15 October 2011

A bad case of verbal diarrhoea

My youngest daughter has come down with a bad case of verbal diarrhea. Almost terminal I’d say (cos it’s tempting to strangle her at times).

As a parent you wait and wait and wait, each day more agonizing than the last, to hear that magical first word. Then, as their vocabulary increases, they’re so damn cute, so endearing, the funny little things they say as they learn the art of the spoken word. You take on their little mistakes and they become part of the family language. For instance, our eldest, for the longest time, said “sheeshu” for ‘thank you’. So now we all often say ‘sheeshu’ … even though it has been at least 3 years since she learned to say it properly.

Ring-around-the-rosies will never be the same for us, as our biggest little one was convinced that it wasn’t ‘ashes, ashes’ or ‘a-tishoo, a-tishoo’ in the middle … it was ‘angus, angus, we all fall down’. We used to roll around laughing, wondering who on earth Angus was and what he had to do with the plague that spawned this nursery rhyme.

But there comes a time when all this cuteness wears away and you realize that someone flipped the verbal switch on and it’s stuck. There’s no legal off switch. I suspect my long-suffering husband actually has panic attacks in the morning as he waits for the verbal onslaught that comes with living with three females.

My husband and I often have muttered moments together when we’re rolling our eyes and murmuring “duct tape, where’s the duct tape … will you just shut up!!” I know – it’s not very PC, it’s not even good parenting, but I defy anyone who owns a female 2- to 3-year-old to look me in the eye and say they’ve not once considered a muzzle.

Our littlest not only has no ‘stop’ button on her verbal flow, she now also tells you what she’s just said. Or what someone else has just said, someone sitting right next to you, someone who you had no trouble hearing the first time. Car trips have become their own special kind of torture. Owen will say “look, Leah, there are some lambs!” Silly boy. It’s like a spark to dry tinder. The wee mouth pops open and for five minutes we get “look, mummy, there’s lambs! Did you see lambs? Daddy say there’s lambs. I see lambs. Did you see lambs? Did you hear daddy say there lambs? I heard daddy say there lambs. I see lambs. Do you see lambs?”
In the front seat, there’s a muttered “you just had to start it off didn’t you!”. Or, if it’s a good day, I’ll join in “Look, Daddy, did you see the lambs?” … just to see the tortured look on his face. What fun!

Yesterday morning, we were desperately trying to pretend it wasn’t getting-up-time (it wasn’t, for most sane adults without small children! I guess we forgot who we are!). Leah’s in our room blurbling away and I’m under the covers with my ears blocked, crying “make it stop, make it stop …” (most ineffective, by the way). We finally hit upon the grand idea of telling her to go find a video to watch (hoping for a long period of choosing in which we can sleep just another few minutes – optimistic fools!). She toddles her pleased way out of the room and pauses at the door to say “bye bye. Sank you for having me” … and like magic, we’re laughing again. The new catch phrase for the day “sank you for having me” has just been found.

28 September 2011

When Good Clothes Go Bad

The trouble with tights? They just don’t do what they’re supposed to. In my experience, those sheer little suckers snag, run, get all ‘static-y’ on you, they fall down or strangle you round the middle or whatever, however, somehow, they – just – don’t – fit!! And you know what? If you DO manage to find the miracle pair that avoid all the above pitfalls, by the time you realize they’re the dream pair, you’ve long since chucked out the packaging and for the life of you, you won’t remember what brand they were, what size you bought or even, sometimes, the exact colour they were … because the people who make these female torture items don’t stick any freakin branding in them. No. I know we all hate having tags and most of us cut them off, but come on, a hint or two would be good!!

Now I recently did a little ‘research’ (i.e. I asked some people) for a presentation I had to do at work. And these are some of the things women said:

Sometimes they’re great; other times all you have to do is breath in and they shred.”

She’s not wrong. Breathing, let alone pulling them up just a little too roughly when you’re in a hurry!

They always slip down so you have a crotch midway to your knees. To remedy this I wear a pair of knickers over the top of my tights as well as underneath, which makes me feel like I’m wearing a nappy!

Now this is a brave woman. Not only for admitting it in public, but I don’t know many women who would be brave enough to wear three layers over her butt and that’s without counting the skirt.

