Wednesday, July 25, 2007


Slight hiccups in the moving.

*the builders are still here doing the utility room and finishing off the arches. When I say "builders", I mean builders, decorators, plumbers and electricians.
(Irritation factor, 0. Surprisingly.)
Actually they are quite handy to have around. Company you know. Other people have damp, mice, a labrador or a cyberspace lover. I have builders. I do, however, worry that they might judge my housekeeping skills which are negligible or that they might report me to social services for child cruelty.

*most sentences now begin with the words: "Have you seen...".
(Irritation factor, 7)
We are still awash with boxes and black plastic sacks we cannot hide in the loft because the plumber has not finished working in it. My London diva girlfriend will visit next week with her family. She will look pointedly at the chaos; I have nowhere to hide it before she arrives. I am contemplating asking each of the builders to carry a black plastic sack up their teeshirts during her visit. She will think them fat but she will think me tidier than she would otherwise. Possibly they could each take a box out to the arches to sit upon while they drink their tea.

*the four-year-old is down with ongoing stomach migraine which leaves him with a permanent stomach ache and insanely grumpy. Grumpier even than his mother. Yesterday morning watching Scooby Doo in the living room, he threw up all over the new beige, textured three seater sofa we had just got out of its plastic wrapping. I had not even sat down on it unwrapped. Luckily, we had paid an extra £120 to get it fabric protected. Money well spent. I think they should use a vomiting child in their advertising. He also threw up over a new wickerwork chair. Yuk. And the new oaked floor. Fair enough. My best friend from school is a business tycoon in the West Midlands. She is everything I am not: optimistic, positive, dynamic, efficient, organised, good with numbers, sporty, child-free. She did her own multi-million pound management buyout and runs a company that makes car cleaning products. She visits. Presumabily when she thinks my house smells bad, she delves in her car boot and pulls out large plastic bottles of bright blue liquids. She says: "I think you should use this."
(Irritation factor, 0)

*I lost my internet connection.
(Irritation factor, 8)

*the children's behaviour. I know I am supposed to do lots of positive reinforcement but it is just not enough. My boys never, ever, ever do as they are told the first time of telling. Ever. I know we have just moved. I know that is disruptive to a small, sensitive child. But they didn't do it before either. Buying a new kitchen carpet for the rented house is costing me more than £400 because they dyed it pink. I had thought it was an accident. It emerged their father told them to stop doing it and they ignored him. He went upstairs and left them to it.I tell them to do something, or to stop doing something; the big one looks at the little one; they carry on. Sometimes, the little one will look at the big one and carry on. They are in league. I swear to God. They have drawn up some midnight demon pact signed in boy spit and toad piddle which involves never losing face infront of each other by doing as Mummy says the first time.
(Irritation factor, 10)

*my mother fell.
“I’ll just give the carpet a vaccuum.” Trip and tumble. Crash and bang. Onto the fake coaled fire and the spiked metal grate. At least, the fire was not on. “Ooops” and “Ow”. Tears and “Shouldn’t haves.” Old lady preoccupations and old lady consequences. Vaccuuming a carpet she cannot see. To pick up dust of no consequence to anyone but her, she tripped over the wire. Her arm grazed by the spikes and bruised by the tumbled out coals, she lay there a while. The white marble hearth like a gravestone beside her. That is what old ladies do. The etiquette of an aged person’s fall. Lie there and play dead. Lie there and wish you were young again. Lie there and wait for Christmas to come or someone to walk through the door to pick you up and dust you down. Not onto the carpet though. It is important to keep your carpet clean at all times. My father was out shopping. She remembered, flat against the burgundy and woolen twist. She had turned the key, click, in the back door lock. You can never be too careful. Always lock your door to keep wolves and bad men out. You do not want wolves in the kitchen, they make such a mess. Blood and crumbs everywhere.

Minutes passed, the shining gilt and glass carriage clock made tick tock turns around the garden. Slowly, she levered herself up to grasp the handy sofa arm, struggled upright and wobbled to the door to turn the key. A blessing the sofa was so close to her; pulled away as it was from the walls, for a better and more thorough clean right up, knock, against the glossed and skirting boards. It goes to show you should never cut corners when cleaning. Without the sofa there, she would never have got to her slippered feet.

