A Funny Adventure in Disciplining a Two Year Old.

Not long after she turned 2, Mush started to have ‘naughty’ spells. No longer was her mess unintentional, her disobedience due to a lack of understanding or her tantrums pent up frustration – she was now choosing to do the thing she shouldn’t.
My warnings of ‘don’t touch that plug socket’ would cue a slow and cocky retreat back to said plug socket with unwavering eye contact as one little finger reached out to touch it.
Restrictions such as ‘no, you can’t ride in the front of the car on Mummy’s lap’ would illicit a 15 minute tantrum, sprawled on the floor, flailing limbs everywhere, real tears and silent screams, in the contrived lulls of which Mush would offer various terms of negotiation until reaching an acceptable outcome (listening to Let It Go on repeat for the 40 minute car journey).
After dumping the contents of the Lego box on the living room floor then moving on to the play kitchen, a request of ‘Mush, please tidy the Lego first’ would ensure possum like behaviour of running, hiding and playing dead. It never ceases to amaze me how a toddler can morph from a miniature and carry-able human being to a hippo with several extra limbs when they do not wish to be moved.
Yes, Mack and I had to have the chat. How were we going to get Mush to toe the line? Anticipating that she’d try and play us off against each other we knew we needed a consistent approach to discipline. Indeed, she was already so clever that when denied something by one parent she’d immediately pipe up that the other said it was ok. If only she was astute enough to not say “Daddy said I could have chocolate even if I didn’t eat my broccoli” in front of the 2 of us , at the table we were all three of us eating!
After a bit of research, our weapon of choice was the naughty step. Whereby we initiate a count down by the end of which Mush must undertake the desired behaviour and, if not initiated, then 2 minutes on the naughty step would follow. Should she talk or cry or move the time would start again. Once she’d completed her 2 minutes we’d have a quick consolidation chat and then a cuddle. If Supernanny could do it then so could we. Especially as our little terror was largely an angel.
And for a period, the outlook looked good. Every naughty episode was met with the count down and we never got to 1 before she did as she was told. Whilst amused that Mush was perturbed by a count down to a punishment she knew not of, we patted ourselves on the back for a job well done. Until, that is, the count down alone didn’t work.
Inevitably it was when we were out in public, with Mack’s brother, fiancé and 4 year old. Not the perfect setting for our first foray into formal discipline, not least of all due to the absence of stairs. But our hands were tied; we had to follow through. So with an audience and no idea how this was going to play out we set to, expecting paddy central. Every parent can appreciate the stress of a toddler who refuses to stop a screaming tantrum in public (and of course every toddler knows the power of a well located tantrum). We were not thrilled at the prospect.
Consequently at an ice cream farm café in front of a busy Saturday’s customers, the naughty step became a naughty chair in to which we fought our possessed child whilst explaining the rules of the time-out. We started the timer on Mack’s phone and told her that the blue line had to go around the circle before she could play again. We had to restart it twice but it worked and pretty quickly and painlessly too. The time-out gave her the breather she needed, she said sorry, gave us both a kiss and resumed saint like playing. Well, she’d stopped trying to shoplift stuff off the shelves.
Fantastic! We congratulated each other smugly and emerged confident that we were armed with an effective weapon in the great war of the terrible two’s.
Subsequently, 2 days later when Mush refused to sit at the dinner table we immediately started the count down to time-out, certain we would be happily eating tea in no time. Only Mush had thought up a trump card that we had in no way predicted. “3… 2… 1,” we count down followed by zero movement from Mush to sit at the table but before we can initiate Operation: Naughty Step she gleefully jumps up and down, laughing and clapping  before excitedly asking, “does this mean I can have a time out Mummy Daddy? Can I start the timer?”
What, the actual fuck? We look dumbfounded at each other at the predicament we’ve found ourselves in. By giving her the time-out, she’s getting what she wants. But we’ve told her that that’s the deal so unless we want to seem fickle, we need to go through with it. We have no choice but to seemingly play exactly into Mush’s hands. And Braticus bloody knows it. So off we go, her skipping smugly to the naughty step and us following futiley behind her, fighting the urge to laugh. We start the timer (small win) and she just angelically sits there for the duration and then kisses us as the buzzer sounds before trotting off to sit at the table.
Not only that, she now gives time-outs to her teddies (it’s overtaken classic make believe games like playing doctor and putting all her teddies to bed) and when she knows she’s being cheeky she even asks for a time out.
The student has become the master.
As bizarre as out discipline routine has now become, it does still seem to bring about compliance, so we are persevering but the sting is some what removed by the fact that we feel like we are now rewarding bad behaviour with 2 minutes of our daughter’s favourite pastime. And our little, evil genius knows it!

Mack’s Mindless Musings: Part 4: The Worst Experience of My Life: Darth Vader Reincarnate.

Part 4 of 4. Read Part 1 HERE, Part 2 HERE or Part 3 HERE.

Can We Talk?

We eat and drink what we can but it’s been so long and we’re so worried that it makes us both feel a little sickly. We scavenge through vending machines to find anything and everything that Mush likes. We want to give her the world after her ordeal but think that sweet treats, juice, water and crisps is as good a place as any to start. We’d been told the whole surgery should take about an hour but wanted to be back in plenty of time. Anxious to be with her when she woke. We’d even expressed this desire to all the medical staff knowing that to wake up to strangers would be the worst thing. With that in mind we headed back to the waiting room to collect our things only to discover that they were missing. The nurses had taken them to our new bed. It was of course a nice gesture and yes, we should have been grateful but it was difficult. I’ve been brought up to have manners so I use them but the words are hollow and emotionless. Meaningless. I don’t even believe them. We arrive at our new bed and continue to wait for news of our baby. At this point we have 2 beds, a theatre and waiting booth at our disposal – is it any wonder that there are a lack of beds and a general resource crisis.

‘Can we talk?’ Was the first thing the surgeon said to us as she came into the room. Stop the clock. time stands still. She spends 30 seconds (it felt much longer) attempting to draw the curtains closed for our privacy. Fuck privacy. I tell the surgeon to stop and Mummy desperately asks if our baby’s ok? To which she flippantly replies ‘oh yes of course’. Seriously? Then lead with that! Bobal and I had witnessed this all day long. Parents nervously waiting for their child to come out of surgery, medical staff coming to collect said anxious parents and them leading with some retarded/insensitive and uninformative line. Never saying the one thing that all these parents need to hear, ‘Hi, your precious baby is fine and the surgery went well, would you like to see your child now?’ Why is that not the natural thing to say? Crazy.

The surgeon proceeds to give us a full de-brief of the surgery. She’s not my cup of tea, a little patronising but I feel assured in her confidence. The surgery was a success. The next issue on her agenda is Mush’s hulk sized arm. She continues, ‘I’m not sure if you know but Mush’s left arm is swollen from the drip’, of course we know, we told you! We keep quiet, confirm that we know and continue to listen. ‘I really can’t make you but I’m advising that you stay in overnight so that we can monitor it’. Bobal and I had already had this discussion and knew that, as long as it brought no extra risk, we wanted Mush back home in her bed. It was for the best. Mush was at the end of her tether and just needed to be left alone for a good night’s sleep. Queue the Questionator, aka my Wife. Why? What are the risks involved? What will you be monitoring for here that we can’t at home? Is it likely to get any worse? If it does what will you do to fix it. The answers to these questions were all basically the same. Nothing. Long winded answers that said, no; there’s no benefit to her being in hospital followed by the much repeated patronising praise ‘good question’ and answers delivered in an infantilizing tone. It wasn’t likely to get worse, they would do nothing… they simply wanted to keep a close eye on their foul up. We all agreed that if Mush ate, drank and seemed ok once she woke up that we would be discharged and run, leaping for joy, away from this hell hole.

