Category Archives: Satire

Thirteen Things my Five-Year-Old Really Should have Thought Through

I’m told that children have to learn a certain amount by experience, and that you can’t tell them everything. Somehow this is part of the learning experience, and is healthy and good.

I find myself doubting this when I see my small boy stuck, for example, in a cardboard box he decided to sit on the edge of. It doesn’t look the most educational position to me. But I’m doing my bit for parenting. I try to take photographs whilst I let him learn.

So here are the ten times since turning five that R really should have thought things through:

  1. The time when he piled up eight sofa cushions on top of the sofa, climbed on them, and ended up hanging off the curtain rail, which came out of the wall on one end.
  2. Before squeezing “glue” all over a piece of wrapping paper, and then discovering that it was actually white chocolate icing.
  3. That time when he poured himself a really big glass of milk, carried it to the carpet, saw the lego, forgot the milk and kicked the glass over literally ten seconds later.
  4. When he said “I never want to play with you again, EVER” – to the one person he lives with all the time…1795354_735734149851275_4171096334895559046_o
  5. The time he decided he didn’t want to eat a tuna sandwich and hid it down the edge of the sofa cushion, and then took the cushion off a week later to build a fort and got mouldy tuna sandwich all over his hair.
  6. Before he carefully drew his own picture, watched his older friend draw her own careful one, and then scribbled all over hers, laughing.
  7. The time he shredded all the remaining loo roll and chucked it down the loo WHILST doing a poo.
  8. When he tried to balance his small chair on his skateboard and then sit on it.
  9. Before drawing a cylindrical rocket with two circular boosters on the bottom.
  10. Before forgetting he was two years older than last time and laboriously squeezing himself into this car…Rufus squeezed into small car
  11. Before jumping out at me SO MANY TIMES in one day that I did it back and made him cry.
  12. The time he filled the bath up to about an inch off the top, got out, and then stood on the edge and jumped in.
  13. When he actually let me count to three before getting into bed.

If you enjoyed this post, don’t forget to like and follow! You may also be interested in The Eight Most Embarrasssing Things my Three-Year-Old has Said; The Thirty Things Most Likely to Give Me Parent Rage; How Not to Travel With a Four-Year-Old and The 39 Things Guaranteed to Cause a Four-year-old Melt-Down. 

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Naptime

A poem to celebrate 1000 page likes and 750,000 reads on The Cupid Touch.

Naptime

For five years every bedtime
Has been a battle-ground –
What once were cries now pleading,
And pyjamas thrown around.

“But Mummy, I’m still hungry!”
Gets me tearing out my hair,
As does the constant wriggling
And the “Mummy, it’s not fair!”

I can’t seem to explain it –
That every single night
He goes from cute to monstrous
Once I switch off the main light.

And how is it he thinks of
Fifty thousand things to say
When I’ve sat with him already
And asked all about his day?

By the time he gives up fighting
And lays down his monstrous head,
I’m barely still awake myself
And longing for my bed.

Instead I have to climb back up
And sort out all the mess,
Or exercise, or work or worse –
Use Facebook to impress.

But then a week ago, when I
Was tired to my core
(And admittedly, hungover,
From a foolish night before) –

I lay down in the afternoon
And said, “I need a nap.”
Expecting that my monster
Would start jumping on my lap.

Instead he stroked my shoulder,
Tucked my duvet around me,
Then went and got a story
And read it beautifully.

Once finished, he said,
“Sleep well!” and kissed me on the head
Then quietly took his toys
Down to the bottom of my bed.

His peace and quiet was soothing,
Even though it was quite short,
And I lay there, quietly hoping
This was care that I had taught.

Then, rested for a moment
I didn’t feel so wrecked
When he jumped on me and asked
If we could play with lego next.

Getting up was easier
With a monster helping me –
And at least I got to sit and build
A lego robot tree.

Thirty-Nine Things Guaranteed to Cause a Four-Year-Old Meltdown

This is basically a companion-post to The 30 Things Most Likely to Give Me Parent Rage.

I’m pretty lucky to have a naturally easy-going small boy. We rarely have tantrums, and he lives in fear of the words “One… two…three!” (completion of the last word equalling the apocalypse/having to go to bed/related disasters).

But being pretty lucky doesn’t mean I don’t have to deal with some fairly ridiculous fits of rage, tears or snot. (And in one particularly fantastic case, the furious shouting of the words “Bummy bum!!!!” at me. It really stung once I’d stopped laughing.) After his tiring first two weeks of school, I’ve collected some pretty good melt-down guarantees that needed sharing…

