- repeating yourself continuously: put your shoes on.. not that foot, not that foot, not that foot, not that foot… oh Jesus c’mere and I’ll do it; come in for dinner, it’s bath time etc; mention a treat however, or Youtube and they are all ears and specifics.
- asking “rhetorical questions”: “How was school?” “Any news?” It’s like living with the Homeland team. I have enlisted a secret agent (my friend’s kid) although she may be a double agent as she only reports nice things and I am deeply suspicious.
- becoming your mother and quoting from her little book of cliches: “If your brother put his hand in the fire, would you?“(they normally look excited at this one, as if it’s a challenge) “Your face will get stuck like that” (or your hand.. in your pants!) and “Money doesn’t grow on trees” (technically paper money begins life as a tree.. Conall the smartarse).
- having ridiculous conversations that normally begin with “would you rather?” This morning’s was “would you rather be a sniper or a soldier?” If a satisfactory answer is not received within 30 seconds, there may be tears (mine).
- juggling many chores at the same time: I once breastfed Rian while unloading the washing machine and locating Ossie’s car keys with the power of my mind (they were hanging on the key rack as normal grrrr).
- biting back swear words: I’m not brilliant at this but I do try to leave the room before I’m goaded into saying something that would scorch Father Jack’s ears. I’ll normally walk into my room and hiss assholes, while kicking the bed and then rejoin them like Mary Poppins (on valium).
- becoming unshockable by bodily functions, casually cleaning arses and vomit without having to hold your nose; Also interspersing conversations with other adults with asides to your kids like “take your hands out of your pants” (very common in the Ozdemir house) or “if you have to pick your nose, please put it in a tissue and not in your mouth“.
- piling on weight by finishing the kid’s meals: I can’t help it my mother told me not to waste food, it’s sinful you know.
- pretending to know everything: thank you Google for making me look so smart.
- knowing the intricacies of Minecraft, Roblox and Five Night’s at Freddies.
- kissing their boo boos away and revelling in the fact that you have this great, placebo power and wishing you could self-heal instead of being so reliant on Solpadeines.
- always having wipes in your bag and if you don’t you may feel the onset of an anxiety attack.
- guilt: I am constantly guilty about what I feed them, how much technology time they have wrangled and mostly about how I have lost my shit with them at the end of a difficult day.
- a lot of empty threats: I say stuff like “put away your toys or I’ll bin the lot of them”. I would, to prove I’m a hardass but they cost so much money (yes you Lego) and I don’t think I could bear the endless whinging in the aftermath of such a cull.
- wanting to burn your house for the insurance because the kids have destroyed it and you don’t know where to begin cleaning.. the marker off the walls or the chewing gum on the couch?
- trying not to become an alcoholic by relying on the numbing effects of wine/ gin when they are in bed to soothe your tattered nerves.
- never looking at your optimum best (this could just be me). By the time I get the three of them dressed and lunches packed for school, I have about 90 seconds to throw on leggings, a jumper and put a bobbin in my hair.
- passing on your heritage like a love for crisp sandwiches, comfortable shoes and the Beano.
- having a love/ hate relationship with your washing basket. The love is obviously when it is empty.. a rare and solemn occasion, like the Winter Solstice.
- being forced to watch a lot of crap on TV and youtube; I hate you Skylander family!
- eating crusts
- saying SHHHHHHHH more than anything.
- never having ANY privacy; in the toilet, in the bath and definitely not in the Ann Summers drawer.
- fighting with your spouse and on reconciliation saying “what did we fight about before we had kids?“
- worrying incessantly that something could happen to them be it illness/ bullying or abduction and scrolling through your Facebook feed quickly and with your eyes squinted so you don’t see any bad stuff about kids that could cause many sleepless nights.
- getting out of bed in the middle of the night to check they are all still breathing and maybe get a smell of their gorgeous, sweaty little heads as they sleep angelically.
- never getting enough sleep due to the above/ dealing with their nightmares and your own and middle of the night water/ cuddles requests.
When I was a kid, I wasn’t allowed a pet; The reason? my Mam hates/ is terrified of all animals and as psychologists will confirm, this made me want one all the more. I decided I would like to be a vet when I grew up (I now can’t think of anything worse, especially since I heard the story of having to squeeze dog’s anal glands), although this ambition may be fulfilled by my super bright niece who has chosen a heap of sciencey subjects for her leaving in her bid for veterinary.
