Monday 23 October 2017

The Kindness Of Strangers

Being a parent is a tough gig, we all know it. Being a lone wolf parent is even tougher. Sometimes, like this weekend, it’s literally just you & them with no other proper adult interaction and trust me, it’s fucking hard work. Little things can make a difference though - the kindness of strangers I guess - and this weekend I’ve had it in abundance.

On Saturday morning, we went to Morrisons. I never do a proper shop in the supermarket normally, I do it online. I forgot to do the online shop though so at 8am on Saturday morning, given we had no milk, no bread and no bacon, we found ourselves in Morrisons. My two are now too big for the trolley seat, so I have to let them roam free and hope they’ll do what I tell them to. They sort of did (mostly) but it was bloody exhausting (especially given I had no voice) and by the time I got to the checkout I was done in. The checkout is the danger zone: they have to keep still, there’s nothing to entertain them and in their eyes, it takes forever. Ten seconds in to me unloading the trolley full of food they were being a pair of little twats and trying to head butt each other. I was attempting to threaten them with my non-existent voice when the security guard strolled over, started chatting to them, played high fives with them, pretended not to understand what their names were and generally entertained them while I packed the shopping up. Mr security guard at #Morrisons Strood you’re a legend. Thank you for helping me keep my Saturday morning sanity.

On Sunday, we went to Trosley Country Park. I was not feeling it. It was cold, I felt like shit and I really just wanted to be inside, cosied up on the sofa. When you’re a lone wolf to a pair of feral loons though, that’s not a choice, so out and about we were. We’d already had a disastrous trip to another park and I was pretty grumpy so I insisted we had lunch in the lovely cafe there first. I asked if anyone needed the toilet first, and both my little charges confidently declared no need for the loo. We ordered, we sat down, and Dais informed me she needed a wee. FFS. I gathered the two of them, grabbed my bag and scanned the area. My eyes fell on an elderly couple who’d ordered just before me. ‘Excuse me,’ I rasped in my weird fucking Marge Simpson voice I currently have going on. ‘My daughter needs the loo, could you listen out for order no 28 and point them in the direction of my table if it comes while we’re gone?’ They happily agreed, and we all skipped off to the loo (which isn’t in the actual cafe, conveniently.) Dais weed, I made Z wee and we went back to the table. The couple cheerfully informed me our food hadn’t arrived and I croaked my thanks at them. We sat down, Z started twatting the table with the wooden sooon bearing our order no, I wrestled it off him, he bellowed a lot at me and I hissed some threats about no more sweeties ever at him. He beamed at me with his great big baby blues and said ‘I need a poo mummy.’  For. Christ’s. Sake. We all got up, grabbed my bag and headed towards the elderly couple. Again. ‘I’m so sorry, we need another toilet trip, do you mind listening out for our order no again?’ I asked, reluctantly. They laughed and once again kindly agreed. We spent a Very Long Time in the toilet while Zachary talked me through his poo ‘It is coming out my bum mummy. It is out my bum mummy. There is another poo coming mummy. It is a ‘normous poo mummy.’ By the time we’d finished in the loo, our food had actually arrived and was waiting for us, thanks to the lovely couple. Experience has taught me that not everyone is as kind and patient as the Trosley Twosome, so thanks to these two gems who made two stressful toilet trips slightly less stressful and saved the food of a tired and grumpy mama.

The last hero of the weekend was this morning - technically Monday morning, but I don’t work Mondays, so still my weekend. Z has developed a weird and pretty disgusting series of spots on his chest, arms and legs. I’ve hoped for a while they would go of their own accord but it’s become apparent they won’t, so off we trotted to the chemist. As we walked in I hissed warnings at the kids about being Very Well Behaved then asked to see the chemist. He came out, saw me with two wild ones and straightaway printed some stickers for them, told them they were special stickers and was generally so lovely to them that they were both entranced by him and did nothing naughty for five whole minutes. It took him just a minute of time but his extra thoughtfulness again made it so much easier for me. Mr pharmacist at Bryant Road Pharmacy, thank you for being so kind to my kids.

