When You Give A Child A Camera

So, Christmas has been and gone. We had a great time! On Christmas Eve, we made some melting snowman cookies which I found on Pinterest.

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I think they turned out pretty good, considering the kids did the lion’s share of the work. Of course the kitchen was covered in flour. But frankly, when isn’t it?

Christmas Day was lovely. The kids were delighted with their presents, and thankfully Little Girl forgot all about her request for a sentient puppy/unicorn combo. Phew! We had some good food at my dad’s house, and while he was cooking the girls took their new scooters for a spin around the block. Naturally, I had a go. And I can conclude that riding a scooter is really freaking weird! It felt like my leg was vibrating for about half an hour afterwards. Not to mention the intense fear of hitting a bump in the pavement and flying over the handlebars.

Ah, to be a carefree kid again.

I was very happy this Christmas because:

1. I got a lie in. Yep, the kids didn’t even get up until 8.30am! Seriously, what is up with that?

2. Everybody kept their clothes on. All day. I can’t remember the last time that happened.

3. Nobody puked due to excitement/chocolate consumption.

All in all, a good year.

Squeak gave me a late Christmas present, too. I say present. I mean, shitty thing that is going to destroy my life. Yesterday, she mastered climbing up onto the couch. DSC_9477Yay. She also mastered getting down, but is choosing not to bother with that. It is obviously much more fun to throw herself off the edge and hope I’m there to play catch. Such fun! Guess the new slow cooker is going to come in handy then, because I sure as hell can’t leave Squeak unattended any more.

Anyway, enough about Christmas. Today, I’m going to talk about when Big Girl got her first camera.

In February of this year, Big Girl spent eight days in hospital with a condition called Guillain-Barre Syndrome. She couldn’t walk or sit up, or do anything for herself at all. When she came home he was a little better, thanks to some intense IV drugs. But she was still pretty much immobile.

For a kid who likes to sit still and play, this wouldn’t have been so bad. But Big Girl is not one of those kids. She dances while drawing, wiggles while eating, and does bunny hops while playing a board game.

For her, it was torture. She was bored, and frustrated that she couldn’t just get down and play. After a bit of discussion, Mark and I decided to buy her an iPod.

I have to admit, I probably wouldn’t have bought her one so young, under normal circumstances. But in the face of fear and sadness, all of my principles flew out of the window. I would have given her both of my kidneys at that point.

So, she got it. We loaded it up with a ton of games, and she finally had something to do from her reclined position on the couch. It also had a camera, which leads me to the point of the story.

A few months after she had got the iPod, I came across the pictures from it in a folder on the computer. I hadn’t seen them before , and I spent ages scrolling through, giggling my ass off.

I’ll start with my fave.

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The sad face. I think. I’m a little sketchy on pretend facial expressions.

It took ages before I could look at this picture without laughing. I can’t even explain what’s so funny about it. It just is.

Then there’s the experimental one.

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Well, it’s experimental if you think eyelash strength is a reasonable thing to research. Big Girl does. Me? I’m not so sure.

Last up are the obligatory funny faces. (Because of course, the others were totally serious.)

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Heh heh heh.

Big Girl is a determined little beast. She pushed herself hard, and gradually learned to crawl and walk again. It was even better the second time.

One of the reasons I was glad when she could move around again was because she could take herself to the toilet. This may sound ridiculous, but have you ever seen a 5 foot nothing woman carry a five year old up the stairs who can’t bend her legs? Picture it for a sec. You can see it was a touch hazardous.

Obviously she wasn’t allowed to take the iPod upstairs with her. Who hasn’t dropped a mobile phone down the toilet at least once in their lives? Um, me. Yes, definitely! Ahem.

I had my suspicions that she wasn’t exactly sticking to this rule. But when questioned, she switched on her Puss in Boots face and protested her innocence.

The conversation went a little like this:

Me: “Big Girl, did you take the iPod up to the toilet?”

BG: “No.”

Me: “Are you sure?”

BG: “No, honestly! I definitely didn’t.”

Me: “What’s this then?”

