The Bedtime Routine Of The Dazed Parent

Yet again, I am posting from a house that is positively swimming in germs and bacteria. In the last few weeks, we have been hit by more viruses that I believe to be truly acceptable.

Although apparently, my opinion is of no consequence in this situation.

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The other day, I finally succumbed to the stomach bug that had successfully overtaken two of my three children. As the waves of nausea swept over me, my first thought was, “Ooh, better get the dishes out of the way if I’m going to be ill!” And it got me thinking how much our reactions to everyday situation change after we have children. Before I procreated, my instant response to impending illness would have been “BED!” But now here I am, prioritising essential housework over much needed rest!

It’s a weird old world.

One of the situations where I’ve seen the most change is the bedtime routine. No, I’m not talking about getting the children into bed. I mean me.

When I only had myself to take care of, my bedtime routine probably looked something like this:

  1. Get into bed.
  2. Read for a while,
  3. Go to sleep.

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Oh, blissful simplicity!

Without a doubt, parenting brings a whole swathe of changes and challenges into your life. Now, my bedtime routine looks a little more like this:

  • Drag myself up from the couch after realising I have dozed off and missed the last twenty minutes of my TV programme.
  • Spend ten minutes searching for the front door keys in increasingly imaginative places before discovering that they are, as always, in my handbag.
  • Lock front door.
  • Get halfway up the stairs before heading back down to switch the heating off.
  • Second try!
  • Reach the top of the stairs before having a crisis of self-doubt about whether I remembered to lock the back door.

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  • Nip back down to check.
  • It’s locked.
  • Finally get as far as the bathroom.
  • Brush teeth and attempt an almost silent wee (Squeak’s bedroom is right next door to the bathroom.)
  • Ponder reason wee needs to sound like a professional grade power washer at the most inconvenient of times.
  • Hold breath and listen for signs of Squeak waking.
  • Remember to breathe.
  • Creep to Squeak’s doorway.
  • Check for breathing.
  • Can’t hear her. Listen harder.
  • Gingerly step over safety gate and edge closer.
  • Lean over Squeak, only to jump back as she takes a loud breath and begins to stir.
  • Make a hasty exit, acquiring painful gate-related vulval injury on way out.

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  • Swear under breath and do elaborate ‘ouchy’ dance on landing.
  • Tiptoe up to big girls’ bedroom.
  • Trip over three teddies and land on a Lego block. In bare feet.
  • Engage in silent scream.
  • Give Big Girl a kiss and tuck her in (kid snores like a steam engine, no need for double checking here!)
  • Listen for Little Girl’s breathing.
  • Wonder why she appears to hold her breath the very moment I go to check on her.
  • Bring my face closer to hers and strain ears.
  • Still nothing.
  • Lightly poke her cheek.
  • Get smacked in the face as she violently turns over.
  • She’s still breathing.

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  • Tiredly drag myself into bedroom and collapse into bed.
  • Speedily leap back out.
  • Remove six soft toys and a day-old kids’ sock from the bed. Oh, and something… pointy.
  • Lie down with a sigh and snuggle down.
  • Get out book for some late night reading and relaxation.
  • Check alarms for the next day and put phone on to charge.
  • Turn over and strangle myself with charger wire.
  • Begin making a list in my head of all the things I need to do tomorrow.
  • Recall all the things I forgot to do today.
  • Dammit!
  • Suppress urge to go and see if I remembered to lock front door.
  • Read.
  • What’s that noise?

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  • Read more.
  • Ok, what’s that noise?
  • Roam house hunting for burglars.
  • Admonish myself for being a damn idiot.
  • Sink back under covers.
  • Weep inside as Squeak chooses this moment to wake up.
  • Settle her back down again and sneak away.
  • Get back into bed.
  • Read.
  • Fall asleep still wearing glasses (always).
  • Wake with a start as child climbs into bed.
  • Listen to detailed account of distressing nightmare that brought her there.
  • Forcibly remove glasses from muchly dented face.
  • Rub aching nose.
  • Go back to sleep.
  • Groan as Squeak wakes again.
  • Tuck her into my bed.
  • Unleash breast from top.
  • Fall into haze of unconsciousness.

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  • The end <yawn>

I have to say, I’ve experienced slightly more relaxing bedtime rituals in my life. And I live in hope that one day, one day, I may again!

I’m not feeling massively optimistic, though.

How about you? How does your routine measure up?

