I Quiver When My Kids Speak In Public

So I’ve been slightly absent recently. Life is pretty hectic right now! And my fingers were urgently caught up in creating this piece of awesomeness. But I have downed yarn and come back to the keyboard to entertain you all.

DSC_7533

Hurrah!

Today I’m going to talk a bit about the dangerous business of taking kids out in public.

Despite copious usage of the joyous invention that is online shopping, I do still have to venture out with children in tow, from time to time.

And by time to time, I mean every freaking day.

Before having kids, I didn’t really anticipate just how embarrassing they could be. I figured there’d be public tantrums, explosive nappies and perfectly timed vomiting incidents. So I started with pretty low standards. But by God, I did not see some of the shit they throw at me coming.

Because the tantrums and stuff, well they’re a lot of effort, aren’t they? And shitting yourself is just plain old uncomfortable.

DSC_0234

I’ve heard, anyway.

So why waste time on all that crap when you can just explode the flimsy façade of your mother’s epic parenting with a few choice words?

Indeed, why the fuck not?

Of course I have examples. They’re coming up. And I didn’t have to dig into my memory banks to find them, either. Most of this happened in the last few weeks. And if it didn’t, then it’s emblazoned right at the front of my brain, so no fishing required.

Once you’ve read them, you’ll understand why I’m working on plans to build a massive zipline to send the kids to school on.

It’s a work in progress, impeded slightly by my staggering lack of architectural skills.

I’ll get there in the end.

Incident Number 1

Recently, we’ve been having a few conversations about periods in my house. Big Girl is suddenly very curious about it all, and is asking lots of questions. Being the modern, awesome mother that I am, I’ve been explaining it all in a child-appropriate fashion. And she’s soaked it up like a little sponge.

Little Girl has been present for all of these conversations, but she has not soaked the information up quite so well. In fact, I’d go as far as to say that if Little Girl was a sponge, she’d be waterproof. So as far as she’s concerned, there’s just some messed up shit going on right here.

Anyway, there’s your intro. Now on to the story.

The other day, I took Little Girl shopping after I’d picked her up from school. In hindsight, that was probably an error, but I thought I’d get away with it.

I didn’t.

We were in the toiletry aisle. It was quietish. Not completely empty but we weren’t dodging through masses of people or anything.

For clarity, this is the very worst kind of shop situation. The sound of a small child’s voice, primed for embarrassment and turned up to a volume approximating a foghorn, bounces all around the shop. Yet it’s not quiet enough for you to kid yourself that no one heard what was said. It’s a risky situation.

Little Girl had been chatting about various inanities the whole way round, in a tiny, barely audible voice. But then…

With no warning, she took a deep breath and yelled, “Muuuuuum! Look! There’s your baby nappies! You wear baby nappies, don’tcha?!”

Obviously, she was pointing at the sanitary towels.

People heard. I know they did. But I didn’t see them laughing their arses off at me because I was doing what any wise parent would do, and making a very hasty exit before she could start elaborating on her point any more. The shame.

Incident Number 2

This one is an excellent example of Big Girl’s impressive stealth attack. This is where she stops in the middle of a perfectly innocuous conversation, and drops the shame bomb.

It happened when I was pregnant with Squeak. Of course, we’d been dealing with lots of questions. How do babies get out, what do they eat, what do they do inside their mums’ tummies all day. You get the picture.

But there was one, rather important issue that she hadn’t thought to ask about. And I should be forgiven for assuming that she was too little to really think about it.

Please, forgive me. I’m an idiot.

So when, whilst skipping home from school, she piped up with, “How does a baby get into your tummy, anyway?” I was woefully underprepared.

DSC_0159

Fuck.

I pride myself on always answering my kids honestly (well, except for when they ask where the cake went. Or that ugly cuddly toy that they haven’t played with for at least two years. Then, I just feign ignorance.) But this was pushing it, somewhat.

And she didn’t choose to do it at a quiet moment, when the street was deserted.

Well, duh.

It was right in the middle of a snickering, snorting crowd, who were all thanking their lucky stars that it wasn’t their kid.

This time.

I can’t remember exactly what my answer was. But I can guarantee that:

a) I mentioned a special cuddle in there somewhere;

b) I used my carefully cultivated, barely-above-a-whisper-voice; and

c) Big Girl didn’t listen to a word I said.

I can confirm that c) is definitely the case, because the next thing out of her mouth was, “Can I have a snack when we get home?”

Ugh, kids.

Incident Number 3

This one is proof that I have exceptionally low standards in life.

Because I was actually glad that this happened in my dad’s house.

On Christmas Day.

We had just sat down to dinner. Around the table were my dad, my sister, Big Girl, Little Girl and me.

As we started to tuck in, we chatted and laughed. And then it all went quiet, as the serious eating commenced.

Big Girl saw an opportunity, and oh boy did she run with it.

“Grandaaaaad?” she said. “My mum’s got a really hairy bum.”

DSC_0315

Oh God.

Oh God, oh God, oh God.

Why? Just, why?

Now, I’m pretty sure that my dad is fully aware of the anatomical make up of a woman. It’s not like this came as a surprise to him.

But at the dinner table?

At Christmas?

Seriously!

Incident Number 4

Everyone knows that kids are really observant. And it’s great. They’re always asking questions, and discussing their surroundings. Great, great, great.

Um, except when it’s not. Because sometimes shit just doesn’t need observing.

Or at the very least, it needs observing silently and unobtrusively.

If you please.

Silence is not really a big part of a kid’s repertoire, though. They much prefer loudness, blatantness and above all, pure unadulterated shamefulness.

DSC_0048

This comes up a lot when we see a person whose gender is not entirely obvious. I get it. It’s confusing for kids. They learn that girls look like x, and boys look like y. And then they get thrown into society, where barely anyone actually follows those rules.

It happens to me. Kids see the short hair, gloss over the breasts and the women’s clothing and assume I’m a bloke.

When I say kids, I also include the bus driver who called me ‘mate’ this morning.

You’d think that seeing me contradict the norms they’ve learned would ease my kids’ confusion somewhat.

Well, you’d be wrong.

For they will employ the aforementioned foghorn voices, and ask: “Muuuuum, is that a boy or a girl?”

And the pointing. Always with the pointing!

