Saturday 26 March 2011

This Much I Know

I am cross with The Observer magazine because I sent them the link to my blog "My (not very interesting) Week In Pictures" and they have totally blanked me. Okay, so that was probably always the outcome but I thought for a minute that they might actually contact me with a request to publish it. So as payback I am going to nick another idea of theirs - the feature entitled "This Much I Know".

"This Much I Know" is an article where fascinating people share their thoughts and experiences with the reader. For example, this week Tom Conti (Actor, 69) shared delights such as "My temper manifests itself when I can't find something". What he failed to mention is that he actually met me once when he came to teach a class at my drama group. It was super amusing because he chose me and the boyfriend I had literally just dumped to act out a love scene. It was riveting stuff - for the audience anyway. Here goes:


Claire Smith (Stay at home sucker, 41)

  • I have always known that I wanted three children. What I didn't know was that it would bring out emotions and behaviours in me that I didn't even know existed. I have never felt such anger, frustration, irritation, anxiety and, erm, love before I became a mother.

  • Not working is a disappointment. It's not all leisuretime and lunches. Staying at home is the stuff that mental disorders are made of. Child benefit is clearly not enough to finance my shopping needs.

  • The Husband is Keyser Soze. He is ruthless, manipulative and influential to the point that after he has given you 'The Talk', you are left feeling that you have been utterly Keyser Sozed. His harshness is legendary. He has no pity for your tears. And after you have had The Talk, this side of his personality goes so underground that you can't believe it was The Husband who was speaking to you. The greatest trick The Husband ever pulled was convincing the world that The Talk didn't exist.

  • I cannot take drink anymore. I am inebriated after two Gin & Tonics. But there is nothing better to sober me up than a child who is pissing about in bed and won't go to sleep.

  • Before I got The Dog I struggled to walk anywhere. I yearned for drive through everythings. The Dog has forced me to go walking everyday and, boy, it's good.

  • I don't believe in much. But I believe that the X Factor is a fix, that The Toddler may be a serial killer in the making, that The Tomboy came from a chicken egg and that I need to stop eating crap.

  • I know that most parenting gurus talk a load of rubbish. I've read them all yet I am yet to find one that tells me how to keep the kids educationally occupied while I text and Facebook.

  • I think arts & crafts were invented by Mr Dyson. What other reason do you have to hoover?

  • There is such a thing as the MEN-strual cycle. Don't tell me that I am moody and hormonal every 28 days or so. I have been plotting The Husband's cycle and have discovered that he has his own little man period going on every month.

  • My children are growing up (I think) to be strong individuals. But I could do with less attitude every day.

  • If you think your day is going well, just don't take the kids out for dinner. Nothing else will make your day go more horribly wrong.

Claire Smith stars in her own life until the 8th of Forever, see website for details.

Friday 25 March 2011

Room 101

As soon as I realised that this is blog number 101, it made me think about Room 101 from the novel 'Nineteen Eighty-Four' by George Orwell. If you haven't read it, then basically Room 101 is a torture chamber in the fictitious Ministry Of Love (Newspeak: Miniluv), in which prisoners are subjected to their own worst nightmare, such as spiders or heights or Katie Price.
Room 101 has become a popular name for a place where unpleasant things are done. On Big Brother it was the room where housemates were sent to do nasty tasks, like sorting maggots. The TV show 'Room 101' sees celebrities list their pet peeves which are then sent to the condemned room.
Okay, so in the real life Ministry Of Mum (Newspeak: Minimum), Room 101 is a place where I am put daily to atone for bad parenting and thoughtcrimes against my offspring. It is my land of nightmares - where every fear and phobia I have ever had is presented to me. I am put here to be punished for mistakes I make because I am too lazy or too busy thinking about where my next coffee is coming from. My Room 101 is every tantrum, stress, negotiation and cleanup I have to endure whilst being a mother of three. My children are the modern day equivalent of '1984's' Thought Police, they know everything I think, dream, fear and use it against me. Here are a few examples:

1) I often leave The Toddler to play outside in the garden while I sit in the kitchen on Facebook. However I forgot that a ladder is leaning against the shed. Fast forward to Room 101 and me discovering that not only has The Toddler climbed the ladder, but he is sat precariously on top of the shed roof eating leaves.
2) My order from the Next catalogue comes to about 300quid but I figure that it's on account so it's free, right? I am plunged into Room 101 when my bill arrives and all I have is 15quid left from my child benefit.
3) The Tweenager decides that it's warm enough to wear shorts for school. The Tomboy, of course, wants everything that Big Brother has. So I am back again in Room 101 when The Tomboy realises that I have no shorts for her, only a summer dress from two years ago, and she throws the mother of all tantrums 30 seconds before we have to leave for school.
4) Room 101 is full of pooey nappies and dog poo in the garden.
5) The pond is lush and lovely, bursting with frog spawn. Room 101 presents itself again by leaving a dead frog at my back door.
6) I have had a rubbish day - the children have been demanding, The Dog has been hyperactive, the washing machine is broken - all I want to do is watch crap telly and go to bed. Out of Room 101 appears The Husband, full of frisky ideas and in search of the special love.

Yes indeed, the thing that is Room 101 is the very worst thing in the world. And no amount of retail therapy or Starbucks can save me from it. George Orwell is the most truthful parenting guru I have ever read.

Monday 21 March 2011

The Supermoon And The Smiths

It might look like an innocent mega-moon but it's an evil genius in disguise

On March 19th, a full moon of rare size and beauty rose in the sky, the biggest in almost 20 years. This moon, bless it, has been getting the blame for certain occurrences around the world such as the Japanese earthquake and, erm, five ships getting stranded near the Isle Of Wight. It has amused me because journalists have had to use the terms 'perigee' and 'apogee' in sentences, when anybody with an interest in horoscopes knows these are totally made up words.

The supermoon got my children very excited when I explained to them what they were going to see. We all waited with great anticipation for it to go dark. However, as usual, the kids reactions weren't what I had expected. They were utterly disappointed that:

a) They couldn't jump over it (like cows, apparently).
b) It didn't make their hair stand on end with its super strong gravity.
c) They could look at it with their naked eye and not go blind. Plus 3d glasses were of no use.

I have been defending the supermoon. I have heard people blame it, hope their lives change because of it and suggest that it marks the End Of The World. I've been thinking that it's all a load of rubbish. The supermoon should be taken for exactly what it is - lovely but forgettable - pretty much like a one night stand. Neither the supermoon or the human race should have any expectation or intention that the relationship will be extended beyond the sole encounter.

However, since this morning my opinion has changed. My one night stand with the supermoon is in question and I am in celestial turbulence. What I thought was a casual engagement may actually be the start of something more serious. I've realised that the supermoon has coincided with a series of events, prompting me to acknowledge that rather than simply controlling the tides, the moon is, in fact, responsible for happenings in my household. To illustrate:

A) The Toddler has learnt how to open the freezer. Which normally wouldn't bother me except he has become obsessed with the frozen peas. On Sunday, he managed to rip the packet open and spill peas all over the floor. This is the result:

The moon is not made of cheese, it's made of PEAS

B) The moon controls my bank balance. Its gravitational pull has sucked all the money out of my account. I have managed to spend over a hundred quid since Saturday and I've not even been anywhere. Although I did overspend a bit on
C) The Dog, who has not chewed anything for a while except sticks, decided to have a go with my bag. It's GUCCI for Christ's sake, and I bought it in Monte Carlo. It makes me feel like I too can have star potential.