My first pet was a wild mouse who inhabited my childhood home and I named him Ernie. For some reason my Mam wasn’t too enamoured with him and one fateful day I witnessed Ernie’s guillotining (the scene closely resembled THAT Ned Stark scene as I clung to my Dad and wept).
I wore my Mam down at a school Christmas fair and she allowed me to keep the goldfish I’d spent £20 in 10ps trying to win. She didn’t however think to get a bowl but produced a fancy, glass dessert bowl to keep him in.. it was a little shallow but he seemed happy. Sometimes I’d fill the bath and let him have a good oul swim, even tipping him from a cup into the water so he’d know how it felt to go on a water slide… similar to Rainbow Rapids. One morning however, I stepped out of bed and squished my poor fishy between my toes, a very unpleasant sensation. To this day, I’m not sure if the shallow bowl was at fault or if I had instilled a sense of adventure in him that a goldfish should never have experienced.
I thought back to the days of Ernie and longed for a mouse, sure they were only a pound in the pet shop in Northside Shopping Centre. Once the weekly shopping was finished, my plea bargaining would begin but my Mam would not be swayed.
She eventually agreed on a Terrapin before the whole salmonella thing and we went to a pet shop on George’s Street or called George’s pets.. can’t remember. I have no idea how I persuaded her to do this as it seems completely out of character for her to back down but I was a tenacious little thing. We got in the shop and I ran past the terrapins to the Guinea Pigs and started playing with them. My Mam began to sense a trap and tried desperately to sell the terrapins to me. I had the pet shop owner on board and we ground her down. I cuddled the guinea pig and began to sob, begging my Mam to get it and she had no choice as all the customers in the shop stared at her expectantly. We got in the car and I held the cardboard box on my lap as if it contained precious jewels as my Mam tried to come to terms with what had happened and listed all the rules to having a pet… you clean it, feed it, never let me see it, it can stay in the bloody shed etc.
We got her home and I named her Frisky; I let her out of the box and she shot under the couch. My Mam’s cousin Edward had arrived and he and my Mam stood on chairs screaming as I tried to catch it. I thought about teeth and claws and so put on a preventative pair of rubber gloves. My Dad came home from work to this scene and calmly saved the day as he does.
Frisky lived a happy 3 months… I carried her in my backpack and made a tiny lead. The cold in the shed got her in the end but I was convinced she was hibernating and spent several hours trying to wake her up with a hairdryer. RIP little Frisky.
There were many times after this that I tried my luck with a cat but that is the most hated of all my Mam’s hated animals. Kids would often call to the door with an adorable litter of kittens and I would plead and beg but I had used that card up on Frisky. It was my younger sister Fiona that went big and bold in the procurement of a pet. I was helping my Dad out in work one day when we got a hysterical call from my Mam saying Fiona had brought a dog into the house and she was terrified. We raced home at lunchtime to see the tiniest of puppies whimpering in a corner as my Mam rocked back and forth in a chair. My Aunty Avril’s dog had had a litter and Fiona didn’t risk asking permission, the balls on that kid!
We (I) named him Cujo and never did a dog live up to a name like he did. He grew to be enormous and resembled a rottweiler but was a mongrel of some description. He would run and hurl himself against the conservatory when we had guests and his bark was terrifying. He had a touch of the stupids and once attacked my Dad as he tried to get over the back wall when he was locked out. Taking him for a walk was insane, I was literally dragged behind him as he tried to attack people and the neighbours would cross the road when they saw us coming. After a few years, when my Mam and Dad had me and Fiona safely across the Atlantic staying with cousins for the Summer they sent him to a farm in Ashbourne. NO, that is not a euphemism… they did, I promise!
So now, I’m in the position where my kids will ask for a pet and I’m just not that into it anymore, I think I have enough shite to clean and meals to make. I did get Conall two goldfish a few years back. I was afraid the younger ones would tip the bowl so I placed it on a high shelf in the playroom. After a week, I got a really bad smell and thought maybe a mouse carcass? (a strange conclusion, I know). Eventually I located the smell to the bowl.. I’d forgotten about the fish. Sadly, one didn’t make it but I managed to keep the other one alive for a record couple of months. My friend Susan bought hers at the same time and they are still alive and enormous… the moral is, don’t come live with me, choose Susan.
I then got a cat behind my husband’s back. He wasn’t impressed but came around when he saw how gorgeous Alan (Conall’s choice) was. I really tried this time… I fed him, bought him toys, pet him but one day he went outside and never came back. I can’t really blame him and I really hope he found a nice, little old lady to look after him.
