The fantastically funny LOVE NINA: DESPATCHES FROM FAMILY LIFE by Nina Stibbe is our March Non-Fiction choice: discuss the book and enter comp to win a year's supply of books

(72 Posts)

Our March choice is the freshest, funniest debut we've read in years. LOVE NINA: DESPATCHES FROM FAMILY LIFE is a collection of letters from a nanny living in a North London household. Writing with impeccable comic timing and a finely-tuned ear for dialogue, Nina records daily life and her own thoughts on London literati with refreshing honesty. And in this madcap house, the dialogue is priceless: Alan Bennett (who Nina thinks is from Coronation Street) on pie fillings, a ten-year old on swear words, and many literary arguments on the merits of Hardy and Chaucer. Nina may not have had any traditional childcare skills (a Norland nanny she is most definitely NOT), but she is exactly the right nanny for this particular, peculiar house, as she explains below:

'My book Love, Nina is the letters I wrote to my sister when I was a live-in nanny to two boys in the 1980s. The book focuses mainly on my relationship with the family I lived with and since publication it has been suggested (by some) that I wasn’t a very good nanny. And although I disagree with them (and would argue that I was perfect) I have to admit the evidence in the book for my not being good is quite compelling.

Firstly, I never did any housework. The house in Gloucester Crescent (which was already pretty shabby) became such a dreadful mess that my boss had to employ a cleaner. Not only that, the letters reveal that I felt a bit annoyed about it (‘a guilty/annoyed mix’) and was a bit irritated by the cleaner coming.

Also, after claiming at the interview to be a good cook, I turned out to be a lousy cook. I made a fuss about the available ingredients and used packets of Batchelor’s savoury rice to pass off as a home-made biriyani. I used tinned fruit pie filler and lied about the flavour. I upset the family with barely edible turkey-burgers and complained about my bosses’ cooking methods and tea making. When neighbour Alan Bennett, who regularly dropped in for supper, used to arrive with a thoughtful contribution to the meal, say a green salad, I’d interpret it as competition (or a snub) to my own salad.

Then there was my child-minding style. I put Sam (aged ten and with some disabilities) into a builder’s skip for a laugh and struggled to lift him out again. I pushed him into a swimming pool because he didn’t fancy a swim and read Thomas Hardy to him pretending it was Enid Blyton. I did other things too awful to write here (things that are explained in detail in the book).

I completed nine-year-old Will’s homework for him to get it out of the way so that he could get on with a novel he was writing and taught him to draw a fake tattoo on his arm in ink and took both boys on grafitti-hunting expeditions. I pranged the car and made the boys promise on their mother’s deathbed not to tell her about it. I walked around barefoot and took them to the pub to play snooker. I smoked and swore like a trooper.

Listed like that, I know it looks bad. But what my letters didn’t spell out quite so clearly were all the intangible things that I think added up to my being a great nanny. That I settled in and was very happy straight away and quickly became close to the boys and their mum. And, feeling like an equal - like one of the family - my behaviour, was like that of a fun-loving older sister. And, like an older sister, I was protective of the boys and I wanted the best for them. Not the ‘textbook’ best but what I thought really mattered. I didn’t think maths homework was as important as Will’s creative endeavors so I helped accordingly. I was fun to be with and looked for more fun and didn’t get hung up on Sam’s illness nor the demands of school homework.

It’s true I wasn't very good at the sensible things (except for an insistence on tooth brushing and short fingernails.) I didn’t bother cleaning the house or doing the ironing. I never taught them anything useful except that you stick with your football team through thick and thin and that you should always try to see the funny side of things. And that might have made me rubbish for any other family, but I just happened to be exactly what this family wanted. And I think that made me perfect.

Penguin have 50 copies of Love Nina to give to Mumsnetters - to claim yours please fill in your details on the book of the month page. We'll post on the thread when all the copies have gone. If you're not lucky enough to bag one of the free books, click on these links to get your paperback or kindle version.

If you get a free copy, we do expect you to come and and tell us what you think. So please discuss the book throughout the month and look forward to hearing your thoughts.

RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 10-Mar-14 16:42:54

Mumsnet and Penguin are inviting you to join our Dear Nina competition: We want you to write to ‘Dear Nina’ and share with her your confessions of parenting fails. (if you read the post above you will see that author Nina Stibbe has plenty of those moments during her time as a nanny at Gloucester Road). Nina will judge your letters/confessions and the end of the month and the winner will receive a year’s supply of books for parents and kids from Penguin and Puffin – 12 adult titles and 12 kids titles selected by Penguin.

