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Tuesday, 26 October 2010

When Amy Jane Was Good


Amy Jane was good for a WHOLE WEEKEND. She slept through the night until 7:30am - a FIRST. She didn't wet her bed - a bonus. She woke up in a good mood, two days on the trot, and didn't hit me with her bunnies, shouting that it was time to get up, where was her breakfast? Why weren't we downstairs yet? No, she bounded in smiling (well, I think she was smiling, I was asleep until she climbed into bed and kneed me in the stomach). "Good morning Mummy" she said, and snuggled down next to me for a cuddle, like normal children do. I gradually came round, rather than being shocked bolt upright by a whack to the head or the duvet being pulled off. Being Amy's Mum is a bit like being an army cadet; you are never quite sure what the rules of warfare are, or when someone is going to sneak up on you in the middle of the night and yell in your ear.

"Can we go downstairs now?" she twinkled at me. "Yes, Amy" I said, wondering who this alien was, and what it had done with my daughter. And realised that as long as the swap was permanent, I didn't actually care.
We made our way downstairs and she didn't shout that she wanted to go first. She let Jackson the dog out of the back door, without thumping him. She asked if she could have some milk please Mummy, and even smiled. Who was this little impostor?

We watched Peppa Pig and snuggled under a blanket while I tried to sneak in a little extra snoozing, and she didn't prize my eyes open with jaggy fingers, shouting "Don't sleep Mummy!" She sat quietly and let me doze, so I did, for at least an HOUR.
We then made pancakes for breakfast like we do every Saturday, and she stirred with the whisk, rather than her hands. She even ate three of them. She was helpful and lovely all day, and right through until Sunday night, even when the rest of the weekend went a bit wrong.

Having a dog means that our 'family time' is often taken up with walking him, with varying success. If I walk him after dropping the kids to school and nursery, it is very successful; he has a great time and I enjoy an hour of peace and quiet to myself, knowing that I am multi-tasking by not just walking me, but him as well. The family walks don't go quite as well. Finlay HATES going for walks, and always has done. If it is cold or wet, the moaning and mithering is hideous. Amy doesn't care about the weather; the wetter the better as it means mud and puddles, her two favourite things.

Anyway, on the Sunday we took Jackson for his walk, and decided to try somewhere different. We parked up by a big field and made our way along the well-trodden footpath. The sun actually shone, and the kids actually skipped, and Steve and I held hands like a picture-postcard family. It was lovely. Finlay found an interesting tree to climb, which was great as it took his mind off the cold, and Amy hung around underneath it, shouting at him to come down. We wandered ahead a little, towards a stream. It was fairly deep and fast flowing, but Steve has got an idea in his head about us getting kayaks (don't ask) so he wanted to see if it was suitable for kayaking (or whatever you call falling in the water out of plastic open canoe things). Jackson was beside himself, he LOVES water, so he ran ahead into the rushes, and promptly disappeared from view. There was a splash; he'd fallen straight down the sheer drop hidden by the long reeds. Steve and I ran after him, and saw him thrashing about in the water. "Come on Jackson!" we called, but he couldn't get up the steep bank. Panicking, I said to Steve, "I'll run along to where it's more shallow and he'll follow me" and sped off like Lindsay Wagner in The Bionic Woman, without the funny 'tsh tsh tsh tsh' noise, and of course the speed.

There was a set of sleepers embedded in the bank and I took them two at a time to get to Jackson. The thing is, I didn't actually MEAN to take them two at a time, I kind of got carried away with myself, and the next thing I knew my ankle twisted and crunched into a very strange angle and I fell, splat, into my hands, head and hip onto the concrete base at the bottom of the steps. Not so much Bionic Woman as You've Been Framed. The pain was hideous. I rolled onto my back and lay gasping and winded, and cursing my stupidness because I don't have time to have a broken ankle. My little finger on my left hand had taken a battering and was bleeding, and I had bitten my lip.

I was still lying on the ground when I heard Steve's voice calling for me. He appeared at the top of the steps, and looked down at me on the ground. "What are you doing?" he said. "Where's Jackson?"
"I fell down the stairs. I think I've sprained my ankle. I don't know where Jackson is."
He dithered for a micro second then said "I'm sorry, but you're OK and he might be drowning. I'll be right back." And off he went. Before I could even get cross, Jackson bounded up to me and dripped happily all over my head, mouth open and tongue lolling from the excitement of his little adventure.

Steve appeared again, and helped me take off my welly and sock, and prodded my now very swollen, bruised and sore ankle. I don't know why he prodded it, maybe to make sure I wasn't pretending. It must be a bloke thing. He helped me put everything back on again, and pulled me to my feet. The family walk was over.

Feeling a bit pukey, I held onto Steve and hobbled my way back to the kids, who were now hitting the tree with sticks.
Amy came running over. "Can I have a carry Mummy?"
"No Amy. Mummy hurt her foot. I can't carry you right now."
"I want a carry!"
"Not just now Amy. I've really hurt my foot, and my finger, look." I held up my bleeding hand.
"Oooh..." she breathed, impressed. And she took my other hand and held it all the way to the car.

Steve put an ice pack on my foot when we got home, and settled me on the sofa while he fed the kids and got them ready for bed. I felt sore and useless and a bit teary, especially when Amy decided to do some exercise by jumping over a toy on the floor, saying, "This is my exercise Mummy.It gives me air. When I watch TV my air runs out, so I need to jump."

