Judge Dodo

Dodo. Susu. Soother. Pacifier. Paci. Dummy.Whatever you call it, they are all the same. A rubber teat on a piece of hard plastic that can make or break your day.

We call it a dodo here in our house.

It seems fitting. An extinct bird that features in imaginative worlds. Lewis Carroll life.dodo-2 Having a child is a bit like falling down the rabbit hole (or through the looking glass) so a dodo, to me, is an apt title for the manmade comfort.

My eldest was first offered a dodo when she was seven days old. I was of the No Soother (unless neccessary) Brigade. I wasn’t activist or anything. I wasn’t vocal. I had not noticed them in other children’s worlds. I hadn’t bought one. I hadn’t thought of one. I just hadn’t realised we needed one. I had never had had children and my own Mother said that my sister and I rejected ours so I wasn’t aware of the comforts for a child. My mother in law loves dodos and can remember how much sucking her own thumb was a pleasure. She was right. Gigi was in ICU when she was seven days old (another hairy tale for another day, just know she is all good now). She had a large operation and her nurse asked if we could give her a dodo. Having no other way to spoil or treat her at that age, I fervently nodded through tears, yes, yes please.  Anything.baby-220295_640

It began there.

I find that a tiny child with a dodo is nodded at and cooed at like any other until they find their feet. Then Judge Dodo arrives.

The Judge is a look. A frown. Pursed eyebrows. Thoughts without words. Eye talk. Eye judgement.dummy21.png

Gigi will be three at the end of this month. She is taller than many four year olds. Her favourite dodo (the only one she wants) is a pink butterfly Tesco brand one. 20170419_100620-1We have five. She has it for sleep and often in the car. She calls for it when times are tough or when she is tired. We have a pot where the dodo lives and the dodo must be put there when not required. Often Gigi tells me that she is not a baby and dodos are for babies but this is usually when she is full of energy. If it disappears, she is devastated.

Gigi was sick a few months back- a common virus.  On the Sunday of that illness (day five of the bug) we left the house for a trip to a local castle and grounds. After a walk, Gigi wanted her dodo. She was drained. We let her have it and then it was sandpit time. I saw a little girl (aged about four) spot Gigi. She pointed and shouted,  ‘Look Mammy that big girl has a dodo’ . The mortified Mammy of the little girl loudly talked about her own little girl ‘s dodo-love to ease our comfort but it was there. My tall child looks five and not two. The social stigma had been acknowledged. The other Mother had not judged me and was far more uncomfortable than I but her child’s proclamation had uncovered her as a Judge Dodo victim. My Gigi is tall. She will gather stares for having a dodo. Should her height mean she shouldn’t have one? Should I be removing it cold turkey? Cold dodo even?

Judge Dodo has become very prominent only recently to me. He has probably been around for a long time but I wasn’t aware of his presence. My cousin and her husband are doctors and have a four year old cousin’s husband is a paediatrician. Their boy had a soother until recently. They both talked to me about the judgement they felt in the town they lived in (in the UK about one hour from London) if their boy was out with his soother. It was a grievance between them. Judge Dodo was pacing the streets with a gavel and they were in the dock.

I remember the online barrage the Beckhams received for an image of a four year old Harper with a soother.2B3BD6A700000578-3192319-image-a-7_1439219433670.jpg I think being in the public eye can be a personal choice but I did think this was very unfair treatment of the family. Judge Dodo, you see. Context plays no part.star-161984_640

My youngest has copied her sister. She loves her dodo more than anything and spends her day asking for ‘my dodo,  my dodo’. At 18 months, Judge Dodo has left her alone so far. She is walking and running about so it won’t be long. If I don’t take it away, she will be in the firing line. My dilemma.

I feel awkward about it all. I know that I shouldn’t care but I do. The Judge has gotten to me. My child’s crèche were very shocked to know Gigi still had a dodo at night. She has it in the car too but they don’t know that. I ask her for it before we go in the door. Gigi hands it over happily. The oldest minder at the crèche tells me she hates seeing a child in public sucking a soother. Oh it looks terrible she pronounced as if the child was nibbling on a hand grenade with lewd images etched upon it and sentenced all errant parents to ten years hard labour being a social stigma.

