A Bargain Assortment of Bads and Goods

I’m sat here deciding whether to compare myself to a busy bee, an army ant or a blue-arsed fly. Whatever. You get the picture: me, insect, scary hybrid, yes?

My exoskeleton bum has not touched the ground much. I have actually got going properly with my cards since returning from that thing I loosely termed a holiday, and have finally turned over my first thousand quid. This is money I can keep all to myself!  must share with the Inland Revenue  must give to John, who pays my credit card  must use to pay Harry’s nursery fees will never actually see, but it’s highly satisfying to have my own funds in my wallet, nevertheless. John keeps asking hopefully when he can retire.

Tomorrow afternoon we are off to hear how desperate – or not – my FSH levels and all my other assorted bloodwork gubbins are. I am taking my ultrasound report: the bad one. I think it’ll either be cameras or knives next. Bring ’em on.

Harry has passed his exams, bought a car, left home and got married since I last posted. Or… something very much approximating to it, anyway.

I have explained here before that Harry, in addition to a walloping great speech delay, has a further communication block with the concept of ‘Yes’ or ‘No’. He can’t say the words, does not understand what nodding means, and has only recently begun to shake his head occasionally, when he wants to emphatically and imperiously reject something actually being physically held out towards him.

Over the last couple of weeks John and I both felt that his understanding had moved up a gear; that, in subtle and indefinable ways, he was much more au courant with our conversations and activities. On a hunch, I crouched in front of him last Sunday evening, gained his eye contact and spoke up clearly:

‘Harry! Yes or No? Would you like an ice cream?’

‘DJESS!’

Cue much, much jollity. I wasn’t sure he’d do it again, but he has, he has, he totally bloody well has, every day since, although not quite yet every time. Sometimes the word isn’t recognisably a ‘yes’ – it can default to ‘dat!’ or ‘giss!’ but that’s not so important in the scheme of things. Even more encouragingly, a day or so afterwards he began to shake his head in response to spoken concept choices. Predictably, the first instance of his demonstrating this was our asking him if he would like to go to bed; there was an icy, considering stare, followed by a determined shake. He promptly slithered off the sofa and beetled off at high speed to hide in the kitchen. John and I laughed like a pair of blocked drains, and he did, in fact, buy himself another 20 minutes of play time with that shake.

This is, obviously, several different and fetching shades of Complete Awesomeness.

He is still dribbling buckets and has his fingers permanently jammed in his mouth. I was convinced the dribble must be low muscle tone until I peered inside his mouth during naptime earlier today and found that 2 of his secondary molars were erupted – and obviously have been for quite a while – and the two remaining baby teeth are bulging at bright red and white gums. That’d be a Maternal Observation for Dummies: Module One FAIL, then. 

I also spotted that this peculiarly yellow, calciferous-looking tooth

Harry tooth

harry tooth 2

has not improved any since the last time I had a squint at it. The rest are all pearly white and smooth, but this one popped out of the gum bright yellow and obviously has something strange going on. I know enamel irregularities are rather more common amongst premature children, but I don’t like the look of it  – or the sides of his rear tongue – much. I don’t expect it’s significant, but I’ll show it his Paed in any event.

What else? Ah, yes, physio. I wrote a stinking email to the head of Paediatric Physiotherapy, challenging their refusal to treat Harry if I supplemented his treatment with private care; I mentioned in passing his other professional care input. She rang me back to apologise for the ‘miscommunication’ and freely admitted she had not prioritised Harry: his Paediatrician’s referral had made no mention of the fact he also recieved Speech Therapy and Portage from the multi-disciplinary team, merely that his parents had concerns regarding his mobility. I knew this to be perfectly true – I have a copy of the referral – but I rather thought the fact that they do all work for the Integrated Disability Service was significant. She explained that the involvement of other professionals generally rang warning bells for them, and that Harry would now be seen within a fortnight. Result. Of course, if I had listened to John and asked Harry’s Portage key worker to hurry the physio referral along on our behalf, he’d have been seen a month or more ago. My bad.

In an entirely different Not Listening to Hubby (My Bad) episode: my friend had a old summerhouse she wanted rid of, which was the precise size and dimensions that I have been hankering after and scouring Ebay unsuccessfully for. We agreed on giving her £20 for it, and I booked Hubby + trailer + strong right arm to come and dismantle it from her garden last Wednesday.