  1. There’s no nutella left.
  2. They’re the wrong socks.
  3. He wasn’t holding his sleeve yet.
  4. He forgot to hold his sleeve and it’s now halfway up his arm under his coat.
  5. He asked for a green cup.
  6. It’s bedtime and he’s hungry.
  7. It’s bedtime and he’s hungry and mummy won’t let him have a biscuit and he doesn’t want bread and butter and he’s starving and he might actually starve and mummy doesn’t care.
  8. There are biscuit crumbs all over his bed.
  9. Someone said “Shhh.”
  10. There’s a hair in his mouth.
  11. There’s a hair somewhere on his hands that he can’t find.
  12. There’s a hair somewhere in the room that he’s pretty sure is going to come and find him.
  13. He wanted to be the first one downstairs.
  14. Peppa Pig is taking too long to download.
  15. I didn’t download enough Peppa Pig episodes.
  16. There isn’t time for more Peppa Pig.
  17. It’s bedtime.
  18. I selfishly tried to walk on the pavement next to him and not through several bins, which stopped him being able to walk along the train-track stripe of tarmac the whole way down our road.
  19. He didn’t want to be tickled any more.
  20. It’s time to tidy away the lego.
  21. A small lego brick won’t come off a larger lego brick.
  22. A small lego brick came off a larger lego brick when he wasn’t ready and is now somewhere in the region of the sofa but he isn’t sure where.
  23. I told him to put his own shoes on.
  24. I didn’t listen when he explained that he was too tired to put his own shoes on this morning.
  25. I put his shoe on wrong.
  26. There’s a label in his pants.
  27. His seat-belt has a twist in it.
  28. He was about to open the door.
  29. He didn’t want to close the door behind him as well as open it.
  30. I shouldn’t have told him it was his fault because he doesn’t like it when it’s his fault.
  31. I told him to go to sleep after he told me not to say that, and that means he won’t play with me again, and if he won’t play with me again then he’ll be unhappy, so I’ve just made him unhappy forever.
  32. It was time to stop building a sofa-cushion fort.
  33. Someone tidied away his sofa-cushion fort.
  34. Today’s attempt at a sofa-cushion fort wasn’t as good as yesterday’s one that got tidied away.
  35. He wanted me to do his seatbelt.
  36. He only wanted to do his seatbelt once today.
  37. I shouldn’t have told him to get dressed because it made him go and hide under the table and then he banged his head and it was all my fault.
  38. There are bits in his yoghurt.
  39. It’s still bedtime.

How Not to Travel With a Four-Year-Old

I used to love travelling. I’d feel lighter and better the moment the train pulled out of the station or the plane lifted off the tarmac, and I’d look forward to it with almost as much enthusiasm as the holiday. I guess it was time off in my own head, while the scenery changed and I had an excuse to drink forty-six cups of tea and eat so many pastries I would be ashamed to write it here. I used to write on trains (imagine – actual WORK).

Then the Beast arrived in the world.

To be fair to him, he isn’t even a very beastly beast. He’s more a nerdy beast, or possibly just an average small boy who’s picked up the habit of verbalising everything from his mother. But fairness is totally not the point of this post. The point is that my little oasis of travel-euphoria is now a frazzled, constant-noise-surrounded gauntlet of irritation and the urge to have a paddy/cry/steal all the pastries and barricade myself into the first class compartment using suitcases.

So travel is now always exhausting. It also involves too much luggage. It also also involves the word “Mummy” being said at least once a minute for the duration.

But this particular lot of travelling was impressively aggravating by anyone’s standards. Setting off on a complex jaunt around the UK and Ireland – made harder by having got a tiny cut on my foot really infected so I was walking like a half-decomposed Walking Dead extra – things went badly.

Small beginnings

It started with the ham sandwich. Such a small thing; but of such small beginnings are the moments of greatest strife created. (I’m thinking the Garden of Eden, the Siege of Troy, and maybe One Direction.)

I bought R a ham sandwich before we travelled. I thought he was going to eat the fecking thing right then and there. Instead, he chose to have a mouthful and then put it back in its small plastic box “for later.” Now this would have been fine had there been a single spare inch of room in our over-packed luggage for a ham sandwich in its small plastic box. Obviously, however, as anyone who has ever travelled with me will know, there was no room. You couldn’t have squeezed a pepperami into our suitcases.

So with a rucksack on my back, a handbag over my shoulder, two coats and R’s discarded cardigan over my arm and wheeling a suitcase whilst limping, I then had to carry a partially-eaten ham sandwich that R said he would definitely, definitely want later.

Now there is a rule to luggage that it gets more unwieldy the more times you put it down and pick it up again. By the time we were getting off the airport train, I was already struggling, and so I did the standard thing and said, “Gosh, do you think you’re strong enough to carry some of this stuff?” and was rewarded by R climbing over the suitcases and picking up the ham sandwich before getting off the train.

At that point, it was still funny. Ham sandwiches can be, for a while.

But that feck-bollocky sandwich never left us. It came with us through security (R got it its own box for the scanner, just in case). It came with us through duty-free where I had to talk R out of buying everything he saw as “a present.” I tried to leave it at the check-out but the “helpful” assistant ran after us with it, so it was still with us as we tried to find tiny shampoos and “a comic with a stethoscope” in Smiths. It came with us to the loos, where the only thing to do with it was balance it on a suitcase I’d had to wedge behind the door of the cubicle to fit luggage plus two people in, and which R became quite distressed about as it was “too close to the loo.”

By the time we had forty minutes to go, I’d spotted the champagne bar and was equally keen on sitting down and drinking to forget the ham sandwich. I might add that R had failed to eat any of it after four askings, despite apparently having enough room if I bought him the world’s largest toblerone or a bag of toffees. I figured we could both sit on the swivelly-chairs at the fizz bar and I’d do the drinking (self-sacrificing mother that I am). But R had different ideas. After a I perched on one of the high chairs, he sat mournfully on the ground beneath it next to our luggage. But R can do better than that. He waited until the waiter had poured me a glass of the cheap stuff and offered a plate of olives, and then with full Oliver Twist anguish held up the half-eaten ham sandwich and said, “Please may I eat some now, Mummy? I’m really hungry.”

