No Two Ways About It, That’s Strange. (Part 4)

The following facts about me are important pre-requisite knowledge for reading this particular blog. Most of you will know at least two out of three, so don’t get excited.

I was a vegetarian from birth until I was 18 years old.
I have always been strictly Kosher.
I am an infuriatingly and nonsensically bad eater.

So you can probably see where I am going with this. My attitudes to food are not exactly adventurous. I generally don’t order things in restaurants unless I know every ingredient inside it, and can see as few of them as possible. Even then, I bother waiters all around north west london on a regular basis with orders such as, “I’ll have the pesto and olive pasta, without the pesto, and with lots of cheese. And y’know what? No olives.”

Generally, my tastes haven’t changed since I was a kid, with a few notable exceptions. I now force myself to try new things once in a while, I now eat salad as long as it hasn’t seen a cut up tomato, (how hard is it to leave the cherry tomatoes whole?!) and I’m an unashamed carnivore, much to my mothers dismay.

But (and here comes my point) in absolutely no world, no matter how adventurous an eater I was, or however irreligious I became, or however little I thought of the animal kingdom, could I ever fathom people who trek to a specialist candy store to purchase the below.

Sour cream and onion Crickets. For those intrigued rather than repulsed, they also offer Chilli, and Sea Salt flavours.

These are basically the dare-devils answer to a bag of Revels. My advice is the same for both. I would recommend not munching through a box at the cinema. Nothing worse than chomping down on an orange treat and discovering its a sneaky coffee flavoured horror. I would imagine its similar when you think you’re getting a delicious beetle and accidentally begin chewing a centipede. Imagine how terrible that would be.

This one is by far the oddest. After all, I obviously don’t know what insects taste like, and for all I know they’re delicious. (But if you’re gonna tell me they’re ‘just like chicken’ my advice would be, eat chicken, it’s not nearly £4 a bite.)
But this isn’t even really eating an insect! It’s just a worm, inside an ordinary lollipop. So you basically are eating an extortionately expensive chupa chup, with a bug in the middle. Do you crunch down on the worm when u get near the end? Is the idea to try and keep it whole?

I don’t get it. I don’t even mean from a disgusting point of view, because I’m in the ‘animals are animals’ camp. There really is no difference in my mind between eating a cow or eating a ‘cute little rabbit’ if kosher wasn’t a factor for me. I was more shocked by the deceit than the ingredients of Tesco’s horse burgers for example.

I just don’t understand why anyone would spend a fortune to eat a bug. They can’t be filling, I don’t really believe that you can taste anything under all the chocolate or seasoning they apparently need to be palatable, and they cost about ten times the price of a regular, delicious, non creepy crawling twix bar.

So I suppose it must be a status thing. Much in the same way that men swig beer, or teenagers down tequila shots, if you have enough wasps maybe they go from horrible to bearable to quite nice really, with the added benefit that you can pat yourself on the back for being part of an elite few, part of the latest fad, part of the new sensation.

Must make you feel bad when you’re watching Pinocchio though. “Always let your conscience be your snack” doesn’t have quite the same ring to it, after all.

The Warm and Fuzzies

Me and my son had a moment this evening.

A moment can happen at any time, and with any person. With a partner or a spouse, it reminds you what made you fall in love in the first place, and brings you somehow closer, even if you didn’t think there was any space left to bridge. With a friend, it normally teaches you something about yourself as well as them, cements the relationship further, gives you reason to trust them even more with your thoughts and feelings. A moment normally comes when you least expect it, without much warning.

I’ve had plenty of experiences with my baby boy over the past two years that have made me smile, or laugh, or even cry tears of joy or sometimes relief that he is ours, exactly the way he is. But I wouldn’t say that we’ve had too many moments, where I just wish the world would stand still and let me remember that fragment of time exactly how it is in my mind at that second. If I could give my son some memories of his first years in this world, tonight would be one of them.

Try not to lose the emotion of the moment while I set the scene.

I was eating a chocolate digestive biscuit. As anyone with children will know, if am eating a chocolate digestive biscuit, so is R. I broke off a small piece and handed it to him, and within a nanosecond it was in his mouth and forgotten about as he reached out for a second piece. When the second sliver followed suit I knew I had to choose a different route to go down. I broke off one more small piece, about the size of a thumbnail, and handed it to him slowly, clearly telling him “No more! Last bit!” 

He looked at me. He looked at the biscuit seriously. His look said it all. This is the last piece of biscuit, possibly forever. He looked back at me and smiled. He clambered up next to me on the couch, leaned back so that his damp freshly washed head of hair was lying in the crook of my arm, and began to eat.