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The Long Walk Home From Preschool

Let me start by telling you that we live about a ten minute walk from Little Girl’s school. Fifteen if you occasionally drift off into a daydream and walk most of it at a dawdle without even noticing.

Erm, that’s me. Not the kids.

But overall, it’s a pretty quick walk. So, I frequently ask myself, why does it take us about three times as long to walk home?

There’s a simple answer to that one.

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Little Girl.

She is the ultimate expert in time fuckery. If it is possible to do something in a short time, you can trust Little Girl to drag it out as much as she can. Over a whole afternoon, preferably.

As you can imagine, it gets a little tiresome.

Although, as I have learned from experience, not as tiresome as the effect of trying to speed her up. I’m talking an epic floor-lying, snot-streaming, leg-kicking meltdown.

I’ll stick with the dawdling, thanks.

Here are a few of the most common reasons why we take aaaages to get home from preschool.

1. “I Found A Leaf!”

You all know the girls love collecting crap off the floor to bring home. Little Girl is the champion of crap collection. Not a trip can go by without her grabbing a fistful of stones, leaves or twigs.

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I’ve managed to steer her away from the dog shit, thus far.

It’s not as simple as just finding a leaf or stone and picking it up, though. Duh, obviously! No, first it must be examined closely. God knows what for. Pestilence? Bugs? Maybe, horrors of horrors, spider webs?

Who knows. But it is essential that she looks at it for at least a minute, without touching it. While I stand next to her like a lemon, freezing, bored and probably desperate for the loo.

Only after the examination is over will Little Girl deign to pick it up. If it has the audacity to be wet (which, of course, she didn’t notice while freaking staring at it), then it must immediately be discarded. She will spend an age wiping her hands on her coat and grunting disgustedly.

Fun fun.

If it’s dry, then she will march off, proudly clutching it between her thumb and forefinger.

Yes, between her thumb and forefinger.

This is one thing that really hacks me off. She only does it with leaves. You know, the thing most likely to be blown out of her hand by the wind? No matter how many times I tell her to hold onto it tightly, she persists in using this lackadaisical method.

And guess what happens.

I’ll give you a clue. Whooooosh!

If you think that her reaction is to brush it off and go and look for another, then it’s clear you haven’t exactly been paying attention.

Shame on you.

Clearly, the only appropriate response is to sob, snivel and howl for the loss of your chlorophyll-loving friend.

All the way home.

2. The Lunch Debate

Little Girl does half days at preschool. This means that she is always home in time for lunch.

Little Girl asks for the same meal for lunch almost every day. But that doesn’t stop her from creating a massive drama about it far more regularly than is reasonable.

It’s normal three year old behaviour. She is exerting her authority, and learning about making choices and being independent. I know that.

Doesn’t stop it from being flipping annoying, though.

Here’s a usual exchange:

Me: “Shall we go home and have some nice lunch?”

LG: “No!”

Me: “Would you like a sandwich?”

LG: “No!”

Me: “What would you like instead, then?”

LG: “Nuffin!”

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I have quickly learned not to discuss lunch with her. I find it much easier to just make what I know she wants and stick it in front of her when we get home.

Just like her mother, she is noticeably more reasonable after food.

But it doesn’t stop her from sabotaging me. She’s crafty, this kid.

LG, in a cheery voice: “I’m hungry.”

Me, in an equally cheery voice: “Are you? Well that’s good, because we’re going to have lunch when we get home.”

LG: “Nooooooo! I’m not hungryyyyyyy! Aaaarrrrrghhh!!!!”

Ya see?

3. “I Hurt My Knee!”

I see you judging me now. How could a loving mother complain about being slowed down by her kid hurting herself?

Gasp!

Except that isn’t really how it goes down. So chill.

If Little Girl falls over (and she does. Spectacularly), of course I go to her and comfort her, and all that nurturing shit. Despite the fact that she insists on crying directly into my left ear every freaking time.

That’s love, folks.

See dis? It's my pain face.

See dis? It’s my pain face.

But that’s not what I’m talking about right now. I’m talking about knee injuries that happened in the past.

It could have been at school that morning. It could have been three weeks ago. It doesn’t matter. What matters is that she gets the same amount of sympathy as if she had just done it.

Legs must be examined, and kissed better. The story must be told at least eleven times. All while we are standing on the corner of our road, metres away from warmth. And food.

It may not sound that bad but trust me, it gets old fast.

4. “I Want To Go Dat Way.”

There are a couple of different routes that we can take to get home from school. They take about the same time, and frankly I couldn’t give a crap which one we choose.