I could see the people in the next seats staring at me, so I tried to come off not as a drink-obsessed, neglectful, selfish ass of a parent as I smiled at him and said, “Of course you can! Would you like an olive as well…?” (In retrospect, that second one probably didn’t help the yummy-mummy idiot image.) He shook his head, so I considered myself safe to focus on the champagne for a second. That was, until I heard a tiny, sad little voice from beneath me say, “I can’t open it, Mummy.”

I would have turned around to sort the sandwich out pretty quickly even if I hadn’t felt the steady gaze of those people next to me. I mean, I’m not mean, and R does heart-broken child in a lip-trembling way that would make Simon Cowell weep. As it was, I spun round and stepped down in one lightning-fast manoeuvre… and stepped on the fecking ham sandwich. 

I didn’t just catch it with my foot. I stood right, plumb in the middle of it with a decisive squelch.

I knew even as I felt it happen that there was no way it wouldn’t look deliberate. A hush fell over at least the nearest five feet of people, and honestly, if I’d cackled, “That’s what you get for interrupting my drinking, you child-scum you,” I don’t think they could have looked more like they wanted to call social services. R, naturally, pulled an absolute blinder at this point. He could have welled up; he could have had a tantrum and returned me to the unhallowed ranks of parent-with-difficult child. But no, R instead opened his eyes wide like saucers, flinched backwards, and said, “Sorry, Mummy.”

The situation was essentially unsalvageable, but I tried valiantly by asking R if we should go and get those toys we’d looked at for him, now we’d had a rest. I was still throwing the champagne down as we legged it, and I pretended I couldn’t hear someone calling after me, until it turned out it was the waiter, who was chasing after me to get the glass back.

“I’m so sorry. Wasn’t thinking,” or something equally squirmy left my mouth. He gave me a cold nod as I returned the empty glass – and then pulled out his trump card from behind his back.

“And I think this is yours,” he said, presenting R with a crushed ham sandwich in its little box.

“Thank you,” R said, taking it sadly as if it were his favourite pet and not a cheap ham roll.

“Aww, should I get you another one?” I asked him, feeling pretty bad about the whole thing as the waiter returned to his bar.

“No, I’m going to put it in the bin,” R said, with a sigh. “I didn’t like it.”

Don’t forget to like the post if you enjoyed it, and if you’d like to read more, follow the blog for all the ridiculousness it contains. Similar posts include The Thirty Things Most Likely to Give Me Parent Rage, The Eight Most Embarrassing Things My Three-Year-Old Has Said, and A Week of Imaggling: Or Five Days of Trying to Get a Four-Year-Old Out of the Door. 

You can also find Gytha on Facebook and Wattpad, and as @thegyth Twitter when she occasionally thinks of something to say. 

How I Made One Boy Behave Him-Elf this Christmas…

I defy any parent to manage without some form of bribery: be it the promise of TV programmes, games, later bedtimes, more stories, chocolate, ponies or Playstatio ns.* For me, Christmas seemed a good opportunity to cash in on the universal little-white-fib, and get some peace and quiet after 8:30pm/before 6am.

The Elf Plan

I decided that, since R seemed pretty convinced there were elves lurking around the place to watch him anyway, we could have some fun with them. I spotted – in Hobbycraft, in case it’s useful for any of you for next year – a load of hanging tree-decorations that resembled elves. (They were actually supposed to be, respectively, a boy and girl, two elves, and Santa and Mrs. Claus, but I’m darned if I thought the last two looked like Father Christmas, beard or no beard.) I gave an evil chuckle, and purchased the lot; along with two tiny hanging knitted jumpers that were also supposed to go on the tree.

I figured it was best to start out small. Whilst R was out at nursery, I hid this on top of the bookshelf:

2014-12-02 12.36.00

I waited until evening, and then dropped into the conversation that I hadn’t seen any elves yet, but being the first day of advent, they were probably about.

R immediately started to look, and pretty quickly spotted the red-hatted elf. I had to explain that he would stay very still if a bit frightened, and that his voice might be too quiet to hear. I then hit the inevitable question: “What’s his name?”

“Errr… he says it’s Bori,” I told him. (Spot the person who’s just been watching The Hobbit.)

I suggested that Bori would want to see him get into his pyjamas and into bed, to tell Santa. The quickest and most willing change of clothes happened ever, all for Bori’s benefit. I decided not to worry about encouraging him to strip off whilst small, elderly-looking men watched him in silence. That kind of thing can wait until he’s five.

At bedtime, R said how exciting seeing elves was.

“But you saw some before, didn’t you?” I asked.

“Yes, but I didn’t really.

The sort of statement that makes me wonder if he’s sometimes just humouring me…

 

The Elves Outside the Window

I hid a few elves around the place over the next couple of days, and left a small elf jumper hanging on R’s night-lights. Not only did I witness an instant uptick in behaviour, but R had them all named and back-stories associated with them within hours of each new elf arrival. It was actually great fun watching him really grab hold of his elf-imagination.

The only tricky part of the plan, from my perspective, was having to repeatedly go through a charade of being able to hear their extremely quiet voices (and/or explain away why they weren’t really moving several hours later).

