Things I Have Learned This Week

So I think it’s safe to say that the last almost-fortnight has been a bit of a learning curve for me. I have tapped into wells of strength within me I didn’t know existed, and begun to adapt and adjust our routine to work with only one adult in the house.

With that has come an unexpected education. I’d like to say I was learning about myself and growing as a person, but honestly, when the fuck did you think I’d manage to fit that in? No, I’m talking about the small things, the little discoveries I have made along the way. Some of them have been taught to me by the hellcats I call ‘my children,’ but some of them are all mine.

Here’s a few for you to sink your teeth into. (And by a few, I mean I was too lazy to count how many there are. Deal with it.)

Three In A Bath = A Soaking

This was my first welcome into our new routine. And holy hell, did it throw me in at the deep end (such a shit pun, sorry, but I can’t think of anything else to replace it with!) Big Girl and Little Girl used to be showered by their dad while I swished Squeak round in the kitchen sink. As much as showers are quick and convenient, this was never going to work now. I needed to switch it up, so all of them were trapped in the same place.

Did not anticipate how much more work three kids were in a bath.

I’ve bathed two before, many times. Yeah, it was splashy and stuff, but it had nothing on throwing an extra one into the mix. I have been fucking drenched every. single. night.

I don’t even know how it happens. They spend the whole time sitting down, playing with a few toys. There are no cannonballs into the tub, and certainly none of the sliding down the slanted side me and my sister used to do as kids. (Thank God!) But by the end of it, my glasses are misted with a thousand droplets of water and I need a full change of clothes.

And somehow, perplexingly, the girls’ hair is still dry at the end of it.

How? Just how?

You Can Turn A Grape Into A Raisin In Your Own Home

This one comes from the quirky brain of Big Girl. Although I suspect you guys may have already guessed that.

Just before Christmas, Big Girl took rather a shine to a grape at breakfast. She called it Pea, and stored it in an empty Christmas card box. You’ll note that I say this as if it was entirely normal. Well, I guess ‘normal’ is slightly skewed in our house, because it didn’t raise half an ounce of surprise in me.

Being the responsible mother that I am, I probably should have checked for mould, or some shit like that. But um, I forgot. So… yeah.

She checked it regularly for signs of dehydration, in the manner of a teeny tiny scientist. Surprisingly, it did not decompose, or sprout orange fuzz. In fact, it looks like an enormous raisin.

Big Girl is rather proud of her Pea’s achievement. It is no longer relegated to a dark cardboard box,  but has pride of place in a little tub on the kitchen counter. It has been joined by two green companions, but I’m not sure if they have names. Yet.

So it turns out that it takes almost two months for a grape to turn into a raisin without applying heat or whatever magic they do to make them shrivel up into rabbit droppings. Interesting.

Just one problem. Now, she wants to eat it.

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After Ten Comes…

Little Girl has been learning about letters and numbers at preschool. She’s doing great with the letters. She can recognise them all, make the sounds, sing the fucking annoying but irresistably cute Jolly Phonics rhymes for each one, and has even started trying to read a few simple words. For a child who still isn’t sure of the answer to, “Do you need the toilet?” I’m quite impressed.

But when it comes to the numbers, I’m not entirely convinced that she is paying attention. She knows them up to ten, and can show me the right amount of fingers for each one. But after ten, it all starts to get a bit… squiggly.

Instead of trying to explain it to you, I’ll just give you a direct quote. “Eight, nine, ten, one-teen, two-teen, swee-teen…” Hmm, not quite.

And you’d think she was sorted after that, because the next numbers at least follow the rule she’s established in her head. But no. Fourteen doesn’t exist anymore. Fifteen occasionally makes an appearance, and after that she just babbles nonsense until she gets the giggles.

We’ll work on the counting thing.

There Is No Time To Relax

Here’s one from me. It is something which is really confusing me, to be honest.

I have no time to sit down in the evening. At all. Except for the time I’m taking out to write this for you lucky people, and I think I may regret it when I have to stay up late to get everything ready for school tomorrow.

I don’t get it. I used to watch films, and play games, and sit staring at a computer screen for hours with my feet up and a nutritionally invalid snack beside me. Yet somehow the house was still passably tidy, and everything got done.

Now, I’m running around as soon as the kids have settled down, until it’s time to collapse into bed next to a baby who I swear can smell me. It’s quite shit, actually.

I am hoping that once my routine is all figured out I’ll get a bit more time to vegetate a little. I am not naturally inclined to constant physical activity. In fact, I am positively activity-averse. So this set-up is not exactly working out for me right now.