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BG: “Um…”

That day, Big Girl learned an important lesson. If you’re breaking the rules, it’s probably best to dispose of the photographic evidence before your mother finds it.

I hope you all have a fab New Year’s Eve, however you’re celebrating. Big Girl and Little Girl both insist that they are staying up until midnight.

Let’s just wait and see how that one pans out.

Kids And Their Stupid Ass Teeth

Ok, maybe not stupid ass teeth. That gives a whole new meaning to the phrase ‘nightmare nappy changes.’ Erk!

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Teething has to be one of the things that pisses me off most about parenting. I just don’t get it. I mean, teeth are not exactly a new concept. Most of us are born with none, and eventually end up with a full set. So seeing as Nature’s had so much practice, couldn’t it have figured something out? I’m talking evolution, folks.

I don’t give a shit about the short-necked giraffes who died out because they couldn’t reach the leaves and starved to death. I couldn’t care less about the moths that adapt to be the same colour as their urban surroundings.

Just give me a baby who sprouts teeth without a peep and I am golden.

Screw you, moths.

This is a subject that is close to my heart at the moment. At least, I think it’s my heart. It’s the bit of my chest that feels like it’s going to explode with frustration as I run upstairs for the 11th time in an evening. Is that my heart?

It sucks, anyway. For me and for Squeak.

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Squeak is playing Fuck With Mummy Bingo at the moment, and she’s speeding towards a full house. She is full of the kind of cold that makes you recoil at every sneeze because you just know that came with a prize. And she is really mastering her dog impression. Or coughing her lungs up. One or the other!

Oh, but that is not all. This week, she is also beginning to teeth her first molars.

One of the things I find most annoying about teething is the teeth. Well, duh! But hear me out.

Most babies get their bottom two front teeth first. And they’re pretty small. Kinda cute, actually. But they’re nothing compared to what is coming next.

It’s like their mouths are saying, Ha, you thought that was bad? That was just the introduction.

Because the teeth just get bigger. You start off with those dinky little front ones, and end up with massive, pointy Lego bricks at the back.

And there’s twenty of them. Goddammit Nature, what are you playing at?

I try to be understanding. I get that Squeak is in pain, and she doesn’t know why. So I cuddle her, rub numbing stuff on her gums and accept that she is never going to sleep again.

But mother of God, it’s so annoying!

My moderately chilled-out, smiling child has metamorphosed into a screeching she-devil. And everything is just wrong.

Toys don’t work right. The water doesn’t come out of her cup quickly enough. And everyone is just plain-old pissing her off. Especially me.

FFS, woman.

FFS, woman.

I have the audacity to keep on leaving the room. You know, to prepare food and go to the toilet and stuff. It’s a travesty.

Don’t worry though. She disciplines me well when I dare to step our of her ever-changing boundaries. Eye-poking is a favourite. Also face-slapping, hair-pulling and licking. No, I don’t know what the last one is supposed to achieve either.

Have I mentioned the lack of sleep yet? What, once or twice? Already? Wow. Sorry about that!

Actually, not sorry. And I’m not done. Teething babies are a nightmare, sleepwise. Mine are, anyway. I don’t mind a baby waking up through the night. It’s a normal thing, and one which my body is more than used to, after 6 years. But teething sleep is something else.

Even with a bunch of potions and medicines (more on them in a mo), the best stretch Squeak can manage on a sore-mouth night is half an hour. Then, she wakes up screeching and attempting to gnaw her fingers off. And off I go, over and over again, all night. She asks for a feed, then complains that it hurts, then asks for feed again… ad nauseam. Sooo annoying.

I have tried almost every teething remedy. Squeak wears an amber teething necklace. Does it work? I don’t know, I’m too scared to take it off and see if there’s a difference! I don’t want to rely on paracetamol and ibuprofen all the time, so I’ve tried a lot of topical treatments to find the best for me.

The one I use the most is a liquid one. It’s thinner than the gels and a lot easier to apply to gums. Just one simple swipe round the mouth and Squeak is feeling a lot better.

Hmmm, that actually makes it sound a lot easier than it is. It was fine when she only had bottom teeth. There’s plenty of room to dodge them. But Squeak has four top teeth now. And that means I am playing Russian Roulette every time I stick my finger in her mouth.

