2 Mar 2015

Verbal Sparring - 10 Weird Things Ive Said To Toddler45

As we all know from this post, toddlers are beyond weird. I mean, In the Night Garden makes actual sense to them. Here are actual things that have been said, in my house, this week in response to actions or requests from said bonkers child:
Laughing at the noise farts make in a potty
1. "It's broccoli juice, you won't like it" - In reference to my glass of wine that Toddler45 wanted.

2. "Beebies is broken between 9-5. Unless I decide otherwise" In response to TV being requested all the sodding time and I'm paranoid it's frying his brain.

3. "You're going to do WHAT with your willy to your friend??" - In response to something being mumbled by Toddler45 before he exited the room at speed.

4. "Please don't put my phone down your nappy" Self explanatory really

5. "We don't read books with our willies"  See above

6. "Please stop motor-boating me and yelling boobies" *sigh*

7. "Please don't poke the froggie in the eyes" Poor Mr Froggy.

8. "Please don't grab Aunty X's chest and yell honk-honk" Poor Aunty X is all I can say.

9. "Makka Pakka farted?" In response to me asking Toddler45 who farted and he blamed his Makka Pakka toy. Twice. To be fair, I was in fits of laughter over this one.

And now for one in which I am winning at parenting...
10. "Thank you for my water-flavoured juice". Oh yes, we have water-flavoured juice in this house. I am a ninja mummy. Thanks to this Mumsnet thread for the idea!

Thank you and good night,

Stupidgirl has left the building

PS In the same vein, so wrong to snigger at Mike the Night having his bread sword eaten by Mr Cuddles....

26 Feb 2015

Unacceptable Mummy Behaviour - Top 10 Misdemeanours...

Toddlers, always known for their rational and reasonable requests do, on the odd occasion make Miranda Priestly, the nightmare boss from The Devil Wears Prada look like a sensitive and reasonable person. This week, Baby45 (or Toddler45 I should probably start calling him) has definitely tried to put me on time out several times and confiscated my phone. Here's his list of my worst mummy misdemeanours this week.....

1) Being unable to un-mix or otherwise extract the milk out of his milk-sodden weetabix so that it would go back to its dry state. This caused a bedtime meltdown of about 3.7 on the Richter scale from slight wobble  to HOLYSHITTHENEIGHBOURSARECALLINGTHEPOLICE-the-screaming-is-that-loud. So, although my behaviour was clearly NOT ACCEPTABLE, Toddler45 felt he responded in a reasonable manner by not poking my eyes out with our camping spork.

2) Refusing to buy croissants ("cwoissants mumma") at 5;45pm in the evening and making a 30 minute detour which would totally fuck up bedtime. I see where he was going with this one - chocolate, pastry *and* an extended bedtime. Again, a relatively light response at say 5.6 on the scale in which he wailed all the way home from nursery with the odd pause to pout pathetically at any passersby.

3) Not putting the hair he'd just asked me to remove, back in his mouth.Just WHAT THE WHAT THE WHAT? Toddler logic is beyond me. To be fair, there was no associated meltdown but he did give a very resigned (can toddlers be passive-aggressive?) sigh. Oh dear.....

4) Rudely insisting that he not exercise his independence by refusing to hold my hand when crossing any and all roads, which instead often involves me dragging him across by his arm/holding him kicking and screaming, pushing the buggy one handed, whilst he turns deep puce from screaming "I. Do. It. Myself" (is this the toddler motto btw....along with, be totally batshit crazy at all times) Every single sodding road crossing now evokes a tantrum scoring around 8.9 in which I struggle not to lose all my shit also (figuratively and literally).

5) Getting his VERY CLEAR instructions wrong. This happened on numerous occasions this week eg; request for milk, milk provided "I NOT WANT MILKKKKKKKKKKKKKKK (you stupid cow)* I WANT JUICE". Juice given. "WHERE MY MILK WAHHHHHHHHHH" etc ad infinitum. This crime is so easy to commit because basically everyt ime I give him something he has requested, in the split second between those two events occurring he changes his mind. Several times. And we appear to be in an alternate universe in which multiple options apply. 