It’s doing wonders for my muscles though. I’m going to be so freaking ripped in next to no time.

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Benefits Forms Are Epic

You know when you plan to have kids, and you work out how your house is going to work, and who is going to do what? Well, we agreed that I would be a stay at home mum, while the kids were small.

Well, when this kind of shit happens, that means that you’re entirely fucked over. Three children (and the accompanying phenomenal childcare bill that would go with them) and six years out of the workplace are not exactly an attractive employment prospect. I had planned to start looking for a job pretty soon but that, along with all of my other plans, is now on hold.

And so I have had to take the only option available to me, and claim benefits. And frankly, it really pisses me off. This is not how I expected my life to turn out. But when it’s a choice between eating and not, you just have to suck it up.

So I did all the right things, made all the phone calls and so on. And what landed on my doorstep but a couple of copies of War And Peace, or so it seemed. I’m serious. I could wallpaper the bathroom with the forms I was sent over the past few days. I mean, it’d look shit, but there’d be good coverage.

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And some of the questions are so confusing! I pride myself on being quite a smart person, but I was just baffled. Luckily, I have a couple of friends ‘in the know,’ who guided me through the process.

Now I’m just playing the waiting game as I hoard the money I have.

Lentils for tea, kids?

Squeak Can Understand “Sit Down”

I am blown away at the moment by the sheer amount of language Squeak can understand. My last experience of this stage of development was with Little Girl, who gave it a big “Fuck you,” and did her own thing. But Squeak gets so much. She knows when it’s dinnertime, and when I want a kiss, and I know she understands when I say I’m going to get her coat because she legs it away as fast as she can and hides behind the arm of the couch. (Hint, kid: you’re taller than the couch. I can see you.)

One of the things Squeak is really into at the moment is her ‘dooz.’ In people-who-don’t-shit-their-pants language, that means shoes, by the way. She loves her shoes. She fetches them herself every day and waves them in front of my face until I put them on her. And because of that, she now understands when I ask her to sit down. Incentivised learning, anyone?

It would probably be more successful if she was actually any good at sitting down. But she isn’t. She just bends her knees and prays that she will land on her bottom, rather than face-planting on the carpet.

Ouch.

Face-planting aside, it’s really fucking cute. But that is not what I’m talking about here.

The other day, I discovered that Squeak is capable to transferring her sitting down skill to other situations. More specifically, the situation where I inwardly shriek, “Oh my shit! The safety gate fell off the kitchen doorway again and she’s about to fall head first down the step! Fuuuuuuuuck! Sit down! Sit down! Sit down!”

Ok, the last bit was not shrieked inwardly.

But I can now say that Squeak can get down the kitchen step safely, thanks to her goddamn ‘dooz.’

Yay for Squeak.

Having No One To Say Good Night To Sucks

Go on, get your tissues out for this sad fucker!

Seriously though, don’t get to feeling sorry for me now. It’s not good for my image. And this is more of a little niggle than anything else.

Every evening, I put the kids to bed. I come downstairs and put some music on to keep me company while I do the thousand tasks that need doing. When they are done, I switch off the music.

And it is quiet.

All of the children are sleeping. The house is silent. I don’t even have a small bird cheeping in my ear any more.

I turn out the lights and head upstairs. Still silent. I tuck the girls in and kiss their foreheads, and slide into bed next to Squeak. She looks like she’s sleeping, but I know she’s faking it.

It’s not that different to how it used to be. But it is, just a little bit. And that little bit is just enough to make me feel a little maudlin, and lonely.

It is nice to have someone to say good night to.

People Are Wonderful

This is probably my most favourite discoveries I have made in the last two weeks. I knew that I had some fantastic friends and family, but I guess you never really know how good they are until your back is against the wall and you feel as if your world has fallen apart.

The support I have had from everyone I know, including you lovely people, has kept me going recently. I feel safe. I know that if I fall apart, I have people ready and willing to pick me up, dust me off and help me to start again. It is a very empowering feeling. I am stronger as a result of it. I can keep on keeping on because, all of the time, I remember the supportive messages, the hugs and the tears.

Thank you.

Laughter Really Is Medicinal

When I found out that my relationship was over, I thought I would never laugh again. My heart felt dead. I was sure that never again could I feel any joy, never.

How fucking wrong was I?