Yeah, we’re working on the pointing.

Incident Number 5

This happened two days ago, with Big Girl.

I thought that I was way past this stage with her. We’ve had so many conversations about how you can hurt people’s feelings if you talk about them when they can hear you. And we’ve been through the whole ‘some conversations should be held in private’ thing. So I thought I was safe.

You know, if you guys keep calling me an idiot, I’m off!

Again, it happened on the school run. Again, it was on a very busy section of the street. And yet again, the foghorn voice was employed.

It’s like a formula for disaster.

We’d been chatting about her day at school. We’d been through what she’d eaten, who she’d played with, what she’d learned… I guess she’d run out of things to tell me.

Well, almost.

There was just one more thing. “Hey Mum! Did you know that if someone wets their finger and sticks it in your ear, it feels like a penis?”

Fucking hell.

Although maybe I’ve become slightly numb to all this shit, because I didn’t know whether to cringe, or to be proud because she used the anatomically correct term.

Yeah, I know.

***

You’d be forgiven for thinking that I go through life perpetually red-faced. Actually, I have a pretty thick skin. And six years of parenting have left me virtually unshockable.

I say virtually unshockable, because I’m not stupid enough to get cocky about this. That’s a sure-fire cue for them to step it up a notch, and I’m not taking that kind of risk.

I do have at least a smidgeon of self-preservation instinct, after all.

Mostly what I feel when these situations is amused and a bit chuffed.

Because without them, well… A blog doesn’t just write itself, you know!

8 Simple Rules For Surviving Your Kids

Today I’m channelling a bit of John Ritter. Because why not? I used to watch ’8 Simple Rules’ on ABC1 when we first got Freeview. I mean sure, it used to crackle, break up or plain old disappear at least half of the time. But it beat having to do anything productive, idle-arsed teen that I was.

Anyway, I got to thinking (as I do). And I thought, what I really need is a list of 8 simple rules for surviving my kids’ childhood. Sometimes it does feel as if I navigate the days like an army obstacle course, hanging on grimly to the very edges of what I laughingly call my sanity.

DSC_0046

And, because I’m a helpful motherfucker, I wrote this shit down for you guys. Think of it as something similar to the WARNING! page in the instruction booklet for an electrical item. You’re not going to always need that information, but when you do, you’ll know about it!

Take heed.

1. Never Make A Special Effort With Food Just For Them

I have made this error on numerous occasions. It could be said that I just never learn.

Don’t get me wrong, though. I’m not saying, “Fuck healthy food! Just feed your kids beige!” I’m just saying, make the effort for everyone, you included.

One thing I’ve found is that when you have three children, it is almost guaranteed that at least one will view your latest offerings with something approaching distaste. Like last night. I made the girls meringue nests with whipped cream and strawberries on top. Mmm mmm. I mean, who’s going to turn that down?

DSC_5935

Um, Squeak.

She looked at that stunning dessert as if I’d shit in a shoe and handed it to her on a plate. She glanced from it to me with an expression of increasing suspicion. Tentatively, she poked the cream and licked a finger.

It was not a hit. But she did eat the strawberries at least. Grudgingly.

I didn’t mind so much though. Big Girl and Little Girl devoured theirs, and I had one too. It was decidedly not bad.

But there are times when I want to eat after they’re in bed. And I have an awesome idea for a meal I just know they’ll love. So I plan, and shop, and cook. And as I proudly place in on the table in front of them, I am rewarded with three pairs of eyes staring up at me, with an expression that clearly states, “What in the fresh hell is this?”

Now, I cook the same thing for everyone. If they don’t like it, that just means extra leftovers for me.

And I’ll never shake a stick at that.

2. Never Admire Yourself

Yes, you bastarding parents! Dress in sacks and smear your faces with dust from the fireplace you totally meant to clean last week.

Well, that’s not exactly what I meant. Although sometimes I think I don’t look that much of a step away from that, at the close of the day.

This is what I’m on about. You know when, on a whim, you actually make a bit of an effort with your appearance. You pick an outfit that actually matches, and maybe even *gasp* iron it. Perchance you wear a little makeup, and brush your hair. Then you look at yourself in the mirror and nod, or smile a little. You look goooooood!

Take me advice. Avoid your kids completely after that. Because they can sense the pride you have in your appearance, and they will do their level best to fuck that shit up.

Gizza smooch, mum!

Gizza smooch, mum!

I’m talking an enthusiastic swipe of the nose across your shoulder during a hug. Or mucky, sticky fingers on your knees. Or a particularly explosive vomit from a small baby.

If you’ve got all together too cocky, I can tell you that a horrendous nappy malfunction is almost certainly winging its way towards you.

*shrugs* That’s kids for you! They survive by keeping us in our places.

3. Never Make Plans

Ok, so maybe I’m being a little excessive here.

A bit of downtime is essential to stay sane. Be it a night out, a coffee with friends, or just a movie and an oversized piece of cake at home, it can recharge your batteries and leave you refreshed to carry on with the whole parenting thang. Also, it is important to cultivate a bit of an identity outside of being ‘a mother.’ You are still a person with wants, needs, and interests outside of a game of roll-the-ball and Mr. fucking Tumble.

So, yeah, do make plans. But just make sure that you keep them a secret from your devious, scheming children.

Sorry, what was that? No no, I said darling, sweet children. You must have misheard.

DSC_0160

Are you fooled? I thought not.

I have noticed, over the years, that my children are completely in synch with my plans to go out or put my feet up. In synch as in, present at the time I am supposed to be doing said thing. Honestly, the amount of times I have spent sprawled on a bed in fancy clothes, lying in an odd position so I don’t wreck my hair, feeding a child who is absolutely not going to sleep any time soon! That’s one of the reasons I don’t go out much.

And even if I only plan a relaxing evening at home, I can be sure that Squeak will come along for the party. There’s nothing like pausing a film every twenty minutes to run up to a baby who is suddenly struck down with a severe case of pretend teething.

Remember, never tell your kids anything. Because they will use it against you.

4. Never Join In On A Trampoline

Just don’t. Ok? Do I really need to go into the whys and wherefores?

I know it looks all fun and shit. Your kids are leaping up and down with gay abandon, giggling and squealing at the top of their voices. You want in on that joy. It’s understandable. But it’s a risky business.

