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Thursday, 29 May 2008

(mad dogs and) 9 year olds go out in the half term rain

It being a wet half term, F9 has spent most of it drifting around in his dressing gown, over which is a garment of staggering vileness, that is, his new cagoule.
Very Noel Coward goes Train Spotting.
The dressing gown has half-inched brooches of mine decorating the lapels, and the pockets bulge with soft toys. From time to time he winks and blows on his gun.
The cagoule is merely nasty.
Armed with phrases from Calvin and Hobbes, he has been slowly driving us all mad. It is his USP, his sine qua non, this ability to force your blood pressure from normal to nasty in 3 or 4 seconds.

At any given point, T11 will be outside, red in the face and furious, meaning only one thing: that he has spent too long with F9, meaning that he has spent about 5 minutes with F9.

F9, careless and artless, will bustle in, clutching E’s binoculars and the splashproof box we keep (or kept) our Euros in. He has hazy notions of ownership, barring that all things useful, gadgetry and jewels gravitate to his magpie mitts. He points the other hand, accusingly, back at T11,
“Such a crosspatch, that boy,” he announces, “going into the future, kicking and screaming.”
“I want to kill him!” roars T11, hot pink tears spurting like a cartoon.
“I know,” I say, with maternal parity, “I know.”
“Tut, tut, tut,” advises F9, advancing unbidden past metaphorical Go, collecting several hundred pounds of other people’s money, “always do your homework.”

I’m meant to say here that I very much love my sons, but over-exposure can result in re-evaluating boarding schools. I’d even consider cashing in the dog if it meant a few quid, and you know how hard I’d take that.
“Be nice to me,” F9 warns, “pretty soon my tax dollars will be funding your prison cell.”
“It’s not even dollars,” sobs T11, “if anyone ever pays him anything, it will be pounds. I HATE HIM!”
Tut tut tut.

Beyond listening to tutting and sobbing and the interminable ring tone of T11’s brand new mobile phone, I seem to have done nothing recently but laundry and tidy, and still the house is the sort where you take your shoes off to go outside, rather than on the way in.

Strangely, F9 has not tried to monopolise, appropriate or otherwise spoil T11’s super dooper new phone, despite us all being a little too much in love with it. Very swish.
Possibly because he has actually managed to order himself an iPhone. My heart sinks to the grim inevitable. When not trying to prise him out of his inappropriate clothing, I am spending far too much time monitoring the iPhone situation. It is very stressful. He is obsessed by the things, fully confident of being an imminent owner of same, and scornful of my attempts to explain a thing or two about the ‘Til Hell Freezes Over likelihood of all this.
“But it’s only £169,” he says pitying my inability to rub my hands in glee at the bargain and order two.

Every now and again I nearly fall for it.
“What’s your mother’s maiden name?” he’ll call down from the study.
The name will be on my lips, “None of your business,” I remember in time.
Or, “What was your first car?”
Again, I am about to launch into a dull little exercise on my canny financing of this esteemed motor, until I recall that ‘first car’ is another security question on another site, and he is merely chasing my credit card details round the internet.
“A favourite place?”

Pursuit of blocking iPhone ownership for 9 year olds has also prevented those who should be in charge, but are frankly too weak and laden down with laundry to be so, namely me, to get near the computer. Possibly this is the most painful part of half term.
Meanwhile, I have but to turn round and I am confronted with another discarded little bundle of wet clothes seeping into the carpet, or being eyed by the dog, which the King of All Idleness cannot quite be arsed to stagger with to the washing machine.
Daily, we have little sessions where I point at the machine, explain its purpose while F9 blandly looks around for something to tamper with, steal or break.
“Can’t you at least try to put them in a pile in the right room?” I ask.
He looks at me with pain, like one who has crawled 3,000 miles through snow and has been asked to clear out the loft, not merely across the hall in mis-matched socks being reminded of light duties.

But mere irritation pales to nothing to recall the heart-stopping pain felt when the little bugger disappeared today.