I have laughed every day. It helps that the children are amazingly funny. I can’t help but take pleasure in the little things they do. The jokes, the funny faces, the dances and the general silliness.

For example, tonight Squeak experienced a touch of frustration, which led to her letting out an almighty yell and launching a maraca across the room. Big Girl took one look at her, raised an eyebrow and without missing a beat, said, “Think you’re angry? You’re hilarious!”

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Ahem. Someone’s been listening to her mother.

I can’t help but giggle at them. And I feel a little lighter every time I laugh. My body relaxes, my brow unfurrows and I genuinely feel happiness.

Also, it appears that I often use humour to get me through the tough times. I guess I just never noticed.

Tell me you spot the sarcasm there. Please.

So I can’t help but crack jokes and laugh with friends. It’s good because it’s normal. I don’t have to act differently, or be treated differently. I am still me, and I like funny shit.

There’s one other thing that is truly medicinal. Hugs. The feel of the girls’ arms tightly clasped around my neck, their cheeks against mine, the warmth of their breath tickling my ear… it’s just the most beautiful sensation in the world. And then there are the hugs from friends. I can feel their emotion and their love for me in them, and that makes me feel pretty damn good.

Thanks again.

Fingers Have Names

I’m going to close with another little lesson from Little Girl. I have noticed that at their preschool they have taught them the names of each finger. No, I don’t mean they call them Dave or something. I’m talking ring finger and all that here.

Well today, Little Girl decided to educate me a bit on the different fingers on her hand. Which led to her striding around the living room, middle finger up on each hand like some kind of miniature Eminem, chanting, “Dese are da middle ones!”

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I’m not going to forget that one in a hurry.

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.

Why I Love The School Holidays

Here I am, with only one day left before Big Girl and Little Girl go back to school after the Christmas holidays. And I am one morose motherfucker. (sneaky Jay and Silent Bob reference there)

I swear I spend most of the time they are in school counting down the days to the holidays. This may make me sound a touch more pathetic than I really am.

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Actually, no.

I am that pathetic.

I just find school makes the days relentlessly bloody boring. Every day is the same, and it’s all a big rush to make sure everything gets done before bedtime.

I am not a fan of rushing. So the last two weeks have been heaven. No obligations (except for the obvious family commitments), no clock-watching, no nuffin.

Here are my favourite (and most trivial) reasons why I love the school holidays:

1. No Early Mornings

My way of ceremonially marking the start of the holidays is to turn off the alarm. And it gives me great pleasure.

I’m sure some people bounce out of bed, bright-eyed and ready to start the day. If this is you, then well done!

But it is not me. I am a dedicated night owl. I have tried my hardest, but I just can’t get to sleep early. So when the alarm goes off I drag myself out of bed with bleary eyes and the kind of headache that tells the story of a thousand sleepless nights. It’s safe to say that I start the day… reluctantly.

The kids aren’t much better. Big Girl in particular is frequently found still rabbiting on to herself when she should have gone to sleep hours before. And the knock on effect is that she categorically does not want to get up in the morning. And she is grumpy and quick to anger into the bargain. Little Girl wasn’t so bad until recently, but she is now following enthusiastically in her sister’s footsteps.

This is a lot smilier than the reality.

This is a lot smilier than the reality.

It sucks.

In the last fortnight, though, we have got into a much better routine. The kids have been getting up at around 9, which has been pretty sweet. A leisurely breakfast has followed, which is infinitely preferable to them shovelling food down their throats without even tasting it on a school day.

Big Girl has been spending the evenings reading in her room, something which is reserved for the weekends in school time. As a literary freak, I am a big fan of this, and I hate that she doesn’t normally have time to do it. And if we’ve wanted to watch a movie together, or if they’ve fancied a bit of playtime after dinner, it’s no problem.

The best bit is that I haven’t had to lie in bed, worrying because I can’t fall asleep and angsting that I’m going to sleep through the alarm. Happy days!

If you have the kind of children who wake up at the crack of dawn no matter what…

Sorry.

2. Pyjama Days

In my opinion, getting dressed is highly overrated. Lounging around in comfy pyjamas is infinitely preferable. No stiff trouser waistbands and no fiddly buttons, perfect!

I may have got a touch carried away with this one, over the Christmas holidays. I noticed, when sorting out the washing, that most of it was pyjamas. Whoops!

It’s been sweet, though.

3. No Uniform-Ironing or Packed Lunch-Making

Now, I may be cheating slightly with this one. Because I don’t actually do either of these jobs. Soon after Squeak was born, I abdicated responsibility for both. I had a sleeping, feeding baby on my knee all evening, so it was entirely reasonable.

