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Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Searching

This 'searching' is something that I think most parents should be able to put on their CV or we should simply be given the right to just add an S, to join any other letters people might have accumulated, at the end of their name. For instance, Polly English, MBA OBE S, because I am totally sure that I spend the majority of my mornings, afternoons and evenings fulfilling this task. China Black wrote a song about it, a song that often goes through my head as, under my daughter's instructions I just "look round the whole house, then you might find it". Seems reasonable to me.

On school days we look for shoes, coats, hats, gloves, scarves, school bags, swimming goggles, hair ties, hair brush, Taggi's etc. Weekends we look for toys, pencils, paint brush, DVDs, dolls, blankets, prams, things that they don't even know they have, but youngest comes to me and says "Mummy?",
"Yeeeees!",
"Where's my thing?",
"What thing?",
"You know, the pink one with the thing!",
"No, I don't know the pink one with the thing, that could be anything dear, can you be a little bit more specific please?",
"YOU KNOW!", she shouts now and stamps her foot to demonstrate her anger at my ineptitude.
It was at this moment in times gone by that I would have growled and shouted something like "I haven't got a clue about that which you are talking. Do you know where my thing is?",
"What thing?", she'd ask.
"You know, the thing, the one that you're talking about".
She'd look at me and just say, "You're talking rubbish".

Needless to say, we never get far with that line of questioning, I just have to drop what I am doing to get on and find whatever it is we might be looking for, because I hate lost things, it makes me feel panicky. The thing that we are searching for, helpfully, usually takes on several different guises during the search, until eventually she settles for and Autocar Magazine, piece of fluff or an expensive electronics item (or something of that nature) discarded by some other member of the family.

I can hear that some of you are shrieking "organisation Stuperior, organisation is the key here!" The problem with that one is, I lost my organisation 6 years ago, when I gave birth to the eldest, so I'm still searching for that too. Aren't we all indeed "searching, for that something that we'll never find, in another place another time, searching?".


Monday, 20 January 2014

Breakfast Conundrums

I love breakfast time, in fact what I love more than breakfast is being woken up by my children to provide them with breakfast. But, having omitted to give them all the tools to provide themselves with their own breakfasts (we're working on this) what the hell am I expecting? Husband and I have been really lax at doing the bullet proof diet for a good year now, so we simply have black coffee with unsalted butter and MCT oil in it. My brother calls it Soltan coffee, and he'd be about right, but it's all I can face now, unless hungover, then it's slightly different, we have it with eggs and pig.

My children on the other hand have very different appetites at breakfast and I have read somewhere, possibly in the Bible, that one should respect one's children's decision making capabilities wherever possible, otherwise they lose the ability to have faith in their own decisions and become like me, incapable of decision making, unless it's totally the wrong decision, and then I'm usually first up for that. Like having children, when they told me I would never do it, I was devastated, I think what they actually meant was "you really shouldn't have children, you can't make any of the right decisions for a start!" My eldest really likes to eat a lot, she'll have a blueberry pancake with chocolate spread and marshmallows, a brioche, a yoghurt, some bacon and a bowl of porridge. My youngest will only have a brioche at a push, perhaps a token amount of berries, and lashings of organic, fortified hot chocolate, the recipe for which my husband has come up with, but coconut milk, Organic hot chocolate, butter and Manuka honey are just a few of the ingredients.

You see, I come from the school of "as long as they are eating and there's health in there somewhere, a little bit of what you fancy etc, I don't want to make a definite decision either way, I'm still amazed that I've managed to keep two people alive for this long! Husband gets really cross and tells me I should just hand them a bucket of rubbish and let them eat from that, we love morning bickering. My eldest is as skinny as a rake, she does not get her genes from me, and the youngest is as robust a creature as you could come across. They are both full of energy (too much most of the time) and they have a glossy coat, healthy manes and sometimes their teeth look like catalogue models teeth, once they've brushed them and they've not been eating toxic coloured sweets.

We have friends whose children would far rather go for the healthy option every time, you offer them a chip and they'll quite happily question your ability as a parent. Then I start questioning my ability as a parent and I always come back with "they're alive aren't they?". We also have friends whose children eat no fruit or vegetables, we also have friends whose children eat only carbohydrates. Every one of these children, like mine, are still alive, and everyone is, seemingly, very healthy. Who am I to judge? I don't, I stand in awe at any reasonable parent anywhere, this fa├žade is not easy.

People say that "breakfast is the most important meal of the day!" and a thousand years ago, when it was possibly the only meal in the day, week / month I am sure this was true, but today, when we are all constantly trying to foie gras ourselves and or our children, I don't really think this is absolutely true. If you follow the Paleo way, breakfast should be the smallest meal of the day. Some people don't have breakfast at all, others eat all they can at breakfast, lunch and supper, well done them, I would too if it didn't mean I weighed a metric tonne.

