Thursday, 20 October 2011

A tribute to someone I don't know

Last night I heard that someone had passed away.

It was someone I didn't know, but it was someone I knew well. I'd meet up with her most nights. We'd shoot the breeze, she'd make me laugh. We thought we had all the time in the world. She'd fight with me to get the first round in. We'd never had that first round. I promised I'd buy us lunch. We thought it would be inevitable that we'd meet.  I'd laughed and said that she would probably hate me on sight. She said she probably would.

We'd argue and spar, but we'd always leave each other on a witty note. I never took offence. She never took offence. We found the ridiculous funny, and we'd find compassion in tragedy. Her insults were a joy. My insults couldn't match hers. Her kindness and sensitivity when help was needed. She knew when to draw the line in the sand. She was unafraid and brave. She was a friend because she understood, never judged and was always there.

She reached out when I was at my lowest ebb and I couldn't reach out to her when she was at hers. Because I didn't know.  Words, just words on a page or a screen, brought me to a friend I'd never meet. We knew each other well, yet I'd never seen her face. I will never see her face.

So sad....

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

My Crazy Au-pairs.

Miriam, is slovenly and messy.  Her room is a pigsty, and she leaves a trail of cups and plates around the house.  No matter how many times I ask her to put them in the dishwasher she seems to think that they all disappear because the fairies spirit them away...well...I'm that fairy! I put up with it as I like her.  I've had au pairs since the boys were about 5.  I thought that would be a good age as they could tell me if the au pair was mean to them, locked them in cupboards or burnt them with fag ends.

In the early days we had one called Ildi.  Ildi was older than the average au-pair (she was 28), and I found her on the the net.  She looked presentable and spoke very good English...and she had eyes that reminded me of my ma's dog.  Probably not a good reason to pick an au pair, but Oliver (the dog) was kind and sweet  so I thought perhaps she would be too. She worked for a family nearby and was leaving for "reason unknown".  I'd never thought to question the mother as I thought that perhaps they didn't get on.  That sometimes happens. I hadn't had an issue with them not liking their previous family.  So I offered her the job. I explained what I wanted from her, and told her although she'd be in control for a couple of days, there would be long periods of time when I wouldn't need her, only perhaps for the odd night baby sitting and walking the dog.

So Ildi moved in .  For about a week she got to know us and seemed to like the kids. On the day I was due back at work, Ildi came sobbing into the kitchen. She was inconsolable, and couldn't speak for the snot and tears running down her face.

"I need tranquillisers!" she exclaimed. "Please...help me!"

Earlier that morning she seemed fine. She'd breezed into the kitchen, prepared her breakfast and stepped outside to smoke a cigarette or two.....and now she was in pieces.
 
"Ildi, what's happened?"

"I keep having a recurring nightmare. It's awful. I need tranquillisers. Please. Help. Me."

"We have Calpol..will that help?".  She laid her head on the table sobbing and weeping. "Do you think you might be over it in an hour?" I asked.

I was freaking out. I was due to leave the house in an hour and was to be away for a few days. What the fcuk was I going to do? I employed her to be at home for when the kids came home from school just for a couple of hours until BH got home, but now it looked liked it was going to all fall apart. At that point I felt concern.  Concern I was about to leave my kids with an unstable, crazy woman....and I couldn't do it.

"Look"  I said. "Don't worry. Don't worry about the kids. I'll get someone to collect them and look after them until BH gets home. You relax. Go and see a Doctor. Get yourself sorted. We'll chat properly when I get home from my trip."

A quick call to sis, ensured my kids safety for a few days. And Ildi was free to recover, alone...at my expense.

On my return it seemed that all was normal. Ildi was cheerful, and assured me that she was fine. There was nothing I needed to know and she assured me that she was perfectly able to care for the kids. When BH returned from work he told me that when he returned that first evening with the kids, Ildi was getting ready to go out. She'd cracked open a bottle of (our) wine (I didn't say she couldn't but neither did I say she could!), and was entertaining a couple of girls in our kitchen (I didn't say she couldn't!) so BH and the kids took themselves off to Pizza Hut for supper. The next evening, when BH came home with the kids, Ildi was getting ready to go out...again.

I sat her down and explained that as I assumed she was unwell, she needed time to recover for her horror (what ever it was) and that by me rearranging the childcare meant that she was given that time to sort herself out. She rightly told me that as I had re-arranged the child care, she was free of duty to do as she pleased. 

And...it got worse..so much worse! Me and my cowardice took another 5 months before we parted ways with her, and I swear it was probably the most challenging time of my life.

It seems like I'm still learning. No matter how many times I lay out the rules and boundaries, with each one I seem to have a further 20 rules to add to the list.

How have you dealt with au pairs? Have they become a big part of your life and could you do without them? Do you put up with their behaviour because you can't face the alternative....and what is the alternative?













