Mother (Almost Never) Knows Best: November 2017

Wednesday, 29 November 2017

We're Going to Family for Christmas: A Bear Hunt Parody

We're driving to family for Christmas
It's going to be a great one
What a magical time
We're not scared

Uh uh! Impromptu pee!
Stuck in a traffic jam, pee.
We can't skip over it.
We can't go around it.
Oh no!
We'll have to go through it!

Splash splosh!
Splash splosh!
Splash splosh!

We're driving to family for Christmas
It's going to be a great one
What a magical time

We're not scared

Uh uh! Vomit!
Projectile fruit pack vomit.
We can't skip over it.
We can't go around it.
Oh no!
We'll have to go through it!

Squelch squerch!
Squelch squerch!
Squelch squerch!

We're driving to family for Christmas
It's going to be a great one
What a magical time

We're not scared

Uh uh! Tantrum!
Unwelcome, unwarranted tantrum.
We can't skip over it.
We can't go around it.
Oh no!
We'll have to go through it!

Hoooo woooo!
Hoooo woooo!
Hoooo woooo!

We're driving to family for Christmas
It's going to be a great one
What a magical time

We're not scared

Uh uh! Need to be Santa!
Magical, nocturnal Santa.
We can't skip over it.
We can't go around it.
Oh no!
We'll have to go through it!

Stumble trip!
Stumble trip!
Stumble trip!

We're driving to family for Christmas
It's going to be a great one
What a magical time

We're not scared

Uh uh! Politics!
Ingrained family politics.
We can't skip over it.
We can't go around it.
Oh no!
We'll have to go through it!

Tiptoe!
Tiptoe!
Tiptoe!

What's that?

One paralyzing hangover!
Two over-hyped sugar- filled toddlers!
Two shrieking instruments of torture!
IT'S A FAMILY CHRISTMAS!!!!

Quick! Back through the family politics! Tiptoe! Tiptoe! Tiptoe!

Back through the Santa gifts! Stumble trip! Stumble trip! Stumble trip!

Back through the tantrums! Hoooo wooooo! Hoooo wooooo!

Back through the travel sickness! Squelch squerch! Squelch squerch!

Back through the roadside pees! Splash splosh! Splash splosh! Splash splosh!

Get to our front door.
Open the door.
Up the stairs.
Oh no!
We forgot to shut the door.
Back downstairs.

Shut the door. 

Back upstairs.
Into the bedroom.
Into bed.
Under the covers.

We're not going for a family Christmas again!
Toddler Christmas

Saturday, 25 November 2017

Terrific Toddler Books

I used to be a reader. I would even go as far as to say that I was a voracious reader. I would devour novel after novel, never limiting myself to a single genre. I would delight in the historical courting dilemmas of Austen and the Brontë sisters, immerse myself in the dark, crime-filled streets of Rankin's Edinburgh and delve into the sobering real life accounts of Oliver Sacks.

Then I had children.

Having spent the first two weeks of maternity leave, unencumbered by the usual desire of pregnant ladies to nest, I consumed tome after tome. Upon the arrival of my newborn, the books were cast aside. In the fug of sleep deprivation, I lacked the focus and energy, turning, instead to vacuous television programs readily available. The books were left to collect dust and act as coasters for empty glasses, guzzled down in the peak of overnight feeds.

Whilst the absence of novels went on for some time I started to revel in the writing and morals in some of the children's books that I was now narrating to my daughter: a lover of a story.

These are my current top 3:

1. The Worst Princess by Anna Kemp
Despite the fact that my daughter is a self taught devotee of all things pink, girly, glittery and Disney, the tale of The Worst Princess turns the usual princess-waiting-to-be-rescued tale on its head. It's a feminist's dream, beautifully illustrated and hilarious to boot! (I find reading the heroine with a strong Scottish accent adds a little something extra -my husband wholeheartedly disagrees!)


The Worst Princess - by Anna Kemp & Sara Ogilvie

2. The Odd Dog Out by Rob Biddulph
This is a classic tale of being your own person, beautifully summarised by the final line of "Blaze a trail, be who you are"... Need I say more? I love Rob Biddulph and his "Grrrr" story about how winning isn't everything very nearly made my top 3. Fred and Boris the bears are frequently referenced in our house when the inevitable toddler meltdown ensues following any form of activity which could loosely be interpreted as competitive.
Odd Dog Out by Rob Biddulph

3. The Shrew That Flew by Julia Copus
This tale is one of three stories featuring Harry the Hog and his best friend Candy Striped Lil 
and whilst my 3 year old daughter would definitely favour "The Hog, the Shrew and the Hullabaloo" where Harry fears a noise in the dark only to discover that it is his nocturnal friends going about their day, I love the Shrew That Flew. It is all about trying, failing, picking yourself up and trying again. The repetitive uttering of "Never say never!" serves as a mantra for all!
The Shrew that Flew by Julia Copus and Eunyoung Seo


If you are looking for books for your toddlers this Christmas look no further! Husband, if you read this I think we have learned that I need an adult book....