To get the ball rolling:

Dear Nina, when visiting Paris Disney one year, in the excitement I managed to leave dc3 in his buggy by the Indiana Jones ride whilst we ran on to the next adventure. We were about to get on the next ride when we realised we'd left him. When we got back he didn't even notice we'd gone smile.

We look forward to hearing your confessions to Dear Nina...

Roseformeplease Mon 10-Mar-14 17:44:27

Dear Nina,

When searching in the bottom drawer of the chest, on top of which my son lay, waiting for a nappy change, I realised that the object brushing (or rushing) past my face was not, in fact, an object, but my son who, thankfully, landed unharmed in the bottom drawer, cooing in delight.

Dear Nina, driving through a busy village every day on the school run, we were regularly cut up at a roundabout almost every day. One day DH in the car slammed on the brakes and shouted "dozy cow" at the offending vehicle. Two days later grandma in the car with us and DC when again forced to stop suddenly by roundabout. DS aged 3 pipes up " what's the matter daddy , is it another dozy cow?". Mortified or what!

katb1973 Mon 10-Mar-14 17:55:11

Dear Nina, when travelling with my 2 DCs in Malaysia, I let the two of them go into 2 different toilet stalls by themselves in one of those huge multi storey shopping centres. While I checked my hair in the mirror, my DS aged 2, crawled under the locked door and went out himself to find his father who was 100m away shopping in a store. When I finally realised he wasn't there I grabbed my other son and ran screaming for him around the shopping centre only to find him 5 minutes later with his Dad in the shop. Longest 5 minutes of my life....

KeepCalmAndLOLKittens Mon 10-Mar-14 17:57:11

Dear Nina

Continuing with the theme park think I somewhat failed on the parenting front at Peppa Pig World recently. There is a deceptively fast little roller coaster next to the PP part of the park. DD (3) thought it was a roller coaster and insisted in going on it.

Her little face wore an expression of pure terror as we made the descent and took the 90 degree corner. I lied and told her it was nearly over ... as we hurtled towards the second lap.

angie95 Mon 10-Mar-14 17:58:07

Dear Nina, not long after having my first child, Marcus(now 19) I decided to go shopping,
Took my baby son, in his pram, into Ethel Austins, so far so good,, Found what I wanted, took it to the checkout, paid, said thank you, and walked out of the shop. There was a shout of "Excuse me, excuse me" I turned round, to see a shop assistant, with my pram! Yes,, I had left him in the shop! Exit one embarrassed new mother,,,

KeepCalmAndLOLKittens Mon 10-Mar-14 17:58:45

DD in fact thought it was a helter skelter.

mammamic Mon 10-Mar-14 18:00:55

Dear Nina

When I worked part time, my husband used to have to call me regularly to remind me to change my darling daughter's nappy and feed her.

I was so exhausted being a first time mum and working, plus all the 'unpaid work', such as cleaning, ironing, cooking (none of which you are familiar with, but I can assure you - they are time and energy consuming) that I could go nearly a whole day without changing or feeding the baby (let's not discuss interacting with her...).

I would be blissfully asleep on whichever surface happened to be closest to me. My baby rarely made a peep during the day, though she emphatically made up for this between the hours of 2am and 7am, so I would be in my own little blissful sleep world...

As you say, on paper looks bad but I have a happy, healthy and joyful child and I know I am the most perfect mum on this planet (and she agrees)

mammamic Mon 10-Mar-14 18:04:26

is that too honest... blush

Stockhausen Mon 10-Mar-14 18:07:09

Dear Nina,

The very bad cold that mummy & daddy recently had, which confined us to bed, was in fact a stinking hangover.

Stockhausen Mon 10-Mar-14 18:07:14

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Stockhausen Mon 10-Mar-14 18:07:24

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Stockhausen Mon 10-Mar-14 18:07:26

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Stockhausen Mon 10-Mar-14 18:07:28

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Stockhausen Mon 10-Mar-14 18:07:28

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

BlizzardInWales Mon 10-Mar-14 18:23:48

Dear Nina,

When my son was 15 months old, he toddled out of his bedroom and down the hall. I went past in the opposite direction heading, sleepily, for the bathroom. I did notice that he was making a beeline for what I thought was an escaped sock at the top of the stairs, but thought nothing of it.

"What the heck is that?" My husband said from the bedroom moments later. I came out and found my darling son holding a deceased, fat, fluffy rodent. Not just holding it though, no no. He was gripping it upright in both pudgy little hands and squidging it enthusiastically.

