In the land of grot, the one one-eyed pig is king

Dear internet, I’m going to need to hire a PA in order to get through October’s insane nursery schedule. Any takers?

Here’s what you’ll be in charge of:

  • Tue 7th: Photographer day*. Bring a special outfit for them to wear.
  • Wed 8th: Pottery day. Pay £35 and paint a platter. (£35!!!)
  • Tue 14th: Crazy hair day.  (Suggestions on a postcard please)
  • Wed 15th: Sporty day. Dress in sportswear for races in the garden. (Does the microbe look like someone who owns sportswear?)
  • Fri 17th: Dress-up day.  Come dressed up as a favourite character from a book or film. (Might have to recycle Fox in Socks for this one)
  • Thur 23rd: Diwali celebration + parents evening  (What – no outfit?)
  • Fri 24th: Welsh day. Come dressed as a dragon or in the colours of the Welsh flag.
  • Fri 31st:  Confusion Day.  This appears to be both Green Day (“come dressed in green”) and Halloween (“come dressed in a halloween costume for a special tea party”).  I have no idea whether these are meant to be one and the same outfit.

*Photographer Day is when they get a professional photographer in to do studio-style shots of all the kids. (Alas the resulting pics always make him look like someone else’s child, so I never buy any of them.)

On a different topic, I’ve started dithering over what sort of winter coat to buy for the microbe. I’ve even made a Pinterest Board. (I know…. if I weren’t me I would totally be pointing and laughing at me). You wouldn’t believe how many dreary Liam Gallgher-ish parkas and bright orange Tellytubby coats I’ve had to wade though in order to locate these thin pickings.

Yesterday I was leaning towards the Debenhams red puffa jacket. But today I’m preferring the grey duffle from Vertbaudet (or maybe the same one in Don’t Look Now red). Opinions welcome…

Moving on, it has become apparent that the microbe, and all of his nursery pals, are suddenly obsessed with superheroes. If the Jimbot had his way he’d go to nursery every day wearing a superman t-shirt, spiderman underpants and batman socks. (I blame the dads because, as far as I can tell, none of these kids have ever actually seen or read anything starring Superman or Batman or Spiderman).


In honour of the newfound obsession I have procured some iron-on superhero patches and am planning to turn a pair of ruined jeans into BEST JEANS EVER this weekend by patching up a knee-hole with Batman.

Later this month Jimmy will be starting a Saturday morning drama club at the local Gymboree, leading to a Lion King inspired performance in December. (As you may deduce, I’ve decided to give rugby child abuse a miss).  The grand plan is that G and I will drop him off each week and go for a glorious fry-up or eggs royale at one of the local cafes while the boybot prances around being Pumbaa. (I wonder how quickly we’ll resort to prodding one another out of bed to lug him to drama so that the other one can roll over and go back to sleep?)

In prep for drama lessons, G and I continue to feed him lines at every opportunity and send him off to repeat them to the other.

Go and help daddy in the kitchen and say “I’m your little hinderer”
Go and tell mummy “I can’t find my shoes because I did a man-look”

In cheery news,  someone has been feeding angel pills to the Microbe. He’s been an insanely good boy over the last few weeks. He’s eating whatever we give him, going to bed early and generally giving us no trouble or tantrums.

I swear it’s all down to lack of treats. Last weekend he played happily all by himself while G and I got on with a big clear out. I think he rather enjoyed dividing his time between being Mister Maker (he now has a ‘craft drawer’) and rummaging through my giveaway bags reclaiming all of the forgotten toys and books that I was quietly stealthing into them. *doh!*

Lesson in life: never try to get rid of toys or books while the microbe is awake. It is a task of Sisyphus, like trying to tidy up while he walks behind me getting everything back out again.

On a similar note, never let a 3 year old do their own shopping. The disparity between what a parent would choose and what the child actually wants is hilarious. Hand-painted wooden toys, anyone? Educational construction kits? Forget it! Given freedom to spend money from his piggy bank, the Microbe’s recent toyshop purchases include:

This truly vile plastic cow whose eyes bulge when you squeeze it…


This similarly horrible one-eyed plastic pig that develops obscene bulgy growths when squeezed.


Admittedly I don’t think my own taste was any better at his age. (I have a distinct memory of my mother using the blanket term “grot” to refer to anything purchased by me.)


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We stoop to conker

Good evening, dear blog. I write to you from the 7th circle of hell that is my hormones. I have managed to avoid committing genocide or anything like that but, suffice to say, it’s probably best that you haven’t heard from me for a while.

So – rather than rave on like a scary psycho lady, I shall simply share a few oddments of randomness that are passing through my mind.

First of all – another snippet from The Book of ‘Crobe.