Breakfast though. I panic if my children don't stuff themselves to the gunwhales. How can they get through to break time having only eaten one thing? If they don't take on 6 gallons of liquid, I should imagine they'll collapse in the playground just beyond their classroom door and all their friends will tread on them as they rush out, like cattle, leaving the barn for the grass laden field. My eldest drinks like a bird, my youngest loves nothing more than sucking liquid over her finger while she fiddles with her Taggi. She'd drink til it came out of her ears, anything, we've investigated diabetes, but she's just a thirsty person. Different strokes for different folks. I however am not the Oracle on this, I just try to keep myself from unhinging at food times, we're working on manners at the moment, may the lord bless us and save us!

There seems to be so much going on, so much to be careful of, so many dos and don'ts. I can't keep up. If it's not breakfast, it's lunch and or tea, they fortify themselves I work myself up and in the end they either do or don't eat, it's the same thing over and over. One thing's for sure though, we worked it out yesterday, over lunch and a couple of bottles. Everyone agreed that "they'll eat when they're hungry". Oh yes they will, this is nature, relax and go with the flow woman, there are so many more pressing things to worry about, like, a new world order for example, that's got to be more serious, hasn't it?

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Teachers

A very controversial subject this, because I am fairly black and white about things and it is important not to lump all teachers in to black or white boxes. I am fairly sure that most of us can remember a couple of teachers who we loved and who inspired us to great things at some point. Then, on the other side, there are the others. The ones we hated compulsively and if we could meet them now we'd let them know exactly how we feel, you can say their name now, go on, spit it out. Then, there are those teachers who have been lost in the mists of time. Presumably, they existed, but who the hell knows who they were. It is with these things in mind that I attack these next musings.

My eldest daughter has been having a few issues with a particular teacher at school and we, as parents, have been trying to sort it out. I know a few teachers, and they are lovely people, the problem I think though, comes with teachers when they are at school. Some of them see school as armour and deliver themselves accordingly from behind their shield. This is what happens in my mind when it comes to "those" teachers and school.

Anyway, my eldest, as I have now repeated, has a few issues with this particular teacher, she's a sensitive soul. Husband and I have been really trying to get in their and sort this all out, as we have done it with one of her other teachers who actually went from being a complete zero to a total hero in about 20 minutes. Anyway, we had written about this in my daughter's progress book and a message came back saying that another teacher had left a message for the "issue teacher", and then after that we heard nothing. My eldest was still complaining bitterly and really kicking off in the mornings when anything about school was mentioned. We had to placate her to get her dressed, then we'd all lose it when it was teeth brushing time, don't get me started on putting fucking socks and shoes on, that made Japanese torture look like a holiday. You get my drift, things were not happy.

Husband then rang school and school passed message on to teacher, teacher rang husband, I couldn't be trusted to be civil at this point, I was still drying out from the water torture, seemingly afflicted on me because of aforementioned teacher. Husband made appointment with teacher and we prepared for meeting upon picking daughters up from OFSTED outstanding school.

We arrive at school, me looking like something both fashion and time had forgotten. I had a waterproof jacket on that tented my husband, some jeans that had most of the weeks cooking dribbled down them and a hat that had had a whole mug of tea spilt on it months previously. Of course, I only registered any of this when we were ushered to sit down on the tiny chairs that little people sit on at primary schools. I eye-balled the teacher to see if she was gauging and judging me upon my image, did not pick up any signs of this. 0 1 to her. She asked Something to the effect of "How can I help?" I can't totally remember as I was trying to hide a very large oil stain on my knee under the table that only dwarfs and 6 year olds are supposed to sit at. I looked at husband, having realised that I should probably keep quiet until I had the  measure of this teacher.
"Well, we really wanted to talk about our eldest, we spoke to Miss ... a while ago and we just thought that we should try and meet with you to see if we could try and carve eldests safe and happy passage through year 1!" Again, something like that was said, I was fairly distracted by husband perching on tiny seat like a Giraffe on a Budgie perch.

Long and short of it was, the teacher was just as sensitive as our eldest, she, I think, nearly cried when telling us how sensitive she was. She also seemed to have a pretty good psychological profile of our daughter and just wanted to get the hell out of this circus and back home to her house, undoubtedly made of woven yogurt and totally degradable produce. I wasn't overwhelmed by her, but I also think she's a professional, verging on jobs worth, and if anything, that is where the clash lies. Both our daughter and her are sensitive to the extreme but they both like things to be done their way and there can really only be one way with children and teachers, and that is, in the main, the teachers way.