Well, if Russian Roulette was playing with only one blank. Because the odds of me ending up with deep teethmarks on my finger are ridiculously high. Ouch.

The only way I’ve survived three lots of teething is to tell myself that it’ll be over soon. The latest the older two got teeth was about 2.5. I can handle that.

I was wrong.

Big Girl turned six and August. And now she is teething again. I’m not going to say that I wasn’t vaguely aware that this happened, but it still came as a bit of a shock!

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She’s getting her six year molars. But all accounts, and from what I can see in her mouth, they are flipping massive! So she is back to chewing on her fingers, complaining of pain and waking up in the night. Which sucks.

Damn stupid ass teeth.

“Don’t Do That At School, Okay?”

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I find myself saying this more and more lately. I can’t help but think that this reflects badly on me. Or us, at least.

Luckily, I don’t give a crap. Much.

It really is becoming a catchphrase. Along with, “Don’t jump off that!” and “Squeak is not a toy, she’s a baby!” During my frequent and riveting daydreams, I sometimes fantasise about making a recording of these sentences, that I can replay as required. There’s no harm in wanting to do a bit of breath-saving, right?

I have been lucky with my children, because they are mainly ‘indoor trouble-causers.’ That is, they tend to save all of their misbehaviour and rabble-rousing for while we are at home. Normally when we are out and about, they put on their cute faces and proceed to melt the hearts of anybody they come across.

At home, it is a whole other story.

Despite the fact that they usually behave outdoors, there are a few transgressions. For example, Little Girl’s meltdown in the smallest shop in town yesterday. She flopped to the floor, yelling as loudly as she could. Not awesome. But it worked out ok in the end. Because I was there.

At school, on the other hand, they are free to shame and embarrass me as they see fit. Yes, the teachers will correct their behaviour and discipline them. But by then, it’s already happened.

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So when certain things happen at home, I feel the need to say, “Don’t do that at school, okay?” Just in case. There are only so many excruciatingly embarrassing conversations that I want to have with their teachers.

One example is from Insult Tennis. After I had giggled my head off at being called a ‘boring vagina,’ I said it. Can you imagine how the teacher would react if Big Girl said that at school? I can. Oh yes, I can.

And when she called Mark a ‘boring penis’ later on that evening, I first paused to admire her use of context. Then, I said it again.

Little Girl has only been at school for one term. At her parents’ meeting, they said she had settled in well, and seemed to be enjoying herself. Of course I was proud, but I also couldn’t help but think, which bits aren’t they telling me?

I’m not saying she’s not a fab kid. She is, and overall she’s pretty well-behaved. But she is also three years old. Show me a three year old who’s skilled in social graces.

Mine most certainly isn’t.

The first thing I have tried to remind her not to do at school is nose-picking. Little Girl is a champion nose-picker. Or at least, she spends most of her time bloody doing it!

For about four months I have been trying to get her to stop. I am failing. Miserably. I can’t say I’m particularly angsting over it, though. In a list of bad habits that kids have, I’d say nose-picking probably comes out at #1.

But it’s so gross! So I am working on it. But I can imagine that at school she enjoys unfettered nasal access. Ugh. This is why, as I kiss her goodbye, I say, “Don’t pick your nose at school, okay?”

It’s worth a try.

That’s nothing compared to the other things I’m hoping she doesn’t do at school. I’m lucky that she’s not really a hitter, or a biter, or a pusher. Most of the time, anyway.

What Little Girl is, is an ‘undresser.’

Who, me?

Who, me?

When she had her introductory session at preschool, I was asked if she is able to go to the toilet independently. I said yes, because she is. But… (there’s always a but!)

She does have a penchant for stripping off afterwards. Pulling up knickers, tights and a skirt is a fairly arduous task, and it’s not one that she has any time for. So after using the toilet, she just tends to discard the bottom half of her clothes. Then she runs back downstairs, literally butt naked, to carry on playing.

This is fine at home. I mean, she might get a little cold because I am stingy with the heating, but other than that, no problem! I cannot say the same for school. I doubt they would be all that impressed with a half-naked child.

