Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Creepy stunt babies

When I was an impressionable kiddiewinkle, a school friend (read: stinky boy) told me about a scene from one of the Child’s Play movies: Chucky, the demon-possessed doll, hides under the bed and then slashes the victim’s Achilles tendons with a scalpel.

Now, I’ve never actually watched any of these horror movies myself (Gremlins literally - and I know what literally means - made me wet my bed for months afterwards). But today I’m a 30-year-old woman married to an obelisk of a man, and I still flick off the light switch at the bedroom door, and take a running leap to jump on the bed. You know, just in case there’s a slasher doll lurking.


Also, my mom made hand-painted porcelain dolls when I was a teenager. She had a good eye for painting very lifelike faces on their delicate faces. They were arranged in sociable cliques throughout our house, and when the lights went out... they scared the pants off me.

You try sneaking back into the house at 3am, tipsy on Sowetan Toilets and other silly shooters you only drink when you’re 15; your every move being watched by the freakish, frozen faces of those damnable dolls. “Did that one just blink? It blinked! It BLINKED at me...”

This does not bode well if Bump is a girl, and our townhouse is invaded by creepy dollies. One’s just moved in, actually.

Meet the stunt baby – imaginatively named: “Baby”.

"I'm going to eat your brains!"
As we’ve now got four weeks to go until the cries of a newborn once again echo through our badly sound-proofed home, it’s time for Travis the Lionheart to get used to the idea that he’ll be sharing his space with another person.

In a perfect world, we’d know by now if Bump is a baby brother or sister, so that we could give Baby an actual name and dress it’s delicious-smelling plastic parts in gender-appropriate attire. (Have you smelled these plastic dolls? I swear they are vanilla-scented. Seriously, sniff your kid’s dolls! It’s not weird.)

Anyway, we had to be a bunch of smart-asses, so we’re sticking out this “we’re not finding out the sex” gig until all is revealed in the delivery room.

In the meantime, Baby is in Trav’s face space.

It sits on my lap while I’m (still) spoon-feeding him supper. It sits on the couch with us. It doesn’t go in the bath-tub, because I didn’t think to make sure that Baby doesn’t have a cloth body. Just as well that it does, because the banner at the top of this blog clearly says: “There’s a Lionheart in our Bath Tub!” and not “There’s a Lionheart and a Stunt Baby in our Bath Tub.”

Travis alternated between making soft cooing noises and licking its face, to swinging it around by its arm, gouging at its eyes and smacking it upside the head.

Not good.

So we’re doing a little behaviour programming for the next few weeks: “Gently with the baby” and “Softly with the baby” and “For goodness sake, Travis! Stop licking the baby!”

On a creepy side note: My nightly ritual of seven waddling trips to the loo and two midnight snacks is now being watched closely by fake plastic eyes. *Shivers*

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Travis goes cold turkey

Here’s a milestone you won’t find in Dr Miriam Stoppard’s baby books: at the age of four years and 23 days, Travis finally went cold turkey on his bottles.

It took almost 72 hours of head-scratching before I figured out what the blazes is going on.

“What’s up, buddy? Is your formula tasting weird? Maybe it was just a funny batch from the factory... What, no Milo either? Tea? Oros? Shot of caramel vodka? Just kidding about that last one – that’s for mommy when she’s wheeled out the exit of the delivery room with the new baby.”

Ditching his Avent bottles and their well-chewed teats has been a long time coming. They’ve been washed and sterilised a bazillion times these last four years. The plastic’s gone milky and you have to squint your eyes like a drunken pirate to see the measurements, which wore off back in 2009. Not that we still bother with such-and-such many scoops and what-not anymore.

Travis bulleted bottle after bottle, until eventually... ‘click’... a light bulb flickered on above my noggin. Could it be? I decanted my latest offering to the all-powerful Lionheart, a very humble 360ml bottle of Milo, into a coffee mug, and... ta-dah!

Of course, Travis waited patiently until I’d forked out 200 bucks on new Avent teats, and only THEN decided that he’s switching to a Big Boy Cup, thank you very much.

I’d also like to point out that Travis doesn’t actually hold his Big Boy Cup himself. Oh no no no no... This menial task has been delegated to a slave parent. First thing in the morning, at snack time and bed time, we’ve had to pencil an extra 15 mins into each routine for the sole purpose of holding a mug ready while his royal highness takes sips from it.

