A Grand and Shameful Episode
The first night at the castle I did not sleep well.
I had set up all the kids on the biggest bed (the one that Teddy, Blossom and I were to be sharing), with some chocolate covered rice cakes and a movie in the hope that the young ones would drop off.
It took 4 hours to get everyone to sleep.
I spent the night brushing off rice cake crumbs from my pillow and attempting to anticipate where the next blow would land. My babies sleep-heavy limbs were flailing about the place with the ferocity and regularity of passengers aboard a sinking ship.
I ended up crawling down to the bottom of the bed and curling into a ball to fit in between their kicking legs.
It was not a great night for me.
I lay in bed reflecting on the relatives I had just met.
It turned out that the majority of my family were very posh. Posh as in the kind of people who start a sentence with "One doesn't like to..." and who say "Jolly good Old Fellow" and that kind of thing.
Up until that point I thought those people only existed in American films about English people, but no, here they were in their full aristocratic glory.
I wondered how they would respond to a divorced single mother of 5. To make matters worse my kids are by 2 different men and several of them referred to me as a 'colonial'.
Some of them were a bit sniffy about that and I had to smile thinly through the usual (and unoriginal) convict jokes.
The next day there was a dinner for us all to mingle and get to know each other. Teddy was being clingy and he was looking for his blahs. Blahs are blankies, and Teddy carries an assortment of old pillow cases and babies blankets about with him to give him comfort. They are all cotton and all white.
I was at a table with a group of relatives when Teddy made this request and so I asked Cleo to run up to the room with Teddy and get his blahs.
I engaged the couple next to me in conversation and was really enjoying the adult chat and getting to know some new people.
A few minutes later Teddy came in and called across the packed room. "Got my blahs Mum!"
Everyone turned to look at him.
"Is that my nighty?" I foolishly asked, seeing a familiar bit of cloth in the bundle he held.
Cleo pulled out the nighty and held it up.
"This one?" she called out.
My heart began to thump in my chest. The nighty she held up, obviously adult sized, had 3 long brown skid mark stains on it.
I stared at the dirty nighty.
So did everyone else in the room.
I had no idea how the stains had got on there and I had no idea what to say.
A few mumbled vowels came out of my mouth.
"Sorry, it must have been with his blahs. I'll bring it over to you Mum." Cleo said, oblivious to the spectacle she was treating us to.
As she moved towards me with the nighty the crowds recoiled, lurching back in their chairs in an effort to further themselves from the pooey nighty. It was like Moses parting the red sea, if Moses was a faeces stained nighty and the red sea was a mass of posh Anglo Irish gentry.
As my social cache hit rock bottom it suddenly occurred to me. It was chocolate! From the rice cakes!
The kids must have dropped some in the bed and I slept on it and it melted and when I moved it created long and very realistic looking skid mark type stains.
But there was no explaining that to my new relatives. They were now turning back to their tables, back to each other and speaking in subdued voices. I couldn't very well make an announcement to tell them all it was the rice cakes.
But I couldn't bear the thought of going about for the whole rest of the weekend with everyone thinking that I couldn't control my bowels. So instead I started every conversation with "You know my nighty? That wasn't poo..."
Needless to say I did not get any invitations to keep in touch at the end of the reunion.