Credit to the surgeon as she eventually realised that we were intelligent, sensible parents who knew what was best for their child. She agreed that we should go.

She Might be a Little Shaky

The nurse arrives to tell us that Mush is waking up and asks us to follow her. Instantly the surgeon doesn’t exist to us. She tries to continue her de-brief but we politely excuse ourselves but as this doesn’t stop the surgeon ‘surmising’ Mama not so politely tells the surgeon that we are going to see our baby and we  follow the nurse. The surgeon chases after us condescendingly saying ‘so let’s just recap. ‘Suffice to say, neither of us remembers a recap. We didn’t know which way to go so we’re hot on the nurse’s heels for a few turns. There’s a baby crying in the distance. It’s obviously Mush so we overtake our leader. The poor little things distraught and there’s a random nurse standing over her. Let’s call her, Stupid Nurse 1. Stupid Nurse 1 is stroking our baby’s head trying to sooth her. I’m glad she was trying but anyone that knows my baby is painfully aware that she doesn’t like obvious love or comfort. It has to all be on her terms. Like a cat. She’s a special little creature. At no point during this whole ordeal did any professional ask us how news/procedures/pain and discomfort could best be mitigated to limit Mush’s distress. They just employed their ‘best’ effort often and unknowingly doing exactly the worst thing for Mush. Just ask us. It’s that simple and will make the whole process kinder on Mush and Mummy and Daddy but also, as you are so process driven – good news, it will make the process more efficient! Bobal and I arrive at the bed side and the nurse says hi. She continues to stroke our child’s head, unmoving, completely standing in the way of us getting to Mush. I’m sorry random Stupid Nurse 1, I didn’t realise that you had magical baby calming powers. Powers stronger than the comfort of a child’s own mother. How silly of me. I ask her to move which elicits a shuffle meaning Mama has to force her way between Stupid Nurse 1 and her screaming baby.

Mama starts trying to calm our frantic child. I’ve got ambivalent feelings towards my daughters rage. I’m sad that she’s sad but happy, no relieved, that she seems so strong and entirely herself. Mama asks the nurse, ‘Can I walk around with her?’Finally, Stupid Nurse 1’s moment had come. All those years of medical training and experience had prepared her for this moment. It was her time to shine and she was ready. ‘Oh, I wouldn’t let her walk, she’ll probably be a little shaky.’ A little shaky? A little freaking SHAKY? Our child’s just woken up after surgery. I’m not gonna whack her on the floor and let her go for a stroll. My response came out in angry spurts ‘We’re not moronic, Mama wants to hold her. Is there any medical reason against that?’ There wasn’t. Unfortunately, even Mush’s favourite spot (cuddled into Mamas neck) wasn’t enough to calm her down today. Screaming, completely untrusting baby in hand, we head back to our bed.

 Queue the Monster of Manchester – My Breaking Point

Our poor baby is completely beside herself. Screaming and thrashing the likes of which we’ve never seen. Completely inconsolable. The culmination of 2 absolutely dreadful days and she’s finally had enough. I’m not surprised. Mama and I are powerless to intervene and know she just needs some time on her own to calm down. We place her on the bed and leave her to it. It would have likely been easier if she could suck her thumb but the stupid cannula was in the way! It’s heart breaking and apparently the perfect moment for our new nurse to come in. Let’s call her Awful Human Being 1. Awful Human Being 1 is the perfect way to finish 2 of the worst days of our lives. She’s disgusting, selfish, jaded and de-sensitised in a way that I didn’t think was possible. This is how our initial encounter went. Mush is still screaming and thrashing, we look dishevelled and the strain of our ordeal is etched into our expressions (and should be etched into handover notes, but notes are either not written or not read). It’s obviously not a good moment for us. That doesn’t seem to matter. ‘I’m here to do your observations’ Awful Human Being 1 chirps the moment she comes round the corner. No ‘hi my name is…’ just straight into the robotic element. We politely ask if she could remove the cannula first so that Mush could suck her thumb. Stating that it would really help Mush sooth herself. Awful Human Being 1 responds in a tone that implies we’re both idiots, ‘no, she’ll need it through the night’.  We correct Awful Human Being 1 and let her know that the surgeon has said that we will be able to go home tonight. ‘No you won’t, who said that, when?’ she snapped at us. She went from hello to full blown angry in the blink of an eye. I couldn’t believe it. We answered her questions and she stormed off without a word.


I was incredulous. I’d very nearly had enough myself, then this idiot thought it was a good idea to have an attitude with us. She storms back around the curtain and continues on the war path. ‘Well my notes don’t say that, so you’ll be staying the night’. I’m really on the edge now. Mush still screaming on the bed beside us. Bobal calmly explains the conversation we had just had with the surgeon but it’s not enough for Awful Human Being 1. ‘Well, if I let you go now I wouldn’t be doing my job properly’. I can feel my body getting ready for a fight. I have one last attempt at calming the situation down. ‘Please, Awful Human Being 1, I need you to understand that Bobal and I have had 2 dreadful days, our child is still in awful discomfort and we are both very emotional. Can you please just take a step back and give us a little time?’ I was sat down, used a soft tone and basically pleaded with her to understand as earnestly as I could muster. It still wasn’t enough. She instead decided to poke the bear, ‘Well you need to understand that I’ve just started my shift and have come into this! If I let you go now I wouldn’t be doing my job properly’. She spat the words at us and the senseless repetition of her latter point really hit a nerve. My heart’s racing, hands start to shake, vision gets fuzzy… I’m about to lose it. I’m so disappointed in myself.  I stay sat down and miraculously manage to remain non-aggressive. I keep my volume low and tone even, ‘I need you to give us a minute, can you just do that please?’

 Awful Human Being 1 still doesn’t get the message. She practically spits back at me, ‘Look, if you don’t listen to me…*white noise*’. I can’t remember what else she said, I interject, ‘leave… now’, my tone is dark, firm… commanding. Volume still turned right down. She knows I mean business and she leaves, muttering some senseless crap that doesn’t register. We return to consoling our daughter. Bobal still has her sights firmly set on the prize. Going home tonight. She’s got a much better handle of her emotions currently (we complement each other perfectly, a great team) and so goes to talk to Awful Human Being 1 this time with her lawyer face strapped on.

Bobal gets Awful Human Being 1’s attention. She needlessly apologises for our emotional response and explains briefly about the day we’ve had. Darth Vader defensively responds by stating that it wasn’t in handover notes and she’s only just come on shift. Bobal further attempts to disarm Awful Human Being 1 by explaining what the Surgeon had said and what that was based on. Judge Bob then starts to cross examine. ‘what are your concerns? What do you need to see to discharge? Shall we call the surgeon back to quell your concerns? Did it hurt when you were expelled from the spitfires of hell?’ Awful Human Being 1 answers the questions and Bobal skilfully takes her through her evidence only momentarily stumbling over questions when Awful Human Being 1 sees fit to retort ‘your husband was plain rude, how does he think that makes me feel coming into that?’ Bobal swallows her rage for the greater good, clenches her fists and commences closing submissions i.e. ‘I’m sure we can meet you standard for discharge, especially as discharge is backed by the attending surgeon but if you still feel unable to let us leave; you should note that under the  current circumstance we are inclined to self-discharge.’  Bobal’s succeeded in backing Darth Vader into a corner and we’ve taken step 1 towards home.

 Over at Last, it’s Time to go Home

Our final hour in hell continues in very much the same fashion. At this point we’ve come to expect nothing else. Awful Human Being 1 storms around, glaring at us. Hushed discussions and dirty glances are tossed our way from the nurses station as we continue to try and calm Mush down. Trying to regain some semblance of trust. It’s hard. Really hard. All our usual methods of persuasion, calming and distraction have been employed already and have been followed by starvation and physical assault. She daren’t fall for that again.

