Wednesday, 25 August 2010

The Chicken Nugget Diaries

I've just given in and allowed Child A to have a packet of Maltesers for breakfast. Before you start Googling the number for Social Services, let me explain a bit.

If I had my way, she'd be eating organic oats rolled between the thighs of virgin Disney Princesses, slathered in pro-biotic yoghurt laced with Omega-3 and scattered with 14 different types of fruit. Sadly, I've as much chance of becoming Paris-She-Can't-Actually-Be-That-Stupid-Can-She-Hilton's 'BFF' than getting her to eat anything remotely healthy.

When I was pregnant I routinely imagined my happy little family-life (cue sepia lens) around a huge pine table. Oh, how my little darlings would coo with pleasure as I pulled wonderful organic dishes out of my Aga! Oh, how delightful they would look, covered in flour as they helped me kneed the dough for my homemade bread to accompany my delicious carrot soup! Hark their beaming faces as they polish off my sausage and lentil bake and ask for more spinach please, mummy... (Horrible screeching sound as dream sequence squeals to a halt.)

Yeah. Right.

The only vegetables Arabella will eat are baked beans, and the occasional cucumber stick when under duress (ie when I threaten to remove treats. Or limbs.) I think she did eat an apple once, but I starved her for three days first. Well not quite, but I was pretty hardball.

It was, therefore, with a healthy dose of cynicism that I agreed to trial Sun Valley's new product 'Nature, with a hint of...'

You'll know Sun Valley as the people that sell raisins and prunes. Your children probably have those healthy little raisin snack-packs in their lunch boxes, allowing you to smirk at the chavs who provide Dairylea Lunchables for their little Asbos, er offspring. Well this new line from Sun Valley is raisins with knobs on. Tasty treats for the unutterably smug.

Unsurprisingly, I couldn't even get Arabella to try them. "But they have dragon fruit in, Arabella!" I gushed. "And you know what they say... you are what you eat."

Arabella gave me a withering look. "I'm five."

"Er, yes. Sorry. So you won't even try the one with chocolate covered raisins in?"

"No. They're like rabbit droppings." (She has a point)

"The delicious yoghurt covered pineapple ones?"

She raised an eyebrow in contempt.

"Pumpkin seeds? Blueberries? Cranberries? Cape Gooseberries? Pistachios?" I trailed off miserably.

Luckily my friend and Uber-Parent turned up at this point and I managed to off-load all four bags of different mixed fruit, nuts and seeds onto his delightfully well mannered and nutritionally saint-like daughter. The verdict, I discovered this morning is that they love them but wish they were available in multi-packs. They thought the 89p per pack price tag was a bit high for every day. My husband had a try of the dragon fruit pack and raved about it. You can find more info on them here. My verdict? Great for office workers and ladies who eat healthily and probably great for most children - except mine.

"Mummy, I'm hungry." (I think this is Arabella's catchphrase.)

"Well I've just given away all those lovely snacks" I snarled, "So you'd better wait for tea."

Arabella eyed me with suspicion. "What's for tea."

"Homemade roast-butternut squash and sage risotto?"

I received Withering Look Number Two.

"Right" I grunted, unwilling to enter into battle for the millionth time that day. "Chicken nuggets?"

Monday, 16 August 2010

My five-year old teenager.

"I think you should wear the little checked sundress, Arabella." I said this morning, flicking through the ranks of beautiful dresses in my daughter's wardrobe.
Arabella bit her lip thoughtfully. "No, I don't think so. Hannah Montana wouldn't wear that."

Hannah Bloody Montana. Along with Dr Who, Hannah is my daughter's latest craze, which, if she was say - ten - wouldn't be a problem. But my daughter is five.

I know. Hannah is meant to be wholesome. She doesn't smoke, she's polite to her elders and she's not in Soho House every night, hoofing up cocaine and partying with footballers. It's not like Arabella has suddenly decided that Lindsay Lohan is her idol. Or Katie-makes-my-blood-boil-Price. Or Paris-she-can't-actually-be-that-stupid-can-she-Hilton (can she?) But still. A pop-star?

When I was five I was reading The Wind in the Willows. I was enjoying Alice in Wonderland and Winnie the Pooh and Beatrix Potter. I was inspecting the bottom of the garden for fairies and taking my teddy bears on picnics.

I don't remember being even faintly interested in pop stars until I was at least 7 - the first boyband I was into was for instance... oh hang on. Maybe I shouldn't admit this. Oh sod it - Big Fun. Yup. I know. Link for those who have successfully erased the shining talent that was Big Fun from their minds. Yes, yes. You may laugh. You'd be peeing yourself if I put up a link to my other idol...ahem, Sonia.

I suppose I should count myself lucky that she hasn't discovered Jedward yet. For those of you fortunate enough not to have come across these two buffoons, they were losers on a talent show. The British love an under-dog, the less talent the better, so the contract was signed before Simon Cowell could say "I'll make a bit of cash out of these two donkeys".

Anyway. It could be worse. She could be into Big Fun.

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

The Parental Slave - or How Kids Are Ruling the World.

