The Harridan Gets Mad Sometimes

Lovely lovely day yesterday, it was. Not at first, because we were waiting for the neighbours to come and have a playdate and I abhor playdates because of the mess and the yelling and the inevitable get-your-younger-brother-naked-and-push-him-outside-and-say-you-were-just-playing-prisoner thing. Poor Noah.

Anyhoo, there was a bit of that, and some scratching and some bedroom eating (of which I don’t normally approve) and a lot of tipping out of toyboxes that have not been explored for a very long time, and as such dehydrated apple cores and biscuits that turn to mouldy dust as soon as you get near them were all over the carpet (thus the bedroom-eating-disapproval). The baby is very mobile and gets under chairs and screams quite a bit, and Custard is currently out of nappies, which rather than meaning he is toilet-trained, actually means he just wees all over the carpet and poos into his Wellington boots. But you can’t go back, right? Right.

[And in an unrelated bit of Custard news, his cuddle blanket which has followed him around in a fug of saliva and bits of old food, sucked and nibbled and slept on and really, really loved, is LOST FOREVER! It hurts me more than it hurts him, I think, as I see the whole big boy pants and no security blanket thing as proof that he is growing up. I think I imagined I would keep the once rather acceptable Cath Kidston blue holey shawl and just have it there with my Lady Stuff, and sniff it occasionally and remember how much Custard loved his blanket. But now the binman has it, I think,and so Custard has been fobbed off with New Blanket. He is totally unconvinced, and it is me who is a bit mopey without the old one. Too much, too soon.]

So, Wednesday was quite nice because after the playdate got a bit too hurty, we took the kids to the pirate park. Barnaby jumped off the ship and whacked his hip on some rope and was hobbling around and Noah got his face smashed in with the playdatee’s boot and we all got a bit bored of the maiming and so set off in search of the Anish Kapoor sculptures scattered throughout Kensington Park Gardens with ice creams in hand. Near the horse statue, Custard wet his jeans and asked me to take them off. I told him he would get cold, but he was adamant that he wanted them off, and I stripped him. And so we continued on, with him in a woolly hat, long-sleeved shirt, bodywarmer jacket, wellington boots, and a bare arse. Oh, the autumnal fun we had! There was conker-searching and leaf-collecting and dog-stroking and squirrel-chasing and one fairly innocent poo episode. How we laughed.


Until, meters from the park gates, a woman on a bike sidles up to me. She says:

“Excuse me.”

“Yes?” says I, all rosy-cheeked from the lovely frolicking.

“Why are you allowing your son to walk around without trousers on a day like this?”

I had a split second of total glee when she said this, because every single bit of repressed, simmering anger that had built up over five years of tut-tutting strangers and every moment of feeling embarrassed and inadequate as a mother and knowing that people where witnessing my distress and floundering and messing up, well, they collided. Here was a woman coming up to me and practically begging me to let her have it. And so, Dear Reader, I DID.

I smiled, and turned to her, and went a bit apeshit. It went something like this, working up to a bit of wayward spittle and a purplish face:

“Are you trying to tell me that my efforts to toilet-train my young son on a mild autumn day, when we are minutes from home, and when we have been enjoying the afternoon together, and when I have four kids under my care, and when they are smiling, and still have bloody organic ice cream drying on their faces, are you trying to tell me I am doing something WRONG? Would you like to come closer to examine my son’s sodding underwear and jeans, and tell me if you would prefer me to put them back on him? HOW DARE YOU! Mind your own business! Which part of this is not acceptable? Is he upset? HOW DARE YOU!…” and on and on.

Then she says “Well, it is autumn, and social services might like to see what you are doing. Look at your other son!” (Points to Barnaby, who is wearing pyjamas, a werewolf suit, his school tie, my cotton scarf, plastic medals and a wool duffle-coat, certainly getting me on crimes to fashion, but hardly negligence.)

