Toes don’t lie

Good morning. Well, I say good morning…Outside the day is black as coal and it’s sounding wet and wild. It’s the first day of November and it’s as it the elements got together to see what they could do about ensuring the day was suitably “Novembery.”

It should be pointed out if it were not yet suitably obvious, that I hate winter.

Today is All Saints Day which also feels fitting, given that there is a distinct whiff of burning martyr about me at the moment. Bookandbed is tired. Tired to the bones. Tired to the point that last night I was actually dreaming about sleeping, like one of those infinity drawings or a Michel Gondry video where Kylie’s let herself go a bit. Monkey-face was crying out in her sleep at regular intervals as her last molars are refusing to come quietly. I have genuinely every sympathy but sitting here with that churning black empty nauseous feeling that follows prolonged sleeplessness, I’d be lying if I didn’t feel admit most of my sympathy today is set aside for me with a bit left over for her dad.

I suppose traditionally, this is where parents make those unfathomable claims that parenthood is arduous and to the casual onlooker, it does look like rock-breaking. They then (somewhat unconvincingly to the naked eye) make bold claims that they “wouldnt be without their child.” I do deal in cliches often but, pre-parenthood, these shorthands had absolutely no resonance to me. And they still don’t. I don’t mean I misunderstand these cliches, only that the language people so often use still doesn’t quite get to the nub of my feelings.
I have a low boredom threshold. Admin and I quickly get frustrated with each other. Parenthood – at least in the early years – sends your admin (by which I mean “laundry” and chores) into hyperdrive. Like anyone, I enjoy pottering – light admin can help when you need a quick achievement fix. But I feel like Mickey in Fantasia when he’s ballsed-up the spell. I’m stoking a greedy washing machine with ever-expanding dirty laundry. I’m thinking there’s some kind of sock and knicker cell-dividing going on which might be of use to someone but not to me, reader, not to me.

My admin, my laundry and my day-job project terror is never more than half a day of being utterly out of control.
I’m at that start-line viewing the 26 miles I’ve got to somehow get through having skipped breakfast.

Tomorrow I fly to Madrid without having yet booked a flight or hotel room. Yes, I do know where my passsport is.

I also live in an old, old building of which I seem to have acquired custodianship. Every night there are people knocking our door with that look,the look that says “please take this from me and deal with stuff because we dont know what to do.” I think I probably look like that myself a lot which is why my mum is coming to stay for two weeks. I’ve managed, whilst trying to prevent being smothered by post it notes and therefore executing something in a rush, to communicate the wrong communal bank account details not once but twice. I need Help.

This is the stuff about which I gnash my teeth and rip out my hair and which seriously upsets my equilibrium. I think this is what parents speak of when they talk of the challenges. The mundane, the ineffably frustrating gristle of life, that threatens to suck the joy out of all of every day if we let it.

Monkey-face is without question not mundane. Last night, we ate dinner, me in a bad mood, husband in a bad mood because I was in a bad mood again, when MF trotting around the table to ladle out rice onto our plates and to give us both an enormous, uninvited kiss. Getting her ready for bed, she clung to me and stroked my arms and ears. Even the frustrating terrible twos can be enjoyable: yesterday I handed her an oaty bar treat, but she preferred to keep retrieving my bright pink sealed tub of nail-polish remover pads and demand “open.”She had no idea what they were, but it was extremely amusing, given the state of my 2-week old toe-polish.Toenails don’t lie and neither do two year olds. She’s a wise child. And bookandbeda ate the oaty bar treat instead.

It can be really easy to miss all this, when they’re hanging about trying to empty your cupboards and growing washing cultures getting in the way of your actually trying to accomplish chore-annihilation. But, for me MF forces me to stop, be in the moment and there with her, seeing what she sees and viewing the world with fresh eyes. The trick is to somehow magnify and get more of these intense communions with life and other people and this beautiful beautiful world.

Last night, we had a family love-in. The three of us huddled together for story time with a selection of Hallowe’en inspired books. She sat patiently as we read Meg and Mog and pointed out and named most of the book, even starting to run a tiny finger across the words she saw. We followed that with an animated reading of Good Little Wolf. Halfway in she started heckling and demanded Giraffes Cant Dance. Perhaps she’d had enough of the dark, too. Without her, without the reading and the fundamental messages they impart of how to live a happy life taptaptapping into ones brain and hopefully ones soul, all I would be left with would be rabid workaholism, a crippling compulsion to fix everything for everyone and city-rage. On my commute to work I am wondering again, just who are children’s books written for and who are they teaching?


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