Steve Canavan: Don’t jiggle a milk-filled toddler just before bedtime!

Steve endures a vomit and urine-smelling nightmare before Christmas
The aroma of fresh vomit somehow reminds Steve of his secondary school PE teacherThe aroma of fresh vomit somehow reminds Steve of his secondary school PE teacher
The aroma of fresh vomit somehow reminds Steve of his secondary school PE teacher

Christmas is almost upon us, which means peace on earth and goodwill to all … although things aren’t quite as harmonious in the Canavan household.

This stems from yet another example of why my parenting skills sometimes aren’t appreciated by my better half.

Let me paint the scene.

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I’d been to the shops to buy tea – smoked haddock, spuds, and some slightly discoloured broccoli which was out of date by a day but had been reduced from £2.29 to 39p and so couldn’t be ignored - and returned home just before the kids’ bedtime.

I walked through the door and could hear Mrs Canavan reading them both a story. It sounded like a lovely peaceful scene – and I listened to it for a moment or two before heading into the kitchen to unpack the grub.

Mrs Canavan had obviously heard me come in – her hearing is astonishing when required, less impressive when I ask, say, how much the dress she’s wearing cost – and shouted for me to come upstairs and kiss Wilf before she switched out his light.

At the same time Mary – our three-year-old - yelled that she wanted more milk, so, after responding with the obligatory ‘what word are we missing Mary? That’s right, please’, I filled a little cup for her and dutifully trotted upstairs.

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She took a few large swigs, while I collected Wilf from Mrs Canavan and did this thing that he loves, in that I pretend to drop him and then catch him again when he’s down at my waist.

He giggles uncontrollably at this as if I’m the new Eric Morecambe – that’s the wonderful thing about babies, they are remarkably easily pleased – and so I did it three or four more times.

Mary watched this and asked for the same. So Mrs C picked her up and did the same thing, dropping her and catching her.

She did it three times – it was lovely, both children laughing in symmetry - then Mary started to cough. ‘Are you okay?’ I said. She didn’t answer and instead suddenly turned a funny colour – kind of like a pair of white underpants that have been spent too long on a hot wash - made a noise that sounded like a seal getting clubbed to death, and projectile vomited all over herself and Mrs Canavan.

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My initial reaction was not ‘that’s unfortunate, how can I help?’ It was to supress a laugh and to praise the lord I was holding Wilf.

Clearly being repeatedly dropped in jerky manner is not conducive with drinking a lot of milk.

The stench in the room was something else. It’s very difficult to accurately describe the aroma of fresh vomit, other than that it always reminds me slightly of my secondary school PE teacher who, I can say with some certainty, only showered on a fortnightly basis.

After overcoming the shock of being smothered in vomit, Mrs Canavan had to strip Mary out of her pyjamas, take off her own sick-stained clothes, and then they both got in the bath.

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I, meanwhile, had to get out the Vanish and scrub the carpet and because I was doing that had to put Wilf in his cot, to which he reacted by screaming at a volume so loud the glass in the back bedroom window shattered.

‘They were about to go to bed,’ screamed a highly-strung Mrs Canavan from the bathroom. ‘You have been in the house literally 30 second and you’ve caused absolute havoc’.

I was keen to point out that I hadn’t been the one jiggling Mary about, which had caused her to be sick, but – displaying unusual tact - thought it best not to raise this at the current time.

Instead I hollered back “sorry darling”, then added, “but on the upside that new Vanish gel is fantastic. There’s no stain at all and the room smells of fresh strawberries.”

She didn’t respond.

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Anyway, to complete the evening, when we’d finally got Wilf down, it was left to me to put Mary to bed.

I played with her for a bit – her current favourite bedtime game is to hold a party to which each of her cuddly toys is invited (given she has 53 cuddly toys – 54 if you count the giraffe with his head hanging off – this game can drag on a bit) – then read her the mandatory three books before, and this is the last task before bed, taking her for a final toilet visit.

Alas – perhaps fatigued by the evening we’d had - I didn’t quite pull her pyjamas down far enough, the result of which was she urinated all over her bottoms.

Cue a second pyjama change of the evening and when she finally clambered into bed, she stank of vomit and urine.

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I went to kiss her goodnight, then, getting a whiff, edged backwards and said, ‘daddy won’t kiss you darling, I’ll just say goodnight from the doorway’.

And, after sharing that heart-warming tale with you, I’ll wish you all a pleasant and happy Christmas – and here’s to better times ahead, and less jiggling of milk-filled toddlers at bedtime.

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