The rip, with its 'tail' looks slightly like a shooting star if you squint a bit

D) The moon takes just over 27 days to complete its orbit around earth. And it's normally every 27 days that The Husband questions what I do all day. But since the supermoon, The Husband has had not one, but two Talks with me about what the heck am I doing on a daily basis. The Husband has clearly been showing his dark side. His behaviour causes my mood to wax and wane.
E) The moon is the only celestial body on which humans have landed. There are many conspiracy theories surrounding the lunar landing and there are many theories as to whether The Tomboy is really a girl or a boy. The Tomboy being female could be a very good hoax. (Okay, so I'm reaching for the stars a bit with that one...).
Well this might seem like far-fetched astrology to you, but to me it's pure science. It goes against everything I believed in before, yet my findings are based on fact not fiction.
And, if you're still not convinced, remember I am much more likely to tell you the truth than NASA.
(Fab moon photo taken by David Turner)

Sunday 13 March 2011

Chinese Water Torture And Reading Aloud

Chinese Water Torture is the popular name for a specific type of torture in which water is slowly dripped onto a person's forehead, driving the restrained victim insane. I imagine it was very effective although the Chinese have clearly never read aloud to my children.
You may not believe this because of the stuff I waffle on about, but I have a degree in English Literature. I am obsessed with books. So one of my top parenting objectives has always been to introduce my children to the wonderful world of literature and where better to start than the land of children's books. And because they are getting older, we have progressed onto reading chapter books at bedtime whilst The Toddler has his milk.
I am loving it because there is no more reading the same picture book with five words again and again until I fall asleep and the children are still bouncing off the walls. Plus I am really good at doing all the voices - especially American and the Villain.
At the moment we are reading 'Charlie And The Chocolate Factory' which is fantastic because I am a massive Roald Dahl fan. However I am starting to wonder if this is the right thing to do - just because I am loving Mr Dahl it doesn't mean that my children are going to. After starting Chapter 15 tonight, I want to share with you my experience of bedtime reading aloud to my children. It goes something like this:

Chapter 15 - The Chocolate Room.
"An Important Room, This!" cried Mr Wonka, taking a bunch of keys from his pocket and slipping one in the keyhole of the door.

"This is the nerve center of the whole factory, the heart of the whole business! And so beautiful! I insist upon my rooms being beautiful! I can't abide ugliness in factories! In we go then! But do be careful, my dear children! Don't lose your heads! Don't get overexcited! Keep very calm!"
Mr Wonka opened the door. Five children and nine grownups pushed their ways in - and oh, what an amazing sight it was that now met their eyes!
They were looking down upon a lovely valley. There were green meadows on either side of the valley, and along the bottom of it there flowed a great brown river.
What is more, there was a tremendous waterfall halfway along the river - a steep cliff over which the water curled and rolled in a solid sheet, and then went crashing down into a boiling churning whirlpool of froth and spray.
At this point I have to restrain my own arms from stabbing myself in the eye repeatedly with a bookmark. I am willing to tell all my secrets to my tormentors. Chinese Water Torture seems like a much more relaxing way to pass the time.

Friday 11 March 2011

My (not very interesting) Week In Pictures

There is an article in The Observer Magazine entitled "My Week In Pictures" which is basically a photo journal with commentary shared by interesting/famous people like Edith Bowman, radio DJ and James Blunt, singer songwriter. It has caught my attention because I think it exists solely to make my life feel smaller and less interesting than it already is. So this is what I am going to do. I have been taking pics throughout the past week and I am going to emulate "My Week In Pictures" as follows, just to show that I too can be cultured, influential and worldly.

Claire Smith, Stay At Home Mum & Blogger

The Tweenager decided to watch a movie, this was his way of looking through and seeing what we have on DVD.

My latest crush. Seriously. Yes it's Rich from Imagination Movers.
I aspire to shag blokes from kids TV programmes. This is how high I set my sights these days.

I lost my tweezers and there is only one place to go when things go missing - The Tomboy's room. This is what else I found under her pillow, in her duvet and stuffed in socks.

I thought it might be fun for the kids to give me a list of what's good about mummy and what's bad about mummy. This is all they could come up with.

The Toddler's favourite pastime this week has been climbing up on the worktops and sitting on the breadbin. Beats taking him to a Toddler Group.

This week I have been mostly eating a combination of these fine foods. They make up my five a day.