We do eventually get Mush to relax. She eats and drinks the most nutritious meal of her life consisting of, juice, crisps and a cookie. Once we’re certain Mush is good to go, I take it upon myself to approach Awful Human Being 1. I’ve calmed down now and decided to put a stop to this negative behaviour cycle. Not for her benefit or because I think I should but simply because I know it’s the right thing to do for my family. I strap on my most sickly sweet smile and press play on a super smarmy, friendly tone. I’m very condescending but in such a friendly way that it gives her no room to bite or challenge. I’m a man on a mission. A mission to get discharged without issue. I convince her to find the surgeon so that we can clear things up. The surgeon arrives and Awful Human Being 1’s attitude is hilariously different. She pretends to be nice a person for a brief moment and we agree, again, what was agreed initially. Mush needs some final observations then we’re good to go.

Halle’freekin’lujah!! We collect our baby and our things and high tail out of this hell hole. Not without meeting one final frustrating job’s worth of a security guard who decided to add 10 minutes to our walk out of the building. Thanks buddy. I can’t even be bothered explaining this one! We find our car, pay £20 for the privilege of parking it and strap Mush safely into her seat. 2 Minutes into the journey and she’s fast asleep. With our joint emotional bank accounts at a disappointing –100 we arrive at home, tuck our little girl into bed and watch her sleep. In each other’s arms. with our baby home and safe our bank accounts reset to 0. We made the right decision to bring her home. We may not practice medicine but ultimately we know what’s right for our baby.

I hope never to be in a hospital with a sick or injured child again but if I am I can only apologise in advance to those good doctors, nurses and support staff that I may meet and my future self may treat unfairly. I will potentially be your worst nightmare. Instead of letting you do your job, trusting you and staying out of your way I’m going to be in your face. Assertive, proactive. Questioning and recording. Begging you to deal with the one that shouts loudest which I can assure you will be me. I cannot afford not to. My family are the most important thing in this world and it’s my job to keep them happy, healthy and safe and I cannot trust you not to stand in my way. Just know that it saddens me knowing I will have to act that way.

Quickly I’d like to say thank you to Awful Human Being !. Thank you for showing me exactly the type of person I never want to become. Thank you for being a heartless, de-sensitized, poor excuse for a medical professional. I’ve learnt so much from you. I will remember this. Not in a pointless and petty vendetta-esque fashion but simply to learn from. To help me grow and become a better person for it. I hope I will never be as selfish as you were that day and regardless of my troubles I hope I can always show compassion to those in need of it.

My parting note is to Mush. Mush, I’m sorry. I’m sorry I didn’t do more. You, are the single most important thing in the world to your mother and I. I’m sorry I let you come to harm and I’m sorry that I let strangers make it worse. We know that accidents happen, I can console myself with that but for as long as I live I will do more. I promise to never let a perceived sense of faith in a flawed system harm you again. I love you too much to risk your health on assumptions. Finally, thank you. Thank you for being the most amazing daughter a father could ask for and for being such a brave little girl in the face of an awful, awful day. And yes darling, the day after this ordeal we made you cake and yes, you got us to sing happy birthday.

We love you so much.

Sincerely Mack, Bobal and Mush.


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Mack’s Mindless Musings: The Worst Experience of My Life, Part 3: Why the Need For Secrecy?

Part 3 of 4. Read Part 2 HERE or Part 1 HERE.

Why the Need for Secrecy?

Let’s say I take my car into the garage. I get a full service, oil change, tyre change… the lot. I booked my car in, pick the day, get given a timeslot and called when my vehicle’s ready. Before the mechanics do anything they give me a call to get my consent, then they explain everything they’ve done in detail. I even get accompanying paperwork as evidence of the work. In fact last time they filmed it! Why is it then, that when our daughter is in hospital we aren’t given the same. All we want is information. Just let us know what’s happening, what you’re doing and what the results are. At the end of the day, in the eyes of law and until she is 16 at least, she is our body, ours to make decisions about and we need to be properly armed in order to advocate for her sensibly. Instead, every step of the way is a battle to find the insight we’re in need of. What’s her blood sugar level? What’s classed as normal? Is that bad and what choices do we have from here? We end up googling everything to double check as we’re provided with no information and just simply don’t trust anyone to do right by our child anymore.

Poked, Prodded and Stabbed

20 hours no food and water. Mush now needs to be on a drip. She injured her finger! Bobal and I are seriously questioning the point of this. We’re taken to a little room, Mush has 4 spoons full of a sugar solution and she smacks her lips struggling to swallow, clearly lacking saliva at this point. A new nurse arrives to put the cannula in her hand that was numbed 6 and a half hours ago. Let’s call her Bitch Number 1. I quickly ask about how long the numbing is effective for. Bitch Number 1 says ‘errr it should be about ok’. ‘About?’ In what universe did she think this would be acceptable? I enquire about further numbing options before they stab my child. I ask ‘is there a fast acting option that we can use?’ At least I think I did. Bitch Number 1 was pretty annoyed at me so I might have accidentally called her a fat, sadistic cow! Who knows. Either way she snaps at me ‘I think the need for hydration is more urgent than numbing her hand’. We’re not stupid. We of course understand the priority here, as a result I might add of your negligence but we simply want to avoid causing our daughter further pain if we can. Ridiculously, I have to press further and it turns out they have a freeze spray that works instantly. Bitch Number 1 scoffs and goes to get the spray, she’s back within moments and uses it.

By this point Mush is so dehydrated that it’s really difficult to find a vein. Let the poking and prodding commence. We try and distract her but it’s no use. Mama restrains Mush as best she can whilst she writhes in pain. My baby is screaming and tears stream down my Wife’s face. Attempt one to insert the cannula into her right hand was a failure. We stop the bleeding and Bitch Number 1 suggests her left arm. She’s about to start and we have to remind her about the freeze spray. Round 2. More squirming, screaming, crying and futile attempts at distraction. The cannula’s potentially successful this time. The nurse seems unsure but says it’s ok and bandages it in place. Bitch Number 1 syringes a solution through it and there seems to be a fair amount of resistance. We can tell that it’s puzzling her. She says nothing. We question the confusion and she assures us that everything seems fine. I’m not convinced but I don’t have the training to challenge it. We go back to our newly assigned bed but all Mush wants to do is sit and cuddle Mama.

Lovely Doctor 1 to the Rescue

The nice lady from play room then gets wind of our story. She came and asked us if Mush would like anything to distract her. She then spent ten minutes setting up a DVD player, light machine, wall projector and even found a doll to give to Mush as a present. Thank you. I’m sorry that we weren’t more appreciative and I hope you read this one day and understand why. Thank you all the same. Sadly Mush has no interest in anything the lady brought. She’s exhausted and just wants to sleep on Mama. The nurses however have different plans. We understand that they have a job to do but why be so obnoxiously loud? 5 or 6 times they came for one thing or another. Each time just after Mush had fallen asleep and each time it took us longer to calm her down again. Our trust in the assigned ‘care givers’ had now reached rock bottom. I was even googling paediatric IV infusion rates to ensure they’d got it right. In fact, setting up the IV infusion pump had been the first visit. A different nurse had given the same puzzled expression when met with resistance from the cannula. Again we questioned this only to be given a blasé response.

This next point will make us seem really ungrateful. It does however perfectly highlight the lack of emotional understanding and compassion displayed all day. The nurse came and asked if we had eaten and if we wanted a drink and or some toast. Firstly thank you for the offer. Secondly NO you unaware imbecile, I don’t want to eat and drink in front of my daughter who we’ve been, in her eyes, maliciously and pointlessly starving for the past 20 hours, as you well know. Bobal sends her away with a stern face and some choice words. Don’t mess with Mama Bear.

