Wednesday, October 26, 2011

It's a hard life being six

I've often wondered over the last couple of years how life got so bloody complicated - three young children, a gorgeous but work-laden husband, a sick mum and a million other pebbles that make the road a bit harder to walk on. But as I watch my eldest daughter navigate the bright new path that lies ahead of her, I realise that no matter how hard my life can be - and it has pushed the acceptable boundaries of toughness of late - I realise it can never be as hard as a six year olds. Take Monday. All weekend we had looked forward to getting her dressed up for her school Halloween celebration, and I even got up ten minutes earlier so I had time to paint her face and make a winning witch out of her. Off we trotted to school, pink hair and green face to the wind. On approach I started to get an uneasy feeling but couldn't think why. Until her little voice strangled out the worst words a six year old can say...."Mummy, no one else is dressed up!" Yes, she'd got the wrong day and was the only spectre in the spectrum of the school building. At first I thought we could just laugh it off, but I soon realised the embarassment for her was too great. She was most definitely not laughing! So to prevent a full-blown fit, I had to borrow a uniform from the office and wash her make up off, but she still had to endure her pink tights and witch shoes all day, and various queries from her friends. When I laughingly suggested she dress as a ghost the next morning, I was met with a teary eye at the mere thought of it. Strange - from about 13 onwards all we want to do is stand out from the crowd, but until then, it is utterly excrutiating to be different. Poor thing.... she's only just able to make a meek smile at the mention of it.
And it gets harder and more confusing still.

While she is the child I've loved the longest, she will always be my guinea pig and that can be a bit of a swine. On same said Monday, I got annoyed with her for not keeping in her pink witch hair on the way - what did it matter that it was itchy! I had spent money and time getting it so she was being so ungrateful! (I know, bad parenting moment.... my inner child won over my mature mother). Two days later, when it was Poppy's turn to dress up (on the right day!), and Poppy took out her itchy hair, I merely smiled and said 'OK love, no worries.' What must poor Daisy think? She gets the trial run in the situation, while Poppy gets the practised, refined and more times than not, better responses.

While I do everything in my power to make her road as bright, as beautiful, as adventurous, as warm, as blanketed with love as I can, there will always be pebbles, and I suppose that is life - while we skip along happily, there is always the times we stub our toes. I just hope I can teach her that those are the times that should enable us skip on even higher.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Things I'd forgotten about toddlers

The human body really is an amazing thing. In the days after my three caesareans I thought I'd never feel whole again - now I can't even remember the pain. And our brains? They have an amazing capacity to remember the great stuff (the smell of a newborn head, the sound of that first gurgle) while blotting out all the hideous, death-defying stuff like torturous sleep deprivation, excrutiating nipples, baby smelly poos that push the boundaries of acceptability. And so it is, that as Ruby launches into her second year with a gusto that frankly I left behind in my thirties, I am shocked, stunned and a little put out by all the stuff I'd forgotten (or my brain happily sent to the slush pile.)

1. She is soooooooo rude! My lovely girls say please and thank you, they go to the toilet, and have some level of decorum at the dinner table. I've been lulled into a false sense of social grace. Ruby is just rude! She screeches her demands like a demented banshee without so much as a by your leave, she throws her food on the floor when it no longer holds her attention, she lets go of the smelly stuff at the most inopportune times, and frankly thinks she rules the roost.
2. She makes so much mess. I mean, seriously, inconceiveable mess. It's like her saliva contains a food-reproduction germ than means there is three times as much Weetabix on the walls and floor than was ever in her bowl. I can't believe she's thriving as none seems to go into her mouth - her ear, yes. Her hair, definitely. My clothes, absolutely.
3. She clings to my leg like a fully packed rubgy scrum. I literally have to cook with her climbing up my trousers, hoover with her under one arm, and apply mascara with her poking me in the eye. She even tries to get in the shower with me. I love her dearly, but PLEASE can I pee by myself!
4. She makes more noise than the other four members of her family put together. And then some. From the moment I am yanked from my sleepy slumber with her 6.30am screeching, to the moment I rock her with her night-time bottle she screams, yells, sings, cries, gives off, gives out, until I give in and pick her up, feed her, hold her, or whatever it is she wants. I am a hostage to a scream.
5. She doesn't listen to me. I was so over that phase and now it's quite a shock to realise that when I scream "NO!" as she waddles over to the moving escalator in the shopping centre, she isn't going to stop, turn round, and say, 'Oh, OK mum." No, she speeds up, laughs and keeps going. The word 'No' is a game to her. If I say no, it means she does what she was doing, only louder, faster and with an even minxier face than normal.

