Sunday, 20 November 2016

Thank you. (Also: A Cautionary Tale involving bottoms.)

I’ve been pretty much overwhelmed by all the responses to my last post.  Truly.  All those lovely comments, emails, FaceBook messages – literally hundreds. Thank you.  From all my family.  We’re very touched by every single one.  (I also thought about responding to each of the blog comments, but it would have simply been a series of “Thank you”s. So here, instead – to each of you – thank you.  I love this little community we have.)
I also feel a bit guilty (Irish, Catholic, parent – three strikes etc), for two reasons.  Firstly, I wasn’t trying to guilt you all into condolences. It was purely for future reference, for when you find yourself in the vicinity of death and are unsure of the protocol.  (There is no protocol, really, but simple contact is never a bad thing.)
Secondly – many people commended the post, and I feel bad that I didn’t make more of an effort.  I just wanted to post something – anything - which would bridge the vast emotional space between Before and Now, so that I could get back to my usual craft of Giving Out. It felt a bit slap-dash to me, but I’m simply not a good enough writer to write eloquently and properly from the heart.  So an apology to you, dear reader, for not trying hard enough.  But thank you all, again, for your kind words, nonetheless.    
And with that:  shall we resume normal business?  Or at least as normal as I can muster? Let’s.
Did I tell you about the Baby’s recent-ish penchant for sticking random shit in her various bodily orifices?  She’s been a fan of teeny-weeny things for ever:  seeds, beads, grains, coins, nuts etc. She hoards them and calls them Seedy or Beady (or Grainy or Coiny or Nutty, as appropriate), announces that they’re her pets, and cries Great Tears Of Sadness when, inevitably, they go missing. 
Sometimes, however, she cried Great Tears of Pain if they go missing about - or more accurately,  inside – her body.  Firstly, she swallowed a coin.  SHRIEKING and WAILING – because it was sort of a big one, but also she had broken the No Putting Things In Your Mouth rule, and so had to balance her distress with the inevitable Mummy Annoyance.   “Am I going to die?” she whispered (she has a bit of a thing for death at the moment), so I put aside the Annoyance and reassured her that no (but that her bottom might hurt in a few days).
And then, a few days later, as I was dallying over what to have for lunch – because the excitement of sitting down for the first time in several hours was distracting me – I got a call from  her nursery saying She-has-stuck-something-up-her-nose-and-has-gone-nuts-and-please-come-and-get-her.  It was a pebble, and if I was creative enough, I’d be able to come up with a Limerick (‘There once was a girl who loved clothes, and sticking small things up her nose…”).  As it was, I used all my creativity on finding a solution (“stick her face in a saucer of water and tell her to snort in through her nose” – and BY GOD it worked – one sneeze and out it flew.  Incidentally we still have the pebble.  Or Pebbley, as it’s called.)
THEN she swallowed another coin (she rattles when shook) and THEN I caught her in the process of finding a home for a piece of rolled up Play Doh – in her ear.
So.  This all brings us to last night.  She was in the bath, where I sometimes dump her if I want an hour of peace, because she loves her baths.  She had about 58 small plastic toys in with her, including this little fellow:

 (Let’s call him “Boy-ey”). 
Once the water had gone cold and she had started to shrivel, I picked her up, wrapped her in a towel, and plonked her on the bed while I organised pjs etc.  She suddenly appeared by my side – “Mummy I have something to tell you” - and then burst into big fat tears, sobbing and gulping and howling. I assumed she’d eaten a lizard or something, but no:  Worse.  “One of the toy thingies has gone UP MY BUM.”
There followed an inquisition of which a Spaniard would be proud.  (Are you sure? YES!  Which one?  THE BOY ONE! How on earth…? I JUST SAT ON IT!  Are you sure you sat on it, or did you maybe, by mistake, push it in with your finger?  I AM SURE!  I SAT ON IT!)
So between the sobs and the howls and the terror, what appears to have happened was this: She was playing in the bath with 27 of these little things and also a bar of soap, and things got very soapy, including both the boy and her bottom, and then she sat on it and it hurt her leg so she fished it out, but then it went back into the soapy, opaque water, and she must have sat on it properly this time because IT HAS DISAPPEARED AND NOW ITS IN MY BUM….
So.  I had a look. And as you can imagine, your average just-turned-4-year-old doesn’t have the most generous of bottom-openings. She lay there, screeching and crying and saying I CAN FEEL IT IN MY BUM, but truly, I couldn’t see a thing – but then the bottom is a mysterious thing, so I could neither confirm nor deny the colonic presence of a small plastic boy.  There followed some rather disgusting measures, which made me laugh then, and again now just thinking about them, because she went fucking MENTAL – which only served to make me more dubious;  how could a toy slip into her bum without her registering it properly?   At the same time, I couldn’t help thinking of a doctor friend of my sister’s who maintained that in A&E, 25% of his work was dealing with sheepish men arriving shrouded in a sheet / blanket / bed cloth and insisting that they’d fallen on whatever it was that was now lodged up their arse. 
So I left her and went back to the bathroom and had a snoop around – maybe she was mistaken? - and then she arrived beside me and insisted AGAIN that she could feel it IN HER BUM, and was she going to die*?  But – oh thank you Lord – then we found the toy, under the bar of soap – where he’d been all along, that sneaky fucker – and, in the Baby’s words:  OH PHEW MUMMY. 
Phew indeed.  Because frankly, I’m too old for this shit. 

(*The death thing again – stemming, I’ve no doubt, from events with my Dad.  Today some stupid woman in the playground told her that the coconut she was holding was poisonous, and she mulled over this for about 4 hours before becoming hysterical at home, because I HAVE TOUCHED POISON AND NOW I’M GOING TO DIE. Tho I guess I should just be grateful that she didn’t swallow the damn thing.) 

Thursday, 10 November 2016

On Sadness.

(Spoiler: If you’re looking for something funny and uplifting – you need to go elsewhere.)

It’s been a strange, sad few weeks. 

Yes, The Horror Of Trump, etc, but also - my father died.  It’s the event all expats – all children, I suppose, but particularly far-away children – dread: that phone call, the one saying  “You Need To Come Home”.  So I went home, at a stage when we didn’t know much and thought “There’s always hope” – and then found out that sometimes there’s just no hope at all. 

On Tuesday 11th October my lovely, kind, good-natured, fantastic Dad was told he had aggressive liver cancer, and 2 months to live.  He died at home, with his wife of 53 years  and his four children by his side, eleven days later.

It was horrible and special, in equal measure.  Horrible because – you know, your much loved father dying, so quickly and so unexpectedly;  special because for eleven days we withdrew into a bubble and nothing else in the world existed except for the six of us.  

So, for what it is worth, this is what I have taken away from it all:

Nursing a dying person is not unlike dealing with a newborn.  You have no fucking clue what you’re doing, you cry a lot, and there’s no time to shower, eat or sleep.  Also, explaining to non-involved parties what you have been doing with all your time is impossible.  

If you’re thinking about having more than one kid, but you’re not sure -  because Agh!  Multiple Children! When will I ever sleep again?  My body! – and you’re lucky / fertile / financially comfortable enough to be able to do it and maybe even survive it – then do it.  The only thing that has stopped me being a puddle on the floor through all of this has been my sisters.  Knowing that someone else knows exactly what you are going through – it has saved me.  (Although I concede that making a major decision based on a hypothetical eventuality when your children are in middle age could perhaps be viewed as something of a long game.)

There is something very strange about living somewhere where nobody – apart from your nuclear family, and one other person – knew or ever met your father, or knows that he’s died.  For this reason alone, I’d like to propose that we restart the wearing black tradition.  (That way maybe I wouldn’t have gotten that speeding ticket?  Or irritate people when I stop, mid-step, in the middle of a busy crowd?  Or cause multiple eye rolls when I break off, mid-sentence, and stare into space?  She’s wearing black, give her a break.)   

Vanity trumps grief - at least if you are middle of age, and droopy of flesh.  Even in the plummets of despair, when pain is tearing at my soul and my face is contorted with emotion, a niggling voice reminds me that these facial calisthenics are doing nothing for my not-very-youthful visage.

