I spoke too soon, Mrs Hingle!

Our phone rang at lunchtime today; I picked it up in the kitchen which was, at that moment, thickly populated with chatting women, half-dressed toddlers (more on this in a moment) and tiny babies. After some urgent shushing, I was able to discern that the chap on the other end of the phone was from University Hospital in Coventry – our mammoth regional super-hospital: location of my infertility treatment and Harry’s NICU stay – and was ringing to tell me that they have received a referral from Warwick to give Harry an EEG – could he come to the Neurophysiology department first week in May?

I had a fleeting prescient flash of dread vis à vis attempting to glue electrodes to Harry’s unsedated head, but assured him we would be there. I was a trifle taken aback to be hearing about this course of action from another hospital department as opposed to Harry’s Paediatricians – but only a trifle. I have spoken to enough local parents in our boat lately to realise that the parent is generally not top of  not near the top of  bottom of just not on the information dissemination chart when tests are ordered, because that’s the way it works. A friend of mine actually discovered that a working diagnosis – a fairly serious one – had been reached about her child this way. In fact, if you wanted to picture NHS bureaucratic procedure as, say, some ridiculously overinflated Lovecraftian dribbling blob, with spiny limbs too feeble to shift its own shuddering bulk, then that’s absolutely fine by me. The core competency of the individuals involved in delivering our healthcare is high, and yet the delivery structure itself falls so aggravatingly short. Bah. Stop me before I get going, people!

Teh Positive: New Woman is obviously Briefed, Making Decisions and Doing Something about Harry. This is Good, and makes up for my disappointment on Tuesday when I learnt that New Woman never actually visits the nursery section at School Fabulous at all, and under 4s are all seen in clinic. I had immediately foreseen a months-long wait to see her, and was juuuussst puffing myself up to launch my usual NHS hurricane mixture of righteous indignation, charm, hectoring and pleading at the Paediatric department. I expect there’s a letter to me & the GP about all this lurking on a dictaphone, somewhere.

Anyhoo. Harry has spent the day at home with a hacking cough and a streaming nose – there are kids at nursery to whom a virus can mean Heap Big Serious Fucking Trouble – and minus a nappy. The young chap in question has begun potty training in earnest today; he has accordingly flashed both his new underwear and his tackle around our visitors very thoroughly indeed, and the sight of nomnomnomable Twinkling Buttock is becoming part of the scenery.

This is something that he has initiated himself (I would very happily have left it until warm weather and nakey-bottom-runny-round-outside time) and performed so well with (particularly in the turd department: we have a near-100% strike-rate at home now. Outside the home… ummm. Trickier.) over the last 2 or 3 weeks

that I thought it was worth getting tooled up with proper wobbly-weeble-proofed toilet equipment


and having a go at putting him into Big Boy Pants.

 The artwork – the captions of which made me snort a little – endeared them to the wearer immensely: Harry is a quintessentially chap-like young chap and can reliably tell a styracosaurus from a stegosaurus, although he has been awfully diva-like in his firm stipulation of a regular rotation of dinosaur throughout the day, quite aside from the ones that copped the odd leak. They went off and on like (insert your favourite un-PC joke here) all day, as he is bewitched by the novelty of it all. I also have a pack of Shaun the Sheep pants – somewhere – which would go down an absolute storm if only I could find the perishing articles, but he was optimistically given them for his 1st birthday, and… yeah. They’ll be layers deep by now.

We had about a 70% success rate today, which we’re delighted with. He had 3 accidents, 6 or 7 wees in the toilet with its new-fangled and fascinating step arrangement, and one in the potty. As with most things, I suspect his problems with attention may make this process more difficult for him: the accidents came when he was thinking of, or busy about, other things – and I had forgotten to remind him he was in pants. I am heartily, painfully sick of the sound of my own voice today. I have enquired about his toilet needs, on average, every ten minutes. Because Harry doesn’t necessarily tune in right away, I have to repeat the question, interspersed with ‘Listening, Please!’ Grenfell-like expostulations,

several times before he either shakes his head, briefly and impatiently (‘Nrr!’), or grabs, Eureka!-like, at his tiny todger before toddling off at top speed, bow-legged and tottery, to the toilet. 