6) Not putting his soaking wet shoes back on. And instead also replacing soaking wet trousers and socks with clean dry ones. This is an extreme example of unreasonable mummy behaviour. Tantrum at the 'people walking past wonder WTF are you doing to your child you evil woman' level (also known as FUCK I NEED A STIFF drink). Also, it's not ideal to have to crouch down to wrestle with said toddler to do all this, in a knee length skirt and fishnet hold ups. Just saying. 

7) Requesting that he travel somewhere by buggy. Yes, buggy, not dragged behind wild horses across flaming coals. It is totally unacceptable to expect him to travel to/from anywhere we need to get to in a hurry, by buggy. Obviously. And when we do have time for him to stroll, examine mud, trees, leaves (and every MOFO stone) *then* he wants "Mummy carry meeee, mummy cuggle!" *pout pout*.  If I do attempt to put him in the buggy he does that weird trick that all toddlers have where they SIMULTANEOUSLY go completely boneless and rigid and slither out of the buggy making you look like a complete fucking chump. WTAF is up with that. Its like wrestling an octopus. With dodgy buggy strap clips.

8) Insisting on trousers being worn outside of the house. No, darling toddler45, you cannot go to nursery in  your pajama top, a nappy and two odd socks. And your glasses. Just, no........Aside from them calling social services on me, it's good practice to get used to leaving the house with clothes on. But again, it's all very unreasonable of me and I need to be put in my place with a good screechy wail and then a go-slow on getting ready.....

9) Not opening the already open curtains. Again what? WHAT? Just...*sigh* This involved a full, screaming, drooly meltdown. To be fair it was bedtime and frankly anything goes at this point (points 1 and 2 on this list happened then) But really, are you that tired that you've forgotten what open and closed mean? I can't even actually remember what I did to assuage his royal highness. But there was less drool at the end, I remember that.

10) Not snipping/gluing/colouring/crafting appropriately. Yes, really. Sometimes I wonder if he has his own pinterest board of projects and my inept attempts at crafting with him are totally fucking it up. Whatever, it's still infuriating if I use THE WRONG SCISSORS or glue in the wrong place or you know, insist that we STICK SOMETHING TO THE FUCKING GLUE instead of just smearing it everywhere and then......leaving it to dry. Oh my good god. Clearly I know nothing about art. I made Toddler45 a goldfish this week on one of our "crafting" sessions. He thinks it's a cat. I'm not sure if I should be worried about him or me.

Bonus Misdemeanor
Having the nerve to sing along to All About That Bass, when he's trying to listen. "NO! You not sing mummy!" He mumbles along to himself "No TWEBLE!!!!"

Talking to someone more compliant than Mummy....
So there you go, my bum is firmly on the naughty step in this house. Frankly, I'm glad to have a minute's peace! Anyone else joining me on time out?

Thank you and goodnight,

Stupidgirl has left the building

*Obviously I am joking, he didn't call me a stupid cow. But the tone was there!

PS This post is on the following linkys....

Post Comment Love
Little Hearts, Big Love

24 Feb 2015

Looking Ahead/A Personal Pep Talk

Dear Future-Me,

This is a tricky letter to write because when I was younger I never expected to get this far, never expected to live past 30, so I hadn't thought about life after that and what it would look like. I didn't plan on achieving anything. But contrary to how I felt as a teenager, I'm somewhere I hadn't planned for - so how do I imagine beyond that.

So then, what do I want to say to future me? Why am I bothering other than as a way of filling blog space in this daily blog post challenge? I guess maybe I'm a bit superstitious of the power of the written word. That once it's down on paper, it's more likely to come true because you're more likely to make it so because you're more accountable to it. Why can't I just come out and say it? I want to finish my book and ideally get it published. 

So future me, I hope you finished your book that this snippet is from. You edited it. And then you edited it again (as the song goes, "all kill their inspiration/and sing about their grief"). And then you submitted it to agents. I feel stupid wishing for any more than that. Damn, why is it so scary vocalising my dreams. I've written on this blog, over and over, that I want to write a book. So what am I waiting for?

