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Tuesday, 25 February 2014

1/2 Term

I was supposed to write this before last week, but I was totally occupied with being the super mother that I seem to have become. It's effortless as well!

We had the most amazing half term, I think even my children would agree. I told myself, in no uncertain terms, that this half term we were not going to be hampered by time constraints or busy ourselves into prolapse. We were going to do a bit of this and a bit of that and in between we were going to do nothing, if nothing were required. If the children asked me to do something I just had to say yes, within reason obviously, but if the thing I was doing could be done at another time, I had to go and be painted / quaffed / be "it" / search for my children. It was simple, and for the love of christ it worked.

The first weekend we went up to London to have supper with some friends, this also coincided with Uncle time and Godmother time (for the children). Eldest is studying The Great Fire of London, we went to Pudding Lane... Youngest had a teddy bears picnic, I carried our eighty foot, inherited with the house, Winnie The Pooh through the playground at the beginning of the day and the school at the end of the day. Could massively have done without this, parents looked pityingly at me, like people look at others in nice cars and think "small penis". But I looked back with scorn, rolled my eyes and stuck my middle finger up at them, middle finger was covered by massive bear arm, but the thought was there.

We got new wellie boots, as my children seem to get 3 foot sizes bigger every holiday, thankfully we've gone up a price bracket, but I was relieved to know that there is another bigger price bracket so, swings and roundabouts really. We went to see Granny and Grandpa and went to a farm where Granny bought the children dinosaur eggs. these were monitored, on a second by second basis, and took up most of the surface space on the kitchen units. We went to another farm that was free, with one of my youngest's school friends and had a ball. We played in most of the playgrounds in our local area, "it" seems to be a huge hit, as well as "what's the time Mr Wolf?" only, my youngest insists that we start in a different county if she's being the wolf, takes about 5 hours to get to her and we're all hoarse and exhausted by the time it's "dinner time", but we all slept well/died. We talked a lot about entering some design competition to build a model of something that would be effectively used in 2114, gathered lots of empty packets and cups, that was all thrown out yesterday when it's identity was mistaken as rubbish. We swam, we saw friends and we qualitied our time.

Yesterday, when it was all over, I dropped the children at school spent some time in the morning researching home schooling and then spent the rest of the afternoon staring blankly into space, I think they call it Post Traumatic Stress?  

Thursday, 13 February 2014

Bed Wetting

After 6 years one month and twenty four days (since eldest was born and nappies became and issue), we have finally got to the stage in the game where my youngest has decided that she no longer wants to wear "night pants". She wants to be free, to do what she wants to do! Sadly, as it turns out, that entails weeing in our bed (should she be sleeping there) in her bed (in the main) and in a sleeping bag (if that should be the location at the time of sleep). Naturally I am really good and mother earthy about this and just clean up the mess with little to no fuss and we move on. Shouts of "Chriiiiiist, not again!" and "Are you sure this is just wee? Can't be, you're so little and this is everywhere." just don't occur, not in my house, not on my watch... uh hum.

We have a policy in our house, can't remember who it was that told me about this, but apparently, if your child is dry for a number of nights, we have chosen seven,in a row, it's time to shed the night pants and fly into "thank Christ we don't have to buy nappies anymore, we're free of that massive financial burden!" "Did you finish the night pants yesterday? Because there aren't any left..." chatter just before bed time.

My eldest was practically born continent, had she been able to walk at about 3 months, she'd have happily taken herself to the loo and we could have negated many a nappy change. I was a psycho about that though, and that stabs me on a regular basis, right through the heart and the conscience when I think about her standing at the bottom of the stairs as we are heading out to nursery, wetting herself and my loss of cool due to time pressures, that and the fact that I am a complete bitch. Whenever this image comes into my head the Catholic in me listens up and I slip into the garage for a hearty round of self flagellation, deprecation and loathing that is rivalled by nothing.

Youngest on the other hand seems only to be able to keep herself dry when she's wearing the safety pants. Night after night she wakes in the morning with a pristine pair of night pants, she rushes into tell us and we all celebrate wildly. The moment the pants of dry are removed I am washing most of the bed clothes in the house on a daily basis. Yes, we have the dry mats and the water proof mattress protector, but she manages to wee onto the duvet cover and into the duvet and, massively impressively on her pillows. It's actually astounding that such a little person can contain so much liquid. She goes for a wee before bed and we stop her intake of liquid at 6, without Guantanamo Baying her, we try and keep it humane. What therefore can we do to stop Niagra falls sluicing out in the night?