When you spend a whole weekend, just you and the kids, these small interactions can make or break you, so thank you to the aforementioned four strangers; your small kindnesses made my weekend.


Saturday 2 September 2017

Reasons Kids Are Great

If you follow my Facebook page, you’ll know that I’ve had a pretty trying couple of days (in short, 4 hours in the car just to get to and from work, in the middle of that a clingy sobbing son and at the end of that two effing jeffing parking tickets.) To try and counter the pure rage that the two parking tickets created in me, I’ve decided to write about why kids are great.  Sure, they can be bloody awful – they piss and shit all over the shop, they refuse to do at least 80% of what they’re asked to and if you’ve got more than one, chances are you spend most of your day refereeing seven bazillion fights about the most ridiculous things*.  But they’re pretty great too, and of course, deep down – sometimes really, really deep down – we all know this; how else would the little turds survive?

Reason 1: They are fearless.  Where we see danger, they see fun.  Whether it’s scaling a cliff face at the beach, or jumping out of a tree from a ludicrous height or wading determinedly out into the sea, kids just see the opportunity that lies ahead of them.  For us, the powerless parent on the sideline, it’s pretty nerve-wracking and I am the first to shriek hysterically if my two get too close to unbarriered water, but what a brilliant way to view the world.  When you’re little, everything is an opportunity and nothing is a risk.

Reason 2:  They are endlessly entertained by the simplest of things.  Z’s favourite game at the moment is making a ball of screwed up foil ‘disappear’.** Other joys my two have recently been entertained for hours by are buckets of shells, buckets of sticks, buckets of leaves, buckets of anything, cutting the grass with scissors, folding loo roll into squares and dancing over and over to the Paw Patrol theme tune. I love that they can see potential in most things to somehow be a fun game.

Reason 3:  They have awesome imaginations.  My two can tell a tale or two.  Sometimes, those tales are true: “Mummy said bollocks earlier.  What are bollocks?” More often than not though, their tales are fantastical voyages, full of twists and turns. “Mummy there was a monster in the bedroom and he was really really enormous and he had a very very big nose and he was cross and he said that he was going to eat up all the toys but it is ok mummy because we did smash him up.” OK, I’m not a fan of the slightly too graphic “smash him up” (and nor do I know where it came from – the bollocks was definitely me, but I’m not guilty of the smash him up!), but how wonderful that going into your bedroom to get your shoes turns into a brave fight with a monster.

Reason 4: They are useful.  So the first couple of years they’re not that useful, but once you’ve survived that, they can totally do stuff for you.  Mine are only 3, but they help me out.  If I’m on the sofa and I can’t reach the remote, they’ll get it for me.  I’ve also taught them how to get the biscuit tin from the side in the kitchen and bring it to mummy (everyone’s a winner with that skill!) They’re still a bit too young to pour me my gin and tonic or run up to the shops for me, but that will come in time.  If you’ve got kids, you’ve got an extra pair (or two) of hands.

Reason 5:  They have no shame.  My two are entirely happy to bare their arses to all and sundry.  Now granted, that’s often not appropriate or convenient, but underlying that is that they are not embarrassed by their bodies, they don’t think their body should look a certain way, they don’t think it isn’t quite right here or there; it’s just their arse and arses are funny so why not flash it at a passer-by?

Reason 6: They are so affectionate.  I know they grow out of this but my two are still cuddly as can be.  Often it’s a sort of hybrid cuddle/wrestling manoeuvre but it’s definitely affectionate. Every night before bedtime, we sit on the sofa and watch an episode of whatever shit is their favourite programme at the moment*** and they snuggle up either side of me.  Z likes to go under my arm and pulls my arm as tight as he can round his chubalub waist and D likes to put her arm around me and stroke my hair.  It’s just magic and I love it.

Reason 7: They know when to get their shit together.  I was on the brink this morning, after parking ticket number two.  I started crying and then couldn’t stop.  I was in the kitchen, trying to get myself together when D walked in.   While I’d been bawling about the ticket, my diva daughter – who often does not do as she’s asked and who can be a right royal pain in the arse – had gone and got her own clothes, taken her pjs off and put all of her clothes on herself, including her shoes.  She’d got her knickers on sideways, so the gusset was on her hip, she’d chosen an outfit that made her look totally batshit and her shoes were on the wrong feet, but bless her little heart. What an absolute little champ.  She totally pulled me back from the brink – I told her I was ever so proud she’d got dressed all by herself and she was so chuffed and we had a little cuddle.  It went from being a really miserable moment to a really lovely one. 