When she does it at home, I either leave her or help her to get dressed again if we’re due to go out soon. And as I do that, I say, “Don’t take your clothes off at school, okay?”

Little Girl excelled herself with this last one, which she did just the other day at home. I have no idea where she got the idea from.

She was dancing, I think. Little Girl loves to dance. She bounces around, grinning her head off. It is very sweet. Round and round the playroom she went, somehow avoiding a foot injury from the many small toys strewn across the floor.

Squeak was sitting amongst said toys. I’d like to say she was playing with them, but what she was actually doing was probably searching for something small enough to wedge into her cheek. She does that.

Suddenly, Little Girl stopped dancing. She walked over to Squeak with a mischievous smile on her face. Then she pulled her pants down, and wiggled her naked butt right in Squeak’s face.

Squeak was unimpressed.

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Please, please, let her not repeat that one at school.

That’s all for now. Don’t even ask me about their habit of Gangnam Styling over Squeak every time she falls over.

I know they’re not perfect. I expect mistakes as they learn about social interaction. But for God’s sake, “Don’t do that at school, okay???”

The Ungiveable Christmas Gift

So there’s only a week to go until Christmas. Eek! The kids are about as excited as you would expect. I don’t understand exactly why excitement is expressed as tantrums and strops but hey, who am I to judge?

Either she's excited, or those balloons are about to die.

Either she’s excited, or those bubbles are about to die.

In the last few weeks, Big Girl and Little Girl have been deciding what they would like for Christmas. Now I don’t know about you, but these conversations with me are a lot more controlled than my kids know. They think they’re just discussing what they want Father Christmas to bring them.

They are wrong.

If they were to look back on our chats after they’ve opened their presents, they would realise that manipulation was afoot. Luckily for me, my kids have the memory storage capacity of gnats, so I’m pretty sure I’m safe.

Yeah, manipulation. Because all of the conversations have been about the same few things. That is, the things I have already bought.

I know, a dastardly trick. But at least it prevents them throwing me any crazy curveballs in these last few days.

Almost. There have been a few.

Big Girl has asked Father Christmas to bring her a packet of salt and vinegar crisps. Unusual and fairly last minute, but at least achievable. And, awwww.

Little Girl, on the other hand, has thought up a gift that there is absolutely no chance of getting. It is the ultimate ‘ungiveable Christmas gift.’

She mentioned it the other day, on the way to school. “Mummy,” she said. “For Christmas, I want a puppy and a unicorn.”

This is new. She has been asking for the same things for ages, and not once have these come up. Crap. But they’re not completely weird things. I could probably swing it. Until she carried on talking.

“I want to stick them togeddah, with glue.”

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Whaaa?

But still, doable. Strange, but I’m accustomed to strange by now. Hang on, though. There was more.

“Den I hold them up on my head, and Dora the Explorer will come and magic dem away, and make dem real.”

Shit.

Well, that’s not happening.

So now, my countdown to Christmas will be spent trying to make her forget that she ever requested this. And that’s no easy thing. Because Little Girl remembers everything.

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Sigh.

Merry fricking Christmas, everyone.

Insult Tennis

I don’t know if any of you play this game with your kids. It’s not as harsh as it sounds. The goal isn’t to crush their delicate self-esteem, or to make their happy faces crumple. That is not how I roll.

The goal is simply to come up with the most fantastic and hilarious insult that you can. If the other person collapses into hysterics, then you win.

It reminds me a bit of this scene from Hook:

It’s good clean fun. Honestly. Little Girl is still a bit young for it, but Big Girl loves employing that big old imagination of hers to try and outfox me. Now I don’t know if many of you know this, but I talk a lot. I know, big surprise, right? And I have the kind of vocabulary that you get from replacing social interaction with book-reading.

This means I can come out with such gems as, “You are a stinky-footed monkey burger!” Total genius.

Big Girl counters with something tasteful, like, “You’re a poo poo lemon meringue!” And so on it goes.