I know she was telling me this as she knows. She knows our secret. c4qzZyB3bebUA.gifThe moment my child is in the car, comforted by the presence of her Mammy and homeward bound, she wants her dodo. And maybe her blankie.

It puts me in mind of how I feel putting on my jammies when the evening jobs are done. Happy. I am not refusing her that secure feeling. She looks so content.

Social pressure is alive and strong in the parenting world. It spans far and wide beyond dodos but today I focus on the dodo. I hate admitting this too but it is also gender based. A dad with a toddler and a dodo often gets less judgment than a mum with a toddler and a dodo   (unless you are David Beckham).

Scarlett was the villain. Rhett? The ‘perfect’ father.

We are so hard on mothers.

Mothers are so hard on themselves. We make each other feel dreadful.

I am sure we will have dodo fairies and all coming one day to take the offending items away but until then, my tall almost three year old and I will face the objections of Judge Dodo.

Should we be caught.

Our dodo lives on.bitmoji-20170419110927.png

Easter of my Youth

I still feel the same!


Easter was always about Lent ending to me. As as child,  Lent was an insufferable length of time that stretched to infinity. I didn’t enjoy going to school. I didn’t eat sweets at school anyway. I just loved some timeout over the weekend with a book and a bar of chocolate.

I still do.

Suddenly Lent came along and stopped you in your tracks. Sacrifice?  I may as well have given up happiness!

Easter started with Pancake Tuesday. It was fine.It just had that aura of the ‘beginning of the end’ about it as I attempted flipping pancakes.We were ten miles away from adventurous at all times in my house so the pancakes were basic with honey, lemon and sugar. I only add the good stuff now. Nutella. Strawberries. The pancakes seemed to cause arguments. We never had a decent frying pan for them, just the one pan from all…

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A Disgusting State

An Open Letter to the Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Minister for Health Simon Harris.

Re: Previous Open Letter Cancelling an Operation when under Anaesthesia?

I refer to the (unanswered) post above and will continue our tale.

My father, having had his triple bypass operation cancelled whilst on the table and under anaesthesia, was assured that his operating would take place the following Wednesday. (These ops only take place on Wednesday in St James’s hospital- if you are cancelled it means the long wet week again before your next opportunity). Each day he was assured. You are definitely on the list for Wednesday. You are top of the list. You will be seen to Wednesday. We prepared. Wednesday the 9th March would be IT.

I got time from work to be there. My sister planned flying home for the recuperation. My mother struggled through another week of cheap B&B life, in and out of the hospital,  washing clothes in a sink, in the hope the operation would finally occur and we would begin the end period- recovery.

The morning of March 8th and my phone rings very early. My very distressed mother tells me that the operation had been cancelled at twelve pm that previous night. He had been in bed. The nurse had arrived in and told him that he wasn’t on the operating list for the next day. Not so much cancelled as not even planned. My mother contacted me as early as possible rather than upset my night too. She told me he was quite upset. He wanted to leave the hospital and swore he wouldn’t stay there that night.

My mother had been suspicious earlier that day as they had moved my dad to another ward. He was being taken away from the post op and into the regular ward. Mam looked for reassurance the operation would still go ahead. The nurse reassured her. All that day they had been reassured.

I got to the hospital as 11 am the day the op should have been happening. My dad was sitting in a hallway in a chair with my mother and all the luggage.  A bit like Paddington Bear. He begged for no fuss.  Could we just leave, he pleaded. He was upset. His lip shook. No one had been to speak to him. No explanation given.

I went to the cardiac unit and stopped at reception. I politely yet firmly requested to speak to Mr Toland (surgeon). I was told he was in surgery. I said I would wait. Helpful staff did their best and the Head Nurse promised he would speak to me soon.

Less than an hour later, after my desk stand off, I was in a waiting room with my trembling dad. I have rarely seen him so distressed and never so emotional. The surgeon and his team swept in. I was grateful they had come to speak to us but very annoyed that I had had to beg.

The surgeon was instantly cold to me. Hostile even. He pulled his chair knee to knee with my father. Told him again how his heart was in very poor condition. All the stuff we were told the week previous. My dad was cowed by the volume of people in front of him and tried to say what he felt. When I attempted to speak, the surgeon did not look at me and RAISED HIS PALM to silence me. I let him continue speaking about nothing new to Dad.

