One of my very favourite bloggers, @themumzilla, has featured me in her excellent Inner Monologues series, which makes me do a happy dance. She’s done a superb job of dead-heading my superfluous waffle, but here is the unabridged version in its entirety. Enjoy!
The first time I met Moo’s Health Visitor – let’s call her Janet – my immediate silent reaction was “Christ, what’s that in her mouth?”. Janet had a pronounced lisp and a contraption nestled into her upper palette that gave the impression of a snake’s egg tooth sitting over her top row of gnashers. I quickly recovered my manners and spent the duration of her visit trying to look anywhere but her mouth. Moo helped this by embarking on a twenty minute sick-shit-sick-wee-shit-I’M EMPTY FEED ME NOW performance, while I tried to give off the air of having the whole situation totally under control because I’m an “experienced mum” (her words). In amongst this commotion, I realised that Janet had switched two letters of Moo’s real name around and was now completely mispronouncing it. Like a sterling example of an easily embarrassed British genteel lady (ahem), I let it slide without correction, having gone past the point where it would be reasonably acceptable to set her back on the right course. I wouldn’t have to see her for another couple of weeks and I was sure she’d have forgotten Moo’s name by then so I could start from scratch.
Fast forward a fortnight, and I decide that taking both Moo and Mouse to the local Sure Start Stay and Play is brilliant idea. Mouse can charge around between the various play areas, a dolly in a pram here, an assortment of Velcro-jointed grocery items there. I, meanwhile, can get Moo weighed in a relaxed setting with all the time in the world afforded to me. Oh, how I look back in retrospect and pity my own ambitions, my misguided dreams of a calm yet functional, enriching hour provided by the NHS. In reality, my two children and myself join forces to descend into social mortification and light shame, leading me to seek out an alternative Sure Start venue with a different fleet of staff.
On the morning in question, I’m feeling quite pleased with myself for strong arming the two children out of the house before 10.30am. My stride is purposeful, my tone is chipper. I am Winning at Parenting. I wish I could bottle that feeling and drink it on days of reduced confidence (turn it into gin, basically).
We enter the building through the poorly designed teeny, tiny doorway and Mouse opts for a buggy board dismount just as I’m performing a tricky manoeuvre to negotiate the ramp/step/ramp sequence. “Oh, careful there poppet, I don’t want you to fall off and conk your head!”
I’m raising a free spirited bloody idiot. Never alight from a moving vehicle.
“Good morning, have you come to see the Health…you can’t leave your buggy there, you’re blocking the fire escape.”
I haven’t actually stopped moving, jobsworth. I’m still actively coming to a standstill and navigating through the 800 other buggies here, which means that 1. We’re going to be here sodding ages, and 2. I’m going to get blocked in. But yes, heaven forbid I pause to breathe and acclimatise for a nanosecond in front of the fire escape.
“You need to sign in yourself and BOTH of your children. Not just the one seeing the health visitor. BOTH names of your children please in that box, yes that’s right, the column where it asks you to list the children you have in attendance here today.”
Jesus Christ, do I look like a cretin? Has she observed my ill-advised pause by the fire escape and immediately decided that I’m incapable of following instructions? Does she think I’m a habitual deviant? Alright, both children. I really, really need to practise my handwriting while I’m on maternity leave because even I can’t read that scrawl. Ah, and I ought to get re-fitted properly for some nursing bras because my funbags are the last to the party and I was a fool to believe I could ever fill a C-cup. As a result, while I scribble out my surname and re-write it painstakingly neatly, hunched over like this I can see all of my breasts as my bra gapes.
“Red book please.” I smugly whip the red book from where I tucked it in the buggy next to Moo’s leg and thrust it into Jobsworth’s outstretched hand. I’ve just saved myself a good 30 seconds of rummaging around in an overstuffed changing bag for the childhood equivalent of the Bible. Moo shrieks – a stray scratchy bit of plastic from the cover has caught her on the ankle. If I bustle about a bit, no one will notice.
“Mummy, I think you just really hurt her leg, with that book! I think she really doesn’t like it.”
Yes, thank you for your keen observations.
“Mmm, she’ll be alright in a minute. Shall we go and have a look at these lovely toys?”
“I’m going on the slide,” comes the reply. “The outside slide.”
No, no you’re fucking not, because I need to be in here for when were summoned and I can’t come and rescue you from the top of the climbing frame when you decide you’ve got vertigo.
“Well, how about we go and have a look over here, I can see some nice books – maybe I can read to you while…”
Aaaaand she’s off outside. Jobsworth appears. “I’m afraid we’re not able to supervise your child outside so we will need to ask you to either help her with inside play, or stand out there with her.”
I’m practising an ‘in public menacing’ voice and it’s coming on quite nicely, whereby earwiggers will think I have full control over my brood but Mouse knows I’m about three notches down from ‘apeshit’. I clear my throat, and using said voice I respectfully advise that she may have four turns down the slide, then we must go inside and wait to be called by the Health Visitor, because I might not be able to hear her from my rescue base at the bottom of the climbing frame.
“Sorry to be a pain, but can you either stand inside or outside please? You’re blocking the doorway.”