Maybe it’s a three children thing. That is a helluva lot of childbirth, I guess it takes its toll.

Hear me now, though. I speak from experience. The first jump on a trampoline isn’t so bad. It’s the second one that provides a slightly unpleasant surprise. You know, the kind of surprise that comes from the feeling that 70% of your abdominal organs stayed at the bottom of the jump.

Gawsh!

Gawsh!

It’s a shocker.

P.S. If you insist on disregarding my helpful advice on this subject, at the very least go to the toilet first!

5. Never Stand Downwind

I don’t know if it’s just me, but my kids make some fairly horrendous smells. I guess they do eat a lot of greens. But I suspect that that is only part of the problem.

You see, toilet humour is a major focus in our house. At first it was only Big Girl that indulged in this obsession, but Little Girl has now also joined the crew. Nothing amuses them more than a good fart joke.

And in this case, the joke is firmly on me.

I have learned quickly to make a hasty exit when I see a red, scrunched- up face. It helps that they look at me with mischievous glints in their eyes. That’s a sure warning sign.

But no matter how hard I try, I still spend most of my time within a cloud of broccoli stench, surrounded by giggling girls.

Eww.

Eww.

I’m contemplating a nose peg.

6. Never Teach Them How To Play Mini Punch

Have you ever played Mini Punch? If not, then here’s a brief overview: if you see a Mini (as in, the car), you punch someone. Not a stranger, like. That would be pushing it. It’s preferable to punch the person that you’re playing the game with.

2014-03-19 09.10.05

I know. It’s devastatingly complex.

I remember having great fun playing this as a kid, so I taught it to Big Girl and Little Girl.

Big mistake.

It turns out, Big Girl is actually a lot better at Mini Punch than me. I’m sure her far superior eyesight helps, as does the fact that I spent as many moments as I can with my head in the clouds.

She can even clock an old Mini, and those souped up Mini trucks. (Is it just me that thinks they’re a complete contradiction? I mean, Mini. It’s in the name.)

And she has a competitive streak a mile wide. Which I didn’t exactly realise until we started playing this game.

I have many regrets. And a sore arm.

Oh, and Little Girl? She has absolutely no idea how to play Mini Punch. Or for that matter, what a Mini even is. So she just punches the crap out of me at every opportunity.

Which is fun.

7. Never Think Crayons Are Safe

I have a strict system when it comes to drawing paraphernalia in my house. Crayons are a free for all. They can be found on the little table which Squeak can reach, under various pieces of furniture, and inside a nappy or two at times. You know, whatever.

Felt tipped pens and colouring pencils, on the other hand, are kept well out of reach of the smallest beast. If she’s going to draw all over herself and anything else she can find, I’d rather it was temporary. I don’t want to have to explain why the kids have whiskers.

Again. (Yes, obviously that’s happened before.)

But, as usual, I haven’t quite thought it through. It is true that Squeak cannot give herself a Sharpie moustache of Dali-esque proportions. And my walls are free and clear of abstract scribbles.

However, crayons are not completely trouble-free. Because every time I enter the room at the moment, I find a Squeak munching thoughtfully on the tip of yet another one. “Mmmmm!” she says as she chews. I think she spends more time chewing on them than drawing.

The nappies are… illuminating.

8. Never Tell Them Something Is A Surprise

Can you tell there’s a story here?

Silly me. There’s always a story.

Last week, it was my dad’s birthday. So a few weeks ago, I carefully selected and ordered a really thoughtful gift. He is notoriously hard to buy for, so I was chuffed to find something that I thought he’d like. I showed it to the girls (first error), but told them not to tell him what it was, because it was a surprise.

I know that was a little ambitious, but a woman’s gotta try sometimes. Right?

And unexpectedly, they didn’t mention it to him at all. Every week they saw him, and not a word passed their lips. Which lulled me into an entirely false sense of security.

Entirely false.

On Saturday, my dad arrived. After a bit of a play with the girls, I handed him his present, all wrapped up in brightly coloured wrapping paper. Still Big Girl and Little Girl kept schtumm. I was pretty sure we were home and dry.

We were not.

He opened all of his cards, then started on the present. And as he lifted the first flap of the paper, Little Girl piped up and said, “It’s a chopping board.”

DSC_9621

Thanks a lot, Little Girl. I won’t be doing that again!

*

Just in case I’ve begun to sound a touch pessimistic, (Me? Never!) here’s one last bonus tip:

Always Accept The Hug.

Even if it comes with a prize. (N.B. The prize is usually some form of bodily fluids.)

Because there’s not much better than a little head resting on your shoulder, or a pair of arms clasped tightly around your neck. And as the children grow, they are so busy that a proper, big snuggle is something that they can barely take time out to ask for. I savour every one. Even the middle of the night ones, and the soggy ones, and the needy, screamy ones.

They’re almost as good as the thrill you get from jumping really, really high on a trampoline. And thankfully, without the unpleasant side effects.

Win/win.

Tools For Maternal Rest Prevention

Being small is not easy.

DSC_7962

Yeah, tell me something I don’t know!

But being really small is even harder. Not matter how much kids stomp, glare or demand, people just don’t take them seriously. Adults don’t realise, when peering down from their lofty heights, that it is vitally important that they do kids’ shit for them. Like, right the fuck now.

I can kind of empathise with them, really. I would be pretty pissed off if all the fun, dangerous shit was constantly out of my reach, and getting on the couch felt like climbing Mount Everest. And I’d be steaming if my (obviously) reasonable demands were met with a pat on the head and an affectionate laugh.

Not funny. Ok?

I can’t say I’m a fan of the skills they have developed to overcome these frustrating limitations, though. Not that this makes them hesitate, even for a moment. In the face of a complete inability to control their own lives or the lives of others, overcompensation is vital. And urgent.

The main target – me. Or, more specifically, my downtime. I can’t say I have much of this at the moment. Time sitting down could be time spent running the hoover around, preparing dinner, or something equally riveting. Now, I’m not saying don’t deserve a bit of rest, because trust me, I fucking know I do. But there’s just not enough time.

So when I do, I really need it. Really, really need it. Maybe it’s ten minutes waiting for dinner to cook, or a little time in the afternoon. I sink into the pillowy depths of my couch… Well ok. Maybe not. My couch just ain’t that comfy. And it’s leather so it’s more of a slithering action, rather than sinking.