I came up with a master-plan: elves watching from outside the window. I could then legitimately claim that I couldn’t hear them, and close the curtains on them so he didn’t ask why they were so still.

So during the day, I spent some minutes sellotaping two elves to the outside of the window. This is harder than you might think. Plastic-coated window-frames are not that sticky, and I thought it might ruin the effect if the magical flying elves were visibly being held up by tape. I then went gleefully to pick R up from nursery and waited until bedtime…

R went to close his curtains, and stopped, a look of shock on his face. At this point, coming closer to him, it occurred to me that the elves didn’t look quite so friendly in the dark. In fact, they looked like some kind of freaky stalkers:

2014-12-01 15.57.59

Luckily, it didn’t take long to convince R that it was just friendly old Bori and Elza, and not some kind of elvish demons poised to invade his dreams during the night. It was quite a relief to close the curtains, however.

 

Christmas Eve

I got a little busy in the run-up to Christmas. We had a fun-filled wedding to attend, the inevitable presents and decorations, and Rufus wanted to have a Christmas tea-party.  As a result, the elves didn’t appear so often – or when they did, they were pretty lazy. They inadvertently stayed in one place for several days, to R’s disgust.

However, I’d decided that Christmas Eve was going to make up for ALL of this. So having driven the two of us some 200 miles to the wilds of the new parental pad in Wales; then having walked up a couple of mountains and spent far too long wrapping presents; I set about creating the Elf Experience.

For reasons of space and various people being awkward, R ended up in a room with his long-suffering aunt (which, given it was Christmas and he was likely to be up at about 5am, I considered a RESULT). While she gave him a bath, I put elves EVERYWHERE.

They were peering off mannequins:

Christmas Elves on a mannequin
This one was called Kika.

 

They were on window-ledges, and bookshelves:

Littleheart and some absurd name I can't now remember for the life of me.
Littleheart and some absurd name I can’t now remember for the life of me.

 

Bori and Pooka.
Bori and Pooka.

And they were, naturally, hiding in the bed…Elza and Squiffle-iffle-elfle. (I take no responsibility for that last name.)

Elza and Squiffle-iffle-elfle. (I take no responsibility whatsoever for that last name.)

And R LOVED it. He went scampering around between them, thoroughly over-excited, and then got to bed early in the hope that the elves would report back. Naturally, he then spent the next half hour commenting about the elves, asking questions about them, and generally procrastinating. But it worked.

And in the morning, when he had some (thoroughly awesome, naturally) stocking presents, he went over and thanked each and every one of the elves.

So a lot of effort and a few porky-pies seemed pretty much worth it to me. Not only did he enjoy it and get his imagination really going, he also stepped up and behaved like the best of R’s (which is never going to be perfect, but I’ll take what I can get.)

And I’ll admit that, sarcastic and horrible person though I might be, I had a shed load of fun too. It was the kind of thing that makes your eyes water in an embarrassing way to witness, and I got a childish kind of glee from hiding elves everywhere I could think of.

 

If you liked this post, why not follow Gytha’s blog? You can also find her on Wattpad under the thoroughly original pen-name of GythaLodge, or on Facebook under her own peculiar name. 

*I am pretty likely to hate anyone who bribes with these last two. In my head, I’m saying them in a stupid-little-prissy-girl voice and a slurred, dumb-hick voice respectively. But I reserve the right to think they’re TOTALLY FINE as soon as I can afford that kind of bribery.

A Week of Imaggling: Or 5 days of trying to get a four-year-old out of the door

In parenting, as in many things, there are good weeks and bad weeks. Most of the good weeks occur when at least 33% of the week is spent with someone else in charge, but I’m going to assume that’s not my fault, and is only because it makes Mummy seem a lot nicer in comparison…

During the bad weeks, getting OUT OF THE DARN DOOR seems to be about as incredible an achievement as World Peace – and has similar levels of achievability. Being a slightly scatty parent doesn’t help, as any potential delay whilst I find something is seized on to return to the incredibly important activity of Building A Castle/Crane/Forklift/Nest/Dungeon (that last one only happens on the reaaaallllly bad days, and may come from my suggestions…).

But I suppose scatty, arty type parents have a few weapons in their armoury. More and more I find myself “Imaggling” – or more comprehensively, imaginary haggling. And just because most of it is made-up, it doesn’t make it any less serious. This particular week, imaggling turned out to be just about the greatest challenge ever.

Monday 

We both overslept. The morning did not start well with the realisation that I had also failed to put all the laundry into the dryer, necessitating a delay. Rufus, of course, did not want to get dressed. Naturally, he was encased in sofa-cushions and shouting at me to put a duvet on top. So this occurred.

Me: Oh no! You’ve gone completely invisible! I can’t see you!

R: (poking his head out) Have I?

Me: Yes, I can only hear your voice! Which means I can’t give you any chocolate-banana-bagel and milkshake! I’ll have to put them away…

R: I want them!

Me: Well if you got your clothes on, I’d be able to see you, wouldn’t I?

Time to get clothes on: 4.5 minutes. And breakfast went down pretty quickly too…

Tuesday

We were actually up in good time. I made the mistake of mentioning this, so R declared he was going to play for AGES and then said he didn’t want to go to nursery. (It’s funny how this only ever lasts until he gets there and realises how much fun his friends are having.)

