Friday, May 30, 2008

Elegy for a White Donkey

Parenthood is full of small absurdities. Yesterday, I discovered the entirety of the alphabet (in magnet form) inside my Doc Martens. Instead of wondering what my life was coming to, I merely thought, “Oh THAT’S where those went.” I often think of my mother-in-law, who once opened the freezer to discover the ice cube tray contained not only ice, but several Han Solo action figures “frozen in carbonite.” I think I can just be grateful for the moment that I don’t have a boy, because I don’t think I could handle waking up with an excruciating pain in my back to discover that I was lying on Action Man. At any rate, I digress.

The absurdity came to a head yesterday afternoon while on a routine shopping trip with The Prawn. Due to the misery of the weather, she was safely ensconced inside her rain bubble cockpit with trusty sidekick, Sir Humphrey Bollagaurd as I completed my errands. When I came to Waitrose in order to purchase cupcake making supplies for the up coming natal festivities of Mr. DD and my virtual sister-in-law, I glanced down, and discovered, to my horror, that Humphrey was, in fact, AWOL.

“You’ve lost Humphrey!” I said out loud, and promptly burst into tears.

I blame my mother for this.

When I was small, she managed to instill a sense of extreme empathy that lingers with me today and unfortunately includes the anthropomorphication of inanimate objects. “Oh no!” she’d say, upon waking me up in the morning, “Bear fell out of bed! He must have had an awfully cold and lonely night on the floor.” Of course, this would emotionally cripple me for the day, imagining Bear spending the night on the floor, gazing up at me sadly, and wondering why I would be so callous as to ACCIDENTALLY KNOCK HIM OFF THE BED IN MY SLEEP.*

An instant search was mounted. I retraced my steps and stops all around town. I called back at shops I’d been in and shops along the route to see if anyone had handed Humphrey in. Then I did it again. And a third time. The town of Berkhamstead was treated to the sight of a grown woman with streaked mascara desperately hunting for a stuffed donkey.

The Prawn, meanwhile, who still has the short term memory of a goldfish, was fairly content to go along for the ride. She, of course, has no concept of “gone” or “lost”; to her, Humphrey simply IS. “Humfra!” she said happily, from time to time, deepening my despair as it became apparent that dear Sir Humphrey was nowhere to be found.

I wept bitterly all the way home, the Prawn in the backseat, happily oblivious. I could not help but imagine the sense of abandonment this well loved donkey must have felt as he tumbled from the buggy into the rainy street. I’m a 33 years old and I was devastated by the loss of this stuffed toy that my daughter had brought to life, just by loving him. I felt miserable and utterly absurd. Mr. DD was equally devastated when I tearfully informed him of the tragedy over the phone. I prefaced my confession with “Something awful happened!” leading him to believe that I’d crashed the car. I love that I married a man who would have PREFERED that I’d crashed the car.

The only thing that kept the disaster from becoming a catastrophe was that for once, the two of us had some foresight. Months ago, when it was obvious that Humphrey was becoming a fast favourite, we bought a “stunt double.” (This is when we discovered that he was, in fact, a pony called Parsley. It was a bit like finding out that your high school English teach that you had a crush on was gay.) Stunt Humphrey has been used once or twice when the One True Humphrey has been indisposed; either in the washing machine or left behind at Grandad’s house. The Prawn, of course knows only that Humphrey is white and soft, and has never been bothered by these substitutions, so when we returned from our ill fated trip, I went, with heavy heart, to the toy shelf to deploy Stunt Humphrey into active duty. In my head, I asked whatever spirit that formerly inhabited his predecessor to imbue the New Humphrey with the same spark of life, and then tentatively handed him to the Prawn, who’s face lit up as she embraced him.

To her, he is the One True Humphrey and always has been.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The Worst Supper

I remember eating out. I think it used to have something to do with eating. And maybe talking, but I can’t be sure.

We’ve been meaning to get together with the Cheerful Idiot and the Barmaid for sometime to celebrate our goddaughter’s birthday, so when we finally found a few hours that worked for 4 adults, it meant taking 3 children out in public and trying to get them to ingest something, which is always a situation to be avoided at all costs. To make matters worse, we chose a local branch of a crappy and overly pricey Italian chain joint with notoriously bad service, so we were obviously setting ourselves up for big fun. Mr. DD is also in the process of trying to get off of caffeine, so he spent the day thinking withdrawal related thoughts and wishing that he could sleep until forgetting that he’d ever HEARD of coffee, so his general fatigue was yet another factor to add to the general mayhem.

Even without the child factor, our local branch of Frankie and Benny’s (a restaurant that tries hard to convince you that it is oozing with New York Italian charm while simultaneously employing underage chavlings from the wrong side of Aylesbury.) is not exactly the venue for a restful repast. This was proven within moments of being seated when, in lieu of the traditional annoying, but generally innocuous, congregation of waiters to wish a guest Happy Birthday, the entire establishment was plunged into darkness and treated to a cacophonous version of the popular natal hymn the blared from every corner, followed by a fit-inducing light show. And then they did it again. And then a third time. The waves of hate emanating from my body could have killed small mammals.

Mr. DD and I don’t get out to restaurants much these days, but generally when we do get a chance to eat al fresco (al fresco translating to “not sitting on the couch watching The Simpsons”) it’s not quite the relaxing ordeal that it used to be seeing as how the third member of our party chews with her mouth open, belches loudly and feels that her hair is just as good a place as any for the main entrĂ©e. When wait staff as us “How many?”, “Two and a half” has become a standard answer and we tend to leave a fair amount of work for the poor sod who has to clean the table in the form of partially chewed pasta and baby wipes covered in various organic substances.

