Smirking From Home

Turning ideas into words.

Respect for the Ladies.

One month has passed and I’m utterly banjaxed. This looking after a baby malarkey whilst trying to keep some normal sense of tidiness about the house is the greatest test known to man. Which explains the title of this post as I cannot fathom how our mothers, grandmothers and their fore-mothers managed it without ending up in various lunatic asylums. It might explain why a lot of them are still rather religious and why they sought solace in the church. It was the only hours’ peace they had all week.

IF you’ll permit me, I’ll indulge myself in a spot of “woe is me”. Now those of you who know my situation will say, “but you only have one child to look after during the day!”, the other being at school, at least for the next 3 weeks. I’ll accept that as a valid reason for me not to have a gripe or three, especially since most if the afore-mentioned ladies raised screaming gaggles of greater numbers, but sod it. I’m a bloke, I get man flu and I’m allowed to waffle on the strain of raising one bairn, whilst my follicles rapidly resemble a badger’s arse and my ability to think coherently disappears off into the wild beyond. (I’m only going to partially blame this for my lack of scribbling in recent weeks)

Up front, I have to stress, that the wee fella is totally adorable and has a belly laugh on him that would make a sailor blush. If he could talk, with a laugh like that, I’m positive the air would be blue and the jokes would be filthy. Not for me a demure wee darling. Rambunctious all the way I say. He possesses all the standard wily ways of the wain, luring you in with sweet smiles and giggles before throwing a feckin’ great box of howling spanners into the false calm which was your life for those few minutes.

“Feed me ye big bollix!” “Remove this shite off me arse and use an unfragranced wipe this time, you insensitive tool.  Me hole stung like field of nettles after you used them cheap ones that smelt like a hoor’s handbag”. “What do you call this crap then? Apple and Blueberry Puree? Puree d’Turd more like”.

“Actually I don’t mind that one. What was that foul-tasting spew you gave me for breakfast? Oats? OATS!!? I’m a flippin’ baby ye gobshite, not a donkey”.

How he manages to fit this invective in amongst the howling yaps and crocodile tears I’ll never know. One minute it’s like he’s receiving electro-shock treatment, the next, full of joys of spring. They learn the methods of emotional blackmail early these days. “You’re not looking at me. Waaaaah!” “Not BBC News 24 again? Waaaah! Put on the Teletubbies and move yer fat arse out of the road so I can see what Po’s wearing today.” Where’s my bottle? Waaaaah!”

Christ on a bike. Imagine doing this with 4 of the wee feckers.”More Weight in the nappy, fat boy! Uuuhhhhhhh, Waaaah, gruuuunt! Waaaah.” Followed naturally with a huge smile and all the pleasantries of the day.

This is my day before lunchtime. In the interim I’ve taken the wee lass to school, tried to eat a slice of toast, maybe washed a dish or two and if I’m truly lucky, sterilised the bottles. Needless to say he charms the knickers off the mothers at the primary school before resorting to type and yammering for most of the remaining morning. Maybe he was expecting more at the primary school? They do grow up quickly these days after all.  I comfort myself in the knowledge that he’ll get a rude awakening when he’s 21 and it takes more than a wink and a smile to seduce the ladies. Mind you I’m no expert in that field so he’ll probably gravitate to his uncle for advice on such matters.

By the time Stella arrives him from work after 5pm I’m ready for joining the Foreign Legion. The dinner’s a half-baked concoction of something vaguely edible and himself is usually serenading me with Rage Against The Machine in the unholy key of Waaaaaaaah once more. The house could be tidier but it’s not as bad as it could have been. I like to think I’m slowly but surely discovering a method of persevering through the mayhem and madness and finding brief snippets of time achieve something worthwhile from my list of chores.

Respect to the ladies. It’s no wonder ye live longer than us. It’s your thoroughly deserved reward for keeping us all on the straight and narrow, right from the word go.


