Food, glorious food (fights)

We have a lot of food fights in our house. Not in a rock ‘n’ roll, let’s-throw-caviar-and-Cristal-at-each-other kind of way. Just the humdrum, eat-the-food-in-front-of-you, daily battles that most parents have with their children. But we seem to take it to a whole new level of crazy.

I suspect my boys are in training for the day when they get to add riders to their contracts, to ensure the venue they are performing at treats them like the divas stars that they truly are. In show business, these riders are also known as addendums. Firstly, am I right in saying that isn’t too far off “Ah, diddums!” (which is what comes to mind when reading that Katy Perry doesn’t want the chauffeur to engage her in conversation or look at her in the rearview mirror); and secondly, shouldn’t that be addenda? Am I the only Mumager in the business who studied Latin at school?

Van Halen famously added a rider to his contract stating the band wanted a bowl of M&Ms backstage: “Warning: absolutely no brown ones”. He later explained that this was a test to see if the promoter paid attention to detail (though I don’t think it adds up that if a minion was asked to pick out brown M&Ms, the venue will have taken extra special precautions to make sure that the stage doesn’t collapse during a fan invasion). Lead Vocal similarly likes all red and purple Starburst removed from the pack. He is not testing my attention to detail. He’s just weird. (Everyone knows the purple ones are the best.)

Lead Vocal has led us a merry dance across the years with his fussiness over food. He’s now eight years old, and we may have turned a corner. For three consecutive years, the only fruit in the world that he would eat was raspberries. Did he deliberately choose the most expensive imported fruit in the supermarket? But, last year, he began to experiment wildly and will now eat strawberries and pineapple as well. Yee-hah!


This is what his contract addendums/oh-diddums will look like:

  • two small bars of Kinder Chocolate. Not the yucky hazelnut kind. And they have to be small bars. Not the Maxi-bar size. Definitely not the Kinder Surprise eggs. That’s just wrong. And NO OTHER CHOCOLATE IN THE WORLD. Only small bars of Kinder Chocolate.
  • apple juice – but not the cloudy apple juice, just the clear kind that looks like the urine of a dehydrated person. It can be diluted 40:60 with water. Don’t try for 30:70, because I will know. And don’t ever offer me plain water, because water is disgusting. Just vile. I will never, ever drink water.
  • chips/French fries with ketchup – these can be steak chips, fat chips, crispy coated chips, ABC chips, but they mustn’t have sharp ends on them. And no skinny chips. The only acceptable brands of ketchup are Heinz or Hunts. Del Monte does not cut the mustard, if you’ll excuse a condiment-related pun.

Air Guitar Is just as unreasonable:

  • spiral pasta (aka fusilli) with butter and grated cheese. The pasta has to be ‘twirly’ – no macaroni, linguine, penne, farfalle or other strange shapes are acceptable. No weird colours either. Don’t try to sneak spinach into my diet with green pasta. Two types of grated cheese, please. An orange-coloured cheese and ‘salty cheese”. You may know the latter as Parmesan.
  • slices of cheese – orange-coloured, please. No yellow. No white. No broken corners.(Lady Gaga likes her small plate of cheese to be “non-smelly, non-sweaty”, so I don’t think Air Guitar is being too diva-esque here.)
  • hot dogs with the ends sliced off. End of.
  • no germs. None. Whatsoever. Don’t anyone else touch my food. Don’t sample off my plate. Don’t ask for a bite.

Drummer Boy is a simpler child:

  • Cake with lots of icing (frosting) on it. It doesn’t matter what cake. I’m just going to scrape the icing off with my teeth.
  • More icing, please.
  • Oreos with the biscuit circles removed. Yes, just the icing bit. Thanks.

The Cute One

  • Goldfish crackers. I know I’m too young for them, but I’m the fourth child, so the amount of sodium or sucrose in my diet is irrelevant. I’m just happy to be fed.
  • Cinnamon Graham crackers. You can just leave them in a cupboard low down. I’ll go help myself whenever I feel peckish. Mumager won’t even notice.
  • Plastic food. I love eating it. Can’t get enough of it. Don’t say ‘yum yum’ and do a pretend eating motion in front of me. I am going to stuff that whole plastic potato in my mouth. And then in your mouth.

I hang my head in shame as I read the above riders. What kind of Mumager have I been to have created such monsters? Lead Vocal had a friend once who would request – request – a snack of frozen chopped vegetables. Needless to say, the high-achieving mother of that organically superior child didn’t want much to do with my chemical-ridden children, and the friendship between our sons swiftly waned.

But I’ve given up apologising for my sons’ poor eating habits. You think I’m poisoning them? So sue me!

And venue promoters, you can sue me too, after you stock the backstage area with unbroken slices of orange cheese, the icing from inside Oreos and two small bars of Kinder Chocolate, only to find that the Boy Band have changed their minds. It happens. Every day. We agree on a meal, only to find – two hours later –  promises broken and flat-out denials that anyone ever agreed to eat cheese toasties. So, you want to cry about it? Oh, diddums!!


