The Many-Pronged Attack Of The Squeak

Hello, everybody! Apologies for the radio silence, awesome blogging has categorically not been what I do recently. Apart from a rather absorbing revival of my knitting addiction, I have spent most of my time either child-wrangling or pondering the meaning of life.

Turns out, this is not exactly conducive to an outpouring of hilarity. But handily, it’s also quite boring!

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Not the knitting. That’s still awesome.

But all the rest, I have tired of somewhat. And so I am back! For how long, I’m not sure. But hopefully, there’s life in me yet.

I may be a little rusty, mind.

In the time that I have been gone, Mademoiselle Squeak has turned eighteen months old. And with that have come some… interesting developments.

Sure, she still has the adorable, goggly eyes and the delightfully chubby cheeks. And that little crooked smile is to die for.

Awwww.

But seriously, watch yourself. Don’t be fooled.

Because underneath this irresistible exterior lies a boiling core of pure, unadulterated baby rage.

And she’s really small, so it’s all concentrated and stuff.

Ask me how I know about that, if you dare.

Anyways, it appears that Squeak has read the memo about that shit we call the terrible twos, and decided to get in there early. At the moment she appears to have only two emotional states: consumed  with fiery fury, and asleep.

And she doesn’t do all that much of the second one.

She spends these sleepless hours refining and honing her technique, in a bid to take over the world. Or at least, her family.

What, you didn’t think she’d have a technique? Tut! Do you read anything I write?

Kids always have a technique.

Read on to discover a little bit about Squeak’s. (It’s not a little bit because I’m too lazy to write it all down, either. I’m not naive enough to think that she’s in any way finished thinking up ways to fuck up my life yet!)

1. The Screech

It has come to my attention that Squeak’s nickname may be a touch outdated. Gone are the days when she squeaked and gurgled her way around the room, gnawing on whatever mouth-sized gadget she could find and imbibing vast quantities of crumbs and fluff.

I never thought I’d say it, but I kind of miss that now.

For starters, she’s getting pretty good at talking. She’s learning more and more words every day, and sometimes even remembering how to use them. A personal favourite is when she proffers a toy that isn’t working, and proclaims, “Need hewp!”

It’s cute. Obviously my response is, “Oh dear, I guess the batteries ran out. I will definitely, totally change those, like, at some point in the future… honest!”

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No, that is not a lie! I resent the implication.

But as much as she is learning to talk more, Squeak is also realising that actually, she doesn’t need to talk at all.

Why would you need to talk when you can burst numerous ear drums with one sharp screech?

Oh yes, she screeches. Anyone who has heard said screech will agree that it is a source of considerable sensory discomfort. It just freaking hurts, ok?

She’s not particularly choosy about when she uses it, either. Walking towards her? Screech! Looking at her? Screech! God forbid, touching her? Screech!!!

She stops older children from grabbing her toys in seconds. Even I quail at the thought of having to stop her from doing something at any proximity closer than the other side of the room.

It’s a highly effective skill, and one I’m almost a little jealous of. I mean, how cool would it be to be able to stop everyone in their tracks with one (albeit, energetic) sound?

I can’t do that shit.

2. The Casual Face Slap

It has come to my attention that Squeak is somewhat keen on moving into a bed of her very own.

The evidence of this is most certainly not an impressive ability to fall asleep (and stay asleep) without my considerable input.

Not. Happening.

No, I am aware of this fact because Squeak has certain, less than civilised ways of telling me. Oh yes.

And she doesn’t want just any old bed.

She wants Little Girl’s.

Our evening routine ends with stories in Little Girl’s bedroom. Squeak listens and participates happily, as well as she can.

By that, I mean she turns the pages before I’m done reading and rips as many straggling pieces of paper as she can get her hands on.

Me? Nuh uh.

Me? Nuh uh.

It’s fun.

When the stories are finished, Little Girl and Big Girl share a cuddle and kiss. And that’s where Squeak sees her opportunity.

She leaps under the covers, grabs any available teddy bear and yells, “My bed!”

Or, more accurately, “My Bett!” Because apparently she can convey her meaning better in German.

Little Girl, understandably, is more than a little irked by this. So she protests by attempting to clamber in next to her beloved baby sister. You know, for snuggles and shit.

Here enters the Casual Face Slap.

Squeak don’t want no snuggles. Or shit, for that matter. All she wants is her very own bed. And the double that supposedly belongs to me, in which she persists in taking up all the space?

Meh.

