Going Uphill

Have realised with a shock that we are going on holiday on Monday and the dirty washing pile closely resembles Mont not-quite Blanc. Am madly looking forward to it, despite the fact that I have finally caught Harry’s sniffle and Wales is forecast to be bitterly cold and rather snowy. But don’t you worry about us traversing those treacherous mountain passes, people, because I drive a 4×4.

Wifey: ‘FFS! You’ve been on the bloody net forever. Gerroff.’

Hubby: ‘You never know, I could be ordering your Valentine’s present.’

Wifey: ‘Oooh!’

Hubby: ‘Of course, you’ve already had your birthday present.’

Wifey: ‘I have?’

Hubby: ‘I bought a new battery for your car.’

Wifey: ‘Oh.’

Hubby: ‘I think I shall get you a new driveshaft for Valentine’s day.’

Wifey: ‘Do I need a new driveshaft?’

Hubby: … (pause)… ‘We’ll find out on the way to Wales.’

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Harry used his first sign today. He got it fairly wrong, poor lad, but I knew what he meant – ‘More!’ – and dutifully handed over another blueberry. This breakthough so soon has cheered me up a tiny bit, because I lay awake until 3.30am last night getting increasingly wound up and upset. I had a cursory attempt at Googling informing myself about various speech and language problems yesterday and realised in the process that Harry has not, in fact, ever spoken a spontaneous word, in or out of context. What he has done – twice – is perfectly echo the last sound he has heard. It seems that the two are rather separate things, and explains why he has never repeated either word – he had never learnt them to begin with.

Hubby is confident  – as usual – that All Will Be Fine Eventually, and, Mulder-like, I want to believe. I really do. But I’m a natural Scully. I’m horribly uneasy, and that’s a feeling which has been justified all too often in the past. I’m scared of the S&LT turning up Tuesday week and telling us that Harry’s babble is still formless, and light years away from speech. I want her to reassure us that he’s almost there. That he’s not struggling as much as I dread he is. That he’s on the very cusp of breaking out into some solid vocab. That I’ll be hearing ‘Wuv you, Mummy!’ by the summer.

Hell, I’d even enjoy ‘Hate you, Mummy!’ at the moment.

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Vocabulary

The baby signing books have arrived, and I have started to waggle my hands at Harry accordingly. He is taking absolutely not a blind bit of notice.

I surprised myself by recalling a few BSL signs from the early 1990s when I learnt a little. I found I could remember how to say ‘Wifey’ ‘I love you’, ‘Fuck off’, ‘I’ve had it up to here with you’ and, bizarrely, ‘My hamster died of a sore bottom’. Until I expand my repertoire, I feel any conversation I might start with a passing deaf person could only sink into dark places.

I am still looking for the signs that will enable me to say, clearly and simply, ‘shutup shutup shutUP you rotten little perisher you’ve screamed your tits off all bloody night and now it’s 4.30pm and you’ve been screaming in your cot for 30 sodding minutes and you still refuse to nap and you’re now the most odious little ragey person in the entire world’.

So far, I have figured out ‘shut up’ and ‘tits’.

ETA: Hubby has just volunteered the fact that one of his ex girlfriends could sign, and he learnt a few phrases off her for use in the pub. He has just signed ‘would you like to sit on my face?’

I repeat, we will not be engaging any deaf person in conversation. Realms of the dark… etc.

Complacency

Be careful where you drop that pin. You’ll wake the toddler. 

Even bunged up with cold, Harry’s hearing was absolutely tip-top. Which we were expecting, given that we can’t keep the opening of a packet of crisps private anymore, so I’m not at all sure why we were so cheerful leaving the appointment. It involved, incidentally, some exceedingly funny toys being suddenly lit up and waggled in dark speaker boxes and some very odd sounds indeed. There was minimal ear-probing and much toy-waving. Fingers were retained by all parties. 

The speech and language therapist rang me this morning to say she could come out for Harry’s home assessment next Tuesday. The Tuesday that we will be in Wales. Arse! Thankfully, she is also free the following week, so we now have exactly a fortnight before being told officially that Harry is facing a developmental delay.

It’s a funny thing, but until I spoke to her, I wasn’t actually thinking any further forward in time than the assessment itself. It’s as if I somehow assumed that once Harry was taken under the wing of the professionals, he would magically start speaking overnight; that the People Who Do Speech would find a set of control buttons on him somewhere, have a quick tweak, and… voila! Talking toddler!