Little Girl, however, disagrees.

In her opinion, this is a life-or-death situation. Route 1 has more slopes to roll down on her scooter. Route 2 has more snails.

Dat way! No, hang on a sec...

Dat way! No, hang on a sec…

It’s a toughy.

She starts to make up her mind before we are even in sight of the corner where we have to choose. “We go by da ‘tatoes,” she says (her word for the stones she walks on along that way, which do indeed look like potatoes). Then, she shakes her head. “No, we go down da hill.”

I really don’t mind letting her pick which way to go. As I said, it makes no odds to me and if I see an opportunity to avoid Tantrum #372 of the day then I grab it with both hands.

I just wish she’d make up her mind before we’d got halfway down the street.

But I am rarely blessed with luck, or good fortune, so what usually happens is this:

She chooses the way, and off we go. And just as we get too far to turn back, she stops and shrieks, “Noooo! I want to go dat way!”

If the ground is wet, then she’ll throw herself down there. If it’s not, then obviously it’s just worth the effort.

Fabulous.

5. “Look, A Plane!”

Since she was small, Little Girl has had a thing about aeroplanes. This doesn’t translate to any other part of her life. She doesn’t have any aeroplane toys. She isn’t particularly interested in reading about them, or watching stuff about them on tv. Only on occasion does she zoom along the street with her arms spread out saying, ” Neeeeeeeowwwwww!”

In fact, her obsession only covers one specific activity.

When an aeroplane flies over our heads, she must come to a complete stop, point upwards and exclaim “Look, a plane!”

And then stand stock-still and stare, until it has disappeared entirely from view. No deviations are allowed. Not even if the street is covered in venomous, malevolent beasts, or bathed in flames.

[insert ominous atmosphere here]

[insert ominous atmosphere here]

You know, I guess. That theory hasn’t exactly been tested yet.

Until this whole thing started I had no idea how many planes flew over us each day. It’s a popular flight path up there. Which is great.

Sometimes, I’m surprised we get anywhere on time.

6. “I Got Something In My Shoe!”

Or, to give it the correct pronunciation, ‘sumfin.’ Little Girl is a sensitive little soul. She hates the feel of water in her ears, can’t stand loud noises (unless she’s making them) and thinks mushrooms are actually repulsive.

Also, her shoes bug the crap out of her.

I would think it was because she had rubbish shoes, but a) her school shoes were fucking expensive, and b) she does it with every pair of shoes she wears. Wellies, slippers, whatever.

I have noticed that this happens a lot less when the floor is dry. Because that just wouldn’t be disruptive enough now, would it?

So she’ll be walking along, or skipping or pretending to ice skate (because why walk when you can attempt the physically impossible?). Then she’ll stop, grimace and hold the offending foot up in the air.

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“I got sumfin in my shoe,” she says. And then we have to go through the tired old routine of removing said shoe while she balances in the most ineffective way ever. Translation: her sock gets all covered in rain and shit.

And what do you think I find in her shoe?

Nothing. Nothing at all. Ever.

On the shoe goes again, and we continue on our walk. For, oh… about 17 steps. “I got sumfin in my shoe again.”

Here we go.

Believe me, I’ve tried to brush it off and distract her. But have you ever tried to get animal hair off a black cardigan? That’s how successful brushing something off is with Little Girl.

As always in life, sometimes I am thrown a curveball. And yesterday was one of these times. Yesterday, she did none of the above things. In fact, we got home in record time.

Contrary to popular belief, this was not a good thing.

You see, Little Girl got a leetle bit carried away on her scooter. I’m no good at gauging distances, but I’d estimate that she was about shiiiiiiit! metres away from me.

I’ve been letting her get a little bit ahead of me, before she has been quite good at stopping when I called. So I assumed she would do the same yesterday.

Because I’m fucking stupid.

She didn’t stop.

In fact, she sped straight round the corner and out of sight. Can you guess how elegant I looked, running full pelt behind her with a sleeping-but-not-for-long baby wrapped to my back?

Do I even need to answer that?

Thanks to a crisis of confidence once I was out of sight, she had stopped. And we had a little chat once we got home. She won’t be doing that again.

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Ha, who am I kidding? She’ll probably do it again tomorrow. I’ll just make sure I’m close enough to catch her next time.

At least the journey home will be quick.

Sibling Relationships: It’s Complicated.

You know, like the Facebook relationship status? Man, I’m so funny.