So as Little Girl snuggles close, wrapping her arm around the small demon child’s waist, Squeak lifts her hand and delivers a stinging slap right on the cheek.

Well, not quite stinging. That’s why I call it the casual slap. Because there’s no aggression in it whatsoever.

Actually, do you know what it’s like? You know when one of those annoying flies with the high-pitched buzz gets right up in your face and refuses to leave no matter how much you swat at it? It just buzzes and buzzes right in your ear, in a calculated attempt to make you get the fuck out of its habitat?

Yeah, it’s like that.

3. The Drop To The Floor

So it’s always nice to know that people are reading the shit you write. Except if you realise that one of your kids is reading it.

To anyone under the age of about seven, this blog is less fantastic entertainment, and more a devilish instruction manual.

So imagine my dismay when I realised that Squeak had come across my post about Tantrum Techniques.

She must have, there’s simply no other explanation.

In case you’re wondering, the move she has mastered is The Flop. When she gets pissed (and I mean really pissed. We’re not talking irked, here), she immediately throws herself flat out on the floor.

Like this. Except angrier.

Like this. Except angrier.

And she’s not careful about it either. Personally I like to have some respect for the small amount of brains I have, even if they are safely enclosed in that rather oversized skull of mine. Squeak? Not so much. That kid has absolutely no consideration for her delicate, beautiful little head.

She doesn’t care what she hits, be it a toy, a shelf or just the floor itself. She’s going doooooown!

She actually seems to prefer it if she injures herself while she’s doing it. Then she gets to flash me that sorrowful, slightly reproachful look that never fails to tug at my heart-strings.

You know, because it’s my fault she hurt herself.

I like to think she operates The Drop on a point-scoring system.

A plain old Drop – 1 point

A mild head injury – 2 points

An injury of epic, breath holding proportions (see below) – 10 points

A fall which results in both of her arms coming out of the coat that I just spent ages wrestling her into – JACKPOT!

My House – Where Messing With Your Mother Is A Sport.

4. The Death Grip

One thing that a child with older siblings learns almost as soon as she can move around is that you’ve got to hold on to shit.

Ready? Set? Squeeeeeeeze!

Ready? Set? Squeeeeeeeze!

Like, really hold on.

Because they’re bigger than you, and they will use that size discrepancy to their advantage at any opportunity.

In our house, Squeak totally has the advantage. She can hold onto shit for longer than I, frankly, would be arsed about keeping it. Her face turns red with effort, and the aforementioned screech shows its face more than once. She’s willing to travel up and down the room, stamping her little feet and pulling as hard as she can.

But she will. not. let. go.

It doesn’t matter what it is. A toy, a piece of food, a forbidden object. Hell, she’d probably keep her grip on a grenade, if she really wanted to.

Big Girl and Little Girl are beginning to learn that they have less than a decent chance of getting their stuff back when Squeak has it in her sights. And that’s saying something, because I didn’t think I’d ever meet a kid with a tighter grip than my determined, ever-focused Little Girl.

But Squeak. Man, she’s got some superhuman strength going on. And so the older ones release their prize, dejection and frustration written all over their faces.

That’s where I have to step in. The eternal fixer-upper.

Because you know, I’m amazing at getting her to let go.

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Yeah.

5. The Breath Hold

This one comes last, but by no means least. It is the most spectacular tool in her much varied arsenal. Not to mention the cause of great aesthetic trauma, which is guaranteed to bring me to a rather abrupt stop.

Now, I am not at all new to the concept of breath holding in small people. Big Girl used to do it every time she bumped her head. Thankfully, I think she’s grown out of it now. At least, it hasn’t happened for at least a year.

And I was a breath holder myself, until the fairly shameful age of ten. I don’t know quite why I’m ashamed of that, it’s not like I could control it!

Seriously though, ten???

This, however, is my very first encounter with the sacrifice of life-giving oxygen simply as an expression of rage. And it’s taking more than a little getting used to.

I wasn’t prepared at all when she started. I didn’t realise the significance of the scream, followed by an ever-reaching spell of utter silence.

I thought, for some illogical reason, that she’d simply…. stopped crying. I mean, is it really that unreasonable to assume that?

Seriously?

Seriously?

Yes. Yes it is, you foolish, full of nothing approaching awesome woman.

I mean, ugh.

When I did sense something was slightly off kilter and looked up, I was faced with a baby staring at me with a grotesque, contorted grimace on her face. Oh, and for good measure, she was turning an unpleasant shade of purple.

