Being small is not easy.
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.
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.
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.
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…
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.”
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.
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.
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?
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?
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?