And what about the nice shiny stockings that make whispery noises when you walk. Or am I the only one with fat thighs?”

Um no, you’re not the only one. I too have heard the whisper.

Sometimes you can pull them up high and help keep some of the belly in – all good until the moment when it’s most inconvenient they roll down and make the sticky-out bit of your stomach look worse.

Ha ha ha, oh she’s so on the button!!

That if I’m wearing a singlet, they appear to repel each other – singlet goes up, tights go down.

Ah, such wisdom … and that’s where the tummies like to peek out off. Eeeeuuuuuw!!

Now, when you think of all the other uses to which a plain pair of tights can be put, you wonder why the manufacturers haven’t hooked into the fact that tights don’t actually make very good tights. But they do make very good ... 
  • burglar masks;
  • fan belt replacements;
  • paint strainers;
  • shoe polishers;
  • ties for keeping trees tied to stakes;
  • pin cushions (put stuffing into a yoghurt container, stretch some pantyhose over the top – whippee … pin cushion!);
  • exfoliators (put a cup of oatmeal into the toe of a pair of pantyhose, tie it off, put it in your bath … the oatmilk comes out – full of vitamin E or something great for your skin [if you don’t mind smelling vaguely porridge like] and the hose is mildly exfoliating!);
  • I have it on good authority that kava is strained through it in Fiji;
  • and I have it on other good authority that they make darn fine pool filters.
Frankly, if I was in the employ of some pantyhose maker, I’d be ditching the ‘leg-covering’ market and going for the ‘wonder-product, can do anything; incredibly strong, yet amazingly soft’ market. And if my employer wouldn’t buy into that, I’d at least force them to add some teeny tiny piece of branding. Hear that, pantyhose makers? Put a damn clue in the things!

16 September 2011

"I was waving ..."

Ever wanted to have your say with the pain-in-the-arse driver that just displayed an appalling lack of manners and road etiquette?

We were driving to pick up the eldest girl-child from school this afternoon. Friday is my day to pick up Ruby and we both look forward to it. But it’s a fraught journey from my work, as it seems to take forever and I only just make it on time each week. I hyperventilate, I worry, I speed (shhh) … all because in my head I can hear my little 5-year-old crying at the school door when her Mummy isn’t there to collect her. So I know – it’s important to get to school on time. I realize that.

Today, the chap behind us from Silverdale thru to the school was hyperventilating slightly more than me … thankfully my husband was driving, as I think my road rage would have got the better of me if I had been driving. Anyways … this plonker is right up our butts. Then won’t let us ‘merge like a zip’ … he’s determined we’re not getting in. Thankfully, hubby of mine decided enough was enough and damn well merged like a zip … We started to mutter about the rude bugger behind us.

Then we got to the lights at which we turn right … and as we’re going into the right-turn lane, who’s there, but plonker head, trying to overtake us on the wrong side of the road. Hmm. In a 50km zone. Ok, we know you’re trying to get there by 3, but now you’re being plain stupid and dangerous. I look behind me … ok, I throw him one of my mummy ‘you better not mess with me’ glares. He pulls the finger at me (ooh!). I glare some more. Then Owen says “that’s xxx’s dad.” “who?” I say … “xxx … she’s in Ruby’s class.” Ha ha ha ha ha, I start laughing. I glance behind once again to get a good look at his face. I decide I’m going to have my say with this ‘gentleman’.

I wait outside Ruby’s class like a good Mumma (dickhead disappeared to park somewhere else, apparently). Ruby greets me as she always does on a Friday … “Mummy!” Big hug, excited chatter. I hug back, casting an eye over her shoulder to see if I can spot him. I do. Ferk – he’s huge. Big ginga fella with muscles and boots. I re-think my intent to have my say. Then I decide, no, bugger it. So when he comes out with his daughter, I step into line with them … “you look mighty familiar” I say. “Nope, don’t think I do” he says. “yes … you look just like the chap who gave me the finger about 5 minutes ago” … “no, I was waving” Here, I decide that I want to make this ‘friendly’ as we may well meet again, so I say “nope, that was definitely the finger … don’cha hate that? Turns out to be a parent in the same class!?” with a small (and slightly terrified and shocked at my daring) kind of laugh. He just said “yep” and walked away. However, him being a ginga … and kind of fair skinned … the bright red blush over his entire neck and face gave me the satisfaction I craved.