But the girl on the phone sounded… well, a girl. About 18, or thereabouts. It wasn’t that I lost faith in her ability whatsoever at all, but it did make me mentally re-assess my expectations. I was consequently obliged to demote Speech Therapists down a notch from ‘Deity’. I asked myself, for the first time, ‘What is it that this person can actually do for Harry?’

The answer, which I should have come up with many, many months ago, is ‘help me to help him.’ And how will she do that?

When Harry was 9 months or so, a friend went to a series of baby-sign classes, and enthused that I should go along. I vaguely considered the idea, looked at the cost and the travel, and rejected it, on the basis that Harry would doubtless be talking soon enough. 

When Harry turned one, I had another think about it, but I was already pretty fully committed throughout the week with one baby group and another, and I thought the words would be coming pretty soon anyway. And so it has gone on.

Harry has no real contemporary among the babies we see every week- they are mainly a few months either way – so his lack of speech has not actually been glaring to anyone. For the last few months, I have kept vaguely thinking to myself that, yes, actually, baby signing would probably have been a good thing for Harry to start when he was a little younger. He would be the oldest child in the class if we started now – and surely, the words won’t be much longer coming, will they?

And today I have realised just how much I have let him down by not doing absolutely everything I could to help him communicate. I was beginning to realise on Saturday when we met Pob, who was born the week Harry was due and is communicating beautifully, at a level simply light-years beyond Harry’s pointing, urgent grunts, and snatching. The difference in disposition also struck me – Pob was the absolute epitome of toddler tranquility amongst her toynapping tiny visitors, whilst Harry often treats any child visiting Hairy Mansions with barely-veiled hostility. He is beginning to have epic, kingsize, storming meltdowns that leave us both utterly distraught; I have to take him to the supermarket tomorrow, and I’m already dreading the inevitable scene when the constant supply of placating satsuma segments lose their appeal.

His temper lapses and frequent misery have come about because of my failings as a parent. I was still uneasy after his Paediatrician’s ‘don’t worry, give him time, but I’ll refer him anyway’ reassurances last November, but took no action. I imagine he is actually quite right. I’m sure Harry will talk, given time. The two words that he has spoken – months ago now – were crystal clear and would have done a BBC newsreader credit. I feel sure – except in the dark pit of the night – that this is a developmental delay, not a disability. Ditto – slightly less confidently – his wobbliness.

But. But but but. 

Harry is likely to spend many months catching up, and those are important, formative months. Months that he will spend screaming in continued frustration that we simply cannot understand him – partly because we haven’t made every effort.

So, we will now try to repair the damage.

baby-signs

and

baby-sign-meal-time

arrive tomorrow.

I have rather pinned my hopes on them helping.

Oh Hai!

Thalia, H, Pob, May, H, Helen, Nick, NoraMs Prufrock, The Dude, P, and all 3 Hairy-Scaries. All in one room.

It rocked. Now, aren’t you just a wee bit jealous you weren’t there?

Pob adopted a stunningly beatific attitude to the noisy influx of visiting Bigs and Smalls, sharing her wonderful toys without a murmur of protest or righteous indignation, bestowing enchanting smiles on all. Sadly, Pob’s exquisitely nice manners did not appear to rub off on Harry, and his demeanour was distinctly less polite. The heart-melting appeal and good nature of the twins was completely lost on him; poor Nick’s tentatively-reaching-to-join-in hand was unceremoniously and repeatedly shoved away from the musical toy that Harry had triumphantly installed himself in front of, and I feared for Nora’s eyeballs on more than one occasion. I also spotted the little perisher doing the odd bit of surreptitious sideways bum-pushing when he thought no-one was looking.

As both a daughter and wife of a twin, I felt Harry was storing up heap big trouble for himself here: in 6 months time I reckon the twins will have honed A) their sibling loyalty, B) ganging up effective teamwork and C) shoving. Next time we all meet up (Oh pleeeease let there be a next time) Harry had better hope they don’t remember him. P was thankfully too big for him to attempt to pick on, but unfortunately also a tad too old for me to pick up and munch. I managed to inveigle her into sitting by me for a read of The Hungry Caterpillar instead; forkfuls of my slice of cheesecake were requested with absolutely the most beauteous manners and charm. I had previously heard the odd maternal bloggy mutter re: tantrums, but me? I take as I find. I’d have swopped, no problemo!

