My boy ordered a babyccino today. He’s only two, but can pronounce the word amazingly well.
“Baybeeschinooo,” he says. “I want a little coffee.” In case the waiter doesn’t get it.
Of course, he just wants to be like Mummy, so I can’t say no.
And I promised him one if he’d let me look around the shops in peace.
But when his treat finally came, it was too hot. My little Goldilocks almost burnt his tongue!
Those young baristas ought to be more careful. Perhaps we should start an awareness-raising campaign.
Our comfy, three-bedroom home near the sea is so cold. Heaters are useless to warm this vast space.
This morning the Avent temperature gauge in the kids’ room read 13! My girl would not get dressed, she said her clothes were too cold. After a 10-minute screaming match, I realised I simply had no option: I would have to warm her clothes in the tumble dryer.
Friday was pizza night. We had friends round and it was festive.
My girl chose her favourite: ham and cheese.
But when the pizza arrived, the children were all too excited to eat.
“If you eat your pizza, I’ll give you a chocolate ice-cream,” I said.
It’s terrible the things a mother has to resort to.
On Thursday, I was tired.
My Boy, who’s two, woke me up at 1am. He had a temperature of 39.8C. He didn’t want to take his Nurofen, so I zapped him with the syringe. He screamed, briefly. Three hours later, I gave him Panadol. In between, My Girl woke up every hour crying for water. Which was in a bottle next to her bed.
So I was tired.
It rained most of the day.
At 3.30pm, we had circus class. My Girl was on the couch, watching Angelina Ballerina. I gave her an out: “Do you feel like circus class today?” I asked.
“Yes,” she said.
We got in the car, had the usual battle doing up her seatbelt, then drove up the mountain and through the rain to circus class. We ran in under an umbrella and arrived just in time – the other children had started their first routine and were walking around the room, quacking and flapping their arms like ducks. “OK, go!” I said to My Girl.
“No,” she said. And hid her face in my lap.
“Come on,” I said, “don’t you want to walk like a duck?”
“No,” she said.
The next routine began.
“Come on,” I said. “Don’t you want to swim like a fish?”
“No,” she said.
Another routine began.
“Now,” I said, “are you really going to tell me you don’t want to crawl like a cat? Come on, I’ll do it with you!”
“No,” she said.
We have been coming to this circus class for three weeks. She has giggled, skipped and hopped enthusiastically through all the previous classes. After 15 minutes of non-participation, I gave her the ultimatum: “Take part or go home.”
“Go home,” she said.
A friend later told me my eyes were red with anger. I apologise if this frightened anyone.
But why, I wondered, was life so hard? Why wouldn’t my child just run off and join the circus class?
Give me a break, world.
Tonight, I made fish fingers from scratch. I cut the fish fillet into strips, dipped them in egg, then again in a mix of almond meal, parmesan and cornflake crumbs, before popping them in the frying pan and cooking them for three minutes a side.
It didn’t take long. I do this often. The only variation is in the type of fish – it may be salmon, barramundi or basa, any deboned fillet will do.
Then I delivered beautiful, golden fish fingers to my two-year-old son.
“No!” he shouted. “I want yellow fish fingers.”
“But these are yellow fish fingers,” I protested. “Look, this is a shark fish finger – your favourite!” (In a desperate attempt to please, I sometimes cut them into triangles, as he will eat something that looks like a fin over a rectangle.)
“No!” he shouted again.
“I’ll read you a story,” I said. “Diggers at Work.”
“No, no, no!” he shouted. “I want fish fingers.”
What he wanted were the no-name brand fish fingers from our local supermarket. Forget fresh, processed is king.
Fish fingers form about 50 percent of his diet. For the other half, he eats yoghurt.
Every evening, I lay out plates with a variety of foods, colours and shapes. I arrange the pieces to look like dinosaurs, trucks and sharks. Every evening, he scorns it all and eats only fish fingers.
“Come,” I said. “Let’s read Diggers at Work.” Any book about machines, but preferably one with a scoop, will do.
So we read Diggers at Work. Every time he took a bite, I turned a page as a reward. This is a slow, painful, skull-crushingly repetitive process. Every night I want to throw the book at the wall and scream, “Why won’t you just eat?”
Yes, I can see The Sydney Morning Herald’s headline now: “Boy turns down gourmet fish fingers, mother devastated.”
That’ll be the one just before, “Undernutrition contributes to 2.6 million deaths of children under five each year.”
First-world woes really are a killer.