I hope next time I’m driving to Ruby’s school he has a few more manners. Or I’ll have to make him blush again. Him in his muscles and his boots.

12 August 2011

To go? Or not to go!

Taylor Swift is coming to New Zealand! This has led to a whole new round of discussion in our house. Because our 5-year-old is Taylor Swift mad, and has been since before she was 2. And going to a Taylor Swift concert would just blow her mind. Owen would love to take her; I’d love to see her face when she realizes Taylor Swift is a real person!

However, the point of our discussions is not which of us is going to take her, it’s whether 5 is too young for a concert. I maintain that it is. Owen thinks there’s nothing wrong with it.

The funny thing is that it’s a moot point. Our household scrapes by on a weekly basis, as we have chosen that our priority is to have one parent home with the kids. And my salary is definitely not at the higher end of the scale. So taking a 5-year-old to a concert is not something that’s going to happen this side of the single-salary experience! And yet, the debate continues.

I took Ruby to The Wiggles about 2 years ago and that was amazing – and she loved it. But I’d be hard put to argue that she wouldn’t have felt the same way if I’d just taken her to a movie (which, these days costs almost as much as a flipping concert, and, yes, I do know I’m showing my age when I start ranting on about the cost of movies! Seven dollars. Seven. That’s what they used to cost in my day! On the expensive nights. But I digress).

Admittedly, I was a little socially … erm … deprived … as I too grew up in a household with very little money, with 4 kids plus hangers on, and anyway, it was 30+ years ago and NZ didn’t have concerts back then. Or maybe that was just what my parents told me! So I was about 18 when I went to my first concert. I know … that’s just embarrassing, but it was amazing! The lights! The sound! The atmosphere! The excitement! And that’s what I think concerts should be like. A fantastic new experience that you remember for a long, long time, if not the rest of your life! They shouldn’t be something that you start going to when you’re 5 and by the time you’re 16 they’re old hat and you’re looking for something new and far more exciting.

If they’ve ‘been there and done all that’ when they’re in their early teens, what’s next? Is that where the drugs and the drink and the sex come in? The next big excitement?

Ok, so I’m not advocating that concerts should be R20 … my particular experience was perhaps a little extreme and ridiculous! And I’m certainly not maintaining that 5-year-olds who go to concerts end up doing drugs when they’re 14. But I would expect that a 14- or 15-year-old would be heading off, flushed with huge excitement, to their first concert. Or am I just terribly, horribly old fashioned and my teen-to-be is going to teach me some hard lessons in the next decade or so?

But my kid (whether I like it or not, let alone whether she likes it or not) is going to attend her first concert when she has enough cash to buy the ticket for herself (ok, we might chip in for half of it if she looks at us with enough tears in her eyes and the performer is so old he or she probably won’t be around by the time my eldest can save up enough for the outrageous price of tickets [there I go again!]). So for now I’m going to stick to ‘you’re not old enough and we can’t afford it’! Actually, for the moment, I’m going to stick to ‘yes, that’s a poster of Taylor Swift’ and not mention the word ‘concert’ at all. That should work until she learns to read. Next week.

09 August 2011

Living it real

As I watch my kids laugh, fight, play and learn, I’m often struck by how honestly and in-the-moment their lives are lived. I have a laminated poster at my desk that says ‘live in the moment, the future will take care of itself’. Nice sentiment, but it’s been there so long it’s like wallpaper to me and I no longer notice it at all. Ruby and Leah, however, and all kids of their age, live that to the full. It set me to wondering what it would be like to live like they do …