Oh, piss off and shuffle some bloody leaflets or something.
I dispense with the in public menacing voice and beg Mouse to come in. I have nothing to lure her with except the offer of an immediate cuddle, which I realise holds absolutely zero value in the global commerce of the play area. Miraculously she trots indoors. Must give her some chocolate buttons later.
“I need a wee.”
Ah, that’s your favourite trick. You don’t, you absolutely do not need a wee. You had two before we left and you’re only saying it because you know it’s a logistical nightmare taking you in public when I’m carrying Moo as well, and you think it’s funny. You know who does need a wee? Me. My bladder is totally up the kibosh thanks to your sister but I’ve learned to hold it and you could do with learning a bit of control and willpower too. God, what a horrible mum I am, I forget you’re only three. Urgh. More chocolate buttons later.
“Okie doke, we’ll have to be really really quick quick then my angel because I don’t want to miss our turn.”
I make a strange, beckon-wave motion in the direction of Jobsworth to indicate that I’ve been called away on urgent business but please please don’t skip over us and put our red book to the bottom of the now teetering pile. My initial scepticism was correct – Mouse doesn’t really need a wee, and she strains as she squeezes out a tinkle that could be measured in drops rather than millilitres.
We return to the battle field and Jobsworth pounces. “You almost missed your turn, you’re next.” I thank her and think to myself that she’s full of contradictory shit because if I’ve not been called yet then I can’t have almost missed my turn. I dispatch Mouse to the strange road map playmat.
We’re up. Of course it’s Janet. “Oh, hello *insert mispronounced name here* baby! Hello sweet thing! Gosh she’s coming along isn’t she? Hi there *wrong name*!” She remembers us, then. Jolly good. I set about undressing Moo and try to maintain small talk, whilst worrying that my method of vest removal looks a bit brutal because she’s suddenly outgrown it. Probably time to phase out the tiny baby stuff now that she’s knocking on the door of 9lb land.
Should I be wiping her lady parts back to front, or front to back? I can never remember and make some very animated gestures while I swoosh about with a wet wipe. I think I’m sweating.
Mouse reappears and Janet turns to talk to her, leaving me free to debate putting Moo’s nappy in the very fit-for-purpose nappy bin that is marked with “please take your baby’s dirty nappies home with you”.
“Hi there gorgeous! Don’t you look like an absolute doll! I can see some birdies on your top. Can you tell me what colour they are?”
Mouse looks at Janet. Janet looks at Mouse. I look at Mouse. Moo looks at me.
“What’s in your mouth?”
“Why can’t you talk properly? What is that bad thing on your teeth?”
“Why is it there, in your mouth?”
I should probably interject here, but I literally have no idea what to say for the best, so instead I fold Moo’s clothes in a pointless little pile next to her head. Luckily, Janet steps into the breach.
“Well, my dentist makes me wear this thing in my mouth to stop me rubbing my teeth together. I’ve had it a long time and I’m hoping he lets me take it out soon.”
Mouse absorbs this. “So then you won’t sound all funny when you talk? How will it come out?”
Aaaargh, she’s warming to her theme. Time to nip this in the bud. “Hey, silly banana, that’ll do. Why don’t you go and choose a book to read and we’ll look at it together once I’ve finished weighing….” I falter. Bollocks, I can’t say Moo’s name because then Janet will know that she’s been pronouncing it wrong and that’ll be a double kick in her grindy teeth. “….your sister.” I finish, after a meaty pause.
Mouse scampers off and Janet rallies to profess how it’s wonderful that children are little sponges and just call things as they see them, with no fear of causing offence or feeling embarrassed. I’m about to agree enthusiastically when I hear a small parp and watch a slow mass of korma sauce ooze from Moo’s bottom. It’s too late to catch it with anything. Shit quite literally just got real. And it’s endless. If we were at home, this would be an instantaneous decamp into the bath, but I have no option but use an entire pack of wet wipes as Moo smiles up at me. Time stands still as I fill nappy sack after nappy sack with wipes and sheets of blue couch roll that Janet has kindly proffered. I would saw off my own leg to leave this charade and when Moo is eventually clean, I race through the weigh-and-general-chat-yes-vitamin-drops-would-be-fab-thanks process so that we can escape.
I release the brakes of 60 other buggies and move them, like those grid puzzles with one empty square and a pattern to arrange, and beat a clear path to the door. Mouse can have the entire bag of chocolate buttons later if she just helps me to execute a swift getaway, and find a bin where I can deposit all of the crap-filled nappy sacks.
“Excuse me, mum, have you signed out for you and both children? You must sign out when you leave.”
Nope, dickhead mum didn’t sign out. We back up – wide load coming through – and I abandon the buggy by the doorway while I dash inside. When I return, Mouse is halfway up the climbing frame and Jobsworth follows me out. I mentally shoot daggers at her. Go on then love, what is it now? Is this square foot of Tarmac reserved in case a Famous swings by?
“Have you got our up to date list of Stay and Play locations? There’s one held most days so you can try all of them out, if you want to!”
Hmm. Absolutely no sodding way.
-SJW July 2016
Would you like to read Mumzilla’s version? You can find it here: Inner Monologue Series