One of my main reasons for wanting multiple children was so that they always had someone to play with . A companion who always had their back, who knew them better than their friends. There was just one problem with this theory.

Frequently, siblings want to kill each other.

Observe the demonic face in he background.

Observe the demonic face in the background.

I should have known, really. I have a sister myself, who is three years younger than me. I have great memories of playing games and spending time together. But I can also remember the time she pushed me and I nearly rendered myself infertile on a fan. And all of the mean notes I used to send her when we’d had an argument.

Ah, good times.

Overall though, we loved each other and have a close relationship as adults. That is what gets me through when I’m refereeing arguments, detaching kids from other kids’ hair and assisting with game negotiation.

Things can only get better, right?

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A lot of imaginary games are played in our house. Even Squeak has had a costume-related revelation, and often brings me a dress or alien hamster outfit to put on her. Big Girl is the main protagonist, though. She doesn’t really need any participants when she is playing one of her imaginary games. She throws on a costume and proceeds to instruct everyone to do as she decrees. So she will say, “Mum, pretend you’re a witch and I’m a superhero, and you’re trying to beat me, but you can’t because I’ve got super flying powers, and you say, ‘I’m going to put a spell on you and turn you into a frog!'”

Make no mistake, though. This is not an invitation to actually play the game. Big Girl thinks of me more as a vehicle for her ideas. All she wants me to do at this point is repeat my line, verbatim, so she can get on with the real playing. Once I have spoken, she will go off and act out that part. Alone. Then she will come back, and tell me what to say next. Seems like a pretty boring way to do things to me, but hey, what do I know?

Sometimes, this works well when she applies it to games she plays with Little Girl. As she’s only three, she has times when she is fairly easy to mould. She will occasionally follow Big Girl’s instructions to the letter, and they will have a blast in an imaginary world. It’s a beautiful moment.

Note the word ‘moment,’ that I used there. Because more often, this happens:

Big Girl: “Hey LG, pretend you’re a fairy who lost her wings, and you are really really sad, and a monster took them, and I’m the boss fairy, and you come and ask me to help you get your wings back.” (Yes, she’s always that long-winded and no, she doesn’t take a breath.)

Little Girl: “Meow.”

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Big Girl: “No, you’re not a cat, you’re a fairy who’s lost her wings, and…”

Little Girl: “Meow.”

Big Girl: “Muuuuuuum!”

Bliss.

Siblings bicker. That is a fact. You can’t spend most of your life with a person and remember not to sweat the small stuff. I regularly hear such complaints as, “Muuum, Big Girl won’t lick my toe!” or “Little Girl’s wearing my shoes backwards!” It can get a bit repetitive.

The other day, though, Big Girl came to us with an issue that has never come up before. I didn’t think there were many new ones left.

I was wrong.

She came into the kitchen with an irritated look on her face. This is definitely not new at the moment. A long school term plus Christmas excitement has left Big Girl a little… edgy, shall we say.

“Little Girl is being really mean to me right now!” she said grumpily.

“Why, what’s the matter?” Mark asked.

“She told me the shadow of my foot didn’t look like a cashew!”

A bit of a heads up for you: When your kid is pissed off, laughing in her face does not help. Even if it’s really funny.

Another thing siblings love to do is to disagree. Especially if it’s for no reason. If one wants to play catch, then the other will want to play football. If one wants to watch Wreck It Ralph, then the other wants to watch Despicable Me. I think sometimes, kids just fancy an argument. You can tell that neither is particularly attached to their choice. In fact, they might even prefer the other’s idea. But the world will end before they admit it.

Despite all that, there is one thing they will always agree on.

They both want the red crayon. Right now.

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I must mention the ultimate sibling battle. The battle of all battles. The one they spend years preparing for, and spend most of their time fighting.

It is: The Battle For Attention.

They all want to win it. Some of their favourite tactics include:

1. Squeezing onto a parent’s lap if another sibling is having a cuddle.

2. Beginning to speak at the top of their voices as soon as one of their siblings starts to talk.

3. Needing to tell me something ‘urgently important’ as soon as the lights go out for bedtime.

I’m sure there’s more. Many more. Some I haven’t even discovered yet. I juggle my time as best as I can between the three of them, but no matter what attention they’ve had, they always want more.

Squeak is preparing to join the gang now. Not that she has a clue what they’re doing, but she’ll plop herself down in the thick of it anyway. Her main version of ‘joining in’ at the moment is to reach for whatever toy one of her sisters is holding and say, “Der ya go!” over and over again until they give in. Being stubborn as hell, they rarely do, which results in a loud Squeaktrum. Like, the kind of loud people call Environmental Health about.

