Today was the day that I actually did it. I didn’t finally crack and get the dog my two year old has been pestering me about since she could talk, or born. – I really can’t remember which came first… No, I finally created my blog. This blog has been rolling around in my head for the last couple of years. It’s quite a big deal. My imaginary posts are legendary. My imaginary readership is HUGE and far reaching. I often chortle to myself at how funny I ‘could’ be. But I’m a big wuss, who’s terribly good at being modest and mortified at the thought of rejection.
But today, I’m going to risk it. It’s about time the world became more aware of the mild and mediocre.
I love weekends, I really do. No work (amazing) no school run/child care drop offs (less opportunities to arrive late and forget equipment) and lots of family time. Yep, just good old quality time with my husband and three children. Apparently, this weekend they didn’t get the memo. I don’t even think they checked their pigeon holes. I’m kidding… But the pigeon hole idea, I do love. I often think about what kind of thing I would post in my children’s pigeon holes: general reminders of where is acceptable to poo in the house, lights out time, polite conversation agenda for visit to great aunt May, seat rota for the car, list of current ‘mum buzz words’, acceptable rising times for the weekend and so forth.
I’m not entirely sure what made THIS weekend any more stressful than any other. We are hitting the ‘danger zone’ part of the term where we’re all a bit tired and teasy, this usually results in a deterioration in behaviour (including my own) temper tantrums, snatching, biting, cockiness, wailing unnecessary despair: you name it. But I have apologised so it’s fine. We started well, at 6am with a smile and ‘of course you can have chocolate cereal – it’s Saturday!’ However, after the first sitting of Frozen and a sugar crash before 8am we were already on the decline.
My boy, the oldest, is five now and 89.8% of the time an utter dream to parent. But for the remaining 10.2% – boy, does he make up for it. I understand that many five year old boys have a preoccupation with toilet humour, hell, even I’ve been known to laugh at the odd well timed trump, but my son takes this to an entirely new level. He excels at toilet humour, lives, breathes (gross, I know) and sleeps toilet humour. I could tell him the worst news, that would devastate him, like, that our beloved naughty ginger cat had pegged it, and immediately redeem the situation and have him rolling in the aisles in seconds by telling him she’d farted herself to death. (Even now I’m making a mental note and filing it next to my emergency copy of Mog Forever).
My middle child and oldest daughter is at a tricky age. Actually I think I’ve been saying that since she was born. Regardless, she’s quite a wilful two year old, often rescued by her ability to be downright hilarious on demand. Not my demand, you understand. That would be far too convenient. She runs on her own schedule and is, at the age of 2 years and 7 months completely independent and utterly scathing of anyone who would suggest otherwise.
My baby is almost one. She should be the easy one. She should be the chilled out third child who has had so much relaxed and liberal parenting that she is raising herself. She’s not – in case that wasn’t clear. She’s absolutely crackers.
List of offences:
Child one: charges include farting on siblings, farting on parents, laughing until he cried (and ironically farted) at the baby farting. Farting farting farting. He’s also not allowed to say farting, I forget why.
Child two: not accepting square toast, despite requesting square toast and ridiculing the suggestion of triangle toast. Weeping uncontrollably about triangle toast. Refusing pieces of cucumber unless it appears in the shape of a dinosaur or character from Frozen. Biting siblings in response to being farted on (yes, I felt like doing it too, but that’s beside the point) giving dad a ridiculous nickname and using it profusely in public places.
Child three: the sleep. There was no sleep. The climbing: furniture, stairs, cupboards, baby bouncers, the slide (the wrong way of course). Waiting until both parents were enjoying dinner to showcase the ‘I’m climbing out of the highchair with my harness fully intact’ trick only to quickly sit down and laugh hysterically when one of us threw ourselves across the table to catch her.
I can’t even remember when the counting started. I feel like I’ve been doing it for my entire adult life. I’m a secondary school teacher, so, many of my tactics for parenting toddlers are similar to my classroom management of teenagers. With different rewards. If I offered my year 10 class a sticker for doing a poo on the potty they might think I’d gone a bit mad. They do like stickers though… Anyway. They know I mean business when it happens. They acknowledge that they have crossed a line. Even members of the general public have stood to attention when I’ve reached three and cautiously turned around to check it wasn’t them who’d earned themselves a time out on the naughty step – the relief being palpable when they realised they could watch Iggle Piggle and that I wasn’t ‘disappointed’ with them. Why, oh why then, does it never work with my children?? The line crossing is, as I’ve said, acknowledged, only to jump over it with the gusto of a professional long jumper and the smug look of a seagull who’s just had your chips. Or poo’d on them.
Today we decided to take all three of them swimming. We often remark on how rarely this occurs and occasionally act on it, with the best intentions, quickly remembering why we avoid it and faithfully promising not to repeat the debacle for another six months. By the time we entered the pool, our fellow swimmers had heard me count to three so many times they must have thought I was:
A) painfully stupid
B) in complete meltdown
C) auditioning for some Yorkshire version of Rain Man
It was only when we were mid ‘fun’ with the splashing and the clinging and the ‘I’m cold’ ‘she bit me’ ‘he pooped on me’ that it hit me like a slap in the face: I’m tired of counting. It gets me nowhere and makes me look stupid and as though I’m in control (I’m not. Totally not.) So I vowed – no more. I will from now on reason, assist, cajole and support my three ‘angels’ onto the right path in life, without feeling pressured to have ‘go to’ parenting fads that never seem to have an impact. I was just about to share this epiphany with my husband when I overheard my middle daughter negotiating with a fellow toddler about a ball brandishing pictures of various Disney princesses.
Daughter: My have it?
Child: No. Mine.
Daughter: (long pause) Don’t make me count to three.