If in your lifetime a loved-one of a friend, or a colleague, or a client, or even an acquaintance, or any of the above pertaining to your partner, dies, this is what you do:  GET IN TOUCH.  You don’t have to call, or speak, or tie yourself up in knots – texts, or emails or IMs are your friend in your discomfort.  Don’t know what to say?  “So sorry to hear your awful news.  I’m thinking about you.”  That’s it.  I got heaps of these, and with every single one I thought:  How kind.

(As a corollary, this is what you don’t do: Nothing, apart from squirm in your own awkwardness.  Even those messages I got which said “I don’t know what to say…” were lovely.  Truly.  Honestly, how much of a cock-up can you make?  Unless, you’re thinking of “I’m glad he died”,  there’s nothing you can say which won’t make the receiver touched at your efforts, however clumsy.)

Three weeks away from your children is an absence which makes even the saddest heart grow fonder. (Although not more patient, it transpires.)

And connected to the above, if you find yourself in a swampy bubble of grief (these bubbles tend to pop up without warning) and unable to move or think or do much else other than stare into space – get yourself three small, wild children who were meant to have left for school ten minutes ago, and watch that bubble pop.  (And even once they get to school, you’re unlikely to be left alone to sniffle, as I ranted about over here.)

If possible, time your grief with a shocking public event, which will serve as a distraction to your sadness – or at least give it a new focus.  The ruination of America / World Order / General Decency / the Office of POTUS might seem an extreme step in the assuaging of grief,  but it worked.  Thank you, Mr Trump.

Mostly children are really shit at death - "Why are you crying?" on a loop, followed by blank stares, and I just *know* they're thinking that I'm finally losing it.  But sometimes, a slice of sweetness from nowhere, which makes me think - perhaps they are not totally empty vessels: "Would it make you feel better if I took the love Pops had for you and added it to mine and loved you twice as much instead?"  Yes.  Yes it would.  

Monday, 17 October 2016

Out of the mouths of babes (into the ears of gargoyles).

It’s been a while.  Suddenly it’s the Baby’s birthday tomorrow.  Four! Almost grown up.  (Certainly too grown up to still be called the Baby.)  I’m not with them at the moment – I’ll miss the traditional “surprise” breakfast, and the family day out, and her party – which breaks my heart a little bit.   As well as being away from them, I will also be away from you lot for a while  (although my Textpat wife will continue to post our inane telephonic witterings over here) - but don’t go away!  I will be back, soonish, with more parenting humiliations to brighten your day.

Speaking of which, here’s something I wrote a couple of weeks ago – just before God decided to laugh at my plans.

Aw, kids.  Aren’t they sweet?  Don’t they say the darnest things?  And you know, the more time you spend with them, the more little nuggets of wisdom you can glean from them.  Here, for example, is a (non-exhaustive) list of some the things my kids have said to me this week:

·        Mummy, stop singing. SERIOUSLY!  Your mouth is all weird and wrinkly.  It looks like an old dog’s bottom.

·        Mummy, please can you stop breeving on me wif your disgusting stinky breff?

·        Oh Mummy, that hat looks lovely on you!  You can’t see your face. You should wear it all the time. 

·        You’re going OUT?  But… You’re not allowed to go out!  You have to stay here and look at me while I sleep.  That’s your job. You don’t want to get fired from your job, do you?  [um….]

·        That lady reminds me of you.  [Pointing at a picture of Ozzy Ozbourne.]

·        Do you drink wine with your dinner to make it taste nice?  Because *this* [pointing at food I’ve just made her] might taste better if I was drinking wine.

·        I love you Mummy, but sometimes you’re a bit… [pauses, searches for accurate word...] Screechy.

·        Mummy, do I *have* to look like you when I grow up? [Said not so much with disgust as with fear.]

·        Daddy sexed you? [Said with 100% disgust.]

(Looking at this list I realise there’s a lot to be said for not spending too much time with one’s children.) 

Clearly, my kids view me as nothing short of a hideous gargoyle. Assuming I am not alone in this offspring insult-fest, what delights - intended or otherwise – have your children thrown at you this week?   (Alternatively, if you *are* a gargoyle, how do you minimise your disgusting-factor?)

Friday, 23 September 2016

How to talk so noone will ever listen (but successfully build up a giant thirst for gin)

Parenting is hard, isn’t it?  After particularly challenging days / weeks (months) I usually turn in desperation to this book, and read it AGAIN, and swear that this time I’m actually going to retain the information and, you know, use it. 