I got given a very nice bottle of wine the other day for doing a good job. I was pleased but kinda embarrassed and so I tucked it away out of sight and carried on quietly doing a good job.
But if I morphed into a toddler/kid … not only would I not have been impressed with a bottle of wine (too fizzy on my tongue), I would have been far happier with a sticker … or, total excitement … one on EACH hand!! Then I would have run round the office whooping it up, jumping up and down in front of everyone, shoving my hands in front of their face, forcing them to admire my prize, nodding proudly, grinning like a lunatic, shouting “look what I got, YES, I done good job!!” and then gone back to my desk, feverish to do more ‘good job’ and looking up every now and then to make sure my boss was watching – possibly yelling at her to “watch me!!” if she happened to look away …

Eating out
Most people will have, at some point, forced their way through a meal out of sheer manners. Gulped it down and politely finished what really wasn’t finishable. Or worse, eaten and paid for a very sub-standard meal and been too timid to complain. But we’ve all seen the ‘bugger everyone’s feelings’ attitude towards food displayed by our littlies. So next time I go out for dinner and don’t like the food, maybe I’ll take a leaf out of their books … make gagging noises, open my mouth and push the food out with my tongue, letting it land where it may. Wipe my tongue on my sleeve and announce “ooh yukky. Don’t like that. Not eat it.” Then I’ll look at my neighbour’s plate, sidle over to sit on their lap and intercept their forkload of much better looking food. Or, while they’re looking away to have polite conversation, I’ll finger through their dinner and pick out the bits I like, spitting the bits I don’t like back onto their plate … and when they look back in horrified surprise, I’ll grin cheerfully at them. With their dinner smeared across my cheeks and all over my hands.

My daughters, like most kids at some point, have been the source of great embarrassment when they won’t display the good manners I’m trying to teach them. Etiquette around the issue of visiting and being visited, in particular, is a tricky one. Wonder what will happen if next time a friend comes to visit me and I walk out of the room to go do something else. Just cos I don’t feel like their company. Perhaps I should just say ‘don’t want to talk to you any more. Go home.’ Conversely, when a lovely friend comes to visit, we have a great time but then she has to go … I’ll use kid tactics! I’ll stand in front of the door and not let her out. I’ll refuse to say ‘goodbye’ and instead yell ‘No! You stay! Play wiv me!’ I’ll hide her shoes and tell her she has to find them before she can go. Yup – should work a treat!

Imagine making small talk at a party when you realize you’ve quite simply had enough of this person. In our world, we carry on making small talk until we can find a polite excuse to move on. But in kid world you simply say ‘don’t want talk to you’ and turn your head away. Or you cover your eyes so they can’t see you. Very effective.

Yes indeedy … a bit more living in the moment, a bit less PC … at least we’ll all know where we stand!!

04 August 2011

Things you should know

I’ve been pondering recently on ‘things new parents should know’, and of course, once I start pondering on things, they tend to escalate until eventually my head will explode if I don’t tell at least someone!

Absolutely everyone with the slightest smidgeon of experience with children (and quite a few with no experience!) has advice they want to impart. You will quickly find that most of it is conflicting, sometimes ridiculous, often offensive and still more often it is just plain laughable. Regardless, I now feel compelled to add my two cents’ worth to the confusing mix!

1. Do what you want
This is by far and away the most important of my little gems of wisdom. From the minute (and even before!) you get pregnant you will be the recipient of the above-mentioned unsolicited advice. From the most well meaning of people. Be as polite as you feel the need to be and then ignore it. Or try it, if you feel it might work for your family. But don’t, for goodness sake, feel that it’s gospel just because it comes from another mother, your parent, Plunket or even your Doctor. Opinions are just that. The clinical trials and the textbooks have never studied your child or your family or your relationship. Educate yourself. Find out the facts. Listen to others’ experiences. And then do whatever the heck you want if it works for you and your family! One of my very good friends told me “read the books … and then throw them away and get to know your baby.” Things finally started going right for me and mine when I followed her very wise words.

2. They don’t break
When my first baby was only hours old, the nurse strode into my room and proceeded to manhandle my child in ways I never thought possible (or legal). She seemed to throw her around the room and tie her in knots, flipping her over and under and around and upside down. She eventually handed her to me looking like Ghandi after he’d been through a tumble dryer in his white robes. That kid was done up tighter than a straight jacket and with not a buckle in sight (it’s called swaddling, by the way). I couldn’t figure out whether to have instant heart failure or to lay a complaint over the careless way in which my child had just been flung about. I would have checked her for bruises if only I’d known how to undo the darn wrap! But actually – it turned out my bubba liked being wrapped up tighter than an Easter egg! She stopped crying (well – once she’d pulled and grunted and tugged and snarled and got one arm free). So I had my first lesson in swaddling and simultaneously learned that they don’t break. Granted – it’s not good to drop them on the floor, but really, they’re pretty bendy, forgiving little things!