Husband and I, very grown uply, try pleading and explaining. We get her to help us change the bed sheets on those occasions that she's not too mortified about it to even acknowledge that it's happened. We make ridiculous statements like "If you wet the bed tonight darling, we're going to have to go back into night pants?!"
"Noooooo Mummy, it's only a tiny wee, this next night I won't do a wee, I DON'T WANT NIGHT PANTS!"
It's heart breaking because she really feels like she's arrived at that stage of life where night pants aren't necessary and we're all routing and wishing her to get there, but her bladder has different ideas. Her bladder is the weak link here and we all know it. But this doesn't change the fact that I want to have a minute outside of the washing machine and get on with other things on a daily basis. I don't want her to be disappointed into the shame of night pants. She's already stopped delivering us the news that things aren't as dry as they should be in her bedroom.

This morning she bounded in at 6 30am and announced, with finger in mouth that "I didn't do any wees in my pants Daddy!"
Daddy said "She didn't do any wees in her pants Mummy!"
I said "neither did I, well done us!"

It seems to me that we have to run with this, we don't want to quash her progression, however, and they probably exist already, if they don't it's my patent, degradable, eco friendly bed sheets that cost almost nothing to buy that you can degrade in a compost heap somewhere so that the plants can benefit from little night time accidents, should be widely available. I suppose, when all is said and done, one can't really be too insane about it, as the world will turn, and hopefully, if she doesn't hate me by then, she'll be helping me out in the night in the year 3014 when my bladder has other ideas. We'll get there, won't we?

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Rules and Regulations Rant

Having had one of those mornings where you wonder if anyone in the country is anything other than a lobotomised moron, it got me ranting in the car at school with my children which then turned to thinking on the way home.

I do not consider myself to be a genius, I literally know nothing, but I wouldn't, as yet, classify myself as a moron. Yes, I can barely count, but that can easily be put down to the fact that I changed from the English school system, to the French school system, to the English school system 3 times, each seemingly around the time that maths and anything mathematical was being taught. My IQ might be slightly lower than the national average, but this does not stop me being one of the most vociferously opinionated people on the planet. Who needs counting when you've got words?

Rules and regulations is what I want to warble on about today. It seems to me, that most schools have been designed and then built on the policy of no parking. Why would anyone want to park anywhere. Granted, there are some schools that were built in a time when cars weren't readily available, but they must have had similar problems with their carriages and or horse and cart or indeed donkeys? Mothers and Fathers have been dropping their children off at school daily for a number of years now and yet, the most virile conversations amongst parents seems to be the lack of parking at school drop off and pick up. Our head teacher combats this nicely by sending emails out that stipulate that people must absolutely not park in the bus lane at drop off or pick up. I may not be able to count, but I can write and therefore I can read. I read this, and I think "gosh, that is a clever rule, not parking in the bus lane in the bottle neck will mean that people can drop their children off in a timely fashion rather than getting caught in a massively frustrating position in the bottle neck. Top drawer, I'll park in the car park and or wait until a space becomes free." Don't want to blow my own trumpet, but I would say that this is quite rational, perhaps even normal, thinking. Why the fuck then, do people still drop off and pick up their children in the sodding bus lane? It's a BUS LANE, this means, unless you are driving a bus, and let me tell you woman and or man, you certainly aren't, you can't ruddy park in that spot, even for a Nano second to drop your child off. Everyone in the world has ground to a halt because of all you people who either can't read or, I presume, decree yourself to be beyond rules and reg's.

Don't get me wrong, sometimes, one has to go with ones own impulse, but if this means that everyone else has to suffer and possibly spend the rest of their day vying for the blood of the knob in the Audi, Citroen, Honda or even Range Rover (it's not a car thing, it's a human thing), you might reconsider your selfish idiocy. "Don't park in the bus lane because it holds people up and frustrates those who are trying to get through to the parking spaces but can't because all you idiots are jostling for a position in the aforementioned non parkable bus lane" is a good rule / reg' and I can't understand why parents can't abide by this and just either throw their child into the road on a fly by if "it's only going to take a second", throwing them out won't take a Nano second, why not do that you illiterate moron? Perhaps the car park with other cars parked in it isn't enough of an indication of where to park? Perhaps you and your child are more important than the rest of us, if that is the case, I think home schooling would be better, because after this, if your child isn't being bullied, I'm going into school specifically to bully them and you'll have to go somewhere else where parking isn't an issue at school pick up and drop off, good luck finding that you mouth breathing, myopic crustacean.