But obviously, I never do.  Because if I did, maybe my 6 & 7 year old would not have RUN AWAY FROM HOME last week.  Oh yes.  They’d been sent to their rooms for beating the crap out of each other, and such was their objection to this that they decided, on balance, that they’d rather face the miseries of the jungle at night than stay ONE MORE MINUTE in their family home. 

The rookie mistake they made was (a) to run away in the middle of the afternoon and (b) to come and tell me of their plans.  “We’re off!” they announced gaily;  “Running away!”   I was actually totally amused by the whole thing at this stage.  Because, really – how far were they going to get in their school uniforms, with their baskets and shopping bags, and wearing worn-down old flip flops?  So I suggested they apply some insect spray, because it’s very buggy here at the moment (plus there’s the small matter of us living in the jungle) and had they packed their toothbrushes?  (Yes, they had, but they were grateful for the insect spray suggestion.)  And so off they went. (For the record, they had also packed, respectively:  6 t-shirts, 4 stuffed animals, a book, and $3;  and 2 tutus, a pair of pyjamas, a pair of slippers, 1 stuffed  animal, and an angel figurine – ‘to watch over me’…)

Anyway, we bid our farewells, then I waited a couple of minutes before I too sprayed up and set off in their wake – because while I might be a failure at talking so my kids will listen, I’m pretty successful at spying on them. Well, they surprised me with their fortitude, by walking for at least a mile down the windy, pavement-less road, stopping every so often to pick up the various bits and bobs that kept dropping (the Girl in particular was laiden down like a donkey) – and each time they stopped, I leapt into the bushes so they wouldn’t see me. By this stage my curiosity – where are they going to go?  How far will they take it? – was being overtaken by dehydration and thorn scratches.  Anyway, they took it as far as the pedestrian crossing at the big scary main road which the jungle road meets;  the big scary main road which is also known as The Road Of Certain Death, comprising as it does 6 lanes of terror, along which Singaporeans blithely hurtle their Machines Of  Critical Injury. At that point – just as the Boy was putting his foot on the pedestrian-crossing-of-death-or-disablement (because truly – drivers here could CARE LESS about either pedestrians, or their crossings) – I leapt out from behind the (blessedly thorn-free) bus stop  and intercepted the fugitives.  The Girl’s face lit up – clearly she was a reluctant runaway – but the Boy?  Less so.  Furious might be a better way to describe him. 

So I bit my tongue and instead TALKED SO MY KIDS WOULD LISTEN – and lo!  They listened! Although it’s possible that the bit they listened to was: ‘If you come home now you can have an ice-cream’.* 

So I’m thinking of writing a parenting manual.  “How to bribe so your kids will capitulate.”  It’s going to make me millions.  (Or at least enough to buy a few padlocks.)

Look – here they are mid-escape – MILES AWAY:

And here they are post-rescue, ignoring me completely, while I talk and talk and talk... (and carry all their crap).  

*The Boy and I talked later and he divulged his runaway plans:
1. If anyone asked, he was going to say that they were 11 and 9.  Because apparently that's ok.
2. They were heading to the shops to buy mentos.  $3, remember?  A pack each for dinner, and a pack to share for breakfast.
3. Breakfast would be taken in the random garden where they had slept, using some newspaper as a blanket.
4. After their healthy, leisurely breakfast, they were just going to 'hang around', and 'maybe do some begging'. 
5. He thought he might - might! - come home after 3 days.
6. Oh, and he's in trouble in school so please can he stay at home tomorrow?