I then spoke. I said that it wasn’t good enough. Eye roll from surgeon. It wasn’t fair. Huffed breath from surgeon. That Dad and mam were living a sub-life waiting with no sight of an end. He bit at me. That is the system, he threw at me. That is not our fault. You should write to your TD. I told him that Dad had not even been given a reason for this second cancellation.  ‘Emergencies’ he spat. One word. Nothing else. Bear in mind this guy’s opener was to explain how poor my dad’s heart was. Was he not an emergency? This surgeon is world weary. He is overloaded. He had no time for me and my attempts to protect my father, in fact he was openly agitated by my presence and opinions. His silent but sizeable team were but ornaments to the discussion. His support group whereas Dad only had me.

My dad said he wanted to leave.  He couldn’t take another week waiting. Surgeon says it was no problem. Of course it wasn’t. They would call him again. Oh by the way, he would need a new MRI. The old one was out of date, he concluded.

Five weeks in hospital. Yet they still didn’t tell us this until now. That op had never been planned for that Wednesday or even the one before.

This surgeon swept out with his followers. I look at my dad. Trusting this man to cut him open just because he spoke a little to him about county football.  This is so unfair.  The inability for some Irish people to speak for themselves due to our censured, hypocritical, stigmatised and theocratic past allows these ‘gods’ of surgeons to play ludo with their lives.

My dad came home from hospital that day.

On the 3.45 train from Dublin. The train. The long walk to platform 8 from Houston.  He still had his hospital stickers on. He was white and dizzy.  He slept in starts.2017-03-24 17.23.35.jpg

This is the man who had been brought to St James in an ambulance from Tullamore hospital, a hospital which hadn’t let him out due to his poor condition. A hospital who had told him that his condition was so bad he needed monitoring until this operation, this triple bypass occurred.

It is Friday 24th. We are still waiting.

Where is dad since? No hospital called. No doctor. No MRI.

He is on my couch watching The Chase with an allergy to the topic of hospital.

My mother is losing weight daily with worry. My head is wrecked with it all.

Write to your TD. That is the medical advice we received. Be an activist for the reform of the health system when I need to prioritise my own family. That is the advice of the professional.bitmoji-20170325125519

This state of ours is disgusting. We ignore the weak. We ignore educational needs. We ignore the struggling. We bail out bankers.  We let large companies off their tax bill. We stamp on our own to look good to the rest of the world. This country hasn’t changed much since its inception.

I  am appalled to tell people this story.

I get advice. Tricks. How to wangle the medical system.  Can you believe that? My father who is the most honest tax payer of all time cannot get his urgent heart surgery because he isn’t a corrupt loudmouth.

It is April 6th. Almost a full month since we left the hospital. We are nowhere near being finished. Every time my mother calls my phone,  my heart skips a beat. Every time my father drops off to sleep in the chair, I shudder.

Look at yourselves Minister and Taoiseach. Feel the guilt.

I am afraid I cannot send my regards once again.

Your citizen.


My Hair

Hair has always been important to my self-image. I have always worn it long, unclipped, untethered, unrestrained. I associate tying up my hair with working. All of those jobs of my earlier working life required tying up the mane.

I once had bouncing baby curls, as an Anne Geddes style baby photo will attest to but 1984 (Orwell chose the right year to be dystopian) saw a traumatic hair event in my life. My Mammy had my hair cut into a pageboy.

I started school looking like a boy. It was all-girl school so nobody got confused but this set in motion a terror of hairdressers that lasted a good twenty years, ending with a Rapunzel complex.

Long hair and a fear of cutting it.fairytale-1735367_640

I got over that.


My hair is brown, and therefore I am cursed with the early grey gene. My first grey (white piece of wire more like) sprouted menacingly from my naive head when I was thirteen and was promptly ripped from said head by an obliging friend who sat behind me and couldn’t look it at. (Done without my prior knowledge, sharp and secret pain). 38150068.jpg

The dying began in my twenties. Not a person who embraces the harlequin of colour style of hairdressing, a new shade a season, I stayed brown.