We had been at a paint your own pottery place where I had agreed, with astonishing bad-temper, to join in with some friends in painting a bowl for one of our group to take all the way around the world. For she is emigrating and seems to need a present by which to remember us all.
Like she’ll want a bowl, I growled.
I saw it as something she would drop or laugh at and shove in a cupboard – she is not sentimental – and my resentment (cause unknown) had built with blush-worthy unpleasantness. I just did not want to go, did not want to participate, begrudged every second and every penny which I would have to pay. A true spoilsport.
I parked and we trudged.
T11 fiddling with his ring tones.
F9 skipping before me, lingering behind, not walking with.

In the end, inevitably, it was a fantastic morning. Five of us collectively painted the best bowl in the world
(unglazed version shown, c'mon, use your imagination). Our seven boys behaved like dreams; nothing broke; nothing got knocked over; there was no argy bargy over sharing the paint. In short, I was a very good little girl indeed. If this is what it is going to be like in the OAP home (paintbrushes and someone else clearing up), bring it on.

After this, I nipped to return some horrid shoes and somewhere between the door and the till, F9 disappeared.
But I didn’t realise.
I was trying to explain in patronising broken English, to the confused Polish employee, that I seemed to have lost my receipt, when my sixth sense picked up, perhaps because the shoe display rack was neither spinning nor rocking, perhaps because there was no howl of anguish or tut tut tutting, that something was very wrong.
I snatched my credit note, and scooped up T11 from his interminable texting (full spellings only, I insist, and no ROFLs). Then did one of those panicky adrenaline-fuelled things were you run through the whole shop, and take in upstairs without crying from thigh-pain, pray randomly and fool-hardily to God scattering rash promises while scanning the whole of Cheltenham from the corner vantage point clocking a thousand people as if I were armed with a James Bond face recognition kit. And came to the conclusion that He Was Not There.
I blamed myself for being mean about the pottery, for being careless and crap and slack and head in the clouds, and gulped desperate air, wondering if I were well enough to bawl.

Quite what the next stage is normally, I don’t know.
The shoe shop, who didn’t have security cameras, were ringing Primark, who did. The logic of this escaped me but it was Action.

I was part way through the mental policeman’s heavy, “Well Milla, you thought it more important to quibble about a pair of sandals than look after your son properly,” and my panic was only 2 minutes old.
In Ikea once it was 15, until F3 was found sitting inside a demo kitchen cupboard singing to a spoon.
I was imagining confronting the discarded dressing gown back home when my mobile thrummed, and it was Boots, “Gotcha li’l boy,” I was told.
Heaven in three words.
We ran.

His turn it was to be pink and teary and a little contrite, hanging around all incongruous by the hand cream. He winked at me anxiously, and I kissed his hot little cheeks.
We walked back to the car. Reduced, he is manageable and oh so scrummy.
His hand wriggled only slightly in mine. A little slippery fish of a hand.
Tut tut.


DevonLife said...

Oh was holding my breath there, only able to read on in the happy knowledge that if he had been disappeared you'd hardly be reporting it in blog world on laptop, while waiting for the start of your TV appeal.

Get him back in his bejewelled cardigan quick. This may mark me out as feebly past it, but what is ROFLs?

BTW get him back in his bejewelled cardigan quick.

SMS said...

Hmm, I've never forgotten that helpless, frantic, 'where do we begin to look?', experience. We must have been exceedlingly careless parents having (briefly) lost all 3 of our kids...on separate and very different occasions. Keep sane; h/t will soon be a distant blip!

WesterWitch/Headmistress said...

Eeeeeeek horrible horrible when they go missing . . . as for all the wonderful fighting and sniping . . . they do grow up and leave home - but they will still know how to press your buttons . . . So red wine and total resignation is the only course open to any of us Mums and Dads.

Edward said...

Wonderful, hilarious stuff - informed, no doubt, by my being safely at work bothering a computer when you were in panic melt-down. Very funny, though.

Edward said...

devonlife - it's Rolling On The Floor Laughing, which I agree should be ROTFL, or Rotful, which is what I am, and was, while reading this. There's a jolly useful site on the interwebby called acronymfinder.com, and another for persons of a certain vintage (me more than you, of course) called urbandictionary.com

Mean Mom said...

Great post and I really like that bowl!

