Friday, 29 April 2011

Nice try, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall

Watching Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall on TV last night extolling the virtues of a varied breakfast menu, I whipped up a pancake batter and put it in the fridge ready for the morning.  My inflated enthusiasm was in no small part due to the dinner I had just consumed which comprised two glasses of bubbles, a bowl of olives and a big bag of crisps.
Hugh made his pancakes for a class of obedient, pancake loving 7 year olds who all waited patiently and watched with interest as he talked them through the recipe and deftly flipped pancakes at the teacher's desk.  This sits in stark contrast with our breakfast scene this morning.  Pancakes need fairly constant monitoring.  I don't think I ever stand still for longer than half a second in the morning so in between separating a fighting lad and twin2, taking twin1 to the toilet and listening to them all whinge that they don't like pancakes (what a load of rubbish they troughed them down on Shrove Tuesday when they were doused in lemon and honey) I found it tricky to flip them 'just when the bubbles start to appear on the top'.
The children barely ate anything, there was quite a bit more washing up and as I type this, lad is saying 'I'm hungry.'
Back to weetabix tomorrow.

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

It's not often you listen to your mother

Usually if I have a croaky throat on a Monday its because I did too much shouting/singing/wine drinking/all of the above at some stage over the weekend.  This week it isn't a consequence of any behaviour. Its a bona fide medical complaint.  I was chatting to my ma this evening on the phone and she asked if I was drinking plenty of honey and lemon.
'None' I said.
'Well you should be, it will help to soothe your throat and heal your...blah, blah, blah'
I zoned out for a bit then told her I would definitely drink it if she could just make the short 12,000 mile trip to make it for me.
Mummy, you'll be pleased to hear that following our conversation I boiled the kettle, coaxed a few drops of juice out of a shrivelled lemon and emptied half a bottle of honey into the Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee mug you bought me in 2002.  I am finally listening to your advice.  I hope that my own children won't wait for thirty years before they do me the same service.

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Happy clappy

Yesterday a friend and I sat on the beach while our children mauled us and demanded food. We chatted about being fulfilled and happy. Today I read this article on the same subject. Happiness is an enormously subjective emotion which can be dimmed or illuminated by time and perspective, and the mood in which you are reminiscing. When the twins were little babies I can remember saying to a couple of friends that I was really happy at that time. Looking back I think I was in a black pit of loneliness being away from my parents, brother, friends and home as well as struggling terribly with the children. My arm was particularly painful for a few months and I don't think I mentioned it much. The pain is quite depressive with its tendency to drag on and I started to have counselling for a few other things so God knows what I thought I was happy about.

Similarly, when I look back at my school days I smile dreamily in the warmth of the contentment of those years - smoking fags behind the Bull & Swan during lunch break, sneaking downstairs to the common room after lights out and watching a horror film then wrapping a blanket round all three of us and waddling back up to the dorm, scared out of our wits and giggling manically. If I closely examined the reality I'd probably recall the angst and paranoia of teenage years.

I like the feeling of saying 'I'm happy'. I'm happy at the moment. I wonder how I'll feel when I look back twenty years from now?

Monday, 18 April 2011

School's out

From the moment your first child exits your body, you embark a process of 'firsts' which look like they will last for many years. Today was the first day the lad has ever had a school holiday. Even though his old kindy (where the twins are now) used to close over Christmas and Easter, it didn't follow a term time schedule. Unlike the kindy he now attends which kicked off two weeks of holiday today. It has left me feeling rather unsettled. I will be able to jig things around, and organise extra childcare so that I can keep up with my work over this holiday but I can't help but feel slightly clammy when I look ahead to a year away with the three of them snapping at my ankles for each school holiday. Millions deal with this quandary round the world and I feel fortunate that I work from home so can be flexible.

Rather excitingly though, it means I get to spend some time on my own with the lad. This morning we sped all over town doing little jobs and buying food. He asked if we could go to the library and read a story. We sat on the cushions in the boat set adrift in the corner of the children's section and revelled in the sound of the rain on the roof and pictures of volcanoes and dinosaurs. Over the last few weeks I have been taking one twin out of kindy early on the odd morning. We either go swimming in the natural outdoor hot pools down the road, eat cake and hot chocolates in a cafe or go and watch the waves on the beach. The amount of time twins get on their own with either parent is minimal and I want to make sure I can get as much in as possible over the next two years before the little cherubs start school.

