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selective eating and my 7-yr-old

11 Jun


My 7-yr-old is on the beige food diet.

I’ve tried to explain many times why it’s important to eat brightly coloured foods but we just spend hours arguing the toss over yellow.  Apparently cheese is bright yellow and therefore counts.  So now we talk about green and red foods.  He definitely doesn’t eat any of those, preferring the general brownness of the sausage, the bread and the potato.

He went through the typical fussy stage at 2 alongside all of his other preschoolers.  Us mums used to giggle around the lunch table as our little ones screamed and squawked and refused to eat, happy in solidarity. But then all his friends got through that stage and started to accept a small amount of broccoli on the side of their plate. Or worst case on a separate plate. But Big Milk wouldn’t so much as hear speak of broccoli.

We decided pretty early doors that we weren’t going to fight him over it. He clearly wasn’t budging and would rather forgo pudding of any kind than eat even a tiny mouthful of something he didn’t like. So I started hiding the vegetables anywhere I could find to put them. Whizzed up in tomato sauce which he’d eat in copious amounts with pasta. Then I’d use the leftovers on pizza bases; nutrition masquerading as fast food. Carrots were grated into bolognaise and peeled courgettes went undercover in homemade fish goujons.  He was none the wiser and in quiet triumph we rocked family meal times relatively stress-free.

But recently he’s declared war on all those foods he used to tolerate, favouring a much more militant beige-food-loving approach.  Out with the pasta sauce and the casseroles and the homemade fish pie. Down with potatoes if they dare to advance with their dirty bothersome jackets on. For the past few days at school he’s eaten bread and potatoes for lunch. So much for “Fresh fruit and salad offered daily”. Clearly he responds no better to their authority than he does to mine.

But worse than the worry and the frustration and the guilt you can’t help but feel as a parent, are those mums that stick their noses in the air and with a whiff declare “My kids wouldn’t get away with that. They’ll eat what they’re given!”. Mentally at this point I’m smashing their heads into the glass panel on my front door as I bare my teeth in a snarl loosely disguised as a smile.

You see, I don’t cram my child full of sweets and biscuits all day long and wonder why they won’t eat their dinner. I do not give in at the first whiff of an uprising by declaring “Oh Archie, just eat whatever you want and we’ll move straight onto pudding.” (Clearly my child’s not called Archie, but you get my meaning).  I am not a push-over-marshmallow-mum.  My child’s food issues go far beyond mere fusspotting; they are borderline phobic.

He doesn’t respond to an iron fist, shameful bribery or promises of a million pounds.  He doesn’t wave the white flag, exhausted after a 4 hour pea-stand-off.  His only response is retching and choking and sicking up into his own mouth.  In fact my child would be a pretty awesome hunger-strike activist if they’d allow such a thing.

The truth is,  if your children do what you say it’s not because you’re some kind of super youobeymeordie mum, it’s because your kids just aren’t that testing. You are blessed with the holy grail of childkind – compliant children – and sadly those are given out only randomly when the sperm greets the egg.

So for now I’ll re-establish my motherly zen and claw back perspective by evoking the wise words of my dear friend Steph  “Send A donation to Oxfam, for they have real feeding problems there.”


Powdering my nose & sticking two fingers up to feminism

19 Jan

I’m In the Powder Room today talking about the differences between girls and boys. I’m still a bit uncomfortable about using the word “piss” and wish I’d gone for “urinate”; I was obviously a little urinated off about clearing up the typical boy mess again that day.


The Lovely Bones: the film and me

21 Dec

image courtesy of

Christmas is rushing at me at a hundred miles an hour I hardly have time to breathe, let alone think. Except people keep reminding me of the significance. Telling me how sorry they are, how difficult it must be, how much I must miss her. Somewhere below the surface I sense the gaping hole, but I am being carried along by the momentum of childhood.

And thank God for that ceaseless wave of agitation that rolls up and down but is never one way for long.

I watched The Lovely Bones for the second time the other day and I can’t stop thinking about it. How dark and menacing the world can be, but how beautiful things can come out of that tragedy. New relationships can form, old ones strengthen, your focus crystallised on life’s brief flashes of wonderment.