It would now appear that news of our extended hospital visit had reached the ears of the Lovely Doctor 1 that we saw yesterday morning. He came and spoke to us to find out what was going on. Again he was great. He updated us with the knowledge he had and said he would see what he could do. Again I’m sorry I wasn’t more appreciative. After he left, I’m not sure what he said or who he spoke too but it must have worked. 5 minutes later we were visited by a new surgeon. Progress. Slightly sideways progress in that we had no idea we needed a new surgeon and so sat through the same surgeon briefing and box ticking questions. Turns out the theatre slot we had, had gone. She then says ‘I’m informed by the nurses that you really want to see the anaesthetist, I’ll see what I can do’. No, no, It’s your dam protocol that dictates we cannot go into theatre until we’ve spoken to the anaesthetist and apparently this phantom person has been on their way for half a day. I assume they’ve gone via London hospital for some advice and if so can you call them and ask them to pick up some good nurses whilst they’re there please? We of course don’t actually say this and simply agree. The surgeon leaves. We continue to wait. Silently hoping beyond all hope that the anaesthetist is at least competent. As it turns out, we wouldn’t be disappointed.

Competence When we Needed it the Most

Thank you, thank you so much to the anaesthetist. We’re sorry we can’t remember your name. You’re fantastic. You were exactly what we needed and more. You were so good you made me cry. I’d been holding it back for so long, being strong for my family as I knew that Bobal was very nervous about this part of the whole process. I was so relieved that the person she needed to be good was good, that I cried. I literally couldn’t help it. The Anaesthetist arrived, spoke quietly so as not to wake Mush, introduced herself and apologised earnestly. She then asked us how we were, appeared genuinely interested and listened to the answer. She knew that we were nervous about putting our child to sleep and probed to find out why so that she could quell those fears. She was strong, confident, compassionate, matched her tone to our energy levels, listened and helped us when we needed it the most. Thank you so much. Even though we knew the policy regarding the number of parents allowed to accompany a child down to theatre was 1, we asked if we could both go. She said yes instantly and didn’t even try to gain credit for changing the policy. Thank you. She left and told us we would be collected shortly, I believed her. How sad that she was the exception and not the norm. She didn’t even do anything ground breaking, she just recognised that we were human beings and treated us as such.

Soon afterwards a gentleman arrived with a gurney and a gown. It’s time. It’s actually our time. To avoid any further distress we cut Mush’s baby grow off from her left arm, the arm with the cannula inserted, to reveal the arm’s now twice it’s normal size. Instantly my heart sinks, what on earth does this mean? Both her bicep and tricep are badly distended and the whole arm looks swollen and sore. She resembles a left handed baby body builder who’s been injecting steroids directly into that arm for months. ‘Nurse can you take a look at this please?’ She silently surveys the arms whilst removing the bandages from around the cannula. We wait patiently until she starts to leave. We stop her and ask what she thinks. ‘I… errr… I think it’ll be fine. I’m just going to go and check with the other nurses’. Why wouldn’t it be natural for this person to communicate this information to us before trying to leave? It seems so odd to me. Regardless the nurses surmise that the vein must have collapsed or the cannula slipped, so the fluid has gone directly into the muscle. It ‘should’ be fine and just be re-absorbed by the body. We are in no way reassured and make a mental note to ask the theatre team as soon as we see them. Thank you for the gurney but Mama carries Mush to the theatre. Mush has one final plea for food on way the way. She whispers to her Mama ‘Mummy, birthday cake please’. I’m so glad I didn’t hear it. That could have been the final little tragic straw that broke this exhausted camel’s back. We arrive at the theatre.

Time For a Quick Nap

Nearly 21 hours with no food or water. It’s late, 7:30 PM. We can imagine that the theatre team has had a long day, but they don’t show it. There was probably 6 medical personnel in the room, although in truth this part gets a little fuzzy for me. I was focused solely on my family and the anaesthetist. The rest could have been wearing clown suits for all I know, I simply can’t remember. I raise our concerns regarding Mush’s arm and am instantly set at ease. Mama sits down on the bed, baby in arms as the anaesthetist calmly explains that we can no longer use to the cannula to put Mush to sleep and will have to use a mask. She even manages to get tired little smiles out of my girls. Thank you. The mask goes on for real this time, Mush fights it, we both hold her tight and whisper reassuring words, she gets weaker, eyes roll back, body goes limp. ‘Can I take her now please?’ Thank you blurry man, thank you for asking and not just snatching. ‘We know how important she is to you, we’ll take good care of her’, Thank you, these words were more reassuring than you know. The fuzzy person lies Mush down on the table, Mama and I give her a quick kiss each, tell her we love her and we walk out without looking back. As the door shuts behind us, the emotion just spills out of us, we cry in the hallway and embrace each other. We must have looked slightly insane. Both slightly hysterical, laughing and crying, sad but knowing it’s ridiculous. We’re happy that she’s in safe hands and the actual surgery is only for her bloody finger! The emotion isn’t about that, it’s about the culmination of 2 days of basic, unnecessary and unexpected torture from the people we trusted with our daughter’s care. 5 seconds into our embrace and a random unknown nurse pipes up, let’s call her Bitch Number 2. ‘You need to go back to the waiting room now’. I visualize a spinning back fist, she sounds close enough and it’s probably time I vent some frustration. I of course don’t and simply say no. ‘No’ in a way that meant leave us the Fuck alone. I think she got the message as she was gone by the time I turned around. Thank you Bitch Number 2, thank you for being a compassionless moron.

21 hours no food and no water, time to eat. Subway it is then. To be continued in Part 4.

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Mack’s Mindless Musings: The Worst Experience of My Life Part 2: The Completely Avoidable, Worst Day of My Life.

Part 2 of 4. See HERE for Part 1. 

Let The Starvation Begin: The Hunger Games


I’ve never understood people who skip meals or forget to eat. How’s that possible? I literally run my life by my meal times. Today however Mush had been instructed not to eat or drink prior to the surgery. So we wake at 5.30am and venture into the unknown having had no food or water since 11PM last night. Here’s how the next few hours went.

8.5 hours no food or water. As instructed we arrive promptly at 7.30. A nurse completes our observations quickly and she was lovely. Thank you.

9.5 hours no food or water. 8.30 arrives, no update. So we wait. Mush asks, ‘Daddy drink please, breakfast Mummy’ a few times. She’s easily distractible so we continue to wait.

10.5 hours no food and water. 1 family has progressed and been taken into the great unknown. There are no further updates and we are 1 hour past our expected update of ‘the list’. Mush is tired and fractious, she continues to plea for food and water.

We try twice during this time to find out information and were told that ‘the list’ was being consulted and we would find out soon. We start to wonder if the whole thing is worth it. Should we call it quits and try again tomorrow? The only saving grace during this time was the lovely receptionist who kept finding toys for the children to play with (toys that apparently were not available to yesterday’s receptionist!). Thank you. The morale you provided was invaluable and the Sponge Bob jigsaw went down a treat.

Progress/Hope at Long Last?

12.5 hours no food and no water. It’s 11.30am (3 hours past our expected update) we finally progress to the next stage. A nurse comes to collect us and we assume this is it. Nervous as the prospect of putting our child under general anaesthetic is a daunting one. Regardless we feel an ounce of relief that Mush’s forced dehydration will soon be over. She’ll be on the road to recovery. The nurse takes us through the hospital and we probe for further information. The secrecy of ‘the list’ continues and we are still none the wiser. We reach our next stop and our guide leaves. This place looks eerily similar to another public waiting area except this time we have a nice little private booth and a sign. ‘Here you will see a nurse, an Anaesthetist and a Doctor. A nurse will give you an update every hour until you are taken into theatre’. Excellent. Sadly however, the sign was a lie. We were once again given expectations and they were not going to be met nor would an explanation as to the delay be forthcoming.