The world might be full of twattish traffic wardens, and unending traffic jams and the bollocks of everyday life, and some days are unbearably hard, but these little dudes, when the chips are down, they’ve got our backs. When they do the things that drive us in-fucking-sane, they don’t mean to do them to wind us up; when they do the things that make us melt a little bit inside though, they do mean to make us happy.  And what could be greater than that? 

*”He is talking, I don’t like him talking,” “She is looking at me,” “He has taken my necklace,” “She has touched my foot.” – Oh it goes on and on and on and on until your ears are bleeding from listening to it.

** He blows on it then puts it in his other hand and looks astonished.  It is fucking hilarious. He’s a shit magician my son, but man he’s funny!

***Ben & Holly right now – weird shit but Nanny Plum is fucking brilliant.

Friday 11 August 2017

A Day Out At Dungeness And An Important Parenting Lesson

As a parent, I’m not particularly guided by any method or fad in parenting my two – I largely go with the ‘surviving any which way we can’ method, also known as the ‘muddling through’ method.  There are a few things though that I try my best to stick to, and one of those things is not letting my fear of something stop the kids from doing stuff; in short, I try my very hardest to be brave in front of the kids about stuff that scares the bejesus out of me.  One of my favourite things about kids is that they are fearless.  I don’t want to take that away from them (although if Z could start showing an awareness of CARS and ROADS, and that these two things could KILL HIM, that would be swell).

Today we went to Dungeness.  I’ve been before and I love it.  It’s weird but that’s part of its charm. We drove to New Romney and the kids were a pair of unremitting shit bags the entire way there.  The lowest point was when I had to try and wrestle Z’s beaker out of his hand, whilst driving down the M20, because he was alternately pouring his water onto the back seat, and then pouring it on me.  Oh, and also when they had a fight over D’s cardigan which led to me momentarily having the cardigan over my face.  This mama shouted A Lot about that.

Having narrowly survived the car journey there, we bought our tickets and jumped onto the train.  Last time we went on the train it was shitting awful, not least because they were terrified of it.  This time they loved it and we happily pootled along the Kentish coast, gleefully shouting ‘horse!’, ‘boat!’ and ‘I have a wedgie mummy!’ (Daisy – poor girl always has a wedgie.) We arrived in Dungeness and straightaway they clocked the lighthouse.  They both love lighthouses (although I have no idea where that’s come from) and were obviously desperate to go up it.  I was less keen, because I am shitting terrified of heights.  Not good with them at all.

The Bloody Lighthouse.  We made it up to just past the second window!!

I managed to delay the lighthouse climbing awhile, by offering up some picnic/beach/stone throwing action, but the time came when we could beach no more (largely because it was only a matter of time before one of them took out a passer-by with their wildly unpredictable stone throwing) and we headed back in the direction of the lighthouse.

‘Please mummy!’ they begged, all the way up  the boardwalk. ‘Please can we go up the lighthouse? I just love lighthouses in the whole world.’ Eventually I agreed that if the people inside the lighthouse said it was suitable for them, then we could go up.

Manning the lighthouse were two very lovely women.  I hopefully asked if D&Z were too little to go up and they cheerfully assured me that they would be absolutely fine, it wasn’t a problem for them to go up.  I girded my loins, told myself I was being a good mummy by hiding my fear, issued the children with several Very Stern Warnings about doing what mummy says and we started our ascent.

Before I describe what happened next, I need to try and paint for you the lighthouse.  It is huge, much bigger than you’d imagine. The steps up it curve around the inside of the wall and the only thing stopping you from plunging to your death are some very flimsy* balustrades. Finally, the lighthouse gets narrower obviously as you go up which makes you feel like the stairs above are closing in on you.  In short, for a woman who gets vertigo on department store escalators, it probably wasn’t the best idea to attempt to go up it.

