I Wrote To The Zoo

I am taking a brief break from my hard-core cleaning marathon. I never knew there were so many spiders in the world, let alone that they had been so unremittingly spinny in my house.

Tuesday sucked, as few other days have sucked. John is of the opinion that being formally diagnosed with a painful condition has psychosomatically affected me – which may or may not be true, but I’ve never been obliged to put myself on the cusp of painkiller not-quite-overdose-but-lots-too-many-nevertheless before. My uteri honestly felt like they were on fire; I kept having to crouch on the floor and groan, which I haven’t had to do since Harry made an appearance from one of them. I must see about getting some industrial-strength painkillers for next time, because Tuesday Was Not Fun.

I have been working like a navvy all week. We live in a large house, and we are both housework-averse, consequently the piles of crap have grown impressively high; you could write a reasonably long letter in the dust in any room of your choosing. John was keen to bulldozer it all into a Grandaddy heap in one room, which I vetoed on the grounds of A) public safety, B) it would depress me and C) we haven’t an unused room to actually hide it in.

I have had an agitated week regarding Harry’s birthday present. This

bouncing pony

turned up from Amazon looking vaguely like Chucky, with a grand total of 3 legs.

He was too scary. So I sent him back.

I then spent a fevered 3 hours DOUBLE-CHECKING the internet on the faint, remote off-chance that SOMEONE, SOMEWHERE in the UK might stock a proper bouncing pony. Eventually, by the unorthodox and genius approach of actually Googling the bloody name of it… Glory Be! I found a SINGLE SOLITARY UK stockist. 

radio flyer springing horse

I sprained my wrist with my snake-like speed, reaching for my Visa card. It cost so much that I have been obliged to forgo A) the party helium balloons (my infertile baby-dreams of birthday parties always had lots of helium balloons in. Couldn’t afford a cylinder last year either. Sigh.) and B) replacing the coat that I left at the Royal Show. Yep, last year my handbag, this year my (only summer-weight one I own) coat.

I was nervous as hell that the website was wrong, that the horse was a mere electronic chimera. I watched my inbox like a particularly vigilant and conscientious hawk, emitting a tiny cheer when an order confirmation popped confidently up. I couldn’t contain my uneasiness, though, and rang the stockist to double check – he told me it would be with me tomorrow. And I still had a bad feeling about it all. 

Parcelforce – my much-feared weak link – appeared this morning, on cue. Another small cheer escaped me when I saw the picture on the box – it was the right one! I examined it anxiously for signs of previous opening, and drew a cautious breath of relief.  Harry, naturally, refused to nap until after lunch, when I fell upon the container eagerly.

I opened it up and pulled out the body section, chuckling in satisfaction at the padded saddle and the chirpy painted harness. I pulled out one…two… three… FOUR legs! We have a full complement of legs! Hurrah! I dived back in and pulled out more bits and bobs, and began to rummage around in the bottom. I did a double-take. I checked again. I recoiled in horror.

I thundered down the corridor into the kitchen like a bull elephant, trumpeting my rage in a not-The-Godfather type-way: ‘There’s no head! There’s NO FUCKING HEAD! THEY’VE SENT ME A HORSE WITH NO MOTHERFUCKING HEAD!’

I stood there, chest heaving, head spinning, gasping wild imprecations interspersed with frantic yammmerings about how this was probably THE ONLY ONE IN ENGLAND and WHAT THE FUCK DO WE DO whilst Hubby had a rummage around the contents. He picked up the main body of the horse. And, like a conjuror producing a size 10 rabbit from a size 2 hat, produced the head from where it had been inserted, head-first, into the animal’s own body.

I subsided into a shaking heap on the floor. I can’t hack this pony-purchasing business at all.

We proceeded to spend 30 busy minutes building Dobbin, as my obsession over missing parts would brook no delay, before he cantered backwards – a neat trick – up the hill to the Delightful Doctors


to live hidden from small eyes until Saturday week, when 23 children, give or take, ranging from 4 weeks to nearly 7 years, will be descending on our local village hall. I am, believe it or not, really, really looking forward to it. 

There will be Dobbin – an early present for Harry, who does not turn 2 until 2 days afterwards – a small ball-pool, a little bouncy-castle, lots of straw bales, a play-house, all Harry’s ride-on cars and tractors, pass-the-parcel, a bran wheat tub with lots of chocolate yummies for little hands to find, a bubble machine, lots of balloons (the non-floaty type, dammit) a huge birthday cake which I have been plotting and fretting over (in a good way) for months, and a slap-up party tea so chock-full of sugar that every single child will go home wired to the max. Heh.

And with any sort of luck, all this toddler-festival will go some way towards convincing me that our wonderful, beautiful, heart-stoppingly precious little boy really does exist, really does give me those cuddles and kisses that wring my heart with love, really does make us laugh until it hurts with his blatant mischievousness, and really does make us nearly burst with pride at his cleverness.

Because I’m still, still, shaking my head in disbelief that, in spite of everything, he’s here. He’s healthy, he’s mine, he’s ours, he’s entirely himself alone, and he’s here.

I find this awesome.

20 Responses

  1. Sounds like an incredible party you have planned. As for the dust, my husband and I write notes to each other in it – and then it looks Bohemian and practical and we at least have a retort for any prying soul who asks why we haven’t dusted in months: Those notes are important (and occasionally even romantic).