But Squeak is now a year old, and she goes to bed at 9pm, at the latest. I could do them now, if I wanted to. I just haven’t quite got around to it. Because they are shitty, boring jobs.

I used to do them though, so it still counts, right?

Yeah, no.

Yeah, no.

It’s a bit daft really, to hate doing this so much. After all, it takes twenty minutes, tops. But I don’t care, it sucks. The lunch isn’t so bad. Apart from the trial of arranging the items so they don’t shake into mush as Big Girl gallops into school, it’s straightfoward.

The problem is, I suck at ironing. My only achievement is to manage to put more creases into a garment than it had before. And the more I try, the worse it gets. I thought that I would get better with practice, but that theory has long been disproved. It is very frustrating that, despite my efforts, the kids still go into school looking like scruffy urchins.

I guess it’s a good thing that Mark does it, really.

That’s not even the main reason why I hate doing it so much.

You see, my optimal activity level in the evening is approximate zero. Nothing. Nada. I have been running round, needs-meeting, damage-controlling and food-preparing. When the evening comes, the only thing I want to do is vegetate. And I resent anything that tries to interrupt that.

4. Time To Play

One of the things that pisses me off the most in school time is the lack of time we have to do anything. The three hours after school are a chaotic rush of homework, dinner, showers and stories. The kids might be able to grab fifteen minutes with their toys before they eat at best.

I hate this. I think kids desperately need time to destress after school. Little Girl spends most of her morning playing and learning without really realising it. But Big Girl does a lot of desk-sitting and writing, and she needs to jump and run around, and have a giggle.DSC_9433

So that’s what we’ve mostly been doing. Sure, we did a few activities, too. We baked some Christmas biscuits and made paper snowflakes (I’d forgotten how fun that was). We also played a few board games.

Just as an aside, I completely underestimated how much more painful Twister would be as an adult. It was like extreme yoga.

Anyway, apart from this, the kids have spent a lot of time just being together. Dressing up and creating imaginary worlds, speeding round the living room on their new scooters and drawing pictures have been at the top of the menu.

It’s been nice to see them with big smiles on their faces, just enjoying each others’ company.

For the purposes of this entry, I’m not going to mention the tugs of war when both want the same toy. Or the moaning and bickering. And definitely not the infrequent physical violence.

It was freaking blissful, okay?

5. No Dragging Squeak On The School Run

I have to admit, I often feel a bit sorry for Squeak. As much as I try and give her attention and quality time, she often has to fit in with what everyone else is doing.

If she could talk, she’d probably tell you it’s crappy being the smallest.

And she’s probably be right.

As you all know because I bang on about it all the bloody time, I have to do three school runs a day. That means Squeak is woken from naps, rushed through lunch and carted up to school and back against her will all day.

I bet you can imagine how impressed she is with that.

This much.

This much.

It’s been nice to work to her schedule a bit during these holidays.

She’s gone to bed when she’s tired and woken when she was done. The fact that this is not usually when she’s had enough sleep is, of course, totally irrelevant.

She’s had plenty of time to eat. Ignore the fact that she spends most of that time throwing the food on the floor, please.

She’s had plenty of time for playing and cuddling. As long as you forget about the eye-poking and the face-slapping and the excessive drooling, this is also a beautiful thing.

All in all, it’s been good for her, even if not for me.

6. No Rain

Local friends, you have to admit the weather has been epically crap this Christmas. It’s been windy, rainy and damn near freezing.

Now in school time, I just have to ignore it. And I seriously hate getting wet.

But in the holidays, it’s cool. If we looked out of the window and it looked miserable outside, we just decided to stay at home. We went out and got some fresh air too, but I don’t think a bit of downtime at home does kids any harm at all.

And I get to stay dry. Which is a win.

7. The Kids Are Happy

All of these things have led to children who are well-rested and relaxed. Our house was about as tantrum-filled as it can get because the girls were exhausted and filled with excitement for Christmas. But a few weeks of fun and laughter (and junk food) have done them the world of good. And I’ve had at least 60% more cuddles, too.

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Bring on Monday. Hurrah.

How long is it til half term again?

“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 Nativity Play

Ah, one of the staple traditions of the school years. The Nativity play.

I remember mine well. I was always a narrator, because I could read well. Never Mary or an angel, because of course everyone knows that they had blonde hair.

Say what?

Say what?

Really.