But you know, whatever.

My bones are aching, my eyes are heavy. My head is overwhelmed with to do lists and organisation. After double checking that everyone is engaged in wholesome and educational activities…

TV. They’re watching TV.

But anyway, I collapse with a sigh, and luxuriate in a brief few minutes where nothing and nobody requires my attention.

That’s when they pounce. And it’s not random, high-pitched attention seeking. Oh no, sometimes that would be preferable. It’s a coordinated effort, carefully designed to make relaxation an impossibility.

It wouldn’t do to go through life without mixing it up a little bit. To repeat the same action over and over would get a touch boring, no? Any old kid can pretend to trip over in the same place and cry for sympathy the very second her mother’s arse hits the chair. But that kind of casual behaviour doesn’t work for long. That’s why my kids have started to get creative.

DSC_9418

Irritatingly creative.

Here’s a few examples of their frequently used tools for maternal rest prevention.

1. The Bath Toy Attack

Squeak has just adopted this as her preferred mode of attack. Obviously I didn’t get an advance warning of this. Which is a bit shit. I have a the-toddler’s-climbing-the-stairs radar, and a someone’s-pootling-around-upstairs-after-bedtime radar. So why, exactly, can’t I have a this-kid’s-thinking-up-some-mischievous-shit radar?

I have to admit, it’d improve my life massively.

But sadly, I ain’t got it. So Squeak’s new, fun trick came as a delightful surprise.

She has become a little attached to a couple of bath ducks recently. You know, in that slightly creepy, obsessive way small toddlers have. She carries them around with her everywhere, periodically announcing , “Guckie!”

All fairly standard, thus far.

That’s part of the plan. She spent days innocently carrying those ducks around. You can forgive a woman for becoming complacent.

Until…

The other day, I was desperately in need for a rest. Just a little one. So I got myself comfortable on the couch. I can confirm that every child was happily engaged in some sort of activity that makes sense only to them. Or so I thought.

I made one critical error. Just one. But that was all it took.

Ladies and gentlemen, I closed my eyes.

I know. I know, ok? It was stupid. For clarity, I most certainly did not fall asleep. Even I’m not that dumb. It was more of a long blink.

Squeak clocked it, though.

Did she run off to do something ill-thought-out and (probably) dangerous? No. Did she take the opportunity to shove something small as far up her nostril as she could reach? No.

So what’s the problem, then? Well, Squeak is trapped deeply in the joyful phase that is separation anxiety. Yes, still. But it has ramped up most epically in the last few weeks. She didn’t see my briefly closed eyes as a chance to cause some righteous chaos.

To her, it was reckless parental abandonment. Because, horror of all horrors, I couldn’t see her. She might as well have been all alone, for all she cared.

Alone.... or worse.

Alone…. or worse.

And that’s just un-fucking-acceptable.

I really hate bath toys. However much you shake them out, a little pool of water always remains inside.

Did you know that that water is absolutely freezing cold?

Well, it is. Especially when it splats you in the face with approximately zero warning.

Rest time is over.

2. The Sleep Cry

I’ve touched upon this before. I wish I could say that only one of the kids does this. But honestly, it’s all of them.

I can’t say that I do a massive amount of relaxing in the evening any more. There’s too much tidying up to do, and getting all of the uniforms and food ready for the next day. I’m sure I could neglect it all and doss about on the couch, but I’d soon be regretting it once morning came.

I do try, though. In between the ironing and settling Squeak down for the millionth time (ish), I sit down to do something mindless and unproductive. Like listening to music, or Facebooking, or flapping my empty, childfree arms.

Ok, I don’t really do the last one. Yet. I’m going to give it a go tonight.

That is when they strike. Little Girl and Squeak, anyway.

“Waaaaaaah,” I hear through the baby monitor. Or a moan snakes its way down the stairs from Little Girl. I sigh.

Or swear and roll my eyes to the heavens. Whatever.

I trudge upstairs and enter the bedroom, only to find…

DSC_0083

A child in a deep, unbroken state of unconsciousness. Grrrr.

And you can guarantee that as soon as I sit down again, they’re just gonna do it again. It’s like they have a sensor that activates the second they sense me stealing a moment for myself.

Oh, you noticed I didn’t mention Big Girl there? Well, that’s because she plays this an entirely different way. She lies in wait until after I’ve gone to bed. Then, as I read and wind down, as my heavy eyes begin to droop, she takes a deeeeeeeep breath.

Maybe she sits up, maybe she stays where she is. I’ve never caught her in the act, so it’s a mystery to me. But what she does do, is yell, “Fleebly-moo-sleep-grobulaaaaaarrrrrrr!”

Which, as you can imagine, is not the most effective sleep aid I’ve ever tried.

3. The Up-Down Routine

Squeak is an indecisive little creature. It’s an occupational hazard of being a constantly learning whirlwind of a toddler. She has no idea what she wants from one moment to the next.

But she is very, very sure of what she doesn’t want. And she’s not shy about letting me know, either.

As soon as I sit down, Squeak is alerted to the sudden appearance of a baby arse-sized area on my body. So she gallops over, and raises her arms to me in the universally recognised sign for, “Pick me the hell up right now, woman.”

Shit, wait. You said two arms, right?

Shit, wait. You said two arms, right?

So I do. I’m not daft enough to think that a simple refusal would be enough to prolong my rest time. Squeak doesn’t do well with distraction. She’s a single-minded hellcat, and she’s not going to forget what she wants just because I waggle a noisy toy in her face.

Don’t even ask me what happens if I commit the grievous crime of trying to cuddle her while she is still standing on the floor.

That shit’s just not satisfying.

I wouldn’t mind so much if she was happy once I’d picked her up. But that would be far too simple, wouldn’t it? Instead, before I’ve even sat her down she’s thrashing and straining to be put on the floor.

So I do. Where she emits an earsplitting, explosive shriek and throws herself facedown on the floor.

Once she’s made that point, she bounces back up with a stricken expression on her face, and waves her arms at me again.

Then she slides down my leg again.

Then…

You get the fucking message. It’s reeeeaaaally annoying.