Shit.

I reached out to grab her, but I was too late.

Obviously.

Over she keeled, and hit the floor like a sack of spuds. Oops. But on the bright side, that totally kicked the whole breathing reflex in again. Hurrah!

This wonderful phenomenon is showing absolutely no signs of letting up as yet, but you’ll be glad to know that I am getting way better at catching her.

Go me.

As you can see, life in the Awesome house is just that little bit more colourful right now. But fret not, it’s not all bad I suppose. Squeak has also learned to give kisses that don’t result in an accidental (I think) headbutt, and she can say, “I luff you!” And best of all, she has just realised that she can jump.

I mean, her feet aren’t leaving the floor, but she doesn’t need to know that. She couldn’t look more delighted with herself as she lifts herself onto her tippy toes and yells, “DUMP!”

Oh yeah, she calls it a dump, as well.

Ha!

Ha!

Man, I’m so fucking infantile.

God it feels good to be back. I’ve been churning ideas over in my head for weeks, but when I sat down in front of the computer they just shrivelled up and died.

Nice image, huh?

So I’ve been hunkering down and flexing my knitting muscles, waiting for my muse to return. And I think it just may have!

Hope you like it ūüôā

My Kids Are Into Public Shaming

Excuse yesterday’s radio silence, we were busy decorating the living room with festive sparkly crap. Normal service is resumed.

A lot of public shaming goes on within my family. Don’t get me wrong, I do not do it to the kids. That is not my kind of shit. But they have no problem with doing it to me.

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All the freaking time.

Take yesterday, for example. We were picking Big Girl up late because she had gymnastics after school. Little Girl was tired. Shattered in fact. That kid is suffering badly from almost-the-end-of-term-itis.

Most of the walk went ok. We chatted and picked up stones and dodged around dog crap. The usual. But then as we reached school, she decided to mix it up a bit.

By ripping her hand out of mine while we were halfway across the road.

Luckily there were no cars coming, but obviously I had to have words. I have to put my hands up here and admit that I goofed.

I may, or may not, have asked her to listen.

‘Listen’ is Little Girl’s trigger word. If she hears it, she has to immediately do the opposite. For ages. At that moment, I didn’t have ages.DSC_0498

So there she was, blank-faced and stubbornly refusing to come anywhere near me. And time was ticking away. I did what any parent would do, and went to take her hand and lead her up the street.

Quick as a flash, she twisted away from me and threw herself onto the floor. And the way she did it made it look like I had just shoved her over.

Thanks for that.

I lifted her up off the floor and started walking her to the school. She utterly refused to hold my hand, so I held her wrist. Loosely, I might add. As we went through the gates, she started to shriek, “Ow! OW, you’re hurting me! That huuuurts!”

For shame.

Then she flopped to the floor again. And made it look like I pushed her again. Twice.

I did not know that someone could be so damn good at this.

I stood there, face burning. I couldn’t see myself at that point, but I’m pretty sure I was pinking up. Parents I know started to walk past, and I smiled and greeted them. All the while, Little Girl kicked and howled.

I was not epic parenting that day.

The good news is that she did calm down after, oh, fifteen minutes or so. And then proceeded to trip and fall flat on her face three (yes, three!) times on the way home.

Never have I been so relieved to see my own front door. I’m never leaving the house again.

The next story is about Little Girl again. I think public shaming is a very 3 year old thing to do.

We were out shopping for dinner supplies. As we wandered around the shops, I chatted to her about what we were going to do for the rest of the day. She didn’t give a crap, but I find it stops me from accidentally falling asleep standing up.

“When we’ve picked up Big Girl,” I said, “I’ll make us some nice dinner.”

“I sit next to Daddy?” she asked, looking up at me hopefully. For some reason, no one wants to sit next to me at the table. Now, I’ve smelled myself. That is definitely not the problem. But the very prospect of it makes their faces drop.

I try not to take it personally. (That is a lie.)

I nodded. Her face lit up, and she continued, “Yay! I not sit next to Mummy again.”

I jokily replied, “Thanks dude, I love you too.”

Apparently, I stepped out of line at this point. But not to worry. She exacted her revenge almost immediately.

She grinned, and said (loudly), “Fanny!”

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Bear in mind, we were smack bang in the middle of a shop at this point. I guess experimenting with words is Little Girl’s new trick.

Fuck.

I’m going to finish up by throwing in a story about Big Girl. You know, for equality purposes and all.