I'm dreading the Terrible Two's as I know I have abject amnesia from that time. Where's the gin?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Party politics

It has begun. Party politics..... at six. Daisy's forthcoming birthday party is turning into something akin to a CIA secret mission - we have subterfuge, secrecy, leaks, plots, diplomacy and coverups.... and that's just the invitations. Last year it seemed so simple. She invited her friends, I made princess magic mirror invites, everyone dressed in varying shades of pink, and the place was awash with Princess themed decor, food and games. This year, she wants a Fairy Party. I thought 6 year olds were over fairies. I was wrong. Children have been discussing their outfits with me for weeks! I have designed the cake, thought up the themed games and decor and we made 16 glittering winged fairy invites.
And then the trouble began. As we made out our list, I realised there were a few key friends missing. I asked why so-and-so and what's-her-name weren't invited. "They're too bossy," came the reply. "But they're you're friends and they invited you to their parties," I replied slightly preturbed how my own parent politics was going to deal with this as I met the mum's at the gates. A stubborn refusal was my answer. I left it, carried on sticking feather hair onto the fairy invites ("purple please, so they look like Katy Perry"). We talked about it a few more times, but she was resolute in her decision - she only wanted 'nice' people at her party. In the end I have decided to let her play it out.... I've warned her of the consequences, given her an aliby (I'm only allowing her 10 guests), and am secretly a little proud she is standing firm not to invite the 'popular, loud girls' but just the ones she really likes. But this is were the Mission Impossible begins. Try giving out invites to some parents and not others as we wait for the school doors to open (there is a school policy of not letting kids give out invites in class, for this very reason I suspect.) I've been so stressed this week, trying to whisper "pssst, it's an invite", while smiling at the mum across the yard who's daughter's not invited. It's taken 4 days to get them all delivered, and I'm worn out before I've even stuffed the goody bags. Three daughters, 18 years of parties ahead of me.... I'm off to buy some decent anti-wrinkle cream.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Talking around the issue

There are some things that have to be kept private - at least off the etheral, even for a blogger. And so I always find it hard to write my blog when a huge massive 'thing' is hanging over me that I won't or can't write about, because A) I might be arrested/committed/am ashamed; B)it affects someone else and their privacy is more important than my public therapy; and C) it's just too big and just too awful/difficult/hard to share. At the moment I am holding back on the keyboards with things that tick all those boxes. Some day I might share, perhaps I won't... but for now, I'll have to shift the hanging 'thing' and write around the issue in case people think I'm still hiding from my children under the stairs and can't get to my computer.

So I'm going to talk about the bi-polar effects of parenting - when your kids bruise and burst your heart in equal measure. Let's start with Daisy - so bright and beautiful and brilliant. I literally love everything about her, and am so proud of the every day little sparkles of goodness and guile. But she makes my heart tremor in fear as well as pride. She is sensitive and perhaps a little innocent (which is no bad thing in a nearly 6 year old methinks). But the other day, her friends were singing that extremely annoying Katy Perry song Fireworks which I have now had to download on their playlist. They were all dancing and singing to various pop songs when Daisy piped up (bless her, cringe, cringe) and suggested Puff the Magic Dragon. Oh how the faces of her mature, pop cultured friends fell. In fairness, Daisy ignored them and brazened on with her song, although petered out when she forgot the words of the third verse and everyone else had wandered off. I have never been cool, and I suspect Daisy will go through life like me liking what she likes (good) and having endless cringe-worthy moments of embarrassment (bad.) My heart bruises but as I defiantly listen to my Barry Manilow album I think, what's a little embarrassment in the grand scheme of things?
It's a bit different with Poppy, who for various reasons listed under B) above, I can't divulge the utter heart bashing I am having with her. She is the sweetest, most loving, funny child, and I have to steel myself for the battles ahead that she will have to fight, with her daddy and me by her side. But my heart bursts with ridiculous love when I see her overcome her littleness to be the best ballet dancer in class (honest, it's not just me who says that, but her teacher!), and scooting to school with her little legs going like the clappers, and her imaginary friend, 'Heart' who supports her everywhere and will always be her height.
And now we come to the last, but most certainly not least..... Ruby. Any thoughts I had that third children were meant to be quiet and easy going are rudely wrecked every morning with the screaching demanding squawks that announce Ruby's (and mine) start to the day. My heart bruises when I think of how she has had such a distracted mum over the last year, how she clings to my leg ferociously as if she knows I have only been half there. But it bursts when I see her enjoy life - even at one, when she goes to our little toddler group, and she stands defiantly in the middle of the room and dances and giggles with a confidence that shocks me. Who knows what bruising and bursting she will cause me in the years ahead, but like life I suppose, you take the good with the bad and wrap as much of it up as you can in love.