A nurse flies into our new booth and cracks on. She’s a robot. She’s been programed to put on wrist band and apply numbing cream. She’s forgotten that we’re humans and is purely about function. We probe for information but she clearly hasn’t had that software update. Computer says no. She finishes and leaves. We continue to wait, 15 hours no food and water. Thankfully a lovely person also waiting for surgery had found the holy grail and was willing to share the riches. The playroom! Amazed that a nurse hadn’t told us, I take Mush for a much needed distraction. We play for ages and it’s nice to see her smile. I manage to entertain her for a good hour but she’s starting to become lethargic and clumsy. More pleas for food, water and Mama (who didn’t want to leave the booth in case we missed our turn), so we head back so I can speak with the nurses.

Decisions, Decisions

16 hours no food and water. We explain this to the nurses. Again. We express our concerns regarding Mush’s malnourishment and it appears to be falling on deaf ears. I get the distinct feeling that we’re considered a pain but we press further, we have no other choice. we simply need to know if/when Mush may be taken for surgery. As per our table sign, we still haven’t seen a doctor or an anaesthetist in the 4 and a half hours we’ve been upstairs and you can forget our hourly nurse updates. I’m told that we ‘should’ get seen today but they don’t know when. They say it in such a way that it gives us a wisp of hope. We feel committed so we continue to wait.

‘The list?’ How can it possibly be so unknown? Surely we can apply a modicum of common sense and get a ball park answer. A description as to how it should run. What typical timescales are like. The likelihood we’ll see the inside of a theatre today. Just something like, ‘we have X people on the list today, we have X surgeons, on average it takes X amount of time to complete the surgery, it also takes roughly X to reset the theatre, you have currently been prioritised as X on the list. There are of course unknown emergencies that will take precedent etc’ I fully appreciate that emergencies will take precedent – as they should but come on! It can’t be that difficult to talk us through the variables so we can make our own call. It’s no water 2 hours before surgery and no food 5 hours before. Surely in this mammoth day someone somewhere could have made the decision or armed us with the information to make the decision that movement was unlikely for those time periods and therefore a little toast and water would have been possible. No. Starving a just turned 2 year old is apparently the NHS way.

We manage to get Mush to have a nap. 1 glorious, discomfort free hour. After this we change tactic, Mush no longer wants to play in the play room, we lie her down and let her watch Teletubbies on our phones. She lies so still, completely out of character. Then the surgeon arrives. Excellent. He goes through the usual box ticking and we are told that we are next, aka another wisp of hope. We just need to wait and see the anaesthetist first. Another hour passes by and nothing. We continue to wait,  18 hours no food and no water. Mush can no longer be settled and her pleas for hydration become persistent. We once again go to see a nurse. Every hour the nursing staff seems to change. No one takes responsibility for us. No nurse has been upstairs as long as we have.

Suddenly, All Hands on Deck

We parade Mush in front of the nurses station in the hope that it’ll evoke some semblance of emotional reaction. Mush continues to plea for food and water. She speaks quietly and through sobs, tearless sobs from her dehydrated state. Mummy is silently crying with her face turned away from Mush. Mush is so very, very clever and we can communicate very well but how can you make a 2 year old understand why you won’t feed them. Why you won’t give them water. You can’t. ‘Please Mummy Daddy drink, juice please, cup, lid, tap, snack, food…’. She uses the full extent of her vocabulary pleading with us, as if we just don’t understand her. It’s heart breaking. I politely explain to a nurse that enough’s enough and she either needs surgery now or we need to feed our child. Where is the sense in ensuring someone is at their weakest for something they need to be strong for? I’ll never understand that. 19 hours no food and water. By luck a separate nurse has caught sight of our child and decides to do a blood sugar test. Thank you.

They do the test and al of a sudden we have the unwavering attention of 4 nurses at our disposal. One is furiously making phone calls on our behalf, one has found us a bed so that we are more comfortable, another is fetching us toys to distract Mush whilst the other is getting a sugar solution to give to her. Why? Because they’ve fucked up! They’ve realised that we aren’t just nagging parents. They’ve realised that they’ve unnecessarily starved a 2 year old. Starved her until her blood sugar levels are dangerously low. Starved her until she no longer feels able to walk and doesn’t even want to lift her head off mama’s shoulder. Sadly any nice actions are lost on us at this point. These people have lost all credibility in our eyes and we struggle to show appreciation for the assistance but we try to knowing that this will ensure the best possible care for our daughter. A ‘best’ level of care far below that which we expected.

My Emotional Bank Account

I want you to consider this. The difficulty in telling this story is in accurately expressing our emotional state throughout. Most people will rightly think that each individual issue ‘isn’t a big deal’ and that the injury itself isn’t anything to be worried about. True story. It’s in the relentlessness. The constant morale bashing actions that grind away at my families’ minds and bodies. It’s in the distinct lack of communication leaving you feeling powerless to act and advocate for your family effectively. Sadly, I truly thought that ALL health care professionals cared and wanted to help people. I was wrong. This simple realisation, twinned with my daughter’s declining physical condition and the steady loss of faith in ‘the system’, was soul destroying. Not to mention the surround-sound wails of poorly children. It was torturous.

Imagine our emotions are a simple number based system. 0 represents a person at neutral. Not happy, not sad, just content. Events that take place, people’s actions or lack thereof, will either make a deposit into my emotional bank account (+1 aka a positive thing) or take a withdrawal (-1 aka a negative thing). As a result of our arduous journey so far, I have surmised that we entered the day at a conservative -10  After all the deposits and withdrawals from today we are now at a solid -50. Basically we are very unhappy people and any attempts to boost our spirits have lost all effect and credibility. Yes Nurse you have offered us a bed (+1) but -49 is still exceedingly unhappy.

19 and a half hours no food and water, to be continued in Part 3.


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Mack’s Mindless Musings: The Worst Experience of My Life, Part 1: One Father’s plea for compassion – NHS Please Don’t Fail Me Again.

Day1, Part1 of 4.


Recently Mush injured her finger, badly. Split her little finger in half to the bone but sadly, that isn’t my sole inspiration for this blog. The initial support, aftercare and resulting SURGERY have been a complete disappointment. A monumental rollercoaster of emotions including a mix of quality professionals and grossly incompetent idiots with no respect for humanity along for the ride. I feel duty bound to speak about it in the hope that what we have experienced will never happen to others. It certainly won’t to us as next time (please don’t let there be a next time) we will be hyper-assertive, fact-checking, gut-trusting patients from hell who will take a baby into hospital with a sore finger and come out with a baby with a fixed finger. Full stop.

It’s a rather protracted tale so I plan to split it into 4 parts. I feel it prudent however to commence by expressing my gratitude and respect for the emergency services personnel and the NHS as a whole. I’ve had many excellent experiences with the NHS, I fully appreciate the pressures they face and agree that they are in need of further budgetary support to truly provide the service everyone needs. This blog is in no way condemning the many but simply highlighting the very AVOIDABLE sequence of events that led to my happy, healthy little bundle of joy entering hospital fit and well and then ultimately being made very poorly. Very poorly under the not so watchful eyes of supposed health care professionals.

A Parents’ Worst Nightmare.


In the blink of an eye a lovely day turned into an awful one. My perfect little 2 year old girl trapped her finger in a gate and basically split it in half. A horrific injury, down to the bone, lots of blood. I won’t linger too much but thankfully I’m good in a crisis, knew exactly what to do and felt confident in my ability. I will however say that the sight of my daughter writhing in pain has scarred my heart. Just writing this makes me want to cry and I truly don’t want to experience it again. Here’s where my faith in humanity began to be eroded. Sitting with a screaming child, surrounded by bloody rags in the middle of a busy park waiting for help which of course I knew was on the way but no one else did. Not one single person stopped to see if they could do anything. Despite the many pedestrians we were invisible. Awful.