She wobbled back to find the phone and speedy dialled a number for a neighbour. Shame she had put in the number wrong. Instead, she rang an aged brother, miles away, who said: “Put down the phone and try again.” She tried again. No joy. She really must be more careful with her speedy dial-ups. What use else? She rang my cousin and talked awhile, of the rain of which there is too much, and of me, of which there can never be enough. “Stay with me on the line till he comes back,” and so my cousin did. Kept my mother company while the old lady cried awhile, waiting for her shop gone husband.
(Irritation factor. "Irritation" does not cover it.)


The Draughtsman said...

I think your diva London visitor should take things as they come,moving type chaos and all. That's how the REAL world is.
I liker you irritation factor scale, 0 - 10 ?

Swearing Mother said...


Your post today rang so true with me on so many counts. Sometimes it seems as if everyone else's life is so much more ordered than our own, but I think those people are probably less self-critical than we are.

Don't beat yourself up about being in a mess, you'll sort it out eventually and when it suits you!

And your boys sound naughty but fun!

Best wishes. said...

I know all about your children. People who don't have children like ours are so judgemental. "Why can't that woman keep those children under control".

The same people will also critise when you DO try to control them as this normally results in completely losing it with them in the supermarket.

In my case "the children" are my great grandchildren. I love them to bits but they will not do as they are told. They look at me defiantly, pull away when I try to grab them, LAUGH at me, collude against me, gang up on me, but when the little one cries big sobbing tears because she doesn't want to go on the summer school bus it breaks my heart.

Oh yes, you think this will be over when the children grow up. The good news is that this GOES ON FOREVER because they bring home their children and they bring home their children!

sunshine said...

Hi, Wife -- Anyone who has guests immediately after moving (with 3 children!) is a candidate either for sainthood or commitment to a secure facility.

One should send a message to all friends and family -- "I need help. Please come visit if you are eager to unpack boxes, possibly sleep on the floor, clean up miscellaneous vomit and keep my wine glass full."

Am so sorry about your mom. I try, but cannot imagine being blind. She just keeps going, doesn't she? Amazing! I am sure just being around you is a comfort to her, bruises and all! Adult daughters are such a blessing.

Little by little you are giving us a picture of your new home. The burgundy carpet looks lovely with the beige sofa, and the great clock -- tell us more!

Iota said...

Wifey, I don't know how to say anything encouraging about your children's behaviour. Mine are a bit older than yours, and they still don't do what they are told. I speak to people who have children older than mine, and they tell me it doesn't get better. Would it work if we just never asked them to do anything? Then they couldn't not do it. They would live in their pyjamas, not eat anything, never have a bath or clean their teeth, and beat each other to a pulp regularly. But the irritation score would be much lower. Is that an appealing alternative?

For what it's worth, we all think you are doing a great job in very stressful circumstances. Can you imagine a scenario where you managed to move house without all this stress? I think scoring your irritation is a rather creative way of dealing with it. You should write a self-help book on the idea.

organicmum said...

Good to hear that your home is becoming what other families have- a home. What is this conspiracy amongst some women that families have immaculate homes? Ok I don't really fancy the vomit over my sofa either but glad that your happy to admit its getting that lived in look. Must admit I drooled a bit yest and was good to hear that there is a light at the end of the tunnel (my home was flooded some months ago and I know it will be ages yet before I get the kitchen that both Wifey and I have dreamed about) but releaved that it won't become a showhome. Friends come to see the person and not the home anyway. Don't they? As to children I've always worked on asking them to do something and explaining, rather them telling them or coercing them into thinking that it was thier idea. Rather the same with men really...

Penny Pincher said...

I'm so sorry about your mother's fall. Unfortunately we all try to protect our loved ones from harm - we want to wrap them up in cotton wool to keep them safe - for us - but hink how miserable and what a long day it would be for her without doing the chores etc. just try and coax her to be a bit more thoughtful, careful and safety conscious when hoovering etc - that is IF she'll listen.
Re the friends visit - let the boxes wait - she can entertain the kids while you unpack. It doesn't need to look perfect for her fist visit - she'll be green with envy anyway - just stock the pantry and make sure the AGA is warm and full of a lovely slowcook pot roast! Douobt she'll see anything beyond that. Perfect tidy house is so London - remember you are embracing country living now - take it on proudly. Sit by your aga with bottle of wine from the cellar.