But I’m not bitter. Oh no.

Big Girl and Little Girl are currently preparing for their plays. Big Girl is following in my footsteps as one of the narrators. She brought her lines home from school last week, and has been diligently practising them.

She’s creepily good at memorising stuff, so it didn’t take long before the piece of paper was cast aside. But she still needed a little help.

Let me clarify. At first, she sounded like this:

Cute it may have been, but I’m not sure there’s space for a zombie in the Nativity play.

We’re working on it.

Little Girl can’t wait for her play. She knows all of the words to the songs.

Well, sort of.

In a crowd of people, the fact that Santa apparently has ‘shut in da back,’ rather than ‘soot in his sack,’ will be barely noticeable.

As they’re only small folk in her class, they’ve kept it pretty simple. The kids don’t really have any lines. In fact, their main purpose is to put on a costume and look sweet.

Which is a good thing.

Because I can guarantee that once they’re stood in front of an audience, that’s all they’re going to do.

Deer in headlights, anyone?

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I’m hoping Little Girl isn’t one of the kids who spends the whole play sobbing. It’d really ruin the photographs.

I’m not sure exactly who Little Girl is in her play as she keeps changing her mind. Oh well, at least it’ll be a surprise on the day! Choices so far are:

1. Mary.

2. Jofuss.

3. The star.

4. A yellow jelly bean. No, I don’t know why either.

Big Girl’s play is, I believe, a slightly more modern take on the Christmas story. It is entitled ‘A Midwife In Crisis.’ She has been trying to explain the story to me, but I’ll admit to still being a little confused. Much to her exasperation, because to her it makes perfect sense.

For example:

“So, there’s Mary, and Joseph… and Nigel.”

Whaaaaa?

Nigel. You know, Nigel? He’s Steve the donkey’s brother.

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Silly me.

Obviously I am really looking forward to seeing them both. I will be there next week, armed with tissues and snacks to plug Squeak’s mouth shut. And I will cry. Almost certainly.

I am just hoping it is out of happiness, rather than embarrassment.

A woman can hope, right?

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With Five Minutes To Go…

Today’s post is inspired by this clip from ‘Finding Nemo.’

For the benefit of the people who are reading this on smartphones in dark rooms as they pray for their small children to fall asleep, here’s a synopsis. This is the scene where Nemo’s dad is trying to ditch Dory. She’s the ditsy, forgetful blue fish (and my favourite, I have to say). In it, he describes her as a ‘delay fish.’ In other words, she is slowing him down.

My kids are delay fish.

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It doesn’t matter where we’re going. It could be an exciting trip out, or yet another run up to school. I am the kind of person who hates to be late, so I plan and rush to make sure that we are all dressed and packed with five minutes to go.

All that needs to happen in those five minutes is for everyone to put their shoes and coats on, and grab whatever bags they need the day. In theory this means that we stroll out of the door bang on time, with no stress or flapping.

This does not usually occur in reality. Because apparently, five minutes is enough time to cause a lot of shit.

Now, I’m not talking about the ubiquitous phrase, “I need a wee wee!” This has happened so frequently that it has become boringly predictable. In fact, I’ve started factoring it into our routine. They can’t get one over on me that easily.

Finding themselves beaten, the children have spent time thinking of ever more creative ways to delay our exit from the house. And I’m not going to lie. They’re pretty good at it.

Yesterday morning was a prime example.

We were about to leave. I handed the girls their coats and ran to check through the bags ensuring that they had homework, P.E. bags, etc. Suddenly I heard a scream from the living room.

Sigh.

Big Girl had really excelled herself. On entering the room, I discovered that she had been playing with a witch ring from Hallowe’en. It was much too small for her, but she is not one to be foiled by such trivial things as sizing. Which is a bit of an error.

It was stuck.

Completely wedged on her finger, which was turning a rather unpleasant shade of maroon.

I remember doing such things as a child. A memory of the panic I had felt came back to me as it was mirrored in Big Girl’s eyes. Not a nice feeling.

I gave it a wiggle. Nothing. I pulled a bit harder. The only result was a yelp from Big Girl. Oops!

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The time was ticking away. An emergency toilet trip would have been less irritating than this! Thankfully, I managed to get it off in the end with the help of copious amount of olive oil and an unexpected yank while she wasn’t looking.

Phew.

That left us approximately 3 seconds to get out of the door. And I’m not sure how, but we still got to school on time.

And that’s not exactly an isolated incident. There was also the time Little Girl decided to hide her shoes. That was a funny one.