I found this book in an old suitcase. It was given to me on my graduation. Funny though, Dr Seuss seems to have omitted the page which says "You will stay home and do nothing all day, you'll look after a Toddler and wish you could run away. Your brain will be dead, your conversation a bore, some days you will want to punch through a door".

I'm considering submitting it to The Observer. There must be somebody there who can relate to me. Then again, maybe not.

Wednesday 9 March 2011

The United Nations, Obama And Me

There is a situation in Libya at the moment which I don't really know much about. I'm more into watching the news on MTV.
However since I wrote my last blog about The Husband's intentions during The Telling Off being classified information, I have been giving Libya some thought. After consideration, I'd like to draw an analogy with the Libyan situation, the United Nations and me.
At the moment, the Americans and the British want to impose sanctions against Gaddafi but the general feeling is that it should come from the United Nations and not from Obama. The analogy is that The Husband is Obama, I am Gaddafi and my friends are the United Nations. It works this way - when The Husband is in Telling Off Mode and wants to impose sanctions on me, he attempts to rally my friends into backing him up so they are a united community against me. He wants them to put pressure on me so that I will bow to him and stop my atrocities.
Of course what happens is that he can't really impose sanctions until he has got all members of my United Nations on his side. But there are Claire Smith supporters, in the same way there are Gaddafi supporters, and there is not a no fly zone on me.
For example, my friend who I will refer to as the equivalent of Kofi Annan, is a sometime supporter of The Husband however she has a situation going on in her own small country regarding dog poo in the garden. Where she agrees with me in some respects, she cannot condone my other atrocious behaviours. (Although I've seen her spend much of the United Nations money in Next). My friend has pointed out that Gaddafi, when interviewed and challenged, denies everything. Which is exactly what I do when confronted by The Husband. Like Gaddafi, I live in a delusional world where I have no protesters or uprising.
I'm hoping, as I'm sure that Gaddafi is, that enough support won't be generated and I can carry on running my regime.

Note: Assistant Political Correspondent on this article was Mrs C Morgan.

Tuesday 8 March 2011

Ministry Of Mum at DEFCON One

There is something which exists alongside The Talk and it is called The Telling Off. It doesn't happen as often as The Talk but it is a much more powerful force.
The United States Armed Forces use a warning system called DEFCON for states of alert. It is controlled by The President, but in our house it is controlled by The Husband. DEFCON 5 is the least severe and DEFCON 1 is the most severe. I'll explain:

DEFCON 5: Dog poo has been found in the garden.
DEFCON 4: The Toddler has been allowed to eat his dinner while riding his bike.
DEFCON 3: The Tweenager has spent eight hours on the computer.
DEFCON 2: "Get a job? How is that even possible?".
DEFCON 1: I have managed to spend £500 in two weeks on absolutely nothing.

It usually takes about fifteen minutes to get from 5 to 1 by which time I have no idea what has just happened except I have been given a serious ticking off. The Husband's intentions remain classified.

I've been thinking about this because for the past week or so The Husband has been cross - really cross. I know he is having a hard time at work (well, I think he is having a hard time at work, I haven't asked and even if I did ask I wouldn't stick around to wait for the answer). His work stress is becoming all mixed up with home stress. He has had to fire someone which I don't think he minds because it makes him feel important, but he really wishes he could fire me. For gross misconduct probably.
He says I am "treading water". I say "I have no idea what that means, darling". He wants me to come up with A Long Term Plan of where I am heading, which DOES NOT include Starbucks.
The Telling Off is horrible because at least with The Talk he is very gentle in his approach. The Telling Off is downright abusive and I am not allowed to argue. The Husband has a scary face and can twist&turn words in a way that I end up tongue tied, apologising to him for being a Bad Girl.
The Telling Off exists only to make me feel really really rubbish about myself and that I am wasting my life. Which I am, but The Husband isn't supposed to comment on that.
I write this as a Cry For Help because I know The Telling Off is due very very soon. There are poos in the garden, shepherds pie on the carpet and I seem to be mysteriously 300quid down. Ministry Of Mum is at DEFCON 1 - war is imminent.