Girl Problems 2

The title of this made me laugh. It sounds like a very boring, formulaic, straight-to-TV tweenie film from the early 90s.

It’s time for my eagerly anticipated (thank you two people) new installment of my series on female-related problems. This time: HAIR.

You’ve got too much. You don’t have enough. You want it long, You want it short. Then you want it long again. You want it a different colour. You get roots. You never should have dyed it. You’ve got split ends. It looks like someone has accidentally microwaved it and scrubbed it with a brillo pad. It’s the colour of boiled potatoes that have been cooked for two weeks solid. You get a hair cut. You get manipulated into spending £50 on products ‘specifically designed for your hair type’. You break up with your boyfriend. Time for a new hair cut! “That’ll show him I’m over him, and also a much newer, more attractive and all-round better person!” Your hairdresser is thinking: fierce bob. You’re thinking “What if I get mistaken for a man?”* You’ve got mousses and waxes, pomades and serums, sprays and oils, mists and cremes. And that is just for the hair on your head.

The way your hair is does say a lot about you. Absolutely. But with a guy, really all it has to say is: I get it cut. I’m neat. I’m clean. It costs £7.50 every six weeks. If you’re a man and this does not apply to you, say for example you have it long, or get it coloured. That says something different to me. Like, you’re not my type.

I’d like to take a minute, though, while we are talking about men and hair to mention that I know they do go bald. And I think this must be quite a hard thing to come to terms with. When I first met my husband, he had a full head of sandy-blonde hair. “He looks like Prince William!” I used to think. Now he really does. Because they have about the same amount of hair. His crown looks like a really shiny place where only five reclusive hairs grow, steadfastly remaining in the area, despite the fact everyone has left. Like some kind of extremely localised follicular apocalypse.

All of my life has basically been spent either: growing out a fringe, craving a fringe when I see the one picture of me where it actually looks nice, then absolutely hating my new fringe. Then the whole stupid cycle begins all over again, as if to remind me: “You are thick. You never learn. And you have a stupid fringe. Haha.”

The single "good fringe" photo

The single “good fringe” photo

Part of my problem is that I fucking love going to the hairdresser. Making the appointment, looking forward to it, and (now I have a child) enjoying three beautiful hours where I don’t have to pretend that I’m Gaston from Beauty and the Beast, or the big bad wolf, or Rapunzel’s Mummy, or pick little bits of dried-up playdo off the sole of tiny little Peppa Pig slippers.

Someone takes my jacket! And makes me a cup of tea! And looks at me in the mirror and asks me what I’d like! Then I get to sit and talk nonsense, read shitey magazines about how some lassie from TOWIE has lost 3 stone eating only green and purple foods. Then they wash my hair! And dry it! And tell me I look awesome! And then they say “You must be going out tonight now!” And I say “No… I’m just going to stay in and catch up on my washing…” But at least I’ll look amazing doing it! *Swishes head around, in the style of Jet from Gladiators*

Another problem is: bobbles and kirbies. Like, WHERE THE FUCK DO THEY ALL ACTUALLY GO? Because I’ve never found them. I must have owned millions of these things. I have visions of people living in houses I used to prising up a floorboard and just finding it stuffed full of brown kirkbies and black bobbles. CCTV would reveal I’d been putting them there myself while I was sleeping. Chilling.

Hair also gets everywhere. And I mean EVERYWHERE. It clumps up behind doors and in corners, covers all black clothing, and generally just floats in the ether. And also: Plugholes. It has to be the worst job in the world to dislodge what looks like half a head of hair from the shower plughole. It’s like a slimy, smelly, dry-boking scene from The Ring, especially if you have dark hair. I imagine for men, living with a woman with long hair must be a little bit like having a high maintenance pet that constantly moults. Strands of hair, bottles of product, and piles of kirbies mark out our territory. I remember feeling different about a boyfriend when I found one of his ex’s (blonde) kirby grips at his house. You’re not over her! She’s still here, like a wiry ghost! She watches us while we sleep! Also, you prefer blondes. I’m leaving! Don’t call! And all that perfectly normal, not-overreacting-at-all stuff.

All of this stuff basically comes down to one thing. I always think: I’d be happy if I had X or Y. Or “I would have enjoyed that night out if I’d had the red dress on.” Or “Once I’ve got that I will not need to buy anything else.” Or “This haircut will define me. It will crystallise who I am as a person. Everyone will know with a single glance.”