June 7, 2010 Posted by | Bringing Up Baby | , , | 2 Comments

Snooze Buttons

The only predictable thing about life is its’ unpredictability. One minute you’re splashing about in the pool having a whale of a time and the next you’re fish food. You spend ages mastering a skill or perfecting a routine task and before you know it the goalposts have been shifted, rendering all previous time and effort wasted. We’ve all been there at some point in your various employment histories. Nothing really prepares you, though, for whenever the guiding hand behind the metaphorical goalposts is a 3 month old chubby bundle of sleepy, hungry gowls.
For the past three weeks or so I’ve been enthusiastically regaling the other parents on the school run about how well the wee fella has settled into a sleeping pattern. “Aye, down at seven and sleeps right through”. “Well sure it means we have our evenings now, some quality time to ourselves”. “Nightmare!! Still not settling after two years?” Honestly speaking, I let people know about Robert’s new-found night-time pattern with a sub-conscious blowing of raspberries in their faces. I would even venture the notion that we all do it in some shape or form, the “isn’t my kid wonderful and yours is the spawn of Beelzebub” spiel. The sport of parental one-upmanship is played out in schoolyards and at coffee-mornings the nation over. Yet it’s not a deliberate, conscious series of actions. It happens without thinking in most scenarios, the notion that no matter what grey hair inducing, living hell they put you through in private, your kids are infinitely better than theirs. It’s an automatic reflex for a lot of people, a kind of parental Tourette’s.
Maybe I’m over elaborating the point here. I’ll readily admit to being astonished and proud of the newest little thing the wains have said or done and will happily tell other people as such. What riles this old goat is that there’ll always be another parent, usually a stay-at-home mother, who’ll tell you that her little Kayleigh or Josh learned to dump in a pot at 12 months whilst reading The Goblet of Fire. “Nice one”, I’ll say, wondering whether I should buy Robert a guitar and have him serenade Doctor Jab with Stairway to Heaven when he gets his MMR shots.
So there we were mooching happily along thinking Robert nicely attuned to sleeping right through when for a few days he decided to spice the routine up. 1am. 3am. Back to 1am with a leap forward to 4am the following night. The newest game in our house is guess the wake up call. Unsurprisingly and predictably we’re rarely accurate in our answers. Maybe that’s the joy of having children, the ceaseless variety in your life. Sure, if it’s during normal daylight hours. Just not in the dead of night with chilblains on me bunions* due to the frost outside.
We have two alarm clocks in our house. The digital one is permanently set to 07:30, a perfectly reasonable time to begin a long day of nappies, boke and yaps. Robert is the random alarm as you’ve no doubt worked out. No time of day is sacred and we’ve gone beyond the 28 days for a refundable return. Now if I can only just find the snooze button without resorting to a boink on the noggin, all would be a lot easier to live with. My star-signs are telling me I’m going to get some disapproving looks for writing that. A good friend of mine recently posted a sign on their newborns bedroom door, something along the lines of “The Little P.I.T.A”. When asked by his good lady wife what it meant, he was reminded that an attempt at humour where babies are concerned should come with a health warning. Somehow referring to a clockwork crying machine as the “Pain In The Arse” is not a source of amusement. Being of similar nature to the man in question, I chuckled heartily. Though I’ll remind myself to learn from his mistake. Always have a back-up answer, a get-away car.
Overall Robert been fairly generous to us in relation to his sleeping habits. Nocturnally at least. So no matter how much I appear to be having a good old moan about it here, I cannot really complain. On the contrary, I’ve discovered a few new shows on the telly at those ungodly hours. The Amazing Dermot is one of these. It’s the type of humour you feel you shouldn’t be laughing at but you do. I “roflmao‘ed” a lot actually. Then again, maybe it was the strangeness of the hour that did it.

March 11, 2010 Posted by | Bringing Up Baby, Ondatelly | | 2 Comments

Speaking in Tongues

People complain in this day and age about an increasing lack of verbal communication in society. Seemingly we are all to busy sowing the seeds of arthritis in our thumbs or rubbing the grammar police up the wrong way with our e-mails. Honestly speaking, I’m not entirely sure on which side of the fence I’d like to be situated. Sadly the option of sitting on said fence would be a painful one as it’s pointy and rusty with a likelihood of contracting septicemia.
Ah feck it. I’m going to nail my colours to the mast. I genuinely believe we actually communicate more these days than we’ve ever done before. This is mainly due the means we have at our disposal in order to be able to contact each other: to send and receive instructions; to arrange gatherings or to simply have a good old bitch about him, her and the neighbour’s parakeet. Some methods are electronic, others software based. All are fairly modern and the scourge of the letter-writing mafia. I agree it’s nice to receive a letter from someone but it’s a pain in the backside writing one when one has a Blackberry instead. Mind you, I am slightly saddened that the art of crafting a letter has died, mainly as it’s impacted on the quality of our e-mails as well. We’re losing the ability to remember where to insert a full stop instead of a comma. I’ve read opinions on numerous public forums where even commas were conspicuous by their absence. Comma Comma Comma Comma Comma Chameleon you might say. However, the quality of internet commentary from Joe Public is a topic for another time.
What inspired today’s choice of topic I ask myself, especially as it’s one which has more questions than answers. Robert was sitting on my lap the other day soon after finishing having his beak stuffed with powdered watery milk. As happy as a pig in the proverbial, he started his usual gabbling, using a plethora of squeaks, squawks, goos and gaas. Naturally I return the compliments using an adult interpretation of baby chat, with the odd raspberry thrown in. Hey, anything for a smile. Beats having a gowling Wurlitzer on yer knee any day. It occurred to me that this was verbal communication in its’ purest form. Okay, neither of us had a baldy what the feck we were saying but there was a mutual understanding that we were enjoying ourselves and as such we would continue blathering away to each other. The wee fella has had a cold these last few days and I fear he thinks he’s Welsh. That’s not a huge problem per se but I’m buggered if I’m going to help him with his spellings when he grows up.
The important thing about verbal communication is that once we’re finished relaying information, we can understand each other. Since I left high school my whole life has been about communicating with people. Yet, unlike yabbering away with Robert and Eloise before him, there have been many times when I’ve mentally held my head on my hands, wondering what the bloomin’ heck has just happened. For almost eight years, I was an employee of the Prudential, explaining to people as nicely as possible that they may have been mis-sold their endowment policy. The call centre I worked in naturally covered the whole of the UK and all its regional dialects. Source of the problem number one. I’ll freely admit to failing a few times in fathoming what a Geordie might have been telling me. Mind you, I’ve heard my own brogue played back on tape, and I can sympathise with anyone who I’ve spoken to in the past. A face for radio maybe, unfortunately not the voice. Yes, yes. I know that ultimately we ended up singing off the same hymn sheet but the journey was often fraught with tension and mistrust, mainly on the customer’s part. Apparently having an Irish accent meant I was going to either sell their policy details to the Russians or tarmac their driveways.
In spite of this, I have a profound admiration for those who work in call centres as it’s the most thankless task in this day and age. Long ago, if you worked in customer service it was face to face or via the mail. Nowadays, thanks to modern technology, it’s right here, right now or I’ll ask to speak to your manager. A no win situation. Damned if you do and action-planned if you don’t. Funnily enough, my approach 99% of the time was to whisht them with politeness. It’s a great weapon these days to be polite to someone. It can totally diffuse a potential argument at the drop of a hat. Even better, it can disarm an obnoxious buffoon, the type who believes that if you swear and shout loudly enough, someone would gladly bend over to help them. Sad really. The telephone is a wonderful tool to help people with their lives and yet many have no clue how to use it properly. It’s more than pushing a few buttons folks.
The problem isn’t the methods of communication at our disposal nowadays, it’s the language we use. Jargon is the curse of human kind. Performance Management is a good example, a euphemism for berating, motivating, psychologically manipulating, threatening, and then firing someone. In even simpler terms, buck up or yer out. Apparently it’s acceptable human nature to confuse each other with big words, terms and conditions. Is it so hard to simplify things? I’m not advocating we all speak in text lingo. We may as well have lobotomies if we go down that road. That form of language is not required to bring our communications to a more eloquent yet comprehensible level. As I write this I feel I’m opening a few cans of worms above and beyond what I had initially anticipated. Consequently I’m going to leave them for another day, to be addressed when my brain can make sense of it all.
I blame the baby talk.