I'm scared to call myself a writer sometimes. How do I earn this badge? I've been writing since I was a child. Stories and poetry as a teenager, as a young adult. And then I stopped. For about 10 years. I just didn't want to write, there was nothing to write, I wrote myself off. Then I started this blog - there are probably 100,000 words on here. And I completed Nanowrimo. I've started, at last count, 7 "novels" - written anywhere from 6,000 words to 50,000 words of them. I've guest blogged and given tonnes of blogging advice. At work I've written hours of copy, press releases and presentations. And mostly I've read my ass off. But in my eyes, I'm not a writer. I'm a wannabe. 

I think like climbing, I need to do it. Because this book isn't going away - the voices of the characters in my head aren't getting any quieter. Why do I need to write this book? It's a bit like why people climb Everest - because it's there. I can write this book, I just need to get it down on paper.

Writing is very simple really, you just have to get the words from your head, onto paper - and have them mean to your reader, exactly what they mean to you. So I'd better get on with it then.

Thank you and good night,

Stupidgirl has left the building

PS This post is a semi follow up to this post
PPS ICYMI here's the blog post on some of my favourite books.

22 Feb 2015

Hidden Treasures - My Top 10 Lesser Known Books

Lists of bloggers' Top 10 Favourite books are very common - I've done it for kids books but not adult (well aside from this and this). In this post I wanted to highlight some books and authors that I've really enjoyed but for various reasons aren't quite as well known. They're a mix of fiction genres, aside for one non fiction title, but I guess a common theme in them all is .... expect the unexpected....Here they are in no particular order:

City of Women - David Gilham

Fiction - Gilham turns the standard WW2 novel on its head with his lyrical, fast paced but tightly written debut novel set in Berlin in 1943. With most of the men at war, this casts a light on life for the women left behind - and one in particular. Tired of being bound to the morality of the time, Sigrid Schroder finds herself caught up in the war in an entirely different way.
Will I like it? If you like deftly plotted thrillers with an eye for period detail and a good anti-hero(ine) then yes. If you like WW2 fiction, this is a bit different. I think David Gilham is one to watch!
What else will I like? Alternative WW2 fiction is Sian Busby's neat thriller A Commonplace Killingset in London in 1946. There is also the gruelling and not-for-the-faint-hearted The Kindly Ones by Jonathan Littell.

Home - Julie Myerson

Non Fiction - the strapline for this book is "the story of everyone who ever lived in our house" but it is so much more than that. Myerson, a talented fiction author researched the history of everyone who ever lived in her South London terraced house and then created a unique and magical blend of fact and fiction in this book. It not only builds a picture of south London over the last 150 years, but also elaborates on what we mean by the words "home" and "house". 
Will I like it? This is one for anyone who has ever stood in a place and felt the `hum` of years past and people long gone, I was really spell-bound by this slow burn non fiction work. 
What else will I like? You should try her fiction. She has a luminous, magical prose - in the dreamy  but chilling Out of Breath and the rather more harrowing Something Might Happen.

Fairy Tale - Alice Thomas Ellis

Fiction. This does what it says on the tin. Ellis' ethereal writing is fantastic in this eerie short novel set in Wales. Eloise, our protagonist is desperate for a baby. With her husband not around much, after a visit from 4 strange men, Eloise returns from a walk with a baby.....and then things get a bit odd....
Will I Like It? I don't know is the honest answer. I've not met many people who've read this book, but those who have, have enjoyed it. It's not quite like anything else out there. It is truly a fairy story for adults and those fascinated by Changeling myths will love it.
What else will I like? If you like her style, then anything else by ATE. Also try Julie Myerson's Out of Breath as mentioned above.