Rules that are bad, seem to me to be anything that comes out of Michael Gove's mouth. He parks in bus lanes at schools or just pulls up behind 5 perfectly parked cars so that non of them can move until he's finished whatever it is he is doing.  Not taking your children out of school in term time, madness. Going to school at 4, insane. Do gooders standing in their villages trying to catch people doing 31 mph on the already wildly stressful school run, to then manifest itself in a letter telling you to slow down or next time it'll be the police WTF?  Etc etc, these are rules and regs that just need to be ignored, or better still abolished.

Rules and regs that I believe to be good, who cares. There are some, but they're deeply subjective. I just don't want people to park in the bus lane, middle of the road or any other inconvenient place that means civilised human beings have to give up man seconds or minutes just to curse the amoebas of society. My eldest put it best this morning when she said "why people have to park in the bus lane, it's ridiculous, I mean don't they know that they aren't driving a bus?" If she were running for any position of power, I'd vote for her, it's got to be better than what's happening now, hasn't it?

Monday, 10 February 2014

Loss and Gain

With all this chatter about Michael Gove, it brings me straight, and naturally it would seem, on to death. I don't know if we have necessarily arrived at that time of year when family pets are relocating to the great animal hotel in the sky and friend's parents seem to have been checking out of this world and into the next, much to the absolute despair of my eldest child, but let's for argument sake say we have. Yes, while we're on the subject, we have watched The Lion King, but both my children get too scared of that for it to even register on the philosophical or Darwinian scale. Even Elton John vomiting at us about "the circle of life" doesn't help. Still my eldest little Poirot wants to know "where do you go when you die?" "why do you have to die?" "Are you going to die?" "when will Monty (our dog) die?" "When Monty dies, can we get a rabbit and a kitten and two guinea pigs and a puppy?" It doesn't take long for her to see that death also allows for new things to be brought in to replace the old. Perhaps I've underestimated Elton.

The thing is, I want to be honest (despite my propensity to lie) without frightening my children. I want to make it as realistic as possible without sounding like a preacher or providing them with ammunition to take to school and frighten their class mates with. Something that has already happened re boarding schools, when my eldest announced to one of her friends, that "we all have to go to boarding school, and you only go home when your parents want to pick you up!" The mother of said child collared me in the playground after school and said "is your daughter going to boarding school?" to which I replied "not right now, no, why?" "because she has been telling my son that everyone goes to boarding school and you only get collected when your parents can be bothered to pick them up". She then inferred that I should probably set this right, so I inferred that her son should probably grow a pair and she should probably stop being such a militant bitch. It was lovely, and I know for a fact that not one other person witnessing the scene was at all awkward. I did it with a smile and a kind voice, so that's something. We're sort of friends now, in that we say hello when either of us catches the others eye, which is often quite hard to do as we're both usually searching the sky vigorously, or the ground so as not to make eye contact with anyone.

The point is, death is a very real and constant thing. How do you get the little inquiring mind to see it as something that is absolutely going to happen to all of us without frightening them out of their tiny little minds? And because of that, we should try our hardest not to worry about it, but see it as "quaint inevitability", like rain at Wimbledon or any bank holiday in Britain, like your child needing a wee the moment you get into a shop that will absolutely have no loo, nor will there be a loo for miles around that isn't guarded by single-minded jobsworths. Death is as inevitable as one's children behaving like out of control miscreants at the very mention of "please do try and be well behaved."

My parents dog was recently put down and my eldest cried ceaselessly until she fell asleep, earth shattering shudders and tears, and she didn't really know the dog all that well. Yesterday, when I inquired if anyone wanted to help me prepare the fish for tea, youngest basically told me to shove off, but eldest came and helped. She held the fish and made me watch as she moved the fish as they would have done in the wild and said "look Mummy, this is how the fish would look when it wasn't dead! Oh, I don't want the fishy to die. Did it die Mummy or was it killed?". I, riddled with guilt having seen the fish look really real in its very dead state, plumped for, "No, it definitely died". Which is actually the truth, but the very lamest truth I know. This question is usually asked when all meals are prepared. "Did the chicken die Mummy or was it dead?". I know what they mean, but I always say, "No, I think we can be pretty sure that this chicken died, it's sad, but, at least it's tasty murder..." I usually leave the last bit, I'm not a total witch.

So it's settled, my children need to sit down in front of News 24 and, as I suggested to the lady who I would now class as an acquaintance, grow a pair, they're going to learn sooner or later. In fact, blow it, I should take them out into the garden, make them run while I shoot at them and throw hand grenades around them. "It's a tough old world you guys, what doesn't kill you makes you stronger, you should be thankful you're not Myles, he's locked in his cot, at least I'm here, teaching you a lesson, do you see how I care?". This is surely their loss and simultaneous gain as well as my gain but loss of their innocence, is it worth it?