4. The Toilet Trip

I think most parents will agree that kids don’t choose the most convenient times to need the toilet. It’s always as soon as you get in the car after a trip out, or three seconds after leaving the bathroom.

Or as soon as their mother has folded her aching body into a chair.

Apparently, that’s the best time to do it.

Big Girl and Little Girl can both use the toilet independently. I made sure of that, because frankly I’m far too lazy to be running up and down the stairs all day.

The only problem is, they keep forgetting.

And so I hear the shout of, “Muuuuuuum!” from upstairs much more frequently than I prefer. I try to just call up to remind them to do it themselves, but then I am reminded of the incident when Little Girl climbed into the toilet, and I find it hard to resist the urge to leg it up the stairs.

Who, me? Nah, I didn't do nuffin'.

Who, me? Nah, I didn’t do nuffin’.

Just to double-check, you understand.

Of course, that kind of scenario is thankfully rare. More regularly, all I find is a small child who has mysteriously forgotten how to wipe her own arse.

5. The Pain Cry

In a busy house full of activity and chaos, there is only one guaranteed way to grab everyone’s attention in a time-efficient manner.

That is, to scream and scream in the manner of someone who has just accidentally amputated, at the very least, a toe.

They’re not daft, kids. They know that it’s possible, in some cases, to tune out annoying noises, minor complaints and a small voice saying, “Mummy mummy mummy mummy mummy.”

Obviously I pay attention to them most of the time, but sometimes I swear they’re just saying it out of habit.

So it is essential to acquire a truly earth-shattering roar, that causes every person in a 3-mile radius to come running.

Sure, it’d suffice to gain the attention of your family.

But what kid ever did something catastophic by halves?

Graaaaaaaaaaargh!!!!

Graaaaaaaaaaargh!!!!

6. The Come And See

Little Girl is an epic crafter. She loves to draw and paint and cut paper into tiny pieces and sprinkle it on the floor.

Which I embrace and encourage. Obviously.

Most of her afternoons after school are spent scribbling on various pieces of paper. Thus far, I have managed to dissuade her from taking a pen to the wallpaper, but I can see the temptation glinting in her eyes.

As an aside, she has inherited Big Girl’s propensity for drawing me with a massive head and a tiny, tiny body. I try not to take it personally.

Naturally, she is very proud of her work, and she loves to share it with me. But there’s only one thing about it that really grinds my gears.

She’s drawing on paper. I would challenge you to find a more portable medium than paper. It’s light and compact, perfectly easy to carry, in other words.

Will she bring it over to show me?

mila tap tap

Oh, no.

What actually happens is that she sits on her crafty throne, intermittently yelling, “Muuuuuuum! Look what I done!” And it doesn’t matter if I’m purposefully engaged or just dossing around, it is preferred (nay, expected) that I will come running immediately.

I haven’t tried it yet, but I suspect that the consequences for not coming to her will be dire.

That’s all for now. I did have more to write, but most of my typing time has been spent with a baby doing number 3 on the list. It was wearing.

I’m sure it can’t just be me with this problem. So tell me, what do your kids do to disturb your five minutes of peace?

A Week In The Life Of A One Year Old

Do you every wonder what’s going on in the head of your tiny, innocent-looking toddler? I do. And I’d bet good money on her thoughts being not entirely innocent. You see, that smile may be pretty cute…

DSC_9731

But I detect a distinct glint of mischief and merriment in those wide eyes. So don’t be fooled.

Anyway, over to Squeak, for an insight into the workings of her oversized and underdeveloped brain.

Day 1 – Monday

Today I am considering serving an eviction notice to the woman I call ‘Mahmee.’ For, during an illicit keyboard-bashing and mouse-clicking incident this afternoon, I observed that she had described my brain as oversized.

WHAAAAAAA?

WHAAAAAAA?

I mean, yes, my head is a little big. And round. And if I look up in the sky too far, yes I do fall backwards. But still, seriously? I think it’s a little low to be judging your own baby on her appearance. Especially when, from the looks of it, I clearly inherited the enlarged cranium from her.

And that’s not my only problem. Oh no, the possessor of the breasts has engaged in many transgressions recently, that have made me think that maybe I’d be safer going it alone.

Do you wanna know some? Because it doesn’t really matter if you don’t. How are you going to tell me to stop, exactly?

Yeah, that’s what I thought. So here we go!

1. The big head thing. Like, just rude.

2. This evening she put me in my kitchen throne, and proceeded to give me what I like to call ‘shit on a plate.’ I can’t really describe what ‘shit on a plate’ actually is, because honestly it could be anything. It just depends on how the mood takes me. Sometimes it’s that green tree crap, or some kind of white, soft twirly stuff. I don’t mind the twirly stuff quite so much, because I have discovered that if I try and swallow a piece whole I make a really satisfying “Blacccchhhhhh!” sound that makes the mothership put her fork down and pat my back and all that nonsense. Ha, hungry were you, woman?!

I don’t know where she gets off, thinking she can tell me when to eat. I mean, if I’m hungry I’ll soon let her know. How? By shoving my hand down her top, obviously.

S’ok though, I told her straight. I picked that pile of ick up, and I threw it on the floor.

Get the message?

3. Brace yourself guys, this one’s a biggie. I probably should have called the police, but I don’t really know my numbers yet. So I guess I’m writing this as a bit of a cry for help. Save me!

It appears that my mother has a gang of collaborators around her. A disturbing thought, I’m sure you’ll agree. But one of them came over today, and brought this box thing with her. The family jokingly call it a ‘baby prison.’ Yeah, real fucking funny. Let’s see how much you laugh when you’re stuck in this thing, all on your own, with toys. I don’t want toys. I want wires! And small, blatantly edible toys! And tissues!

Have you ever shredded a tissue? It’s awesome. Doesn’t taste too bad, either.

Mmmmmmm...

Mmmmmmm…

I’m sure you’ll agree that I am a victim of extremely unfair treatment here. Don’t worry though. As soon as I figure out how to detach her breasts, she’s off.

Must dash. I hear footsteps on the stairs, which means she’s up on one of her paranoid ‘the baby’s slept so long, something must be wrong!’ checks.

Back to pretending to be asleep. Peace out.

Day 2 – Tuesday

It’s been a pretty standard day so far. I’ve only tripped over my own feet three times, which I’m kinda ashamed of right now. I normally aim way higher than that.