I say eat, but nothing was chewed or swallowed. He licked at the chocolate, sucked at the sides of the biscuit, and kept stopping to pass the small piece back and forth so he could lick his fingers clean. He had no inhibitions about making little baby sighs of pleasure as he savoured the immense treat he had in his tiny hands.

He lay there for 40 minutes. I haven’t had a cuddle that long with my son since he was 6 months old. It was not just the best 40 minutes of my day, but a front-runner for best 40 minutes of my adulthood. And I just watched him. Chocolate smeared onto my couch, I didn’t move to wipe it away. He licked the couch, I didn’t say a word. His newly bathed arms and face looked like Augustus Gloop after a swim in the chocolate rivers of Willy Wonka’s factory, I smiled lovingly in the way only a mother can be delighted by their child’s sticky mess. Cleaning I could do later. He was so happy.

At the end of the 40 minutes, he sat up, grinned at me, and passed me the now non-chocolate digestive non-biscuit. I picked him up and he snuggled into my shoulder while I sang his goodnight prayers and songs to him quietly. I placed him down into his cot with his baby bear, and he rolled over and closed his eyes instantly.

A lesson from my son today, I hope I can learn to savour an experience the way he savoured that thumbnail of chocolate biscuit. At the very least, I hope I can remember this moment again the next time he screams for two hours before settling, or spends the witching hour between supper and sleep-time throwing toys at my head. I will make the most of this deliciously warm and fuzzy feeling, as that ‘next time’ will probably be tomorrow.

The Chocolate Pudding Debacle

Yesterday, I made a mistake. It was only a small one in the grand scheme of parenting errors. I didnt leave my 8 year old in a pub like our esteemed Prime Minister. I certainly didn’t do any lasting damage to my poor son’s soul, but I did give myself a needlessly horrible afternoon.

All by trying to be the best mum ever.

After R woke up from his nap, he seemed to be a bit cranky. Having no plans to leave the house in the afternoon, I was really not enjoying the thought of a moody 1yo all day, and so decided to be in the ‘best mood ever’ to snap him out of it. After ten minutes or so of fun hide and seek games, (my baby has recently mastered running around a corner and shouting BO! -pretty close to Boo, you’ll admit) I decided to reward his cheer up with an AMAZING treat. A Chocolate Pudding. This was one of those Soya half healthy half not things, and apart from wanting a happy toddler, my other motivation was that if I shared it with him, I wouldn’t devour the whole thing myself, but would still get to have a sweet treat. At this juncture, I must point out that R had never had chocolate pudding before…

Now over the next ten minutes I made several mistakes. All in quick succession and all leading to the biggest tantrum he has ever had. I’m going to express them in a simple Chocolate Pudding Do’s and Dont’s format, and hopefully you can learn where I did not.

#1. Do not give your child something for the first time when they have just woken up from a nap and are questionably cranky.
#2. Do not give your child something deliciously sweet when you have just indulged in a high activity running around getting excited game.
#3. Do sit somewhere uncarpeted if you are worried about the mess a chocolate pudding might make.
#4. Do not let your child use your spoon, only to take it away because it is too big for them to use tidily. (see #3)
#5. Do not suggest we ‘feed teddy’ to calm child down, when the aforementioned teddy is ATTACHED to a book and therefore cannot be washed!
#6. Do not expect your 1 year old to understand that we are sharing the treat.
#7. Do not expect your 1 year old to understand the reason why you took away ‘his’ spoon or the reasons why you are trying to move the whole process to the laminate kitchen floor.
#7. Do deal with your own mistake of giving it to them in the first place and just let them make the biggest mess ever and eat the entire pot and probably be sick, rather than start taking it away and giving rules in the middle leading to giant heaving shrieking temper tantrums which take 3 hours to get over and put everyone in a bad mood until bed time.
#8. Do not be surprised when after an overload of sugar, your baby is wired up and in a crazy hyper angry mood all afternoon.

it was just TOO exciting. An amazing treat for him would have been one Malteaser. Or to be honest, a breadstick. I went too far with my choice, he was already tired and over excited in equal measure, and all his emotions went into overdrive when he realised just how amazing, chocolatey puddingy goodness really is. I can’t blame him for the grabbing and the screaming and the mess making and the temper tantrum, because he is a baby. I showed him a vat of deliciousness and then tried to ration and limit it.

Somehow in my own deluded head I had this image of him feeding himself nicely, with a neat coating of chocolate round his little mouth, grinning at me through bites as if to say, “wow, you’re the greatest Ima ever!” Then he would finish eating, grab a wipe and clean up, throw the pot in the bin, and go off and play nicely by himself as a thank you for my largess.

#9. Do not kid yourself.