Thursday, 6 February 2014

The News

About a thousand years ago, when I first moved to London and lived in a damp ridden maisonette on the Wandsworth Bridge Road, before children were even invented, I decided one day that I was going to take an interest in The News! Bird flu was massively prevalent at this time and I was advised by The News to stock up on no- perishable goods as this might be an epidemic and people had got it. Duly, I rushed out, after work of course, to my local supermarket and stocked myself up with tins and water and other such non-perishables. I can't quite tell you what it was I had bought as it was a total panic buy. I filled my Mini so the wheel arches caressed the tyres and drove home in excess of about 6 miles per hour. Upon reaching the homestead I was greeted by a very confused flatmate who gently asked me "WTF are you doing?". I told him that bird flu was coming and we needed to take every precaution, whilst spitting out the heavily-laden plastic bags I had between my teeth. It was at this moment he banned me from watching the news. 

Unfortunately, the world turns, we have children, we get older, and then at 11 O'clock on a Sunday morning one finds oneself searching for Radio 4, it just seems to fit. Best friend pulls out her phone and says "we might be in time to catch Desert Island Discs!" Hooray! Somehow we've time-warped into middle age. Happens to the best of us. 

Whenever I am in the car after husband has been in it, it's always on Radio 4, he seems to be able to listen to the news and filter out what is true and what is hearsay. I can't. For instance, he told me that the jet stream had broken and we were moments away from the next Ice Age/death. I believed this, had made and remade my will in my head, then cancelled it as nothing mattered we were all dead anyway. I had moved the girls from school to school and then to home-tutoring in my mind, then that didn't seem right either as doom was already upon us. Then one night, at a dinner party everyone was talking knowledgeably about such things, and I piped up that it mattered not, as the jet stream was broken and we were all, for want of a better word, fucked. Husband then piped up "no dear, I got that wrong, I meant to tell you but totally forgot!" I have been banned from listening or reading the news remember, so how the hell was I supposed to know? Awkward. Pretty sure the conversations anmongst couples, other parents like myself, would have gone something like this "Quite a character that Marelka!?"
"Oh Yes, how so?"
"Well, not only was her food inedible, she literally knows nothing."
"indeed!"  

This is relevant to children how? I hear you ask. Well, Michael Gove seems to be calling an awful lot of the shots at the moment, an awful lot that seem to directly affect us and our children, and I'm not entirely sure if I agree. Why should our children go to school at 4? They're so little, and they literally couldn't care less. What they learn in the class, they usually forget in the class, or just after, at play time, seems futile. They can't go on summer holidays when we want, because they might miss something that they later forget. If we take them out of school to learn social skills and real life, their parents might not be able to work and create more tax for our disheveled slightly less struggling country. We're not churning out geniuses, we're churning out bored children who want nothing more to do with the system because they've been in it for so long, they just "wanna be free, we wanna get loaded", except children don't even seem to want to do that anymore, they just want to communicate via the internet and, if unlucky, be targeted by older people who've previously got too loaded.

If Radio 4 is on in the car and they're discussing the latest child that's gone missing and been murdered by their mother or the most recent rape/bombing/disastrous situation, I turn over. Don't want my children to have to witness that. It's the same with adverts for the latest must have plastic fantastic shite that bedecks most of our houses. If they happen to be watching Channel Five for example, which they never are, as husband becomes enraged, we have to turn off or over. This type of news, that there are things like this out there, is not what we want our children to know. Heaven forbid they should start whingening about something that they only imagine to be good. 

There is, however, another side to News. For instance, if we're watching a film on the idiot box and an advert comes on for Unicef, Oxfam, NSPCC or The RSPCA I try hard to allow them to watch it so I have it as a reference point when I am flushing their heads down the loo for spilling something on the carpet or such like
"Maaaaaameeeeeeee! You're so mean!"
"You could be Myles from the advert, noone would come while you cry out from your cot, at least I'm here!" or something like that. Makes them see that actually I'm not the worst mother in the world, Myles's mother was probably a little bit worse.  