When Little Girl was about 8 weeks old, I ventured out to the park with both of them. I was obviously feeling brave. Little Girl was tucked up in her wrap and snoozing away, and Big Girl had a ball climbing and sliding and swinging and shit. Until I said it was time to go.

Big Girl did not like that. So she protested in the most effective way she could think of.DSC_2045

By turning around and legging it straight out of the park. Which, incidentally, is right next to a road.

I followed her as fast as I could. Which was incredibly slowly. I was trying to balance up getting to her with not damaging the tiny baby tied to my chest. It was far from awesome.

I did reach her in the end, just as she reached the edge of the road. I grabbed her and pulled her to me.

Embarrassing enough already, right?

Ha! No. It got worse. I don’t know if it was the shock of running away or of being caught, but whatever it was, her body couldn’t hack it.

So she fainted.

So not cool. She was fine though. Apparently it’s not that uncommon a reaction to shock in children. Which is irrelevant, in my opinion. Because it still doesn’t look good.

I’m thankful that Squeak hasn’t quite reached the point of embarrassing me in public yet. Apart from the time she managed to crap through a nappy, vest, sleepsuit, cardigan and sling. In 0.2 seconds.

That sucked.

Tantrum Techniques

Being a kid sucks. But kids don’t keep that a secret. They let it out for all to hear.

Don’t allow your kids to read this post. Once they know we’re onto them, they’ll press the big red button and take over the world!

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If there’s one thing children love, it’s inconsistency. Whatever the rules were one week, you can guarantee they will change by the next. I hypothesise that it’s an elaborate plot to keep us confused and in their power. And this applies to tantrums too. Familiarity breeds contempt and all that, so kids like to mix it up. But fret not! Having conducted extensive research over a period of years, I have managed to isolate the five main tantrum techniques. Read on, become informed and for God’s sake, protect yourselves!

1. The Flop

The Flop is a multi-purpose technique, that can appear at any age and lasts right through toddlerhood. You know the routine. You’re in the supermarket, and you have precisely¬†one hour to get your shopping and get back for the school pick-up/medical appointment/whatever. This method works best if you have an inflexible commitment immediately afterwards.

You don’t need much, so you just grab a basket. Toddler is getting so good at holding hands, you think, I’ll just let him walk. Silly,¬†silly, silly. You can’t see me right now, but I’m shaking my head. It’s all going well until you reach the toy section. You try to distract Toddler past it, but he’s not daft. And he makes a beeline straight for it. You try your best to persuade¬†him away.

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“Come on darling, let’s go pick some grapes!” No dice. Then you check to see if anyone’s listening, bend down and hiss through gritted teeth, “Come on, we have to go!” You’re going to be late. So you skip the verbal palaver and grasp Toddler’s little hand, leading him away from the brightly-coloured goodies. And that is when it happens.

All of a sudden, your child apparently has no bones in his body. You have a completely slack mass hanging off the end of your arm and man, toddlers are heavy. You have no choice but to start walking and drag him with you, in the hope that soon his feet will miraculously comply. And dudes, everyone judges dragging. Especially in the supermarket.

Child wins.

2. The Quiver

It’s short and sweet, this one. You may see it in a older child in an extreme situation, but the Quiver is mostly reserved for the very small folk.

The world is confusing when you view it through a forest of adult legs. Ask any toddler. They will reply with, “I don’ know,” or “Bucket,” but what they really mean is, “True dat, bro.”

Adults do inexplicable things. I mean, what’s wrong with eating an apple that has fallen in a puddle? And why exactly can’t you wear a colander on your head for bed? This. shit. makes¬†no sense. At all.

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But you know, sometimes the situation just doesn’t merit a full-blown tantrum. It doesn’t warrant a Flop. But even so, grown ups are getting above themselves all the time! A toddler can’t let it slide just because they’re feeling a little tired, or because the Smurfs is on.

So let’s set the scene. You tell your toddler to take off the colander. You’re using the sweet sing-songy voice, but it doesn’t matter. Toddler yells, NO!” You repeat. Toddler applies death grip to colander and shakes her head.

So you try again, because you’re persistent, if a little misguided. This time you have progressed to the song-singy voice, which is similar to the sing-songy voice but with¬†ominous overtones.