I wasn't due back at work for a few days so I thought it would give her

Friday, 14 October 2011

Murder in the garden.

I'd never had Chubba down as a killer..he's too soft and floppy for one, but this morning the Finn and Bart came running in from the garden screaming.

"Muummmmm"  Well, that's the usual cry, but this was wasn't the cry of "Mum, I've hurt myself" or "Mum, he's being nasty to me" or "I'm telling Mum" or "Mum, I'm just crying for the sake of it", this was a blood curdling scream of "Mum...I've seen something really bad and I don't want this stuck in my memory forever and tonight I'm going to have nightmares" type of scream.  The one where you know that whilst you want to run away yourself, as you're Mum, you have to deal with it.... head on.

"What?" What?" What?" I shouted - I tend to shout when I'm freaking.

They weren't actually saying anything as the rushed into the kitchen but grabbing at my clothes, and burying their heads in my legs. Miriam was sitting at the kitchen table engrossed in her iPhone (how the feck does she afford it on the wages I pay her..I haven't even got one!) and hadn't even twitched. Peewee was running circles around us all, slipping and sliding as fast as his fat body would carry him.

"Muuuummm...he's killing it, he's killing it!!" the boys wailed.

"Oh shit" I thought as I glanced through the kitchen window. I could see Chubba peering at something under a bush and Mimi  prodding at something under the bush with a stick.

"What are you doing?" I called from the kitchen.  I don't like dead bodies at the best of times and the thought of having to have  funeral for something larger than a fly sends shivers down my spine.  I mean, it's going to be me that has to pick it up, isn't it?

"Chubba killed a mouse" came the reply. "He wasn't trying to eat it...he just wanted it to play...but we can't find it now".

Chubba with a victim


"Leave it alone!" I screamed in the  hope that the mouse would slope away and that they'd forget about it so that I didn't have to make a decision.

I really didn't fancy giving it some mouth to mouth if it was alive, but then again the thought of putting it out of it's misery put me in a bit of a quandary. Could you murder a mouse?  I gag at the thought of stepping on a snail. I capture spiders and put them outside. Even though the slugs eat my cabbages, and make me rage, I can't be the one to do anything about them; and I really didn't fancy scraping up the remains of what ever it was under the bush either...I'm far too squeamish!


The boys were standing in the kitchen doorway.  Too afraid to venture any further than the door jamb.

"It's OK.  I have it!" shouted Mimi.  And holding the stick aloft she carefully walked down to meet us.  Finn ran screaming into the lounge and hid under the cushions; Bart loitered behind me, trying to look uninterested while trying to brush aside his earlier hysteria.

"Is it alive? " I shouted

As she and the stick drew nearer, I could see the body of a mouse resting on the stick. With each step she took, I could see the remains of a very dead mouse...a mouse that had been dead a very long time.

"I think so mummy.  It just winked at me!"



Thursday, 6 October 2011

And I thought I was "Just perfect"!!!

Just an observation really.  Since starting this blog, I've come to learn a lot about myself and my family. I'm often reflective and observing, but I've actually started to notice my bad points of which I thought there were none, pre blogging.

I've always asked BH what he didn't like about me and he could come up with nothing...well nothing that is of value.  Where as I'd thought I was always perfect (oh yes I am!), I'm clearly lacking in some a lot of areas.  I'm now beginning to realise that he is less than truthful if only for an easy life...and as I've blundered through life I really should thank him. BH always points out my good points (you have lovely ears, you are a nice person, you are kind), and while that's lovely of him, it's not been terrifically helpful.  Recently, the kids have been telling me things about myself.  Kids are honest, kids are truthful, kids are cruel kids are mean....husbands are not! I suppose that's why I married him.  I know he wears rose coloured specs, although most of the time he's not even listening.

"Does my bum look big in this?" I'll ask.
"Definitely the black one." he'll reply, not having torn his gaze from the rugby. See? But then again I should thank my lucky stars he hasn't mentioned the weight gain, the bad hair year or the pretty dreadful nails (from gardening! I cry.)


"Mum, why are you so rubbish at making salad?"

"Muuummmm,  stop singing...you're hurting my ears!"

"Mum, you look a bit like a sausage in a belt!"

"Mum, why do you never brush your hair?"

So while I tell it like it is, so do my kids.  But....they would never do it to anyone else. They realise that hurtful comments will lose them friends (read here for my lack of sensitivity)

They know that their mother would never appear on X-Factor despite threatening to do so (although they're not too sure).  They know that their mother's baking skills will never improve, unless they replace said mother.  They know that I will always look like a sausage in a belt, and they know that I will always the object of their fun and derision. 

This morning, while the kids were getting their stuff together, Bart mentioned that he was running short of underpants.

"Mum, you do know that's your duty, don't you? You're not very good at keeping up with stuff are you?"

Hmmm, I know I'm not perfect but where did this sexist rubbish come from...and how old do they have to be before I can chuck them out of the nest?

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