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.

6 Year Olds Know Everything About Everything

I feel like I’ve been getting a bit baby-centric on the blog lately, so today I’m going to focus a bit on the big kids. Well, up to six anyway. That’s as far as I’ve got right now. Everything past that is a hazy thought bubble with a big question mark in it. (Quite frankly, everything before that has a big question mark too. I have no idea what I’m doing.)

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I feel that as Big Girl has moved on up to the lofty heights of six years old, she has had a marked mental leap. I used to be fairly confident that if I explained something to her well enough, she would see that it made sense and comply. It totally worked at five. But not six. Now, she can run rings around me.

Recently I’ve been working on teaching the kids not to interrupt. I could say that it was so that they would learn to be polite, civilised members of society. I could say that. I would be lying, though.

It’s because it drives me batshit crazy.

It’s hard enough keep track of one conversation in this house. That’s because, if it’s Big Girl at least, that conversation makes no freaking sense. She might start out with a debate about the best texture for chocolate rain (we decided chocolate chips in the end. Sauce would be too gloopy and bars would sting a bit). Soon, though, she’ll have taken a massive tangential leap, and be loudly discussing which colour would be best for the laser that shoots out of her hand. The other day, she interrogated me for 20 minutes about World War II. 20 minutes! Thank God for my Anne Frank-induced obsession as a teen.

And she targets me on the school run, when I am likely to be tired, cold and very grumpy. Once she gets going, you can add confused to that list.

So I’m straining to hear her over the traffic, and desperately trying to get the rusty cogs in my brain a-turning to translate her words into English. Little Girl picks this moment to pipe up with, “I dropped my apple der, in a puddle. I was dithappointed.”

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Little Girl is what I like to call ‘a repeater.’ If you don’t answer her as soon as she says something, she will just say it again and again, in exactly the same tone until you respond. I haven’t tested exactly how long she will go on before giving up, but I estimate at least 3 hours and 47 minutes. Ish. For clarity, the apple she is talking about is one that she dropped about 5 weeks ago.

This is the point where the cogs in my head start to fall apart. Or more accurately, explode.

At these times I tend to begin by making a grievous error. I mean, I’ve got two ears right? I’ll just channel one voice into each ear. Fantastic idea! There’s only one problem.

It’s not. fucking. possible.

The only result of this is complete sensory overload. I do not have the cognitive capacity to process two conversations at once. I especially can’t do that when I am so tired that my feet drag on the floor.

I usually decide at this point to throw a quick answer to Little Girl. All she needs is, “Yes, you did drop your apple there,” and she’s all set. Until she remembers that she totally tripped over that paving stone over there last year, anyway. That leaves me clear to give my attention over to Big Girl’s fantasies. Sorted.

Not so sorted for Big Girl. She stops talking and sighs. Then she tosses her head, rolls her eyes and utters these words:

“Are you even listening to me?”

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I’m fairly sure that I spoke to Little Girl for a maximum of 3 seconds. But that’s apparently enough to render the last 10 minutes of unwavering attention completely irrelevant.

That is so not fair.

I would be less frustrated by this if she was actually putting any thought into what she was saying. But she is jabbering away with an enthusiasm so intense that she often forgets that words and ideas must be formed inside the brain before they sail through her vocal cords. Thus, her sentences are usually peppered with many “erms” and prolonged pauses. It also means that she repeats about every fifth word over and over as she scrabbles for the next one.

I would also be less frustrated if it wasn’t for the fact that she doesn’t really give a crap what I’m responding with, anyway. What does my opinion matter? She knows the best texture for chocolate rain. And she definitely, definitely knows the best colour for hand lasers.

There is one positive though. Sometimes it’s easy to think that your instructions are going completely unheeded. But now I know that when I say, “Please don’t interrupt,” Big Girl is taking it in.

And as usual, she’s using it against me.

Big Girl also has a tremendous skill for making me feel about 3 inches tall. It amazes me that such a young child has the ability to do this. She doesn’t do it at predictable times, such as during a disagreement, either. No, it usually comes right out of the blue, when as far as I’m concerned, we’re having a nice chat.

She came out of school, bubbling with excitement yesterday. She planted her feet in front of me and said, “Why don’t you ask me what I did today?” with a grin on her face. Of course I complied. “I made a sculpture!” she replied. And you could tell. Her hands were covered in peeling sheets of PVA glue. She also had copious amounts of felt tip pen smeared across her fingers. But more on that later.