Basic brown

‘Chocolate’ most  dyes refer to it as.bitmoji-20170322040503.png

Children came into my life, magical pixies that bring spirit and energy, mischief and mania. Somehow my hair becomes in need of the touch up quicker. not to blame my babies…but there may be a connection.

I have made and cancelled two hair appointments in recent weeks due to other circumstances ( see Cancelling an Operation when under Anaesthesia?). The window had passed. I had gone from a few indeterminate greys to full on old man crown.comic-characters-2027416_640

Last Saturday morning, we were swimming. My two year old was perched happily on a changing room bench as I sweated with the latex suit, my head bent under her nose. She gasps.

‘Oh Mammy- what happened?’.

Quick glimpse around.

No blood.

‘WWhat happened your hair?

She plucked at the cement grey roots.

‘Who did it Mammy?’

Crèche culture has introduced my daughter to blame. Someone must be at fault for my terrible aging.

So it seemed anyone timeto get the job done.

Sunday evening, I lashed on the supermarket dye. Piled my hair into a top knot. b1251c2ebfe9ffcb4f31feed100c3fe0Slick with the unctuous liquid, towels everywhere, I showed my version of a ‘Mulan’ do to the girls. The raw state. The work in progress.

Delighted Gigi applauds.

‘Yea! You have lovely hair Mammy!’

I looked like Nanny Plum if she stuck her head into a semi-gelatinous jelly flood.11xcye

‘Thanks Gigi’.

The next morning, I brushed out the freshly coloured, conditioned locks, somewhat proud of looking like me again. I looked expectantly to my daughter, keen for her to praise my hair in a state of glory.

‘AAwww. Your lovely hair is gone Mammy’.

The self- consciousness I had developed as a result of Gigi’s observation took on a whole new meaning.


Hair. It doesn’t really matter anymore.


Movie Gems for St Patrick’s Day treats!

A reboot for the day that is in it😊


I like delving into nostalgia like this. Sometimes the past can make you lonesome. This type of remembering just makes me smile!

Smiley Coffee Cup copy[1].gif

Hope you are enjoying today wherever you are! Maybe you would like a little movie viewing. Here are my choices that match the day that’s in it. Lots of you will know these incredibly well. Others will not. Whether you like them or not is up to you.  Each and everyone are classics of Irish TV and will be found on the box when we wear the green.

1. Flight of the Doves


A tale of two children with a fabulous surname, Dove. They must get away from their wicked uncle Tobias and find their Granny who lives in County Galway in Ireland. A true fairytale! I have blogged about fairy stories recently and all the elements are here. See Hairy Tales. I loved watching this as…

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Cancelling an Operation when under Anaesthesia?

An Open Letter. March 2nd, 2017.

To Enda Kenny. To Simon Harris. To the the People who Cannot See the Bigger Picture.

It is an awful feeling to have in the pit of your stomach to know your father is sick.

To know he is worrying.

To see him in a hospital for weeks on end like a caged animal, domesticated by force.

My father was diagnosed with heart trouble two years ago.

The doctors have swung between stents and by pass surgery, medication and ‘talks’ since that awful summer two years past.

What has happened since?

A stent operation that was cancelled at the last minute due to a low heart function (despite prior knowledge of this).

Horrid, long waits in St James hospital for a blunt, arrogant machine of a surgeon to make my parents further stressed with his horrendous manner, curt manner of delivery, lack of desire to empathise, sympathise or show kindness to a worried middle aged man and his wife up for the day to Dublin from their rural home. This man- Dr Young- gives you 3-5 minutes, four sentences of information whereupon he parrots his orders into his dictaphone for a letter and barks ‘Cheerio’ to signal that your interview with Him. Is. Over. No questions please, as it were. This man told my parents in this brief time how ill my Dad was, terrified them with what was true but really could have been delivered in another manner. I appreciate time limits and pressure is on the hospitals but I also think that does not stretch to your own choice to be human when dealing with humans.hands-981400__480

A wait for this surgeon that was going on and on, with a father (diabetic) who didn’t want to eat until he had seen the doctor. I went to his office door at one point and broke my moral code by looking at the files. My dad’s file wasn’t even in the wait list pile.  He knew he had little to tell him until he spoke to some other people but did not tell us this in any time. Just let us wait and wait.

Yes, as soon as I made a fuss, we were seen.

Barked at.