We made it up to the first landing unscathed.  My heart was pounding and the palms of my hands were sweating but it was fine.  I could totally do this.  I stepped aside to let a man go past (thank Christ – what happens next was bad enough, but at least there were no spectators) and we continued our ascent.  Z was LOVING it and was scampering off ahead; D was slightly more cautious but still enjoying herself.  I was trying to ignore the fact that I could see down – all the way down to the floor far far below – when I was just hit by paralysing panic.  It was too high and I was too fucking scared and I could not do it.  I crouched down on a step and put my hands over my head, much like you would if rubble was falling on you (not really sure why I did that. I am sure that it made me look completely fucking barking.)

‘Daisy,’ I whimpered. ‘Mummy is very scared and does not like heights.  We need to go back down.’

‘OK Mummy,’ said Daisy, being obedient for the first time since we’d left the house and at exactly the right time.  She turned around and started going down. 

‘Dais, just wait,’ I wailed. ‘We have to get Zach to come too.’ I turned to Zach, who was about five steps ahead of me.  ‘Come on Zach, let’s go,’ I whispered. Not sure why I was whispering either.  Panic does funny things to you!

‘No mummy!’ replied my boy, ever so fucking cheerfully. ‘I go all the way to the top.’
‘Zacchy, please baby.  Mummy is very scared and we need to climb down.’ Zach ignored me and carried on climbing up. Not down, up. 

‘ZACH!’ I shrieked hysterically. ‘WE NEED TO CLIMB DOWN NOW!’ The hysteria just spurred him on.  I know my boy and I know how, once he’s set his mind to something, he is doing it.

What the actual fuckety fuck was I going to do? I could not climb any higher. More than that though, I really, really could not let my three year old son climb without me.  Very slowly, I straightened up out of my rubble-falling-foetal-position.  I turned so I was facing the wall, not the sheer drop just behind me and edged up two more steps.

‘Zach mate, please.  Mummy really needs you to be a good boy right now.’

‘But mummy!’ he bleated. ‘I want to go all the way to the top!’ I knew at this point that bargaining was futile.  I took a deep breath, lunged forward and grabbed his foot.  I dragged him down the steps towards me and grabbed his hand.  He shrieked loudly and embarrassingly, but I at least had hold of him.  I instructed Daisy to begin climbing back down, I tucked my pretty pissed off son under my arm and began my own descent, half hunched over because for some reason it is less scary than if you’re properly stood up. 
We finally made it back down to the entrance and one of the two lovely women greeted us joyfully.

‘Oh well done!’ she said to D&Z. ‘You made it back! Did you enjoy it up at the top?’

‘We didn’t quite make it to the top,’ I mumbled.

‘Oh I’m so sorry!’ said the lovely woman. ‘I really thought they’d be fine with it.’

‘Oh don’t worry, they got to see the inside of the lighthouse and that’s made them happy,’ I replied, swiftly glossing over the fact that the three year olds weren’t scared one iota, it was the 36 year old who was shitting her pants.

So, the moral of this sad tale is that while it is a good idea to not pass your fear of things on to your children, it is not a good idea to try and ignore a very real fear you have and do something with them that you are actually not able to do.  That will just end up with you looking like a twat.

*Probably not flimsy at all. They just weren’t as solid as I’d have liked.
I bet Mrs Richards never had a panic attack going up the stairs!

Thursday 20 July 2017

Mixed Blessings

As a parent, right from the start, you are overwhelmed with a whole world of glittering products and challenging choices. It always seems like if you buy this one thing, or if your kid can just meet this one milestone, life will be easier. The thing is though, the real bastard of parenting is, that everything - every single thing - is a mixed blessing*. For every dream-like pro, there’s a con that you haven’t considered. Here are my top mixed blessings that regularly make me silently scream. 