But this is nonsense. I get no self-fulfillment really from how I look, or from waiting for a new dress to arrive or from getting my nails done or getting a new colour. I feel good when I look good. But there is something missing. And I am not going to find it by getting stuff and things or through beauty services.

Although it is marginally less problematic than a drink problem, I grant you.

*This has happened to me.

 

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If I were a Disney Princess

Part of the amazingness of having a 3 year old daughter is the excuse to buy every Disney film ever made. I absolutely love it.

I love the old school ones, I love the new ones. I just love it all.

I took Phoebe to see the new Cinderella and googled “Is it OK to take a three year old to see Cinderella” as I was a bit worried it wouldn’t hold her attention. It was the first ever live-action film I had taken her to. What I wasn’t prepared for was the furious backlash of mothers determined to keep their daughters away from ‘things like that’. “I hate the Princess thing. I don’t want her thinking she’s got to sit about waiting for a man to rescue her.” Er… OK.

I reckon I’m a modern feminist. I live by the Caitlin Moran rule: I have a vagina (tick), and I care what happens to it (tick). I have a degree and a career. I make my own money. But does that mean, on my low days, when I’m on my hands and knees scrubbing the kitchen floor or dusting picture frames, that I can’t fantasize that a tall, blue-eyed prince with a strong jaw, sporting an impressive bulge from his tighty-whiteys will burst through the front door and shout, “In the name of all that is good, release that beautiful woman from her domestic drudgery!” No, I don’t believe it does.

And following that rule, does that mean I shouldn’t let her see, as she grows up, programs about religious extremism, for fear that she will start bombing shopping centres? Or should I not let her be friends with a child with same-sex parents, in case she comes home with a buzzcut, wearing dungarees?

Oh please. She is who she is.

Anyway, it got me thinking about what I would have done if I were in any of the unusual situations that many Disney Princesses find themselves in.

1. Beauty and the Beast

This is easy.

At this very moment, I would be trapped in an unhappy marriage to Gaston. I’d have 8 sons, and I’d be able to pluck a pheasant like a pro. All the girls would have been jealous of me once, but now they just feel sorry for me, because I’ve got a massive gunt. Gaston has aaaallll the affairs, but I don’t mind because it lessons that chance of a ninth pregnancy, and gives me more time to feed the chickens.

2.The Little Mermaid

I would have stayed a mermaid, because Triton is far more impressive a man than Prince Eric. I’m sure he would have found another bird with a nice voice. And possibly legs.

3. Snow White

I would have jumped on the back of the Prince’s horse the second he started singing to me by the well. Nae messin’.

4. Cinderella

My ability to have courage and be kind would have faded about nine minutes in. I’d be rotting in a jail cell for a triple homicide.

This has been a bit rambly. I never would have thought that at age 30, I’d still be daydreaming about wearing a massive sparkly blue dress, but there you have it. I’m sure I can’t be alone on this one. Give me pink, give me princesses, give me noble steeds, give me corsets and animal sidekicks. Not forgetting a bit of tighty-whitey action.

Can’t. Stop. Looking.

Travelling light with a baby

I remember when I was pregnant, and the changing bag idea excited me. I love a bag-more or less of any kind. I even love canvas and jute supermarket jobbies if they’re bepatterned-and so the changing bag with its novelty additions (a changing mat! A bottle warmer! A dummy clip! How precious!) opened up a whole new avenue of bag shopping for me. I even manbagged my husband (he wasn’t even that horrified). Pretty quickly, though, I realised that every changing bag I’d bought (4, if you’re interested) was crappy. The changing may was too small/easily stained, the bag itself, despite being massively bulky, could barely hold what I needed, the bottle warmer didn’t work, the dummy clip broke, it wouldn’t sit properly on the pram without adjustment, and then it wouldn’t fit on me when I took it off the pram…. those damn bags were the source of many sweating, screaming child moments where I wanted to throw all my baby paraphernalia at passing cars, firebomb the mamas & papas HQ, stick a nappy in my pocket and hope for the best.

Anyway, you can imagine how chuffed I was when it dawned on me that I actually no longer needed that much stuff now when out for the day with junior. I’ve always been the kind of person who enjoys a big bag. I’m a tall person, and small bags look like children’s bags on me. Also, I’ve never really been a keys-lipstick-phone person, so. What I do now, is just have my regular handbag, and make four additions, and i’m ready to go out for morning/afternoon with junior. Obviously, if I had to give her a meal, I’d need her lunchbox too- but I have a bottle bag with a long strap so I can just along that over my shoulder too.

