Small Expectations

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It is the end of January, and I can’t help but take a sigh of relief. There is something about the weeks after Christmas and New Year, when winter really starts to set in and the days are short, wet and cold, that get me all in a muddle. And I think this year, I was hit with a double-whammy… The January Blues happened to coincide with my baby blues.

For some reason, every time I hit around the 4-5 month stage, I find myself feeling a little blue. Quite tired, stressed, a bit down and overwhelmed by it all. And I think, now that I seem to have come through the other side (some things you only see with the benefit of hindsight), I have finally realised why.

You see, the first 3 months of your baby are full of the newness, excitement, awe and wonder of it all…call it the honeymoon phase. Every day you marvel at this perfect little being that has come into your life, and the euphoria spills over into all other areas of life. Tantrums by older siblings fail to frustrate, because the idea that you get to be the one to shape and mould these little lives explodes your brain all over again. Cleaning, cooking and chores are re-infused with meaning, because you are providing clothing and shelter for these divine creatures.

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But, even more importantly, your expectations are SMALL. “Yay, we got out of the house, all clothed and fed (for the most part).” “Yay, we made it to the shops and back without anyone getting lost or fatally hurt.” “Yay, I managed to make lunch, breastfeed and get a load of laundry in.” “Yay, for five minutes everyone has been QUIET.”

Then, as you slowly get the hang of things, adjusting to the new family size, different routines and figuring out what time you need to get up in the mornings to have five minutes in the shower, you get braver and bolder, and your expectations increase. No longer is it enough to just get everyone fed and clothed and then to bask in the joy of your little brood. NO, now you need to get the floor swept as well, and all the breakfast dishes in the sink BEFORE leaving the house.

No longer is it enough to enjoy the fact that everyone is busying themselves quietly with books or puzzles or toys for five minutes. NO, now you need to make sure that you get an interesting art project in at least once a week, and good heavens but Evie needs more tights and Isaac really could do with a haircut.

Stress mounts imperceptibly, and before I know it my to-do lists are running off the page. Also, with the better sleep and longer evenings comes the feeling that I really ought to be taking on more responsibilities outside of my little home. I itch for something different, something bigger…something more ‘impactful’, I feel.

So I take on more mentoring roles at church, I become more involved in the school PTA, I volunteer to bake, I volunteer to help decorate Santa’s Grotto (side rant – is there anything more lame than Santa’s Grottos?? Even the one at Westfield failed to impress). I go crazy with the calendar, inviting all sorts of people round for tea, for dinner, for lunch. I cut myself less slack around the house; one healthy meal a day is no longer enough, dust on the coffee table seems to indicate personal weakness of character and organisation.

Before I know it, I am too busy, tired and stressed. I end up feeling incredibly frustrated with Judah for needing to be fed right at the moment I am trying to make a call. I end up barking at Isaac and Evie to hurry up and get their coats on because we’re running late because I felt I absolutely must make the beds before we leave. The penny drops, and I realise I have it all backwards.

It reminds me of Dickens’ devastating book Great Expectations, where a young boy called Pip is ruined of enjoying his life as a humble forge apprentice by the promise of a great increase in his fortunes, and the tantalising lure of a life and a love far above his current expectations. He is set up for a crushing disappointment by the cruel and haunted (and slightly insane) Miss Havisham, who intends him to feel the pain of her own heartbreak and disillusionment by not delivering all she has promised, and marrying off her beautiful daughter to another man. All is resolved in the end, but the lesson is clear: be happy and grateful for what you have – you can never have it back once it’s gone.

So now, having taken a few steps back, (and realising that I still have a very little baby for crying out loud – 6 months today, actually!) I am committed to smaller expectations. Smaller expectations that make sure the important things of life are what really matter. Time to exclaim at pretty reflections in the puddles on the way to school. Time for smooches and wrestle-cuddles, no matter how busy and hectic the day is. Time for impromptu tea-parties. Yes, it is lovely to be able to invite more friends over for dinner, and yes, I do like having all the washing done at the end of the day. But not at the expense of enjoying my little brood.

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The things that are seen are temporary;
The things that are unseen are eternal.

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Purple, Rabid Minions

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I don’t know what it is about bath-time. Every night, no matter what time it is or how tired Isaac and Evie are, this miraculous transformation occurs as soon as their dripping feet hit the bathmat. In the short space of time it takes for me to throw the towel around their shoulders, they become these naked whirling dervishes who shimmy around shrieking at the tops of their voices.

Usually this ends with them disappearing underneath one of the duvets, naked rear-ends whisked out of sight. Oblivious to my orders to get out and get dressed, a quivering, giggling mass under the bedclothes, I realise I have to join their little game or be thoroughly beaten. So I sigh, assume a ferocious growl and pounce….