Terrific Toddler Books


Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Return of the Threenager

So today I just had one of those days. Having delighted in the impeccable behaviour of my two cherubic children whilst on holiday, I was perplexed and not just a little crushed to find that when the wheels of that Boeing 7(insert number here)7 hit the grey tarmac of Scotland those cherubs changed to demons as quickly as Gremlins in a tidal wave. I barely recognise them. The past 48hours has left me repeatedly questioning, often aloud in the direction of others (some related, some not, some I just chance upon in the street) “is it me?”

 
I feel myself quick to temper and I can hear the repetitive “No!” sound being emitted from my lips with every breath. I am boring myself and yet it would appear that my children have been rendered deaf from the flight. They swing between amorous expressions of sibling affection to attempts on one another’s lives that would not be out of place in a Shakespearean tragedy.
 
My youngest has perfected an ear splitting scream akin to a medieval warrior having his organs laid out before him. Initially I rushed to sweep him up in my arms, smother him with affection and quietly assess which limb had been amputated when I did eventually manage to decipher his anguished cries it would appear to translate loosely as “may I have some peanut butter please?”

 
My eldest, normally the light of my life and the shining example of my parenting prowess; a girl who exudes empathy and who possesses such a natural affinity for doing the right thing that I have previously found myself questioning whether she will find herself peacekeeping in the middle east, preaching to the Dalai Lama or taking herself off to a nunnery, she has turned. Once again the threenager is knocking at my door (or more accurately speaking, demanding that I knock on hers). I have seen into my future and I am terrified.
 

I have started grappling for reasons that might have caused such a transformation to occur: is it the assault of all things Christmas on our return to old Blighty leading to excessive and poorly managed toddler excitement? Are they feeling unsettled following our trip abroad and subsequent journey home? Are we particularly jaded following ten solid days of parenting (don’t judge me) and they are picking up on it like dogs on weakness?

 
I can honestly say that I have no answers. Best I can do is hunker down and wait for the storm to pass.
 
(But if you see them, don’t tell them I am hiding in the bathroom.)

 
The Terrifying Toddler aka Threenager Returns

Monday, 20 November 2017

A Message in a Bottle: Why Blog?

I have started thinking about why I have started to blog. During these ruminations I have concluded that there may be a small part in all of us (some more than others) which craves external validation and positive attention,  however, I would like to believe that my motivation is not solely limited to this self serving ideal (which is just as well as my comments section is somewhat sparsely populated!) And whilst I doubt there are many of us who would turn down the success that the Unmumsy Mum has enjoyed since documenting her thoughts regarding parenting on the internet, I fear us mere mortals cannot expect to enjoy such accolades nor income from our postulations on potty training!
No, putting these aspirations to one side, I have realised that I blog for three reasons:

1. Me- I use it as a teenager in the 80s would have used a floral diary and a scented pen but unfortunately mine is less "He is so dreamy! How long before he notices me?" and more "His nappy is so smelly! How long before everyone notices the stench?" It allows me to document how I feel as I feel it and reflect on the good, the bad and the farcical.

2. Them - There are parts of my blog which aren't as happy or funny as others. We had two rather tricky pregnancies and our daughter will be living with the consequences of that for the rest of her life. I want them to see how hard they were fought for and how proud I am of them, even from before the time they knew they had to please me in order to go to the "cool" party at the weekend... I want to be able to show them that in their darkest hours of pregnancy and parenthood, I too found it hard, I understand. So please, feel what you feel and don't beat yourself up about it.

3. You - Not as in "you are bloody blessed to be exposed to my witty ponderings and don't you forget it!" But more, if you are out there and feeling a little lost: maybe you too are not enjoying the dream pregnancy that you expected; maybe you too have a child (or the prospect of one) with physical differences who you fear may suffer emotionally as a consequence or maybe you too worry that you are not a good enough mother or role model to equip them with the confidence they need to be happy. Perhaps reading an account of someone like you will help you feel less alone and give you some hope that you can and will find your way through the gauntlet that is parenting.
The Lesser Spotted Blogger


Motherhood The Real Deal

Thursday, 16 November 2017

The Secret Life of Toddlers

As you may have gathered we are currently on holiday and we have chosen to holiday with some very good friends who have children exactly 6 months younger than ours. The two eldest are both girls whose interests include pink, purple, Elsa and fairies; and the two youngest are boys whose interests include carnage, damage and destruction. A match made in heaven, right? In all honesty the children are individually delightful and I truly believe that this is a perfect match but it also highlights quite how emotionally draining it is to be a toddler even at the best of times. The swing from best friends to arch nemesis can occur within a fraction of a second and then returns to its original status before you can say "is that how we treat our frie... Oh, right. As you were" ... It is exhausting.

I have always thought that I quite fancied a "nanny cam" situation at nursery so I could see my daughter interact with her peers. There were even brief periods where I flirted with the idea of applying for "The Secret Life of 4 year olds" so I could have a professional tell me about all the hidden aspects of her personality, "knowing" that I would be proud; that she could do no wrong.