Thursday, 14 April 2011

A lesson in idiocy - part 3

Fed up of squinting in the sunlight I took my sunglasses to an optician to be fixed.

'I wonder if you can help me? My two year old daughter put my sunglasses in the dishwasher and they have bent out of shape.'

Cue much eye rolling, chuckling, head shaking and chat about the 'terrible twos.' The optician heated up the plastic and remoulded my glasses. My eyes delighted in the shade.

Here's what really happened. A few weeks ago some friends came over on a Friday night for drinks. A glass of wine turned into a cocktail evening. We sloshed vodka into the blender with abandon and ever more inventive combinations of fruit. The husband's prize watermelons were whizzed up with fistfuls of mixed herbs, grapes were plucked from the vine at the back of the garden and spruced up with whatever sorry items I could find lurking at the bottom of the fruit bowl. My mixologist career peaked at around 1am then took a dive, landing me in my pit to snore off the effects. I awoke in the morning to a scene of sticky fruit gloop coating most of the kitchen. My sunglasses were buried under a sweet sludge of tangerine and peach so I chucked them in the dishwasher.

'Why on earth didn't you just rinse them under the tap you lazy toad?' I hear you cry. Well, my brain wasn't functioning with it's normal sparkle so I didn't foresee the physical change which heat brings about in plastic. Needless to say I didn't feel the urge to divulge the real root of the sunglasses incident to the optician and risk being labelled an idiot so instead I blamed my innocent little daughter.

Thursday, 7 April 2011

A hell of a way to kick start the day

Two days ago lad came home from kindy proudly showing me the hole in his foot where it had been punctured by a rusty nail. It was fairly black but quite small. I cast my mind back to the first few months of his life and registered the memory of a nurse in London jabbing his podgy thigh with a tetnus jab. Satisfied, I pushed the rusty nail incident from my mind and got on with far more pressing matters like locating the twin who had separated herself from the turd filled nappy in the hallway.

Yesterday afternoon lad came to me sobbing and limping saying he couldn't put his foot down because his 'nail stab' hurt too much so this morning I found myself at 8.15am at the doctors' surgery with all three children. Within 3 minutes I was in danger of needing an appointment myself. While I tried to stop twin2 from manically smashing her fists on the fish tank in the waiting room, twin1 was calmly emptying the drinking water fountain onto the carpet. If an airport customs officer had been watching, my frantically darting eyes, inability to stand still and sweaty brow would have been enough to have him usher me to a cubicle and conduct a full body cavity search.

I always find the receptionists, doctors and nurses to be extremely forgiving of young children in our doctors' surgery but as we sat waiting in the nurses' station for a tetnus jab having visited the doctor, I started to cringe with apologetic embarrassment for the patients being treated. The screams of 'I don't like it' from twin1, questions from lad 'what is a jumbo jet made out of? what is the Internet?' and Picasso-like additions to the walls by twin2 were enough to worsen any patient's complaint.

At 9.05am I dropped the three of them off at kindy and wondered if they'd swap lad's antibiotics prescription for a bucket of valium.

Monday, 4 April 2011

Poor parenting techniques part 3

Different styles of discipline work with different children. It's all very well devising a 'supernanny' chain of consequences for poor behaviour but they have varying results depending on the temperament of your child.

For quite some time I struggled to find a way to get the lad to do what I was asking him as well as disciplining him when he'd done something wrong. Shutting him in his room enraged him. He would locate the toy capable of the worst level of destruction and thrash it against the walls, screaming at the top of his lungs. Enforcing a naughty step was tricky with the twins crawling all over the place. One day I tried the 'if you haven't brushed your teeth/turned off the TV/sat down at the table by the time I've counted to five then I'm going to take away your lego/Buzz Lightyear/favourite shoes.' It was an immediate winner. I thought it would probably only last a few weeks but it has been the number one form of getting the lad to do anything for a good year. He sometimes screams at me "don't count Mummy" but on the whole I have found the threat of confiscation to be a highly effective tool to bring about obedience. Not the most positive of parenting techniques but when needs must.....

As a result, the twins have learnt to count from an early age. On the downside, they can only count to 5 and they tend to shout with mounting volume and pregnant pauses between each number.


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