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EARHAIR: We’ve All Got It in Some Form

The blogging world has taught me that there is very little sleep out there. It has taught me that having children was never going to add to anyone’s rest and relaxation, least of all mine. There are many out there – right now – struggling to persuade babies, toddlers and geriatric parents to go back to sleep. I, however, am not one of those tonight. No – tonight I am a victim of an unfortunate but surprisingly prevalent condition. Extremely Annoying Respiring Husbands Are Irritating Repeatedly (EARHAIR).

EARHAIR takes many forms. My Man-Hog, alone, has several variants. You may recognise some of them though I cannot list them all – their number is legion:

Pop’n’Click

This minor irritation usually occurs in the first few minutes of EARHAIR, before the snorer has yet had a chance to settle into a proper rhythm. I think toothpaste or its mint flavouring has something to do with it. First the snorer inhales gustily through fairly clear nasal passages but then decides (because they are ANNOYING – grrrr) to exhale through the pursed stuck-together-with-unwiped-toothpaste lips with a loud *POP*, followed by the back of the throat click as the exhale is completed. Sometimes there is a double-click as the tongue mysteriously rises to the roof of the mouth and down again like Excalibur from the lake. Bearability Scale: Irritating as nettle itch but not worth stabbing him yet. Unless you want to.

Roaring Forties

This, as the name suggests, is EARHAIR happening around 40 minutes after lights out. It is a rising crescendo of chest and nasal wheezing which mimics, quite well actually, the mating call of a lion with chronic tonsilitis. The only way to stop it is a swift blow to the clavicals. Sometimes this can stop respiration altogether, depending on the savagery of said blow, but I’ll tell you how to resolve this in a later blog. Or maybe I won’t. Bearability Scale: Not yet a divorce-inciter but getting close to the wire. Requires earplugs or a change of room.

Elks R Us

This is the deep sleep, rapid eye-movement phase of EARHAIR. The sprouting bushy King of them all. This is a 2AM foghorn waking all in the house except the snorer. That sod sleeps on throughout. Elk Phase must involve some form of sonic block – how else can the bugger still sleep? Why Elk? Well because it must be similar to camping al fresco next to an elk giving multiple birth to breech babies without so much as a TENS machine. Deep drafts of air are sucked in to vibrating nasal tunnels, followed by a short pause then the long, low, resonant exhale so bass and drawn out a note it makes Pavarotti sound like a choir boy, the Elk is a raging beast of a snore. There is no cure. Only death by self-smothering or moving house without telling the snorer are the coping strategies and even then, you’ll still hear it – it will haunt your dreams with its moose-call. Bearability Scale: Un-bloody-supportable.

So there we are. I’ve tried to give a little insight into the private hell endured by EARHAIR victims such as myself. When your baby wants to play all night, or your aged mother wants toast at 3AM despite scoffing most of a suppertime shepherd’s pie already, spare a thought for us. We don’t have wakefulness, but we have EARHAIR. And it’s getting worse.

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“It’s life, Jim, but not as we know it…”

Life is rushing by me far too fast. I want the journey to slow down a bit so I can enjoy every minute and not miss a thing.

This headlong dash through the years has been thrown into panicky relief today as my boy went off to his secondary school for the first of three “taster” days to get him used to that brave new world.

Having managed to avoid running screaming through the village yelling “No! No! Leave him be! For Pete’s sake, he’s only a baby!” and other such embarrassments, I tried to understand why I was feeling so – well – bereft is the only word I can think of.

Don’t get me wrong – I think the taster days are a great idea but I’m also hoping they don’t take the excitement away from his September start. Butterfly tummies are de rigeur along with the ill-fitting new blazer aren’t they? He’ll hit the ground running in September and that’s a good thing. So the school he is going to is not the problem.

No, I have a confession to make. Simply put – I don’t want him to grow up. Is that a terrible thing to say? Maybe, but it’s true.

It’s very strange because I didn’t, and don’t, feel that way about my girl. She is almost at womanhood now and I’ve loved watching her blossom from a skinny, gap-toothed stick insect to the lovely young almost-woman she is now. I didn’t panic at puberty with her – I embraced it alongside her and have marvelled at this she-being we have created.

Why, then, do I feel this hideous anxiety over the same lurch towards adulthood in my boy? Is it because he IS a boy? Do I fear what he will become; what he will get up to? I don’t think it’s that. I have always believed he will be far less of a worry to me than the girlchild will ever be. So, no – it’s not that.

There’s certainly some sadness, that “end of an era” feeling that he is leaving primary school and – despite moaning copiously, loudly and long about the actual school itself – it will be odd not to have any reason left to darken the doors of that establishment. I’ve been summarily crap at anything to do with school or PTA events in the past couple of years – am I now regretting not getting more involved?

There is also, for absolute sure, the feeling that I have no more “babies” left at home. He’ll kill me for writing this, being an 11 year-old and nowhere near a baby, but he is my last, my precious youngest and there can be no more. Is it too soon to already feel “empty nest”-ish?