You can’t keep looking backwards with regret and loss, you must look to the future and allow yourself to be swept along in the tide of life.

I’m not sure if that IS what the film was about, but it’s what I took from it. A sense of magic, mystery, hope sparking free amongst the ashes.

Yes Christmas will be difficult this year, I miss my mum every day with an aching that never dissipates and I am still incredulous as to how I got here and just how much I’ve lost.

But living in the here and now, treasuring the precious moments with my family and especially my beautiful boys – well, I have my own lovely bones right here.

ITPR today: When Mickey met Minnie (well, almost)

17 Nov

What would you say to your son if he’d been asking the girls to show him their bits?

Come and find out what I think at In the Powder Room today.

envy is an empty emotion

15 Nov

When I was a teenager my mum once said to me “Never be jealous of someone else,  you never know what life might throw at them.”

At the time I was 14 and jealous of EVERYONE.  Jealous of Kate for the money her mum gave her to buy the naughtiest knee high boots I’d ever seen. Jealous of Lucy for the boys that she kissed and of Rachel for the pink Kickers she wore with her white denim skirt. I was covetous of Ruth’s copy of We are Transvision Vamp! and bemoaned the passing resemblance she had to Wendy James, and I swooned when I heard about Carol’s trip to Hollywood where she was chatted up at the airport by a Michael J fox lookalike.

It turned out Kate had the clothes but her father had not hung around for long, that Ruth’s mum was having an affair with the local vicar and would fall pregnant with his child 2 years later, and that Carol’s father lost his job and they would never get to go on another holiday again.

So don’t be jealous of me for my beautiful, healthy boys for whom I fell pregnant easily. Don’t envy the nice big house I’m hoping to buy, or the time I am able to take out to reassess my life.  I am lucky in so many ways, but I also lost both my parents to be here.

Life gives and takes in equal measure. Your grass might be greener than mine but I have a kick ass mower.

Happy Birthday Mum

25 Oct

Today is my mother’s birthday. She would have been 72.

I remember vividly her birthday last year. She, me and all the Milks, my sister, her husband and their girls, and a special day out at London Zoo. I’d just had my fringe cut and, as always, was nervous what my mum would think.  At 33, her opinion was still the most important to me. A daughter dancing for her mother’s attention.

We had taken a picnic. A trademark affair. Couscous and roasted vegetable salad, an assortment of sandwiches, delicious rye bread from the deli. We sat on a rounded bench encircling a dwarf maple, our feast of delights spread out around us, carefully placed among the splattering of pigeon droppings.  Later, we sang happy birthday as my mother pretended to hide under the hood of her jacket, much to the delight of the children, as we tucked into the most delicious coffee cake I’ve ever eaten. (made by my clever sis). And I remember thinking fleetingly – “Could this be the last time we all celebrate together like this?”.

I don’t know why this thought came into my head that day. Perhaps holding something perfect in your hands makes you fear the loss of it.

2 months later as we all sat together on my mother’s old red velvet sofa and posed for a photograph the same thought came into my head. “What if this is the last picture we have all together like this?”

2 months later came the diagnosis, and 4 months later my mother passed away.

I don’t know why, and I don’t know how, but I knew what was to come. Instinct wrought from intimacy.

I miss you mummy, every day.

Brahm’s lullaby – played at her funeral.

A bad case of louse

23 Oct

I think I’ve got nits. My heads been itching for days. Okay so it might be because I haven’t washed it in over a week, I suspect that might be the case actually. It is now sticking to my head like a wetsuit helmet. But it still could be nits.

And I’ve had a phobia of nits ever since they used to show those magnified images at school. I mean look at them – just how many legs and protrusions and things does a nit need?  And then I got them and I was terrified.   I remember vividly standing in front of the mirror, hair just washed, with armies of nits escaping from my newly clean hair and scampering for their tiny nit lives down my forehead.  I remember the hot itchiness behind my ears. I remember the evil metal comb with its twisted spikes.  And I definitely don’t want them on my person again.

Even the words we use to describe the situation are horrible. Infected. Eggs. Hatched. Bloodsucker. Infestation.

