Monthly Archives: December 2011

Thanks, Year Twos

“Mum?”

“Yes?”

“I don’t think I believe in Father Christmas anymore.”

“Why not?!”

“Well, the Year Twos say it’s just your mum or dad who brings the presents and if you think about it, it makes sense.”

One of the best things about being a parent is the fact that Christmas gets magical again. It is no longer about horrible shopping malls, tinsel round your computer monitor and lairy office drunks. The real meaning of Christmas comes back: Father Christmas returns.

You get so into the idea of Santa that you almost believe again. So much so that last Christmas Eve, I think I actually thought Father Christmas was going to turn up – until I sobered up a bit and realised I had to make crumbs from the carrot and mince pie, pour white glitter all over the rug and lug the presents out from their hiding places.

Everything about Christmas with kids – nativity plays, advent calendars, twinkling lights – is wonderful, even to the hardened antichrist. Sometimes I think I can’t believe I am doing this when I am gathering tat for his stocking from the pound shop, or helping him fashion lumps of salt dough into animals for the tree. It is probably the time of year when I feel most like a passable mother.

When Tom was about a week old, he got a terrible cold and couldn’t breathe very well. I blamed myself entirely for being shit at breastfeeding and took him to the hospital in the middle of the night.

“Ooh, they don’t stay like that for long, do they?” said the receptionist, hands on her hips, staring at this livid, red screaming thing strapped in his car seat.

I’m writing the book at the moment and it’s hard, because although I kept notebooks a lot of the time, I can’t remember how it actually feels to hold a tiny baby in your arms, or change its nappy, or listen to the weird little noises they make. I often think back to that moment in the hospital, because the receptionist was absolutely right. And now, when I see Tom full of genuine glee when he changes the number on his Christmas countdown bear, or chases a child dressed as a sheep across a stage with a tea towel on his head, I can’t help but think he won’t stay like this for long.

Next year, Tom will be a Year Two, which means thanks to someone’s evil big brother or sister, he’s highly likely to stop believing altogether. I think I might have managed to eke another year of believing out of him by telling him the Year Twos will not be getting a visit from Santa and ordering one of those personalised letters (which still hasn’t arrived, actually. Hurry up.) As much as I am gutted that they opened their little mouths and tried to ruin everything, I am quite grateful to the Year Twos, because this Christmas Eve, I am going to savour every single magical moment.

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Monty

This is Monty. He has got stunning stripes, a nose like red brick and a purr like a pneumatic drill. I am in love, and so is Tom.

The landlord said yes to the cat, so we went to the RSPCA.

“Tomorrow is cat day,” I told Tom the night before. And I woke in the morning to this:

When I went into Monty’s pen, he jumped up, put one paw on each of my shoulders and headbutted me. That was that.

I trust Monty  with Tom. He rolls on his back and asks him to tickle his sable tummy. When he has had enough, he makes a noise like a telephone and gently taps him with his paw. He snuggles up next to us on the sofa when I am listening to Tom read. He keeps me company in the evening when I am writing.

“I just can’t wait to get home and see Monty,” says Tom, whenever we have been out of the house for longer than ten minutes.

Apart from a bit of cat flatulence, Tom is besotted. He talks to him and draws him pictures and makes him signs, like this:

And I think I might be becoming a crazy cat lady. Although I haven’t made him any pictures or signs yet, I do find myself chatting to him.

“Please don’t eat my computer cable, that’s really dangerous, why don’t you play with one of your toys instead?”

I’ve never been able to understand parents who say they stopped going out when they had children because they can’t bear to leave the kids behind. But last night, Monty nearly kept me in with a head-tipped-to-the side, wide-eyed, quizzical stare.

“Where are you going Mum? It’s late. Why don’t you snuggle up on the sofa with me?”

I’ll stop going on about him now, but the main thing is that Monty is just a mega, stripey, soft and loving cat who we really do adore. The fact his last owners didn’t want him makes me love him about a hundred and fifty times more. If you are thinking of getting an animal any time soon and you live in this neck of the woods, please go to Manchester and Salford RSPCA. They have loads of lovely animals in need of happy homes and they come microchipped, deflead, wormed, neutered, vaccinated and tested for FIV. They won’t rehome animals as presents, which is understandable. Read their blog here and donate to them here.

This is not a review post, but if it was, Monty and the service provided by Manchester and Salford RSPCA would get a definite 10/10.

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