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Eventually they are all sitting sweetly, pyjamas on, while Papa reads them bedtime stories, with no trace of the energetic performances only a few minutes previously. It never fails to amaze me how quickly they can transition from one state of being to the next. Although their antics are very funny and entertaining at times, on the whole it is thoroughly exhausting!

They remind me a little of the minions in one of our favourite animated movies, Despicable Me. Those cute little yellow guys who speak in gibberish and laugh at silly things like gurgling water fountains and photocopied bottoms. They encapsulate the innocence and capriciousness of childhood to a ‘T’. The second film, however, which came out just recently, showcases a type of super-minion who has been transformed by an evil superhero into a rabid, purple, and indestructible monster who quivers uncontrollably and says, “Bah!” I fear my offspring are more reflective of this latter stage of minion evolution than the former.

This week I felt like I, too, have assumed some of the “purple-rabid-minion”-esque qualities. Although mine has not been induced by some powerful concoction being injected to me, but rather from the simple fact that I have not allowed myself to drink tea or coffee. Our church has gone on a fast this week, in order to “consecrate” ourselves to God for 2014. I thought I was being clever by fasting tea and coffee, instead of food. It has not been pretty.

Evil-Minion

I don’t often do well on fasts. Generally it seems that the inner beast is revealed, as I am either extremely grumpy from being hungry or craving something, or having a huge headache from my body detoxing. Like this week, by the end of day one I was so desperate for a cup of tea that I was shoving chocolate down my throat and lying down under a blanket in an attempt to placate my deprived body. Woe-betide the poor person who wanted to wake me for something and got hissed at. There is something wrong with this picture, I thought to myself, surely the point of a fast is not to deprive yourself of one thing so that you can comfort yourself with another thing? Surely it is to remind oneself that “man cannot live by bread [or tea] alone”?

Well. Point proven. I am utterly useless without tea, and, for that matter, without God. Thankfully I have taken most of today to redeem my horrid behaviour this week, and it has been much better. Hopefully all purple minions have been banished from the house…. At least until after bath tonight.

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Thank you, Mr Postman

As my late Grandpa Boo used to say, “Too much of a good thing is….Wonderful!” That’s sort of what post-Christmas excess feels like. We have eaten too much, watched too much TV, slept too much (although as a parent of young kids that is almost impossible) and definitely got too many toys!

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What excitement there has been each time there is a sound at the front door! Evie drops whatever she is doing, screams, “Post!” and runs to see if there is anything shoved through the letterbox or lying on the floor. Most days it’s just bills or leaflets, but this month all sorts of interesting parcels, cards and packages have been arriving. I have had a hard time convincing them that there is “probably nothing interesting inside” and that “we should wait until Christmas” before opening them.

What amazing spoiling went on this Christmas – Lego and treehouses and puzzles and all sorts of games and books. What the Grandparents missed out on in face-time this year they definitely made up for in toys. I’m sure the Amazon.co.uk employees were cursing inwardly, frantically scrambling through their gigantic warehouses to find items as Isaac and Evie’s grandparents happily clicked away on the other side of the world.

I do feel sorry for those luckless Christmas elves working at online retailers, or Royal Mail employees for that matter. They have their work cut out for them to wrap, post, carry and deliver countless parcels and Christmas cards while we sit at home on our computers and sigh, “Ah, Christmas shopping is so much easier this way,” and reach for another chocolate, feeling rather clever.

Amazon package

But I guess Christmas is about sitting back and letting somebody else do the work, (as I am all too painfully aware of as a parent of young kids who are reaching the age of “Christmas awareness”). I had no idea of the amount of cooking, planning, wrapping and preparation involved to make a happy and exciting Christmas for everyone! As I look back on countless Christmases and holidays through my childhood I marvel at the supreme sense of entitlement I had – Of Course there would be lots of food, Of Course there would be lots of presents, of course there would be lots of swimming in the pool and playing with cousins outside (I grew up in the Southern Hemisphere), and of course all of this would just “magically” happen.

That is one of the glories of childhood; a blissful unawareness of responsibility, and I’m not suggesting that that should change. But I do find myself so grateful for the hard work that my own mother must have put in in the past, and even indeed for the people who do some of my unpleasant work in the present. I noticed this morning, as we were having Simon’s fabulous scrambled eggs and bacon, that the rubbish men were out, collecting all the bin bags and recycling. For a moment I wanted to rush out and offer them hot chocolate and mince pies, saying thank you for their tireless service while we laze about in pyjamas. But, the moment passed, and my senses returned (Thankfully, I thought, as I poured myself another cup of tea).

But the sentiment has remained, and I am so grateful for the many people who work hard to make our lives and special holidays what they are – the patient shop assistants, deliverymen, online retailers, street sweepers, rubbish collectors, postmen, and yes, mothers. I do hope that they know how valuable they are, and what a gift they give us, even if we don’t always show our appreciation. Maybe in the New Year I’ll have some hot chocolate and mince pies ready for the next postman who knocks on our door…. Maybe.