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Mini pack of baby wipes. Book (preferably with flaps, textures bits or noisy bits), musical toy with buttons.
I always need baby wipes! If you have a baby it needs to be wiped in some way or another, pretty much constantly. I find the same is true of husbands. I draw the line at two multi tasking toys that do lots of things or a favourite. I sometimes feel even if I took twenty toys she wouldn’t be occupied any longer, anyway.

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Ah, my zippy thing. I don’t even know what this is, but it us like a make up bag with two zip compartments. And ok, after slagging them off, it’s from a change bag. This is what I put inside:

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My change kit!

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Snacks, tissues (sometimes you need a dry wipe. Babies always have runny noses), sachet of calpol and spoon, bubbles (constant source of amazement and free in a party bag.)

So I hope i’ve convinced you that don’t need to suffer the change bag depression after 12 months, at the latest. I’ve been doing this since she was about 8 months, when pooing was more, erm, reliable and I had a really strong idea of her needs and wants.

If you have found a good change bag… Tell me!

The Hardest Job in the World?

After old Lizzy J- that well known ‘artist’- released a column full of horrible women-hating bile (what a step away from the Daily Mail’s usual offerings-NOT) last week, I was left to ponder the blogging community’s massive rebuttal, mainly featuring tired mums in sick-stained jogging bottoms wailing that motherhood is ‘the hardest job in the world!’ I started to think about my own 8-month experience with a small person…

I remember sitting on the couch, after my husband had gone back to work, and my mum had arrived at the house, having taken a week of her work to come and help me in whatever way she could- cleaning, cooking, washing. She even took my laundry on for about 6 weeks. Phoebe had been up at 2am for two hours and 5am until 7am. I was exhausted, recovering mentally and physically from a birth that had left me bitter, disappointed and physically mutilated. I struggled to get a shower, and as I was feeding her on demand, she might require me at any moment, and I could hardly leave her for a second.

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You can prepare for the birth of a baby insomuch as you can buy them little sleep suits, prepare a cot, buy some nappies and 5000 muslin cloths, but you cannot prepare for basically just how bloody hard it is in the beginning. People must think, “but you’re just sitting about with you boobs out, what’s so hard?” It is almost impossible to explain, apart from to say that the feeling that this precious little life needs you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, forever.

That feeling is good as well as horribly, horribly terrifying. Especially in the beginning when you are putting in so much hard work, and getting nothing back. They seem to just eat and sleep and scream.

Things get a little easier though.

Gradually, you feel that you can leave the house to see a friend for half an hour. Then, you are able to meet in a public place. They start to play and amuse themselves. Before too long, you can take your baby to the shops. Within a few short months, you can entertain your baby with a rice cake. They go off breast feeding. You have your body back! By then they really are their own little person with personalities, quirks, likes and dislikes. You start to think you can leave them with someone else for a few hours. The scales aren’t a mount of shame. You can get drunk again! You think about going back to work. You can hold more than one thought in your brain at once!!!

So what am I saying about my 8 months with a little ‘un? Well it has been hard work. And it will continue to be, as I go back to work next month. And she starts moving and talking and whatnot. But it is so much more rewarding. And as I got the hang of it, I felt more like myself, more like a success.

Is it the hardest job in the world? In many ways. But sometimes, when my husband comes home from work and asks, “How was your day?” and say, “Oh, I’m exhausted. We went for tea and cake with Katrina and Stephanie, then went to the shops to get teabags then went for a walk with Nyree in the afternoon” and I see his disbelieving face, I think, hmmm. Maybe my day isn’t as taxing as it could have been…

Play, Baby, Play!

I really struggled when Phoebe was first born for lots of reasons, but I was really looking forward to her being able to play, as I thought it would be really fun, kind of like having a kitten. How I laugh when I look back on this! I actually found it really difficult to know what to do, as I think I lost my ability to ‘play’ quite a few years ago. I don’t even play any computer games or anything. It brings me no joy. I just like to talk and laugh really. So having a little ‘un to entertain was a bit daunting when I realised she wouldn’t just do it on her own, she needed help from me too.

Throwing money at this problem, which retailers would love you to do, doesn’t really work I find. I have bought loads of toys- not as many as some people!- and she quickly loses interest in most things. Mums swore by jumperoos, but Phoebe is only entertained by them for very brief periods of time. She likes her walker, but can’t quite figure out how to put one foot in front of the other. What she really likes are musical/noisy toys or things that she has to figure out.