Our toddler doesn’t deign to touch food, remember. I used to think it was because the textures freaked out his fingertips, but nope – we’ve just been suckered into hand-feeding Travis all these years. Example A: this week at school, Travis reaches into his lunch box, takes out a bacon Tuc biscuit, WITH HIS FINGERS, and passes it to his teacher so that she can feed it to him bite by bite.

The irony is completely lost on him.

“Um. You know you just touched your food, kid? With your actual fingertips. They made actual contact with a biscuit. Yes, a biscuit is very much classified as actual food.”

We have been so exquisitely manipulated by our special needs toddler. We screwed up right from the start with the finger-feeding. We’d slide a Tupperware containing all his favourite treats in front of him. Flings! Viennas! Juicy Jellies!

He refused to touch so much as a morsel with his hands. And we refused to help him get said morsels from the bowl to his mouth. It became a Mexican stand-off. Then Travis lets loose with that particularly deadly screech he saves for special occasions, the one that strips your eardrums raw. 

After enduring half an hour of this gut-twisting torture, I plug his yap up with a Juicy Jelly... and... the little punk has won. Now Travis is four years old, finally drinking from a Big Boy Cup (yay!) that mom has to hold for him (boo!).

PS: I sense another stand-off coming on, gunslingers.
PPS: I'm still proud of you, monkey face!

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Hands, knees, heels and elbows

You know that iconic scene in Alien, where one of the spaceship’s crew is thrashing in agony on the metal table in the medical bay, and a baby alien bursts through the centre of his chest in a spray of blood, gnashing its vicious little teeth?

That could happen ANY MINUTE now to me. 

Bump is attempting a world record: ‘First Baby to Punch its Way out of the Womb’.

Picture this: couple of weeks ago I’m up on stage with five other ladies, being interviewed for a ‘Women in IT’ live debate. I’m yammering away about Twitiquette, when I notice that one of the guests seated at a table close to the stage was riveted by my... 

...freakish pregnant belly, which was rippling in a most alarming manner as Bump practised a dramatic three-point turn! 

“Attention, tenant currently occupying my womb: keep your bloody elbows tucked in!” This is me directing my thoughts inwards, you know, like the baby books tell you to.

With less than 40 days until the Big Pop, I feel like I’m going to give birth to a gawky teenager, not a newborn baby. It’s all “hands, knees, heels and elbows,” like that old jingle for Ingram’s camphor cream.

“Aren’t you uncomfortable?” asks my gynae at my 32-slash-33-week scan on Tuesday.

“Well, I guess I’m still not hundreds sharing a dark room with a be-spectacled stranger with oddly small hands, one of which is currently squeezing lubricant onto my nether regions...” I’m thinking.

But what I actually say is: “How so?”

Long story short, turns out that Bump has positioned himself* so that he’s still head-down, but facing outwards, so that my belly button and rib-cage have become part of his womb dojo, where he’s working towards a black belt in tae kwon do!

Lucky mommy.

So here’s to five more weeks’ of awkward encounters across boardroom tables, at client’s offices and while schmoozing at press functions. Because there are so few opportunities in life when you can break the ice by saying: “Hey guys, remember that scene from Alien? Well CHECK this shit out!”

* I can’t shake the feeling these last few weeks that we’re having another boy, but that’s a blog post for another time...

Monday, 12 September 2011

A couch on the sidelines

With the Rugby World Cup hogging the remote for the next couple of weeks, now would be a good time to report from the sidelines.

The Lionhearts are used to being benched. We’re a family with special needs, so just a lusty “Go Bokke!” has Travis klapping his hands over his ears in terror and us fumbling for the car keys.

Our friends have blessed us with one helluva comfortable bench, though. In fact, it’s a couch! Let me explain…

Mandy and Jann aka the Drinkens (okay, they’re really called the Rinkens) are our best friends in the whole world. When we come over, like this Saturday for the annual Spring Day Splashfest where we all jump off the rockery into the swimming pool, they drag a couch onto the patio just for Travis the Lionheart. You read right: they take their flipping couch into the garden for us!

Despite that my husband and I come standard with a ticking time-bomb of a toddler, batteries included, the Rinkens still invite us to birthday parties, Sunday lunches and celebrations like this weekend’s compulsory cannonball into their pool.