"Squishy, squishy, squishy, squishy," he chanted as he abused the poor thing on his way to show daddy.

"Put it down!" I shrieked, shaking his hands by the wrists till he dropped it. There ensued a long hand washing session and much shouting at the husband to get rid of it.

Not a sock then, ah well. Thanks kitty.

madeofkent Mon 10-Mar-14 18:56:27

When DD was almost exactly three, in the dark frozen depths of one January she had a small friend to play. It was a dreadful day, we had had to break the pony's ice on the water trough several times and I had a stinking cold, so I refused to take them swimming. They were a bit upset, but seemed ok after a bit.

They played happily in front of the fire for a while and I half-dozed, but they got bored and wanted to play outside. It was getting towards dusk, but I wrapped them up warmly and told them to stick to the sandpit, returning thankfully to the fire.

I woke up an hour later, it was dark and the fire had almost gone out - no sign of the children. I went outside to call them in, no sign of them in the playhouse or sandpit. I went to the paddock and could hear voices, and there they were. Stark naked in a bath of frozen ice and water with the pony happily chewing away at them. I screeched at them to get out, grabbed them and their clothes and hauled them inside for a hot bath. I got them dried and dressed just before small friend's mummy arrived. Looking at her son's damp curls, she said 'Oh, did you take them swimming after all?'

'Yes', I replied.

StillNoFuckingEyeDeer Mon 10-Mar-14 19:04:31

Dear Nina,

When DD2 was a few weeks old, I was breast-feeding her whilst sat on the bedroom floor one night, when a massive spider scurried over her. My instant reaction upon seeing the hideous beastie, was to get it away from me as fast as possible. So I threw DD2 off my lap onto the floor.

daimbardiva Mon 10-Mar-14 19:44:17

Dear Nina, whilst moaning to a friend about how my husband let's our kids take too many risks whilst 'helping' him outside, I turned round to find my 8 month old dangling silently upside down from the booster seat I'd poorly strapped to a dining room chair...

Mamafratelli Mon 10-Mar-14 19:52:01

Dear Nina

I once told my dc's that the alarm sensor flashed when Father Christmas was watching. They behaved impeccably for the entire month of December but I felt so guilty that I told them he was so impressed he had disconnected the camera.

Sorry kids.

sjonlegs Mon 10-Mar-14 20:07:58

Dear Nina

I'm not sure I ever had the energy to 'nip' to the shops after the arrival of child number three ... Now, I prefer my tea herbal .. but fortunately my lactating meant that we never ran out of milk for my husband's early morning brew!


sjonlegs Mon 10-Mar-14 20:16:02

Dear Nina

I'm happy to confirm that the 10 second rule works with pretty much any food stuffs.... in fact where raisins are concerned ... this rule sometimes extends to weeks, possibly even months.

I know this because my 3 children are still alive!

RuthPat76 Mon 10-Mar-14 20:17:24

Dear Nina, as a parent to be we all have ideas if what life will be like idealistic views and the reality is bribery gets you everywhere lol the sticker chart plus prize the if you are good we will get a magazine... It is always on my terms either this croissant or fruit based sweet and not the lolly you want but even so the no food will ever be a reward rule has never really been easily employed by anyone I know. Of course they know a "treat" when they eat one!!! Pudding if planned as part of a meal is still offered as long as they try everything on the plate but if no pudding is planned we do say if you eat this then... We have a fussy eater who loves fruit and veg but no sauces so although a pain is very healthy - so a failure or success in the main? We are all guilty of mistakes but I am sure our kids are all worth being proud of :-)

aristocat Mon 10-Mar-14 20:48:50

Dear Nina,

When my son was just 3 months old I had such a bad parenting fail. We were going on our first holiday with him and needed to stop at the services after travelling for more than an hour on the motorway.
As my DH and I got him out of the car we noticed that the 5 point harness on his car seat was not fastened!
How could we have done this - two sensible caring parents and a neglected child.

Needless to say, every journey since then had the car seat double checked .....

GingerMaman Mon 10-Mar-14 20:53:29

Dear Nina,

My DD has a loving obsession with watching videos of herself ('selfie videos'), in fact at times it's the only thing that stops her whinging! I am so tempted to commission someone to put them together into a film which will repeatedly play on a huge screen in each of the rooms in our house, then we might get some peace!