To be honest, the vast majority of the time I have been immensely proud of her behaviour. I can see her wrangling with being swept away by the group mentality (predominantly with her brother as ring leader) and doing what she knows is right and this seems to win out most of them time.  However having spent the last seven days in a similar situation to that of "The Secret Life..." (minus the professional, that would be weird) I have learnt that I am too soft. I lack the resilience of a toddler.

They do not say things with the cruel edge with which we as grown ups interpret them. They do not have the nasty side that we as adults fear in others (and ourselves.) They do not take things to heart the way we do. They accept that they are friends who sometimes just don't get along. I think we can all learn something from a toddler.


Be more resilient. Be more toddler.
Be More Toddler!!



Wednesday, 8 November 2017

Holiday: It Would Be So Nice...

Top of the list for logistical nightmares must be going on holiday with toddlers. I swear there are military manoeuvres that take less organisation and negotiation skills than mobilising a family of four off this island. The obstacles to overcome include (but are by no means limited to):

1. Heat
To the average singleton, a destination that is warm equates to less of pretty much everything: less clothing, less beauty paraphernalia, less hassle. To a family with young children heat means more. More clothing, more creams and more apparatus as a consequence of heat based activities (read "swimming"). We have parasols, muslins and a variety of hats in the vain hope that one shall be tolerated and save that fresh, translucent skin from almost certain scorching.

2. Lack of NHS
This is not something the average young traveller really thinks about but when you have small children the nearest healthcare provider is at the top of the list of things to research. Gone are the Google searches for "cool things to do in Ecuador" or "nightclubs in Bucharest" and here to stay are "English speaking healthcare providers in Tenerife"... Ho hum.

3. Baby paraphernalia
Travel cots, baby monitors, prams, car seats, bottles, sippy cups, favoured formula, seat adaptors for eating out, nappy cream, travel potties, blankets, calpol... Need I go on?

4. "Essential" toddler items
Also high on the list, but not to be confused with potentially useful and necessary baby items are the "essential" toddler items. Those which they cannot live without. The things that absolutely define their being... Until you leave the house. At this point the plethora of plastic pieces, assemblage of assorted animals and the formation of furry friends will immediately be forgotten about. Left cruelly discarded in the bag in which they traversed miles across land and oceans only to see daylight upon their return to the homestead.

5. In flight entertainment
I defy anyone to have come up with the exact array of accoutrements that will entertain a child of preschool age for the duration of a European flight, never mind a long haul journey. This particularly item of hand luggage will be weighed down with small toys, iPads, headphones, snap cards, magazines, comforters and above all, snacks for bribery purposes. It shall be adorned with a popular swine based character or Disney Princess and shall be a violent neon colour. Expect to carry it.

6. The "last minute contributor"
This mantle falls to my husband who considers himself to be very organised and to the most part I would agree. However, with 5 minutes to go before departure you will find him throwing everything bar the items glued to the building into the bag "just in case" as "you never know"...
Well, I tell you what, I do know. I know we'll be paying for excess baggage. 
Oh look! We'll be trapped on that for 5hours together! Huzzah!

Saturday, 4 November 2017

The Forgotten Child....

I am beginning to realise that so far it reads as though I only have one child. Normally, being forgotten about falls to the first born; the initial pancake that is inevitably tossed to one side (or, in this house, bestowed upon the mother). But no, this mantle falls to my second child. The one who needs no medical intervention, who has been gifted with ten fingers and ten toes and whose limbs are symmetrical and equal in each way.

We eventually worked up the courage to "go again". The horror of the genetic investigations and the torment of the first pregnancy and all its uncertainties must have faded enough to allow a seed of optimism and hope to take root.

This time, we were armed. I now had a definitive diagnosis of type 1 diabetes (which was under control), I was on high dose folic acid and I was living the sort of ascetic lifestyle that would have made Gwyneth Paltrow proud. What could go wrong?

Nothing.

Nothing ACTUALLY went wrong but everyone (doctors included) were on such tenter hooks that I was scanned so often I could have picked my unborn baby out of a police line up. Although I suspect most people would be able to pick and unborn baby out of a police line up...

When my diabetes didn't behave as they were expecting I was admitted for "close observation" and spent half of my last trimester under the watchful eye of a suspicious medical team who were trying to decide whether my baby's blood supply was failing or whether I was injecting excess insulin between my toes.

At 37 weeks they called it quits and kick-started labour themselves. Aside from an initial dodgy trace and an epidural which set in just in time for the tea and toast (the universally recognised reward for bringing life into the world) the delivery was as positive an experience as pooping a cannonball can be.


This was my boy. My beautiful boy and I was besotted... 


Everything Changes: Working Out the "Working Mother" Bit

It's been a big week this week and, no, we haven't sold our house. In fact, it is no longer even on the market which was both a hea...