Claiming stickers under false pretences

Having had four kids, I’ve worked out that one of best ways to get them to do what I want, is with sticker charts. I discovered this fact when Joni was around three years old. She didn’t want to use the toilet for a number two. A friend passed on the suggestion. She’d had it from her health visitor, having had the same problem with her son.

Joni subscribes to this blog, so I’ll say publicly at this point, sorry for discussing your number two’s in public. Or in this case, the lack of them. On the toilet anyhow.

Throughout the years sticker charts have encouraged my children in assorted areas of life: from doing homework, to household chores, to stopping bed-wetting.

Initially, after the set amount of stickers had been collected, a prize would be given. A ‘present’. The rewards have changed over the years, for instance, at some point they received ‘pocket money’. Of late, the older children have earned ‘special time’ with one parent. We felt this to be of particular value, being a larger family. We’d set off for the cinema or go swimming or maybe even for a bite to eat.

Recently, we decided to start with Akasha’s first sticker chart. To ‘encourage’ her to use the toilet. We decided to give a gift on completion of her chart, as it had originally worked wonders with the other children.

Our toilet training, to be honest, has been somewhat sporadic. Mainly due to my lack of time at home. I’ve found it difficult to stay constant between trips to the doctor, or the hospital, or the shops. Picking up kids and dropping them off with a toilet training youngster is never going to be easy. And at times of stress, I have a tendency to opt for the easy-way-out, in this case: the reliable pull-up.

The beauty of the pull-up is that in times of crises it serves as a nappy, but the child can also use them as pants and sit on the toilet whenever he or she wants to.

Sounds great. But in reality I do believe that it has the tendency to drag the whole process out. I know that if I’d had the opportunity to stay at home for a couple of weeks and put up with mess and yuckiness, we’d have been home and dry a long time ago. Although, I do admit that the older she has become the better her bladder control, thus a less painful experience for all involved.

Akasha now having reached the age of three; I’ve found myself pushing a little more on the use of the toilet. Inevitably leading to me selling the ‘present’ she would receive on completion of her chart.

A couple of months ago the sticker tin disappeared, so far, never to be found again. Such things constantly happen in our home. Leading to the common discussion of the bogey man, but that’s another story.

The effect was transparent. The loo rendered useless by Akasha, as no stickers were acquired. In panic, my pen drew two dotty eyes and a curvy line mouth on the chart to replace the lost stickers. Akasha smiled once again and the toilet training process continued.

I want to tell you at this point that I cannot draw at all. I am the most talentless artist on the planet. I claim that prize. I attempt a picture, and even I have trouble deciphering what it is. A horrible point comes when my children have reached around the age of five and have ascertained that they can actually draw better than their poor old mum. When they’ve said the likes of, “That’s not a cat mum, look this is how you draw a cat.”  Or even worse, “What’s that?” and I say, for example, “It’s a tractor!” and a disgusted face looks back and simply says, “No it’s not.” At that point I’ve always known the time has come, to put my pencil down. It’s had its day.

But I digress.

So, my husband returns home from work and sees my shameful efforts and continues with our progress along the sticker chart. The problem for me is that he can draw. He sketches little cheeky faces with tongues sticking out and googly eyes. And in the morning poor little Akasha is dumped back on me and my inabilities. The look says it all. She demands extras: hair and tongues, even teeth. I do my best, but now there’s some sort of monster looming out of the wall. I feel her wrath.

A couple of days later she enters the kitchen, sticker chart in hand and exclaims, “I’ve finished my sticker chart! I need a present!” I am confused. Yesterday, it was just half full? On close inspection I discover every little box has a carefully placed happy face by a three-year old hand. If they hadn’t been a little wobbly, I could have been convinced the designs were mine.

She is the first of all the children to manipulate a chart.

I try to tell her it is cheating. Luckily, I have bought some new stickers, and as well as saving my own embarrassment, I can cover-up  Akasha’s faces with earned stickers. Part of me so wants to give her a gift as I’m secretly proud. But I keep up my stern mummy act and later brag to my husband.

We genuinely reach the end of her chart and she achieves her much wished for present and then we start all over again.