She kissed me goodnight, and looked very concerned that my finger had a plaster on it. The foot didn't even register, the fact that I had a Cinderella plaster on my finger meant that things were SERIOUS! She was lovely, in fact they both were, in the way that kids are when suddenly you can't run around after them because 'something has happened'.

I thought I'd better write it down before I forgot, as twelve hours later, she had Finlay by the hair and was screaming at him to hand over his Transformer, had pulled Jackson along by his ears and poked the cat in the stomach. I wanted to write it to remind myself that it really had happened, because there are times when I feel it may never, ever happen again.

Unless of course there are twisted ankles and ice packs involved, and I'm really not sure it's worth it.

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

A Big Night Out

It's a bit tricky going out with a nearly four year-old. Amy is almost old enough to behave herself; in fact, if she was another child she may well be in the stride of behaving herself, but not our Amy Jane.

Last night I took her and big brother Finlay on a very special cinema outing, in London, to the Odeon Leicester Square. We caught the train into town and then walked round the corner to Yo Sushi. (Sorry, I know there is an exclamation mark somewhere in there, but I can't remember where). The kids were very excited; anywhere that has food arriving on a winding conveyor belt is a WINNER in their eyes. We settled down into a booth. Amy grabbed the first dish the came past, a plate of endamame beans.

"No, Amy" I said. "Only Mummy can take the food off the belt, OK?" she thought for a moment, then ignored me and picked up another dish. Of endamame beans.

"What are these?" she asked, whipping the lid off. "Are they peas?"
"Yes" I said, thinking that if she went to nursery the next day saying she had eaten endamame beans, everyone would think that a) she was a precocious little nightmare and b) I was a precocious slightly larger nightmare.
"I don't like them" she announced and pushed them away.
"You can pop them for Finlay and me" I said, and she did, which kept her busy for a full five minutes while I ordered some hot food and a calming glass of wine. My wine order went something like this, because I felt sorry for the friendly waiter: "You know the wine that they didn't like?" (nodding my head towards two women who were very particular considering they were in a Yo Sushi; with an exclamation mark, obviously). "Well, I'll have a glass of that"
"A large one?" he asked hopefully? Perhaps he was on commission, perhaps he needed to get rid of the bottle, who knows? But I said "Yes".
The wine came, and I drank it. Finlay tucked into his chicken and rice. Amy announced she didn't like it, and pressed the lever for the still water spout. A glint came into her eye; water! At the table! I quickly gave her a glass and asked her to fill it up, and then handed it to Finlay to drink.

You can be in charge of our drinks today Amy" I said, trying to instil a sense of responsibility. She filled three glasses, very carefully, one for each of us, and then swung her arm to bash Finlay and sent one flying across the table. Water poured onto her plate, onto Finlay's plate and then the glass rolled off the edge of the table and smashed with a resounding tinkle on the floor. She looked at me, stricken.
"It was an accident Mummy!”
All heads turned towards us, and the fussy about their wine ladies grabbed a wad of napkins and started mopping her down. I gritted my teeth and wiped the table with soggy napkins as the friendly waiter rushed over, and told us it would be safer to move to another table, because of the broken glass. We moved one table away, shifted our food, and settled down to eat, and then bosh! She did it again.

I apologised, I paid, we left.

By the time we got to Westminster Bridge I had forgotten about it. Their faces made the whole fiasco worthwhile: "Look! Big Ben!" shouted Finlay.
"Look at the big wheel!" shouted Amy, "And the boats! And the water!"
"Look at the big red bus!"
"Look at the statue of Boadicea!"
"We learned about it at school. That's Boadicea."
I was impressed.

We walked the rest of the way to Trafalgar Square, and headed for the Odeon. I was treating them to the special occasion of a film premiere; 'Despicable Me'. It was an animated children's film, so we turned up in jeans, looking windswept and like we'd popped down the local cinema for a night out. We got round the corner to see huge spotlights swirling up at the Odeon, hundreds of people screaming, and glittering celebrities mooching and posing their way up a bright yellow carpet. Bugger.

We got our tickets from the smiling PR girl, who must have wondered what we'd come as, and sneaked our way past the photographers, past Russell Brand being interviewed on a stage by a glamorous Jenni Falconer and crept inside. The kids didn't even register how scruffy we were compared to everyone else; they just saw the bright lights and the cartoon characters from the film wandering past. We found our seats, and I felt better in the comfort of the dark.

We watched Jenni on the big screen, interviewing the major celebs from the film; Russell Brand, Steve Carell and... (cue smoochy music, dimmed lights and possibly some tweeting birds) the beautiful young girl who plays 'I Carly' on Nickelodeon. Only Finlay's favourite show of ALL TIME. He sat bolt upright in his seat and stared at the screen, "That's Carly!" he shouted, "She's here?!"

Sure enough, just before the film started, the beautiful girl who plays I Carly (who I have no idea what her real name is) stood in front of the screen with Steve Carell and said hello and that she hoped we enjoyed the film. Then they left, and I don't think Finlay heard a word of the film, the violins and love hearts pulsing from his eyes made him deaf and blind. Amy giggled her way through it, and only got fidgety towards the end, which is not bad going.

Me? I loved it, it's hilarious, and I really recommend it. But the best bit of the night? Crawling into bed after putting two smiley-faced children to sleep after a night out in the Big Smoke. That's what being a mummy is all about.