It’d be marginally better if the relationship was even a little symbiotic. A bit of  give and take between me and the nits. I’ll scratch my head and make you some fresh blood, if you run your little scampery legs throuh my hair like an insect detangler. But no, it’s all about the nit. Sucking on your blood like a folicular vampire and  giving you back nothing but an itchy scalp and extra parental duties.

Extra parental duties because if I’ve got them, Big Milk is bound to have them too. So that’ll be a day off school and no time to put up my feet for the cleaning while we spend the day locking heads (okay maybe not literally, with all that jumping) around a bottle of Quit Nit.

Maybe I just won’t check their heads until tonight.

30-something orphan

17 Sep

Original sketch by Doodlemum

Today marks the 4th anniversary of my father’s death. It is also 5 months exactly since I lost my mum.  Two journeys, both with many more miles to tred.


This week I locked myself out of the house.  Returning from a hard day’s work – forlorn, within an inch of my patience. Two tired children yelping and jumping at my knees like impatient, rivalrous puppies vying for  attention.  A childminder desparate to reclaim her family home, a husband tied up in another meeting, neighbours immersed in their own bedtime squabbles. My desparate calls unanswered – two, three, four times.

And as I stood on my own doorstep I have never felt so alone.

When you lose your parents, you cease to be someone’s child.  An obvious point, but in that subtle twist of perception is something more significant. The moment you are orphaned you lose the people whose primary role is to protect you.  Unconditional, instinctive, tribal. This is no comment on my loyal husband who I love dearly, or my sister who is truly exceptional.  Yet as peers, the needs of our own families must come first.  The selfless, unquestioning devotion is focussed on the children whose lives we have been entrusted to protect, nurture, bring to fruition.

And the truth is, my parent’s job was done.

Yet the vulnerable needy child in you is always there.  The infant yearning to be wrapped in its mother’s arms, safe from the loom of the bogeyman. We still crave to hear those words  “Don’t worry darling, I’ll sort it all out for you”, to hide under the duvet and to let someone else carry the burden.

But the truth is, the buck now stops with you.  There won’t always be someone else to come to the rescue.  And that can be a lonely thought.

Wash delicates separately

26 Aug

"Mother and young son walking and holding hands" by Sandra Speidel

Big Milk “Will you stop being sad mummy when her house is gone?”.

Me ” I’ll always be a bit sad darling. It’s a natural part of life to miss someone you love.”

Big Milk “But I don’t miss Grandma.  I just close my eyes and my body makes pictures of her. I get a different picture every day”.

Me  “And a Grandma is very special, and you must try to hold on to all those pictures. But a mummy, there’s something even more special about a mum. And grandma was my mum, and I was her little girl.  “

Big Milk “And you’re my mum, and you’re very special to me”.

Me (holding down tears) “Yes, and you make me very happy”.

Big Milk “And you know that I’m always here for you, don’t you mummy?”.

And now i’m sobbing into my pasta trying to retain some semblance of being the parent as I tell him just how proud I am of him.

I’ve always thought he got this from his dad.  A sweet over-sentimentality. I’m the strong one, the organised one, the one that tells him to get a move on and to wipe the snot from his nose. But a few days ago he put me straight.

“Me and you are the same mummy…….delicate“.

Yes I am my sweet sweet boy.  But I’m all the stronger for having you.

Baby buns

29 Jun

I’ve got a real thing for baby buns. They’re just so soft and squidgy and pudgy and grrrr.

There’s something so wonderfully joyous and sensuous about a little  bottom. I usually have to stop myself from eating one when I see it.

One of my earliest memories is of being chased up the stairs by my sister pretending to bite my bottom and squealing with delight.

I remember when Big Milk was born, his cute little peach of a bottom strangely crooked at the top, kinked to one side from the way he’d been squished in utero. Something so wonderfully intimate about that.

And little Milk – a gorgeous round chubby delight of a bottom with dimples on the sides like winking eyes.

When you’re a mother, and despite all the horrible stuff you regularly have to deal with at the bottom end,   you will throw yourself in with joyful abandon, just to land a real smacker or an enthusiastic pinch on that mound of fleshy gorgeousness.

I love baby buns and dread the day my children’s no longer belong to me.