The Gift of Laughter #BlogBattle#shield



I have always prided myself on being able to use humour to cope with life’s peaks and troughs.  “Whatever life throws at you, bat it away with a laugh or a chuckle” – that’s my motto.  Use laughter as a shield to deflect all the rubbish that lands at your feet in copious amounts on a regular basis.  It seems to have worked quite well so far.

Until serious illness hits your child.  It’s pretty hard to find the humour in that.

Seeing your son laying in a hospital bed with tubes and pipes everywhere, being pumped with horse-strength doses of nasty but vital meds, every day a battle to find something that works.  That’s terrifying.  As his big, blue eyes reach to find yours and he utters in the weakest voice possible, “I’m so frightened”, and all you can do is stroke his cheek and reply, “Me too.”

So that’s how we spent our summer.  I sat by his hospital bedside every single day, taking it hour by hour, willing him to get better.  The first week was utterly dire, not helped by a sudden heatwave engulfing the country and making the critical care ward hotter than Satan’s sauna.  The poor nursing staff found it a real struggle – it’s not an easy job at the best of times, but when every single one of your patients is running a high temperature and you don’t know if that’s due to infection or them overheating, it can complicate matters a little!  Ever the professionals, they rotated cold compresses like a production line, slapping them on the patients with one hand whilst mopping the sweat from their own brows with the other.

We had a daily tour of the hospital, with a whole barrage of tests and investigations being carried out in quick succession, with ruthless efficiency. Blood tests were another matter – they were giving blood transfusions in one of our boy’s arm and taking numerous vials of blood from his other on a daily basis (one day they actually took 12 vials – I felt like suggesting they cut out the middle man – our son – and just took it directly from the drip stand before it reached the cannula).

New plumbing

Son no 1 was most impressed with his multiple plumbing lines

As time went on, and we settled into our surroundings, we began to listen to the people around us.  One day an interesting chap was brought in and shown to the bed next to us.  When I say ‘brought in’, I mean he was handcuffed to a burly police officer who never left his side.  The doctor came round to ask for his medical history (the man’s history, not that of the police officer – I’m not sure that would have helped). “So what brought you in here?” asked the doctor.  “He did!” the man replied, nodding towards the police officer.  After some dialogue that son no 3 would have described as ‘banter’, the conversation continued… “Well, there was a knock at my door, so I opened it because I have nothing to hide (cue honest expression and a shrug of the shoulders) and the police arrested me and took me to the station.” “So why did you come here?” asked the doctor, checking his watch and wondering how many more hours he would be able to spend on just the one patient.  “Well I just felt crap,” came the reply.  Not sure there was a box to tick for that one.

After 10 days, our boy was more stable so he was allocated a bed on a general ward.  And what a ward that was.  There were 3 men facing us in the bay (but not in the same bed – that kind of thing wasn’t allowed on the ward).  I shall call them A, J and P.  A was one of those people who you need to meet in your lifetime – a straight talking scouser with a heart of gold and a sense of humour that belonged on the stage.  He had us laughing from day one on that ward.  The 3 men didn’t really enjoy the hospital food, so they often ordered a take away to be brought in by a relative or even delivered to the hospital entrance.  Many a day, they could be found huddled over a menu, deciding which burger to pick.  They each needed their blood sugar testing several times a day too.  It was reminiscent of a mini lottery as each man tried to guess the other’s result before it was revealed.  The prize?  A jelly baby or two.

A had been in hospital a long time and took great delight in telling us that not only was he approaching his 100th day in there, but that he was going to have a party to celebrate.  He didn’t disappoint.  His family came in and decorated his bed with “100th” banners, flags and fairy lights. He wore a large 100 badge and piled on his bedside table was a vast array of cakes and sweets – enough to feed every single member of staff who had helped or treated him since he’d been there.  Unfortunately on the same day, our boy had a visit from the nutritionist as he was very malnourished.  She didn’t notice A’s stash of food until she finished talking to us and pulled back the curtain – there was A, surrounded by every kind of forbidden food you could think of.  She gasped loudly, but then had to laugh when she saw the look of horror on A’s face.  “It’s not all for me!” he protested.  We lost count of the amount of people who called in to see A that day – many just because they saw the ‘100’ signs and couldn’t believe how young he looked for such a grand age – he was quite put out since he was actually only in his 50’s.

