Tuesday, 7 June 2016

Après moi the overstroming

All Dutch

My exams are over! We had the oral today. I had to work with Mercedes, my Hungarian crony, and the topic was "what are Belgians like", so we both aired a variety of stereotypes in halting nederlands.  I was unable to pronounce the word "vegetarian" and we were both confounded by several plurals, but otherwise it went well, apparently, because the teacher told us we should both skip the next level. Hoog vijf! Ah, the sweet balm of basically meaningless external validation. I can now say such things as "goat's cheese" and "natural disaster", offer sketchy sweeping generalisations about your nationality and harangue you about low energy lightbulbs. Truly, I would be an asset at any Dutch party.


For some reason I keep hurting my index fingers. I fell over on the right one a few weeks ago and can no longer use it to eg. open bottles. Then last Saturday I hit the left one really hard with a trowel covered in chicken shit (I think this wound might be infected, not entirely surprisingly) and this weekend I badly burnt the right one in a drunken cooking incident. Need something involving a twisting motion? Like to arm wrestle? Insist on a firm handshake? Walk on by. I also fell over peeing in the night and bashed my forehead on the wash hand basin, I might need a bubble wrap onesie. You don't hear about onesies any more do you? I'm not complaining. In thirty years time whatever they have in the barren post-apocalypse world instead of hipsters will be wearing them as they go out to hunt for rat carcasses, I expect.


If you would like to listen to me sounding like a clueless, blithering fool without actually coming to my house, that is now possible, here, promoting the audio version of my BOOK. I look like a halfwit on that picture, which is entirely accurate. Buy my audiobook! I am not reading it! I'd post a link to enable you to buy it if I could, but I can't actually find it on whatever version of Audible I have, for some reason.

The Yorkshire Vet

"If you're watching that, I'm going to bed," said my elder son as Julian the vet disrobed in order to stick his entire torso into a cow, to which I of course replied "Ok, darling, night night."

This week we learned that a duck penis and a duck anal prolapse look very similar and that "horse dentistry is the worst dentistry" (this via my friend B who was simul-watching with me in another country, because modern life is amazing. Next week appears to feature some extensive donkey based unpleasantness I CANNOT WAIT.

Make a wodden boat

Surely the end of the world is nigh, though since "flood" is one of the Dutch natural disaster words I have learned, I am quietly content about it. The thunder and lightning was so extreme tonight, the weepette spent three hours trembling on my knee, which is longer and closer than he has ever spent in my company since puppyhood.

(I am pleased with this, my new shirt. €20 H&M)

My son, on the other hand, was out in the deluge trekking across Brusssels on public transport because I am heartless and hate driving. He sent me regular despatches on the number of sodden sandal wearers on the bus and finally sent me this:

Mole rat

The scary bat caves (Pairi Daiza) has continued updating its Facebook page with updates written from the perspective of the new baby panda mole rat. "Coucou les amis" says whatever social media minion has been tasked with writing as the mole rat. "I was so happy to have found the milk road in my mum's fur (ugh) but guess what now I've found out there's another one on the LEFT!" The whole business is unspeakably sordid and as one hairless creature to another I can only advise it in the strongest of terms to GROW SOME HAIR and stop talking to us. I am fascinated by the woman whose job it is to allow an adult panda to lick honey off her hand, however.


I airily offered to write something about ways to deal with the transition from your children thinking you are a godlike and infallible creature to thinking you are the village idiot, but it transpires I don't actually have a clue how to deal with this phenomenon. Do any of you actually have any ideas? Clever tricks, ways of coping other than stiff drinks? If you have any thoughts on the blight which is teensplaining - which is my whole life currently - and its associated annoyances, I would be beyond grateful to hear them. Email if your strategies are not fit for a public forum.


50% Knausgaard misery/joy. His misery, my joy. Vol 2 is my new audiobook after a recommendation and his utter despondency at eg. Swedish nursery meetings, chickpea casseroles and hideous outings with toddlers is filling me with a great and surprising sense of wellbeing.
50% Turnips. I have had two successive meals from the nouveau hippies up the road who make excellent, healthy and often delicious well-priced meals using sustainably sourced local ingredients however dear LORD it is impossible to eat anything from there which does not contain a turnip in some form.



Toffeeapple said...

Sick of salad. Does that count?

Rebecca said...

I was elevenyearoldboysplained periods last week, following a 'sex ed' class. Beat that.