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I’d say that I win about 70% of the time. And if you’re sat there, judging me right now for that heinously low percentage, just stop. Cut a woman some slack. I’m tired, and it’s really hard to play this game without accidentally swearing.

Despite my, in my opinion, amazingly high success rate, Big Girl can sometimes still get one over on me. And the other night, she did that most epically.

I had gone into her room to give her a kiss and tuck her in. Although in Big Girl’s world, it’s never that simple. First of all, complex conversations must be had about the optimal colour of fairy wings, and how many clowns it would take to reach the moon if they stood on each other’s heads. If we’re lucky, occasionally she talks about something that actually happened.

Occasionally.

In my quest to disentangle myself, I may or may not have got slightly caught up in a game of insult tennis. And at first, I was totally ahead. I even managed to throw in the word ‘anthropomorphic.’ In context. I know, you’re impressed.

So far, so good. Until Big Girl unexpectedly upped her game.

“You’re a slimy shrimp wizard!” I yelled in triumph. And by yelled, I mean whispered. Even for this battle, I wasn’t prepared to wake Squeak up again.

Big Girl smiled a particularly mischievous smile, and said, “You’re a boring vagina!”

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Whoa. Shit! I gasped and laughed in surrender. She giggled smugly.

Then, her face became serious again. She frowned at me and said matter-of-factly, “They are actually quite boring.”

Guys, we have a winner.

Stuff My Kids Are Scared Of

I’ve said before that my kids are fearless. And they are.

Sort of.

But they have their limitations, just like anyone else. And because they’re my kids, they do it in slightly diverse ways. They are not particularly bothered by spiders. Indeed, they positively welcome monsters. But there is a variety of weird stuff that scares the living crap out of them. I’m talking ‘clinging to me like a monkey and quivering’ scared.

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I managed to think of a whole eight things! But I know there’s more.

There’s always more.

1. Fireworks

I’ll admit that this isn’t exactly an ‘out there’ one, but it’s ok for a start. Little Girl is absolutely terrified of fireworks. Bonfire Night was a complete waste of time. UnlessDSC_0086 she has eyes in the back of her head. Because that’s what she was looking at them with.

She kept this intense fear a secret, though. Which was really freaking helpful. Last year, she loved them! Grinned and cheered at each one. And in the run up to November 5th, all she could talk about was how excited she was to see the fireworks. On the night, she skipped down to the park. She couldn’t wait.

Then, they started. And she went from gleeful, sweet-munching toddler to wide-eyed, shaking toddler. She buried her head in Mark’s shoulder and silently hid, only speaking to say, “I don’t like it.” She spent the long ten minutes that the display lasted for staring at a brick wall.

On the way home, Big Girl bounced along with a joyful spring in her step. “That was amazing!” she cried.

And a little, serious voice piped up from over Mark’s shoulder. “That was not amazing.”

I can’t wait for New Year.

2. The bear in the hall

Ah, the bear in the hall. This was Little Girl’s biggest fear when she was two. I don’t know how it started, or what triggered it. I mean, lots of books have bears in them but, as far as I can remember, none are particularly ominous. And I have a policy of no toys that look like they will come alive and kill you in your sleep. Although that is mainly for my benefit. It’s not just the kids that have irrational fears.

I just remember that one day, as we went up the stairs to brush teeth and get ready for bed, Little Girl lost her shit. I mean seriously lost her shit. She was screaming and wailing and obviously totally freaked out. And I had no idea what was the matter.

You see, Little Girl was a late bloomer, as far as speech was concerned. She didn’t talk much before 2, and even after that she mostly had single words. So when she shrieked, “Bear!” it wasn’t exactly illuminating.

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I looked around, searching for this bear. Nothing. And she wasn’t even pointing at anywhere to give me a clue. I couldn’t find a thing. This was annoying. How could I reassure her there was nothing there if I wasn’t 100% sure that was true? Yes, I couldn’t see an evil-looking bear anywhere. But it could have been an oddly arranged scarf. Or a shadow on the wall. Or a fantasy created within her mind. There were a plethora of possibilities.