The Lyrics of my Life – part 1

“Do NOT put that astronaut from Thailand up your nose!”

Have you ever strung some words together and thought: Since time immemorial, I bet no one else has ever put those particular words in that particular order. Maybe someone else admonished their child for putting an astronaut figurine in his ear? Or perhaps a marble in a nostril? I am even willing to admit the slim possibility of a spaceman from the USA being inserted into a nose… but surely the planets have never aligned to create an identical scenario anywhere, anytime, anywho? Only in my life.

I like to think I have moments of uniqueness, when a jumble of words that aren’t usually found in close proximity are tossed from my mouth to form elegant phrases as they land on the heads of my beautiful boys.

“Please don’t eat the gunk from your eye in public!” (Note the addition of “in public” – am I suggesting this behaviour is perfectly acceptable behind the barricaded doors of our asylum home?)

“Why did you hit your brother so hard on the bottom with the binoculars. Those things cost good money!” (I’m referring to the expense of the binoculars, not the buttocks.)

And sometimes, it’s just: “Wibble, schmibble, bongley-foogle!” This is either when I’m conversing with Drummer Boy in his invented language of Gong-Gong. Or after a particularly testing day when I’m reduced to rocking in a corner while sucking my thumb.

The great poets and lyricists that came before me – namely, Shakespeare, Springsteen and Sandra Boynton – perhaps drew on their own lives to pen unique lines like: “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?”, “You’ve gotta learn to live with what you can’t rise above,” and “I want to be your personal penguin.” That’s what makes them so memorable.

I’m hoping that the songs I write for the Boy Band to sing in the future will also include quotable lines that will transport them back to their idyllic childhood, full of Thai astronauts and conjunctivitis (works in progress include: “One More Wipe Might Block The Toilet”, “No, I’m Not Trying For A Girl, Thank You,” and the traditional lullaby – and I think this one will be a chart-topper – “I’ll Give You Something To Cry About, Baby!”)

Of course, there might be a soppy love song or two on the first album, but I don’t suppose there’s anything original about “I Love You So Much I Don’t Mind The Smell Of Your Vomit!”


So, what are the lyrics of your life? Those phrases that you make into Facebook status updates as soon as you’ve said them, because they are too good not to share with an audience?


I wonder if three-year-old Justin Bieber ever spat his strawberry-flavoured medicine across the room?

This is on my mind because, as a Mumager, I’m concerned my boys may go off the rails like so many young stars before them, and start smoking/ingesting/injecting mind-altering substances. I’m hoping that given the way they take (or rather, don’t take) their medicines now, they’ll also refuse harder drugs in the future. (I imagine the Biebs opened his mouth wide and said, “More please, Mama!”)

Here’s what medicine-taking looks like in our household:

Option 1: I try the up-front, honest approach. “Here, son. You’re not well. Now, this medicine doesn’t taste great, but you can have a gummy bear afterwards.” Lips clamp shut so tightly that a 2-metre lever wielded by Arnold Schwarzenegger couldn’t prise them apart.

If I were the kind of mum who keeps score, that would be: Boy Band 1-0 Mumagermedicine boy band

Option 2: I try the sneaky approach. “Would you like this yummy blackcurrant juice. It will cool you down and you’ll feel so much better.” Trusting eyes gaze at me with appreciation. One sip later, and the eyes snap wide open while the bonds of trust snap wide apart. “YUCK!!! DISGUSTING!!! What is this, Mum?!!”. The lips snap shut, the offending juice is spat out in the way that John Wayne spits snake venom from a wound, and for weeks afterwards, every sweet drink I offer is sniffed at suspiciously.

Boy Band 2-0 Mumager

(Ha! I’m even sneakier than you think, boys. I give crushed up de-worming tablets in cheesy baked beans. You weren’t expecting that, were you?)

The scores creeps up: Boy Band 2-1 Mumager

Option 3: I call in the Roadie. “Your son won’t take his medicine. Pin him down and squirt it in him, Papa.” The Roadie sweats it out, the eyes of distrust are focused on him, and I get to be the good guy who gives hugs and gummy bears afterwards.

I score the equaliser (Roadie gets the assist): Boy Band 2-2 Mumager

Option 4: The preferred method for Lead Vocal. “Mum, can you put some medicine up my bum?” “Really, son? Really? You won’t take this teeny, tiny, yummy, strawberry-flavoured spoonful of goodness?” Nope, this child would rather have a small torpedo inserted where the sun don’t shine.