Unknown said...

Dealing with teen boys: you will never be cool, they will hide from you until they are roughly eighteen. Then you will be human AND they will be human. Have another cocktail.

Jonathan said...

My other half fell over a while ago and slammed her fingers into the floor (or the wall - not entirely sure which) - it's taken months to recover. She still drops things. Headbutting the sink takes some doing. I headbutted a toilet once as I passed out :)

I have no idea about the whole reversal of kudos thing with the kids. When they were little I was Superman - as they all approach or arrive at their teens I've not so much become Lex Luthor, as the Ned Beatty character from the first movie (i.e. clueless, bumbling oaf).

frau antje said...

Set some parameters for teen wrangling methodology, and it will write itself. At one end is they will hide from you, which sounds extremely workable. At the other end is Nina Simone, who shot a kid (relax, she just winged him).

Anonymous said...

Dear Waffle,
I am also deep in the trenches of teensplaining and teen wrangling in general. The relentless summer campaign is about to begin and I have no gulag lined up as yet. Maybe I should sign myself up for a 3-week summer camp somewhere far away? There's an idea!
One thing I think most teenagers (or maybe just mine?) struggle with is actually concentrating on homework/ study when there are so many interesting conversations happening on whatsapp, when so many photos are being posted on instagram and need immediate feedback from her, etc. Actually scratch that, she doesn't struggle with it at all, she knows damn well which activity is more pleasing and doesn't waste any precious time studying that could be best employed chatting with her friends. The one that struggles, and mightily, is me. By "struggles", I mean that I am transformed into a raging banshee more evenings than not, as I try to meet my own deadlines while harping on to her about how important it is to actually prepare for exams rather than just show up and hope for the best. To be honest, she is beyond caring at this point in the year. I fear that there may be a dreaded comment on her report at the end of the month. On the one hand, I'm glad she's not anxious about school stuff. On the other, it goes against my eternally swotty nature to see her perform below her abilities.
Anyway, it's fundamental to find things that soothe the nasty side effects of teenagers. For example, Mila, an awesome bunny that likes eating bananas:

Dale said...

Teensplaining is a scourge. Being an American, I led with Mark Twain's immortal comment on this phenomenon in order to underscore how dead typical they were being. My daughter had such a dread of being pigeonholed or dismissed as 'just going through a phase' that I could appeal to her pride; my son took somewhat longer to come around. They're both quite fond of me now, for what that's worth.

Knausgaard is my secret vice too! It is hard to explain the appeal of volume two to those who have not yet succumbed. Wait until he falls in love with Linda; quite hair-raising.

Dale said...

Congratulations on the Dutch results! Skipping a level is very impressive.

sylvie said...

I am using copious amounts of alcohol and pot to deal with my 13.5 yr old stepdaughter and her rampant teensplaining. Luckily, most of her withering sarcasm and wrath is focused on my wife, but I need coping mechanisms so that I don't have to hear the 2 of them arguing. I honestly don't know how we are going to survive the next 5 years. The only bright spot is that I get to read your updates as you go through it, too!

Crazy Mom! said...

Congrats on Dutch fluency! (For whatever good that might do you...)

I sympathize with the hurtie problem - am currently in pain after having a back molar extracted. It caused me no END of discomfort for many weeks before and I am on round 3 of antibiotics.

I have had falling incidents myself. Shortly after moving into my flat, I had a problem cleaning out the cat litter box. Not kidding. The little box was in the bathtub, and I had removed said box from tub and was sitting on the side of the very low tub. I lost my balance and bashed my head of the soap dish embedded in the wall. Fell into the tu, into misc cat litter, in my Sunday clothes. On the way down I flailed around trying to stop myself and turned on the water instead. So I am now covered in blood, water, cat litter, wet clothes, and blood. And seeing stars.

I did what any sensible person who lived alone (lots of help the damn cats were!) - I called my Mum, who lives in my building. I was afraid I might need stitches in my head (much blood!). Bless her, she came straight down, helped me clean off my head, got me ice and sat me down in a recliner, and cleaned up the blood/water/litter mess in the tub.

Hope all the owie places get better. I am taking drugs for mine - and not just antibiotics.


anapestic said...

I would like to offer advice about the teenager problem, but the fact is that mine were really not ever very difficult. I myself was not a difficult teenager, so perhaps there is some sort of karmic balancing going on, though I have long since given up on the notion of a just universe.