A brand new chart is hung on the wall.

Suddenly, it’s half full of stickers, all neatly placed and all the right way round.

I’m shocked. The precision is amazing, but I know that she’s been at it again. In front of her I remove a few of the stickers, (softy that I am, I do actually leave a few extra ones). I tell her if she does it again, I’ll be forced to take down the chart and she’ll have to start again. I want my children to understand right from wrong. So I know in my heart this is an important lesson. But it stings. She seems to understand and is huffy for a few moments, but then is fine.

Later she comes and tells me she wants to be good. We hug.

On the toilet last week, she did a number two. I stood there armed with sticker, and placed it on her command. She remained on the toilet and did a second number two, and tried to convince me she earned herself a second sticker… 🙂

Then, yesterday, she took me to the bathroom while she did a little pee. She tells me it’s a, “Baby  one.” Stands up. Watches me place her sticker and then promptly sits back down and reveals that she’ll now proceed to the, “Mama pee”.

I swear, she stopped mid flow, like those exercises after childbirth, held it,  stood, pants at her ankles, and then controllably sat back down and peed the rest out. All in the hope of an extra sticker.

When that didn’t work she left the bathroom, returning a few minutes later to try to force out a pooh. Goal failed, she rejoined her playthings.

You’ll be pleased to know she has her prize now and a new chart. I’ll need to rush out straight-away and buy her another present…


Partied out

We’re all partied out.
The walls know what we’ve been through.

The neighbours have heard the noise.
The local store has had a run on Lego toys.

A child wakes in the morning
States her tummy aches
‘I ate too much yesterday, Mummy”
But soon heaps breakfast cereal onto her plate.

A Hawaiian Party
Trampoline to spring
Volcano Birthday cake
Pass the coconut around the ring.

And a little boy
Who bounced far too hard
Landed on his recently operated nose,
A guest of ours is marred.

Screams echoed through the garden
Everybody froze.
Only for a moment
On the party goes.

Children in the garden.
Kiddies in the lounge.
Girls hula hooping
Boys trying to burn us down.

Singing Happy Birthday to the sparkler on the cake
Parents of those 19 dears will soon be on their way.
On the horizon, children’s bedtime and a bottle of wine:
Hip Hip Hooray!

Looking at the debris:
Wrappers on the floor,
Kebab sticks harpooned in the once green lawn.
Olives uneaten,
Remnants of cake.
Once empty fruit punch bowl
Now a yellow-brown lake.

Children finally off to bed.
The tidying begun,
We look towards our bottle of wine
Perhaps this time we have won.

Take a seat upon the sofa
Cuddle for a moment or two.
Think of that relaxing stuff, just meant for me and you…
Eyes close for a second
Hold on I’ll be right there
But then I am just sleeping
And dribbling in your hair…

Volcano Birthday Cake

Today is the first day of the rest of my life…

I got up this morning and impulsively decided that instead of designing the lava filled volcano birthday cake, that I’ve promised to supply in two days time, or doing the washing, or the dishes, or cleaning the house for the hoards of children that will come to the birthday party on Sunday afternoon, I would go shopping.

For myself.

I had had this image in my head the past few weeks of a floaty, summer, gypsy style dress I’d seen many times in the window of a local store. Reaching out to me, taunting, “You want me, don’t you?”

Until now, I’ve managed to ignore the urge. Well, until today.

Today, I dressed in my long straight-ish green dress and thought, “Oh my God!”

It’s not my first time of thinking, “Oh my God”, on dressing myself in the morning, over, say, the last three years. But today it really hit home.

In my head I am still the size 8 I was as a teenager. As a size 10 in my 20’s, my fantasy could still be maintained. The difference being negligible. But now heading on my daily curse to my 40’s I’ve suddenly realised: the top half of me is a size 12 and the bottom a wobbly 14.

And when I say that in my head I remain a size 8, I mean that when I look at clothes, my purchases are made with that in mind.

Hence the straight-ish green dress.

It’s not that I buy the wrong size. Just that I want to wear skinny clothes, and, of course, it doesn’t really suit.