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Smut and stuff

It’s been a while since there’s been any smut or indecency here, so let’s do what we can to change this, shall we?
First up, the Girl, always a reliable source of smut-hilarity.  She got off the school bus last week and asked “What is sex?”  So I told her (or rather, reminded her), to which she replied:  “Oh.  I thought that was ‘fuck’”. 
And my jaw dropped a teeny bit, proving I am not as cool or unflappable as I’d like to think I am (actually, I know I am neither.  It’s important to own your weaknesses.) and I said “Oh.  Where did you hear those words?” (while thinking “Whose turn is it to DIE?”) and she said “a boy in school told me I was Sex Girl”, to which I could only say, again “Oh” (while thinking “Please do not let you be known as Sex Girl, now or EVER”), and then “…and you, Mummy, told me Fuck.”    Ah.  Indeed I did, in an effort – vain, it transpires – to embarrass the word out of the 6-yr-old Girl’s vocabulary. Another example of a great parenting strategy which bites me on the arse.
Speaking of arses, this weekend we found this place, which I think might be the only naturalist spot in Singapore –   
(apart from our house, of course, which isn’t so much a naturalist spot, as a spot where children appear to think clothes are optional. I quite love it actually;  nothing makes me happier than the sight of my children’s dimpled bottoms.) So anyway, we get to this place – which is on a farm in north Singapore – and the Boy reads this aloud, and immediately, in the blink of an eye, the kids have ripped their clothes off and are frolicking through the shrubbery, while I am HORRIFIED, because no matter what the sign says  - IT IS STILL SINGAPORE.  And also, look at the people depicted on the sign – they’re not exactly hanging loose.  And so I hissed and glared and eventually shouted PUT YOUR CLOTHES ON, and of course I was roundly ignored, until – joy of joys – an ant climbed onto the Baby’s torso and she went mental – thrashing and screaming and having total conniptions, so much so that, from my hiding-place-of-shame behind a banana tree I assumed she was being attacked by a naturalist monitor lizard.  Anyway, they all put their clothes on then, and the Boy suggested that the picture on the sign be amended to show the dangers of local nudity.
One final offering of smut:  this, over at Textpats.  I find it hilarious, but also somewhat quaint, that a grown woman didn’t know that there’s a word to describe shagging in car parks while being watched by strangers.  Pfffff.  Even your average 6 yr-old knows that.

Monday, 5 September 2016

A recipe-free recipe. (For Granola, of all things.)

When we moved – amidst all the various animal and children woe – I decided This Is My Chance To Get Organised.  I go through these phases quite a lot, and none of them gets to the root of the problem at all (which is that I am chronically disorganised, and always will be.)  However.  This was different: this involved food.   Amongst the 788 items of tat I brought home from Ikea in that first week were these lovelies: 

Cereal / biscuit / pasta jars!    And YES, I actually used them, and amazingly  it’s the one organisational step I have managed to keep up.  (Consequently, breakfast at our house every day resembles that at a shabby B&B, albeit with less damp, and more wildlife.)

But look a bit closer at that picture, and you’ll see that something is off;  one of these jars is not like the others… One is emptier - either more abandoned, or – as transpires is the case – more popular.


Yes! In between sitting around, and wondering  Is 37.5 Actually A Fever, Or Can She Go To School?,  and Is It Too Early To Have A Drink?, and Why Is The Cat Looking At Me Like That?, and What Is That Smell? –  in the midst of my frantic expat life I still manage to find time to squeeeeeeeeeeeeeze in a granola-making session.  And frankly, if I can do it, so can you.  Mainly because it is piss-easy, and quite shockingly delicious, and about ¼  the cost of buying it (or 1/10th, if you live here), and is healthy compared to the commercially-made shite you buy, and can be as sugar-free or sugar-laiden as you wish (and similarly raisins-a-plenty, or none, depending on your own good self), and – and this is the biggie, because nothing puts a would-be-granola-maker off like the list of ingredients you need -  THERE IS NO RECIPE. 

It’s a little known fact that granola recipes are part of a larger conspiracy to (a) make people feel crap about themselves and (b) reinforce social subjugation.   So let’s break free of this tyranny!  FREE BREAKFAST TIME!  (And brunch time.  And lunch time.  And Kiddie snack time.  And – depending on how much dancing you did, your sore back numbed by gin, on a boat at the weekend and consequently how hungover you are – dinner time.)

I give you:  Recipe-free Granola.   You’re welcome.

Recipe-Free Granola. (Almost.)

Ok, there’s a caveat.  There are some crucial ingredients.  And you have to follow a couple of rules.  But!  We’re not living in a communist cereal-state here.  Oh no;  this is the most libertarian breakfast / brunch / lunch / snack / dinner you will ever make. 

You need rolled oats (ROLLED, not instant or powder, or just-add-water, ugh),  you need oil and you need some sort of sweetener. Oh, and you need to keep a bit of ratios in mind.   And cook them.  But that aside, you can go hog-wild. 