1.       Crocs. They seem like a good idea - the kids can put them on themselves, they can go in water, in sand, in whatever crap Z chooses to wade through before I can grab him, and the pound shop sells knock offs for, well, a pound. All good things, all good things. But oh dear god they are so bloody annoying. Sure, the kids can put them on themselves but the flip side of that is they fall off all the time. All the time. If we go out and they're wearing crocs, the journey time is tripled - at least. Barely a step is taken without D bleating 'My shoe! Mummy, my shoe!' and some kind stranger chasing after us, as I carry on walking because I don't bloody care about the bloody croc anymore because it is the nineteenth time it’s happened in five minutes and suddenly a barefoot toddler seems fine, totally fine. Then there's the whole durable/washable shebang. Z knows it's fine to go in water in them. This means if he's wearing them, he definitely will go in water in them. It's like a challenge to him: ‘Must find a skanky, dysentery-laced, stagnant puddle to jump in, else wearing my crocs will have been a wasted opportunity!’ Crocs, you are a royal pain in the ass. 

2.       Scooters. The upside of scooters is they can speed up the whole getting places process. In my mind, the kids would whizz off ahead and we'd be getting from A to B in no time. This is not the reality. Firstly, D&Z can't steer them and at no point when riding them do they actually look where they’re going, so barely two metres passes without them crashing into each other, me or (worst case scenario) an innocent passer-by. Sometimes I'm so powerless to do anything that I just have to shut my eyes and pray it's an understanding passer-by. Secondly, the whole whizzing off ahead is not without issues. They whizz off ahead, completely ignoring my bellows to 'STOP AT THE NEXT LAMP POST! STOP! STOP NOW! IT IS VERY DANGEROUS TO IGNORE MUMMY!' I spend much of the time running wildly and sweatily and pointlessly after them (whilst muttering violently about the fucking scooters). Lastly, and by no means least, their interest in them is short lived. Nine times out of ten, I carry the effing things for the majority of the outing. Oh, and crocs plus scooters is an absolute recipe for disaster. 

3.       Electronic devices. My two don't have any electronic devices (largely at the moment because I just can't justify the cost) but I do let them play games on my iPhone and my mum has an iPad that they sometimes watch stuff on. The plus side of this is that they're completely absorbed by them and it buys me ten minutes of peace. If I'm lucky. There are so many downsides though and we never, ever end a session on a device without at least one person weeping. The first hurdle is that they have to take turns. Taking turns is Very Hard when you're three, and even more so when the thing you're waiting for is So Much Fun. Then there's the fact that, actually, my kids are a bit shit at lots of the games we've got, so I end up having to help them, thus totally defeating the point of them being on the device in the first place. (I am, however, a total pro at making Peppa Pig candy floss against the clock.) Watching a programme isn't any better. ‘Don't touch the screen!’ is always the first instruction. Thirty seconds in: 'MAMAAAAGGGHHH! I HAS PRESSED SOMETHING! IT IS NOT WORKING ANYMORE!' Oh for fuck's sake. Again, having to intervene every two minutes just is not the point of a device. The worst part though is when you have to take the device off them. This is always, no matter how many warnings you give, going to end in what one friend refers to as the iPaddy. No toddler in the history of time has ever willingly relinquished an electronic device - you have to prise it out of their sweaty, sticky, surprisingly strong grip in an undignified and inelegant scuffle, then listen to them sob for the rest of eternity. A mixed blessing indeed. 

4.       Potty training.  It's not just products that we convince ourselves will be life-changing. Oh no, there's a whole barrel-load of milestones that I have been sure will make my life easier. And in some ways they do - but they also bring a whole raft of new nonsense with them. Potty training is definitely up there as one of the biggest mixed blessings. No more nappies – think of the money we’ll save! Hurray! No more searching for a changing table! Woohoo! No more poo-splosions that'd make grown adults weep! Yes! Who could ask for more? Me. Now I know what them being potty trained is like, I want to ask for more. Or rather less.  I want to spend less time in the bloody toilet.  I now spend approximately 60% of my life in the toilet. At least. You see that list of summer holiday plans I put up the other day? Mostly we'll go to the toilets at those places. Maybe the cafĂ© too if we’re lucky, but mostly it will be spent in the toilet, with Zachary trying to get into the tampon bin and Daisy pulling off yards of toilet paper and me getting wedged in the door because of my bastarding backpack and both of them attempting to lick the toilet brush.  Suddenly the changing table doesn’t seem so bad.