No information.


Out of pocket. Out of energy. Fighting for hope.

We have changed surgeon since Dr Young. He had no confidence in helping Dad and honestly the new surgeon gave my father confidence by treating him in an infinitely kinder manner. However we have still been shunted from one place to another,  decision to decision, each one more indefinite and uncertain than the last. This further delay has allowed my father’s condition to worsen. This dillydallying from a rude surgeon to the waiting lists that our country is subject to as a result of our health system taking a backseat to other more trivial matters has let my father become more ill. My father was finally on put onto the list for a triple bypass. Isn’t it awful that our lives are subject to lists?

Times passed.

January brought pneumonia. His heart function is considerable lessened.

Is it fair say that if we had better care two years ago my Dad would not be so unwell? Would it be fair to say this country has allowed him to become worse? That my mother is living a sub-life, in and out of hospitals as  my dad cannot leave one now as he is high risk?  That he cannot drive. Write (his job). Work. Be at home. Be free? Is it fair to say this country is letting my parents down at a time when life should be enjoyed? They should be relaxed?horror-2028165__480.png

I have rarely seen my Dad cry but I did see him cry yesterday.

No one needs to see their Dad cry.

Yesterday in St James’s hospital, after four weeks in Tullamore, he was prepared for the triple bypass surgery. He was anaesthetised. I took time from work. My mother prayed. We sat and waited.

Three hours after he went in, a surgeon comes to us. We sank into our chairs. Why was he here? Why was this gowned man here when he was supposed to be in there? He explained they had reach a complication. They had realised his heart function was so much less. They couldn’t do it this week.

They talked of next week.

Relief at the news that it was not worse was our first response,  it took us awhile to consider these implications.

We waited all day to talk to someone else.

We were sent a young man, a doctor who was not in the team that morning who gave an explanation that my Mother and I don’t really feel satisfied with  (blame Tullamore essentially. That was it. He was officious. Curt. Talked over my Dad. Attempted to answer our questions but really it was not good enough. No other human in the know spoke to us. No other surgeon. Nothing.

Retrospect is powerful for knowledge and I hope that you Taoiseach and your selected minster realise this in years to come when you look back on your administrations.

My father would have been operated on and recovering by now if you all had done a better job.

My mother would not be crippled with fear and anxiety if you prioritise ordinary people.

Apple are laughing at you Taoiseach.

I hope you fall over with your hypocritical bowl of shamrock, and if you hit your head you might realise that you have focused on all the wrong things. You let your administration squabble and lose confidence in you. They sit like pumas in the long grass ready for you to go before they swipe in to take your place. And continue this non-progression.


Enjoy your trip to Washington in the meantime and remember us. Still in hospital. Still recovering. Still dreadfully unhappy.

We are one story in millions.

I am afraid I cannot send my usual kind regards.

Your citizen.


One Year Old Little Blog

It has been one terrifically fast year.

Or are WordPress are making a mistake?

Was it truly that one year ago that I felt so challenged and afraid that I needed to DO something so desperately?

Do something about it or take something for it, they said.

I did something.

Like First Defence, it may not have solved the problem, but just delayed it.

Also like First Defence, it worked for awhile and then I had to face the problem anyway. Which I am doing.

So what else has the year brought?

My home is filled with the sound of laughter and screams, chatter and reproaches. Yoghurt stains and spitty kisses. Frozen and Peppa. Tale telling and soothers. Nappies and potties. Tiredness and tempers. Love and laughter. Dirty dogs gathering scraps. Diets and secret eating.Man to pets about upside down house: 'I don't care who started it!'

A sick Dad. Awaiting the good times healthwise.

New bedroom furniture. The little things.


Make ups.

A blog that I love. I don’t know if I will ever be one of those ‘successful’ bloggers but I have had success in so many ways. Depending on your definition. Blogging friends.  Linky love. Family Friendly hq articles. Being a Boolino Friend. The Littlewoods Blog Awards Parenting Nomination.

The best thing is having a space to think and write.

Happy birthday little blog. Belated birthday..it was a few weeks ago. We will celebrate together.

Another first birthday in our little world.

So to everyone who helps me keep my head above water and likes my blog, keeping it alive. Thank you.bitmoji-20170301031216.png