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