I have to say, we were massively impressed with our first stab at teacher parent conversation, it was like talking to a normal human being who came from the same planet as us, but this time, husband and I peeled ourselves off the furniture made purely for dolls houses and moved out of the school without even really acknowledging much that had gone on. We didn't want the teacher to cry, we didn't want to cry either, more than anything we'd probably have broken the chairs and that would just have been too awful. She was a sensitive soul who had probably found her armour in the classroom and she was blown if we were going to steel that from her nor was she going to concede that anything else was up. The conversation was short, awkward and massively uncomfortable in all senses of the word, but more than that, she now knows that we know and we know that she knows and she knows that we told our eldest so our eldest also knows. I think that just about makes it as clear as the subject of indifferent children will ever be, surely?


Thursday, 9 January 2014

Lies and Truth

I am a constant disappointment to my father, not least when I was younger and then as I got older. So, in order to combat this, I developed a very keen and absolute method of lying. It's actually not all that complicated, I just switched the truth, wherever necessary, to lies, in order to get myself in, or out of, any situation. Most of the time he didn't believe the truth anyway, so I would develop it so that he might believe it. Regardless, the outcome was usually sadness and or disappointment that left us both with a horrible after taste. Being a parent is so complicated, I often apologise in my head to my parents.

They say, that what you dislike most in yourself, you dislike most in others, and if you think about that for a second, pick something you don't like about yourself and then think of someone you don't like that quality in, you'll probably see that this is actually really very true. I hate lies, I hate them because I am the master of lies and I know where it leads, nowhere great. 

My eldest is currently trying out her lies and working on, possibly, making them great. Perhaps this is a rite of passage, you see where you get with lies, and if you get further than you do with the truth, then you adopt and adapt the way of the lie? 

My youngest never really tells the truth either, I don't think she actually can, she lives in such fantasy and her brain seems to find sticking to a single track in conversation very difficult. Whenever she tells a story, we start with "so in the palyground, so and so (she can't remember anyones names, usually says "the one with two plaits or the boy with the white hair," or something like that) pushed me over!" I'll say
"Oh no! Really? Why?" to which she'll reply something like
"Because they went shopping the other day and they didn't get a lip balm and so I took my lip balm and put it in my drawer and then... Mummy?"
"Yes?"
"Can I go on my bike with the horn when we get back and my sister can go on her bike?"
"Of course you can!" If I want clarity on these situations I have to ask the eldest to clarify and then, she tells me what went on. 

My eldest has taken to fake crying, this drives me up the pole, but, having remembered the book, apparently you aren't supposed to admonish your children for demonstrating their feelings. You have to ask what's up, act appropriately and then, tell them the effect of what they have just said, in a way that makes them think. For example "if you lie, you'll get taken away forever by the child catcher, and I won't be able to stop it!" I think that's what they're stabbing at. The thing is, she hasn't quite perfected her lying face, she's a little bit like her father, she tells a lie and then has to work really hard at concealing a wry smile. That's my clue, at that point I jump in with something really mature and helpful like "liar liar, pants on fire." I find that elevates me to sensible role model, faster than anything else. 

My husband seems to always tell the truth, he can't lie. When I first met him, I think he was astounded at my capacity for lies. I was so far down the deadly path, I could barely tell the truth. 6 years on however, I seem to get into trouble for telling the truth. People ask for my opinion, a lie comes to the front, I push that aside and I speak the truth, like this
"Do you think I'm strict with my children?"
My brain says, "No, say no, no good can come of your friendship if you tell the truth here!"
I say "You are with your eldest, but not with the youngest!" It's flat, there are no placatory words.
My brain says "KNOB!"
Friend goes quiet, we carry on. However, she is probably one of the few people I can tell the truth to, and in turn, I think, she tells me the truth, and after the initial smite, it feels better, to know that it's the truth. 
My brother also tells me the truth
"God, I just don't know what to do with my weight?!"
"I think Marelka, you should stop eating as much and probably do some exercise, then, my guess is, you probably won't be as fat!"
This, is the truth from 2012. I duly did these things and have lost not a pound but haven, non the less, changed shape.

My children tell the truth in the same way. 
"Why've you got such a fat tummy mummy?"
"Why don't you always look so nice mummy?"
"Why is Grandpa so fat?"
"I don't like them Mummy, they're boring!" "Be that as it may, they are standing right in front of you and now you're just being mean..." Oh the scrapes the truth has got us into. 

The point is though, as we stiff upper lipped people know, the truth hurts, so why should we impress on our children to tell the truth? There's the story of the boy who cried wolf, and that is certainly true, but surely this is one of the hardest lessons "always tell the truth, unless you know it's not right to tell the truth, then lie, but make sure your lies are believable and don't, for Christ sake, make a silly face afterwards or everyone will know you're lying anyway and you'll get into more trouble."

