Parenting, profundities and humour

Pants*…. — December 18, 2016



*Before we start, and for the avoidance of doubt as many of my readership are Americans (bizarrely), pants in this context refers to undergarments or as you like to call them shorts, which everyone who speaks proper English knows are actually trousers with short legs worn in hot weather or all year round if you are a postman or a small boy at a fee paying school, preferably without socks but then us English are not renowned for our sartorial elegance. Oh and it also means Damn! or Fuck! or Bother! depending how crude you are…..

So I am a lady. As many of you know. And as a lady my life is ruled by cycles.

Before you all run screaming to the hills this is not a post about my menstrual cycle although my god that needs writing. Another time. Oh go on then just a bit now. I have piqued your interest I can tell. See the thing about menstrual cycles, other than ruining your life for forty odd years, is that they have their own macro cycles too. Just as you think you have the whole bloody thing down it changes on you. So over my thirty odd years (please lord let it be over quicker than in another ten) I have run the gamut of all the symptoms of pre menstrual syndrome. Or as it should more accurately be called ‘most of the month other than the four honeymoon days in the middle’ syndrome. From excruciating cramps to spots to depression to sore boobs to clumsiness to homicidal mania.

Mostly the homicidal mania is directed at my husband, poor thing. Although he has just bawled me out for buying the wrong ‘Coronation Cream’ for the Christmas cake. To my mind the word cream implies a pourable fluid. The stuff I can remember putting on tinned fruit cocktail as a child. That is evaporated milk. Apparently however what he actually needs for his grandmother’s Christmas Cake Recipe is condensed milk. Which isn’t pourable. And is so sickly just to look at it makes me want to, well, stick my finger in and suck…. and yes I shop for these ingredients every year. But hey only the once. So I think I could be forgiven for getting it wrong. The whole ‘husband makes the Christmas cake with the kids’ saga was adorable when the kids were two. It gave me an hour off (as the only things I were required to contribute were lining the cake tin and washing up every baking implement I possess) if I could ignore the screams of ‘no put the flour in the bowl not on the carpet’ emanating from the dining room. Now I don’t find it so adorable as the kids have to be surgically removed from their electronics and fight over who does what and husband rearranges their decorations after they have done it, much to their disgust. Anyway I had a stir and made my wish. Not sure my wish was that seasonal. Frankly he deserves my homidical mania.

I went to the GP a few years ago because I thought I was going mad or had early stage dementia. He assured me it was just my hormones. I was in the homicidal phase at the time and he was lucky I didn’t lean over the desk and lamp him one as he sat there all smug with his constant and unfaltering testosterone quietly circulating around his nervous system. I could only hope his prostrate would give out and wipe that sanctimonious ‘my god not another hormonal women thinking she is going mad’ smile off his face. He did a blood test. I wasn’t ‘perimenopausal’ (in the run up to the menopause). Oh god. I still have all that to come. It was just your average common or garden hormones deciding to change how they interacted with my body. Again. Just because they could. Bastards.

So anyway this post wasn’t about that cycle. Other cycles affect women too. Kids for instance. They have cycles. Phases. Sometimes they are adorable. Sometimes they are not. One tries to be understanding when one’s sons are dealing with a testosterone surge (apprently 7,  10 and obviously at puberty) or when a toddler wants to do stuff they can’t and vents her frustration on the nearest safe adult. Which is me. Always me.

But to be honest with three kids all quite close in age there never seems to be a time when we aren’t in a difficult phase. I think I remember about 6 months a few years ago that were quite pleasant.

Then there is the seasonal cycle. Which seems to revolve ever faster. Each has their own challenges. Currently we are dealing with mud and darkness. Perhaps my worst combo. Although the twinkly lights of Christmas keeps me from plunging into complete depression. I save that for January. When the mud continues to flow and the darkness seems to never abate. I long for summer. And then in summer I resent all that suncream.

Then there is the largest cycle of all- age. There is nothing good about getting older. No really. People who say that are trying to make themselves feel better. Forlornly. It is bollocks.

Anyway what cycle did I really want to talk about today. I’ll tell you. My lingerie and hosiery cycle.

Do you not have this? Maybe you are the sort of lady (or gent, let’s not be sexist) who regularly clothes shops for oneself and throws matching lingerie into the mix. I am not one of those. I have a cycle. Like all cycles it seems to be getting shorter. Maybe because the quality of lingerie and hosiery has gone down. Or maybe because I cut my toe nails less. Who knows?

Anyway I am currently at the ‘all the pants and socks I possess have holes in them’ part of the cycle. This means that sometime soon, when I can no longer avoid putting my big toe through my sock by swapping the socks over and having the hole at the small toe end…because that end too has a hole, I will have to go shopping.

I will go to Marks and Sparks. Like most people. I was slightly worried recently when M&S announced they were going to downgrade some of their stores to food only. I imagine the one in our town will be one of those. Then what will I do? I really think they need to sell underwear in their food shops. The statistics of how many people by their undercrackers at M&S is quite phenomenal.