I also totally mastered planking today. I know that’s sooooo last year, but what can I say? I wasn’t exactly in control of my limbs at that time. I’m still playing catch up.

I’ve tried it on the floor. That was pretty fun. But it’s particularly amusing to employ when my mother attempts to strap me into that wheely thingy. She always does it when we have to go somewhere most urgently.

Yeah, no.

I just lock my hips and she has got no chance of getting me in the chair. Well, until she tickles me, anyway.

I’m a sucker for a tickle.

Day 3 – Friday

Today I discovered that I don’t particularly know the days of the week. Which isn’t great, when you’re writing a diary. But I’ll do my best.

I was really annoyed this morning, because that woman woke me up. I don’t think she understands just how exhausting it is to wake up over and over again, all night. If she did, I’m sure she wouldn’t be dragging me out of bed at ‘FFS, it’s still dark!’ o’clock.

DSC_0136

I got my revenge, though. With my breakfast. I know I could have just thrown it on the floor, but frankly that’s getting a little old. So instead, I really carefully poured water all over my pieces of toast. They still looked fine, but I just knew that as soon as she picked them up to put them in the bin, they’d disintegrate into a really revolting mush.

I’d already toddled off to play by the time she did it, but by the sounds of the “Urgh!” that floated through from the kitchen, I totally nailed it.

Day 4 – Turtle

I threw up today. It was amazing. I thought I’d grown out of that whole involuntary vomming thing. It’s been ages since I last managed it, and I’ve been trying really hard.

Sadly, I missed my target slightly, and it landed on my playmat. Which is freaking washable.

For shame. I tried to fix it with a bit of finger painting, but that woman has eyes like binoculars! She clocked me within seconds, and cleaned me up with one of those baby wipes.

For God’s sake woman, it’s still glove weather out there! Warm the wipes, would you?

I have also been working on a new skill. It’s a little something I like to have up my sleeve for when shopping trips get boring. I like to sit reeeeaaaaally quietly in my pram, looking all civilised and shit. Like a statue. And then, when we pull up alongside someone who is deep in thought, trying to choose the best apples or whatever, I reanimate. I sit up straight, take a deep breath, and yell, “HAPPY BIR-DAAAAAY!”

Heh heh.

Heh heh.

Three people I got with that today. It. is. epic. I’m not sure, but I think the last woman might have crapped herself.

Although that could have been me.

Day 5 – Eleven

Today my food dispenser took me to a toddler group. I don’t know why the hell she thought that was such a great idea. Why would I want to spend ninety minutes fighting for the awesomest spade and trying to guess which kid farted, when I could be fiercely guarding my own toys (and smells) at home, on my own? It just doesn;t make any sense. Apparently this shit is really good for me, but I think it’s just stupid.

But still, you have to make the best of it. So I slipped over in the inevitable spill from the water table at least seven times, making the woman who runs the group feel like crap. Win! Then I spent ten minutes hiding in the dressing up clothes, just for a laugh. As a bonus, I totally found some kid’s discarded raisins in there.

At least, I think they were raisins.

DSC_0005

For my grand finale, I dressed up as a dragon and ran into a door.

Because that’s how I roll.

Day 6 – Thursday

Do you know what’s interesting? Toilets. We’ve got one. It’s upstairs, in the room where I get assaulted by minty freshness twice a day.

I’m not 100% sure what you really do with a toilet. I have been doing some pretty detailed investigations, though. It seems like the taller folk in my house use it as some sort of chair. And they make some totally messed up noises when they’re sitting on it. Seriously messed up. Especially Big Girl.

I think there’s a waterfall in there too.

My useless mother is severely impeding my investigations right now. Because this toilet of ours has a lid. And no matter how quietly I creep over there, she always knows. I don’t want to break it or anything. And I don’t care what she says, I was not going to put the bear in there.

I was just letting him take a look. Honest!

Would this face lie?

DSC_4434

Day 7 – Squeakday

Today I have mostly been pondering the wisdom of nappy changes. I mean, I just don’t get it. It seems like my mother is much more bothered about a full nappy than I am. I couldn’t care less, really. It’s kinda warm, and it’s a great shock absorber when I fall on my ass.

Which is a lot.

But no. The wise woman of the house insists on leaping on me (sort of), and lying me down. I am not impressed with this. Does she not know that I am busy? I have many plans and schemes to work on, which I am sure will, eventually result in world peace.

Yes, it’s that important.

So if you’re one of these parents who is disgracefully enthusiastic about baby hygiene, just give us a break, ok?

We got shit to do.

In other news, it turns out I can’t fly. Who knew?

DSC_0233

*****

So there you have it. A little looksee at the cranial workings of a one year old. Did it turn out how you expected? I hope so.

Because if you think that a one year old is not plotting your downfall at least 83% of the time, then you’re in trouble.

Even if you don’t have a one year old right now. Don’t think they’re going to limit their destructive capabilities to the people who share their genetics.

No one is safe.

I Would Do Anything For Love…

Ah, Meat Loaf. My dad is a massive fan, and I grew up listening to his songs. In fact, I even went to see him in concert when I was about 38 weeks pregnant with Big Girl.

Yes, he was awesome.

This post has been inspired by the songs of Meatloaf. Or more specifically, this one song:

For years people have pondered what, exactly, Meat Loaf won’t do. Well folks, I think I’ve finally got it!

Psych.

I have no fucking idea what he is on about. But the song got me to thinking. I love my kids. Like, a lot. And if asked, I would say that I would do anything for them.

But would I? I’m not so sure.

I’ve had a bit of a think about what I really would do for my children. And I’ve come up with a little list. It’s not exhaustive, there’s probably loads more soppy, arduous or frankly revolting things I would be willing to subject myself to for the greater good. Thinking of all of them would get a bit tiresome though, so I’ve quit at ten.

Here goes!

1. I would wear your hairband on my oversized head because I accidentally put it in the dryer and now it’s gone a funny shape. I’m doing it right now. My skull feels as if it is being slowly crushed, and every time I take the band off to check, it’s still the same shape! But hey, it’s the thought that counts.

DSC_0468

Right?

