Hi, I’m the new puppy

Allow me to introduce myself – I’m model no. WHIPPET-14T.  I’m fitted with standard soulful grey eyes, and yes, I am very cute.


Care instructions:

During my first few days at home with you, you’ll feel like an anxious first-time mother with a precious newborn.  I’ll cry at night time, and catapult myself toward the laundry door out of desperation and anxiety, causing you to feel heartless for wrenching me from my mother’s breast.  And as you get up to comfort me, you’ll remember with horror, the broken sleep that comes with a newborn.  I’m pretty much as demanding, but you can’t breastfeed me to sleep.

To compound your anxiety, I’ll refuse to eat dog food or drink water, but I’ll delight in eating anything which is not a foodstuff.  Please see the ‘traffic light’ guide below for my preferences.

Puppy diet preferences - days 1-3

It’s universally accepted that puppies love to chew shoes – but did you know this is not limited to inanimate shoes?  I much prefer moving shoes (with real feet in them) due to their interactive nature, and the added element of potentially tripping the big person inside them.  Awesome.

If there are no shoes available, I’ll settle for odd socks, pyjamas or underwear.

shoe fetish Specifications:

The model you have purchased includes variable speed control (options being ‘ON’, ‘OFF’ and ‘COMPLETELY MENTAL’).

In ‘ON’ mode, I am pretty intense.  If you plan on getting down low to say hi when I’m ‘ON’, you may want to cover your earlobes and nostrils – I’m fast, and my teeth are needle sharp.

Over the course of a day, be prepared for me to enter into the ‘COMPLETELY MENTAL’ mode at random intervals (during which I have been likened to the lead character from The Wolf of Wall Street, after he’s just snorted five consecutive lines of coke off a prostitute’s buttocks).   In this mode, I enjoy taking flying leaps at your body, and running in crazed circles around the yard at breakneck speed.

'ON' mode

Factory settings mean that the ‘COMPLETELY MENTAL’ phase is followed immediately by the ‘OFF’ phase (this may last for periods of up to 2 hours at a time).  During the ‘OFF’ phase, it is normal for you to wonder what has gone wrong with me, and to poke me to check if I’m still alive.  I won’t wake up.

I generally enjoy solitude when ‘OFF’, and may take to hiding under furniture to achieve this.  However, I’m very adaptable, and can just as easily complete an ‘OFF’ cycle while sleeping on a small bush.

'do not disturb' mode

‘do not disturb’ mode

 Warnings and troubleshooting

On the first morning, I’ll be so overwhelmed with excitement that I’ll leap out of the child’s arms and land awkwardly, provoking a good 15 minutes of high anxiety as I limp around the kitchen with a potentially broken leg.  You’ll wonder if there is a pet equivalent of the Maternal and Children Health line.

Contrary to popular belief, I do not know what the words ‘wee wee’ or ‘poo poo’ mean. I’m especially uninterested in these terms when taken outside in the rain in the small hours of the morning.

You are strongly advised to purchase paper towel and antiseptic wipes in bulk.

A personalised message from your WHIPPET-14T

I’d really love to know more about these things that you scatter around the house at night. Is this an obstacle course?  Are they like lily pads? Anyway, I’m pretty sure I’m not supposed to urinate or defecate on them.  As you will have noticed, I’m very careful to wee anywhere but on these.

Tonight's obstacle course was really tricky, but I did manage to avoid weeing on the lily pads

Tonight’s obstacle course was really tricky, but I did manage to avoid weeing on the lily pads

Also, thank  you so much for buying all of these colourful, chewy little rubber things for me.  You’ve gone to so much trouble to supply them in each room of the house.  But why do you always remove them from my mouth, as soon as I have my gums around their rubbery goodness?

I love loom bracelets

And finally – that really big dude with the low voice?  The one who thinks dogs should live outside?  Don’t worry – I’m working on him.  Last night when you were out, he let me sit in the lounge room and lick his toes 😉

This is forty

To my younger self, forty always conjured up images of no-nonsense mother-types, ensconced in track suits and devoid of style or glamour.  The forty year-olds I knew had sensible, greying hair, and were really into cleaning, gardening and watching the tele.

When my mum turned forty, I was thirteen years old, hormonal and often insufferable, I imagine.  In my eyes my mum was generous, dependable, a bit daggy, and perpetually exhausted. Who could blame her, with three teenage kids to deal with?   For a while there she sported an eighties perm, and when my friends remarked on how young or pretty she was, I scoffed and mumbled.  In my worldly teenage eyes, mums didn’t qualify as pretty.