I’m certainly experiencing the strangest bittersweet feeling of getting exactly what I wished for. All those times when, as toddlers, I used to think: “Ooh, one day you’ll stop forcing peas into your ears and grow up!” or “When you’re older, the thought of bending over so far you can look up your own butt will not occur to you!” (although boy-man + beer at some point in the not too distant future may cause a relapse of that one, I suspect).

Whatever happens next, I am totally excited for them both and enthralled to watch as they work their way forward in life. I just hope in all that growing up, the kids that I adore in them both won’t go missing. Its why we – the father figure and I – had them after all. I don’t know anyone who plans to give birth to grown-ups!

Anyone else out there struck by this same malaise?

Toddler Taming…for Adults

I have just spent the last weekend trawling the local stores for the new school uniform my boy will need when he starts secondary school in September. We did quite well – I’m £150 lighter in the bank, but have only a couple of items outstanding. Oh, and I have the ritual nightmare that is shopping for school shoes for both girl and boy still to look forward to – not. That torture I am saving for when I’ve had three Weetabix one morning and have been religiously mainlining neat vallium with vodka for the preceding two weeks. Only then will I have the mental and physical strength to get through it.

So we’re just paying for the boy’s new blazer at the counter when hubby decides to try on a polo shirt lurking in a corner next to the gumshields. His incessant whining that he has no decent summer clothes had reached a screeching crescendo of late so, as the shirt actually looked really good on him, we bought that too.

Now maybe I’m just being a ratbag because it’s Monday and I have to be at work instead of sucking down rosé in the garden, but this fairly tasteful purchase got me thinking about what happens to the average British male’s fashion sense when the sun finally emerges from its long winter hibernation. There are, it has to be said, some absolute shockers going on out there. The merest glimmer of UVA turns our normally sensible chaps into overgrown toddlers in the wardrobe department. And we girls are somehow letting them get away with it! Here are some of the worst offenders I have noticed:

Naked Toddlers: Now I have nothing against showing a little more skin in hot weather. I’ve been known to shuck off the odd layer of fleece myself. But what is with these men with more than a little -ahem – girth, shall we say, around their middles suddenly deciding that shirts are no longer necessary AT ALL. If they are about to have a water fight with the kids (or each other) then, yes, by all means remove your top. But on the London Underground? In the rush hour? With my unfortunate face at armpit level? Er – no. Thanks. But no.

“Vesties”: These, I have noticed, are habitual offenders in the summer toddler fashionfest. It is just my personal opinion, but frankly I don’t believe anyone not currently playing major league basketball for a living has any justification displaying their mozzarella-pale, flaccid bingo wings through baggy holes in their tops where their sleeves should be. Especially when seated at a table next to the salad counter in the Harvester. As underwear on a cold winter’s day, by all means. But NEVER as a fashion choice in 30 degree heat whilst shopping in Sainsburys. I do not want to see inside your shirt and get an eyeful of your man-boobs every time you bend to reach the yoghurt on the lower shelves. It puts me right off my Pimms.

Professional Toddlers: These are men who wear sensible work wear all week, then insist on slipping into three-quarter length cargo pants which hang halfway down their arses and leave their luminously white, skinny, hairy ankles on show. These men are predominantly in their late forties/early fifties, if you look, and really should know better. They compound the crime by teaming these cargos with comedy T-shirts: usually Homer Simpson or South Park characters with some “amusing” quote on the front. Occasionally they go the whole hog and don comedy socks too. With sandals. Holy Moly.

Toddler Twins: Finally, there is the group who like to dress in larger versions of what their little boys are wearing. I can only assume these chaps have been dressed by, or are scared of, their wives. Why else would you hit BlueWater or the Trafford Centre looking like Tweedle Dee/Dum? Perhaps to avoid a telling-off? Well, it doesn’t work, it’s not at all “cute” – it’s just sad and makes me want to hit the back of their legs with a hairbrush. Therapy may be the only option for these desperate fellows.

Now I’m not saying that everything we girls wear is perfect – Hello Kitty adult clothing is a classic example of toddler styling for those who choose to embrace their inner child. But as wives and mums we should surely be setting an example to our little ones by refusing to let our menfolk – their parents! – leave the house looking like one of the above. A Mr Bump T-Shirt is all very cute worn to bed as a beloved Father’s Day gift. But not out in public at the school fete or PTA barbecue.

I’m old-fashioned, perhaps, a great believer in men being men. I think past the age of 15, there is really no excuse for any of the above. Together with combovers and badly applied fake tan, toddler styling is an abomination which we must work hard as girls to eliminate. Help me out here. Go upstairs, now. Go through your man’s closet removing all offending articles, including those boxer shorts YOU bought him that say “Mummy’s Little Helper” on the front (what were you thinking??). Use them as dusters or turn them into cushion covers for the kids rooms. But do not, under any circumstances, allow him outside to play in any of it.

Photo credit: http://thefashionpolice.net