating and drinking at the same time, in the way that men eat crisps and gulp lager, it just saves time. He knows to eat it fast before a) Amy tips the whole lot out onto the floor b) it goes soggy and fat with water or c) the cat boots him out the way and eats the lot. Since the arrival of Jackson, Moogue has transformed from a big, lazy hobbling old thing to Dr Evil of the Disney cat world. He stalks around the house with his eyes narrowed and his tail swishing slowly and with great pleasure, sauntering past a terrified Jackson who backs away whenever he sees him. And like any victim of playground bullying, Jackson has learned to keep off his patch, to back away when he picks a fight, and to sneakily eat his dinner when he’s not around to kill him. Revenge is a dish best served in a cat bowl…
5:12am. Amy is now shouting for her milk, so I make her go and get her bottle out of the cupboard (I have to look like I have some kind of authority around here), and heat up her milk. While it is in the microwave (I know, I know, how many mummy brownie points have I lost in the past twelve minutes?), I feed the two fish: Black Butt and Spotty Butt, so named because of their appearance, so no prizes for guessing what they look like. “Ping!” goes the microwave, Amy starts jumping up and down and shouting “It’s ready! It’s ready!” and I have to get it into her grasping hands in less than 0.003 of a second before the wailing and thrashing starts.
5:13am. Jackson has inhaled his food and is nosing his way towards the utility room, sneakily hoping Moogue has gone and left a little morsel behind. He hasn’t, and with a hiss and a swipe of his paw catches Jackson on the snout and sends him howling and barking across the kitchen floor. Amy rushes over to see what the commotion is, yanks her bottle out of her mouth and shouts “Be nice Moogue! Be nice!” and whacks him. He saunters off looking like he’d like to nuke the whole lot of us. Jackson bounds up to say hello and thank you for rescuing him. “Be nice Jackson!” shouts Amy, and gives him a whack as well.
5:16am. The kettle has boiled and I am sipping my rescue juice; a cup of black coffee so strong you could stand your spoon up in it. It tastes like molten nectar, and I can’t wait to feel it kick in. There is silence apart from the squeaky voice of Peppa Pig coming from the little room off the kitchen. I feel my shoulders start to lower from up round my ears.
5:16:01am. Amy rushes out shouting “Jackson has done a wee-wee on the floor! Naughty Jackson!” I grab some kitchen roll and spray, and sure enough there is a yellow puddle on the (thankfully) tiled floor. “Out Jackson!” I bellow. “Yes! Out Jackson!” repeats Amy. I nudge him out the door, manage to get it shut before he launches himself back into the room and wipe and spray the mess. On my way to the bin I pass Amy. She is now naked, having yanked off her pyjamas and her nappy and is crouched on the floor examining its full brown contents. “Look mummy! Amy’s pooh!” she cries excitedly. “Don’t touch the pooh. Leave the pooh alone” she says to herself; a cry drummed into her after a spectacularly bad episode where she decorated her cot with the contents of her nappy. That was a horrible sight to wake up to…
“Don’t touch it Amy!” I warn as I rush past her to put the doggie wee-soaked kitchen roll into the bin. “Wait for Mummy!” By the time I turn around she has disappeared. I hear the noise of the toilet seat in the downstairs loo banging. By the time I get to her she has climbed on to the toilet and has sat down heavily, legs dangling over either side and pooh streaked down each leg and most of the seat. “Amy’s a big girl now Mummy, I can go to the toilet!”
“Yes, good girl Amy” I answer, running back into the kitchen and yanking open the cupboard with the spare nappies, wipes and nappy sacks. “I’m finished!” I hear from the toilet, and in the time it takes to get back in there she has climbed off the toilet, leaving yet more pooh streaks on the toilet, the floor and all over her hands. Which bit do I clean first? I decide to go for the hands, then the bottom, then the bathroom. I wipe, then wash her hands with soapy water, holding her under my arm while she wriggles and thrashes and shouts that she wants to turn the tap off by her self. I am now wet with water, slightly streaked with pooh, and smelling of dog and cat food. “I want to see Jackson!” she shouts, and wriggles out of my grasp to run naked into the playroom, leaving me to clean the explosion she has left behind.
5:23am. I have managed to get her into a clean nappy and back into her pyjamas – it’s not worth dressing her until after breakfast, as most of it usually ends up in her lap and on her head. It is like trying to feed a chimp dressed in florals. Jackson is under her seat lapping up tossed aside Cheerios and dripping milk. I drink my coffee; it is now lukewarm, but it just means I can gulp it down quicker, and wait for the caffeine fizz to start.
5:27am. Amy is down now, and standing in the playroom banging the hammer of her big brother’s old building set. Bang bang bang she goes. She is singing The Wheels on the Bus to herself as she does so, which makes me feel like an evil mother for wishing she’d just be a bit more, well, quiet… There is a scream, then a shout, then another bang, then a bark, then a shout of “NO JACKSON!” then a loud wail, and Amy comes rushing in. “Jackson has got my dolly!” she shouts, tears coursing down her face. “Drop it Jackson,” I say in my firmest voice, and bless him, he does. If only Amy was as easy to train. I soothe her, give her a kiss and follow her back into the playroom to put on Big Cook Little Cook. Thank God for SKY Plus.
5:30am. Jackson is asleep on the rug, Amy is snuggled into my side, and I am pretending to watch the TV with my eyes shut. In half an hour, Amy’s big brother Finlay will be up, all engines roaring and carrying on the same conversation we were having before I put him to bed, as if the eight hours sleep he had was just a short pause for thought.
It will involve discussing who is the best Transformer, who has the most weapons and what they can do; an in-depth analysis into the intricacies of Ben Ten Alien Force vs Ben Ten, and possibly a full rendition of his favourite scene from Ice Age 3. I will be expected have a view on these things which will not be fobbed off with half-hearted answers; justification and back up will be required. In an hour the other half will stumble scratching and heavy-eyed downstairs, will eat the toast and drink the tea I make for him, and head out to work without really noticing how he got there.
In the film Bill Murray has to re-live Groundhog Day until he finally learns to see his mistakes, change his ways and turn his life around. My Groundhog Day is far more straightforward than that; I just have to wait until my three year-old has got to grips with sleeping, eating and going to the toilet without giving me a nervous breakdown. Once I can stop her peeing in the garden like the dog, I figure I’m on to a winner…