Luckily, at this point, a dog-walker, who had been overhearing all this, came up to Miss Italian-Anal-Retentive-Cyclist and said to her “What are you doing on this path! Get back to the bike path, you annoying busybody! Leave this poor woman alone! Disgraceful! Get off the path! Off! Piss off! Anyone can see this little fellow has had an accident! I have had enough of people like you! Off!”

And I am marching behind the dog-walker, and we chase her out of the path, chanting “Out! Get OUT! And think twice before you hassle someone ever again!”

It was AWESOME. I done non-hover-parents proud. I haven’t had that much fun since the Selfridges sale. The next time, I will film it, and start a Facebook group called “You Wanna Piece Of Me? – Mothers Against Tut-Tutters” or something. Even the retelling of the story has me worked up. Off for a cup of tea, then.

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16 Responses to The Harridan Gets Mad Sometimes

  1. PaisleyJade says:

    hahahahahaha – you go girl! Such a good story – and so glad you had backup!!

  2. Love it. I am one of those paranoid parents who takes an entire change of outift for The Baby everywhere I go. Nice to see the world doesn’t fall apart if a bit of nudity is necessary.
    I wish you had a photo of the hat/jacket/naked bottom/boots ensemble, not to mention Barnaby’s sartorial spendour!

  3. Betty M says:

    Brilliant. That’ll teach her to keep her nose out.

  4. Anya says:

    That is the best story ever. What a horrible horrible lady. I’m glad you gave it to her, and I’m so glad someone else joined in to help you.

  5. Sarah Clayton says:

    Ha ha ha ha can’t stop laughing. What a great story. Good on you for sticking up for yourself. Love the part when the dog-walking hero enters the scene.

    This country is also full of interfering people who don’t hesitate to give unsolicited parenting advice – once a man stopped his car and told me that my baby was cold – it was 35 degrees at the time…..Then there was the time a woman came over and told me I should have a hat on the baby – I let rip, spluttered about vitamin D deficiency and told her it was none of her business anyway.

  6. Jo says:

    Oh my goodness, I don’t think I’ve been so thrilled and exhilarated by a verbal encounter since Lizzy Bennett got stuck into Lady Catherine de Burgh. Honestly! Applause and wild cheers to you Jodi and big props to the dog-walker. “Piss off!” I love it!!!

  7. Cath says:

    THAT IS AWESOME!!!!!! YOU ROCK!!!!!!

  8. Amy says:

    oh to be a fly on the wall!!!

  9. Anna says:

    I was all outraged on your behalf until you mentioned the Selfridges Sale and suddenly the outrage was drowned out by a sea of misty rememberings. Oh Selfridges, how I miss you.

  10. I have had so much vicarious pleasure from this post! Only thing that would have improved it would have been had you managed to tread heavily on her foot, just a little.

  11. Cath says:

    Does this post top your hit rates for all time? If not, it should. I love it love it love it. (Yes, I know, more than one comment, but that’s how much I love it.)

  12. redfox says:

    How enormously satisfying. Disgraceful! Piss off!

  13. Alison Cross says:

    Oh I have nearly soiled my own trousers laughing at this! Well done to you and well done to the cyclist for backing you up!!

    Children have bloody weird internal thermometers anyway. We live in a big old drafty victorian house that necessitates me wearing a thermal vest in July and my son pads around in his BARE FEET.

    Did you feel better after your rant? You were ranting for all of us there, well done!!

    Ali x

  14. Crocheted Fedora says:

    Choice. Did you consider gettin your ninja on?

  15. Merann says:

    You go girl! You should train your boys to day something devilishly witty, appropriate and defensive should a similar situation arrive again such as “my mummy lets me grow up in a way that will make me turn out to be a well rounded adult. It’s a shame that your mummy ( addressing random nosey Parker) didn’t raise you in the same manner” yay for dog walking people who are prepared to defend the innocent

  16. Kerry says:

    CRYING! Crying with laughter here! I would promise to stop reading your old entries in a faintly stalker like fashion if they weren’t so damn funny!

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