I have avoided the glaring-at-me-truth for as long as I can. Not looking in mirrors very often is a typical trick. But today, I caught sight of myself and had to flinch. The dress itself is ok. The problem is, it accentuates the problem areas, being on the verge of straight.

An undeniable issue for me is also one of proportion. Almost three and a half years of breast-feeding and four caesareans have naturally taken their toll.

Boobs that prefer the direction south to north.

And a stomach that looks like an implant of an enormous wobbly jelly.

Plus there’s all that chocolate, cheese, cake and wine…

So this morning a decision had to be made.

Face facts Sarah. This is who you are.

Sarah wobbly belly.

Sarah south-facing boobs.

Now what about a floaty dress? Off to C&A and there I found it. The one remaining and in my size. Fate.

In my acceptingness of myself, I became excited. There were lots of pretty floaty things. And I tried them all on.

Although the allowance is only five articles in the changing rooms – Why is that? If I had seen an assistant I would have asked, “Am I only allowed to purchase five articles as well?” But I didn’t. See one. So I took in as many items as I could carry. In true standing with my rebellious self. And I bought more than five things as well…

On my way home in the car, (once I’d retrieved it, I had been convinced I’d left it on the first floor, and not the second one, where I later discovered it), I found myself feeling happy that I’d accepted myself. For who I am.

I know for a fact that my love affair with Mr Chocolate, Mr Cheese, Mr Cake and Mrs Wine are all far from over.

I know in my heart that half of the clothes that remain hopeful in my wardrobe, of seeing the light of day, are never going to be worn again. At least not by me. Especially not those green trousers, the ones that I can’t fit my bottom in, let alone attempt to close. That is just an unreachable dream.

I decide on my return home, that I will dismiss all unfitting clothing from my wardrobe, and donate it to anyone willing to take it off my hands.

I feel somehow, lighter. Free. I’m going to be ruthless.

Even with the few things I’ve kept since I was 18. Well, I’m going to try.

Today is the first day of the rest of my life. Perhaps this is what they mean by life begins at forty.

But to be honest, I realise that I have more pressing issues than my wobbling stature. Yesterday, I again did not remember to pick my daughter up from Kindergarten. I was on my way to collect her, on my round-trip to the shops. But somehow I managed to forget her, only realising partway into town. I had to turn around and drive back. At least this time though I noticed ‘something missing’ by myself and my son didn’t need to inform me.


There are days when I can’t sleep.
And days when I really don’t want to stay awake.
Days when I feel lonely,
And some that I wish that everyone would just go away.
At times my heart weighs heavy
Like concrete in my chest –
But feels pain.

Today I am sad.
I am sad for all the missing people in my life.
Sad for the people who don’t understand,
Wary of those I must entertain.

The tears are there
But they do not come.
My bosom aches
And pounds
And weighs.
But I say nothing.

There are days when I am lost.
And nothing will find me.
Not even your call.


I would like to take this opportunity to say thanks for all the lovely comments I’ve received by email, phone and text. You have given me the drive to continue with my quest and confidence in my ability.

I’m glad that most of you were able to laugh with me, I have had much fun giggling myself.

With regards to the ‘I am the only one at home’, Aden was forced into the position of co-editor on that piece. By the end his poor head was done in, as I read it out loud to him over and over again. Making corrections. But I did notice that he perked up every time I read out “Run like hell!”, that he started laughing and becoming excited, even though he knew what’s coming, from the previous two thousand readthroughs. So I continued with my child labour and rewarded him with playing on the computer. Dear Aden, I thank you now publicly, for putting up with your old mum.

To answer a few points made so far:

  • To subscribe: there’s a sign me up box at the very bottom of the page, just click there
  • To rate: you have to click on the title of the story itself and then you can decide how many stars based on the quality of what you have just read
  • If you are not confident commenting in English, German is fine for me

Thanks again all of you, for your support. Loads more to come, I assure you ;-).

I am the only one at home…

I venture gingerly into the bath. I have made a resolve that today is the day. I will corrode away the paste that I am continually applying to my blisters. It must be done. I look at present, like I have a paper mache blob, evolving at the heart of my bosom. Poking at it is, for me, a nauseating thought. Hence, my reluctance.