One day, A and P were selected to trial some new hospital beds.  We couldn’t think of a better pair to provide honest feedback.  They quickly realised that these beds had a large range of movement – from lowering just 40cm off the floor to rising so high that A quipped he’d be able to “do a Sistine Chapel job” on the ceiling.  One of the nurses was particularly short, and A and P decided to play a joke on her.  They both raised their beds to the maximum height and then called her into the bay.  How they laughed as she berated them, wagging her finger as she shouted up at them, before striding off whilst shaking her head, albeit with a wry smile on her face.

One weekend, we were lucky enough to receive a visit from a rather distinguished, semi-retired Professor who was doing the rounds.  “You are on the ice cream and Mars Bar diet, young man!” he exclaimed.  A discussion about food followed, during which our boy said that the hospital apple crumble wasn’t as good as my home made efforts.  “But I’m always in here with you, I don’t get chance to bake,” I replied.  The Professor looked at me.  “For Goodness’ Sake woman, go home, get some sleep and bake the boy an apple crumble!” he bellowed.  I did just that and rose at 6am to bake a fresh apple crumble.  Upon my arrival at the ward, A called across, “I’ve just ordered custard for lunch, nothing else.  That’s right, isn’t it?”  My son and I looked at each other rather puzzled, and then back at A.  “You’ve brought in a large crumble,” he added, “I assume it’s to share!”

As the days rolled by, we felt buoyed by the joviality in the ward.  All the patients received an anti-coagulant injection as they spent most of their time in bed. One day, after the nurse administered an injection to A, he muttered just loudly enough for us to hear, “Trousers down, oh just a small prick, full of insults today, how rude…!”  I could write a book of all the goings on in that ward – maybe one day I will!

Some days there may have been negative news for one of the patients.  A subdued respectful silence would fall upon the ward, each man lost in his own thoughts.  Then someone would pipe up with some gentle words of encouragement, the shield of humour would gradually be raised and the mood would slowly lift again.  It worked well.

All the staff at the hospital were amazing, from the nurses, doctors, consultants, radiographers, phlebotomists… to the porters, catering staff and cleaners.  Each played a vital role in getting our boy well enough to come home.  We could not fault a single one.  But the icing on the proverbial cake was the support given from the other patients on that ward, in particular A.  He made a difficult and frightening situation so much easier to bear, restoring our ability to laugh through the pain.

A, this post is for you.  So glad we met.


Is Anybody There?


Hello!  IMG_5900

Remember me?

Chief Staff Member for Gloria Chufflepuff, the chuffin cat, Head Poo Picker for the thick chickens, referee and chef for 3 fetid boys.  Yes, that’s me – ring any bells?

It’s been a long time.  Too long.  This poor little blog has been neglected and filed away in a dark corner with only spiders and the odd errant mouse (Gloria’s latest house guest) for company.  I think it’s time to bring it back – who agrees with me? (‘It’ being the blog, not the mouse, if you’re listening Gloria).

It’s been something of an enforced break, but more on that another time.  For now, I’m sure you’re all desperate to hear the latest news.

*cue tumbleweed* IMG_5873

Gloria is as rambunctious as ever.  She has grown bigger and poofier, as has her attitude.  Her headbutts can knock you into a neighbouring room, particularly with 14 pounds of force and sassiness behind them.  She was out in the garden yesterday, now that the sun has finally made an appearance.  As she patrolled across the lawn, tufty feet pounding the ground, tail wafting in the breeze, I noticed that her belly fur was actually touching the grass.  Bearing in mind that I recently mowed the lawn, it made me realise that she’d been caught unawares – her summer body is a long way off (I know the feeling!).  That’s what a prolonged winter does for you.  Well, that and a voracious appetite for Dreamies treats…

IMG_4294The thick chickens, of course, moulted in the middle of winter, with snow heavy on the ground.  As I ran around the coop trying to collect up the discarded feathers which were being buffeted by the hurricane-strength winds, I did wonder whether to sew them into mini jackets for the hens.  I mean, obliging little souls that they are, I didn’t really want ready-plucked frozen chucks, even if it was Christmas-time.