Nina818 Mon 10-Mar-14 21:12:53

these confessions are hilarious! Keep them coming.
Nina x

JoggingKeepsMeSane Mon 10-Mar-14 21:16:25

Dear Nina,

Whilst sitting on my bed reading a book the other evening my ds appears and says to me 'mummy, why is one of my molars in the pot on top of my cupboard?' ummmm quick thinking 'perhaps it was too heavy for the tooth fairy to carry on this occasion.......blush

madeofkent Mon 10-Mar-14 21:52:29

Dear Nina

I changed all the clocks forward an hour on more than one occasion to get my kids to bed earlier.

There are lots more things but I have been hiding them deep down in my subconscious for years! They may need some digging out, but I am sure it will be an extremely cathartic experience.

minimalisthoarder Mon 10-Mar-14 22:19:22

Dear Nina,

I was out with a friend walking DD, aged about 3 months, in her pram, when a wasp flew up my t-shirt sleeve and stung me under the arm. I performed an entertaining flap-dance-and-shriek to get it out again, only to come to my senses to find my friend hanging on to my abandoned pram, one wheel hanging over into the road where I'd let it roll....

Apparently you're meant to take the pain for the sake of your child. Lesson learned!

minimalisthoarder Mon 10-Mar-14 22:28:14

Dear Nina,

I should probably add that my in-coordination and clumsiness are probably responsible for about half the bruises my child has ever had. I pulled her elbow once, took her to A&E and confessed, tearfully; she of course then put it back herself by pointing up at a mobile over the reception desk. I'm not sure which was more embarrassing, them suspecting me of wilful abuse or neurotic-first-time-mother syndrome. They were very nice about it actually and she probably got the dodgy joints from me too.

These days, at nearly 5, she just cheerfully says 'you're a clumsy mummy, never mind, I know you didn't mean it!' when I clout her on the head with my handbag or get over-enthusiastic with the cuddles and headbutt the poor thing (as I did the other night, blearily, as she came racing out of her room at 1am screaming something about spiders, and I ran smack into her, going the other way as fast as you can while trying to decide whether or not to stop for a dressing gown and if speed of response or not being naked is more important)...

justmuddlingalong Mon 10-Mar-14 22:47:41

Dear Nina,

I washed my 4 year old son's hands before making the bread, honestly. I scrubbed them with warm soapy water, really I did. And everyone said that the bread tasted lovely. I wanted to eat some of our delicious homemade bread too, warm out of the oven, with Lurpak dripping off of it. But my son's comment about how clean his nails were after all that kneading put me off slightly...

stephgr Tue 11-Mar-14 01:41:47

I taught my eldest daughter how to sew but then went off and bought the costume I was supposed to make for the school pantomime. Problem is the school has asked me to make the costumes for the school play....

kateandme Tue 11-Mar-14 02:25:07

dear nina i will teach my children not to lie as they grow up yet every day i tell them little white ones!!to try and get them to eat their vegetables or get the tooth fairy to come,be good for santa or the easter bunny!!oops

Parrish Tue 11-Mar-14 10:40:46

I decided a good way to stop my 3 year old's epic tantrums was a dose of distraction and surprise. So, if at home, I would drop my trousers in front of him and show him my bum. Tantrum stopped dead every time. Of course, now he's 8, his own trouser dropping has got him into a lot of trouble at school.

mjmooseface Tue 11-Mar-14 11:03:54

Dear Nina,

Once, not too long ago, I had put my 16 month son into his high chair just as my husband got home from work. I left him where he was in the living room and went to the kitchen to say hello to my husband and put away the bits he'd brought home with him... He went through to the living room whilst I lovingly made snacks for everyone until I heard a bang followed by a cry... I ran to the living room to see my son in my husband's arms... I hadn't strapped my son in to his high chair and he'd pulled himself up, fallen (not without getting his legs trapped in the straps and dangling halfway to the floor before falling) and banged his head on the floor!!! He was absolutely fine. But I felt awful for days after! Needless to say, I double check he is securely fixed into his high chair before I dash to the kitchen to grab something now! Lesson. Learned. smile

Nbennion Tue 11-Mar-14 12:58:55

Dear Nina
When my son was 6 months old I gave him the car keys to play with while I loaded the shopping into the car. Imagine my horror when having just closed the boot he managed to press the lock button leaving me outside the car and him trapped inside on a hot sunny day with my bag and phone inside!
Thankfully shortly after as my panic was rising he then pressed the unlock button. Needless to say I never gave them the keys to play with again !