I convince myself of relaxation. Top the bath up with bubbles. Look out of the window on this horrid rainy day. And imagine warmth.

In the water it’s not so bad. It doesn’t hurt. I try swishing water over, but only the last application ebbs away. Out with the flannel. Time to rub. Looks a bit red. Unfortunately, the paste appears to have developed its own love affair with my skin. Or perhaps with the blisters? Anyway, it will not budge.

There’s a door slamming. Aha, I left the bedroom window open and evidently the door too. That’s ok. I can reason it out. So everything is right in my world.

What if I chisel it? Is it possible to chisel with a soggy face cloth?

Far off I hear a strange noise. I can’t place it. I begin to feel slightly unnerved. I listen quietly for further sounds. And replay my inner tape recorder. What was that sound? I try to think of rational explanations. But I’m not really finding any. I listen and listen, but can hear nothing.

Stupid. What a nonsense. I’ll be loud. Then, if there is someone, an optimistic burglar perhaps, I’ll be notifying him of my presence. Scare him off. He’ll run away.

Of course, it’s a he. ‘The bad man’. I guess it comes from when I was a child. That stereotype. Men are bad. Ladies are good.

If you’re lost and scared, what do you do? …That’s right, go and look for a nice lady… She will help you… Unless you see a policeman… In the hierarchy of goodness, a policeman is the best. He’s A++… Yes, or a policewoman… A policeman or a policewoman is the best, yes… They will help you… But if you don’t see a police person, then look for a lady… If there aren’t any ladies?… No, no don’t go to a man. Men are evil. Shout very loud to get the attention of a good lady and if that doesn’t work: run like hell!

So, in my moment of trauma now, I am victim of a man. He’s downstairs. Snatching our computer. Ripping the screen off the wall. Wrenching at our projector. Silently. Well almost.

My defence? Splash around in the bath making a noise. He’ll realise his mistake. Drop everything and run as fast as he can out the door. His departure will be so rushed, he’ll leave the door swinging open in the wind. Perhaps there’ll be another slam.

I have heard no-one leave the house. I continue splashing but it could be that he’s still here. I pause and listen intently. There’s a booming noise and then I realise it’s my own heart beating, exasperated by the drama and heat of the water. For goodness sake. Am I so unused to being alone that I’ve forgotten just how to be by myself? My imagination is overwrought. I’m starting to remind myself of my 14-year-old daughter.

Silly me. Calm down. And you wonder why you have shingles now? No doubt all the worry you put yourself through. Would you just take a look at yourself. Pull yourself together.

Then quietly, in the background, I hear it.


A very tiny whistle. I’m straining my ears now.  No. Nothing more.

Oh my God. It’s a murderer. A whistling murderer. He’s enjoying himself. Preparing… For my imminent demise. I won’t stand a chance. He’ll strangle me. I imagine my body making its last protest kicks in the bath. He’ll slash me even after I’m dead and the family will return home to a bloodbath.

I think of protection. Of course, I would be naked, wouldn’t I? My exposure making me feel even more vulnerable. Should I dress? But that would entail sneaking into the bedroom. To be honest, being naked is a more inviting option than leaving the room right now. I need a plan. I look ahead at the taps shiny surface. It’s like a mirror. I can see the door and the handle. I have an early warning mechanism. Ok: weapons. On the windowsill, there’s mould remover. Aim for the eyes. The shower over the bath. Yes, I could turn it to maximum heat and scald him. The vermin. A wet floor, yes, he’ll slip and bang his head.

Wait a minute. What if it’s Rei? What if he missed the bus? Or just came home for some reason? I might blind him or boil him. Scar him for life. But wouldn’t he call out? Wouldn’t he expect me to be shocked?

A new plan. I arise from the bath. Wrap my naked body in a protective towel. Open the door and peer out tentatively onto the empty landing. Then I shout, “Rei…?” “Rei…?” Repeatedly. Maybe the burglar/whistler/murderer will be warned off. Another man in the house… He’ll make a sharp exit. If it is Rei, he’ll answer for sure. And I can tell him, I almost showered him to death.

No answer.

Maybe Reini’s lying dead on the sofa already.