I suppose it's possible to think that difficulties with your own teenagers is repayment for difficulties you visited upon your parents, but it's probably more consoling to think that your children are likely to be similarly plagued in another twenty to thirty years, and you can spend the interim thinking of more or less subtle ways to say "I told you so."

Alternatively, it may be helpful to remember that the teenage years are almost certainly harder for the teenagers than for the adults, but I'm not sure that translate to any sort of practical advice.

Rosie Redfield said...

About those damned owls... Curse you for introducing me to them. I was devastated today when two of the three young steenuils (Little Owls?) got so enthusiastic about the arrival of a parent with food that they fell out through the nestbox opening. Fortunately they've somehow been put back in, but I doubt that they've learned their lesson. (They're so stupid and clumsy, yet so charming.)

Bytowner said...

I finally stated Knausgaard vol 1, and I am totally sucked into it. I was sure I would not like it but I was wrong. I guess it could keep one occupied for a while.
I too am enduring teensplaining. It balances out the mansplaining at work. Sigh. I have no advice.
On another note, today a large sinkhole appeared at a major intersection in my home city. If you google you can see it spew water and swallow a van!

Waffle said...

Rosie - I know aren't they wonderful? And an atrocious timesuck, indeed. This bumbling, heavy head phase is brilliant.

Anonymous said...


This, for light relief from teen-wrangling

Waffle said...

anapestic - But I was a freakish, grotesquely obedient teenager! This is so unfair. I am paying for my husband's mardy teen rebellions.

bbonthebrink said...

I've just asked the 14yo if she has any tips for me (and you) in order to better cope with teensplaining (I too am an A* village idiot). Her pertinent and quick reply was 'don't act like a twat.'

ms cactus said...

one thing i am learning about dealing with teens - make sure you FEED THEM before trying to embark on any kind of discussion about behaviour/talking back/how they treat their brother/how many millions of hours they have spent lying inert on their bed interacting with the phone/laptop today. one of my boys, especially, gets really grumpy when he's hungry, and is often much (or somewhat) more reasonable once he's had something to eat... I often forget that, but it does make a difference. also, altho i groan inwardly sometimes, it is worth pulling out the board games/cards to get them off the screens and doing something with their family. however, i draw the line at Risk. never again, dire and never-ending. also cooking/baking seems to be a good way to spend time off screens, together if you wish, with the lure of the results to eat at the end of it. of course it's a drop in the ocean but at least something. as you can tell, i'm always searching around frantically for things to do/suggest that will peel their eyes off their devices - don't mind them per se, but otherwise they'd spend ALL DAY staring at them, no exaggeration.

Waffle said...

ms cactus - Oh this is excellent advice, the feeding. Risk is like actual war in a box, never again.

bb - ahahahahahahahhahahahahahah YEP SOUNDS FAMILIAR.

cruella said...

You CANNOT BELIEVE the outrage Knausgard caused in Sweden, failing to appreciate Everything that we are SO BLOODY GOOD AT! Or perhaps you can. I feel myself going all hot and spittingly mad at the ungratefulness of this Norwegian person.

(Liked the books immensely though 'cause v. much of what he swings at is totally right. But only a proper Swede is allowed that opinion so there.)

Sarah said...

Ha! Teensplaining. My son was just browbeating us last night with his recently-discovered environmental awareness. Apparently the energy/climate crisis could be rapidly and painlessly resolved if only we (meaning all non-teen people, I suppose) would stop being so bloody greedy and cease to resist alternative energy sources on spurious aesthetic grounds. When his father (who has worked extensively in the alt energy field) and I (with a degree in Consevation Bio) tried to gently suggest that it might not be that clear-cut, this was viewed as prima facie evidence of our generation's irresponsibility and callousness. No winning there. Generally though he is excellent when he is given responsibility and/or the opportunity to be the expert/teacher. It's actually quite lovely to see the way they can rise to the occasion (erm, on occasion).

In other news, I have finally procured and found time to read your excellent book in its entirety and it was delightful, funny, moving, and full of insight. So much food for thought and I don't mean the cake, though I enjoyed those bits immensely too. It takes courage to put yourself out there I such a personal way. Reading about your process has switched on some major light bulbs for me and helped me to get my head on straight in regards to issues I have been ignoring for years. The Internet can be such a strange cruel place, but such a gift to find talented, courageous writers like you who illuminate aspects of universal human experience in ways that make a reader feel less alone and less adrift. "Thank you" is pretty inadequate, but nevertheless- thank you!!