Problem is: a couple of hours into a visit, I’ll say: “Pass the potatoes” and Travis will start screeching like my race car ya-ya’s brakes, which incidentally, I need to replace soon before I careen off the highway. But back on track: then I’ll be forced to excuse myself to a quieter room, usually the lounge, where I’ll settle on the couch and attempt to soothe the spiky bristles of my lion cub.

And that’s how the Rinkens’ couch has been officially endorsed by Travis as a Happy Place. And Mandy, bless her, cottoned onto this – and now the couch gets dragged out, Friends style, when we visit!

And I get to enjoy delicious, supersized conversations with real adults, at a genuine social gathering, just like a regular human ‘bean’ (as the Big Friendly Giant, would say).

Friendships are food for the soul.

So often, after you’ve tied the knot with your soul mate, that person becomes your best friend; your proverbial mac-and-cheese. (This is just one of the reasons you pick up weight after the wedding; your soul becomes a piggy wiggy.)

Your other friendships fizzle out over time… Come on ladies, you know it’s true.

This weekend, however, was an all-you-can-eat buffet of laughter and great company. We were invited to a ‘thanksgiving breakfast’ for my friend (and hero) Margot’s son Richie, who is the littlest Lionheart. Then we were off to the Spring Day swim party at the Rinkens, and on Sunday we nipped over to Devon and Farrah’s house, for some bacon, eggs and Springbok vs Wales.

My point is: even though it can sometimes be downright unpleasant to include us on the guestlist, what with Travis and his outbursts, and me looking grim-faced and grinding my teeth in all the photos as a result, we still get invited.

Our friends have never given up on us, even if for the most part, we can only take part from the sidelines. Isn’t that something?

PS: this one’s for you, Bump. I somehow stuffed my lady lumps into a leopard-print bikini on Saturday, and jumped off a rock, into the swimming pool. The splash was spectacular... as it should be when a hippo-sized, 32 weeks' pregnant lady leaps into the water. Let it not be said that your mom is not without a healthy sense of the ridiculous.

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Where have we been? I'll TELL you where we've been...

It’s been a dog’s breakfast at the Lionheart residence since approximately midnight on Friday. The universe has napalmed the crap out of our family. Quite literally.

The weapon of mass destruction? Gastroenteritis.

And you know what’s cruel (and listen up here, because this is a life lesson, y’all): The world has REFUSED to stop turning since we’ve all taken so ill. This is what is popularly referred to as an ‘inconvenient truth’.

When you’re a kid, and your tummy hurts, quick-as-a-wink Mom picks you up from sick bay at school, and has you cocooned in your favourite blankie at home, a Disney movie on in the background while she lovingly grates you an apple.

Except now I AM the mommy. (And I’m still waiting for my frigging bowl of grated apple!)

In the interests of filling the gaps these last few days I haven’t been blogging:

My husband was the first casualty of war, and frankly deserves a Purple Heart and a couple of Vietnamese hookers for his heroics these last few days.

On Saturday, despite being up since 4am and christening several racetracks, petrol station restrooms, and practically taking out timeshare in the bogs of the bar where he was competing in a darts tournament – my husband had no alternative but to soldier on and meet his commitments for the day.

Still, I didn’t have the heart to tell him that by Saturday afternoon, on the homefront, the Lionheart had also been struck down. On the plus side, after eight loads of washing, and running out of PJs and pillow slips, I’ve now managed to teach Travis a new trick: how to vomit into a plastic ice-cream tub.

By Monday, we were (ahem) up shit creek without a paddle. We had no choice but to pack the Lionheart off to school, as his nanny (as if she has some kind of crystal ball or something) had asked for the day off, and both my husband and I were working full-day at clients.

By noon, my husband had to excuse himself from work to fetch a very miserable Travis from school. And just on a side-note here: in a male-dominated work environment, you lose MAJOR dick-swinging-in-the-boardroom points if you have to take the afternoon off to babysit your sick child.

If you’ve met my other half, you’ll know he’s Camel man incarnate. He’ll change your car’s oil. He’ll install your Dstv. He’ll takes his rump steaks SERIOUSLY.

But when someone within six feet of him blows chunks, that’s it. He has to bolt from the room before he follows suit! Travis chose Monday afternoon to forever cure this apparent chink in his father’s armour, and turned his digestive system into a musical fountain of diarrhoea and bile.