We did get her calmed down in the end. But the hall remained a risky area of our house. She wouldn’t mention it for ages, just long enough for me to forget that it ever happened. And then she would go to fetch her shoes and have a massive meltdown. Or refuse to set foot over the threshold just at the time we needed to leave the house.

It was a fun six months. Thank God she grew out of that one.

3. The Spoon Monster

This is one of Big Girl’s. What is a spoon monster? I don’t know. Neither does she. Attempts to get her to describe it have proved fruitless. There’s only one thing that is for certain.

Not a spoon, but close enough!

Not a spoon, but close enough!

It chases her up the stairs.

It happens at random times. She will announce that she’s off for a wee, and head for the bathroom. Now, Big Girl is very energetic, but she is also a total dreamer. So she normally takes at least three times longer to get up the stairs than you would expect.

But this time, all I hear is loud, frantic, racing footsteps that shake the house. She uses the toilet in record time and speeds back down.

She bursts, breathless, back into the room and exclaims, “The spoon monster was after me again!!” Then she collapses on the couch.

My response?

“Did you wash your hands?”

UPDATE: Big Girl has informed me that this demon is named ‘The Spoon of Spoons,’ and it eats you up. Eek!

4. Minnie Mouse

Little Girl doesn’t have a specific beef with Minnie Mouse. Which is good for Minnie, because I sense that she has enough issues on her plate already.

Little Girl has an aversion to anybody in a costume. Actually, anybody in a mask, as well. And she always has been. I took her to meet Mickey and Minnie Mouse last year. They came to visit the shopping centre in our town. But it wasn’t the legitimate ones. No, these were more like cheap imitations. They were dressed right and the right colours, but just not quite the same.

And they had fucking crazy eyes.

I swear, I did not pass my fear onto Little Girl. But I was shitting one. Because I hate masks. Or anything with a fixed smile and dead, soulless eyes.

I jollied her along though the queue to meet them, and she seemed keen. Until we reached the front. And then she planted her feet and refused to move.

We saw them again at a party recently. Little Girl went from running around kicking the hell out of some balloons to hanging monkey-like around my neck. I think it’s safe to say that she is not a fan.

I managed to distract her with the bouncy castle, and she perked up a bit. Until Mickey bounced on. Do you know how hard it is to get off a bouncy castle when your nightmare hops on?

It’s near damn impossible.

It’s cool though. She’ll only be talking about it for oh, four months or so.

5. The Dark

I know you’re raising an eyebrow right now, thinking but she said weird fears. Thousands of kids are scared of the dark. I know. This has to be one of the most common childhood fears. Along with clowns and the guy from Funhouse. (Just me?)

As a rule, my kids are not scared of the dark. They sleep in dark bedrooms without a care in the world. There are only two scenarios where they will attempt to convince me that they are scared. And both of those are just a complete blag.

a. “I can’t put my rubbish in the bin, it’s dark in the kitchen and I can’t reach the light! I’m scaaaaared.” This one is almost always accompanied by a dramatic sad face.

b. I can’t sleep, it’s too scary in my bedroom. Can I watch tv with you?” Nice try.

Unexpectedly enough, I am slightly lacking in sympathy at these points. Although I do try to suppress the growl that threatens to emerge from between my gritted teeth as I abandon my warm couch for the thousandth time.

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But Big Girl is afraid of something dark. More specifically, the dark patch on the left hand side of her bedroom. I have to admit, I giggled when she told me this yesterday. Which is harsh. But in my defence it was a very quiet giggle. And it was dark. I don’t think she noticed.

As I was tucking her in, she complained of a headache. After considerable assessment, I diagnosed this as an oh-my-god-I’m-exhausted-and-it’s-nearly-Christmas-aarggh induced malaise. She had had some pain relief, but it was still hanging around her right eye. So I suggested that she lie on that side of her head, because that kind of pressure always eases my headaches.

“Oh no,” she said, “I can’t do that.”

“Why?” I asked, looking at her skeptically. (This is the point where I would have raised one eyebrow, if I could. But I can’t. And trying just makes me look like an idiot.)

She gestured at the opposite side of the room. “It’s too dark over there. I have to sleep with my back to it.”