Her other favourite activities include knocking down towers (the taller the better), and belly-flopping on anyone dumb enough to lie down on the floor.

It’s a laugh a minute!

I have to admit though, when I see them like this:

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It’s all worth it.

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.

The Dangers Of Silence

I love being alone. Before I had children, I was the kind of person who could happily spend a whole day on my own with a book. I know some people need to be around others, but I’m definitely not one of those. Don’t get me wrong, I like you all and stuff. But time to just be peaceful with my own thoughts is wonderful.

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Cover your ears, folks!

My house is never quiet. Someone’s always making some kind of noise. There’s the big kids, leaping off couches and enacting fanciful games of princesses and superhero kittens. At full volume. Then there’s Squeak, who is either burbling away to herself as she tries to trap her arm in a shape sorter, or wailing because she succeeded.

Even the night times aren’t safe. One of the fantastic traits Big Girl and Little Girl have inherited from their father is an impressive ability to talk in their sleep. Big Girl is frequently heard muttering unintelligibly about some sort of crap. Little Girl prefers to growl, which is intensely scary when you’re trying to have a wee next door.

Squeak doesn’t let herself be left out there, either. Her M.O. is to cry as if she’s starving. As the sound echoes tinnily through the monitor I dash up the stairs, only for her to go straight back to sleep just as I reach the door.

That is irksome.

Man, how I crave silence now. But it’s a special kind of silence I want. The sort that comes with having a completely empty house. No children, no TV, no radio, no washing machine. Just me, a book and ideally, cake. Bliss.

I expressly do not want silence when the children are here. This is not good.

Everyone knows that silence in a house containing a child is something to dread.

Of course, I have a story about this. If a parenting fail exists, I have a story about it. I’m not sure what this says about me!

It took place when Little Girl was 18 months old. In a lot of my stories about Little Girl, she is 18 months old. I think this may have been the height of her ‘daredevil’ phase. On that day, she was happily playing in the living room. Happily playing, at this age, meant picking up as many toys as she could fit in her hands, walking about a bit, dropping them and starting all over again. Riveting.

Yawn.

Yawn.

I took advantage of this brief moment of peace to do something exciting, like chop some vegetables or put the clean dishes away. Every day’s an adventure in my house. Little Girl was safe. She couldn’t open the living room door, so she was secure. Nothing could go wrong.

Can you see my mistake?

Never assume that just because a kid can’t do something, they won’t miraculously figure it out the second you turn your back. They’re not learning, you know.

They’re waiting.

So there I was, tidying around and enjoying the quiet. Hang on. Quiet? I strained to listen.

Uh oh.

Not a peep did I hear from Little Girl. Now, I could have assumed that she was simply absorbed in her game. But I didn’t. Because I’m not completely stupid.

I ran into the living room. Empty. The door? Wide open.

The hall was empty, too. That left only one option.

Upstairs.

As I ran up the stairs two at a time, I tried to prevent myself from freaking out about her climbing the stairs. Oh God, what if she had fallen? I beat myself up for being such a shit mother.

I should have known. That was nothing.

It didn’t take long to find her. She was in the bathroom. What was she doing? Well thankfully, she wasn’t drinking toxic chemicals. I may be a slightly shoddy parent, but those are all up high out of reach. She wasn’t in the bath. She wasn’t playing with the taps. She wasn’t even three-quarters of the way through unwinding a toilet roll.

She was in the toilet.

I wish I had a photo of this. But I think going back downstairs to grab my phone would have pushed me over the edge into neglect.

I wish I had a photo of this. But I think going back downstairs to grab my phone would have pushed me over the edge into neglect.

Yes, you read that correctly. In the toilet. Feet first. Her big eyes gazed innocently back at me as I surveyed the scene. She smiled. I guess she was pretty proud of herself. It’s no mean feat for a vertically challenged one year old to scale the vast heights of the toilet bowl.

In a rare moment for me, I was speechless. I mean, where do you go from there? I hauled her out of the loo, her feet dripping. A wash and a clothes change followed. I told her, fruitlessly of course, not to ever do it again.

There was one positive thing in this maelstrom of shit.

The toilet had been flushed. Phew!

Admittedly, she didn’t ever do it again. Yet. But that’s only because she’s planning more dastardly acts to make me doubt myself.

Have I mentioned that kids are evil?