Help Arrives

Thankfully the paramedic arrived quickly and was excellent. Calm, confident, reassuring. Exactly what he needed to be. Thank you. We arrived at hospital and were triaged promptly. A doctor assessed Mush and I within 15 mins and requested a consult due to the extent of the injury. Then Mama arrives. I hadn’t stopped to consider how tense I was until she turned up. Her presence alone lifted Mush’s spirits and I hadn’t realised how much I needed her until I heard her voice ask for us at reception. Parents cope because they have too, for their child, we put on a front of protection but the strain beneath is real. Professional medical physicians ‘should’ be painfully aware of this and ‘should’ be trained in how to manage those emotions. Not least of all because many of them are also parents/daughters/sons/aunties/uncles.


The consulting doctor surmised that the wound would heal fine with sterri-strips and instructed a nurse to clean and dress the wound. We would later find out how wrong he was but who are we to question a trained professional? The nurse arrived and was useless. Friendly but clearly not competent or in possession of basic wound dressing common sense or protocol and I had to intervene a few times. The wound was cleaned (and by cleaned I mean it saw a swipe of an antiseptic wipe and when my Wife questioned this, we were told a more throuough cleaning would do more harm than good), the sterri-strips were then applied and the finger dressed.


We left and were booked in for a check-up in 3 days.


The Pointless and the Phantom Appointments


After waiting for an hour for our ‘scheduled appointment’ the appointment itself consisted of being told that sterri-strips don’t get taken off until the 5 day mark and basically being chastised for attending as, the requested consulting doctor curtly informed us, ‘there’s nothing I can do today, I’m not sure why you’re here’. We didn’t chose to come, we again trusted the advice provided. Mush was distressed, we’d re-juggled work to be there and taken the spot of another patient all for no reason. This would be the first of many subsequent occasions where NHS resources (scant as they are) were wasted. We were ‘booked’ for a subsequent check up in 2 days time (bank holiday Monday). We anticipated trouble with the ad-hock appointment made on a none appointment date but the doctor reassured us that he would be in and all would be fine. We arrived 2 days later and inevitably there was no record of our slot. The receptionist was unwilling to listen to me and went from ‘hello’ to exasperated in the time it took me to say ‘I have an appointment for my child’. Where is the active listening, the patience, the empathy? I tried to explain the unusual circumstances but she simply brushed us aside without even a modicum of sympathy. We had to fend for ourselves.


We ended up having to check in to Paediatric A&E and be triaged again. Luckily, after an hour’s wait we happened across the doctor who had seen us at the check up. He remembered and assisted. Within seconds of removing the dressing he had requested a consult from the Plastics Department at Manchester Children’s Hospital. He was concerned about the extent of the nail bed injury and admitted he didn’t possess the training to deal with it. Thank you for being honest. We don’t expect everyone to know everything; just know your limitations and who is better placed to help. We arrived in Manchester at 4pm and were unsurprisingly met by another jaded, snappy receptionist who must have had a much worse day than my wife and I. How silly of us, we must have forgotten to manage her emotions, perhaps she’d missed her morning coffee break… poor thing. We advised we were to see Plastics and she told us we’d need to be triaged. We explained that the doctor we’d just seen said this was unnecessary and she snapped again that we didn’t know what we were talking about. Whilst she reluctantly made enquiries on her computer a parent asked if there was some paper that his child could draw on as there were colouring pencils out but not paper and no other toys. The witch of a woman actually refused and it took a second receptionist to step the foot behind her and reach into the copier for some. Eventually this poor excuse for a paediatric A&E receptionist unapologetically realised we were in fact supposed to see Plastics and we got to waiting.


Confidence is Key; Experts at Last

When we finally got to Plastics, around 5 PM, the doctor was excellent. Let’s call him, Lovely Doctor 1. Little did we know Lovely Doctor 1 would prove to be a solid and consistent support when we needed it the most. He was great with Mush, explained in detail what was happening, listened to us and treated us like actual human beings. He recognised that we were intelligent and treated us as such. He asked sensible questions, listened to the answers and provided us with relevant information so that we could make informed decisions. It’s not that difficult. He called the surgeon in for a consult. The surgeon and doctor oozed confidence, I felt reassured in their conviction and trusted their advice. They remained professional but clearly were disgusted that a dirty finger had been dressed and shocked that simple sterri-strips had been applied to an injury of this level. They strongly recommended surgery to repair it, suggesting that it should not have waited a week and that we could be on the emergency list for tomorrow. Great. We agreed.

Let the box ticking begin. We gave our consent then needed to wait for a round of observations and for a Paediatric doctor to sign Mush off. She had been ill with a cold so they wanted to be sure she was healthy enough for the operation. Understandable, we wouldn’t want it any other way. We knew she was fine but better to be safe than sorry. Before going to the waiting area we were told to be back at the hospital reception for 7.30am tomorrow morning. No food or drink when she wakes and we will be informed if we are on ‘the list’ by 8.30am. ‘The list’, as it was constantly referred to, is the amount and order of patients waiting for surgery that day. Ok, sounds good.

Venturing into the Unknown

People are infinitely more patient when their expectations are managed. When we are treated like human beings with feelings and shown empathy. When we are communicated to and allowed to make informed choices because we are treated like equals and provided with the information required. All of these traits cost nothing but common sense and manners but appeared to be in short supply. So here we wait. We had minimal supplies given the surprise nature of this referral and no idea when we’ll get seen. Conscious that our child is in pain and we are passed her 7pm bedtime. Fearful to speak to the oh so happy receptionist and not wanting to nag the doctors, we wait. After each hour waited we would request an update and receive the standard ‘you will be seen soon’, ‘I’m sure they are on the way’, ‘they know you are waiting’, but with no actual investigation or confirmation. Basically politely dismissed.

Eventually Lovely Doctor 1 discovered that we had not yet been seen to by 10PM. He appeared disgruntled and made a few phone calls then communicated that information back to us. He even informed the nurse on shift of our situation and asked her to assist. She found Rory some toys to play with, a bed to relax and offered some juice and toast. Thank you. Both had spoken to ‘Duke from Paeds’ who had assured us he would see to us shortly. We continue to wait, slightly more comfortably than before.

Duke: Professional Patience Tester

I like to think I’m an incredibly patient person. There are likely quite a few people that would attest to this. I’m pretty confident however that Duke had been sent from a professional patience testing facility with orders to ‘go nuts’. 11:30pm the infamous Duke arrives. We’ve now been in hospitals since 1pm and have the prospect of an early start ahead of us. Our child is tired but thankfully being lovely and patient. Duke and his colleague arrive and sit on the desk, the nurse points out Mush, my Wife and I. We are right next to them, entertaining our child and clearly within hearing distance. Duke glances in our direction, I catch his eye, he looks away.

Duke begins his attempts to rattle me. He excitedly discusses holidays past and future for 15 minutes before swanning off to find our file. He then reads our file making jokes, condescending remarks and flippant observations whilst we stare in absolute bemusement. Astoundingly he then has the gall to turn and introduce himself to us, as if we hadn’t been watching him all this time, without even a nod to an apology for waiting, or even a shred of sympathy for our position. Great start Duke, you’ve been trained well… you professional twat. I’m sure there are some amazing paediatric doctors out there so I mean no offence but he had that typical super happy, patronising, condescending tone when talking to both child and parent. He’s about 5ft 10”, dark hair, incredibly jolly and smiling from ear to ear. He was either unaware, unable or unwilling to see the situation for what it was and respond appropriately and obviously had no idea how to match the energy of the room allowing us to feel like he appreciated our position.