There doesn’t seem to be anything in particular that she is hiding from over there, apparently it is just generally creepy. And she would not turn over, even though her head was super painful. In fact, she pretended that the pain had swapped sides just in case I made her.

And I absolutely cannot identify with this at all. Because it wasn’t me who got so scared reading Duma Key, by Stephen King, that I couldn’t turn over in bed in case there was a walking corpse behind me. Nope.

Didn’t happen.

6. My Reprimanding Face

Do you have a face? I have a face. And it is very effective.

I save it for mild to moderate transgressions. So not something bad enough to require a verbal telling-off, but also not something that should really be ignored. Such as scooping up lasagne with their fingers, or teasing. Or trying to handcuff Squeak to the toy kitchen. You know, the usual

Little Girl doesn’t care. No, she really doesn’t care. She simply laughs, and carries on. But Big Girl really doesn’t like it. Whenever I use it, her face drops and she adopts a whiny voice as she protests.

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At first, I didn’t know what my face looked like. It wasn’t a conscious expression, just how I looked when I was mildly pissed off. Now, however, I use it to my advantage. It is great for misbehaving in public, because I don’t have to draw attention to myself.

I just have to remember not to abuse it.

7. Automatic Doors

Finally, Squeak features on the list! Because she is only one, she hasn’t got many fears. But this won’t last for long. If she’s anything like the others, this year will be a horrorfest.

She has begun with automatic doors.

The other night, I had to take her to the walk-in centre as she had a concerning cough. We were triaged and sent to the waiting room, where Squeak soon tired of the toys I had brought. So she went for a wander around.

She marveled at the Christmas tree. “Oh, wow!” she said, and to my surprise didn’t even attempt to dismantle it. Then she noticed the windows.

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Squeak loves herself. It’s true. And there’s nothing she likes more than to gurgle and coo over her own reflection. That day was no different.

Closer and closer she waddled, waving at herself and laughing. It was very cute. But then…

The windows slid open.

Because they weren’t windows at all. They were the automatic doors we came in through.

Never have I seen a baby retreat so quickly. She spun around and positively ran back to me, burying her face in my legs. She glanced back suspiciously. What just happened?

Of course, she approached again and again, and ran away again and again. What can I say? She’s obviously an adrenalin junkie.

8. The Dinosaurs Upstairs

Did you know I have dinosaurs living in my house? Well I do. Little Girl said so.

She has been finding out about dinosaurs at school, so they have been a hot topic of conversation. Her imagination did the rest.

We were eating lunch the other day. Well, Squeak and I were. Little Girl had dissected her sandwich and munched the best bits, and was ready to go off and play. So off she went.

Then I heard, “Mummy!” Sigh. I abandoned my food and went to see what was up.

“I heared a noise!” Ah. That old chestnut. “It was upstairs.”

“What was it?” I asked. Tell me, why do I ever think this kind of question is a good idea? Seriously.

“Ermmmm…,” she replied. For about 30 seconds, continuously. Then she said, “I think it is a dinosaur. Dere’s a dinosaur in the bathroom.”

Of course.

“I’m sure it was just the boiler,” I reassured her. “There’s no dinosaurs upstairs.” I could see from her frown that this response was, at best, inadequate.

It's a pterodactyl. Honest.

It’s a pterodactyl. Honest.

“You check it for me?” So I did. We looked in all the nooks and crannies, and established that the bathroom was pterodactyl-free. I returned to the table and picked up my fork. But before I could take a bite…

“Oh, I think it’s in Big Girl’s room now.” A little head peeped round the door at me. “You check it please?”

So up I went. And surprisingly enough, there were no dinosaurs in Big Girl’s room.

She gave it one last try. As I chewed a mouthful of food that frankly, I didn’t even want any more, she gasped and said, “It’s in your room now Mum!”

I did not check it that time.

My Kids Are Into Public Shaming

Excuse yesterday’s radio silence, we were busy decorating the living room with festive sparkly crap. Normal service is resumed.

A lot of public shaming goes on within my family. Don’t get me wrong, I do not do it to the kids. That is not my kind of shit. But they have no problem with doing it to me.

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All the freaking time.