Nina818 Tue 11-Mar-14 14:26:04

when my dd was in hospital, I knocked her drip out trying to get a better view of the telly.

mishroo Tue 11-Mar-14 20:56:27

my youngest child had a bad tummy upset and just as i was about to leave to do school run filled his nappy i was in a rush so quickly changed his nappy.I got to the school gates a little frazzled but on time but unfortunatley did not realise that i had a an arm covered in poo there was no hiding it oh the shame it was not my finest moment!

nerysw Wed 12-Mar-14 10:05:00

Dear Nina,
I tell my children terrible lies - they think the pub we go to for lunch is a 'cafe' and that the music from the ice cream van means it's run out of ice cream.

thekitchenfairy Wed 12-Mar-14 22:33:43

Dear Nina

I missed DS1's first ever school assembly... because I kept forgetting to look in his blue book bag. Remarkably at 11 he remains unscathed by this form of parental neglect.... but I am still singled out on occasion as That Woman... the only mother in the class to miss her son's first ever school assembly.

Both DS now have football training at a Friday tea time. I finish work early so I can get there on time... and catch up on a #Salamander download with a glass of wine.

And we eat tea in front of the telly or a movie. Regularly.

Punkatheart Thu 13-Mar-14 08:37:32

Dear Nina - When my daughter was seven years old, she had a friend over to play. The little girl was the most obnoxious child I had ever met - I caught her taking the hose to fill up my daughter's playhouse at the end of the garden, she also told me that she had spat on one my t-shirts. She was like a member of the Addams' Family. I was counting every second on the clock before her mother picked her up.

On my desk in my office - my very private space - I had lots of keepsakes that were personal to me. In a bottle, I had some luminous lagoon water that I had brought back from Jamaica. When I first had it, I could shake it and all the Tinkerbell-like organisms would sparkle and shine blue-green, before they came to rest.

Yes, this little girl - who also stole some jewellery from my bedroom, managed to drink the lagoon water - it was in a lemonade bottle and she drank pretty much the whole thing. It was months' old but she must have had a cast iron gut. I did ask about her when she got home, but she was fine.

AliceMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 13-Mar-14 14:22:51

The book giveaway for Love,Nina is now closed. We will notify those who have been selected to receive a free copy of the book via email. Please feel free to discuss the book here throughout the month and don't forget to post your letter to Nina to win a year's supply of books.

Dear Nina,

I'm probably not the most tactful of mothers and I have to admit that I panicked when Dd came barging into our room one morning when, seconds previously, DP and I had been feeling rather amorous....

We dragged ourselves out of bed to start the usual morning palaver when Dd piped up, 'Mummy what is that?!'

She was pointing to DP's willy.

It was too early for this conversation and I was mortified so I just told her that 'Daddy had done a poo.'

Now Dd tells everyone that she has seen Daddy do a poo in the shower, he had a poo in his pants, Daddy has a brown poo....etc.'

It's a shame because she is right by her logic but either people think she is a bit strange or think that DP is incontinent.

sigh Im hoping she'll just forget before she starts school!!



Ruby6918 Thu 13-Mar-14 17:56:13

Dear Nina,
On a day out at bangor marina, with my sister and 18 month old son, i was too busy eating chips and hadnt strapped my son into his buggy, and he jumped into a fountain when i finally noticed it took me my sister and a passer by to pull him out. because his padded coat and soaked up so much water He was freezing and we had to bring him to adams to buy all new clothes.
Another confession is i got so fed up with my son aged twenty coming in after a few pints and raiding everything in the kitchen and leaving a mess so i made up a plate of cat food sandwiches and covered them in tin foil - and he ate them all!!!!!!!
I forgot to put money out for the tooth fairy and when my daughter woke up i nearly died, so I told her that the tooth fairy was sick and could'nt get to our house, but this made her even worse because she was so worried about the tooth fairy! Super guilty - she did get her money fter i calmed her down when i put it under my pillow and said she must have got in while we ere chatting

Yes guilty as charged

Sleepyk Thu 13-Mar-14 18:25:54

Dear Nina

Merrily dozing in the land of nod I was awoken by a little voice "mummy I have a poo" my 2 year old whispered. I sleepily tried to force one eye open but to no avail "ok I will change you in a minute sweetheart" I muttered. Now I had had every intention of doing so I assure you but my semi unconscious state rendered it impossible. Im not too sure how long I was asleep but the aroma of what I presumed was a freshly filled nappy was too much to bear and I rolled over, opened my eyes and took in the full glory that was my daughter holding a large, thankfully firm, deposit that she had fished out of her nappy....

juruga Thu 13-Mar-14 18:53:34

Dear Nina,

The boys were told that if they ate a lot of carrots, they will get curly hair. Carrots went unharmed in the house since then. Differences in aspirations between boys and girls, I suppose.