2. I would do number 1 on this list secretly, when you’re in bed, so you didn’t realise that your hairband had been grievously harmed. And I wouldn’t  just be doing it because I didn’t want to see the sad puppy dog eyes, or so I didn’t have to listen to your tearful reproaches. I would be doing it to prevent you from experiencing the pain of a warped hair accessory.

Honest.

3. I would kiss your butt better if you hurt it while playing. Preferably clothed, but I know that is a big ask in our house. In return, you would avoid farting at the crucial moment.

Fair’s fair?

4. I would let you throw up on me. Even on my freshly washed, extra comfortable pyjamas. And I wouldn’t even sigh.

Well, maybe a bit.

Could you not have held it in? Or at least done it on a surface that it is actually possible to wipe clean?

Soz.

Soz.

5. I would trace our steps for ages so you could find the stone that you dropped. Even if the stone that you finally pounce on is clearly not the one you originally lost.

Not every time, like. Just when I’m feeling particularly magnanimous.

6. I would spend ten minutes copying the dance you were doing, at your request. Even if that dance had absolutely no direction, and involved me contorting my body in ways it spent the next three days objecting to. Even if it was choreographed to a song by One Direction <shudder>

Motherlove, innit?

7. I would kiss you before bed. And that bear. And the pony. And that bear too. And that hairy spider thing… Wait, what the fuck is that?

DSC_0119

8. I would listen to every joke you told. Even though you only know two jokes, and frequently mix up the two so the punchline makes absolutely no sense.

I wouldn’t just listen, either. I’d laugh, too. ‘Cause I’m great like that.

9. I would sit patiently as you daydreamt your way through an “incredibly important, need to tell you right now!” story. I would nod at the right bits, and smile as you paused, sniffed, wiped your nose on your sleeve, and generally forgot what the fuck you were on about.

And despite great temptation, I would resist the urge to say, “Just spit it out, for God’s sake!” And I would also resist the urge to do a little bit of daydreaming myself.

Not because I’m a super mum or anything, just because they always notice the very second I switch off.

Damn kids.

10. This last one is just for Squeak. I would breastfeed you in a dress. Specifically, a dress which can only provide chest access through a zip under my arm.

In public.

I will not discuss how this reflects on the flexibility of my breasts. Even though I was a little bit impressed with success of my venture.

Ok, a lot.

DSC_7533

So there you go kids, I would do anything for love. But (and it’s a big but*) I won’t do that.

That’s right. From the plethora of things I have identified that I would do, there is one that is never going to happen.

Nope, never. Not. Ever.

And this is it:

I would not eat your chewed up food. Not even if you selected it carefully from your ever increasing pile of tasted and rejected foodstuffs. No, not even if you did those eyes. Do I look like a fucking baby bird to you?

DSC_9618

Just gross.

*No, not my big butt. God, you guys are so infantile.

Growth Spurts – Not Just For Newborns

If there was one thing I wished someone had warned me about before I had children, it would have been growth spurts. Because when Big Girl arrived, they were the biggest shock of all.

DSC_0046

And yes, I do mean even more shocking than the realisation of how it feels to birth a baby. So you know I’m talking about some serious shit right here.

I had pethidine when I was in labour with her, so for a couple of days she was a bit sleepy. She still woke for feeds every two hours or so, but in between she would slip into a deep sleep. I could even put her down in the hospital crib, and she wouldn’t make a peep.

It was awesome. Well, maybe not awesome, exactly. I felt like I’d been hit by a bus, and getting up from a sitting position resulted in an unpleasant inward shifting sensation that, dear God, I wish I could forget.

But still, a newborn baby that fed and slept, not too bad. I couldn’t shake a stick at that.

Then, day 4 happened.

And I discovered that the previous few days had given me absolutely zero preparation for the veritable shitstorm that was about to ensue.

DSC_0409

Oh. My. God.

Here’s how day 4 went. We woke up, and Big Girl latched on. The end.

Ok, possibly it didn’t go 100% like that. I’m sure there were breaks for pooping, and nappy changing, and outbursts of crying for no apparent reason.

I was talking about the baby, actually. I cry about as much as it rains over the Sahara.

Ahem. Moving on!

Anyway, that’s what it felt like. Big Girl turned into an insatiable demon, who could only be satisfied by a never-ending river of breastmilk. And that’s how it continued for the next seven weeks.

I became closely acquainted with the contours of my couch, and got plenty of practice in feeding one-handed. Well, a keyboard’s not going to type itself now, is it?

I wouldn’t be lying if I said that one of the first things I Googled after coming home from the hospital was, ‘baby breastfeeding all of the time.’ And I’m glad I did. Finally, I had found an explanation for this wriggling, mewling infant who screamed herself purple the second her back hit the Moses basket’s mattress and rooted frantically on any millimetre of bare skin she could find.

Fucking growth spurts.

Suddenly, everything made sense.

Although there was one bit of information which I had to respectfully disagree with. According to the many websites I read on this issue, growth spurts happen numerous times in the first six weeks of a baby’s life, and last about 2-3 days or as much as a week.

DSC_0234

ORLY?

Because as far as I can remember, Big Girl had only one growth spurt. And it lasted approximately seven weeks.

I’m serious.

Despite being armed with the knowledge I gleaned from the holy god of Google, it was bloody hard going. Some days, I barely made it off the couch. I ate what I could grab out of the cupboard and throw down my neck one-handed.

Oh, and I felt like a shrivelled-up raisin that had been forgotten at the back of the cupboard. (You all find those raisins, right?)

But we made it through. And although I’m sure she had a few more growth spurts during her first year, either I’ve lost them in the haze of sleep deprivation, or they weren’t that bad.

Now, Little Girl and Squeak’s growth spurts. Well, I can’t really remember them at all! In my defence in the case of Little Girl, I’m surprised that I can remember anything about her first year. I definitely remember the fuzzy-head, almost drunken sensation of surviving on two hours sleep a night, but growth spurts? Not so much. By the time Squeak came along, I was just shoving her up my top at the slightest peep, and promptly forgetting  about her until she vomited spectacularly into my crotch.

Do you know, as I typed that I recalled exactly the toe-curling, revolting sensation of pooling milk sick as it cools in your crevices. Shudder.