Know how you feel about the family. Whenever I feel like running away from home, I have to remind myself that there is only one thing worse than living with them and that's living without them!

San said...

I love that you take your shoes off to go outside rather than the other way around. You're a housekeeper after my own heart! Been there. Done that.

That bowl is to die for. So blue-sky happy.

Expatmum said...

Gawd - my lot finish school for THREE whole months next Wednesday. No doubt there will be similar instances, where I try to hide from them and they resort to calling the police.
Glad you found him though. That feeling is the worst.

LittleBrownDog said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Frances said...

Hello to you, dear Milla.

I had to get my dictionary out for cajoule. For any new word, I am always thankful.

You know that I do not have children, and so any comments on this boys tale from me is so ignorant.

Boy with telephone? Not so sure about that one.

T11. I keep forgetting to tell you that T11 is the style number for one of our very best silk knit tops. So. Even if your T11 may do something naughty, I have to stay in his corner because he is T11.

All the same, for a child who did not even see television until she was 8, and witnessed the arrival of the ball point pen in college years, the notion of a boy with a mobile phone just freaks me out.

If I had a child, I might have another view. I have yet to come to terms with children demanding particular brand name sneakers ... or whatever you call them.

All the same, I know what a terrific mom you are, and share your difficulty in finding the perfect shoe, for yourself, not for the boys!

Oh, I almost forgot. Julie Walters is an actress I also like. I have seen her on the stage in the West End, but also think of her in two mother roles (Adrian Mole and Mama Weezley (spelling alert ... check with your sons) in the Harry Potter films.


Angel said...

Oh, that sick feeling when you turn around...I was there with you in the store...Poor child...and you!
But did you get the shoes dear girl, that is surely the important question??
I always rather liked those 'leads' you could wrap around the little slippery fish of a hand so the varmints couldn't get away. Granted it looks a little strange once they are over three years old...

Fantastic, fantastic blog-had me howling.
Every day this week I have been faced with navy blue hoody dressing gown and 'idle jack' telling me "I'm having a lazy day today." And I am sick of playing referee to them both-their squabbles becoming more verocious as the age gap becomes more pronounced...

Hmmm...Maybe I will try a shopping centre today!...


snailbeachshepherdess said...

lost our youngest at an Agricultural show....he was just about 3 ...nightmare
wonderful blog Milla ...they still fight at 22 and 16.9..believe me...they do! And if 29 and father of 1.3 gets in on the act ...WW3 starts right here........no holds barred

@themill said...

That sick to the bottom of the stomach feeling - just hellish. Called police when youngest was missing for 45minutes as a two year old. Longest 45 minutes of my life and it took me years (I'm not joking)to allow him out of my sight again.

LittleBrownDog said...

How horrible, losing a child - what was he doing in Boots? My half term has been rubbish, too, but don't consider boarding school - you're lulled into a false sense of security during term time, and the holidays are far, far longer. And you have to deal with all the complexes and nervous tics that have been building up. And it will cost you millions.

Beautiful bowl, by the way.

Sally's Chateau said...

Another brilliantly told story in true Millastyle

Preseli Mags said...

Absolutely superb blog. Hilarious, but also terrifying (chasing your credit card details round the web, ordering iPhones - memo to self, destroy computer and cards pronto), then the horror of losing the blighter whilst shopping. I have risked the wrath of husband, H4 and R4 to read your blog - it was well worth it!

elizabethm said...

I was feeling terribly sorry for T (I'm an older child, the sympathies stay with you) and then you turned me around with the disappearing F.
Glad he is safe and sound and temporarily quietened.

Dumdad said...

"Very Noel Coward goes Train Spotting."

How could I not continue reading after such an evocative image!

Hmmm, mobiles for 9-year-old? I'm holding out on my son and he's 14. He uses mine when need be though.

Maggie May said...

Glad you got him back!!!!!!!! Brings back many a memory for me!
Loved the bowl!
School next week! Would like another week off to get over my holiday!

Frances said...

Milla, you are such a sweetie to send me your comment. I am gonna write you another message.

Your boys are gems, and I continue to say that is down to their amazing parents.