Illumination Night - Alice Hoffman

Fiction. This is the most perfectly written book I've ever read. It may not be my favourite, but it is a masterpiece in how to write a compelling piece of fiction. Hoffman's style is similar to that of Ann Tyler but with a touch of magic. Telling the story of Jody, looking after her grandmother on Martha's Vineyard, this novel touches on isolation, first love, adolescence and the nature of our relationships. It packs a lot into its scant 208 pages.
Will I like it? If you like cinematic prose, american domesticity and characters that walk off the page and into your head then yes. Scenes from this book have stayed with me many years after my first reading. 
What else will I like? The River King is probably Hoffman's most beautiful novel, and she is most famous for Practical Magic but The Dovekeepers completely and utterly blew me away - Hoffman's style was made for this biblical tale of motherhood and love.

Engleby - Sebastian Faulks

Fiction. Think you know Sebastian Faulks? Think again. As much as I enjoyed his war fiction, Engleby  is his most underrated work of fiction. Imagine being inside the mind of a semi-sociopathic Adrian Mole  - Faulks brings us the story of Michael Engleby, besotted with another student at Cambridge...and what happens when she disappears. 
Will I like it? Touching on themes of masculinity, isolation and unrequited love - but also capturing perfectly the class divide of the time but with deft black humour, this is a great read.
What else will I like? Julian Fellowes' Past Imperfect for its illustration of the class divide and again a male protagonist who is a little 'off'.

The Rapture - Liz Jensen

Fiction. This book is unique. I mean where else have you read about a psychopathic teenager who is able to predict the future and the coming of the end of the world? I know, it sounds crazy. But it's bloody brilliant - an apocalyptic tale that references environmental events, TV evangelists and physics - the last few pages of this novel are unlike anything else I've ever read!
Will I like it? Jensen's writing style is assertive and acerbic and her stories are masterfully told and gripping. You may not like it but you'll be compelled to get to the end dammit, to know who is telling the truth!
What else will I like? If you like her style after reading this, then you'll devour the rest of Jensen's work - famous for Louis Drax, but War Crimes for the Home is better IMO.

A Company of Liars - Karen Maitland

Fiction. I couldn't have a list without historical fiction and Maitland's Company of Liars was gripping reading. A tale of a group of misfits fleeing the plague, unaware that a much greater danger is within them, this tale, cliche as it may be, had shivers running up my spine. It's also great for shedding light on the a period of history not much loved by novelists but Maitland has a great eye for period detail and brought the 1300s to life for me.
Will I like it? If you like a magical plot that builds suspense to a masterful climax (!) then yes. It's not the fastest of books but the turns of phrase and descriptions are very entertaining.
What else will I like? Maitland's other novels are good reads but none quite manage the perfection of Liars -  The Owl Killers is worth a try. Also in a simillar vein is the Mistress of the Art of Death by Ariana Franklin which has a more engaging protagonist.

The Way The Crow Flies - Ann-Marie MacDonald

Fiction. This is a big, long book. But it is beautifully paced and a novel in the traditional sense of the word. It's not for everyone but MacDonald's fluid, light style casts everything and everyone in her novel into a dreamy golden haze - which makes her tale of murder and morality sent in Canada during the Cold War all the more mesmerizing. 
Will I like it? If you're a fan of the great American (Canadian...) novel, then yes. For fans of true Americana such as Of Mice and Men and To Kill A Mockingbird. Although the story is very different, the perception of the world through a child's eyes will mean you enjoy this novel.
What else will I like? As above really. It's a bit of a tricky one. Maybe Ann Tyler for the dreamy quality of writing. Post war Americana I'm not expert on sadly. Any recommends for me? 

Season of the Witch - Natasha Mostert

Fiction. I'm not a fan of the paranormal and although I like a dash of magic in my fiction, I like it rooted in the domestic and familiar. This book is none of those but I really, really enjoyed it! I was intrigued by premise of 'remote viewing' and then, much like Gabriel in the book, I was bewitched by Monk House and its gothically seductive inhabitants. It is bonkers and the ending could have done with tighter editing, but this was a great, entertaining thriller.
Will I like it? If you like the paranormal, mysticism, richly evocative writing and an intriguing love triangle yes. This is not the best written book on this list but it was a fun ride. It is also award winning, so it's not just me.
What else will I like? Not quite in the same vein but if you're a fan of paranormal gothic thrillers then you may enjoy Joanne Harris (Chocolat) 's little known first novel Sleep Pale Sister and also the spellbinding Her Fearful Symmetry from Audrey Niffenegger (author of The Time Traveller's Wife).