3. It’s not a doll
Okay – having said all that about them not breaking … nor are they dolls. You know how you used to balance your doll on its head so you could pull her trousers over her legs? Nope. Won’t work. Re-read the thing above about them being bendy. Just watch how the nurses do it. If all else fails, wrap them in a towel. So long as they’re warm and dry, they don’t give a flying fig about the art of clothing.

4. They will make you cry. They will make you laugh.
The experiences you have as a parent will drag you to the depths of depression and they will take you on highs that you have never experienced. You will belly laugh at the dumbest things in a way you haven’t done since you were a baby yourself. You will sit on the floor and sob until your eyes and throat hurt. You will doubt yourself 100 times over. And the minute they need you, you will go back and willingly offer them your soul all over again in a heartbeat.

5. Babies smell good.
Look out for this one. I’m not talking baby soap, or baby powder – it’s the actual baby. Some people I’ve spoken to haven’t experienced it, but both my babies smelled soooo good. Better than chocolate. I wanted to eat them (maybe I’m part praying mantis). Seriously. I used to pick up my new babies for a ‘kiss’. It looked like a cuddle, but if you had watched closely, you would have seen that I was actually having a good long drawing-in of baby-scented air. Even their breath smells good (note that I’m talking brand-new baby here, not toddler. Toddlers stink). But try it. Just a furtive sniff when you first get a chance. I hope it’s there for you.

6. Babies look funny.
You watch – the drunk look when they’ve just had a good feed. Hilarious. Get a photo; they’ll love it at their 21st. Same when they’re doing a poo – the studied concentration, then the surprise, then the relief. Get one of those cameras that can take photos in quick succession.

Ok, that’s it for the advice and tips for today. I’m dry. Downloaded. Please add your own tips and I’ll see what percolates in my head overnight!!  ;-)

01 August 2011

Well, I didn’t expect that!

My baby started school today. In her too-big uniform, with her hair looking tidier than it has for months. With her huge school bag and her carefully packed lunch (that she’d helped to make – I firmly believe in starting ‘em young!).

I knew I would feel a pang as we left her, but my husband cares for our girls all day, so I expected that the biggest impact would be for him and his routine and that he would be saddest. But as she went to sit on the mat, it was my confident girl’s unexpected timidity in the face of a classroom of new kids that made me have to quickly turn so she didn’t see me cry. Oops, didn’t expect that.

As we left, three other mothers from other classrooms noticed the sniffle and the watery eyes and spoke up to reassure me and laugh with me and share their own experiences of their first leavings. So kind, so open, so generous! Didn’t expect that! And after trying to do that for other mums in so many ways since I first experienced the reality of mothering, it was so lovely to have it returned, and so spontaneously. These are women I hope to see again in our school journey, but if I don’t, I am grateful for their understanding today.

I received a phone call at midday – my husband – and I could hear our newly abandoned and lonely 2-year-old ‘baby’ hiccupping in the background. She’d been sobbing and asking to ‘go pick-up Wooby, want pick-up Wooby’. Oops – we hadn’t expected that and had to quickly formulate a plan to help transition our little one through this change. And I was stuck at work on the end of a phone. Tears in the eyes again – oops, hadn’t expected that!

At 4pm, I got another call – husband again – did I want to talk to Ruby on the phone? Huh? Ruby is vehemently opposed to talking on the phone. She adamantly refuses to talk to anyone via any sort of telecommunications device (yes, the irony of this is not lost on us, and we know that we will look back on these days and laugh ourselves sick while we install a second phone line so we can make the occasional call of our own). But she wanted to tell me about school. Apparently it was ‘fine’. And she made a friend at lunchtime! Yay – the shy genes of the mother have not been visited on the daughter.