Boom! It’s Quiver time! Toddler senses that you are not really catching on. So she keeps it simple. The hands release the colander. Are you winning? The hands clench into tiny fists of rage. Uh oh! Toddler opens her mouth and hell falls out. And hell sounds like growl-screaming. (You know, growl-screaming. Is there even a word for growl-screaming?) But that’s not even it. Toddler somehow begins to vibrate. It starts with the arms, and rapidly spreads until it covers the entire body. Her hair is jiggling. She is probably red-faced, although purple has happened in the past.

Yes, your toddler is so pissed off with your dumbass suggestions that she is actually shaking with rage.

It is loud and it is short, but it sure does let you know who’s boss.

Hint: It isn’t you.

Child wins.

3. The Plank

The plank is a useful technique which can be used either on the floor or in arms. We all know it. Your small child doesn’t want to do whatever you need them to do. As if that is something new! But of course, you have all the power. You are big, and you can just take them where you want them to go, right?

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Wrong.

The child engages the Joint-Lock mechanism. The arms go up, the legs stretch out, and suddenly you’re holding some kind of slippery reptile. With no bendy bits, your toddler simply slides down the side of your body. And you can try and keep hold if you like. Swap them to the other arm, hoik them up higher. But resistance is futile! For you, anyway.

And I’m sure you’ve all seen the tantrumming child lying face down on the floor. Go on, you just go right ahead and pick them up. No? One more try? Yep, definitely not happening.

Child wins.

4. The Flounce

The Flounce is predominantly the realm of the older child, who thinks they have already reached teenagerdom. Required skills: eye rolling, sighing, throwing, door slamming. I’m sure you can tell that this is one of the more complex techniques.

I should get Big Girl to explain this really, because it is her favourite. On the other hand, bringing it up would probably cause her to Flounce. Guess I’d better go for it then.

There is one rule and one rule only to remember when parenting the older child; never contradict. Don’t tell them they did something wrong and never ever ever disagree with something they’ve said. Or this will happen:

It commences with a sigh. Then, the child assumes the Teenage position. Shoulders hunched, arms slack, neck loose so head can loll. Next comes The Eye Roll. If you have trained your child well, they will now begin to comply with your instruction. But they are not happy about it. Stamping is optional, but preferable.

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Now, it may seem like it’s going ok. Yeah, they’re not happy, but they’re doing it. Parent wins? No. No no no no no. Unless you’re not me, in which case you may be able to resist what I always do next.

I don’t mean to. Acknowledge the action, ignore the attitude. That is the key. But next I find myself opening my mouth. I try to claw back the words before they are even spoken, but it’s too late. I, dear readers,¬†repeat the reason why what she did was wrong. And that is all it takes. The child searches for a toy, any toy, and turns it into an airborne missile. Hopefully it misses the other children. Then comes the climax of the Flounce. The exit. The door handle is grasped firmly, for nothing, as we all know, is worse than a Door Slam Fail.

Why didn’t I just keep quiet? Why? I ask myself this question more times in a day than I care to remember. For now I have just prolonged the whole situation. What could have been resolved in a few short seconds becomes the Christmas episode of a soap opera.

Child wins.

5. The Swoon

The Swoon is another than works best if you are older. If you’re small, it’s all too easy to be distracted away from your position. And that would cause a loss of face, not to mention sleepless nights tinged with regret.

It is all about one thing: complete sensory detachment. Nothing says “I don’t care what you say” than a well-timed Swoon.

Do you remember when you were a kid, and one of your parents refused a perfectly reasonable request? You were baffled, because you could not think of one single reason why it wasn’t a good idea. It could have been cake for breakfast, a water fight in December, or any number of other things.

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Now you’re an adult, and it makes perfect sense. And now you repeat the cycle with your own kids.

Let me enlighten you. To achieve an optimal Swoon, all that is required is a supportive couch or bed. It’s not¬†essential, exactly, But what does a child achieve if tantrumming causes actual pain?

So, child makes request. Adult denies request.Child begged, pleads, whines, cajoles. Denied, denied, denied. How unreasonable! Child must teach adult a lesson. And the best way for an adult to learn, according to the children’s research, is to simply make it impossible for them to communicate with you.

Child begins to walk towards the couch, slowly at first and then picking up speed. When he reaches the couch, he simply allows his body to slacken, and faceplants directly onto the cushions. And that is that. He will remain there for as long as he can stand the oxygen deprivation.

Maybe I’m an amateur at this. Maybe you can get your child to respond to you post-Swoon. If you can, please tell me HOW!

Child wins.

In conclusion, you lose. And if you remember that at every step of your parenting journey, you’ll feel a lot better.