Yes, we are.

Yes, we are.

Another incident was what I now refer to (in my head) as Sharpiegate. Surprise surprise, it was Little Girl again. She was a bit bigger, maybe 2 or so.

For clarity, it was not me who left the Sharpie in reach. I’m definitely not taking the blame for that shit.

I think I was pregnant with Squeak at the time. And in that case, my nesting instinct was probably all outta control. Little Girl had stopped napping by then, so I would encourage her to have a bit of quiet time in the afternoon when she got too grouchy. Thanks to the nesting thing, I was cleaning again, I imagine.

From the kitchen, I could hear Little Girl singing and chattering to herself. All good.

Until it stopped.

I waddled as fast as I could, but it was too late. Now, Little Girl was naked at the time. No surprises there. This is the dress code for our house. (For the kids, I hasten to add!)

Normally, this wouldn’t be a problem. But in Sharpiegate, it was. Oh, it was. Because nakedness = more bare skin.

She was a mess. She had scribbled the full length of both arms and legs. Thank God, she avoided the face.

And Sharpie does not wash off. Ever. Despite frequent baths and scrubbing with a baby wipe, she spent at least three weeks in various shades of grey.

Not. Pretty.

Thankfully, I have developed a pretty accurate radar for this sort of stuff. I can sense any debacle of this kind within a three mile radius. But infallible I am not. Sometimes, I miss things.

Which is why Squeak is currently creating modern art on her face with a blue pencil.

Who, me?

Who, me?

Must go!

6 Reasons Why Little Girl Is Kickass

I’m not gonna lie. My kids are awesome. Super awesome. I may have mentioned that before?

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Today, I’m focussing on Little Girl. She is, in my opinion, the most kickass out of the three. Here are a few of the reasons why.

1. She laughs in the face of social convention

Little Girl isn’t one to try to please other people. It’s as simple as that.

I’m willing to cut her a bit of slack. I mean, she is only 3. I’d be impressed if I met a preschooler who was au fait with the many subtleties of communicating with others.

But Little Girl doesn’t just not try.

She takes the entire concept, and craps all over it.

Big Girl has always been very sociable. As a toddler she would smile and chat to adults in shops and children at the park. She was just really friendly.

Little Girl is too. But on her terms only. And with a level of inconsistency that leaves people guessing.

Take the lollipop man at school, for instance. The girls absolutely adore him. They call him ‘Mr. Morning,’ and can’t cross the road without giving him a hug and a high five.

It wasn’t always this way, though.

Little Girl has been through some troubling times in her relationship with Mr. Morning. When she first met him, she was in her ‘trust no one’ phase. Again, fairly reasonable, given she was only 18 months old. Big Girl would run across the road, greeting him with the enthusiasm only a small child can summon up at 8.40 am. Little Girl, however, used the most effective tool in her, admittedly limited arsenal.

She glared.

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Like, Paddington Bear style.

If you’ve never seen Little Girl glare, then you could be mistaken for thinking this was pretty small beans. A toddler, glaring? Ha. The only thing that could possibly be is cute as hell.

You are wrong.

When Little Girl glares, she isn’t just frowning. No, she’s channeling the fires of Hell into her eyes and forcing them out. Right in your face.

After a few months, she decided he was in favour again. And it lasted for a short while until a terrible thing happened. She tripped over, next to him. Four months of glaring followed.

She likes him again now, but for how long? No one knows.

It’s not just him, either. We often walk to school with my friend and her children, who Little Girl has known since she was born. Every day they exchange cuddles and kisses and then skip along the street together.

Until one day, when my friend’s little boy held out his arms as usual. Little Girl recoiled, frowned, and said, “I don’t like you.”

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In the most cutting voice she could manage. Poor kid was crushed.

The next time, she was full of smiles and cuddles again. Apparently, she likes to keep people on their toes.

2. She will sacrifice herself for the sake of winning

This is one that you can’t really skip in the quest for kickassery. I mean, you can’t go around just bending to a lowly parent’s will whenever they dangle a good enough carrot, can you?

Little Girl says no.

I was always glad when Big Girl timed a tantrum to coincide with a fun thing we were about to do. All I would have to say is, “Come on, it’s time to get ready for the park!” Up she would jump, the subject of her ire forgotten.

This categorically does not work with Little Girl. She doesn’t do weakness.

So she will be lying on the floor, howling because her toast is cut the wrong way, or because I won’t let her wear her shoes on the wrong feet.