The boys have also grown.  In size and in noise.  And in messiness.  My cupboards are always bare as they manage to eat every single morsel they can find, however well-hidden it may be (even my Mint Choc Club biscuits from the secret compartment in the fridge – how very rude!) Have you ever seen a boy inhale a jaffa cake?  I have.  And don’t even get me started on the husband.

So I’m still here, and planning to do lots more writing.  Which leads me to my main question: is there anybody left to read this?


You Know You are a Parent of Boys when…


It’s Mothers’ Day – time for mums everywhere to be pampered and spoilt.  By way of celebration, I thought I would give you a little snapshot of my life as mum to 3 fetid, flatulent, feisty boys (well, 4 if you include Handsome Hubby…).

The trousers that walk right out of the laundry basketAs a parent of multiple boys, you learn to accept very early on that your laundry basket will never be empty. In fact some clothes will end up so filthy that they will almost walk out of the laundry basket unaided. On the very rare occasion that you do reach the bottom of the basket, you will find yourself dancing a little celebratory jig as you reach for the nearest bottle of wine. Even if it is only 11am.

Your television will only possess 3 channels: Dave, Quest and Sports. Best reach for that bottle of wine again as you learn all about the history of aluminium *groan*


Yes, you hang a new photo frame on the wall, minus the family photos that you will search for at a later date. Then you leave your boys in the house alone. And you find this on your return, along with much hilarity. (Clue: look at the photo in the middle of the frame…)

You will develop an automatic ‘duck’ reflex which will be activated any time an object of length nears your head. For example, when you’re in a supermarket and a lady reaches behind you to grab a long roll of wrapping paper… so you duck instinctively, expecting her to wallop you across the back of the head with it before she puts it in the trolley. Awkward.

Your kitchen will resemble that of Mother Hubbard – the moment you fill the cupboards, they will be raided by a bunch of gannets who will empty them within hours. Take son no 2: Mr Sports Fanatic. He will come flying through the door, grab a large bowl and fill it with 2 bananas, 4 oranges, a bunch of grapes, an apple, a yoghurt, a bag of frazzles (slurp) and a chocolate bar. Having polished that off, he will then lick his lips and ask cheerfully, “What’s for tea, mum?”

You will be assigned your very own seat in A&E at the local hospital (cue fluorescent eyeballs, dislocations, broken bones, plus lots of headbutting and falling over…) (just to clarify: that’s the boys, not you).
Son no 2 is the most accident prone child I have ever met. In the space of a year, he had an operation on a broken ankle (resulting in friction burns on his other foot due to hopping about like a lunatic, thus rendering him in a wheelchair), he also dislocated his shoulder and broke his nose in not 1 but 2 places – yay! Way to go!
Then there are those times when all 3 boys are sporting injuries at the same time: seriously, you imagine Social Services to come knocking when you have one child in an aircast boot, one with a bandaged elbow and your eldest boy then staggers through the front door with various injuries after falling off his bike.
The most bizarre injury wasn’t from son no 3 (dislocating his elbow in a violent sing-song session of ‘row, row, row your boat’) or son no 2 (jumping off a postbox to break his ankle). No, that accolade went to son no 1 who decided to take up a spot of tree surgery in his early teens. So how did his injury occur? Not from throwing his saw up into the tree; not from climbing up a high tree in a howling gale; not from falling off a branch; not from sawing swaying branches up high in the sky; not from swinging about with a saw when descending the tree… no. It came as he was standing with both feet safely on the ground, admiring his handiwork afterwards – as he dropped the saw on his hand and cut his finger to the bone *claps hands slowly*.

Your car will smell like a men’s locker room at the gym (not that I’ve ever been in one, obviously – I’m hypothesising here!) as you collect random boys to drop home after football/athletics/kung fu practice. Either that or you are treated to the pungent whiff of over-enthusiastically applied deodorant when you drop off a heap of lads for a night out. Both smells make your eyes water as you craftily open a window just to stop yourself from passing out.