A few weeks ago I had been terribly upset at the realization that I wouldn’t be home at the time that Ruby returned from school, wouldn’t be there to hear books being read, help with homework, see the paintings from today. This hurt badly on two levels: (a) I wanted to be the Mum who did all that; and (b) in a previous life, I completed 2 years of primary teacher training … this is the age group and education that I know … I’m ready and waiting to get in there … but will be stuck at work. Then a lovely friend let me in on a secret: that when they come home from school, they’re tired and just want to chill and play. That when I get home at 5.30, they’ll be ready to talk about school and do homework. Oh! Didn’t expect that! Yippee! And sure enough, when I got home, she couldn’t wait to ‘read’ to me, and we stayed up a bit later tonight, doing ‘homework’ together. What fun! Counting to 20! Sorting the alphabet (Mum, what’s elamenna? “ahem, well, that would be l, m, n, o…”). Reading little words! Putting ticks in the ‘I’ve read this book to Mum’ column. Bliss, joy, excitement, laughs. Boy – I was hoping for all that but still didn’t totally expect it!

My baby started school today, but it was a journey we all began together.

07 July 2011

I DO like them, Sam I am!

I didn’t start this blog with the intention of making it all about ‘things that are hard for parents’. But I am a parent and it turns out that lots of things are hard in this role, and so tonight’s notes are again on the ‘tough stuff’ because we have again reached a milestone. And it’s another milestone that no-one but a parent (or perhaps a nurse or a Dr) really understands. So, what is it?
Drum roll please … Tonight our 2-year-old took medicine from a spoon … willingly …

There. One sentence is going to sort the ‘knowing’ from the ‘unknowing’. Because anyone who has tried to force medicine down a small person’s throat will, quite simply, understand that no longer having to force it is a momentous … err… moment.

The thing with medicine is that when your child needs it, they gotta have it. Back to the ‘choice’ thing! No matter how much they cry and then scream and then spit and snarl and struggle and, finally, run and try to hide at the very whiff of a child-resistant cap being twisted, they have to have it and you have to give it to them.

Our eldest is on the verge of turning 5. She is now actually jealous that our youngest had medicine tonight and she didn’t. Oh, how the wheel turns!!! That child was a monster. We tried … boy oh boy we tried. We tried EVERYTHING.

I have, at different times in the first 2 years of her life, found myself using a syringe to put medicine into a Just Juice box (the ‘she likes juice boxes and she can’t see the medicine’ theory). No good. I have mixed antibiotics with honey and made a sandwich with it (the ‘she adores honey and won’t notice the medicine’ theory). Failed. I have mixed it with ice cream. Nope. I have mixed it into a paste with drinking chocolate. Nope. I have mixed it with strawberry yoghurt. Nope. I have bribed her with chocolate. Nope. I have threatened. Nope. I have cajoled. Nope. I have tried cups, special spoons, tiny bottles with a special teat, big syringes, small syringes. I have tried it all and I have failed more times than I care to remember. I have had pamol vomited down my front. I have had painkillers and antibiotics spat in my eye. I have opened my mouth at the wrong time and had antibiotics spat into it. It is evidently possible to spit, scream AND keep your teeth tightly clenched closed at the same time. What I have not yet had is the police turn up at my door to find out who’s being tortured … and THAT I find the hardest to believe.

Eventually, I learned a hold from a pediatric nurse. You sit on the floor with their head between your thighs (the child, not the nurse). Almost from whence they came if you get my drift. You put their arms under your upper thighs and you put their legs under your lower legs. They literally cannot move (I hasten to add that they can still spit, just in case you were inspired to try this one). Then you syringe in the medicine bit by bit, and blow on their nose to force a swallow. However, I must add that they can choke a bit too cos they’re lying flat on their back. Still – it IS a good hold for putting eye medicine in, so don’t completely disregard it.