Me: Let’s have a competition. I bet I can get my clothes on before you can get your clothes on. Now let me see…

(I pick up his trousers)

R: (outraged) No!! Those are my trousers!

Me: Really? I thought they were mine…

R: No! Look!

R pretty quickly puts them on, and by the same method, we went through ALL the clothes.

Time to get clothes on: 6 minutes.

Wednesday

A slightly sleepy day for R. I could tell this by the fact that he went downstairs and immediately made a snuggly nest on the sofa.

Me: Are you going to get dressed?

R: No. I’m a leopard.

Me: Helpful, thanks. Leopards still eat, though. You could have breakfast.

R: They don’t eat cereal.

(After getting and demolishing my own breakfast)

Me:  Quickly, baby leopard! Hide! There’s a mean leopard coming!!

Cue bundling into the “nest” with him and hiding under a snuggle-sack. 

Me: We’ll have to escape! The only way we can do it is to camouflage ourselves. I have some camouflage fur to put on. Would you like it…?

R: Yes!

Time to get dressed: 9 minutes.

Thursday

R had started to get wise to the imaggling, and declared when I asked him to get dressed that he “didn’t want to, and didn’t want a competition.” No – he just wanted to play. Naturally.

Having handed him his socks, I suddenly turn and “fell” out of the kitchen and up the stairs.

Me: Arrggghhh!!! There’s a magical spell pushing me away! You’ll have to get your magic socks on to bring me back.

R: They aren’t magic socks.

Me: Well, I’m upstairs, and if you putting your socks on brings me back downstairs in a second, then doesn’t that make them pretty magic…?

(Pause for consideration)

R: I’ve got one magic sock on! But now I’ve got a magic lever that pushes you away…

Darn.

Time to get dressed: 19 minutes. And I thought it was such a good one, too…

Friday

We had a train to catch. This is one of the things I hate, and usually means getting up about 2.5 hours earlier than I would ever think to allow for in order to make the train. Tetchiness was therefore high all round, and I ended up manhandling R into his clothes whilst he said “No! I don’t want to! I’m playing! Stop it!” and refused every possible offer of food.

It was therefore only on the train when I got to the imaggling bit – and we did make the train, in spite of his best efforts. About half an hour into the journey, R had been disgusting the other passengers by drawing pictures of pretty much anything you could think of “with poo coming out of it.”

In the end, I suggested that he’d drawn enough.

R: No! I’m busy!

Me: What about a story?

R: All right. You tell me a story.

Me: OK. How about a story about you and one of your friends?

R: Yes! About us playing.

(Now I never let the chance of a good story-telling go. Morals learned in no faster way and all that. And quite fed up of the words “no” and “poo,” I knew just where this one was going…)

Me: Once upon a time, a boy and a girl were playing in a garden. In a corner they had never been to before, they found a funny-looking little man with a beard. The boy went up to him and said “Poo!” and they all laughed, except the man. Who said, “I’ll teach you!” and with a flick of his hand and an evil chuckle, he vanished. It turned out he’d taken the children’s nice words with him, and they learned pretty quickly that nobody liked them very much when they could only say nasty words…

(I won’t write the whole story here – but naturally it became an epic journey into another land, and thanks to some R involvement, also included slack-lining across a river, a flute that turned us into giraffes, and lego bricks made out of wood.

R got quite into it, and to my mild surprise, so did many of the passengers on the train. I’d expected  them to ask us to be quiet, but instead, the next few rows started listening in. Possibly just fascinated by the signs of two unstable minds.

Anyway, at the end of the story, they got their nice words back, and then everyone liked them. I’ve honestly never had so many “pleases” and “thank yous” for the rest of a day. 

Time to get dressed: Probably not applicable. But 25 minutes of a train journey killed and politeness at the end makes that one a win in my eyes.

 

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My 5 Most Embarrassing Moments

Before you read on, I can promise you that this isn’t one of those “I was soooooo drunk and it was soooooo funny, yah” posts. Not that I wasn’t sometimes drunk. And it was sometimes funny, in my humble opinion.

But my point is, there are stories you tell because you secretly think they make you look cool. Those are the kind you end up telling your friends on the bus with frequent interjections of “OMG” and raucous laughter. And then there are the situations you really, really hope nobody recorded on CCTV and then got their mates round to re-watch.  These confessions are supposed to be some of the second type – in the vain hope that by TAKING CONTROL of them and MAKING THEM A STORY, I can somehow stop the urge to cringe and hide behind somebody every time something reminds me of them.

Those of you who have read my Eight Most Embarrassing Things My 3-Year-Old Has Said post will appreciate that I like to blame embarrassing situations on other people. Particularly people who aren’t old enough to use social media yet (we’ll ignore the Frape situation that happened a few weeks ago… He didn’t quite realise what he was doing there). However, the attempt to claim that other people do all the embarrassing things to me has been weighing heavily on my mind. I decided it was time to ‘fess up, and tell you about the things I’ve managed to do entirely by myself. Or occasionally with the help of a little glass/can/bottle of something. But honestly, I’m not sure I generally needed the help…

 

 

1) The Clothing Fail

I’m going to kick off with a recent one.  It’s still fresh enough to make me go “arrrggghhh!!” every time I see anyone involved.