Anyway whilst I can I will go there and buy a couple of multi packs of knickers. In any colour except white. White is a really bad colour for pants. They never stay white. Best to go for bright or patterned.

Before I set out I must try to remember to read the labels of my current pants (that is if they are still readable after bazillion goes through the washer. Interestingly I think my current pants might be older than my current washer) to avoid that ‘buffer face’ look I often get in lingerie departments.

For there is a bewildering array of styles of pants. Often called names that help not one iota in your decision making process, names such as tangas and high legs. Really. And no I don’t remember what I bought last time. And my kids are now too old and too easily embarrassed to reach into my jeans and pull out the knicker label. They did that once for me. Eldest may need therapy.

Anyway I will write my current style and size on a piece of paper and put it in my handbag. Size is important too. I am often overly optimistic when buying pants. Is there anything more shameful than going to a Customer Services counter and having to swap a pack of size 10s for size 12s?**

Then I will throw in a couple of pairs of socks. I am able to remember my shoe size. It is less variable than my arse size. But not socks with days of the week on. I bought those once for Eldest and it set off his OCD. I favour black with maybe an animal print. As I won’t do that in lingerie. Too racy.

And that will be me set for another few years, quite how long is uncertain. As I have no idea when I last went.

By then I will be picking them up in the dry goods aisle. If M&S has any sense.

**More clarification for Americans Size 10 in the UK is actually quite small….just saying…




Girls Day Out… — September 29, 2015

Girls Day Out…


I think I may have introduced you to Youngest before. If you have somehow missed this please see I Know I Play Like  Girl  and Youngest.

We are very much alike in many ways. Except she can run 5k in under 30 minutes, score goals in football and throw a ball a long way. And I cannot.

In other ways though we are very similar. She is not at all girly. She does not want to wear jewelry. She is not interested in painting her nails. She doesn’t want to read about unicorns having sparkling adventures. She will not tolerate hair drying.

Although now I ponder on it she is probably this way because I am. But any way there it is.

Today we went on our annual clothes shopping trip. Every autumn she puts on a pair of trousers and they are somewhere around mid calf. And we realise that after a summer in shorts she needs new winter clothes.

When she was a baby and small toddler I loved clothes shopping for her. Before she could voice an opinion she did wear quite traditionally female clothes. Although not many were pink. I preferred red, white and blue. And she looked great in dark and bold colours.

And then once she got to Year 1 she decided she would call the shots attire wise. She refused a pinafore for school. It inhibited her running madly around the playground. So into trousers she went. She took it one step further in Year 2 eschewing the polo top and going for collared shirt and school tie. Not even many boys bothered with that.

And so clothes for leisure wear had to change too. She will not wear skirts. At all. Ever. I was slightly worried when she started her new Junior School because they insist on skirts until Year 6. She has been remarkably sanguine about that. But her line has hardened out of school.

She will wear a pretty frock. But only on holiday to a dinner and disco. I bought her a load for Greece, indulging my secret pretty dress fetish, she wore each one twice and then one of them again to a wedding. But now we cannot persuade her into one for, say, a night out. Without histrionics.

Historically we have relied on a certain large department store to come up with the goods winter clothes wise. She has had a capsule wardrobe of dark purple velour jeans, skinny denims, dark blue and purple tops, the occasional cream roll neck and a selection of fleeces. She was happy with this.

This year their selection was frankly awful. We are not interested in tops with ponies on or unicorns. We want long sleeves not short they are for WINTER. She is a rake and so has to have adjustable waists and the only pair of dark jeans she liked (bottle green) where elasticated. They fitted her legs but had about 5 inches spare round the waist. I am not sure who these clothes are made for. Very skinny legged children with fat tummies. Weird.

And so we trawled everywhere else. It was depressing.

My daughter does not want to wear clothes stating that she is a ‘Princess’ or that ‘Prettier girls have more fun’. Yes seriously. My god. I don’t often blaspheme but for the love of all that is holy why would you put a girl in that…. She doesn’t want handkerchief hems. She doesn’t want to layer in the manner of stylish ‘ladies’. She is eight she needs a top and trousers and maybe a cardy. She doesn’t want panda print smocks or jump suits with puppies on (?). I thought we had strayed into the pyjama department when I saw them but, no, jump suits, for eight year olds, with puppies on….my life. I may have mentioned before that she doesn’t like pink, in any hue. Except for that cycling top, she likes that.

We just want fun clothes in jewel colours, that co-ordinate and fit. We will accept sequins, but not if they form a ‘kiss’ on the front of her chest in a vaguely provocative way.

In the end we cobbled a few outfits together. Our final shop of the day yielded some decent stuff. Although we had to scour the racks.

She seems happy with our purchases. And I can relax for another year.

I cannot imagine it getting any easier. Sigh.

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