5.       Getting rid of the buggy.  It is no secret that I loathed all three of the double buggies I had.  They are heavy, they are unwieldy, I scraped my shins trying to heft the bastards in and out of the car more times than I care to remember and people do not realise how hard they are to push (seriously, so hard.  If you see someone with a double buggy, be kind.  Hold the door. Lift the buggy up the stairs.  Get out of the way.  Smile.  Pat them on the back.  Hand them a gin and tonic. They need it.)  I was desperate to get rid of all three of them.  The twins are now three and while we do have a cheap single stroller (mainly used for lugging crap down to the beach) we are largely buggy-less.  It means I can go into any shop and not worry about getting wedged in the door.  Public transport in all forms is now available to me.  Stairs are no longer a barrier to a solo day out.  The mixed blessing part comes from the fact the children – the two feral, wayward and impossible to control children - are no longer contained.  Sure, we can go into any shop.  They can also pull crap off the shelves in any shop too.  We can go on the bus – and they can reach up to press the bell a gazillion times.  We can walk up and down stairs.  We can also tumble headlong down the stairs because we are utterly unaware of our capabilities and heed no warnings that mummy offers.  They also walk at vastly different paces – Z zooms off ahead while D trips and wafts behind me.  I spend half the time shouting at Z to wait and the other half shouting at D to catch up.  Is it better than the double buggy? Marginally.

6.       Speech development.  I can remember when D&Z were about 18 months, talking to a friend about how I was sure part of their tantrumming was because they couldn’t communicate what they wanted to and it would be much easier once they could talk properly because then they could tell me what they wanted.  Hahahahahahaha.   No.  Both my children can now communicate in full and extensive sentences and their tantrum throwing ability has developed at a similar rate.  Now, when they throw a tantrum, they can tell me in full sentences why exactly they are so pissed off at me.  ‘Mummy, it is not fair because you will not let me have another Jaffa Cake and I love Jaffa Cakes, I just love them in the whole world and it is not fair Mummy and I do not like you in the whole world ever.’ And it’s not just that their developed speech has had no impact on reducing the tantrums.  Oh no.  It is also the fact that they never, from the moment their eyes ping open, to long after they’ve gone to bed, stop talking.  Ever.  I get a double running commentary on everything that is happening.  Daisy’s is high pitched and hyperactive, Zachary’s is slow and ponderous.  I get asked 7000 questions a minute and I’m not given the chance to answer one and sweet mother of Christ they must say ‘Mummy’ thousands and thousands of times a day.  Sometimes that’s all they say: ‘Mummy?’ ‘Yes love?’ ‘Mummy? Mummy! Mummy…Mummy-Mummy! MUMMMY!’ ‘Yes? What do you want?’ ‘MUMMMMMMMMMY!’ Over and over and over again until I cannot bear to hear the word ‘Mummy’ again (which is when I put the TV on and hide in the kitchen!)

So, next time you’re looking around the metaphorical corner, hoping that x or y might make a tiny part of your life easier, just remember to take off the rose coloured glasses and lower those expectations.  Being a parent is an exhilarating, muscle-aching, heart-breaking, chest-swelling, tear-welling, mind-blowing, nerve-grating, patience-testing, late-running, door-slamming, hug-winning, smile-making, love-growing marathon.  No product or milestone is going to make it easier, it’ll just be different.  And when you’re picking up that effing jeffing croc for the gazzilionth time, at the same time as silently screaming, remember that all too soon no-one will need you to pick up their croc, or to drag them along on the scooter or to wrestle the toilet brush away from their mouth.  All these things are mixed blessings, just like being a parent, but they’re definitely blessings.  How lucky we are to have these teeny tiny tyrants in our lives, and how fleetingly it will pass.  And in the meantime, if the silent screaming and the remembering this only lasts fleetingly doesn’t work, pour yourself a gin and tonic: that’s one blessing that’s always happily mixed in this house.

*Except for maybe the Gro Clock – I’ve had four (FOUR!) post 7am rises in the last week thanks to the Gro Clock.  Fucking miracle.