Here are the ratios I use, per cup. (Truly, use a regular cup.  I haven’t gone all American here. Just open a cupboard and take out any vessel at all, and use it for all the ingredients.  I used an English tea cup – because I’m sortof fancy.)  So, moving on –

  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup Other Stuff (dry stuff that is - nuts, seeds, coconut flakes, whatever)
  • ½ cup liquid
  • No more than 1 cup dried fruit. 

The oats:  Like I said, these have to be rolled, and can’t be instant.  Just trust me on this. But that aside, use any type you want – jumbo, or organic, or premium, or basic.  Anything.

Other Stuff:  I like a mixture of seeds (sunflower, as you’re asking, and sometimes sesame if I have them) and nuts (usually  whole almonds, skin on, which I roughly chop, hazelnuts, again chopped, and walnuts).  But actually, I just use whatever is in my cupboard.  I try to remember to pick up a variety of seeds and nuts and stuff when I’m shopping, but as we’ve already discussed, I’m not that organised.  Desiccated coconut is a nice addition, but I forgot to buy some, so instead – just for a flavour kick –  today I added a teaspoon of dried ginger, which was delicious.  Last week I added a handful of pinenuts, which was... unremarkable (and not worth the cost of the pinenuts, to be honest).  Cinnamon is also good, or if you like nutmeg throw some in.  I find that if I’m using spices, not adding more than one teaspoon is key.   Oh, and add a pinch of salt too, if you remember.

Liquids: My half cup is made up of equal measures of oil and maple syrup, plus a teaspoon of vanilla essence.  For the oil, I use a mix of plain olive, and extra virgin, half and half.  You, obviously, can use any oil you want (although I’d caution against using only EVOO, it’s a bit overpowering). Then I add an equal amount of maple syrup (YES, YOU CAN USE HONEY.  OR GOLDEN SYRUP.  OR THE SWEET TEARS OF A UNICORN), the vanilla, and I stir a bit, and add to the dried ingredients. 

Dried Fruit:  This goes in at the end, once the granola is cooked. Opinion differs as to whether to add it when the granola is warm or cooled.  Warm will, apparently, plump up the fruit – although in my experience, this is total wankage.  Just do whatever suits you and stop worrying about it.  Today I just had prunes and raisins, which I added, but then the Girl reminded me that she hates raisins (she liked them last week, gah), so next time I’ll leave them out.  If I have some dried apricots or dates, I’ll chop them and add them too.  If I’ve totally run out of everything I just have fruit-free granola, which is also fabulous.  (The bonus of the fruit is it bulks the granola out, sweetens it, and keeps the kiddies regular.  Because, you know, eating the dirt from the ground doesn’t have enough of a laxative effect on them.)  Also, I keep it to 1 cup max, because I don’t like the fruit overpowering the other ingredients.  But if you’re a dried-fruit-enthusiast – or your children don’t eat the dirt from the ground (in which case congratulations on your good parenting) and need some regularity in both their life and their bowels, then go crazy.

And That. Is.  It. 

Here’s what you do:

Preheat your oven to 160c (Fan).  (I have no idea what that is in any other language, sorry.)

Add 2 cups of oats to a large bowl.  Add 1 cup of nuts / seeds etc.  Some brown sugar if you like it really sweet (I don’t bother – who needs more sweetness in their lives?  Apart from Donald Trump), extra coconut if you want a really good crunch. Stir.  Make up your 1/2 cup of liquids – oil and sweetener, vanilla essence (which I recommend, if you have it.  Unless it will kill you, in which case maybe pass on it) and dump it in (yes, any which way.  No well is needed;  no dribbling here, or adding a bit at a time.  JUST CHUCK IT IN.)  Then roll up your sleeves and dig in, mixing and stirring and scraping until everything is a little bit greasy. 

Tip it into a baking sheet / large cake tin, press down (crucial if you want lumps of crunchy granola, not so crucial otherwise), and stick in the hot oven.  Set your timer for 15 minutes.