CockBollocks Thu 13-Mar-14 20:30:57

Dear Nina,

So many parent fails I could tell you about but I think this one is up there with my most shameful.

DS (6 at the time) has a constant need to wind his Dsis up. On this particular day I had uttered shouted the words "leave her alone" after what felt like every single breath.

Finally, in complete exasperation, I shouted that if he did not stop I was going to write "Leave her alone" on his forehead so he never forgot.

"go on then" he says. The red mist descended and I only blooming did it, in biro and backwards so he could read it in the mirror secretly proud of myself for that.

Can imagine how that little story went at school the following day.


nickyh173 Fri 14-Mar-14 06:35:08

While shopping one day, I silently needed to pass wind, which I did. When my sister noticed and started complaining about the odour, I did blame the toddler.....

oldgreybird Fri 14-Mar-14 11:36:24

Dear Nina
A rather extreme example of my parenting skills happened when we were on holiday. We were renting a friend's house and discovered that some other friends were also renting a property a few miles away. One evening, the two families got together and we cooked a great meal and had plenty of wine, chit chat and hilarity. But all the kids were getting fed up with the adults so I let them go and do their own thing in the rest of the house whilst we got on with enjoying ourselves. It didn't occur to me that the kids needed supervising. They were 12yrs, 10yrs, 8yrs and 9yrs.
However, I discovered many months later that they had been playing some sort of a game and my 9yr old son had ended up literally dangling over the side of the terrace on the roof by his finger tips. Apparently at one point the oldest of the children had thought they might have to call us as my son was finding it difficult to get back up but they didn't as they preferred not to get us involved as they were having such fun. Eventually with much effort my son did get back up and so avoided plummetting to his death - all this going on while we were carousing on the ground floor!

kazlau Fri 14-Mar-14 13:16:05

My mother told my brother that when I was born (wee sister) he was going to help with looking after me. She possibly took it too far because when I was born he asked her if she was going to help him because he was worried he couldn't look after me all on his own. Fast forward 2 years and she had been explaining starting school to him - told him that he would be in primary school for until primary 7 then on to "big school" after that. On his first day, standing at the school gate he asked her if she would make sure that she would remember to come back and get him in 7 years!!!

Nina818 Fri 14-Mar-14 17:26:42

loving all these confessions... and keep remembering awful things I've done. I remember sticking my tongue out behind the back of my daughter's 10 y/o friend (who was whining). She saw me in the mirror and burst into tears.

Uzma01 Sat 15-Mar-14 18:49:30

When my daughter was much younger and still needing the rocker chair - the doorbell went, so I placed her in to it to speak to the person who'd come to check out something in the kitchen, a few minutes went by and then I heard a thud followed by an ear piercing scream/cry - I'd forgotten to tie the straps. shock

petalsandstars Wed 19-Mar-14 19:54:24

Not content with giving myself the heart attack that happens when you realise you've driven home down national speed limit roads with DC1 strapped into the car seat but the car seat not strapped into the car, I then did exactly the same with DC2!

Can't wait for the next stage car seat! !

Lovescourgettes Wed 19-Mar-14 20:19:23

In a horrifying mixup I once managed to substitute my own gigantic granny pant type knickers for my daughter's little ones in her nursery bag .

motherofallwimpykids Fri 21-Mar-14 12:12:41

Whether this is a parenting fail or not depends on your point of view....but the fact that this story was repeated to me a mum's coffee morning as an example of what-not-to-do makes me think that others didn't see it the same way as I did..... bedtime one night and "click" out goes the light of DS1 then aged about 7 or 8. In the darkness I hear the words "Mum I think the rubber from the top of pencil may be stuck in my ear". The only reasonable response to this is "Why did you wait until now to tell me?" Grrrr.. on goes the light again, white wine repatriated to fridge door and I take a look in the ear. Sure enough I can see it, the little greyish white end of an eraser is just visible. I reckon that if I unbend a paper clip I'll just be able to hook the rounded end around it & lift it out. But the paper clip won't fit in between the ear canal & the rubber, so I straighten the paper clip and attempt to spear the rubber but no matter how I try I cannot pierce the rubber and it remains firmly in situ.