Husband phones me at 6pm, after he’s put Travis in the bathtub for the fifth time, to wash the puke out of his hair, as he doesn't know the vomit-in-the-ice-cream-tub trick yet. Anyway, I start freaking out! I’m seeing emergency rooms, needles, intravenous drips… (Keep in mind I’ve been at my client’s office in Sandton this whole time, and am scheduled to be editing copy there until the magazine goes to print at 10pm that night.)

By 7pm I’ve managed to slink out early, and race home. I’m hoping some Metro cop will have the balls to pull me over to, so that I can point to my 32-week-pregnant belly and go: “Where the @#%$; do you THINK I am rushing to in such a hurry?”

The Lionheart is looking rather chipper after I screech into the driveway, so we decide not to take him to hospital. We settle in for night three of zero sleep, as Travis battles stomach cramps and dehydration. Thankfully, by now my husband is on the mend.

But the universe is not done with us. Oh no.

Nursing bleary eyes and bruised careers, Wednesday morning dawns and… ta-dah… now I’ve caught the gastro! And I've just booked a brand-new client for the day, who I'd like to impress. And I'm not allowed to take any meds. And we’d eaten Durban curry the night before. That is all.

Regular blogging, hopefully on a non-toilet related topic, should resume in the next day or two.

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Check out the wheels on this bad boy!

Examine the side of the passenger seat in my husband’s car, and you’ll probably find the crescent-shaped indents of my fingernails. This is not a reflection of my husband’s driving (although let’s be fair, he spends every weekend at a racetrack happily eating red dust and timing motorsports for a living).

Rather, it’s my mortal fear of these dang-fangled death vehicles. It took 22 driving lessons and three tries before I got my driver’s licence... That said, the less I know about anything with wheels, the better.

(I know: NO COOKING CLUE why he married me either.)

Which is why, when we were expecting Travis, it was the husband’s job to source the Perfect Pram. This dedicated motorhead spent hours researching: “Which brand has the highest safety rating?” and “Will it fit in the car boot?” and “While we’re at it, Stacey probably needs a proper soccer mom car now”.

Enter our fancy-pants Peg Perego pram (and my red Honda Jazz, better known on this blog as the Race Car Ya-Ya because it had “large fuzzy dice hanging like testicles from the rear-view mirror”; but that’s another story).

First-time parents equal ‘schmucks with bucks’.

Now I know that any flipping pram is okay to transport a baby around, even a R999 cheapie with plastic wheels. Second-hand pram that still has orange Cheese Twirls mashed into it? Even better! Because it only needs to last a whole 12 months until your kid figures out, Flintstone-style, that feet are a much preferable mode of transport. Then you flog it on Gumtree.

At least, that’s what happens to most ruggle prams.

Our Lionheart has been squishing his 20kg frame into that Peg Perego for four years now. Travis looks like an overweight auntie crammed into an airplane seat in economy class – tight. His feet will soon drag on the floor! Plus, our Bump’s going to need a set of wheels, and in true second-child fashion has been allocated the hand-me-down pram.

So now “she who can't tell a Tata from a Toyota” has been scouring the interwebs looking for a stroller that’ll take a kid who weighs more than 20kg. I’d heard whisperings of a magical Maclaren pram, made especially for special needs kids, but I’d be damned if the Google trolls would spit it out for me. But lo and behold, tonight, I found it!

*excuse me while I slip into my glittering showroom babe dress that my boobs occasionally pop out of*

Introducing the Maclaren Major Elite! Lightweight and made with reinforced, uh, pram-making materials, this zippy one-seater takes up to 50kgs! Gasp! And look how high the seat is off the ground. No more dragging your heels in the mall, young man.

And how much for this bad boy? A mere R3999, without accessories like the retractable shade netting, cup-holders, Bang & Olufsen sound and a disco ball.

So after learning that First Time Parenting lesson that a pram-is-a-pram-is-a-bloody-pram, it turns out that we learned it for nothing, because we’ll still have to fork out the big bucks for ANOTHER fancy-pants pram until our Lionheart learns to walk unassisted.

“Dear Santa, I’d be ever so grateful if you could squeeze one of these down our chimney for Christmas. I make a mean mince pie!”