Two or three weeks ago, I had a mammoth show-down with my youngest. There was howling, there was screaming, there was struggling, there was sobbing (that was me), there was spitting, there was swearing (me again), there was antibiotics in the eye (yep, me again). There was giving up (me), there was running away. Eventually there was story-time followed by an enforced 2-3 mL followed by another story-time followed by 2-3 mL until finally we had 10 mL in the tummy of the one with the chest infection. I think we’d actually gone through 20 mL in the process. It took an hour. We were both exhausted and upset and stressed. There is little more heartbreaking than watching a very sick 2-year-old stand facing the wall (anything to avoid looking at you), while her thin little shoulders shudder and her head tips back to wail like an injured wolf because of something you are doing to her.

And then about 4 hours later, we had to do it all again. The wailing started … and then it stopped. She turned around, took out her dummy and opened her mouth. Accepted the syringe, swallowed the medicine like she’d been doing it all her life, popped her dummy back in and simply wandered away. Leaving me holding an empty syringe in one hand while the other hand collected my jaw up off the floor. What the …?? Did she just decide that the medicine didn’t taste that bad after all? Did she realize after fighting mummy for an hour the previous time that it was inevitable and I wasn’t going to give up so she may as well just do it? Was I being played? Was I (yet again) in the twilight zone (who are you and where is my child?!). Eventually I stopped trying to figure it out and danced a little happy jig and updated my Facebook status instead. Wahoo … took medicine like a lamb.

Tonight I said to her “I think you need some medicine tonight to make you feel better” (thinking, huh, yeah right). She simply said “yes, wiv a poon” (translated, that means “yes, with a spoon” – the nearly-five-year-old translated for me). Okayyyy, I thought – off a spoon huh – I’d like to see this one! So I duly got out a spoon, I measured the medicine, she opened her mouth, I put the spoon in, she swallowed the medicine, had a cuddle and was away to bed. Done. Zip. Sitting next to her later while she dozed off, I suddenly realized – I’m done! I very likely will never have to grit my teeth and force a syringe into a child’s mouth. It is entirely possible I will never again have pamol in my eye. We can quite probably throw away the syringes and just have a couple of spoons. Wow. My girls are growing up.

And best of all, I will never have to sit on the floor and cry like a baby because I just did any of the above to a screaming, sick, upset child.

It’s just occurred to me that Dr Seuss was probably a parent. Green Eggs and Ham, after all, is about Sam mercilessly chasing ‘the other one’ around, suggesting every way in the world to get him to try the aforementioned green eggs and ham. Finally, out of exhaustion, ‘the other one’ gives in and tastes it, and whaddya know? “I do! I do like green eggs and ham! Thank you, Sam I am!”

06 July 2011

You think you're tired?

One of the things I have learned since becoming a parent is this: until I had children I had not experienced tiredness. Don’t get me wrong, I definitely thought I had been tired!

Yes indeedy, I proudly held up my all-nighters on essays as proof of my hardiness.

Once I worked two straight weeks with no weekend because they were paying me good money to. Yip, I was tired then!

I have run camps where I have been busy chasing children, counseling the counselors and getting ready for the next day long past when I should have been and had 3 hours’ sleep before getting up to chase children all over again. Oh boy, I was tired then, that’s for sure!

But I have discovered that one thing holds all those instances apart. Choice. I had a choice. At times I didn’t think I did, but I did. I could have walked away, I could have said “crikey dick, I really need to lie down” and gone and done so.

But as a parent, exhaustion hits a new high (low?). Because there is no choice. You may have worked a 9-hour day. You may have scrubbed two bathrooms. You may have entertained guests for dinner and then stayed up a bit longer reading a good book (verrrry verrrry silly idea, that one!) because you were on a bit of a high because they asked for seconds of dinner and the recipe.

But Murphy’s Law is so very much alive in the world of parenting that this will be the one night in a hundred that your child will develop a tummy bug. And just as your tired eyes gratefully close and you snuggle into your comfy pillow,  you will hear a strange coughing noise that sounds wrong somehow. So you will haul yourself back off your comfy pillow to ‘just go and check’. And you will find they have power-puked … all over the bed and down the wall and somehow into the chest of drawers.