At times of medical emergency, I always phone my father as he is immensely knowledgeable in this field and always gives sound advice. In his opinion it is the lack of lubrication in the tight space that is causing the problem with prising it out and suggests a little olive oil to ease the passage of the eraser. Unfortunately, as I usually buy my salad dressings ready made I didn't have any olive oil ready and tried instead to use a little balsamic dressing made & sold by a large well known supermarket chain. The addition of the balsamic dressing did in fact hinder rather than help my activities with the paper clip and I was forced to consider alternatives. I thought that as leverage was not successful, perhaps suction would be effective in removing the rubber. So I removed the carpet cleaning fitting from the hoover and stuck the nozzle straight onto his ear & hit the max power button. I am not sure if my vacuuming skills are always deficient or if it was just on this occasion but certainly, no matter how I tried, the rubber remained well and truly lodged in the boy's ear.

With the arrival home of the spouse came the possibility of leaving the other children with their father and taking DS1 to the local Accident and Emergency department. Fortunately he was seen rather smartly and shown into a curtained area by a young and sensitive trainee doc. It was a completely straightforward matter and the young doc would remove the "foreign body" with a pair of crocodile forceps and we would be on our merry way. Unfortunately, due to the earlier addition of the balsamic dressing, the young doc was not able to get any purchase on the rubber and he persisted in inserting the forceps further and further into the ear. As you may know, the ear canal is an extremely sensitive part of the body and this caused such severe pain to DS1 that full volume screaming was accompanied by various attempts to kick the young doc to get him to stop what he was doing. Not much comforted by my offer to hold his legs to stop the kicking, the young doc decided that no more could be achieved that evening and we were sent home with an appointment at the ENT clinic the following day.

On arrival at our appointment, I was delighted to note that we would be seen by the eminent Professor of ENT and we could not possibly consult any more knowledgeable person in the area of eraser removal. "At last, someone who knows what they are doing & an end to this matter" I thought to myself. Quite early on in the consultation, the Prof advises us that the ear canal is a very sensitive part of the body and extreme pain can be caused by agitation of this area. Yes, this was in line with our findings to date & confirmed his status. He continued that as a result, the only way to proceed would be to admit the child to the hospital and remove the object under General Anaesthetic.

Having had 3 children by C-section under a local anaesthetic, because of "the risks associated with a GA" I was somewhat alarmed & not convinced that this was entirely necessary especially given that the rubber was still entirely visible in its current location. "Couldn't you just put some numbing cream on his ear & take it out?" I pleaded, possibly somewhat hysterical by this stage. It was clear that you do not rise to the top of your profession by being swayed by hysterical women & the Prof was most insistent on the chosen course. Consequently, the following day a fasted DS1 was admitted, gowned and wheeled into the pre-op room where he was asked to count backwards from 10. He got to about 8 before he was wheeled through the swing doors by the caring and dedicated staff of the hospital theatre. I do not mind sharing with you that I shed a tear as my DS1 departed through those doors and I joined the other nervous and anxious parents in the waiting room.

After the operation he slept for most of the day, and when he woke up the kind nurse gave him the rubber in a specimen bottle and cut off his wristband before discharging him. Those items formed the basis for the next "show and tell" and I like to think it was probably one of the better ones he did that year.

scootercat69 Tue 25-Mar-14 11:27:50

Dear Nina,
When my car wing mirror was smashed by a passing motorist he graciously left a note on my windscreen with his contact details offering to pay for the damage. I made the mistake of taking toddler dd with me when I went to collect the cash for the damage, explaining to her beforehand that we were going to see the 'naughty man' who had broken Mummy's mirror. The amicable and apologetic handover of the cash was marred by my daughter's constant chirruping 'Is this the naughty man? Is this the naughty man?' which not even my sudden loud coughing fit could manage to completely conceal.

DanielMummy Sat 29-Mar-14 22:53:08

Dear Nina,

After hubby managed to lose DS1's favourite cuddly toy and one of his first pair of shoes on their day out (when DS1 was nearly 18 months old), I bought 3 more of the same toy via ebay, since no longer sold in the shop. DS1 was blissfully unaware that there were multiple versions of the toy for a couple of years until he accidently saw one pegged on the washing line whilst holding another one.

crybabybunting Mon 31-Mar-14 14:04:54

Dear Nina

One summer evening, my friend and I were sitting with the back doors open enjoying a g&t and I was telling her that the neighbours, who had a baby daughter the same age as mine, were getting a bit hardcore with the 'controlled crying'. I was getting into my stride, onto the second g&t at this stage, muttering 'what kind of a mother is she ...' when my friend (as yet childless) picked up the baby monitor which I'd left on the kitchen table. 'What do the flashing red lights mean?' she asked, showing it to me.

I had left it on silent.

I dashed upstairs to find my child, who we had recently moved onto solids, had been crying for quite a while, due to an extraordinarily evil poo in her nappy. Which served me right.