Anonymous said...

Sarah said it very beautifully already, but I would also like to say that I positively loved your book. It was witty and sad and happy and intelligent. I am American, and the book is not available in bookstores here yet, but I hope it will be. I ordered it through Amazon from a seller who ships from the UK. It was worth the wait! I'm also enjoying reading your wonderful blog, which I've only recently discovered. Thank you! - Judi

Susan Coleman said...

I enjoyed the interview on Soundcloud, all Canadians are impressed by English accents! I ordered your book---delivery date is June 22nd, no wonder you call it Bastardpost! Anyway, can't wait to read it.

Waffle said...

Sarah and Judi - Thank you so so much, this is honestly hugely appreciated. It's not exactly been a runaway success, the book, and it's starting to feel a bit like it never actually happened, in a weird way, so to hear that it touched you in gives me enormous pleasure. THANK YOU. xxxxxxxx

Cruella - I'm finding it hilarious even though I now understand I am not in fact allowed to.

cruella said...

Waffle, you're fine. The Swedish-Norwegian neighbour feud is another matter altogether and WE BOTH RELISH IT.

Anonymous said...

Dear Waffle,
Your book may not be a "runaway success" like some bestsellers are because they appeal to a very broad spectrum of people and don't require any effort on the part of the reader, but I am sure that I speak for virtually everyone that's read it when I say that it is a hugely enjoyable and touching read for all the right reasons. I was really impressed by it. I already knew you wrote well from the blog but you managed to surpass yourself with the book. It has only just been released, give it some time! I think it deserves a wider audience and I hope you can find a US/ Canadian publisher so you can reach more readers.
Having said that, I can imagine that it must have taken such a huge effort to write it that it's understanding for it to barely feel real now that it's finally out there in the world and not up in your head any more.
Back to the teensplaining: I really admire my kid's decision to go vegetarian overnight after watching some (perhaps questionably propagandistic) vegan videos on youtube. It shows principles, empathy with suffering animals, a willingness to right things she believes are all wrong about the world, etc. She has done her research about proteins and essential nutrients and is making a huge effort to ensure that she eats very healthily (without veering into orthorexic territory, plenty of doritos and crisps to counteract the quinoa and kale, haha). However, this new-found zeal comes with a healthy dose of preachiness that we're working on with her. Apparently, we are all "blinkered" and "brainwashed" etc. It's kind of ironic but obviously I can't laugh. I have to say I really admire her earnestness and consistency. I could do with some of it, we seem to lose it as we get older and that's probably not a good thing. I have assured her that she can always change back if she ever wants to, that nobody will judge her for it and that people are entitled to change their minds and experiment stuff, especially when they're growing up. Some of her friends' parents have been very hostile to the idea of their kids going veggie but I find it disturbing to force someone to eat something they feel is wrong on any level. I figure that what you eat has to be nourishing and you have to feel that it's doing you good, right? I also don't want to engage in any battles about food. I've been accommodating and I've even bought her some easy veggie recipe books because I don't want food to become a battleground. The other parents are probably afraid of other food-related issues and think that not allowing this kind of choices will avoid other possible problems. In the end, we all just want our kids to be happy and grounded. That's what life is about really, although we're led to believe otherwise constantly. Chances are, the kids are alright. It's the parents that need looking at! ,)

kath said...

Emma I must say how glad I am to have had your book on audio. I have a terrible tendency to speed read and I would have missed a lot of your very beautifully written words.

Now, if I were to go in for this Knausgard craze would it be better audio or paper, is it better to skip a bit? I found a LRB review where a commenter said the translation was sloppy.

I fell over in the woods on my shoulder and it was bad but I pretended it hadn't happened in case anyone had seen me.

Anonymous said...

Dear Waffle, I seem to remember you singing the praises of some sort of loofah thing for body brushing/ sloughing off winter skin. What was it called again, please? I am developing an all-round crust and am in urgent need of exfoliation!
Thank you!

Waffle said...

Anon - Ooh, I never actually acquired it but it was a St India of Knight recommendation. It was called a Baiden Mitten. I have followed the link to the website and St I of K is correct it is absolutely insane.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Waffle! :)

Sarah Maddox said...

'make a wodden boat mom and get 2 tortoises and Oscar' - actual LOL

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