So I’m sorry, you can be as tired as you like, you can be nearly fainting with exhaustion yourself, but there is no choice but to undress (while trying to avoid getting puke in their hair), wash and re-dress that child, strip the bed, wipe down the wall, sort the clean from the grubby clothes (or just grab the lot and fling them all in the machine), find an ice cream container for the next round (there is never only one power-puke), rub their back, cuddle them, convince them to lie down. Then you stand in the hall and try to figure out which is worse – rinsing out the puked-on duvet now when you’re so tired or waking up knowing you have to do it before breakfast.

But you’re tired … so tired … so you sink into your bed … and your eyes float closed … you sigh … you snuggle to get comfy … … and then … you hear a strange coughing noise. (At this point, please re-read the previous paragraph and imagine yourself going through the same routine all over again, only this time you’re digging for blankets because you only had one spare duvet).

Ok, at this point I’ll let you get a little sleep, but only for half an hour at a time because the puker is now in bed with you – it just seems easier that way – but it does mean you’re jumping at every remotely cough-like sound. Oh, but wait – what’s that I hear? Yes! That’s your alarm. It’s time to get up. And go to work.

NOW you’re tired.

((Addendum. It has been pointed out to me that in fact it is not like this in our house. That there are in fact two of us and we in fact work as a team and that in fact my marvelous house-husband in fact washed that puked-on duvet! Indignant yelp! I agree with him. Totally deserved righteousness. But we’re still tired. You know who are REALLY tired? Single parents. I take my hat off to you time and again. Usually when I’m thinking I’m tired.))

03 July 2011

Farewelling history

Tonight my husband and I said goodbye to something that has been a major part of our lives for over 4 years and through two babies. It was time (actually, according to Plunket, it was well past time!). We did it without fanfare and there's no-one who will notice any change in our lives. Tonight, we gathered up our collection of baby bottles and threw them away. Bits of plastic filled with history, fling … gone.
But I’m one of those who firmly believes in the marking of transitions, and those small plastic containers held so many moments for us, so we took one at a time and said our piece over it before flinging it into the recycling bin.
  • For the first time I attached a funnel to my breast and pumped pure love into you so my husband could give you to my tiny baby while I cried upstairs because (a) that tiny stubborn baby wouldn’t accept a bottle if I was in the room but (b) I was going back to work in a week and that stubborn baby needed to learn to drink from it. Ping. Gone.
  • For the hundreds of times after that first time that I attached that same funnel, so that in the end I was like an SAS troop member assembling a gun … click, twist, rustle, snap … pump … done! Ping. Gone.
  • For the many mornings I expressed milk into you, while half dressed in work clothes, one eye on the clock, wishing I was feeding it to my baby myself. Ping. Gone.
  • - For the many times I bared my breast at work to fill you with my body’s love while trying not to freeze to death in the basement sick room. Ping. Gone.
  • For the first time I filled you at work and then, sobbing, had to empty you down the sink because the milk was filled with drugs and I could no longer give it to my baby but my breasts couldn’t understand that they weren’t needed. Ping. Gone.
  • For the first time I filled you with formula and prayed to whoever was listening that I wasn’t the world’s worst mother for resorting to formula in order to save my sanity and loosen the superwoman cape that was threatening to strangle me. Ping. Gone.
  • For the many nights we filled you and gave you to a crying baby in desperate, pleading hope that the screaming was simply hunger. Ping. Gone.
  • For the few and not-very-successful times we mixed antibiotics into milk/formula in you and handed you to a baby … only to have to retrieve it from wherever it was thrown. Ping. Gone.
  • For the hundreds of times we trudged to the kitchen, squinting in the light at 2, 3, 4a.m. to fill you with formula. Ping. Gone.
  • For the many times recently we’ve been asked to go and get you, duly warmed milk and filled you, only to find you still full an hour later, clasped tightly in a toddler’s sleeping hand … quite obviously no longer needed but clung to out of habit and warmth. Ping. Gone.
  • For the many hundreds of times we’ve washed, scrubbed and sterilized you. Ping. Gone.
Dear bottles. We can’t honestly say we’ll miss you, but you kept us company through the rockiest, loveliest, hardest, scariest and most tiring part of our lives (so far). Rest easy as a polyprop jumper somewhere keeping someone else warm … unless, of course, you turn up back on our doorstep on Thursday morning with a notice stuck to you announcing that the Council doesn’t recycle this kind of plastic.