‘She looks fine’ he says after looking her up and down. Truly a professional. That’s exactly the three words you needed to utter to send my blood boiling. I keep my cool. We inform Duke that we are not worried, we have been advised that he needs to clear Mush before surgery tomorrow. Tomorrow starts in 10 minutes. ‘I’m not really sure why, she seems completely fine’. Bravo Duke, you’ve just leaped the border into complete twats-ville… congratulations. I could say more but you get the picture. Despite his expert attempts to rile me, I stay calm, Mush gets examined and we start our 1 hour journey home. We settle down to bed at 1.30 ready for a 5.30 alarm

Losing Faith

This was just the start. We were nervous about the day ahead and beginning to lose faith in the people we were entrusting with our child’s safety. Not the best of starts. Not because of a lack of competence but due to a simple lack of basic human attributes. Empathy, sympathy, communication, general respect for humanity. It’s incredibly disappointing.

 Sadly however I would take a million days like this if I could avoid what was to come tomorrow. AKA today. To be continued in Part 2.


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Mack’s Mindless Musings: An Update For My Daughter 19/07/2017.

I love a good lie in… Sorry, I used to love a good lie in. I thoroughly enjoy sleeping and I’m good at it. You however, my gorgeous little girl, have other not so sleepy plans. Don’t get me wrong you’ve been sleeping pretty well at the minute, in bed at 7.30, awake between 6 and 7 and only waking up once if at all. I really can’t complain, I just love my bed! A lot!
The funny thing is, no matter what time you wake me up, I can’t help but smile when I see your little face. It doesn’t work the same for your mother, God help her if she wakes me too soon! Currently this is our little morning dance fully choreographed by yourself:
You wake up, either Mummy or myself will come and get you, take off your sleeping bag and change your nappy. This is where the demands begin. ‘Want people!’ This means I have to collect the selection of Lego people from the wardrobe that you ordered me to put there the night before. Then ‘Mummy Daddy bed’, and as soon as we reach the bed, ‘Po, Po, Po, Po, daddy get Po, Po’, relentlessly until I move. So I go and collect your 8 strong possy of cuddly toys that currently consists of Roo, Lionel, Po, Lala, Tinky Winky (Winky), Dipsy, Naked Meerkat  and most recently; Marcel the Monkey.
The instant you are happy that I have fulfilled my teddy courier duties you start with, ‘milk, milk, milk, Daddy get milk’, suffice to say, I go and ‘get milk’. During this time I can only assume that you are being mauled to death by your kiss and squeeze happy mother but having glorious cuddles none-the-less whilst I’m off in the world milking a cow!
As soon as I return from my latest duty, you politely say ‘thank you… curtains’, so I open the curtains and disappear for my *cough, cough* morning toilet time. 5 minutes later you charge through the bathroom door to give me my morning toilet cuddle whilst telling me ‘Daddy poo, Daddy poo’ then demand that we go ‘downstairs, downstairs, Daddy go downstairs’ to which I agree and you reply ‘breakfast’ and ‘Daddy carry’ or ‘shimmy bump’ based on the way in which you decided to go down the stairs to where Mummy is making breakfast.
It’s a long stretch from my old lazy mornings, waking up whenever I pleased, grunting at your Mummy and needing an hour on my own before it was safe to engage with the human population… and I wouldn’t change it for the world.
Much love, Daddy xx

Mack’s Mindless Musings: An update for my daughter 17/07/2017

You are a delight, a frustratingly relentless delight! Your mood changes with the wind and you have the emotional range of an 18 year old drama student. Your love for the most simple thing is infectious and your instantaneous rage is hilarious. I am seriously considering a test for schizophrenia.
So, what are some of your major attributes, your likes and dislikes that I think you may like to read about when you’re older? At the minute you love Lego! ‘Daddy play Lego, Daddy play Lego, Daddy play Lego’, you can continue with this until you get a favourable answer and if you don’t… you would think I just told you that I’m leaving and never coming back. You know exactly how to pull on the heart strings and you do it expertly. Suffice to say, ‘Daddy play Lego’, a lot! And I love it.
Furthermore you are now basically a mafia boss. You’re the ring leader of a tiny, weirdly eclectic gang of Lego people. To date the gang consists of, Lego Man with blue hat, Lego Boy, Lego Girl with blonde hair, Lego Girl with brown hair, Lego Lady, Lego Pizza Man, Lego Cat, Lego Dog, Lego squirrel and Romeo… Yes, Mum and Dad are most certainly lacking in inspiration on the naming front, even if Romeo was a stroke of genius. We do however make up for it in the Lego people recruitment department.
You also enjoy playing house with me, learning with your wooden alphabet board, working through your flash cards (you are obsessed with the panda card) and reading lots of books. A couple of your favourites at the moment are The Jolly Postman, The Dinosaur (Dowa) That Pooped a Planet, The Gruffalo and Beauty and the Beast. All of the above however wanes in comparison to your burning desire to look at ‘pikurs’ (pictures). When you’re happy, ‘pikurs’, when your sad, ‘pikurs’, when tired, hungry, moody or jolly all you want to do is look at pictures with Mummy or Daddy. It’s adorable.
You have recently learned how to say please and thank you. It’s one of the sweetest things ever but basically means you can now have anything you want. All you need to do is say ‘Daddy please’ and I simply can’t resist and again, you know it. Did I mention you’ve acquired a taste for chocolate and ice lollies? Although we all know Grandma is truly to blame here.
I try and take you swimming every week and you love the water. We sing Humpty Dumpty as you jump in, you love showering before and after plus thoroughly enjoy people watching. You regularly shout ‘hello man’ or ‘hello lady’ to absolute strangers. It isn’t embarrassing at all! You’re learning doggy paddle, like blowing bubbles and find it hilarious when I go under water. It’s one of the highlights of my week.
That’s enough for now, I’ll do another update soon. Just know that your Mummy and I love you very much, we treasure every moment we are blessed with you and miss you dreadfully when ever we’re apart.
I love you Mush.

Bobal’s Babble: We Are Only Renting; a Poem.

You tumbled into Daddy’s arms.

He placed you upon my chest.

Over my beating heart.

My heart beats for you.

Your eyes, unusually wide and black

Held our attention. Unwaveringly.

You are perfect.

                                                                                                                                                                                                We are now complete and

We want for nothing.

But one day you will.

One day you will want.

Want more than our choices for you.

And what’s more

We want you to want that.

                                                                                                                                                                                               Our love culminated in you.

You are our pretty, effectual bow.

We will forever more be bound

Through you.

Faced with our last day

We’d want it that way.

Just us three.

                                                                                                                                                                                                For a while

Too short a while

You are most content in our arms.

We are the Earth you orbit

And you ours.

But not forever.

One day, our Little Moon, you will leave.

                                                                                                                                                                                               You will start your own family.

For your last days

It’s them you’ll crave.

After all

We are only renting you.

We can’t keep you.

You must fly the nest.

                                                                                                                                                                                               Just us three will always be, our happy day.

But it can’t last.

The amelioration

which has already begun

will no doubt, be full of joy.

As we teach and you explore

We only hope you’ll make life your own.

                                                                                                                                                                                                And then Precious Daughter, You will go.

Go out there.

See the sights. Meet the people.

Conquer the challenges. Enjoy the ride.

We will be here

Happy for You.

Learning once more to be just us two.

                                                                                                                                                                                          Knowing that

We are only renting

Means it is all the more cherished.

Each chapter, whilst fleeting, is treasured.

We hope this means we won’t stifle.

We want only for your flame to burn

In its own fantastical way.

                                                                                                                                                                                                We don’t hope to buy you. You were never Ours.