“Do you want to see my fart?”
“Your what?”
“Fart. Look. This is where my fart is” *thumps chest*
“Do you mean heart?”
“Yes! Heart. This is where my heart is”

(Thank you, Stretch & Grow, for the continued anatomy lessons)

In other news, it is the season of gorgeousness. There are not words for how I love autumn.  So far the boy appears to have collected his entire body weight in conkers. So we’ve strung a few up on our fireplace, and the rest are kicking around the flat making themselves inconvenient and waiting for the next shipment to arrive.

conkers3 IMG_2885

The boybot has also been helping me every week to harvest the fruits of our mini-allotment and his favourite phrase is “I’m your little helper!” (This also comes out when he’s helping daddy with the bins). Bless.

IMG_2817 IMG_2853   Open_Day_11

I’ve also spent an hour today adorning our residence with the latest output of brightly-coloured daubs that don’t look like what they look like. This was a result of nursery sending home an entire year’s worth of the microbe’s artwork in one go.


I found it quite amusing to sift through the art wad. You can see that they go a bit craft-mad around Halloween and bonfire night, and on festivals like Diwali, Chinese New Year and St Patrick’s Day.  (They’re also very fond of paper plates).

But what I really want to rave about are these kids’ art frames. Seriously – if you have kids, you need one of these frames. I’ve just ordered a couple more on Amazon, to accommodate some of the output.


In other nursery news, James’s graceless rabble of a cohort is now (amazingly) the equivalent of a load of prefects. They rule the school.  Alas, someone seems to have forgotten to applique ‘T-Birds’ and ‘Pink Ladies’ onto the back of their polo shirt uniforms.

They’ve now been joined by the new intake of 2-year-olds from the baby room, which means that James has had to get used to being chomped on again (we’re averaging two bites per week). It doesn’t seem to bother him very much but it amuses me no end when I ask who bit him and he says “little Alice” or “little Matthew“.

Last, but not least, sufferers of my recent posts will be glad to hear that it’s been ages since I even thought about toilet training…  so I guess that means we’re done. (Hooray, we all cry!)  Obviously by typing this I am ensuring the return of plastic-bags-of-shame…

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Don’t go breaking my bones

Lately, when the Microbe hears something that displeases him (e.g. the words “no” or “bathtime“) his reaction is to do a sort of Quasimodo tap dance of protest on the spot, coupled with a noise that sounds like “nnnnngggggggeeeeeuuuuuuuuuu!“.

Is this a well-known thing or do I need to send him back for repairs?

In other news, we appear to have signed him up for every single extracurricular activity that nursery has to offer. (It seems we are those parents). His current offerings include:

  • Theatre Bugs. I have no idea what they get up to as the boylet’s feedback has been unintelligible from day one, though he sometimes sings tuneless dirges in the bath after each session.   

  • Stretch and Grow. This is vaguely sport-related and teaches them about their bodies. He’s been doing it for yonks and the only discernible side effect has been that he comes home once a week with a stamp on his hand. (Except for the other day when he told me where his spine was and announced that his tummy is full of “abdominos“)   
  • Toddler French. This starts next week. I’m guessing they must have talked about it today at nursery because he came home and told me “Mummy, my class is called French and I will be saying Ola!

Meanwhile, one of my NCT friends has signed her boy up for toddler rugby at weekends and I am still debating whether it would be character-building or child-abuse to sign up my spindly, unsporting little waiflet for the same. (I think I’m coming down on the side of child abuse.)

He’s far happier getting his groove on. He’s had a go on a couple of electric keyboards recently at relatives’ houses and last weekend I heard him ad-libbing a blues track with these lyrics

“I went to the park
And met a dog
I picked up a conker
And put it in my scooter bag…”

(Don’t give up the day job, Otis).

If you want further proof, here’s his best Elton John impersonation… (covering that lesser known album track, Banana)

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News of the morning

This morning I was greeted by the following announcement:

“Mummy! Mummy! My bottom isn’t a ticking time-bomb!”
“Oh, isn’t it?”
“No! Because I did a poo poo on the toilet!”

Splendid news indeed.

This is hot on the heels of pig-gate, in which the boybot managed to drop his furry pig down the loo at Grandma’s  (before flushing). I groaned and eye-rolled and sent him away, only to overhear the following earnest little exchange in the hallway:

“Helena, I dropped my piggy in the wee-wee”
“Why did you do that?”
“Because I’m a walking distaster”

(Well, at least he has self-knowledge.)


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Oh no I’ve said too much

Yesterday we had a parents evening at nursery on how they prepare the children for school. Yes – SCHOOL!!!

I think their main aim was to convince the local mumerati not to get carried away and teach little Tarquin to read and write before they go to primary school. (Apparently schools hate that. They just want a blank canvas who knows how to wipe his own bottom, do up buttons and take turns without tantruming.)

Seriously though – school!  The Microbe only turned three in June but the application window for primary schools starts next month.

Unfortunately I don’t seem able to discuss this without turning into a deranged, mouth-foaming lady-Dawkins, on account of the fact that two of our three oversubscribed local primary schools appear to have God on the admissions panel. I am genuinely agog that this is a thing. (I have it filed in the same WTF category as slavery and smoking on the tube).