Not infrequently, I realise that despite having felt super organised by doing some laundry, I’ve then managed to forget about it overnight and leave it in the washing-machine, so when I come to get dressed, all the clothes I have clean smell like they’ve been buried with something that rotted. My usual plan in this circumstance is to throw on something from yesterday, put them on to wash again whilst I drop Rufus, then change when I get home.

On this particular day, that plan backfired on me because a) the clothes in question took a little bit longer to dry than I’d predicted and b) I’d forgotten all about a package dropped off the day before by DHL because my neighbours were out.

So I was hanging around in the (front-facing) kitchen wearing the pants I’d managed to find in the back of the wardrobe, waiting for the dryer to bleep at me, and doing as any self-respecting girl would do in this situation and tricep-dipping off the counter. When a guy’s face appeared at the window, and I had to abandon the tricep dip, drop to the ground (landing painfully hard on my ass) and scuttle sideways to the hallway where I managed to find a skirt in a bag and my raincoat.

Armed in this manner, I had to apologise for a great deal too many things at once, who very kindly didn’t laugh at me (I could see it was a temptation).

The Moral: Front-facing kitchens are not for naked exercise routines.

 

2) The Big Mouth

This is not a unique one by any means, but the particular style was a winner…

I was at a work event some years ago with one of those spangly, posh conference dinners at the end of it. Having spoken at the event, I’d already had to get round a sticky accidental-innuendo in the middle of a Q & A situation, and was relieved to be past that.

Making small-talk with a nice young exec type at the same table, I asked her where she got her dress. It was fabulous, and I sort-of wondered if I could get one too…

HER: It’s a TK Maxx dress

ME: Wow!! How did you do that?! I always seem to come out of there with rubbish!

HER: Oh, well I suppose… I know what to look for?

It was probably only five minutes later that the woman next to her asked her where she worked.

HER: Oh, I’m a head of department at TK Maxx.

I had to spend the whole rest of the dinner sitting next to her. Good thing she was too nice a person to be mean to me…

The moral: 

Always be nice about EVERYTHING until you’ve discovered any conflicts of interests.

 

3) The Mishearing

I spend a lot of time writing in coffee-shops like a great big cliche. But hey – I get a comfy seat, a change of scene and there are cakes.

There are also people to annoy when I am in need of a break. So I end up having a lot of conversations with people I don’t know all that well.

One such conversation happened when I was having a really stressed-out kind of day a year or so ago. I had agreed to do too many small things, I was having a self-confidence crisis (I know, seems unlikely when I’m such a font of ego, but they do happen) and a guy I know vaguely who was sitting near me made the mistake of asking how things were going.

ME: Ah, not so very great today. I’m getting nothing done because I’m too busy worrying about how much I have to do, plus I’m feeling like everything I do is BAD.

HIM: Have you tried medication?

Aha, I thought. Someone else who’s tried it! And not a friend that I’d feel embarrassed talking to.

In response, I told him all about the anti-depressants I had tried (and was still trying), including the side-effects, and then basically the life-story side of how I’d got to the point of needing them. And then I asked him whether he’d asked because he was on them too.

HIM: Oh, no. Ah, it was… meditation. I was just wondering if you’d tried meditating.

ME: Oh, right, no. No, I haven’t… [Awkward silence] I’m just off to get another coffee…

Luckily for us both, he’d scarpered by the time I got back. I still have to leave Starbucks whenever I see him in there.

The Moral:

Don’t tell your life story to strangers. Even if you think they’ve asked you.

 

4) The Oxbridge Interview

Given that interviews are supposed to give people a really good idea of what you’re like, this was in some ways a triumph. Only it wasn’t, in sooooo many ways…

The interview in question was the one-on-one session with my prospective Director of Studies in English. As part of it, he gave me a poem to analyse. It was by the Earl of Rochester, and at that point, I had no idea who he was. As such, I missed any innuendos and overtones, and gave him a whole spiel on how it was all about existence and mortality.

HIM: That’s fine. But do you think it could be a read a little differently, with the “little death” described in it actually referring to orgasm?

I looked back at the poem with a dawning light of understanding, and then back up at him.

ME: Oh, no I hadn’t. Wow. [Big beaming smile] I’m evidently too pure.

Personally, I thought that was hilarious. He clearly did not, as there was a really, really long silence which was broken by me saying: “Aaaaaanyway…”

I still can’t believe he let me in. But then, I did discover later that he’s got an evil sense of humour.

The Moral:

Don’t go for silly humour in interviews. And maybe mug up on renaissance poetry in future.

 

5) The Work-Meet that Got Wine-Jacked

This was less an embarrassing situation, and more an embarrassing 24 hours of my life that I’d like to swap out for a day doing nice things involving puppies. Or just boring work or something.

I was having a meeting with someone from a fairly powerful Governmental Department in London, back in the day when I was young and formally employed. This, somewhat unfortunately as it turned out, involved a 5pm drinks’ meet with one of them, straight after a solid day of me workshopping with people nearby. The vegetarian meal requested hadn’t materialised, so all I’d had to eat all day was a croissant on the King’s Cross train at 7:18am. After the meeting, I might add, I was supposed to head back to Cambridge for a 9pm rehearsal.