Take yesterday, for example. We were picking Big Girl up late because she had gymnastics after school. Little Girl was tired. Shattered in fact. That kid is suffering badly from almost-the-end-of-term-itis.

Most of the walk went ok. We chatted and picked up stones and dodged around dog crap. The usual. But then as we reached school, she decided to mix it up a bit.

By ripping her hand out of mine while we were halfway across the road.

Luckily there were no cars coming, but obviously I had to have words. I have to put my hands up here and admit that I goofed.

I may, or may not, have asked her to listen.

‘Listen’ is Little Girl’s trigger word. If she hears it, she has to immediately do the opposite. For ages. At that moment, I didn’t have ages.DSC_0498

So there she was, blank-faced and stubbornly refusing to come anywhere near me. And time was ticking away. I did what any parent would do, and went to take her hand and lead her up the street.

Quick as a flash, she twisted away from me and threw herself onto the floor. And the way she did it made it look like I had just shoved her over.

Thanks for that.

I lifted her up off the floor and started walking her to the school. She utterly refused to hold my hand, so I held her wrist. Loosely, I might add. As we went through the gates, she started to shriek, “Ow! OW, you’re hurting me! That huuuurts!”

For shame.

Then she flopped to the floor again. And made it look like I pushed her again. Twice.

I did not know that someone could be so damn good at this.

I stood there, face burning. I couldn’t see myself at that point, but I’m pretty sure I was pinking up. Parents I know started to walk past, and I smiled and greeted them. All the while, Little Girl kicked and howled.

I was not epic parenting that day.

The good news is that she did calm down after, oh, fifteen minutes or so. And then proceeded to trip and fall flat on her face three (yes, three!) times on the way home.

Never have I been so relieved to see my own front door. I’m never leaving the house again.

The next story is about Little Girl again. I think public shaming is a very 3 year old thing to do.

We were out shopping for dinner supplies. As we wandered around the shops, I chatted to her about what we were going to do for the rest of the day. She didn’t give a crap, but I find it stops me from accidentally falling asleep standing up.

“When we’ve picked up Big Girl,” I said, “I’ll make us some nice dinner.”

“I sit next to Daddy?” she asked, looking up at me hopefully. For some reason, no one wants to sit next to me at the table. Now, I’ve smelled myself. That is definitely not the problem. But the very prospect of it makes their faces drop.

I try not to take it personally. (That is a lie.)

I nodded. Her face lit up, and she continued, “Yay! I not sit next to Mummy again.”

I jokily replied, “Thanks dude, I love you too.”

Apparently, I stepped out of line at this point. But not to worry. She exacted her revenge almost immediately.

She grinned, and said (loudly), “Fanny!”

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Bear in mind, we were smack bang in the middle of a shop at this point. I guess experimenting with words is Little Girl’s new trick.

Fuck.

I’m going to finish up by throwing in a story about Big Girl. You know, for equality purposes and all.

When Little Girl was about 8 weeks old, I ventured out to the park with both of them. I was obviously feeling brave. Little Girl was tucked up in her wrap and snoozing away, and Big Girl had a ball climbing and sliding and swinging and shit. Until I said it was time to go.

Big Girl did not like that. So she protested in the most effective way she could think of.DSC_2045

By turning around and legging it straight out of the park. Which, incidentally, is right next to a road.

I followed her as fast as I could. Which was incredibly slowly. I was trying to balance up getting to her with not damaging the tiny baby tied to my chest. It was far from awesome.

I did reach her in the end, just as she reached the edge of the road. I grabbed her and pulled her to me.

Embarrassing enough already, right?

Ha! No. It got worse. I don’t know if it was the shock of running away or of being caught, but whatever it was, her body couldn’t hack it.

So she fainted.

So not cool. She was fine though. Apparently it’s not that uncommon a reaction to shock in children. Which is irrelevant, in my opinion. Because it still doesn’t look good.

I’m thankful that Squeak hasn’t quite reached the point of embarrassing me in public yet. Apart from the time she managed to crap through a nappy, vest, sleepsuit, cardigan and sling. In 0.2 seconds.

That sucked.