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But it’s cool, because we’re about to have a snack. I say, “LG, would you like something nice to eat?” I know she does. She was asking for it before the perceived maternal slight.

She says, “No.”

I say, “Shall we watch a movie?” We were about to anyway, and it is her favourite. The one she has been begging for all day. The one she was bouncing on the couch for just a few minutes ago.

She says, “No.”

One thing I often do when she is freaking out on the floor is to offer her a cuddle. By that point, her emotions are all out of control and she can’t bring herself back down on her own. I’m not ‘giving in,’ as some would think, but instead giving her a safe space where she can calm down. She needs it. I know that, she knows that. And when she does it, it works very quickly.

But usually this is how it goes:

“Hey Little Girl, come and have a cuddle.”

“No.”

I can see she wants it, but there’s no way she’ll give up that easily. She’d rather scream her head off for at least another 23 minutes.

And there’s no persuading her to change her mind. Not even for sweets. She will deliberately punish herself just so she doesn’t lose the battle.

That, my friends, is determination.

3. She is fearless

In Little Girl’s life, there is no room for being scared. Unless it’s the fictitious beast that lives in the hall. Or if someone is wearing a mask. Then, she’ll totally lose her shit.

But in terms of doing stuff, there are no limitations.

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Here’s an example. When she was 18 months old, she was in the kitchen with me while I made lunch. She was too small to sit on the bench, so was playing with a few toys on the floor.

Then, I heard a creaking sound. I turned to find her standing on the kitchen table.

Too small for the bench, my arse.

She didn’t stop there, though. As I gasped, she ran along the table, and straight off the end. This wasn’t by accident. She didn’t just forget to stop. She did it on purpose, with joy in her eyes.

Somehow, I caught her. I’m not sure how. And as I looked down at her, my face contorted into a grotesque panicked expression, what did she do?

She laughed.

At the park, she will clamber, monkey-like, up the things Big Girl is too cautious to try. She is frequently found upside down. And if a surface is smaller in width than her feet, then it’s irresistible.

Like my sewing machine cover. Ugh, I still shudder at that one. Somehow, she balanced on it like a champ , and no major injuries resulted.

Needless to say, parkour videos are strictly off limits. If there’s one thing she doesn’t need, it’s more ideas.

4. She has a rock-hard grip

Anyone who’s ever been to a toddler group knows that they are essentially a fight to the death, under the guise of ‘playing.’

And Little Girl comes prepared. With her hands.

One thing that toddlers do a lot is snatch. They see a kid playing with the most awesome toy ever invented, and they have to have it.

Like, right. now.

So they stomp over, grab the toy and pull.

Some kids just concede at once, and slink off, tails between their legs. Big Girl was a bit like this. After a brief squawk of dismay, she would just go and find something else to play with. But not Little Girl.DSC_0231_01

Little Girl doesn’t give up. Ever.

As the other child closes in, she activates her frown powers. And as they grab hold, her knuckles whiten and she plants her feet for stability. She ain’t letting go.

Off they go across the room, pulling and tugging and maybe engaging in a bit of screaming, if the situation warrants it. They flatten everything in their path, including the odd kid. Oops.

Little Girl’s iron grip prevails. Her face is flushed, and if you look closely, you can see that her teeth are actually gritted.

I’m trying to remember, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen her lose. Not bad for a kid that can still fit in her sister’s baby clothes.

5. She has the power of cuteness

It would be pretty tricky to get one past me if she was always kicking ass and taking names. I would come to expect it, and maybe even prepare.

To Little Girl, that is intolerable.

Imagine if I was always catching her when she jumped off a high surface? Or if I pre-empted every tantrum, and resolved before it went into the danger zone? Or, God forbid, cuddled her when she was sad?

Shudder.

Her solution is to be suddenly and randomly cute. Her favourite method is to stop mid-sentence and smile a giant, toothy grin at me. Then she says, “I like you!”

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You have to admit, that’s pretty disarming.

Of course, she usually follows it up with something unexpected. Such as licking my face.

I can see she is thinking, Ha! Weren’t ready for that, were you?

Well, no.

6. Because she is

Allow me to illustrate this one with a story.

A few weeks ago, Big Girl and Little Girl went to a birthday party with Mark. I was for an 8 year old boy, so almost every kid there was at least twice the size of Little Girl. The host was a bit worried that she would get squashed or knocked over. She asked all of the children to be very careful of her.

But that was not really necessary.