February 17, 2010 Posted by | Bringing Up Baby, Communicating | , | 2 Comments


I may never view a chicken korma  in the same light again.
Robert arrived back in November and  we were pretty darn chuffed. We’d waited a long time for this little bundle of gowling pleasure and when he was wrenched from the good lady’s belly, there was a sense of a job well done. A gentleman’s family we were told, now with one of each. We’ve been lucky so far that the wee lass has fully adopted him as her little pet lamb of love, or so she keeps telling him, as she smothers him with her hair when we’re trying to get him to have a little nap.  
You do forget about the many intricacies of having a new arrival in the house. The timing of the feeds, the military operation that is the sterilisation and production of the bottles. However, you’re just not prepared for the delights and wonders of nappy time. I have to admit that first time round with the wee lass I probably wasn’t as hands-on with the nappies as I should have been. Being a potential househusband means that I need to get stuck in so to speak and so far it’s not really been a problem. All has been generally tame and if there’s been a nappy explosion, there’s usually been the two of us here to deal with it. Until yesterday.
Holy Mother of Jaysus! Imagine the finale of Bugsy Malone, only this time using the afore-mentioned chicken korma. This was worse. I knew it was coming. The puce face, the furrowed brows and the sly grin. Nothing to worry about, a routine change required. Squelch squelch, splurt, eeewwww. “Ah Robbie ye wee bollix. What are ye at?” Give a little love and it all comes back to you indeed. Tra la la bloody la la la la.
The wee lass had previously described his output as chicken curry and that seems to have stuck. A bit like yesterday really. Stuck everywhere and anywhere. Up the back? Tick. Toes? Tick. Under the fingernails? Tick. More ticks than a stray dog? Tick. How in the name of all that is pure in the world can someone so small produce  something so devastatingly putrid? Rumsfeld’s “shock and awe” had nothing on this. Still, at least he seemed happy at the delights he had conjured up, a beaming grin portraying his obvious pleasure at having created such a visual and nasal display of bowel prowess. Good on ye wee lad but could ye not have waited until your Ma came home. I don’t genuinely mean that but it was a moment when too many chiefs and indians would not have been a problem.
Fifteen minutes later and all was back to normal. I’ll not even bother to describe the intervening water display half way through. You have the admire the wee fella’s ability to remain so calm when all about him was a maelström of choice words and bewildered exclamations. He must get that from his Ma. Melodrama is a standard trait on my side of the family tree. There’s no instance or occurence that cannot be turned into a request for UN help. I’m not sure the Blue Helmets would have welcomed this rescue mission. For now all is calm and so far today, any expulsions have been confined to manageable proportions. Keep up the good work, wee lad.
I’m dreading the Italian Meatballs phase though. 

February 10, 2010 Posted by | Bringing Up Baby | | 2 Comments