At 32 months he is, in the scheme of things, not a particularly early entrant into toilet training, so I’m hoping he’ll have the wherewithal to build on today’s sterling performance. However, I have heard so very many woeful tales of both urinary and faecal backtracking and blips from friends near and far, that I’m not really expecting consistency. Hoping, yes (coz my laundry pile now hums a bit and I shall have to bestir myself about that shortly). Expecting, no.


On a last, different note, I have been trying to expand my library and track down some of the books I remember reading as a child. I was going to do lots of tricksy googling about this particular one which has been bugging me for years, but it’s occurred to me to try the power of the interwebs first, especially the US contingent. When I was a slip of a girl, I read a book (or a series?) from my junior school library that is awful foggy now, but a couple of little things still tug at me. I have the strong impression that it was American child’s fiction, set in a rural location, possibly a farm. At least one of the children – I think, a girl – used to leave her bedroom via the tree that grew just outside the window. In a memory that seems associative with the same character but could easily be borrowed from elsewhere: there was a sentence or two to about the fact that the child wanted to cry about being unable to peel an apple in one long strand the way her uncle could, before telling herself not to be so bloody daft. Or words to that effect. 

Ring any bells, people? I know it’s horribly vague, but you must remember that I was less than 10 when I last set eyes on this book, so that’s 25 years plus. God, I’m old.


24 Responses

  1. Anne of Green Gables?

  2. Almost certain it’s not Anne of Green Gables, as Anne was an orphan and didn’t have any uncle, and the tree incident doesn’t sound familiar at all. She had “carrot” red hair and tried to dye it coal black with dye she bought from a peddler, but only succeeded in turning it green (which was not so fashionable in 1800s Prince Edward Island). Does this ring an bells? If not, it’s most certainly not Anne, but sadly, I cannot tell you what it is. It doesn’t ring any bells with me at all.

  3. oh man. i’ve read that, too. it’s not anne of GG — i just reread those. but i will try to figure out. sugar is also sure she’s read it.

    pollyanna climbs out of a tree that way (and falls).

    could it be the katy did books? sugar also suggests the girl of the limberlost, but i don’t think i read that.

  4. Could you please email me the info for your stair thingy for the potty? I suspect we might need something like this for my son Alex (CP/hypotonia/developmental delay) when he gets a little older. He’s 30 months now and not walking yet.

  5. But didn’t Anne call her adoptive parents “uncle” and “aunt”?

    I was going to say Pollyanna, but she didn’t have an uncle, and she wouldn’t have cried about not being able to peel an apple in one. She’d have thought it a jolly good thing and found some obscure reason to be glad about it. Perhaps because it provided a challenge. Wouldn’t life be miserable if we could do everything? There’d be nothing to work at? I’m so glad glad glad I can’t peel an apple all in one long strand!

    Angelina Ballerina climbs out of her bedroom window by a tree, but she’s a mouse, so probably not very flush with uncles who can peel apples. And not American.

    There’s a whole series of “American Girl” books. Could it be one of them?

  6. Anne called Matthew and Marilla Matthew and Marilla. (I’ve been on a big LM Montgomery kick since Christmas, so I’m very sure this isn’t Anne. Or Emily of New Moon, for that matter.)

    The American Girl books are definitely too recent to be what I’m remembering, though I can’t speak for others.

  7. Good job on the potty training! And the referral!

    I have no idea what your book is – it does sound familiar, though.

  8. It could be later! My son is 37 months old and we’re just about two days of potty training ahead of you.

    It is still sinking in that this might actually be working. A life without three-year-old shit in it–at least, not so up close and personal–is a beautiful thing. Let’s both cross our fingers! Also, I wonder if I can get those Shaun the Sheep underwear over here… .that would be a big hit. (I still don’t understand why there is no Bob the Builder underwear in his size. He is a man OBSESSED about Bob, and sings the theme song unnervingly well.)