So there was no clock-watching, or noting down of feed times. Hell, I didn’t even try to remember which boob’s turn it was to be fed off. I just plugged her in and got on with the requisite arse-wiping, packet-opening, fighting-children-separating and nose-wiping that comes with having older kids.

I’m sure they happened, like. I just didn’t really notice. In my defence, she fed soooooo much that I’m not sure it would have been possible for her to cram in any more feeding time.

Well, that’s baby growth spurts covered. They occur numerous times during a child’s first year of life, and then everything is just peachy.

But no. For as the years have passed, I have come to a realisation. A horrible, demand-causing, purse-squeezing realisation.

There are child growth spurts too.

DSC_4269

I. Know. Right?

Never before did I think I would grow to appreciate the growth spurts of a newborn. Because breastmilk? That shit is free. When you’ve got a desperate six year old ransacking the cupboards before, after… hell, during meals, you got problems.

Big Girl seems to be on a permanent growth spurt at the moment. It all started last year.

You see, today marks the passing of a year since Big Girl was hospitalised with Guillain-Barre syndrome. It’s hard to believe that such a short time ago she was stuck in a hospital bed, unable to walk, sit up or use her hands properly. I am thankful every day that she appears to have made a complete recovery.

But I am not thankful for the growth spurt that has resulted.

You see, she was ill with a virus for over three weeks before being admitted to hospital. Obviously she couldn’t eat much, as she was lethargic and battling a high temperature. Once you factor in that time, plus the hospital time and the recovery time afterwards, she didn’t really eat properly for two months.

Boy, has she been making up for it though.

It was at its worst once she began to feel better. This kid was having three massive meals a day, and snacking twice between each meal. And still she complained of being hungry! At one point she was eating more than me, and guys, I can put away a shitload of food.

Obviously it isn’t as intense now as it was. But Big Girl lives for food. She can inhale a plate of pasta in second, and beg for more. I don’t know where she puts it, as she’s pretty skinny. She is growing upwards like a tomato plant in a heap of cowshit though.

And my fruit bowl is permanently in need of replenishment, the cupboards are frequently bare long before I’d contemplated shopping again, and I never have leftovers to shove in the freezer.

Please God, let Little Girl sidestep this stage, because I don’t think I could inflate my food budget enough to cover that much food!

DSC_6931

The Hazards Of The Fitness DVD

I am rocking a very motivated attitude this week. And I’m pretty happy about that.

I have about 1.5 stones to lose to get down to my ideal weight. It was 2 stones, but apparently the ‘scorned woman’ weight loss plan is really fucking good.

In this burst of motivation, I have decided to do what I can to wave goodbye to this excess weight. I want to feel fit and healthy, and I want to look good in my clothes.

So I have been eating healthily. This is the easy bit, because I just eat what the kids eat. Bar the biscuits I throw to them to silence the incessant nagging.

That doesn’t happen that often. Honest.

It’s going well. But last night, I tried something new.

The fitness DVD.

This is the obvious choice of exercise for a woman stuck at home in the evening with three sleeping children. I mean, I know I’m already running around all day, and speed walking up to school because I left the house late. Again. But I think I need an extra push in the right direction.

I did the 30 Day Shred years ago, and thought it was awesome. So I picked it up, dusted off the cover (which was exercise in itself!) and switched it on.

The point of the 30 Day Shred is that you can fit a whole workout into twenty minutes. So it’s more than a little intense. But you know, I could hack it.

Right?

DSC_1434

Well, I did finish it. But, as I’m sure you can guess, that is not the whole story.

It started off well. It turns out that I’m actually fitter than I thought, and I got through the first bit no problem. I was amazing!

Then, it started to burn.

I pushed on, breath coming in strangled gasps. Grunting like an overexcited pig. I couldn’t see my face (thank God!) but I’m sure it was probably a fetching shade of purple. I was clicking in places I wasn’t even aware were supposed to have rotational capabilities. And there was a considerable amount of sweating.

Basically, it was really fucking gross.

But I wasn’t going to quit there. I am a tough, powerful woman, and I wasn’t going to be beaten by Jillian Michaels.

It started to get near the end of the DVD. Five minutes to go. I could do that.

Then, Squeak woke up.

Pling!

Pling!

For those of you who don’t know, Squeak doesn’t sleep in a cot. Frankly, she doesn’t really sleep anywhere! But for those moments when she engages in an extended blink, she parks herself on my bed. Which is, currently, a mattress on my bedroom floor.

Sounds a lot more bohemian than it actually is. To be honest, it just makes my room look like a squatter’s paradise.

Not all that desirable.

But anyway, this means that when I hear her outraged, needy squawks through the baby monitor, I kind of have to go. Like, now.

Despite my bedroom being a (fairly) safe, secure environment, the idea of a free range baby anywhere where I am not fills me with approximately no amount of joy.

I was rather pissed off. I mean, is twenty minutes of peace really too much to ask for?

Ha, seriously?

Ha, seriously?

Well yes, obviously it is.

I assessed her cry, and decided that it was more of a, “Hellooooo, anyone there?” cry than an, “Oh my God, I have ruptured my femoral artery and I’m bleeding out!” one. So I carried on, hoping and praying that I would get to the end of the workout before her screeches became more urgent.

It would have felt like cheating to stop then.

I can’t say exercise becomes any more enjoyable with a backing track of, “Wuh wuh wuh, waaaaah!” Of course, that opens up the debate of whether it was all that fun in the first place. Right now, as I type with aching, strained arms, I’m on the ‘fuck no’ side.

Creak.

I reached the end, skipped the cool down bit and legged it upstairs to feed Squeak. It was lovely to horizontalise after all that work. Aahhhhhhh.

She took a touch longer than normal to settle than usual, and didn’t slip into unconsciousness until almost half an hour had passed by. I rolled silently away, stood up…

And promptly collapsed back onto the floor.

I guess you could say that muscle fatigue had set in. Unbelievably, Squeak didn’t react to my inelegant vertical fail. She didn’t even stir. I normally can’t even sigh next to this kid, or scratch my nose.

Yes, I am serious.

Cautiously, I navigated the stairs on a pair of epically wibbly legs, and flopped onto the couch.

Holy shit! Still, with an effect like that it’ll work a treat, amirite?

Um....

Um….

It bloody better had, I’m subjecting myself to it again tonight.

Ugh.