John was dubious about the whole idea, and said so. He was excessively mentally scarred during a dilapidated greenhouse dismantle-and-reassemble project that his Mother talked him into, a decade or so back. John’s unprecedentedly savage response to the absolute piglet job she had landed him with (some of his muttering was, apparently and unusually, actually audible and decipherable) has remained the talk of the family ever since, and he has entered a firm nolle prosequi to assorted proposals of garden buildings removal ever since. I have, however, been banging on relentlessly about wanting a summerhouse for a couple of years, and we haven’t been able to afford so much as a dog kennel, so he cautiously agreed.

Readers, he was nasty to me when he saw it. Admittedly, it was rather more rotten than I realised and the roof was larger than the estimations I had given him by a factor of roughly 350%. He attacked it brutally with a crowbar, ignoring my yammering protests when aesthetic or vital bits splintered and ricocheted off in all directions. I kept a low profile for the rest of the day. I have no idea where it currently is: John drove down to the farm with an expression that indicated the only place he was considering parking the trailer was by the burning heap. I haven’t asked after its fate.

The day after that, John and I managed to miscommunicate badly, with the net result that he thought I was aware he had left Harry downstairs watching TV, and I was in the shower thinking Harry had gone with John to the farm. After 30 minutes of blissful leg-shaving-hair-drying-toenail-painting-me-time, during which I had been strangely puzzled by the odd thumps and bangs from (I presumed) our tortoise, given that we were supposedly alone together, I arrived downstairs to encounter – horrified – a totally naked small boy, a puddle of wee (these first two items are common encounters) a torn £50 note, a wallet emptied, plastic and coinage contents scattered to the winds, and a number of ‘don’t touch that, please, Harry!’ items where they shouldn’t have been. Our bad.

I have made jam.

The great jam massacre

Lots and lots and lots of jam, nearly all of it either under-or-over boiled. Damn you, £6 Lakeland jam-thermometer. Bloody thing. It tastes fine – I didn’t burn any of it this year, at least – but most of it needs bringing out of the jar with either a chisel or a spoon. I have 2kg of preserving sugar left, and probably ought to go and relieve the groaning trees of their plums – fnarr, fnarr – but I’m not sure I can face the inevitable jam carnage again.

I was going to do a post about dozens of things this week, and had time for none of them, but I want to write a little about about our local ploughing match, despite the fact that I was flustered (due to downstairs-alone-toddler) and took no camera – without which I can’t do the event justice. A shame, as it was held this year in fields perched high above the River Arrow valley with simply glorious views. There are proper, old-fashioned Bilbo-Baggins eleventy-first-party white marquees, built with huge centre poles and hemp-type guy ropes; men with ancient tractors roaring away industriously at their rich, dark, straw-scattered furrows 10 feet outside the marquees; the hedgelaying competitors turning a straggling, leggy length of centuries-old hedge into – well, I never quite understand how they judge hedgelaying sections, but it certainly looks neater when they’ve finished; the Shire horse pairs with their gleaming flanks, braided manes and tails, fluttering head plumes and polished show harness; the 100-year-old traction engine and threshing drum making an almighty racket as wiry old men feed armfuls of wheat into its maw, and honest-to-God agricultural types who turn up in tractors and battered 4x4s wearing a green-to-dun spectrum assortment of boiler suits, cotton checked shirts, boots, wellies, flat caps, waxed hats and Barbours, complete with a thick scattering of farmers’ wives, who bring splashes of pastels and bright pinks to the golden straw-stubbled field. There was a light breeze, scattered clouds, bright sun, a fresh smell of straw, liberally mixed with horse shit and tractor oil – and I was unusually and fabulously happy. I do love this event, even when it’s pissing down with rain. As I was, for the first time, working as opposed to visiting, I was inside a marquee selling cards with tractors on for most of the day, but I was by the door and could see over the main field and valley beyond. My Mum bought Harry along in the afternoon and he went potty with excitement over… just about everything. A good day. A really, really good day.

Speaking of which, Harry had a good time at nursery last week. I stayed with him for the Tuesday session, but he flew the nest alone on Thursday with barely a wobble when he saw I wasn’t staying. I bawled all the way home; he had a marvellous time. They are still getting used to his wobbles, and he came home with an – unmentioned – small red welt under his eye which later turned into a shiner, but that is unfortunately almost a bi-weekly event for Harry in any case. I’m not surprised they didn’t mention it, they won’t have noticed him do it. On Tuesday, I was asked by one of the junior staff if Harry’s tolerance to pain was ‘like, insanely high’?

Sigh. Oh, he feels it, all right, luv. He’s just used to it.