Alas, the only local school that does not have God on the admissions panel (and on which I have been pinning all hopes since James was born) got OFSTED rated as “outstanding” in January. So now the whole world is going to apply to that school, god-fearing or not.

“Wait – what do you mean we didn’t get in?  I thought you said Goat-bothering?”


G’s take on the whole business is, as ever, a spare and eloquent business:

It’s certainly not the 21st century I was expecting.”


“It does seem strange that they can go to science class and be told that the universe was created in a big bang and that life arose on earth through a process of evolution over 4 billion years, then go to RE to be told that an all powerful wizard created the world in 6 days back in the 4th millennium BC”

(16 years on, dear reader, and he still makes me lol)

In other news, here are some random weekendy pics.

Better get used to it, kiddo…


World’s most pathetic puddle-jump


Scooting– you’re doing it wrong


Shed refuge



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Flockenstein’s Monster

The other day the microbe was doing something mildly annoying and I bellowed “Stop!!” and he looked back at me and replied “Hammertime!

I have nobody to blame. I programmed him myself.

On another topic, have you ever had to wake up a toddler in the morning? Their zest for life is hilarious. This morning the boylet turned up in our bed shortly before 6am clutching a furry pig and, instead of pestering the hell out of me like normal, he zonked straight back into a deep sleep and I had to wake him an hour later for nursery.

So I sat the toy pig on the boy’s chest and said, softly:

“James, Piggy says wake up!”

It was like stepping on a rake. His entire upper body went SPROING!! and his eyes snapped open and a huge grin spread over his face.  (Has anyone ever been so delighted to wake up in the morning? Ever?)

Over the last few months we seem to have stealthily brought forward the boylet’s bedtime. Occasionally we even get him tucked away as early as 7pm (though this is usually reserved for nights when he falls asleep face-first in his dinner).

He’s also happy to fall asleep by himself these days, which means we no longer have to bedtime-story him into a coma. In your face, Gina Ford!  (…what? We’re only three years late.) Usually I promise to pop back and check on him “in 10 mins” and return to find him away with the fairies, with an arm clamped tightly around one of the menagerie. Bless.

In scatological news, the boybot has now given up wearing nappies, except at bedtime. Some days everything goes swingingly… other days we are treated to multiple plastic-bags-of-shame. I have no idea what lies behind the good days or the bad days – there seems to be no pattern to it.  I expect we shall just continue on until we stop getting the bad days.

I still feel compelled to return to pull-ups when we visit other people’s houses though. (A plastic-bag-of-shame is one thing… a someone-else’s-carpet-of-shame is quite another).

Last, but not least, I spotted a really sweet Beatrix-Potterish Christmassy dinner plate in the toy section of Fara Kids in Richmond the other week. It’s usually a bit of a goldmine for Microbish tat such as Lion King figurines, marbles and tiny plastic animals and I thought that the boy would love it.

It only cost £2 – but has turned out to be a limited edition plate by Villeroy & Boch which flogs for around £100 on eBay.  Bargainacious!  Now G has questioned whether a £100 plate is the ideal dinner surface for a reckless microscopic vandal…  (um, perhaps we’ll just save it for once a year.)

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The son and the heir of nothing in particular

Hmph. I have my disgruntled hat on today.

I don’t want to be spending my week in the grey cavern of air-con talking to grey-clad people about IT projects. I want to be sipping a cold beer in a lavender field in Provence. Alas, now that Jim is both evil and dead, there is nobody to fix it for me.

Lately I keep coming across articles like this that attempt to de-bunk the negative perceptions of only-child families… however they always seem to start by listing all of the supremely negative things about being an only child.


Never mind. Apparently you rock… or something.  And your selfish parents will be marginally less poor. (But then they will go senile and die and you will have to deal with it all by yourself. Hooray!)

Anyway James needn’t worry – I appear to be growing him a sibling gollum made entirely of cheese, lard, wine and butter. So that will be attractive.  (On the plus side, it won’t ever need potty training and is unlikely to pin him down and punch him repeatedly with his own fist while saying “stop hitting yourself!“)

The Microbe told me this morning that he feels sorry for me because my pants don’t have animals on them. I agreed with him and asked if he would like to buy me some animal pants and he said “Yes, but you will have to wait until Christmas, now, mummy

*adds parsimonious to the above list*

In cheerier news, I had an excellent birthday, which managed to stretch over multiple days. We started early, booked a babysitter and spent most of Sunday consuming delicious seafood and wine and crepes in Richmond, then loafed all evening in our friends’ garden, doing things like this to the boy…


Then we did it all again on Monday night. I even managed to squeeze in a peaceful visit to my mini-allotment – just me, the squirrels and a flock of stunning parakeets – before coming home to some lovely presents and dinner at our fav Italian local.

(I suppose I should stop being such a moaning cow, then, shouldn’t I?)

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