The gossip did, admittedly, keep getting sidetracked by the various activities of the collected ankle biters, and Nick, Nora and Harry were all carted away home before meltdowns could turn critical. I travelled home thinking a long succession of ‘Bugger, I never asked about…’ thoughts. Mind you, my effervescently good mood must have rubbed off on Hubby, because he actually agreed on the drive home that we could go away on holiday for a few days. Cue: much shock, gasping, etc.

We have only had one attempt at a holiday with Harry. When we got as far as Bath’s Royal United Hospital Children’s ward, I finally listened to my water and came home. The holiday before that  (and do click through if you are amused by photos of ancient caravans and gormless spaniels) wasn’t much better. The holiday before that… I can’t quite remember, it’s that long ago. It will undoubtedly have involved a caravan, though, and possibly… Dartmoor? I think?

I was all keen to up and go this week, just in case he changed his mind, but Mum has been carted off to the Canaries for a week’s recuperation and I am on fish-feeding and bird-feeding duties. So, next Monday, we are going to spend 4 nights in Wales. If it turns out to be bloody awful, at least it’ll be a change of scene. They have a creche and babysitters, both of which I fully intend to avail ourselves of. I will also be taking fizzy wine, although Hubby always moans plaintively that I am useless with alcohol and invariably go overboard by having a second glass, rendering myself far too ill to actually have sex with. Admittedly, he does have a point. An unsatisfied one, generally.

Also, Harry has his hearing test tomorrow. I am anticipating this with keen interest, as I am eager to see precisely how the audiologists plan to make him wear earphones. If they persist in forcing this issue against his wishes, they may lose a finger. I have also rung the Speech & Language department today and enquired when Harry’s assessment is to be. If it turns out to be more than a month I will arrange a private one instead, as he is 18 months old next week and still not speaking.

We are having good days and bad with his wobbly walk at present; he now totters round in lovely spinning twirls when he hears music, and can stamp his little size 3 feet quickly on the spot. He was on his steadiest behaviour on Bloggy Saturday with barely a fall all day, but reduced me to tears of sad frustration earlier today when he fell down 8 times between the door of the children’s centre and the car. The mums with whom we departed were all strapping their 12 – 18 month-ers into car seats and watching us with sympathy before we were even half-way across the mirror-smooth tarmac.

Some days, his mobility problems are glaring. Some days, they are simply not very apparent. Guess which sort of day he’ll have when he next sees his Paediatrician?

An Idle Hour

I discovered a strange site a little while ago. Whilst one or two of the items featured exceed my personal bad-taste tolerance – the earrings in particular – I loved the Angel and the Ghost.

I am often too sleepy in the mornings to notice quite what Harry has got hold of when he is busily beetling around our bedroom; he has spent 15 minutes happily conducting an invisible philharmonic with my ovulation peestick before now. More recently, his target has been a box of assorted tampax and my entire collection of sanitary towels.  

As I had the raw materials – now strewn widely across the bedroom floor – I thought I would have a play.

yacht

the-bride1

Do not worry. I shall not be sending these out for Pay It Forward…

Hairy Handicrafts

About 20 months ago, I decided I was sufficiently pregnant to be vaguely secure in commissioning  my father to reproduce this

brambly-hedge1

on the chimney breast in Harry’s room. Given that my Dad is just like me, there was a fair-ish delay in construction, which even featured an interim tree.

On Sunday, he came up with the goods proper.

brambly-hedge-11

brambly-hedge-2

Had my pneumonia-stricken-but-almost-recovered mother not relapsed this week, then no doubt he would have been back over to wire up the lights. Yes, there are twinkly LED lights set in the ceiling beams of the little rooms.

My Dad rocks.

I made Harry some new blackout curtains this week to replace the original roman blind I made whilst pregnant.

winnie-blind1

I used glass fibre rods, which shed tiny god-awful splinters like buggery if you A) hack madly at them with blunt scissors to trim them to size and B) get the size wrong so they stab through the fabric and C) don’t seal the ends properly. The whole thing was covered with these dreadful splinters (which cause irritation wildly out of proportion to their size) and has had to be burnt; this is a big shame, because it took me ages. Yet another classic case of a Hairy ship being spoilt for h’apporth of tar.