Postman Pat

Deck The Halls

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It’s that time of year…. Lights everywhere, laughing children, a myriad of Christmas decorations (some tasteful, some less so), a sense of magic and mystery in the air. Everyone seems happy to see you – I get a chocolate with my latte at the local coffee shop, the ill-fated customer services assistants at the till wearing Santa-hats are all smiles (they are obviously delighted with the rise in sales) and even the grumpy Laundromat owner whose good cheer usually could curdle milk wishes me a “happy Christmas”. Everyone is full of “peace and goodwill to all mankind”.

Everyone that is, except the mothers. You look at these haggard, frantic poor souls desperately trying to tick off the to-do lists, buggy’s creaking under the weight of presents and bags and last-minute errands and decorations and Christmas cards, trying to remember what day the school Christmas lunch is, which old uncle and aunt has been forgotten off the Christmas card list and whether they have got enough spices for the mulled wine. They smile when they see you, but their eyes look slightly mad and there is a nervous tick in their necks. What they’re really saying is, “Somebody, please! Kill Santa and rescue me from this madness!” Or perhaps it’s just me.

I am so so utterly tired from the last two weeks. I was frantically sewing on buttons for Isaac’s Christmas school play, helping him sign 30 Christmas cards for all his classmates, making and decorating Christmas cards for our friends and family, baking, shopping, planning, etcetera etcetera ad infinitum. I thought I was doing better than last year, when I really was such a Grinch I didn’t even feel like having a Christmas tree. But I seem to have swung totally the other way, and now I feel like the best part of Christmas is going to be the day after. They should have a national day called “National Mother’s Day Specifically For Mums Recovering From Christmas”, when all the mums strung out on wrapping paper, endless ribbon and turkey stuffing can go to a quiet place and rock to and fro.

All was redeemed this morning, however. There was a beautiful moment, when we were all sitting in the school hall watching the kids sing Christmas carols. They started on Away in A Manger, and immediately the tears welled up. Not because I was remembering the scratchy Mary-costume made out of old curtains that my mom made for me when I was little, but because finally, I felt that the true meaning of Christmas was being communicated. It isn’t about the lights, or the chocolates, or the cards, or even the presents…it’s about a King being born into the world. And he was born in a simple stable, with straw and cows and sheep…. not with a whole lot of grandeur and pomp, or even much planning on Mary’s part.

So, I am hanging up my Santa hat and leaving all the planning be (for now). I want to enjoy Christmas for what it’s really about – celebrating something wonderful and special with the people who I love. And yes, there will be lights, and yes there will be chocolate. But, hopefully, there will not be stress. Thank God for Christmas. What a special, magical, time of year it is indeed.

Why I’ll Never Be A Ballet Dancer

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Evie and I are watching Tchaikovsky’s ballet “The Nutcracker”, admiring the pretty dancing and soaking in the glorious music. The costumes are gorgeous, the dancers beautiful (even the men – why, Oh Why do they make those tights so tight?!!) and the scenery is just magical. My favourite part is always when the Christmas tree grows big up out of the floor. I can tell Evie likes it too.

Two DVD’s arrived in the post a few weeks ago, courtesy of Granny Fee in South Africa, one of which was “The Nutcracker” and other was “You Can Be a Ballet Dancer”. As a result, all Evie has wanted to watch in the past two weeks has been little girls in poofy tutus and very tight hairbuns tripping daintily across the dance floor. It is very cute. I always thought that I would love for my children to learn how to be little ballerinas.

Back in Sub A (Year One in the UK), I took ballet classes in an old church hall along with most of my school mates. We learned how to point our toes, put our feet in the different positions, and hold onto the bar. We learned how to be fairies and how to hold up our arms nicely. Once I tried to be a monkey instead of an angel during improvisation and got told off (personally I think it was very creative to try and hang off the bar by my feet!) I was the only one in the class to get a “C” instead of an “A”, and all I can remember about the exam is my teacher frowning at my feet, and the fact that my pudding-bowl-shaped haircut wouldn’t fit nicely into a bun (thanks, Mom!)

Ballet is beautiful, pretty and ethereal, but it is also rather stifling, and, I have finally realised (with some level of relief), that it is not my favourite kind of dancing, nor one that I necessarily want to enforce upon my children. I can remember my drama teacher at University (a very regal personality of epic fleshly proportions) showing us two clips of different cultures’ standards of beauty in dance.

The first was a line of dainty, graceful, pale-skinned ballet dancers floating across the stage (looking rather anaemic), and the second was of a crowd of large, sweating Zulu women, ululating and taking it in turns to throw their legs high into the air and stamp them down on the ground, massive thighs and breasts quivering, and shrieking with laughter if one of them lost their balance and fell. The difference between the two was quite breath-taking.