The new apprenticeYou can walk into the house at any time to discover an engine in the bedroom (“It’s OK mum, I’ve drained out all of the oil!” “Where? All over the carpet??”).
Or a turbo in the middle of the lounge floor.
Or maybe a gearbox on the dining room table.

You realise that only a certain style of bribe will work.
Me: “Let’s go for a walk along the canal.”
Boys: “Nah.”
Me: “We could feed the swans and the geese.”
Boys: “Nah.”
Me: “We might see some traditional houseboats.”
Boys: “Nah.”
Me: “You can take pictures with my camera.”
Boys: “Nah.”
Me: *sigh* “Apparently there’s a dead animal floating in the water…”
Boys: “Cool!! Can we go right now?!”
*rolls eyes*

Any rancid smells in the house will automatically be blamed on your boys. Even if you inadvertently leave a vase of rotting flowers on the windowsill, or the chuffin cat has just had a major incident in the litter tray.

Board games take on a whole new meaning. Scrabble becomes ‘who can make the rudest word with their letters’. Whereas in Monopoly, the thimble will no longer be known as a thimble; it will be placed upside down and called a DALEK.

You will find Nerf darts in the strangest of places. Such as in a flowerpot, on a shelf, in the washing machine. Or in the freezer.

You will be asked the most interesting of questions, such as “Have you ever been in a Chinese jail?” or “How does petrol make a car work?” or even “If you have an arm wrestle with the Queen and you win, will she throw you into prison?”
That's what it really tastes like...My all-time favourite though came from son no 2. As we were all sitting in the lounge watching TV one evening, he noticed the chuffin cat sat enthusiastically licking her arse. He looked across, sighed and in a thoughtful voice said, “I wonder what that tastes like?” Yes, really.

You will realise it is time to do some housework when you discover your boys have written rude words to each other in the dust.

Brotherly love will be expressed in a variety of ways. Such as walking past the bathroom to throw up across your brother’s bed. Or the conversation overheard one afternoon between sons no 2 and 3:
3: “Please can I come into your bedroom?”
2: “Nah.”
3: “Oh pleeease??”
2: *sigh* “Only if you let me wipe my bare foot around your face.”
**2 second silence**
3: “Yes, OK.”
And there followed a large amount of chuckling and squealing as I quietly heaved into my cup of tea. Yuk.

I could go on; the list is endless. Enough for a book? Ha yes, one day!
You see, boys don’t only create noise, mess and havoc. They also create a sense of fun and nonsense wherever they go. Not to mention the wonderful hugs they give you. Arguments may be explosive, but at least they’re over with in 5 minutes. I look at our boys today and I feel proud. We have such fun, once I’ve finished washing, cooking and cleaning up after them of course. And do you know what? These boys are our greatest achievement, and I wouldn’t change them for the world.


An Ornithological Observation


Being a parent can be confusing at times ,especially when you tend to suffer from foot-in-mouth syndrome.  As your young child grows older, you often have to be careful not to read too much into what he says, and you most definitely need to take time to consider any reply.  Failure to do so could lead you into all sorts of problematic situations.

Take yesterday for instance.  There I was, washing up in the kitchen when son no 3 appeared.  As he merrily chatted away about nothing in particular, I nodded my head wisely.  To be honest I was barely listening, instead pondering the important question of what I’d cook for tea if Robin Thicke ever came to visit.

Suddenly son no 3 exclaimed loudly, “If Dad was a bird, he’d be a Great Tit!”

006Snapped out of my reverie at such a statement from a small boy, I turned to look at him as I tried to suppress a giant guffaw.  I didn’t know whether to reprimand him for being so rude, or to slap him wholeheartedly on the back for cracking a funny, albeit a naughty one.

Wondering how on earth to answer, I felt my eyebrows shoot skywards.  Barely keeping my hilarity under control, I just managed to utter a scarcely audible, “Errrm, what??”

Son no 3 pointed innocently to a large bag of bird food on a shelf.  He smiled and said, “Look at the bird pictures on the packet.  That one looks like Dad and it’s called a Great Tit.”

Oh.  Right.


*breathes a sigh of relief*