    Let us both cross our fingers that this thing sticks … well, maybe that’s not the best word to use….

    I also thought of Anne of GG, so after that I got nothin’. There used to be a blog solely about identifying forgotten books; I might be able to scrape up the link and see if it’s still going…

  9. Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm.

    • I do dimly remember Rebecca of SF – I must obtain a copy, NOT that Harry is likely to read it even when old enough – but I’m pretty sure that’s a higher-falutin book all round. The book I’m thinking of was definitely written for a younger audience than Rebecca.

  10. I’m going to ditto Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm. My god the twee! She lived on a farm with her hardcore Aunt and nice Uncle. I think there was a tree. Can you be called Rebecca and not have a tree?

    You need to investigate Mrs. Piggle Wiggle. She’s the business.

    Also, what is that fabulous ladder/stair thing for toilets?

  11. Yay, Harry!!! Also, in the U.S., three isn’t so very old for boys to figure out the potty thing. Most pediatricians here sort of expect it around then, it seems to me. Also, the fact that he initiated it himself is promising, from what I hear. Mrs Piggle Wiggle, Amelia Bedelia, Hardy Boys Mysteries (for when he’s older), A Wrinkle in Time Series, yeah, I’m full of ’em. I was an unapologetic bookworm as a kid. I was all about some Nancy Drew, Anne of Green Gables, and Gone With the Wind, though. Too girly for the likes of Harry, I’d say! Yes, I was a very advanced child and read GWTW in 6th grade? I think. It’s still my favorite movie.

    • I should have known you were a Joyce Grenfell fan! My mother swears she ruined her ability to run a nursery school effectively – everything she said sounded so Grenfell-ian. We often quote her in my family…..especially “george….don’t do that”.

      Huge congrats on the potty training success – boys can be quite a challenge in that department (and by quite a challenge I mean bloody awful!)

  12. They strap the EEG on quite firmly:

    No idea on the book, it definitely isn’t Little House and probably not What Katy Did.

    • Def not Little House or Katy Did. It’s probably a fairly provincial US publication that might not necessarily have made its way over here: my primary school teacher travelled extensively in the States, and it would have been characteristic of her to have brought the book/s back and bunged it in the library if she thought it was any good.

    • The first picture would be fine, Harry likes hats. The second picture? NOT A HOPE!

  13. A momentous milestone for Harry, HURRAY!
    Pride in big boy underwear = EXTREME sweetness.


    Good news also on approaching EEG. Hoping for best..

  14. The husband would love those pants. What size do they go up to?

    I too have dim memories of trying to peel an apple in one having read about it somewhere but where escapes me.

  15. Cant help on the book but think it extremely unlikely that it will be a must read for H – too girly by half.

    So pleased New Woman is DOING things – yey. And yey to H on the potty training.

  16. Action is good and I am glad someone is taking you seriously.

    Actually, I wish I lived in the nation I was born in in order to give you endless cups of tea,


  17. Regarding your book, I had luck finding a favorite book I only remembered bits and pieces of by searching this website: http://loganberrybooks.com/stump.html
    I had to do some creative searching but I’d been thinking about this book for years and finally found it! Good luck!

  18. ‘NHS bureaucratic procedure as, say, some ridiculously overinflated Lovecraftian dribbling blob’ = Poetry.

    St George’s NHS Hospital rang me last week to reschedule my appointment with their gynaecologist. No one had actually made me an appointment with a gynaecologist, they’d made me a gynaecology appointment with a paediatrician. I’ll probably come out of all this with a cock, except it’ll be an ear. And it’ll be deaf.

  19. sorry the book doesn’t ring a bell… Could you please tell me the name or send me a link to the potty chair? I am about th embark on this adventure with my son.

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