Then I know my fantasy has gone too far. After all, Reini isn’t even here. I’m alone. That’s why I’m scared. Aden’s voice in my head says,”You dummy!”.

I turn. Ready to slope back into my bath. I am a fool. However, something catches my eye. Nail scissors. Aha. An idea. I route around in the drawer and then produce the hairdressing scissors. Thin and sharp. They’ll do.

Back to my bath. Splash. No noises. I sink down and rinse the shampoo finally out of my hair. Then shower it off with my dangerous shower tool. Look at the soaking floor. He would never manage to stay upright in here anyway. Far too slippery.

I finish my bath pretty pronto and head into the bedroom. Being careful to shut the door behind me. Scissors in hand.

I unwrap the towel from my head and I listen.


Quite loud now.


Winter was far too long this year. Evidently.

It’s been a while…

So, it’s been a while. No, I haven’t disappeared off the face of the Earth. Just been a bit busy. Which is probably, in actual fact, the best time to write. Something to actually tell you. But it didn’t work out. Was just too tied up. The truth is, life is always hectic here. There are four children. What else is to be expected? But the last few weeks have been extra special. Firstly, we had three visitors over from Scotland. My parents and the daughter of my very best friend. An adorable girl, who I’d have happily adopted. However, I had to permit her return to her own mother eventually. Although, I did manage to hold onto her for an extra week with the aid of the Volcanic Ash Crisis. A nod and a wink to you Eyjafjallajökull.

On top of that we had a good go at record-breaking. On the second week of, and essentially what should have been the final week of their stay, we went to the doctors a total of five times, plus twice to the hospital.

The second visit to the hospital really took its toll. We were there for over nine hours. Mainly in the waiting room. Our actual time being attended to amounted to around forty minutes. We were finally allowed to leave, and on our return journey home, I swore to my hubby that this time, this is it.

The following week I didn’t go to the doctor at all.

I am a rebel.

The hospital even called to see why I hadn’t made a follow-up appointment. I wanted to say I’d rather rip off my own head, but politely I informed them that all is well, and what on earth is the point when all is well? Honestly, are they touting for business now?

Mind you, they probably have our children on some kind of at risk register by now. I informed our GP on one of our more recent visits, that my son had been up during the night again. This time making himself something to eat. This worries me in case he starts to cook. He has made fried eggs unattended before. A shock to me. Being awoken in the morning by a smiling face, armed with cooked breakfast. Luckily we hadn’t all been crisped in our beds. When you have a son who hasn’t control over his impulses, it’s scary to know he’s up in the middle of the night ‘doing things’.

Before we went into the surgery, I informed Aden, that I had to talk to the doctor about his issues. I expressed that I had no intention of badmouthing him. On the contrary, I would only be honest and that no-one is annoyed with him. Just concerned for his and everyone else’s safety. He needs his medication again. He needs help. We need help. It’s the only way forward. I told him that the best thing to do is to stay quiet. No need to feel defensive. No one is attacking him.

I explained the worry of the situation to the doctor.  I cannot, of course, be expected to watch him 24 hours a day. Then Aden blurted out, that, the only reason he arose in the middle of the night was because he didn’t have any dinner. Gobsmacked I just sat there. Staring. Failing to tell the doctor that he’d had a three-course-lunch at the Sushi lounge. Of adult proportions. Comprising of chicken skewers with salad and hot rice (in a delicious sauce),  followed by sushi. And that he couldn’t eat much of the three types of ice cream dessert, with fresh fruit, biscuits and cream. That Kashi and I had been lumbered.

Then, that very day, after an afternoon out, he’d  demolished a whole pizza for his ‘dinner’.

Mouth open I sat there. Un-defending. I think a slight utterance of “Aden” may have gasped out of my mouth.

No doubt written in permanent marker somewhere next to my name lies the inscription: “This woman does not feed her child”.

The whole situation, of course, is not helped by the fact that he’s the skinniest boy in Germany and I nowadays look like I actually swallowed a child.