There is a large gap in my memory after 5:30pm and a single glass of white wine. The next thing I knew, it was 11:30pm, and Mr. Governmental Department was holding my hair out of my face while I vomited into a flowerpot outside a totally different wine bar. Some attempts at conversation later, we established that there was no earthly way I could get on the train back. Fortunately, the gallant chap agreed to let me stay at his house.

This might have all turned out to be merely humiliating, had getting there not involved a trip on the tube. Shortly after the train moved off, I became aware of a powerful need to continue ejecting wine from my system. I managed to hold it in until the train stopped and the doors opened, at which point – out of necessity – I continued to vomit between the train and the platform edge. I’m told it was actually quite lucky that I never made a constant stream between my mouth and the live rail, so there’s one face-saver right there.

At any rate, I was still being violently sick when the doors started to close. They continued to close in spite of my garbled protestations of “I haven’t finished!” Miraculously, however, I was just able to get it all out there and straighten up before the doors closed – some half-centimetre in front of my face.

Now in that situation, I felt pretty darn impressed with myself for that feat. I turned around, beaming, to accept the congratulations of the other passengers – only to be faced with some thirty staring, disgusted faces, including Mr. Governmental Department, who was looking increasingly like he was pretending not to be connected with me in any way.

On the way back to the house, I vomited in one builder’s yard and one wheelie-bin, and it took me four hours to get home in the morning after the need to get off the train at most stops and wait for the next one. The only mitigating factor was that the guy left his job to go travelling about two weeks later and I never, ever ever ever, had to see him again.

The Moral:

Errrmmm… Don’t be me?

 

If you enjoyed this, why not follow for more posts? Or check out Gytha’s writing on Wattpad, where she has book one in a magical fantasy series entitled The Fragile Tower uploaded. 

 

How I Made Paxman Blush (and coincidentally lost University Challenge…)

With Pete Stevens’ rather successful article letting the cat partially out of the bag, I concluded that the time was ripe to tell the story of one nineteen-year-old university contestant, a load of questions she couldn’t answer, and a daring outfit…

In 2002, I began an English degree at the extremely tiny Corpus Christi College in Cambridge, which hadn’t seen a team on University Challenge in anyone’s memory – though I hear another team is at last going on the show this year, so watch this space.

Contrary to what I thought before we applied, you can’t just put a team in for the show and immediately get on TV. So when four of us with very little background in quizzing except a few school competitions and Christmas games of Trivial Pursuit decided to enter, We had to go through a series of tests to get there. The first hurdle was a general knowledge test we completed in our own time which was said to be all but impossible to google (yes, they did have google when I was 19. And computers and mobiles and things. But it was, of course, marginal, and the phones were approximately the same size as my entire handbag.). I’m not sure if this was true. I didn’t try the googling tactic as my slightly paranoid thinking about the power of Jeremy Paxman made me afraid that if I tried, he would Find Out Somehow.

We sent off our efforts and waited, and to our mild surprise, found that we had made it to the next round. This was an altogether more complex procedure. We had to sit in a room with a TV person, and prove that we could actually communicate in the English language when faced with stressful circumstances (this is harder than it sounds). Thereafter we filled in a series of questions as a team, where we scored as long as one of us answered a question right, and we had to fill in our availability for the show itself. Oddly enough, I did better at the former than the latter, since my “I think I’m busy” for the week of the most important rowing races of the term didn’t get logged somewhere, and when we did get our place, it was to find that I was filming over the top of the last day of racing. Not so great when you’re the boat club captain and your college has put your exams over the other remaining days…

But that’s a less significant story for another day. On with University Challenge. We arrived late on Friday evening, exhausted after a long train journey to Manchester (all of us) and a really crazy week of trying to sit exams and organise a crew to make it out to race without me (just me). On Saturday, we made our way to the studio, where we had the first actual argument we had ever had as a team.

It concerned the top I wanted to wear, which was in fact the same zippy number you can see in the picture at the top of this blog. The one male member of our team felt that the way I was wearing it was somewhat too revealing.  I was unwilling to sacrifice my very carefully chosen zip position in order to keep him happy. It might have turned nasty if it hadn’t been for the revelation that the light-up surname that was going to be in front of me actually covered up the problem entirely. Instead of a potentially over-revealing line of cleavage, what the viewer would see was in fact “LODGE” in capital letters.

And then the competition began. Among other things that it would be useful to know at this point were the following: 1) We were all 18 or 19 years old, except for our History of Art student who I think might have been 21; 2) We were up against the Royal Northern College of Music, which we thought was a win, as they’d only know about music; 3) It turned out that our opposition were in fact all about 35, and had previously taken multiple other degrees in variously chemistry, world literature, classical sculpture, astrophysics and trivial pursuit.*

All the apparent disadvantages would have been insignificant, however, against the one really significant unfairness of the show. The other team had a really not-cricket tactic where they kept buzzing in and answering the questions correctly.

Put simply, we sucked. I specifically sucked. I only answered three questions, and the one redeeming feature of the show for me (where I insulted the other team’s dress sense) didn’t make it to the final cut. There was little to shout about – and little did I know that I was about to experience my one Claim to Fame that I would be able to look back on and laugh to myself over.

We made our dolorous way backstage to sit around with the other teams, drinking tea and commiserating with the unsuccessful, and covertly flicking sugar and biscuit crumbs at the winners. At this point, none other than question-master Jeremy Paxman generously joined us. He made charming conversation about getting ahead, about choice of career, and about university life.