Always your own.

Our privilege, is to guide and teach.

Arm you with that which you need to get on.

We’ll expose you to lots, recommend and advise.

But in the end

Your path’s your own.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  As you once fell into Daddy’s arms

You’ll fall into a world of your own creation.

You’ll triumph. You’ll fail.

And that’s OK.

We’ll always be here to catch you.

After all, We’re only renting.

But you own us.

Every. Single. Brick.

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Bobal’s Babble: The Tale of the Mummy, the Mush, the Aunty and the Poo Raison. *warning – graphic content*

Hello, howdy, good day!

I appreciate we’ve been MIA over the past several… well months! But turns out a one year old keeps you more than busy!

Mush continues to brighten even the dullest of days with her quirky little traits. Such as when Mack or I are talking to someone, say a neighbour about the weather and mid conversation Mush’ll just shout “bye” and start waving. Or her extremely frustrating tendency to ask you to read book after book, listening attentively to each and every page until you reach the last page where she promptly jumps off your lap to fetch another book leaving you either feeling completely unsatisfied or shouting the last few lines of the story at a retreating baby butt. Or there’s her unparalleled love for emptying the dishwasher; how each of her plates, spoons and cups need to be licked before being put away in the cupboard and the last item she empties has to accompany her on her travels for the rest of the day. She’s a bundle of bizarre and we love it!

I could go on and on but I’ll leave you with this blog’s namesake story. Mush’s Aunty was visiting this week and volunteered to do bath time. Once Mush is settled in the bath, Aunty starts playing with her when Mush starts to trump.

“Bobal” Aunty shouts down the stairs “she’s pumping! She won’t poo will she?”

“Not likely” I assure her “she’ll squat if she’s going to anyway so just keep an eye on her.”

So Aunty and Mush happily get on with water fun. Rory laughing at her own bath farts and Aunty laughing at Mush’s inappropriate giggles. Only for Mush to suddenly Stand and Deliver… a poo!

Well panic stricken Aunty yells, “it’s happened.” I leg it up the stairs – kitchen towel and wet dish still in hand to survey the carnage. Bath toys, baby, poo bits and bath water are swirling around the bath, Aunty is dry heaving in the corner and Mush is laughing and splashing chaotically, seemingly having grown 8 more limbs and a sudden but single minded determination to drink the bathwater. Chaos ensues with me holding a naked and laughing Mush above the bath water yelling “do you want the baby or poo bits? Baby or poo?” Aunty opts for baby and sticks her on the potty whilst I futilely try and scoop poo out of the bath with another bath toy before all the toys are contaminated.

As Mush is now happily sat on the potty, Aunty also tries to rescue some of the toys, naively taking her eyes off daemon child. Well, sensing this is her big moment, Mush swiftly stands up, side steps 30 cms, squats and poos on the floor next to the potty.  Aunty drops all the rescued toys back in the poo bath to their demise in an effort to put Mush back on to the potty and clean up the floor poo given that I am elbow deep in bath poo.

Aunty skilfully manages to encase most of the poo in a wet wipe and put it in the toilet. That is most of the poo save for an undigested poo raison. Mush calculating, observes that I am busy navigating poo bath and Aunty is navigating floor poo so she lunges for the poo raison. Aunty and I both lurch for her arm, bath toys forgotten and manage to stop it reaching her mouth and then we prise open her chubby little fist to retrieve said poo raison. Bad idea. Mush’s only wish on Earth is to eat the poo raison and she immediately stiffens her body, throws her head back and let’s out an almighty paddy.  The biggest and loudest tantrum she has ever had. That poo raison was the most important thing in the world and nasty Mummy wouldn’t let her eat it.

Suffice to say once we’d finally got the little monkey in bed, the salvageable toys in the dishwasher, the bathroom scrubbed and ourselves washed; Aunty was significantly less enthusiastic about the prospect of doing another bath time and I haven’t eaten a raison since.

For more disgusting tales see Extreme Baby Flatulence or My Disgustometre or follow us on:

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Bobal’s Babble: A letter to Mush on her 1st Birthday

Dear Mush,

Today, you turned one and for some reason that makes me both really happy and really sad.

This year  has just whizzed by too quickly.

And I really did spend time drinking it in like everybody said to. I spent days where I did nothing but nurse and cuddle you. I watched you sleep. I took the whole year off work. But none of it seems to have slowed down time.

This year has been the quickest and most momentous of our lives. And because so much has happened I find myself forgetting details. Like your new-born smell or how teeny you felt in my arms when I nursed you in the middle of the night or even how floppy you were when you were first learning to sit. I know it happened but I can’t feel it anymore.

When I close my eyes I see your today-face with your blondey brown hair sticking out in all directions, your little button nose that wrinkles when you giggle, your perfect teeny mouth that so often forms a comically perfect ‘O’ when you yawn. But tomorrow you won’t look like that and it breaks my heart.  It’s like enduring little bereavements every day; my baby is slipping away and being replaced by this beautiful and perfect little girl. And so I try and soak it up but it’s like trying to hold onto water.

Yet, the maddening thing is, that nothing makes me prouder than watching you grow every single day. I live for the new things you do. Crawling and walking, roaring and kissing. It’s incredible watching you develop. When you first crawled I remember swelling with pride and
Your Daddy was more than disappointed to miss the first time.

You’re developing into this precocious and funny little madam. A fiercely independent little lady who wants to do everything on her own and despite being unable to talk uses her funny faces and little quirks to tell us exactly what she wants, when and how. For instance opening and closing your podgy little fist in the direction of your water/food/toy and shaking your head until we pick up the right one.

I keep on zooming forward to when you’ll be talking; excited to hear your words and thoughts, to your first day at school, will you love it? Or your wedding day; will your daddy cry as he walks you down the aisle (of course he will – he’s a big softy!) I can’t wait for every single milestone. In some respects it can’t come quickly enough.

Between mummy blubbers at how quickly it’s all going, and feelings of trepidation at the thought of our year off together soon coming to a close; I cant help but compare my present self to my pre-Mush self.

Without a doubt, you have irrevocably altered me. And I can never go back. You have given me a purpose I never needed that spans beyond any promotion, a joy that was never lacking before but some how now exists in earth shattering proportions.  You have given me a new found reverence for the fragility of life and wonderment at the miracle of it.

Impossibilities of impossibilities  I even love your daddy more. Seeing him fall so hard for you and worry about whether you have enough sun cream on, or enough bath toys or spending literally hours teaching you words and sounds, it fills me with the warm and fuzzies. I just love him so much. 

In truth you’ve both turned me into a big old ball of vulnerable love! But oh what a double edged sword that is. It means that I am a bag of worry and nerves, spending my time researching whether the tiniest bit of unnoticed mildew in a both toy that touched your bath water for a fraction of a second could kill you or whether the spot of eczema under your chin is actually early onset meningitis or insisting on getting life insurance; just in case.

It’s funny how new life makes you worry constantly about death. It’s crazy also how it makes you lose first hand fear of your own mortality. Indeed, I fear for myself in the sense of how awful for you not to have a mother but not in the sense of I don’t want to die. Of course I don’t (now more than ever) but keeping you alive and well and happy has taken priority over all else.

Both Daddy and I  have been consumed with this innate need to protect you from all hurt.  Though we realise we cant, we’re still determined to try. Even at the tender age of one, we’ve already had the odd occasion when we have had to reassure each other that unfortunately yet inevitably you will hurt and we can’t always stop it but, thank goodness,  we can always be there to kiss it better.

Today, on the eve of the rest of your life, I find myself wishing you good health and happiness  (what parent doesn’t). But most of all, little baby Mush, I wish you your very own child because, quite plainly,  I can’t see how it gets better than this.

All my love, now and forever,





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