So, I managed to stay away from the docs until… today. Ten whole days. Definitely a  record. At least in our family. We’ve had no electrocutions. No rashes, strange or otherwise. No projectile vomit. No halved fingers.  No scratched cornea – through pencil sharpening or fingernails. No splinters under fingernails requiring  surgical removal. No drinking of undelicious liquids. No dares that caused issues to health and no unusual viruses. We have been free.

Until now.

This time I’m here. Yes, it’s me. I’ve been feeling a little unwell since last week. And not from the heady excitement of my possible leisure activities. I think I have been bitten. At least that’s what I thought. Then I thought I’d had a reaction to the bite, so I thinned my skin a little with some steroid cream. But it’s got worse. Lots of little blisters. All trying to swallow themselves up in one another to become one considerable beast. I would have gone to the chemist. But unfortunately, the positioning is rather delicate and I didn’t really intend to reveal myself in the middle of his shop.

The receptionist has dignified me with a female doctor. Few and far between in our practice. So I’ve accepted my appointment and I’m waiting for her.


She called in another male doctor. So he also got a good look.


Again. And in my battle to seek other gainful activities, I have not only lost, but I am also informed: I am too late for the tablets!

Continue reading It’s been a while…

Grey, grey, silver, grey….

My parents have returned to visit and a couple of days ago we took a train expedition together with all of the kids. Which reminded me of an embarrassing moment.

Around five years ago we took the same train journey. As it’s around a three-hour round trip, and as several kids were present, a huge picnic served as an asset. But once all the food was all eaten, we were forced to turn our attention to playing games. Inevitably leading to the well-used favourite, I Spy.

It started off well. I spy something black… That handbag… Yes… Good… Something brown? Mummy’s shoes? Yes. Good! Well done!

Then Joni had another turn.

Something grey? Nana’s trousers? No… The metal part on the chair? No… The bit on the window frame? No… Really, we have two colours here grey and silver, as in this game both are classed as the same. The buckle on the bag? No… The buckle on my belt? No… No, I don’t give up! Mmm…. I know, is it that screw over there? No… We search through and ask on. Could she be colour blind? Are you sure it’s grey? Yes… She’s looking pleased with herself. You’re never gonna get it!!! Mmm… Is it the tiny grey specks on the wall? NO!!! Ok, Ok, we all agree, you’ve beat us. We give up. What is it?

Loud and proud, with pointed finger: ” That woman’s grey moustache!!!”

Waiting time

I’m in the hospital waiting room writing this blog, which is where I seem to spend half of my life these days. In fact, I would argue that I spend more of my life in the company of doctors than I do with my own husband. No, actually, that’s not true. Because, in all honesty, most of my time is spent in waiting rooms. With complete strangers.

So here we are once again sitting and waiting. Waiting and sitting. It has been known for this situation to occur six times in one week. As a constant, I find myself waiting minimally once a week, either at the hospital or at the doctors.

It’s not that we’re a really sick family or something. We’ve had our problems, don’t get me wrong. And I certainly wouldn’t describe us as the fittest family in the world. Additionally, there are a lot of us. But at times I have to say, I feel ridiculous. And sometimes I’m just plain annoyed. But my general feeling is one of despair. I mean, it’s not how you want your life to be, is it? Just sitting there. Waiting. In a room full of strangers. No one communicating with one another. The odd courteous “Good morning” is of course uttered and the odd pleasant “Goodbye”. But essentially we all sit there in silence, thinking our own thoughts. Which in my case is generally, “Get me the bloody hell out of here!”.

Today, in an attempt to spend quality time with my family, I’ve brought my husband along. Well, actually, he also has an appointment. At the dentist. Every time I think of the dentist, (after my initial panic attack and then realisation I’m not the one with the appointment), I calmly remember Lori, and her brief encounter with a desire to be a dentist. It had always been a burning question in me (every time I had to go to the dentist, actually). What kind of person decides to be a dentist? For sure some kind of sadist! At this point, I should actually say that our dentist is really nice, especially when I don’t have to see her. Then my own little daughter comes to me and tells me of her new career choice. Wide eyed: I could finally ask the desired question. Why? She answered without a moment’s hesitation: “Well, I wouldn’t have to study as much as another type of doctor and I could pull peoples teeth out!” I’m a little intimidated by my daughter.