The part where I come in is when I sat at the opposite side of the table from him, with my name no longer emblazoned in lighted letters in front of me. For five solid minutes, dear, impressionable Mr. Paxman conversed with the chap from the Royal Northern College of Music who was sitting next to him. And in all that time, his eyes never once left the point where my zip ended and my cleavage began.

Obviously, I wasn’t going to get too angry about this. My nineteen-year-old self had worn said top for a reason. However, when Jeremy eventually happened to glance six inches higher and caught my eye, I wasn’t above giving him a look that I think could be best described with the acronym “WTF”?

And then it happened, that famous moment that was to shape my early career** – Jeremy Paxman, the scourge of politicians and theorists alike, blushed. It was one of those really wonderful blushes that starts at the collar and works its way right up to the hairline.

So in reality, you could say that Jeremy made himself blush. But I’ve still got it on my (non-work-related) CV, because who wouldn’t want to feel like they’d got a rather strangely non-feminist one over on a chap like Paxman?

I hope that Jeremy remembers the incident, although it might be that such things are more common than I think. Perhaps, off-screen, Mr. Paxman is a blushing English rose. Either way, it’s an incident I could hardly fail to write up.

 

*This might be a little exaggerated

**This is definitely exaggerated

 

Gytha Lodge is an award-winning theatrical writer and director, as well as a single parent of one totally nuts three-year-old.

She has a hit online fantasy series for young adults (and grown-ups) on Wattpad, the first book of which is the Watty Award nominated The Fragile Tower.

You can follow her on Wattpad, Facebook and Twitter.

35 Things About Being a Parent that Scare the Thingy Out of Me

Up until I reproduced, I’d have described myself as fairly laid-back. Other people did too. Even on proper things like psychometric tests, and on inappropriate things like appraisals (apparently, it’s a weakness. Who knew?!).

But without any real forewarning (except from my mother, who doesn’t count, as she forewarns a lot of things that don’t happen: for example BSE becoming an epidemic and the missing of buses I have 99% of the time made in this version of the universe), with parenthood came THE FEARS. And they are everywhere, related to rational things that might affect my child’s safety, and related to truly irrational things, which I have to go for a little walk to stop myself gibbering about.

I thought a lot of these would get better, but at 3 years old, my son probably provides more things to freak me out than ever before.

I think every parent has a list of these, and I don’t think I’ll be alone on a lot of them. At least, I hope I won’t be. I figured if I shared them, some of you might make me feel better by agreeing…

1) Not giving my son enough love, and unwittingly turning him into a psychopath.

2) Giving him too much love, and unwittingly turning him into a psychopath.

3) Having a funny few years and wittingly turning him into a psychopath.

4) Not being able to think of a rhyme for “Henry” at the appropriate time.

5) Forgetting to pick him up from nursery.

6) Remembering to pick him up from nursery, but forgetting to wear a top.

7) Remembering to pick him up from nursery, and remembering my top, but realising that he is already in the car with me because it’s a Wednesday and having to fabricate some kind of excuse for being there that doesn’t make me sound like a terrible parent.

8) Waking up one morning and realising I’m a terrible parent.

9) Waking up one morning and finding stickers on EVERYTHING.

10) Giving him too many chocolates, and turning him diabetic.

11) Telling him he can’t have any chocolates, and then waking up to the sight of an empty bed and a trail of mangled rolos.

12) 4:30am, viewed from the wrong end.

13) 4:30am, viewed from the right end with the addition of 2 bottles of white wine and 3 litres of WKD chasers, but with the sudden realisation I have NO CHILDCARE THE NEXT DAY.

14) Only giving him green pants to wear for three weeks because it’s easier to get “Henry coloured” ones on, and unwittingly turning him into some sort of green-spandex-wearing arch-villain.

15) Failing to turn him into some sort of green-spandex wearing arch-villain and regretting it for the rest of my life.

16) The words “I’m going to go in your bed,” at 5am.

17) High things.

18) Long things.

19) Wiggly things that I’ve been given with the claim that they were a stick.

20) Roads.

21) Traffic.

22) Train tracks.

23) Model train-tracks which don’t have enough straight bits.

24) Any question that starts with the word “Why…?”

25) Not giving him enough attention, and turning him into someone who goes on the Jeremy Kyle show.

26) Giving him too much attention, and turning him into the kind of person who goes on Question Time.

27) Letting him believe that everyone will like him if he tries hard enough, and turning him into myself.

28) E-numbers.

29) Sudden silences just after he’s left the room.

30) Crunching sounds in the vicinity of my laptop.

31) Coy little child-friendly euphemisms like “thingy.”

32) Turning into the sort of person who instinctively uses coy little child-friendly euphemisms like “thingy.”

33) Forgetting to use euphemisms and then getting a letter home from nursery asking me to go and see them. (This has basically already happened, and it still scares me that it might happen again).

34) The Thomas the Tank Engine Theme tune.

35) The wrong answer to the question “Shall we watch something different now and give Thomas and the other engines a rest?”

 

Gytha Lodge is an award-winning theatrical writer and director, as well as a single parent of one totally nuts three-year-old.

She has a hit online fantasy series for young adults (and grown-ups) on Wattpad, the first book of which is the Watty Award nominated The Fragile Tower.

You can follow her on Wattpad, Facebook and Twitter.