Uncle Dick Madeley said...

Wifey, have you tried meditation? My irritation factor used to go all the way up to eleven until I got in touch with my little Richard. Not, I should hasten to add, *the* Little Richard. I’ve only ever met the man once, at David Gest’s house. No, I mean my 'little Richard', the child inside me. Not, I should also hasten to add, that I have a child inside me. I mean the innocent part of me who doesn’t know anger. Peace.

Unknown said...

You sound like you need solutions! Weleda Melissa drops are brilliant for upset stomach, I always keep some in the house, avail from health shops. If you need to get rid of smell of vomit, add a couple of drops of lemon pure essential oil to tiny bit of wash up liquid and warm water, and sponge down couch, or car- on Monday it was my car!
I'm not sure if this works re the children, but I found just telling/asking them to do things I really needed them to do, and looking them in the eye as I asked/told, and following up worked for me. It is very hard work in the beginning, but then they kinda get in the habit of doing what they're told, most of the time. I was not, however,on my own with my three, so I don't know if it's practical for you.
I also was drooling at the sound of your kitchen, having put in cream units but a wooden worktop, which I can't put hot pots on, and having some regrets about its practicality in a tiny kitchen! Yours sounds lovely and homely, and I'd love an Aga, but haven't the space. As kids, we used to warm our clothes each morning in the bottom oven, we didn't have central heating! Relax and enjoy your friend's visit.

Isobel said...

I was once told that over - compliance in children correlates to lack of creative intelligence - cling to that! Also "flat" 7up (the full sugar version) is great for settling sicky stomachs.

Gone said...

Would just like any fabric protection companies thinking about taking up Wifey's idea of vomiting children in their next advertising to be aware that by early September we will have two new vomiting babies that can be hired from Grocer's Model Babies Inc for extremely reasonable rates, please contact us at
Hope your mum's feeling better.

debio said...

Children are programmed not to do as they are told; my pre-teen daughter now does not even understand English and we had been making such progress from age 0-11!

Chin up, WITN, house will not be chaos forever - and it sounds so beautiful.

ADDY said...

Oh dear, reminds me of the fall my 80-year-old mother had outside in the street - walking back from the shops with a single bag of shopping. One minute walking, the next coming to in an ambulance with a broken nose and minus a few front teeth. She did not know whether she had tripped or fainted, but whatever the cause the outcome was the same - no free hand to save her fall. Irritation factor did not come into it either - it came later trying to find an NHS dentist to fix her teeth! Elderly mothers are more of a worry than children!

I Beatrice said...

I'm afraid I rather identify with your mother here! I have never been sure when the point is reached, only that it passes without one's noticing it - that one at which one's children suddenly adopt the role of one's parents!

I do my best to humour mine. After all, it's like everything else in life - it's only when you get there yourself that you know what it's really like. By which time it's often too late ....

Rob Clack said...

I think you should hire your four year old out to the firm that made the coating on the sofa as part of their testing staff. You could be onto a winner there.

And I still don't do what my mother tells me. Never have and don't propose to start now.

@themill said...

Get your mother one of those alarm button things she would wear around her neck. She presses it and it rings to an allocated telephone number who in turn have several different emergency contacts. My Granny had one.
It is the lot of children not to do as their mother TELLS them, but I do find they are rather more receptive to being ASKED - but not guaranteed.

Poetess said...

Sorry to hear about your poor mum. I do hope she is ok.


Sandra Montgomery said...

As a mom of three who were little once and two of them not two years apart...

You have to let them know who is boss. There has to be consequences for disobedience. And most importantly... you HAVE TO FOLLOW THROUGH. If your threats are empty, they won't care what you say. If you give up and walk away [as did your DH with the pink dye] then they have won. And they must NEVER win.

I remember sometimes thinking I had picked a bad 'hill to die on' with one of the kids. That I had made a big issue out of something that wasn't that important, but I was in it now and I had to stick to my guns because the second you back off, you have set a precedent. And the precedent is "We can wear mommy down if we keep at it. We will get our way."

It takes time, will power, and stamina. But if you do it you will have a much easier time of it in the long run.

Just my 2 pennies worth.