My husband, whose consultation was an hour after Aden’s, has subsequently been through his whole appointment. Including a forty minute round trip, as well as being drilled, and is now back with us for our ‘date’. We are of course still waiting. We have, seen two doctors actually, and are now waiting to see the professor. Should we be nervous? Flattered? Intrigued? I’m none of these. We met him last week and I thought he was an idiot.

At this point I should probably divulge that Aden had an infection, with a very high temperature, some weeks ago. Following that, he apparently started to bleed underneath the skin. One evening he came into the lounge and after no actual injury, had several strange bruises and swellings around his feet and lower legs. The follow-up then being a strange ‘rash’. However, due to the fact that these swellings and bleeds took a new form on a daily basis, he ended up in hospital for a week. They were testing him for a million different causes including TB and heart malfunctions. Since his stay in hospital, he’s attended outpatients at least once a week. He had visited the GP at times as frequently as every second day. Then, we met ‘the professor’ who exclaimed, “Eczema”…The junior doctor looked baffled. She was left, though, with no choice, due to his high standing, but to write-up eczema as a diagnosis. She informed me repeatedly, that on my return to the children’s ward, I should tell the pediatrician to call her. I did so. Our pediatrician phoned and expressed her annoyance at the diagnosis. I too was annoyed, as even I, with my minimal medical knowledge knew that that’s not eczema.

This time, however it’s different. The idiot is overruled.

We’ve been moved now. To a ‘waiting corridor’. Strange new experience for me. All the doctors squeeze between us and the stairs directly in front of us. At one point a doctor stops to talk to another patient causing a traffic jam. Continuing her conversation, a second doctor almost becomes a contortionist, forcing herself through, the tiny gap. I am curious. Why are we sitting here?

We’re taken by a nurse into a small cubicle. Aden has to put disposable slippers on. We wait for a little while and then the nurse returns and tells us we are not to talk. She says everyone can hear us. I have no idea why that’s a problem and feel a little agitated. We wait as quietly as possible.

We’re taken into a room. There’s a seat at the front and rows curved around in a semi-circle. Like an amphitheater. Aden is to take centre stage. Our doctor comes forward and I’m given a seat in the first row. There must be at least fifteen white-coated doctors in the room. I’m baffled. Our doctor describes Aden’s previous symptoms and diagnosis’ (omitting the eczema). We’re asked questions. All the doctors circle Aden, pressing a piece of glass randomly against his skin. He looks quite nervous. We’re removed as they discuss his case.

We have a short wait in the main waiting area. Then things start to happen. Apparently, the most inquisitive doctor was the ‘big cheese’. Her influence initiates photos to be taken, more blood tests and the junior doctor finally gaining permission to have a sample operated out of his foot. The request which had been denied last week due to the ill-conceived eczema diagnosis.

Busy, but pleased, the junior doctor contacts the children’s ward. Authority now given to her requests of steroids and further antibiotics. We’re shipped over to the ward on the other side of town.

We wait in a new waiting room. In the meantime my husband has relinquished his date and headed off to the other children, picking up and dropping off. He returns now and we see our pediatrician, who has news for us. Her professor has decided against the expertise of the panel, and, without seeing Aden has alloted a prescription of exactly nothing. No medicine. No more appointments. Just like that.

Gobsmacked. We leave the ward. Six hours after our initial entrance at the dermatology department. Above average time for us. But not a record.

I inform Reini: I am not taking the children to any hospitals anymore. Furthermore, I am going to learn to be a doctor online. He responds evenly, that that won’t be the case in the next few days, when something happens to one of the kids. That I’ll cart them off to the hospital. Quick as a flash. I reluctantly agree…

After all, as I recently informed my mother, (who constantly tells me that you worry about your kids even when they’re adults): A child is for life and not just for Christmas…