I spent quite a bit when she was born on toys that were largely redundant, and I wish I hadn’t, because it seems just as you start to have less money (SMP isn’t a heck of a lot) your baby requires more stimulation. I went to a ten-week block of baby sensory, which I am really glad I did, because it gave me loads of ideas of what to do with my little monster. At £7.50 a pop though (30 minute class), they were pricey, so I’ve taken lots of the ideas and put my own spin on them. Here are my suggestions to get yourself started.

Treasure/box/bag/basket

This is a really straight forward idea, and a great way to give new interest to old toys, or to encourage interest in toys that you baby has never been interested in. All you do is get a suitable box- I use an old nappy bin cassette box! If you are really crafty, you could cover it with shiny paper or bright wrapping paper or something. Mine is just plain. Then fill it with interesting items. Mine currently contains:

  • A velvety soft fluffy doggy
  • A deflated balloon (more on this below)
  • A Humpty Dumpty wooden toy with jangly legs
  • A Miffy rattle toy
  • A chunky beaded necklace
  • A silky scarf
  • A cupcake baking tin

Inside the box, I also have a wee mini jute bag that I got with a bunch of flowers I was sent when Phoebe was born. It will be perfect for using for playing shops when she’s older! Until then I use it as a wee discovery toy inside the box. In that I have:

  • A piece of scrunched up baking parchment
  • A mini rubber ducky
  • A pair of baby sunglasses

You could put loads of different things in. Everyday things, household items, anything that poses no danger from choking etc. Obviously this idea is for supervised play only.

Some other ideas:

  • A large, fluffy feather
  • A wooden spoon or any other robust kitchen item.
  • An artificial flower
  • Some dried out leaves/cones
  • Some faux fur/different materials- bubble wrap, brown paper, wrapping paper etc.
  • Fruit- Apples, oranges etc. You could even try a coconut!

    The best pic I could get!

Nursery Rhyms

I bought a set of three nursery rhyme CDs when Phoebe was tiny and have tried my best to learn a few. For some of them, I put them on and I just sing along animatedly, while pumping her wee legs on the change mat, for others I have made up actions that incorporate lots of tickles and ruffling and she loves that. I also have a lovely big book of nursery rhymes that I use to just sit with her and sing them and point out stuff in the pictures.

Modern Music

There is nothing nicer that just picking up your wee chunky monkey and bouncing up and down to a few ditties that you enjoy! You can only listen to “Pop Goes the Weasel” so many times before you have to be sectioned. I find dancing in front of the mirror provides entertainment for Her Majesty until I feel like my arms are going to fall off! I remember a friend posting on Facebook that her 2 year old was wandering around the house singing “Bad Romance” by Lady Gaga. I hope Phoebe will be the same!!!

Home-made Toys

Rattle– Get a clean, empty, see-through bottle. Fill it with whatever you can find- lentils, peppercorns, rice, marbles, pasta, bird seed, peanuts… anything! You can also add brightly coloured things like beads, confetti etc. This is lots of babies’ favourite toy. I haven’t tried this yet, but I’m thinking about using this idea to make a kind of slow globe idea with glitter and coconut!

Scarves stuffed in a tissue box– Tie the scarves together, and try to make them as different and varied as possible. You could also use old ties. Or new ones, if your husband has annoyed you.

Wooden spoons– They make brilliant teethers, and they are good for banging on things to make a loud noise!

Tupperware– Really good as well if you can get those ones that fit inside each other. You could hide bits and pieces inside them for you baby to find.

Balloon– Make balloons more baby-friendly by blowing them up nice and full and tight, then let about half of the air out of them. You could put rice or pasta etc. inside them to make a noise and then tie a soft baby bobble around the bottom and put it around their wrist. They’re very fun.

Basin of water- You can have hours of messy play with a simple bowl of water. Put some water-safe toys in, a wee flannel, and a sponge and a cup. Have a towel to hand! You could dip their wee toes in the water and experiment with showing them different temperatures of water-obviously not too hot.

Den– make a wee hidey-hole by covering a table with a blanket or sheet and play peekaboo. As the get older, they’ll enjoy crawling in and out!

Food– Get some jelly, chopped fruit, or any other baby-suitable food, put it on a large plastic-covered mat, strip your baby down to his vest, and let them get on with it. Eek!

Phew! Hopefully all this effort will make you feel less guilty about them watching Baby TV (Sky channel 623- if you’re interested) for half an hour here and there…