  2. Question 1: WTF is pass the parcel? We watch the Wiggles and read blogs from Australia and Great Britain, so the term keeps coming up. I have not googled it, as I am lazy, so I will ask you.

    Question 2: If you have an oversupply of stuff in your house, and a shortage of $$$ (I don’t know how to make the pound note symbol, and again, I’m too lazy to look it up), perhaps, instead of more useless plastic constructions (i.e. birthday gifts), why don’t you request that some of the parents of the 23 youngsters combine efforts and supply the helium balloons? Harry can take some home to play with for a few days. They can be party favors. Everyone wins!

    Question 3: Why would they send you a horse with its head up its ass? That’s just wrong (and potentially dangerous! – Don’t you want a competent horse?).

    I’m almost excited about Harry’s birthday party, and I won’t even be there! Could you send me some cake, please? I love cake…

    • A small prize with many layers of wrapping paper; the children sit in a circle and music is played while they hand the parcel around the circle. Whoever is holding the parcel when the music stops removes a layer. Music-toting adult needs to give everyone a go, which is tricky when you don’t know ANY of the children and have a shitty memory. I speak from grim experience. Generally there is a small chocolate in every layer, although this wasn’t the case when John and I were small. He indignantly cites this innovation as a core reason society is going to the dogs… no-one is allowed to be a loser anymore, you see…!

      • Now that’s a game I can get behind! Everyone gets to do some unwrapping – a little less muscle-ing (not sure how to really spell that) in on the birthday boy and his presents.

        Thanks for the breakdown…

  3. 1, 2, 3: AWWWW!!! I’m sure he’ll love it 🙂

  4. That is going to be one awsome birthday party. Harry deserves it though, I’m sure. And you (and Hairy Hubby).

    Have fun!

  5. I’m worried all those over-excited children might break Dobbin, who – as we know – is irreplaceable. Since Harry doesn’t turn 2 till 2 days afterwards, and since you don’t want the
    Day Itself to be a disappointment, could I implore you to keep Dobbin hidden away until the birthday?

    Harry doesn’t know about Dobbin, so it is only your own excitement and urges that need to be contained. Can you take a deep breath and be up to that challenge?

  6. In England you can purchase codeine and paracetamol over the counter at the pharmacy for headache relief and this might work help for your pain, if you are not allergic to codeine, if it is okay with your doctor. Of course you may have to have John watch Harry, as you may be asleep, on the floor, depending on how sensitive you are to pain medications! It is also available with caffeine, which I thought was amusing, but that is as caffeine helps with headaches, not to counteract the sedation of the drug.
    Your party plans sound lovely and very fitting for a very special boy. I can’t wait to hear about the party.

    • Codeine is my drug of choice, certainly – I even have some hoarded upstairs, but Harry is still making a dive for the mummy-boobs in the morning. A splash of paracetomol he’s fine with, but I had no clue how codeine would play out via milk. Badly, I feared! Will certainly be asking the question soon, and thanks for well-thought out advice, as usual!

  7. I also hope to hear about the party. Pass-the-parcel is not a regular party game here in the U.S., but some British friends converted us and I may make it a feature here if I ever have another party. God grant I do not, at my age.
    My friends have not converted me to Britsh slang–do you have the expression “head up one’s ass” ? If so, your horse…
    I second the notion of keeping Dobbin away until after the party. Surely, Harry could have it all to himself at first and not have to share while it was new. I always wanted a bouncing horse as a child, and bought one for my own children, who never appreciated it as much as I did.

  8. A headless pony would have been a real conversation starter, on the other hand 🙂


  9. I have been laughing my ass off about the headless pony. I would have paid money to see people’s faces if you’d put it on display at the party.

    And funny about the pass the parcel comments – we’re determined to make it a regular feature here at Canadian birthday parties too – its the ultimate children’s party game!

  10. Ahh, a headless Dobbin sounds like a real party focal point, if you ask me. I wish I lived next door so I could invite myself to this party!!

  11. Will there be dead lions? you’ll need dead lions. (The game not the safari hunter’s trophy)

    Have fun. And post pics of the cake!

  12. Horsie’s head up arse thing? I very nearly peed myself laughing. Sorry.

    Sincerely hoping the uteri have kissed and made up now. Oy, how I empathise.

    And making ‘courage, ma brave’ gestures at you regarding the Monster Clear-up. Housework plus toddler party to plan plus flaming uteri? Oh, my dear girl. For God’s sake have a G&T and lie down for a few hours. If Hairy Husband says anything else about psychosomaticism I personally will walk to Stratford and bite his leg.

  13. Hooray, you got the pony after all! I laughed and laughed about the head; that is priceless. I’m glad John was able to find it for you. He is an animal farmer after all, I suppose he knows about these things.

    I find Harry’s existence awesome along with you. Have a lovely time at what sounds like the best ever birthday party!


  14. Oh dear, I was rather hoping Dobbin’s head had been stuffed into his body via the neck end but clearly I was at the wrong end of the horse.

    Hope the day is a celebration of the wonderfulness and everything Harry. Happy birthday, mate.

  15. Another one laughing my arse off at the mental image of the headless horse. The party sounds fab. I’m tempted to make a batch of rice crispy buns, get on a plane and gatecrash! Dying to see what the birthday cake turns out like. Knowing you, it will be a work of art.

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