We miss dining mano y mano, Mr. DD and I.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Bad Behavior

For anyone wondering if it is possible for children to be assholes, be assured, it really, really is.

The Prawn is not generally an asshole. In the traditional sense, I suppose it's not really fair to apply the asshole label until one knows how NOT to be an asshole, but let me just go on to tell you how tired I am of teething.

What kind of crappy design flaw is it to have teeth come in one at a time, causing apparently excruciating discomfort with every new gnasher? Surely, someone, somewhere should be working on a way to get all of the buggers to come in at the same time so that we could all GET A LITTLE SLEEP AROUND HERE.

Monday, May 12, 2008


The horror. It can talk.

I don't remember who said it, but a quote that sticks in my mind about children is that "it's lovely to live near a playground so that you can hear the chatter of little voices. Providing that you don't listen to closely to what they're actually saying." This fact was brought into sharp relief when I took The Prawn to our local toddler playground for an afternoon romp only to find it mostly occupied with 9-10 year old boys goofing around. I fixed them with a fairly disapproving look, but ignored them for the most part while the Prawn clambered happily over some of the equipment. However, I kept one ear on their conversation which was both shocking and hilarious at the same time. My guess is that they had been talking fairly freely before my arrival and either out of deference for my adult authority status (ha!) or the Prawn's pristine ears, while their talk remained coarse, they at least had the decency to SPELL their curse words.

"You know that blonde kid, yeah? Who called me a b-a-s-t-a-r-d?"


"I'm going to punch 'im in the f-u-c-k-i-n-g face tomorrow at break."

It took all my power not to laugh, seeing as how they'd go to all that trouble. Little s-h-i-t-s.

At any rate, the Prawn is also making more and more advanced forays into the world of linguistics and thankfully none of them have included any of the above mentioned words. It has become obvious to us that while we may still be able to swear like sailors once she is abed, that we'd better find more creative methods of expressing displeasure when she is in earshot.

Occasionally we leave her with a friend who is very good with children and we trust totally but who is, shall we say, slightly more basic in vocabulary than we ourselves are. She's someone who might say "anyfink" instead of "anything" or "I done that" rather than "I did that". One of my personal favorite derogatory phrases that I've learned since coming to the UK has been "minging", as it seems to be rather descriptive of something that is disgusting or unpleasant. This girl uses this phrase quite a lot and last night I off-handedly said it to Mr. DD about something only to hear a little voice down at knee height say, "MINGING!" gleefully. While not ACTUALLY a curse word, it's not necessarily something I want my child shouting in the supermarket, to be taken the wrong way by all and sundry. Mr. DD already taught her to say "bum" which is quite enough to be getting on with.

Her vocabulary list now includes almost all parts of the face, a fair number of barnyard animals, the number 2, the standard "mama" and "dada", clock, cheese, banana, (pronounced "nana") milk, juice, egg, a number of items of clothing, a few transportational devices and of course her first love, "guitar".

The fact that I manufactured something that is now capable of talking to me is a daily source of amazement.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Inked *updated*

When I get an idea in my head, I don’t dick around. All I can say right now is that my ankle hurts.

At this point, I must admit my profoundly embarrassing love for “reality” series, Miami Ink, chronicling the life and slightly staged times of the Floridian inkers at Love/Hate Tattoos in South Beach and the effect that these nightly forays into the world of body modification was having on my willpower to not have any more work done. Mr. DD was already getting some ink to commemorate the birth of the Prawn, so I couldn’t very well let him have all the flesh scarifying fun. After a few days of playing around in Photoshop, I came up with a design that I was happy with and yesterday, the two of us trotted off to the local inkery to get marked for life. (The Prawn was safely and temporarily ensconced with a babysitter so that she didn’t spend the duration of our appointments tearing flash off the walls and decorating the floor with as many different colors of ink as she could get her mitts on.)

Tattoos always seem to be a great idea until the moment the needle touches your skin for the first time causing a sensation akin to someone viciously and repeatedly stubbing a very fine cigarette out on you. And then doing it again, and enjoying it. This is not to elicit pity, because asking for compassion following an entirely unnecessary and self-inflicted hurt would be just a tad foolish, but it doesn’t change the fact that it hurts like the proverbial motherfucker. It’s lucky for me that my inker is not only tremendously talented, but a fast worker, so the agony was a relatively short one and I came out the other end with a rather lovely bit of art on my right ankle with should heal up in relatively short order.

Mr. DD went second and offered up his arm to the needle to be adorned with the initials of our daughter. The area of the hands, for my husband, is a bit of a delicate region. In fact, such is his squeamishness about his digits and their outlands that, if given a choice between hand surgery and losing one or both testicles, I think his boys might have a run for their money. I was expecting at least a bit of pallor, but he took it like a man under the quick hand of our artist and was soon in possession with a very cool set of initials in a great font, ironically called Skin Deep.

So, here we both sit, blogging our experiences and nursing the niggling pain in our extremities and enjoying our new bits of ink.

Until the next time.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

More Prawn Than You Can Handle

This is the one time of year that I get to post "don't you wish your countryside was hot like mine" pics. Our local bluebell woods was remarkably quiet this afternoon. It's a shame that this isolated and quiet spot turns into Disney World when the flowers come out, complete with shouting children, quarreling adults and rambunctious dogs.

This is the Prawn's second visit to the woods and the site of her first smile a little over a year ago. This time, she got to navigate the paths under her own power.