This is the only thing I’m ordering you to do.  Why?  Because, this:

(The oven was too hot, and I wandered off and got distracted arguing with one of my children about something.  The strange smell of burning, possibly.)
Check how it’s looking after 15 mins.  (The speed at which it cooks seems to vary according to the ingredients.)  If you don’t want lumpy granola, give it a stir, otherwise turn the tray around and pop it back in for 10 more minutes.  (Set the timer again.  We’re all old and forgetful, that’s why.)   It should by now be toasted-brown looking, and no longer glistening at all. 

Leave to cool (or not!), tip back into the bowl you used for mixing, and add the dried fruit (or not!) Then either decant into a cereal holder, or your stomach, and pat yourself on the back for your baking fabulousness, while muttering Fuck You Commercial Cereal Manufacturers, and Vive La Granola Revolution, under your breath.

Thursday, 1 September 2016

Long in the Tooth (Short in the Pocket)

To the enormous horror and scorn of my US friends (one of whom brought her son for his first check-up when he was TWO MONTHS OLD.  I am not kidding. THAT is why they all have such gorgeous teeth) the Boy had his first visit to the dentist this week.  Yes, he is 7.  Yes, I know I know… Having said that, the dentist told me that 6 is a good age for the first visit so I’m only nearly two years a year out.  And anyway his teeth are fine.  (Except for the teeny tiny cavity on one of them...) 
GAH.  It is so teeny however, that we can leave it, but he has to brush – and floss – his teeth three times a day, which is a ballache of magnificent proportions, and so far – two days in – has resulted in his brushing them three times in the space of four hours, because he – we – keep forgetting / get distracted / are late for school etc. The other ballache – there are two (appropriately enough) – was getting handed a bill for the check-up-and-xray-and-clean… for $300.  I actually flinched, and I no longer flinch at the cost of things here (because otherwise I would be constantly flinching, and would have to wear a neck brace).  Which leaves me with the dilemma of knowing that I know need to bring the Girl for a check-up, but honestly – THREE HUNDRED DOLLARS?  I can buy fake wooden teeth for less than that…

Which actually, I may need anyway, because last night  - with a squeak and a gasp and a look of abject horror – she spat out her first lost tooth.  The poor thing looked as if her legs had just dropped off.  And it’s not as if this was a surprise – she’d been worrying that tooth nonstop all week.  So out it popped and we had the obligatory I Lost My Tooth photo, wherein she looks aghast, and then she played with it all day, and she and the Boy schemed about how much she could fleece the Tooth Fairy for (because apparently the Tooth Fairy is both a Grown Up, and “loaded” and as such is ripe for fleecing;  the Boy reckoned she could demand $15, which I would definitely have gone for (if only to help with the dental bills) but then I remembered which pot the Tooth Fairy’s donations come from.)   But in the end she decided she didn’t want the Tooth Fairy to take her tooth after all – she wants to keep it and make a necklace out of it (or something), so PHEW, we are up $15 (but still down $300, so a nett loss of $285, on teeth WHICH ARE JUST GOING TO FALL OUT FFS...)

Speaking of teeth and the like, you may remember that I was due to be finished with my vanity-led orthodontic treatment a couple of months ago.  Except they just weren’t straight.  “Yes they are,” said the dentist (in fact “dentist”, because I am no longer certain he is in any way qualified);  “No they’re not” I countered.  And so we went back and forth like this for some time, with me showing him the snaggle tooth, still snaggly, and him deadpan telling me that “in his professional opinion”, they were perfectly straight.  So then he rolled his eyes – literally – and said FINE (in the way that the Baby says it when she’s run out of excuses for staying up) and WE’LL SEE WHAT THE BRACE MANUFACTURERS HAVE TO SAY ABOUT THAT (which is not something the Baby ever says, but by God the tone was 100% hers).  And so it turned out that what the brace manufacturers had to say about that seems to have been something along the lines of “Oooops, we did a terrible job, here, stick a load of attachments on her teeth so they look like they’re splintering off, and here are SEVEN MONTHS’ worth of additional braces”.  Which doesn’t exactly scream “Professional Opinion” (or indeed professional anything) to me.   

So now I’ve been thinking, and here’s my plan. For reasons unclear even to myself, I have kept all the old retainers (the cats like to play with them)  - so I will just use these on the kids in years to come, and we’ll all have the same fabulous teeth.  What can possibly go wrong?