But hey, the new ones are funky and match his bean bag. I may get around to buying the hooks to hold the tie-backs sometime this year.

farmyard-curtains

Now the sewing machine has actually been dragged, clanking, from its lair, I am all fired up to do more. I’m planning to tackle some R cushions next.  The H is covered thickly in smeared chocolate and Wotsits (I can hear you judging me) and the A got a thorough biro-ing earlier today.

nap

By the time I finish the Y, he’ll be using the others to prop up his Wii. Or whatever.

My bursts of creativity do tend to be cyclic, but as my enthusiasm for making things is riding high, I thought I would tell you about Pay it Forward. I caught sight of this nice little idea on Katie’s blog, and promptly volunteered to have some lovely knitwear bestowed upon me.

Essentially the idea is thus: if you are one of the first 3 people to leave a ‘Gimme!’ comment here, then I will hand craft you An Item Of Some Description and despatch it, wherever you are in the world. Those three people must agree to pay it forward and make the same offer to readers of their blog. The gift can be of any price range and you have a whole year to make it. I may even make more than 3 if anyone I think is totally well-deserving of some quality Hairy agricultural tat doesn’t quite make the cut… so don’t be shy if you’re late to the party. You never know your… well, lets call it luck, shall we? Leastways, until you open the parcel.

I was going to tell you in excruciating detail all about my misery about going to the gym 3 times a week, having my metabolic rate shoot up, and consequently eating so much that I put on 8 pounds over Christmas. But relating all the tears is now beyond me. Bygones. Suffice to say: I am still 4 pounds up on where I was when I joined the gym (wail, sob, kick the fucking wall, howl), but am sticking grimly to the thrice-weekly torture. I will shift this evil bloody weight before it kills me. I will. I will I will I will.

On that note, I have to go away now and make something wonderfully calorific, as I am meeting some spectacularly nice and interesting people this Saturday, and if I can’t make myself thin by then, then I’m going to damn well try and make them all fat.

Throne Room

Our house was a self-build, so we have no-one to blame for any inadequacies except the Architect, our subcontractors, Hubby, his father, and his mother ourselves.

We made any number of small rookie mistakes. And a few larger ones. Our personal Construction Hall of Shame (I shall name no names. Actually, buggerit, I will. The Architect, for complicated reasons, got it 2ft wrong on the plan. John, despite seeing the error, and for reasons best known to himself, followed the drawings to the inch) features a bathroom that is less than 4ft wide. Sitting on the toilet, your knees brush the door. We were obliged to make it a sliding door in the end; the original split-in-hinged-halves-folding affair had a delightful inch-wide viewing window down the centre.

corridor-bathroom1

 This is our master bathroom, incidentally.

Plug outlets are in the wrong place, ditto light switches, kitchen cupboards, etc etc. Comforting for the ego (but not the pocket), our sub-contractors, almost without exception, were visited by the fuck-up fairy even more frequently than we were. If I ever see our Polish plumber (who flooded the entire, completely new-plastered, building and set us back weeks) on a pedestrian crossing – he’s a flat man.

But by and large, after 5 years of residency, I’ve stopped noticing the defects. However, this afternoon I became acutely aware of a new one.

Those of you owning a toddler will be aware, if you have read your user manual, that a visit to the toilet alone is a rare privilege. I usually manage to skip away for a quick pee and be on my way back, zipping up trousers en route, before Harry comes looking for me. Today, I was making a longer stay, so after a minute or so, a small companion arrived – towing the broom. He proceeded to shake it about the place in best zulu-warrior fashion, so instead of removing it I opened the toilet door wide in order to give him sea room; a broom in the eye is still better than him finding, for example, the bog brush. We have, as you know, been ill lately.

Anyhoo, I was sitting there, as you do… when I became horribly conscious of the fact that I was directly facing the back door. If it were opened – and if it were daylight – I would have a lovely view across the drive and out over the countryside. 

view-from-toilet

 Of course, if Hubby had come home early from his hockey match, then the view that would have greeted him in return, upon opening said door, would have been altogether less appealing. 

 toilet-from-outside

I bet he’d never bring a single unexpected friend home for dinner ever again.

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