This is confusing, perhaps, just perhaps, we should be teaching our children to lie well, or should we be teaching them to tell the truth but man up for the consequences, whatever they may be?  


Thursday, 2 January 2014

Rotten Ungrateful Children

It seems that I published this title without any content, 2014 is looking good so far.

Now that the Christmas festivities are over, I have had a chance to look at the close of the year and really study the way that we have bought our children up, the values that we have instilled in them, and the characteristics we have nurtured through the medium of parenthood. Although, at points, my husband and me have patted ourselves heartily on the back, it would seem that what we should really have been doing was flagellating, and not in a good way.

My eldest daughter impressed everyone this Christmas holidays by demanding "Where are my presents?" when anyone came through or even to the door. My youngest would highlight this altruistic behaviour with a stamp of the foot, crossed arms and caterwauling at a pitch best reserved for dogs and perhaps, at a push, dolphins. When the frightened individual or individuals looked to my husband and I for guidance on how to deal with the two miscreants before them (and the fact that they had brought nothing) we had nothing but pride and warm fuzzy feelings to offer them. For those people who got to and through the door with gifts, the greeting wasn't all that much different, except, were the gift to be proffered for the sake of birthday (20th December eldest) it would be ripped from the hand and dismembered in eye blinking seconds, while we all looked on chests out like proud parents and onlookers, wiping the silent tears from our eyes. Clearly, we had done well.

During the Christmas period I took the children on two shopping trips, again my domestic goddess / effortless parenting skills were brought right into the spot light. All the way round Waitrose the girls asked for / demanded things that they "really, really wanted" and when they were met with a negative response youngest actually flung herself down on the ground and screamed. Luckily, not one person batted and eyelid, clearly this type of behavior at this time of year is standard issue, or perhaps it was the blood dripping from my bulging, irate eyeballs that made them think twice about passing any sort of comment. The eldest took the news slightly better, but it just meant the whining became more frequent and massively more aggressive. I was "the worst mother she had ever had!" "the meanest person in the whole world" and other such charming things. There was love in that shop that day, I am amazed that I can still remember it, as I was lead to believe, trauma such as this, the mind sweeps under the massive carpet in our minds somewhere, so that you don't actually have to process it at all. Or at least not until you are really drunk at 3 in the morning and you can start blubbering on someone you barely know.

Toy shop was next, I did some Christmas shopping for someone else, so keen was my faith in the fact that I had everything under control. This, I have to say went slightly better. I set the ground rules before we even got into the shop.
"Right, just so we're perfectly clear girls. We are going into this shop to get presents for OTHER PEOPLE, and by that I mean PEOPLE THAT AREN'T YOU. And if you even think about asking me for ANYTHING, I am going to lock you both in a very dark place for a very long time. Have I made myself PERFECTLY clear?" This sort of parenting is written up all over the place, gets results every time! The girls nodded their acknowledgment and then walked 10 steps behind me through the whole hideous ordeal. We got to the counter well before they whipped out two deformed, stuffed, multicoloured unicorns that they asked nicely if they could have. Naturally, you're all thinking "you better not have bought them for them you ridiculous woman?" and you'd be right, but I did buy them for them, I added them to the pile of presents on the counter and undermined any little thread of authority I had had. I know why my children are like they are, this is not the problem, the problem is change. Anyhow, the torture did not stop there. As we were leaving the shop I was called back by a jobsworth security guard who told me that "your children have just stolen two deformed, stuffed, multicouloured unicorns!"
"They have not!" I replied.
"They have, they went up to the stand, selected the animals and then walked out, I saw no one pay for anything!" Naturally at this point I had mopped the blood from my cheeks and put the eyeballs back in my head, so he had no idea what he was dealing with.
"I paid for them, I PAID FOR THEM AT THE TILL" I shouted at the deaf security wally. With that I pulled a receipt from the bag and pointed at the two registered unfortunate unicorns. He walked off and we stalked back to the car under a very black cloud. No matter though, because my husband saw red and phoned the security guard and had a very loud and repetitive conversation with him where no expletives were used, but many were implied.

I return now, to the Bible I have removed from the side of my bed and promptly lost, "How To Talk So Your Kids Will Listen, And Listen So Your Kids Will Talk." This is the book that holds all the answers, this is the book that I have strayed from and this is the reason why my poor children are under measures of austerity that could have been avoided had I not been so soft and ultimately, lazy. For, I love my children, despite everything. They are my world, and surely, I owe it to them to get this right, to stick to the rules and send them out into the world happy and well adjusted, don't I?

Here's to 2014!