Tuesday 20 June 2017

The Ten Commandments of Toddler

  1. Thou shalt always stand in the way of the door that mummy is trying to open or close. 
  2. Thou shalt always refuse to put on a vital piece of clothing - such as pants - when mummy is late and in a hurry to get out of the door.
  3. Thou shalt always ask a question at least seventeen times and during those seventeen times thou shalt never allow mummy time to answer the question. 
  4. Thou shalt always behave beautifully when other people look after thee and thou shalt save all the worst rat-baggery behaviour for when just mummy is there. 
  5. Thou must examine every leaf, stone, snail, flower and piece of skanky rubbish on the road whenever thou walks anywhere. Thou shalt ensure every walk takes at least ten times as long as it could take. 
  6. Thou shalt always decide thou needs a poo just as mummy has got thee nicely tucked up in bed. 
  7. Thou shalt always wake up as early as possible and ensure thou wakes the entire house up too. Thou shalt especially make sure this happens when thou are very tired and thou must moan incessantly about how tired thou are at mummy all day long. 
  8. Thou shalt never do something the first time mummy asks. Thou must make mummy ask at least three times. 
  9. Thou shalt always remember the naughty words mummy says and repeat them when in front of the largest possible audience. 
  10. Thou shalt push mummy to the very limits and just at the point thou sees she is close to breaking, thou must then do something heartbreakingly adorable so mummy will love thee for eternity, regardless of all the rat-baggery.

Saturday 3 June 2017

Things I Am Done With This Half Term

We've had a really, really great half term.  We've been to the beach, to castles (Dover and Deal - both great but Dover is just amazing), to the ruins of two different abbeys (Bayham Old Abbey is a new favourite), and to parks; we've eaten fish and chips, ice creams aplenty, an unhealthy amount of Haribo and we've hung out with our favourite people. Generally, we've had a jolly good time.

That doesn't mean they haven't driven me mad at points though (mainly when we're in the house.  My children are not house-dwellers.  They need to be outside, in large open spaces where no-one can hear their/my bellowing and where they can't break the TV for the 49th time.)  In no particular order, here are the things from half term that I no longer have any patience to deal with.

1) Tissue and wipes everywhere.  They love tissues.  They love wipes.  They fold them, they screw them up into balls, they shred them, they wrap crap in them, they wrestle over them (the wrestling is not specific to tissues/wipes to be fair - they will wrestle over anything.  Anything.)  In some ways, this is great - it's a super cheap and easy way to entertain them: "Here you go kiddo, have a kitchen roll. Knock yourself out."  In other ways though, it's super fricking annoying.  I am so bored of walking into a room and finding it's been turned into a hamster's cage, with a sea of shredded tissue everywhere.  I am also fed up of having no wipes or tissue left when I need it (like, when they've knocked their drink over for the gazzilionth time). Kids, please stop playing with tissues (and you know, maybe play with one of your many, many toys that take up a significant chunk of the living room).

2) Half eaten food on the floor.  This is usually a biscuit, but it can be any food.  My children specialise in eating half of whatever they've asked for then casually throwing the other half onto the floor.  Because that's where unwanted food goes.  I'm not just bored of this, I'm also bored of telling them to pick it up.  And I'm bored of them asking for another one of whatever has been discarded on the floor, minutes later.  Eat your food.  All of it.  And if you don't want it, put it in the goddamn bin (but not the bin in the living room because mummy doesn't empty that very often and it will just rot in there and smell bad, and mummy will spend ages trying to figure out if someone's done a shit somewhere before she realises that actually someone has put food in the bin we are not supposed to use because mummy can't be arsed to empty it). 

3) Repeating the same question over and over and over again.  Oh sweet Jesus.  How is anyone meant to make it through parenthood sane when there is a never-ending stream of constant questions that you are not given even a millisecond to answer?  It goes like this: "Mummy, can I have a drink?" "Yes bab-" "Mummy, can I have a drink, a drink mummy, I want a drink." " Yep, I'll-" "Mummy, I want a drink, can I have a drink mummy, I want a drink." "I'm making you-" "MummycanIhaveadrinkmummyIwantadrinkcanihaveonemummycanI?" "I AM MAKING YOU A DRINK. STOP BELLOWING AT ME."  And then I get pissed off because I've just shouted at them to stop shouting at me which I try really hard not to do, but sometimes it's the only way to be heard!