Dinner for Six

Is it just me or is the general attitude of staff one of dread when we enter a restaurant of reasonable standard, with our four kids at the end of our arms? Being a foodie, and an optimist, I embark with a spring in my step. Smiling. Fully intent on relishing the meal ahead.
The waitress greets us with a half-smile-half-scowl and leads us to our awkward table tucked away nicely in the corner.
I try to sit quietly. Open the menu inconspicuously. Kashi starts. Pointing randomly at the menu, “I want that one!”, she shrieks.
Sniggers from the table in the corner. “Beer. I don’t think so.” Mistake.
“Beer! I want beer!”, a new addition to her vocabulary.
Gentle “Shhh’s” follow and Aden approaches. Testing the ground for cola based drinks. As if we’d forgotten last time:

In our attempt at being kind, supportive parents, we not only took him to his mini marathon but also gave him cola as an encouragement to ‘keep going’ the full course. Problem being, he kept going. Even two hours after the race had ended. All around the shops. Right through the town. Weaving in and out. Up and down. Bouncing more enthusiastically than the Easter Bunny.
He’s brought down to a grape juice, after attempting to sneak a cola mix from the waitress. Telling her in menu code. But we spot his cheekiness. Do our research. Stop him in his tracks. Empowered.

We turn our attentions to Lori. She is still sitting with tears in her eyes. Distressed that shark soup is openly available on the menu. Unaware of our up-and-coming discussion about joining Greenpeace, we greet her brightly.
We have no problem with her becoming vegetarian at this very moment. We do laugh a little. She doesn’t like any vegetables. She’ll eat them anyway, even if she doesn’t like any of them. Remember this moment, I say to myself.
What’s that? “Why don’t we pray for chickens?”

The restaurant busies. There are even some childless people at tables near to us now.

“You’re welcome to pray for chickens…”

“Not all sharks are on the verge of extinction. Tuna…?”

“Greenpeace? Oh… ask your father…”

“I need to go to the toilet.” It’s the third time and the waitress has only just brought the drinks. It requires meandering through the whole restaurant. Three year old and attendee. And the craze catches on. One after the other taking little trips. Then returning. And topping themselves up with little sips.

“So you’re sure you want the beef noodle dish? You wouldn’t like the kid’s meal? It’s really quite a lot of food. Maybe the beef is too chewy for you. What about the chicken? Would you like to try a mix of different little starters? You could share them with your sister. No, I shouldn’t choose, you’re the one who has to eat it. You want the beef? Even though it’s chewy? It’s really a lot, you’re sure you can eat it all? You’re really hungry? Ok.”

“You want vegetable soup? But it contains vegetables. You’ll eat it even if you don’t like it? Ok.”


“No, no beer. “

“Sit properly on the chair.”

“You can’t possibly need to go on the toilet again!”

” No, not all sharks are on the verge of extinction. No, I don’t know which ones are not. No, I’d have to look that up.”

“Can you please sit properly? Get your shoes off the chair.”

” Just take your shoes off. That way you won’t damage the chair.”

“Did she actually manage to pee again?”

“You could have put her shoes back on. No wonder she has cold feet. Taking her to the toilet like that.”

“Can’t you just use your pull-up?”

Shortly before the arrival of her food, Lori contemplates her new-found vegetarianism. She will try to “keep it up” for as long as possible, but doesn’t know how long that will be really, as she loves the taste of meat.


Aden’s beef noodles arrive. Of course he doesn’t like them. Too chewy. He tries to ingratiate himself with Joni. Eye on her chicken. She’s possessive over her meal. But only at first. By the end she’s keen on his assistance.
Lori finishes her soup, with no single complaint. Even the wobbly mushroom.
I have a chicken dish. Delicious. Beautifully presented in a basket made from dough. The dough is the only thing Kashi really likes. Though she’s sampled her way through. Mostly with an “Urr” or a “Yuck”, followed by removal of the despised article and disposal in some unlucky corner. I try to be on the ball and clear up as she goes along. More dough is requested and as it’s dry, I carefully place a few strands on her skirt. Her plate is full of undesirables. And to be honest, I’m just pleased that she’s eating something.

She chooses to enlighten me,”Mama, my skirt is all dirty now and it’s all your own fault.”

But Lori has the last word. Tired and cuddly, she snuggles up to me like a cat. I go in for head to head contact, lapping up my daughters affections and stroking her soft hair. “Mum, let’s just hope that neither of us has head lice.”

Quest for humour in my existence

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