I am known in this house as The Finder. The fact that only I call myself this is, in my opinion, wholly irrelevant. All that matters is that I am shit hot at finding stuff.

So I was feeling pretty smug. The hidden shoes were merely a small blip. In seconds I would locate the ridiculous place they had been concealed in and we’d be back on track.

I searched the hall. That’s where she took them off, so a logical starting point. Nope! Nothing. I searched the living room, the kitchen, her bedroom. Even behind the toilet. Still nothing.

Dammit.

Not so smug now!

After looking in all the places I had already been I admitted defeat and threw on her tattered play shoes. Still on time, but she did look like a bit of an urchin.

I never found out where the shoes had been hidden. The only thing I can say is that they reappeared in the middle of the hall the very next morning. Is there a poltergeist about?

No. Not unless Little Girl has a new nickname.

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Hmmm.

And that’s only the start of it. Other delay tactics deployed include:

1. “I’m in a gang at school and we have to wear our uniforms backwards!” Yes. Really.

2. “I caaaaan’t.” Little Girl’s favourite.

3. “I need my sunglasses!” In December.

4. “My tights are falling down!” Actually, I’ve got to cut Little Girl some slack on that one. I dismissed her and rushed up the street, only for her to start waddling as the slid down to her ankles. My bad.

5. And of course, Squeak’s devastating skill at filling a nappy 10 seconds after getting dressed.

Frankly, it’s amazing that I ever get anywhere on time.

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Hint: we travel at this speed.

Me and the Rain vs Kids and the Rain

Awesome Parenting Is Not What I Do now has a Facebook page! So come on down and say hello!

This is a topical subject for me today, because where I am it is raining. I’m sure rain is fun and refreshing, if you’re tall and you don’t wear glasses. Can you guess how I look?

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This is totally my rain face.

Big Girl does full days at school, but Little Girl is only there in the mornings. This means that I have to do the school run three times a day. And it is November, so of course it is raining. I suspect that the rain stops the second I arrive, dripping and chilly, at my front door, but don’t quote me on that.

I wear jeans all the time, because I am lazy and crappy at colour matching. And due to the fact that I am ridiculous feet, tiny inches tall, my jeans are far too long. Sure, you can get trousers to fit small legs. But I do not own them. This is not a problem on a dry day. Yeah, they drag on the floor and get a little tatty, but it’s nothing compared to when it rains.

Jeans apparently are made of cotton, but I think they are actually made of a genetically modified species of sponge. That’s how they work on my legs, anyway. As I walk I can feel the freezing rainwater travelling up my leg. Nice! This has a bonus, disconcerting effect. My jeans get heavy. I have decide upon keeping hold of LG’s hand, or letting go to haul my trousers back up from my hips. The jeans always win out, ain’t nobody want to see that!

This is my schedule on a rainy day:

1. Take Big Girl and Little Girl to school.

2. Come back, change into pyjama trousers and put jeans in the dryer.

3. Put jeans back on, go and pick up LG.

4. Put jeans in the dryer.

5. Go and pick up BG.

6. Come home, get changed, put jeans in the wash.

It’s crappy! And it doesn’t work at all on the days when I can’t go straight home. But I am resigned to it, thanks to my short stature status.

And don’t even get me started on the glasses situation. Once the rain starts hitting them I am half-blind and hoping that the children that I am chivvying along are actually mine. And when I go inside, they get covered in steam and I have to stand there giving off vibes of complete doziness until they clear.

So you can see, rain is not my thang.

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On the other hand, the children love it! In sharp contrast to my discomfort, they beg to go out if they see it is raining. And they won’t wear hoods, much to the disapproval of passers-by.

BG calls the rain a ‘free shower’ and now LG has caught on. They dance down the street, hair dripping and faces glistening with raindrops. And of course, the broadest smiles in the world on their faces.

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They leap into puddles and scream as the cold water hits their legs, then laugh uproariously. They stand under gutters and squeal when the stream of water hits their heads. And I mustn’t forget the obligatory ‘stick your tongue out, put your head back and try to catch a raindrop.’

I wish I could have their perspective. I want to enjoy the rain, and allow it to wash the cobwebs away. But my eyes don’t work and my jeans don’t fit. So I’m going to stick with my usual approach, and grump about it instead. Don’t indulge me too much though, I’ve never had an audience before!

Do your children like rain? Are you one of the lucky adults who loves it? Well then, pull up a chair and tell me all about it!