We headed off home. On the way she described to me the amazing Crimean War sculpture she had made with one of her friends. She obviously had a great time doing this, and her passion was contagious. She went off, as usual, onto other unrelated topics, and I listened, acknowledged, answered and all that virtuous shit.

Then, she suddenly broke off. She turned to me and asked, “Do you know why I’ve got pen on my hands?”

Sounds like a simple enough question, doesn’t it? There’s no way that it’s a trap.

Yeah, no way.

I innocently answered with, “No, why?” I anticipated a long-drawn out explanation of how she came to be using a pen in the first place, what she did before and after, mixed in with a brief description of the most accurate way to form a mermaid’s tail with your legs.

I was wrong.

Big Girl looked up at me with a mischievous look on her face. And then, in the most sarcastic, belittling voice she could summon up, she yelled, “BECAUSE I WAS USING A PEN!”

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Honest to God. If she knew the word “Duh!” I’m pretty sure she would have thrown that in as well. Dude, way to make your mama feel stupid!

I’m almost sure she followed it up with a tut, too.

The cheek.

With Big Girl’s advancing brain development has come a stage of intense curiosity. Kids ask an enormous amount of questions from nearly the moment they learn to speak. It makes sense. They know barely anything about the world that is so familiar to us, and they are hard-wired to find out as much as they can before they reach adulthood. But since turning 6, Big Girl’s questions have turned it up a notch.

No longer am I hearing the easy-to-answer questions that I am used to. “What is a rainbow? What do cows eat? What is dis called?” I like those questions. No Googling required.

Now I am getting stuff like, “How does your body digest food? What kind of butterfly will this caterpillar turn into? What caused World War II?”

No idea.

Well, actually, part of an idea. But I hate making stuff up to fill in the gaps. And I have a lowly PAYG phone with no internet access, so I can’t even do an emergency, on-the-go websearch.

I am pretty excited when I get a question that I actually know the answer to. I go overboard, giving her a detailed, child-appropriate reply. I even nailed it when I was asked, “How did the baby get into your tummy?” in the middle of the street. The busy street. I’m still proud of that one.

So there I am, explaining away. Giving details and anecdotes, and finding a way to relate it to her own life so it’s easier to understand. And she seems interested. Well, as interested as a person can sound, when they’re mainly forgetting to answer you.

I come to the end, beaming inside. I always feel like a fab parent after one of these conversations. If a child’s brain is like a sponge (and it is), then I just poured a whole load of water on there. Go me.

And then, just as I am about to lapse into my recurring daydream of spending the day in bed, Big Girl raises one eyebrow, looks at me incredulously and says, “How do you even know that?”

Thanks.

How about because I’ve got a brain, kid? Or, perchance, that I existed before your arrival? Or even that I am 21 years older than you, and therefore I know more?

What I actually say is, “Because I read about somewhere.”

I have to say, despite the fact that Big Girl seems to be fulfilling her predestination to trip me up, this stage is cool. Finally I have reached the point where I can share some of my own interests, and she is old enough to understand.

One thing hasn’t changed with age, though.

She’s still too busy thinking about fairies to give a crap.

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Developmental Milestones They Don’t Warn You About

DSC_0033Have you ever received one of those age-based emails from a baby website? I got one today. Amongst other things, it said, ” If you ask your 11 month old where her mouth is, chances are she will point to it.” Will she now. So I asked Squeak.

She said, “Bleh.” That’s a no, then.

And it got me thinking. There is so much information out there about what your child should be doing at a particular age. Sitting, crawling, walking, clapping. You could spend hours reading it all.

In my opinion, though, they missed some pretty massive ones out. Things I would definitely have appreciated being warned about.

Splashing

I write this having just changed into my second outfit of the day. Yep, you guessed it. Squeak just had a bath.

As I think I’ve covered before, children are dirty. They don’t just attract dirt, they positively welcome it. You could bath a kid three times a day and you’d still find a bit of pasta behind his ear or fluff between his toes.

Some babies hate baths. I have been lucky not to have one of those. Squeak is an especially big fan. There’s only one reason for that though.

Splashing.

Now, I don’t mind the first splashes of a small baby who has just realised they have hands and feet. In fact, I think it’s pretty cute. The little uncoordinated, excited jerks of the legs, the surprised stillness as the water ripples around them. I don’t mind because they weigh as much as a couple of bags of sugar and have puny, under-developed muscles. I can finish the bath pretty much dry.

There’s nothing under-developed about Squeak’s muscles. And she has more fat rolls than the Michelin Man.