Dang it! If I have to use latex gloves and a pot of Vaseline, there’s no way that’s a win for me. Then again, it’s hardly a moment of glory for Lead Vocal either. Let’s settle for an honourable draw: Boy Band 2-2 Mumagermedicine 2 boy band

With Air Guitar and Lead Vocal, we felt so confident that they wouldn’t pop any pills voluntarily, we never even had a locked medicine cabinet. However, Drummer Boy is a big fan of M&Ms, so we’ve now got the pills and potions under lock and key in case he thinks they’re sweeties. If anyone is going to go off the rails at a future Pharm party, it’ll be him.

And as for the socks in the title? Well, they are there because my boys won’t be getting up to any hanky-panky. They may, however, take an interest in darning socks. How rock ‘n’ roll would that be?


labels boy bandAs a mum, I’m always looking for labels for my children – by which, I mean those iron-on / stick-on / sew-on type that give me about a 20% chance of getting back that expensive Sigg water bottle that my eldest son deliberately (I’m sure it’s deliberately – maybe accidentally the first five times, but subsequent times must be deliberate, right?) leaves on the bus or beach or bench.

As a mum, I can’t help but give my children labels as their personalities and character traits develop. The eldest is The Slapdash One. The Bright One. The Lazy One. Unfortunately, I may have mentioned the last epithet once or twice in the presence of this too-too-clever child (okay, I confess, I berated him bitterly and loudly for his lazy-ass ways). Now, he wears the Lazy Label with pride. He owns it. I ask him to tidy: “But, Mum, I’m too lazy, remember?”. I ask him if he wants to go for a bike ride rather than a spin round a Mario Galaxy: “Nah, can’t be bothered. You know I’m lazy, right?”

And as a Mumager, I’m now going to label my boys in the context of this blog.

Taking it from the top, Boy 1 (The Lazy One) will henceforth be known as Lead Vocal. Do not take this as any indication of the sweet harmonies of his voice. He sings like a strangled cat. But he deserves this name as his personal volume control button seems to be broken. This child doesn’t know how to whisper. He talks loudly ALL THE TIME (or so my frayed nerves believe). And yes, he talks over the top of his three younger brothers – he’s an interrupter, a contradictor, a naysayer. (More labels? Sue me for the therapy costs, son!)

Boy 2 –  in real life, he is The Sensitive One, The Sweet One, The Sweet-toothed One – in blog-life, he shall now be known as Air Guitar. He doesn’t have the confidence to take the leading vocal role, but he’s a great wingman for his older brother. And there’s also a nod to his fantastic imagination. He’s never held a guitar in his life, but that won’t stop him acting it out. I love the world in his head.

Boy 3 – The Cheeky One, The Showman, but best known and loved as Wreck-it Ralph. He can just look at a new toy (or one of my prized possessions) and it breaks. But he’s always “weally sowwy”. So, that’s all right then. But, in this boy band of the future, this special child will be Drummer Boy. Nothing he likes better than banging and bashing (usually things that shouldn’t be banged and bashed) – add in a dash of that showmanship – he will be in his element behind an indestructible drum kit.

Boy 4 – The Little One, The Young One… what more can I say? At only 18-months-old, he hasn’t shown us his true colours yet. We’re not sure what his ultimate label will be. For the purposes of this blog, he will be the Michael Jackson of the group (circa 1970-something, before the weirdness began). He will be The Cute One. Any girl would be lucky to have a poster of this heartthrob on her wall.

I am, of course, the self-anointed Mumager of the still-developing boy band. And as for the proud father of this houseful of testosterone, let’s call him The Roadie. We will let him come on this trip with us, but he may find he has to do a bit of heavy lifting – and keep the fans at bay. Especially those girls who are going to want to run off with The Cute One.


How come if you have four boys, helpful friends (or weird strangers you stand next to in the supermarket checkout queue) suggest “A couple more and you’ll have a football team!”? Are these people mathematically challenged? That would be seven more boys – not two! (And, common sense tells me that nine more boys would result in a stronger squad; any decent football team would need a couple of substitutes given the likelihood of injuries, boy-flu and vomiting bugs – believe me, we have our fair share of those setbacks even with our mini-squad of four.)

But I have NEVER heard anyone suggest to a mum of four girls, “A few more and you’ll have a netball team!”. And that really wouldn’t require much effort on that (lazy-ass) mum’s part. Surely she can squeeze out three more girls for the mild amusement of those helpful friends (or weird strangers)?

I long ago discounted the football team idea. Can you imagine the laundry? And besides, I’ve seen how my first three play football. We’d only ever make it to the local leagues and there’s no money in that. (My fourth, however, at the ripe old age of 18 months, has a great left foot on him – now, if I could just clone him…)

So, being a smart lady, I have decided to steer my boys in the direction of fame and fortune from an early age. You are reading here about the NEXT BIG THING! Move over One Direction! (Or Take That! if you are from my century.) I am going to mould these young men into the world’s most popular boy band. And I will be their Momager. (Only I’m British, so I’ll be a Mumager – which sounds even more stupid.)

One small point – my boys have inherited their father’s inability to hit a true note.

But on the plus side, they ARE good-looking.

And there’s always Autotune.