It seems to me, that the world is an adversely cruel place, and most of this generates from childhood. My poor children. Perhaps, and I am no politician or bank of knowledge (see paragraph 3), I really try never to profess to be. But I would like this to change. I would like the news to rain down good news and things that my children can aspire to and embrace. I'd like The News to occasionally say "you go off and enjoy your family summer holiday whenever you like, that way you won't feel like the holiday companys have you over a barrel whilst your children demand ice cream and water parks." I'm not saying that I want the government to relinquish the responsibility of my children for most of the weeks of the year, that'd be awful, where would I put them? I'd like there to be an alternative News Channel for me and my children, one where we hear about Bob saving Mavis' feline from getting it's paw stuck in a gold top milk bottle that the happy milkman left there about 30 minutes before. And Allan, from Dundee, has been given the freedom to mow his lawn at any time of the day or night because all his curtain twitching neighbours have collectively decided to go on cheap family holidays all round the globe. And this week noone is falsely accusing anyone of rape because they are a celebrity, instead they are all using their time to find sponsors for the three legged charity race. It's got to be worth a shot, hasn't it?  
  

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Technological Whinge

Sounds so much better in French I think. Although my children wouldn't agree, despite me trying to teach them French, they really have to be "in the mood" or they just tell me to "stop speaking weirdly!" Anyway, the point of this is not to rant on about my children's lack of want to unlock other dialects, it's the compulsion they seem to have for all things "technologique" and or whingeing.

This very morning husband and I were woken up with undeniably hideous whingeing. I can't stand it. I know I do it, I have caught myself saying things to them like "please eat with your mouth shut, don't do that, use a knife and fork, sit in your seats, stop fighting, please just STOP WHINGEING" etc, in a tone that massively replicates, no matter who's listening, whingeing. But in this case it's very much a situation, for me anyway, of "do what I say, ABSOLUTELY don't do what I do."

I do understand it, it's usually very effective, problem is, it makes me want to boil the thing whingeing, including myself. In Short, it makes me feel quite violent. It's one of those things that just seems to materialise. If you're not really careful and totally in control, it slips out. For me it's exasperation, I no longer have the will to shout, but I really want to communicate strongly with my children, so whiiiiiiinge blah blah is what falls out.

My children on the other hand do it because it gets results, not always the right ones, but nevertheless in these situations they just want a/any result. All children do it, I know this to be true, I have seen all children I have met do it on almost every occasion and it sort of makes me smile. Smile in the knowledge that this is just something, rather than THE THING THAT MUST BE STAMPED OUT. Sometimes I can cope with it, and have the good grace to just laugh square in their face, usually a good option as the perpetrator usually laughs too. But sometimes, it's not a laughing time and it escalates, rather like Jihad. This morning par example.

Children came in and wanted electronic devices to stare at. The husband's phone (which he never readily gives up, he'd far rather have them whinge on, because he doesn't hear it in the same way I do. Fact, nature has programmed women to hear their babies/children's pleas louder than anything else, cruel!) Then when whingeing for that didn't work, eldest went for "Beebies". This didn't work, so when youngest came in they simultaneously whinged from one medium of electronic idiocy to the other.

When we took our first virginal steps into babydom, husband and I were smugger than smug. We'd sit in the pub (me not drinking, far too full of baby and guilt over drinking when pregnant, that and the fact it gave me outrageous heartburn) and talk to people with children and indeed without children about the fact that "No no, our children shan't watch television, they shan't play computer games 'til their eyes bulge out of their heads and are good for nothing but staring. NO, our children will categorically be like Saffi from Ab' Fab' and embrace the book, the art, the crafts, cooking and walking and sports. Yes, our children will be well rounded, resourceful and... weird!"

There was a time, when eldest was about 17 1/2 months, when I was whale-like with my 9lb 2oz smallest in the oven, that I would beach myself on the sofa and actively try and engage my daughter with the television. I would point and nod encouragingly at the idiot box and pray for her to become transfixed so I could escape the flood of heart burn and sleep/relax from carrying 80 stone me and baby around. This did not work at all. Eldest just wanted to build things and then knock them down, climb things, jump off things on to me, make play-doh mess and sand and water mess, this was the child we had pre-emptively extolled the virtues of, and I wanted to trounce that and just have her stare aimlessly and stupidly for half an hour.

The tables have turned now, and they sometimes love nothing more to stare at hideous inane excuses for film and television. When we're "busy", we tempt them into the sitting room with the promise of such noble pursuits as "Horseland" very much worth a precursory glance, that stuff has to be seen to be believed, and Diego, this one can fool oneself, is educational, but in truth it's just idiot box staring.

Our two are always after a phone or a television, or and i-pad or computer and they navigate them far more proficiently than I can, but it's short lived, in the main. Usually they would far rather whinge on endlessly at me about this, that or the other. I think it comes down to the fact that children, according to most parents I've met, should really be for Christmas, that way you can spoil them rotten, then just put them back in a cupboard til next year, with or without an electronic something. That'd be great, wouldn't it?