As you all know, Conall got a guinea pig (and a trampoline) instead of a communion. Kimmy (Schmidt) the Guinea pig seems to be thriving. She’s living feral in the back and has gone against natural law and has befriended a cat; I think they’re looking for a Disney deal.
To all the animal lovers out there, I am truly sorry for all the loss I have inflicted on the animal world. In my defence, I did give up meat in 1992 for 3 months but realised I didn’t like vegetables very much; it all ended when I had to decide between an omelette and a steak in Oscar Taylors. I tried again in 1998 for approx 6 months when Linda McCartney died; I was lured back by American, crispy bacon. I think I’m more Ron Swanson than Doris Day.
It’s that time of the year when my newsfeed is filled with pictures of kids on their first day back to school and my fridge is stocked full of sandwich fillers and fruit.
My baby just went into montessori full time and so it is my first year to have 5 mornings free to do with as I please. A few years ago, I dreamt of this day and all the sleeping I would do but now they all sleep the night (usually) and so I am not the sleep deprived shell of a human I once was. My mother and sister tell me I should take the time to clean my house… but aside from putting on the dishwasher/ washing machine and a quick wipedown with some baby wipes (me and the kitchen), I really cannot waste this golden time on that shite. I did plan on joining the gym but am conveniently putting that off Monday to Monday; So, I have spent this week going for breakfast with friends, watching Gossip Girl and getting on top of some writing… while drinking 500 coffees and stuffing my face. I am unapologetic.
I deserve it after the shitstorm that is the morning rush. I am awoken at 6.30 with Rian’s freakishly regular bowel movements. He still likes to drop it in a potty and scream MAMMM; I enter his room and he is bent over, awaiting a wipe. I’ll give him milk and his tablet and optimistically crawl back into bed. 7.30 and I sneak downstairs… make lunches, sip on a coffee and await Koray (5) who loves to slip downstairs in his bare feet and frighten the shite out of me. He has breakfast and I repeatedly smell his hair and kiss his head.. There is nothing like the smell of a child’s head in the morning… much better than napalm.
Rian (3) will enter the kitchen, full of anger and demand cheerios (no milk) and huff off to the couch to await his demands being met, oftentimes shouting “f words”.
I will have to almost beat Conall (8) to wake him, and he will walk, zombie like to the bathroom.
I’ll fast forward all the fighting and the 10 minute drama of trying to dress three giggling/ crying wrigglers… suffice to say that it should have made up a section in the Krypton Factor.
I’ll get everyone into the car and will be forced to listen to “dumb ways to die” for the 10 minute journey there. Conall will ask me convoluted questions regarding weaponry in WW2 (his new topic of choice) and I will feign intelligence. Conall walks Koray into his class and I always feel a lump in my throat as I watch the two of them walk in the gates holding hands and I think I made them and have an existential moment.
Another 10 minute drive and I drop Rian off as he admonishes me and tells me I am to go have a coffee and then collect him. I tell him I have some work to do and he shouts “NO!! Only coffee!” I agree and skip out of the montessori and into my filthy, yet kid free car. A little voice inside says “ah look at the empty car seats” and I tell her to shut the fuck up.
Back home and the house is eerie, asides from all the breakfast dishes and strewn underpants to be dealt with; right, I’ll do some shopping, have dinner ready and get stuck into those wardrobes.
What seems like 5 minutes later, I’ve to go and collect them and all I’ve achieved is beating my high score on Suduko and having 4 coffees with a neighbour as we discussed all we’d to do.
I have 3 collections… 12.30, 1.30 and 2.30…. There is light at the end of the tunnel as in 2019 all 3 will be finished at the same time… FOR ONE YEAR!
My kids are so angry when I collect them, especially Koray. He’ll wave at his teacher and she’ll smile at me as if to say “you have a good one there” and then he’ll turn to me with gritted teeth and hiss “I hate you… the apple you put in my lunch had a bruise” and I know I’m in for 2 hours of verbal abuse. Rian needs a nap but I can’t let him if I want any sleep that night so I’ll deal with his glazed eyes and frankly sociopathic behaviour till bedtime. Conall gets home and runs for the laptop and I rugby tackle him for homework… it’s 3pm and Ossie is just surfacing for work. He sees me looking longingly at the fridge and says “it IS too early for wine”