He’s off again tomorrow morning, and I have the unaccustomed luxury of deciding what particular household or business activity I want to apply myself to. Last Thursday I had an order for a birthday cake to keep me (very) busily employed (fun to do if you can spare the time, but hugely unprofitable unless you charge a small fortune – and absolute murder on your back) (the first person to tell me that the Union Jack is missing some bits gets a poke in the bloggy eye. It was late, I was tired, I was aching, and John is still blinking);

Suitcase cake 1

Suitcase cake 2

but tomorrow I am free to choose what I do in my toddler-free slot. 

Reading with your feet up is a household activity, surely?

Itchy and Scratchy

*updated in 2014 (as I still get an email every few months to ask me about this) to add: the creases are gone. Grew out. Evidently just one of Those Things.

I have noticed a convention in the blogosphere whenever Bad and Shameful Parenting Mistakes are owned up to: the comments generally take the delightful form of bracing one-down-manship. There is always a baby who was dropped further – and bounced higher. The Bad Mother trophy is generally hotly contested by an assortment of piteously hair-shirted current care-givers who are flagellating themselves over recent feeble crimes of minor omission, or by wise and wise-cracking seniors who are gleefully recounting their youthful bouts of maternal butterfingers.

I love these posts. Everyone else’s failure to achieve parental omnipotence is wryly amusing and clearly, in terms of impinging on their child’s well-being, zero to low impact. Hard floors excepted.

But this is me we’re talking about now, so you can all get your damn dirty paws off that silverware. I win it for spectacular non-observance.

Harry’s health visitor (community paediatric nurse) noticed the first time she saw him that he had ‘uneven knee creases’. I mentioned it to his paediatrician – who uttered his standard pish! response – and then I obviously mentally filed the fact under ‘No Further Action’. And shut my eyes.

I, inexplicably (while continuously bleating about how my son cannot balance properly),  seemed to somehow stop noticing that Harry’s legs are completely different in shape.

Tuesday, he was stood in the window while I was snapping photos. I reviewed the photos. I saw this:

leg toddler

And blinked. And promptly rang the GP. John, when he got home, staunchly asserted that the dent was Harry’s extra knee crease growing up his leg and that it’d always been there, but I firmly pooh-poohed him and hauled Harry into the Dr’s office – the same Doctor, incidentally, that struggled to find cervix number 2, and eventually gave up in despair.

So. He never checked his hips – in fact, he never touched him at all – but pronounced his knee ‘puffy’. He then began to refer Harry to the hospital Paediatricians, until I told him we were due to see one in a month or so. He recommended I chase up the appointment quicker, and as we left the room I saw he was googling ‘hip dysplasia’.

No… umm… harm in that, precisely. It’s what I’d been googling before walking in there. I’m now thinking of the fun he must have had trying to google – and spell – uterus didelphys after my previous visit.

And I worry about my eyesight. I have just scrutinised nearly two years’ worth of photos, and John was absolutely right. Harry’s right leg has blatantly always had that crease, albeit it started lower down. How the buggery fuck have I not noticed it?

And that’s not all, folks! This evening, as I was trying to take a photo to better illustrate the crease, I also noticed that the creases on his left buttock are asymmetrical. I know perfectly well why I’ve not noticed his buttock creases before – they’re concealed by his nappy. Despite his new-found mania for divesting himself of the hated articles at every inconvenient social opportunity, he has very little planned nappy-free time for a reason

wee accident

and that stream of pale pixels is not a trick of the light. Our carpets are officially moribund, but they don’t need actually helping into their grave, thanks, son! What’s worse, whenever this happens I feel vaguely obliged to take the opportunity to have a stab at the beginnings of potty-awareness-with-a-view-to-training-one-day-when-he-can-actually-communicate – and happily chirp out that ‘HARRY going WEE-WEES! WEE-WEES from your WILLY, look Harry! Mummy and Daddy wee-wee in TOILET‘ and then I hear what I’m saying and nearly invert myself cringing.

Apart from being extremely cross with myself for not spotting his odd folds and creases earlier and highlighting them, I really haven’t got a clue what to think about any of this. I don’t actually think his balance problems stem from dodgy hips, as his Paediatrician does check his hips every time we see him. But those are some funny looking asymmetries, and he is constantly falling on his ass. And why, HELLO there, Dr Google! (As in: the Dr we all consult, as opposed to the Dr I have, who consults him too!)

We see his Paed on Wednesday. Bring it on.

Incidentally, whilst looking through early photos I spotted some humdingers. I would, at the time, have hurled myself unhesitatingly at the throat of anyone who so much as murmured a suggestion that my child’s expressions were not the absolute epitome of beatific and sunny baby beauty – but looking back, I see that perhaps the maternal eye was a little… fogged.

The look

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