Ladder of Years - Ann Tyler

Fiction. The tale of an ordinary woman, simply getting up and walking away from her family on a busy American beach - and then setting up a new life, I adore this tale of identity and domesticity. What it means to wear the labels mother and wife and their places in society - then and now. Can we ever truly shake them off? Or are they in us in the marrow of our bones? Ann Tyler is renowned as a very skilled author indeed.
Will I like it? If you've ever wondered what it would be like to simply up and leave, then this book does it for you. It'll make you think and wonder and value yourself and your family. And it'll make you smile.
What else will I like? Anything else by Tyler for that small-town American feel, that thoughtfulness and humour. Also worth trying Elizabeth Berg - although her writing is slightly 'sweeter' and Alice Hoffman as above. 

Phew, that was a long post! I'd love to hear your lesser known faves, so please let me know in the comments below. And if I've persuaded you to read any of the above, I want to know what you think. Don't forget you can hit me up on twitter  - @stupidgirl45

Thank you and goodnight,

Stupidgirl has left the building

PS Sorry for the crappy formatting on this, blogger was playing up....

20 Feb 2015

A letter to my teenage self

*Warning, this post may have triggers around thoughts of suicide and self-harm*

Dear Stupidgirl45,

I see you, aged 15, sitting on your bed, wondering if you'll always be this lonely, unable to imagine a life past school, a life as an adult. Feeling invisible, as if you might just dissolve and no one would even notice. I see you doubting whether you are likeable, or clever, or pretty. Wondering if popularity is all that matters. Itching to be accepted but wanting to be different. 

I see you wishing you had the guts to kill yourself. Contemplating pills or razor blades. Researching the correct way to cut, wondering if you could swallow *that* many tablets. But not wanting your family to find you and also, the humiliation of the possibility of failure. Of people knowing that you were so useless, you couldn't even kill yourself properly. Feeling like you lack the guts to try, not knowing that your instinct for survival is stronger than you think.

I see you cry, I feel your pain, I watch scars from cutting heal up as if it never happened. I know you wonder, is this really it?  can I ever hope for more? will i always be on the outside looking in? and finding it hard to believe that the lives you read about in books really happen to people. I know you think you're worthless and ugly, of no value or importance, that it terrifies you to speak to people - to strangers, to order a drink in a shop.

I see you, I hear you and I know you. I am you and clichéd as it sounds, I promise it gets better, You will learn to apply liquid eye liner. You will grow boobs. And one day, to the right people, to the people that matter you will be really very incredibly important to them. But mostly one day you will have some confidence and some shreds of self-esteem. You will survive this, this nuclear landscape that your social life is now. You will not be a pariah forever, and things that matter now - about being a homogeneous clone - will drop away. 

The things that make you different now, that make you value yourself so little, will become what makes you distinctive - apart but apart on your own terms. You'll learn, again a cliché, that being different is good - and that it takes strength to be different, to strike out on your own and form your own identity and thoughts. And not give a fuck.

You won't die, you won't dissolve and you won't give up. You didn't give up on life back then and now you treasure it so you don't give up on what matters now - relationships, passions, work. You fight, and it might make you tough but you're soft where it counts, not just round the middle but inside where it matters. You might be building up those walls now, but in time, for the right people, you can take them right back down again.

So don't give up, don't despair. Life is out there and when you've finished surviving, you're going to be grabbing it with both hands and hugging it to your scarred heart. Winged eye liner, boobs and all.

Thank you and good night,

Stupidgirl has left the building

PS This post was inspired by this very touching (and much cheerier) post by @jumprunscrap about her dreams for her daughter. It's very good reading.