Joan Collins (who is on my list of People-I'd-Like-to-Be-When-I-Grow-Up, right next to Sue, the sociapathic cheerleading coach on Glee) wrote an article in The Mail on Sunday colour supplement last week, commenting on how spoilt her grandchildren seemed. You can find it here

The magnificent Joan says "The quiet of my rural idyll in the hills of the South of France is punctuated by the sound of children’s voices raised high above the entreating voices of their parents, who follow them around the pool and garden with a suppliant air."

Yes. I've noticed it too, Joan. The hills of West Yorkshire are also reverberant with the squeals of indignant four-year olds and the exhausted platitudes of their weary parents.

When did children pull off this coup and manage to swing the balance of power so firmly in their favour? Once upon a time, when I was a child and Starburst were still called Opal Fruits and Maggie Thatcher was snatching milk, children took a secondary role in life to their parents. Mummy and Daddy did what they wanted to do and the kids fitted in with them.

It wasn't quite as draconian as Victorian Britain, but there was still an element of children being 'seen, not heard'. Complaints of boredom were quickly counteracted with 'only the boring get bored', bedtimes were early - as early as the parents could get away with - and grown-ups could rely on the fact that their children would entertain themselves at least for a few hours.

I spent a considerable amount of my childhood waiting for a gap in grown-up conversation. As interrupting was absolutely banned, one would have to poise oneself with an increasingly anguished countenance, desperately trying to get a word in at a break in conversation before the adult chat veered off in another direction. From time to time some kind person might notice my despairing face and ask me what it was that I wanted, but this was rare. It was a grown-up world. When I was an adult I would get my turn, but until then, I had to lump it. Grown-ups ruled the roost.

Well what the bloody hell happened to my turn then? Somewhere between shoulder pads being fashionable and shoulder pads coming back into fashion, the rules got changed. It is no longer considered acceptable to make a child wait until the conversation has stopped. One is considered cruel and un-parental for telling one's offspring that a bumped knee really is just a bumped knee and not a opportunity for prolonged caterwauling.

Children are deified. They are lauded and pampered, cossetted and idolized. Their needs must be dealt with immediately and without complaint. Never must there be a moment when they are left to their own devices - to get, God forbid, bored. Every whim must be met, every minor injury treated with desperate concern. Telling a child to stop blubbing is tantamount to Child Abuse. Muttering that children might actually be a bit of a pain in the bum is practically blasphemous. When did this apotheosis take place? When did parents become mere servants in their own households?

Well not this parent. I hold no truck with this servile parent thing and caring very little what people think of me, I make no apologies either.

There is a reason why my daughter is considered such a brave, cheerful little person. She has been taught from a very young age that crying is not a default reaction to anything that does not make her happy. Sometimes we bump our knees. The pain goes quite quickly and then we are able to continue bouncing/running/scootering or whatever activity we were doing. Sometimes we do not get to do what we want. This is irritating and sometimes unfair, but so is life. Often we will have to wait to get something we want. This is also irritating but will also happen a lot in life. Best get used to it now.

And I brave the curled lips of the 'super-mums' and the mutters behind my back because I know that Arabella and Alexander are being shaped into conscientious, polite little people who know the value of patience and understand that in life not everything goes our way. There will be no great disappointments, no terrible shocks when they reach adulthood. They will not have slaves when they are older and they most certainly don't have one now.

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

The Domestic Godlet.

Alright, Nigella. That's it. You and me. Electric hand-whisks at the ready. My curves may be in all the wrong places but when it comes to a victoria sponge, you're going down, bitch.

I can't believe that in the interests of blogging entertainment, I've just called Nigella Lawson a bitch. I'll get hate mail. I take it back.

Actually, I really do take it back. I like Nigella enormously. One always suspects she'd be a fantastic person to have a boozy, girly lunch with. Not only would she wholeheartedly agree with getting another bottle, she'd eat all her pudding. And the little chocolate you get with coffee. A dining partner that doesn't induce guilt as she picks prettily at her salad and smiles at you with kindly concern when you order the Greek Mezzo Sharing Platter for Four. Er - I haven't done that. Well sort of. It was a long time ago. Anyway...

I have today, if you haven't already guessed, been baking with Offspring One, whilst Offspring Two slobbered over everything in his playpen. (Teething.) Whilst I'm generally a very good cook, I'm usually a rubbish baker. Could be because I don't have a sweet tooth and therefore my heart isn't in it, or could be that I'm not very good at following rules - and that includes recipes. Generally my efforts are flat, wonky and taste slightly of chlorine.

For some reason today however, my victoria sandwich is plump, proud and perfect. My lemon drizzle cake couldn't be used as a housebrick and even the little cupcakes don't look like they were made by a five-year old - though in fact, they were.

I wish I could take some picture for you, but the battery has gone on the camera and I've lost my mobile. So you will just have to believe me. Anyway, Nigella, if you're reading (stop sniggering, you never know) be afraid. I've even been practicing licking the spoon in a seductive manner and I've been pouting at the microwave. I could have your job.

Other news. I tried the Atkins diet this week. I stuck to it religiously and then passed out in Tesco's on day three. Highly embarassing incident involving little old ladies, an avalanche of organic cucumbers and a number of well-meaning Tesco's 'First Aiders'. Gave up and went to the pub with husband. Three hundred and twenty four vodka and cokes later, I had decided that I might just have to be a jolly fat lady. I was certainly jolly.

And anyway. Somebody has to help eat all these lovely cakes....