Little Girl stopped at the doorway and surveyed the room. She was all big eyes and serious face. Cautiously she entered, and walked across to the pile of toys. There, she picked up the most enormous, bright blue Nerf gun ever made. I think. Like, machine gun sized.

She lifted it up and smiled.

And shot every single person in the room.

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That done, she let it fall to the floor, and left.

I think it’s clear that it’s not her that needed protecting.

Truly kickass.

365 Days Of Squeak

Although I say it reluctantly, today Squeak is 1. It is unbelievable to think that, a year ago today, I was in labour with a stranger, of whom I knew nothing. And now a whole, complex person stands before me. Wow.

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As an aside, she is totally not standing before me. She is using her newly acquired door-opening skills to get as far away from me as possible. Or at the least, up a couple of steps on the stairs before I catch her.

OK, I got her. Now where was I?

I planned the morning carefully. Every minute of our pre-school time is already filled with sock-finding, child-wrangling and book bag-locating, interspersed with a smattering of weeping (mine). Where were we going to fit in presents and an awesome breakfast?

It’s cool, I thought. I’ll just get up early.

WTF was I thinking? I deeply regretted this at 6.30 this morning after a typical Squeak-night. Yawn.

Breakfast was where I started being awesome. (N.B. If you make something with flour, you’re being awesome.) I took some inspiration from Crappy Mama, from Illustrated With Crappy Pictures. I read her post about buttcakes a few weeks ago, and I knew they’d be a hit with the girls. Toilet humour is a big part of our household.

A big part. Big Girl is a veteran of this craft, but Little Girl is a relative newbie. She has just discovered the joy of replacing all of the nouns in a song with the word ‘poo.’

Hilarious.

So anyway, I made buttcakes. Nothing special, just a standard American pancake recipe. Oh, but I did add chocolate chips to really emphasise the whole butt thing. I DSC_7626raced through, and managed to finish them just as the alarm went off for the girls to get up. I finished of course, with the obligatory ‘Oh shit I flipped too quick and now it’s folded in half! Hmm, maybe I can fix it. Nope, it’s stuck’ pancake. Or is that just me?

I know this isn’t just me. I was possibly slightly hasty in getting my ingredients together. I did not realise that descending my stairs leads you into some kind of time warp, but it does. Well it must do, anyway, because it took me 10 minutes to get downstairs! So I was running a bit behind. I grabbed the flour, baking powder, etc, etc. And I may have dislodged something, somewhat. That something was the icing sugar.

Have you ever dropped a packet of icing sugar? It causes an explosion on the scale of a nuclear bomb. I could taste it, I was breathing it. It went all over the floor, up the table leg, all over my clothes, on Big Girl’s bookbag…

And a particularly large cloud settled right on top of Mark’s jacket.

Crap.

Despite the catalogue of fails, it was a success. According to the girls, they were delicious! They all agreed. Well, except for Squeak.

She threw hers on the floor.

Breakfast and presents were followed by a truly riveting morning of school runs, shopping and naps. Happy Birthday, Squeak!

She seems pretty happy this afternoon, though. Currently, she is running around with a new crayon, drawing on everything that isn’t paper. For variety, she’s also carrying her new wooden drumstick, and is using it to check if we are alive.

Repeatedly.

I guess the yelps of pain don’t give it away. I’m rubbing my knee right now.

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Homemade pizza for tea tonight. I’m sure it’s going to be a relaxing experience, seeing as I haven’t made the dough or sauce yet. Or chopped the toppings. Dammit. (You’ll be reading this in the evening, but I wrote it this afternoon. Therefore, I don’t know how wrong this will go yet. I’m scared.)

UPDATE: Totally nailed the pizza.

My mother in law has made a lovely cake for us to celebrate with. Squeak’s response when I showed it to her was to shriek, “Oh, wow!” We’re all looking forward to having a try.

UPDATE: Cake was epic.

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I’m feeling a little reflective today. Do you ever feel like there isn’t enough time to just sit and enjoy your kids? One year flies by and the person that they were is gone. It’s sad.

One good thing, I suppose, is that there is an even cooler person waiting in the wings for you to get to know.

All you have to do is close your eyes to the dirty dishes, the piles of washing and the crumby floor.

Just don’t literally close your eyes.

That could get messy.

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Total side step alert! As well as Squeak’s birthday, today is also my one month blogiversary. Wahoo!

If you don’t mind, I’d like to ask for a wee bit of feedback. So what do you like? What do you hate? Is there anything in particular you’d like to see me blogging about? Let me know in the comments!