Mums went to work, ferried us around to our various activities, and mine took herself off to lie prone on the bed for twenty minutes, each and every afternoon, around four thirty. Mum invented the power-nap, before it actually became the Power-Nap.

And now, all of a sudden, I find I’m forty.  How on earth did that happen, I wonder?  I’ve been booted out of the mid-to-late-thirties club.  Politely but firmly shown the door.

Part of me wants to cling to the furniture and make a scene, as they drag me out.  I can’t be forty!  I don’t have particularly sensible hair!  I’ve yet to submit to the neat bob, or the lob (that’s the long bob), even if it would shave hours off my weekly grooming regimen.  In fact, I’ve recently had my locks dyed red.  I imagine the name on the tube was Deep Denial Red.

I am finding more grey hairs these days, but it’s not the fine silver ones subtly appearing in my regrowth that bother me.  The ones that strike fear into my soul are the alien, wiry white hairs that suddenly announce themselves by standing to attention on my part line.  These albino follicles appear from time to time, seemingly overnight, and I dutifully yank them out in a ridiculous show of defiance.  Take that you horrid impostor.  We don’t want your type around here.  And tell your friends!

I garden from time to time, albeit begrudgingly.  And I now know that late afternoon fatigue that forced mum to have to lie down.  The kind that rolls in like a fog, until sometimes you’re so shattered, you think you may just vomit.

Okay, so there are times when I do feel forty.  A frazzled mother with permanent frown lines, lecturing the kids over toys not put away, knees up at the table, and starving children in Africa.  Last night, I believe I used all three in the space of our dinnertime conversation. It seems that my mouth just clicks into autopilot, and starts trotting out the same old gems we were all lectured about as a child.  I’m not your servant you know.  I wasn’t put on this earth just to cook and clean up after you.  I see the kids’ eyes glaze over, and realise with horror how sensible and old I sound.

The frown lines I blame on my frequent utilisation of my ‘Are you kidding me? Do you I look like I was born yesterday? and Are you sure you want to go there?’ stares.  I enlist these expressions when I’ve run out of calm reasoning, or simply haven’t the energy to sum up another reprimand (which means that they’re pretty big in my repertoire these days).  I’ve also noticed that I subconsciously frown when vacuuming, typing, or washing the dishes. It makes for a rather unflattering reflection in the steamy kitchen window.

I know some swear by Botox, but I think I’d rather stave off those furrows in my brow by investing the money in a housekeeper.  That way I could take a rest from the vacuuming, but would still have the ability to pull out the ‘Do it again, and you’re dead meat‘ stare, when the need arose.  Yes.  I think I’d like one of those housekeepers who irons the shirts, mops the floors and thoughtfully leaves a frittata cooling on the kitchen bench…


{slaps self around the face}

What?  Where was I?..

The part of turning forty that I wouldn’t trade, even for a supernanny-gardener-housekeeper-cook dynamo, is watching my kids growing up to become real little people. Little people shaped by me, and for now, still a part of me.

As mind-bendingly monotonous and draining as some days can be, they are invariably interspersed by moments that stop me in my tracks, and turn my heart to jelly.   Simple things, like my daughter’s lean, strong little arms surprising me from behind, as she catches me at the school gate for one last hug.  I suck in that moment, while she buries her head and takes a big breath, before galloping off across the mod grass, back to the classroom.   Being floored by the frequent, spontaneous, unconstrained declarations of love from my four year old son: I think you’re the loveliest mummy in the whole world, and I’ll never stop loving you.  Not even when I’m a big daddy.  Gulp.

Somewhere between those heart-melting moments, and the dinner table lecturing, I decided I needed to have a party.  It didn’t feel right to let my birthday come and go last month, without an indulgent, glamorous, defiant night.

And so that’s how I came to find myself, ordering another daquiri at 1am, taking to the dance floor solo, and being at one with my tiki dress and maracas.  Trying to save my friend from a slow, hilarious, inevitable tumble as we hobbled over cobblestones to Supper Inn.  I was never going to be much help there.  Befriending fellow diners and ordering suckling pig with my husband at 3am.  On that night (in our minds at least) we were pretty cool for forty-somethings.  We even slept through breakfast the next morning, and right on until lunch.

A few weeks later, I’m counting up the ways I’ve celebrated turning forty.  There was the party.  There was the dinner.  There were lunches.  And this weekend, as the closing ceremony to my birthday festival, I was charioted away by my two best friends, for a surprise spot of theatre and a long, decadent dinner.   Very fitting, I felt, for someone of my age.

And now, blog entry included, I think I’ve milked turning forty just about as much as I can.  I best get busy.

That frittata isn’t just going to make itself, you know.

This is forty This is also forty