My friend likes to remind me of this whenever I have one of my (very rare ... ahem) parent fails. 'What kind of mother ...?' she says in my ear.


Carriecakes Tue 01-Apr-14 18:52:30

Dear Nina....

I cannot cook, but I can read a book,
I cannot sew, but I'll give it a go,
I cannot drive, we're the last to arrive!
Homework, can't do much, and a wee bit out of touch!
I have dropped each child, but the concussion was mild!
I have set fire to the home, when trying to make scones,
But I still get my kisses, despite these near-misses,
and despite being so darn poor, I'm the mum they adore! :-)

BlizzardInWales Thu 03-Apr-14 00:23:29

I have started reading the book! I'm really enjoying it! As a pregnant woman I am finding that my current attention span is slightly shorter than that of your average newt. The bitesize chunks nature of the book means that it can be read anywhere, no matter how long you have.

I am now almost halfway through. I have become really fond of Nina. The fact that she's clearly mad can only be a good thing and there have been a number of laugh out loud moments.

Further updates to follow! X

katb1973 Thu 03-Apr-14 11:28:42

I received my copy the other day, thanks Mumsnet, and must say reading it was like a breath of fresh air. In letter form, it was very easy to read and because it was set in the 80s nostalgic at the same time. It is more than a collection of observations about family life, it's also a social commentary on a particular class system at a particular time. Something I found very entertaining. Very funny and and heart warming. Thoroughly recommend it.

hackmum Sat 05-Apr-14 12:47:47

I loved this book too. I'm the same age as Nina and it amazes me that these letters were written when she was 20 - when I was that age, my letters were terribly intense and self-absorbed, whereas Nina's have a wonderful lightness of touch and a remarkable observational skill. An absolute delight.

mummy81 Tue 08-Apr-14 14:09:37

Dear Nina,

When picking my two year old from nursery I asked the new teacher how her day was. The feedback was minimal and I told my husband I thought she was rubbish. When next in nursery trying to get the teachers attention I ask my two year old the teachers name. She replies with a straight face "Rubbish".

Lesson what I say in front on kids now.

AliceMumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 09-Apr-14 10:35:40

Thanks for submitting your letters to Nina, this competition is now closed. Nina will be judging your entries over the next week and we will be announcing the winner shortly after. Good luck grin

TeeBee Wed 09-Apr-14 11:20:58

Really enjoyed this book as a light read. Very easy to dip in and out of because of the format. I'm a massive fan of Alan Bennett so it was great to get insight into his personal life through this book. What I loved most about this book was the author's ability to see the hilarity in everyday interactions and conversations. This was so reminiscent of Bennett and I spent a lot of time wondering who had influenced who. Those children must have had an amazingly eclectic upbringing and this shines out in their witty observations and conversations. Beautifully written and full of cleverness and humour. Thank you for the opportunity to read this book, it was an absolute privilege.

CarolLesley Wed 09-Apr-14 11:34:48

Thank you so much for the free book - I loved it. It is a great read, and a wonderful snapshot of north London life in the 80s. Nina's relationships with everyone are fascinating, but for me AB is the real star.

I'm laughing out loud at this book and really enjoying it. Big fan of Alan Bennett too so interesting to see that side of him. Will certainly buy her new book when it is out later in the year.

gailforce1 Mon 21-Apr-14 19:09:59

Thank you for my free copy - very enjoyable. I have already passed it on to a friend and am looking forward to reading her new book.

RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 30-Apr-14 12:46:13

Congratulations to StillNoFuckingEyeDeer - Nina has chosen YOUR confession as her favourite and you have won a year’s supply of books for you and your kids from Penguin and Puffin – that's a whopping 12 adult titles and 12 kids titles selected by Penguin.

Thanks again to everyone who joined in with their confessions which Nina really enjoyed reading and also to those who have (or are still going to) post feedback about the book on the thread. We're pleased you loved it as much as us.

hunhun007 Wed 30-Apr-14 21:10:43

Dear Nina,
Our 9 years old hit the ground while playing on the swing in the park... the hand was a bit painful... nothing to scary but pain didn't go away... 3 days later hand became green, ER doctor decided it is a green stick fracture... I feel so ashamed that I did allow my kid to run around with a "broken" wrist for almost 3 full days. Epic failure :-(

hunhun007 Wed 30-Apr-14 21:13:44

This book is a must read.
Light and very enjoyable.
I really enjoyed it and loved the humor.
This is a title worth sharing around.

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