4) Loud, unnecessary noises.  This is a new thing.  They make this godawful grunty/shrieky noise - much like, I imagine, a pig would make if you were to shove something up its arse; low and grunty at first, followed by shrill and shrieky) - either to make each other laugh or to drown me out when I'm telling them off.  The first I can just about bear, the second is not the dream.  Looking for the silver lining, at least it's better than them shouting obscenities ("Ooh that bloody door!" mimicked Zachary gleefully the other day.  Must stop swearing in front of the children.  Must stop swearing in front of the effing jeffing buggering children.) but really, I'd rather my children didn't swear or make horrendous noises.  I need to lower those expectations, I know.

5) There is always crap in the way of whatever I'm trying to do.  Particularly in the bathroom.  Our bathroom is small and L-shaped. All three of us being in there is the stuff of nightmares.  I went in to brush my teeth this morning.  First, I'm greeted by two potties, one with a wee in.  I empty that and then navigate my way around the two steps that, in theory, allow them to get on the loo themselves (in practice, they bellow for me to lift them onto the loo, and use the steps to reach the sink and throw water everywhere.) By this stage, I've been joined by my two adorable yet slightly feral sidekicks, who commence wrestling over one of the steps.  They ignore my attempts to give them the other step so they can have one each (where would the fun be in that?) so I give up and decide to clean my teeth while they fight around my ankles. Of course though, the sink is full of crap - two flannels, a hairbrush, two different yet equally ineffectual bottles of detangling spray, a razor, half a biscuit and - of course - a fork. How I long for an empty sink to clean my teeth in. (This girl dreams BIG!)

I think I'm really lucky to be a teacher and get all of the lovely holidays with the kids, I really do.  But there definitely comes a point where we're all ready for a bit of structure in our lives and a bit of time away from each other.  Kids, it's been a blast - let's do it all over again in the summer holidays (although can you please at least have relinquished the tissue obsession by then). 

Tuesday 23 May 2017

What I Say Versus What I Actually Mean

1. "Well didn't we have a lovely time?" It was a bit boring to be honest, but nobody vomitted, wet themselves or shit themselves. Nobody started a punch up, flashed their arse or smacked me in the face.  Nobody ignored me counting to five and therefore laughed in the face of my behaviour system, nobody fell over and hurt themselves and we all got back home in one piece.  This is what qualifies for a lovely time these days my love.

2.  "What a good girl/boy you're being!" Your sibling is being an absolute toe-rag so to try and save my sanity, I'm focusing on the fact that you are not throwing an epic tantrum/lobbing food across the kitchen/refusing to do anything I say.  I'm also vaguely hoping that the toe-rag will hear the praise and stop doing whatever they're doing in a bid to also get praise.  I know it's unlikely though and in all probability what will happen is that you, the one behaving, will decide my praise is worth nothing in the face of gaining some approval from the toe-rag, so despite my praise, you will jump ship and also start being naughty.  Oh happy days.

3.  "We'll talk about it later." I cannot listen to you moan about this anymore.  I just can't.  I'm hoping that you'll forget and we'll never speak of this again.

4.  "If you put your shoes on/coat on/get in the car seat, you can have some Haribo." I'm desperate kiddo.  It's 7 o'clock in the morning and I'm offering you bucket loads of sugar, even though I know this is terrible parenting, so please, for the love of God,  do what I'm asking you to do, because if you don't I'm either going to weep or shout, and I know I do both of those things fairly often, but I don't like doing them.  Please, please put the god damn shoes on.  No? You hate me don't you? You actually hate me.  

5. "I love you baby." I love you so much there are not enough words in the world to describe it.  I love your funny face and your belly laugh and your jokes and your heart and your soul and your squidgy cuddles and your goofy smiles and every last thing about you.  I love you all the time, every day, for the rest of time itself. And beyond.  And so help me God, if anyone ever, ever hurts you, I will hunt them down and kill them.  Hunt them down and kill them.  Mama's got your back baby.