I do not finish the bath ‘pretty much dry’ any more.

This is an accurate representation of the splashing situation.

This is an accurate representation of the splashing situation.

This week, it seems like she has had a big developmental leap in regards to splashing. She has learned effectiveness. And boy, did she test it out on me tonight!

Her hands somehow morphed into giant, efficient flippers. What seemed like buckets of water drenched me from head to toe as she laughed. Oh did she laugh. And did I detect an evil glint in her eye? Maybe.

She even splashed herself in the face. Hard. I waited for the scream of anguish, but none came. Instead, she uttered only one word.

“Whoa.”

Then she did it again. And again.

Balls of steel, that kid.

Swearing

It’s an exciting time when your child first learns to talk. Squeak has been trying out words for about a month now, and it’s as magical as it was the first time. It’s unbelievable to think that in less than a year a baby can go from communicating in grunts and wails to parroting your own words back to you.

Yes, parroting. And that is the problem right there.

It’s all cute at first. They call, “Daddy!” with excitement when he enters the room. You hand them a ball and they say, “Ball.” Wow! You can’t get enough of it.

You have to get used to the novelty of your child beginning to talk. It doesn’t come naturally at first. You’ve been able to speak freely for almost a year, it’s inevitable that you’ll slip up sometimes. And they don’t echo you all the time. You can say a million things which are completely ignored. But they know when to pay attention.

So you stub your toe. You realise you’ve forgotten an important appointment. The dog craps on the floor. You say, “Shit.”

And a little voice says, “Sit.”

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Shit.

Of all the times to listen! You just taught your precious child their first swear word.

You try some distraction. “Hey [baby], look, bubbles!” You point and generally make a big song and dance about it. No kid can resist bubbles, right?

“Sit.”

Nooo! Time to bring out the big guns.

“Would you like a biscuit? Oooh, biscuit!”

“Sit.”

Suddenly, a flash of inspiration.

“That’s right, a biscuit.”

Close enough. No one will ever know!

Taking Shoes Off

The other day, I took Squeak to get measured for her first shoes. Yes, he has been walking for 3 months and I may seem a little shoddy for waiting this long. But there was no way I was paying £32 (£32!) for shoes which she would walk around in, inside.

It was a pretty amusing experience, overall. The saleswoman tried her best to make Squeak enjoy the experience, but Squeak responded only with a suspicious glare. Then when she got the shoes on, she stared at them in disbelief, and proceeded to take big strides around the shop. She looked like an astronaut on the moon! I may have giggled.

Since we got them, Squeak has worn her shoes for approximately 1 minute and 39 seconds. Because what do they fasten with?

Freaking Velcro.

It took her about 20 seconds to figure out that she could open the straps. She tried walking around like that, but it was a minor tripping hazard (i.e. she fell flat on her face). So she plopped down on her bottom and surveyed them for a bit. Then she smiled, and rubbed her feet along the carpet. Bye bye, shoes.

Can you say ‘waste of money?’

Reading Graffiti

Children start to learn to read super early these days. And it is so cool! A whole world opens up for them. Suddenly, signs have meaning. A book tells a story far more elaborate than the pictures can convey. You can find out exactly what is in that bottle of tomato ketchup.

Magic.

I was amazed when Big Girl started to read. It seemed like one day she was struggling to remember all of the letter sounds, and the next she was speeding through whole DSC_7520sentences. And she is insatiable. As a voracious reader myself, this makes me glow with pride.

Sometimes though, it is not so good.

Picture this. We were walking home from a friend’s party. Little Girl was busy massacring a party bag, and Big Girl was doing her usual thing. Talking at 100 miles an hour about crap.

“Look Mummy, that sign says Subway!”

“Yes it does honey, well done!” Proud.

“That sign says motorway!”

“It does indeed, you are very good at reading.” Proud.

“Oh, what does that say? ‘Sarah is a buh… ih… tuh…'”

“La la la la, let’s walk faster now, oh look a cloud, what’s your favourite superhero?”

Gah.

Rhyming

With reading comes a growing awareness of how language works. And as with everything else in the world, children love to play with it.

They learn that most phrases are greatly enhanced by the use of a funny voice. They learn that toilet humour is, indeed, highly amusing. And, most of all, they learn that almost every word has a rhyming counterpart. And for the most part, it’s great.

But sometimes it doesn’t work, and the results are hilarious!

“I’m lookin’ at dis,” said Little Girl.

And what did Big Girl reply?

“I’m pucking at piss!”

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Ha!