DJ Kirkby said...

This blog post has made me realise how very lucky I was to have to work during half term! That bowl is gorgeous and glad all are home safley!

KAREN said...

Wonderful post. I can relate to all of it. Lost my son in B&Q once. He'd wee-ed in one of the display toilets then, covered in shame, lay down in a bath. I was surprised no-one could hear my heart pounding with fear.

blogthatmama said...

Fantastic blog, was laughing my head off. I lost The Terminator in Briggate, Leeds, on Christmas Eve last year amongst thousands of wall to wall shoppers. Biggest nightmare ever. Lurch and I screamed at full capacity for five minutes until he appeared, thank god, still makes me feel sick at the thought.

KittyB said...

Gawd how awful to lose him, H has a massive panic if he can't see me for a minute, and I him. I would go into melt-down.
But one thing - how come you made a very gorgeous bowl? H and I did the paint-your-own thing a couple of years ago and came out with a winsome splodgy dog (H) and a wannabe EB tea-pot (me). Both totally crappy, cost a fortune and acquired various extra spots of colour during the firing process. I was had!

Carolyn said...

Hey! Thanks for stopping by my blog for a visit. And oh gosh. What a scare to almost lose F9. How awful. I would have been in full panic-mode and completely useless probably. Glad it was a happy ending. Oh, and I love the bowl you painted. It's beautiful!

Dusty Spider said...

Lovely lovely post. I know that heart sinking panicky feeling when one of your kids has vanished. I felt it again reading your post. Glad it worked out OK. Bless 'im. Flick x

Frog in the Field said...

Oh horrible heartstopping moment!
Glad it was so shortlived.

Frog in the Field said...

ps. Your bowl is beautiful, I have made and glazed hundreds of pots, but never one a lovely as that!

aims said...

Okay - first - what's a cagoule...and secondly - gasp!!

jackofall said...

Have justed spent too much time reading all about Calvin and Hobbes and then the rest of your blog; can't call it wasted time cos I'm now the wiser about boy and his tiger.

I'm sure F9 doesn't think he was really lost, it was just that you couldn't find him; well done you, and him, for him having your mobile number.

And no doubt T11 was less than gleeful at the thought of a missing sibling, despite their contretemps, though I'm sure things got back to normal soon.

Pipany said...

Oh blooming kids! No wonder we women suddenly go from fun, happy-go-lucky types (no, I never was either) to harridons (yes, was always that!)> Glad all ended well though Milla xx

Lucy Diamond said...

Eeeeeekkkk...what a blog post - the drama of motherhood with all its highs, lows, bickering, love, relief. I feel drained just reading it, sincerely hope you had a glass of brandy at the end of that lot.
Gorgeous bowl, though. Room for any more in your OAP home?

Melipop said...

God, what a roller coaster! I read your blog all the time and love it, it carries me along with the highs and lows and I often laugh or quake in recognition and fear for my future.

Exmoorjane said...

Just fabulous. Laughed out loud (again) many times then did fist shoved in mouth in horror as well. What the puck was he doing in Boots? Not like they even sell iPhones. Wretch of a child.
Blissful blog though.

The Lehners in France said...

The first part made me realise why Mum hated school holidays, there were four of us and we would fight like cat and dog. The second half when he went missing was told so well I was there with you. The panic and the relief and his lovely red cheeks. I fear my Mum would have thought "one down three to go". Great post. Debs x

Wizzard said...

The bowl is lovely.
How did he get his iphone? did I miss something?

never a dull moment eh?


A Mother's Place is in the Wrong said...

Can't stop reading your tales of the unexpected, Milla. Remember losing Son at a Country Fair when he was 6! Horror and terror for 20 minutes. OK now. He's nearly 29. M xx

Sordel said...

What an interesting child you make F sound. Buy the lad an iPhone forthwith; it may prove to be a small stepping stone in his long journey to greatness.

CAMILLA said...

So worrying when they go missing, happened to daughter when she was younger, was supposed to be at friends house for me to collect her, only to find that she was not and she had gone a few doors away to another friend without telling me. Smoked an entire packet of weeds with sheer worry.

The bowl is lovely Milla.