Royal Zulu Reed Dance

Thinking about these two extremes takes me back to one of the most life-changing and dramatic times in my life.

I am standing in front of the mirror in the hospital toilet, looking at myself for the first time since having given birth to Isaac. Weak and shaky, my head is still swimming with the enormity of what I have just been through. My body is sore, swollen, broken and a bit messy, not anything you would ever see in a magazine or on a billboard. But I am in awe. It hits me forcibly, what an awe-inspiring, breath-taking, divine work of art I am beholding. This body, this beautiful, beautiful, body, has done something so spectacular and so mind-blowing I can hardly believe it. It has produced life – the most beautiful, perfect little life I have ever seen.

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I thought of all the years of self-loathing and dieting, all the years of moaning and complaining and the mental beatings I would give myself for not being thin enough, smooth enough, small enough, fit enough. I am so sorry, I mouth, you are so beautiful, so strong and so miraculous. It felt something like that beautiful Christmas morning must have been, when the angels sang Noel and the shepherds marvelled. I realised that I would never see my body the same way again.

Now, a few years and two more children later, a level of respect and deep appreciation for my body has remained with me. I no longer lament that I am not a graceful, lithe ballet-dancer-type. I rejoice that I am strong, and fertile, and that my babies grow big and fat and healthy. Surely there is no greater thing. I remember coming back to the ballet class one year after a fateful, chocolate-laden Christmas with my overly-generous Grandparents. My teacher arched her eyebrows, “My, but you got fat!

While I have no desire to be massively overweight or unhealthy, my perspective on what is beautiful will never be the same. And while I can admire and respect those dedicated, talented dancers at the Royal Ballet, you can be sure that I will encourage my children to choose a dance that is perhaps more true to life – something that is exuberant and joyous and full of strength and passion (perhaps the Flamenco would be a good place to start). Or at least something a little more free and frivolous – like tap-dancing or hip-hop for instance. Failing that, we will resort to the tunes on Simon’s phone, while Isaac jives and shimmies around the lounge shouting, “Look Mama, my body is full of silly games!”

Our bodies are so beautiful, gifts from God, the creator of life. I wish we always gave them the respect, love and admiration they deserve, whether slim, graceful, large or vibrant. They nourish life and are full of miracles every day.

Who Do You Think You Are?

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This week I was asked to write a guest post for a friend’s blog. Here’s a little taster:

[It’s a favourite game around our dinner table. It started with Simon teasing one of the kids that he couldn’t remember who he was. This sort of thing usually results in wild protestations and many mutinous moans and groans, and this occasion was no different.
“I’m Isaac,” proclaims Simon.
Isaac protests, “No! You’re Papa!”
“I’m Evie?”
“No!”
“I’m Judah?”
“No!!” (This was accompanied with a frustrated little fist-pump) “No, Papa! You’re Papa!”
“No, that’s Papa,” (Simon points at me).
“Arrrghhh! Pa-pa!”

Simon cracks up laughing. Suddenly the penny drops, and Isaac’s face breaks into a grin. He says, slowly, trying it out, “No, that’s not papa, that’s Isaac.” (Pointing at me.)
Simon asks, “Then who are you?”
Isaac thinks. “I’m…I’m…Mama!” (This seems a little too overwhelming) “No – no, I’m Evie.”
Evie screams, “Noooooo!!”
We all have a good laugh.

It’s amazing how intrigued the children are by this game of pretence and false identity. It messes with their heads in the most delightfully transparent way. We frequently play this at mealtimes, and now even Evie joins in. It’s a very important question, to a little person, “Who am I?” Or perhaps, just as importantly, “Who am I not?”….]

For the full article go to: Who Do You Think You Are? at the sisterhoodstickynotes.wordpress.com website.

We Shouldn’t But We Do

scha·den·freu·de. noun, often capitalized \ˈshä-dən-ˌfrȯi-də\. : a feeling of enjoyment that comes from seeing or hearing about the troubles of other people.

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I have a friend who is, I think, the perfect mom. She has a lovely house, not too tidy, very spacious and pleasantly arranged. There is always a smell of home cooking, and some creative project half-finished in a corner. Her kids are also lovely, with a range of personalities from shy to outgoing. They aren’t too precocious, neither are they too annoying. They are all pleasant and interesting, and when they have meltdowns they tend to be of the milder variety. (The Bardone/Hobson brand seems particularly tempestuous).

She keeps the most important things the most important. She doesn’t care about them wearing fancy shoes and clothing, for example (even though they are quite well-off) because she would far rather that they be climbing trees and playing in puddles. She also has a great sense of humour, and doesn’t seem to let even the most annoying and tiresome of situations make her tense or stressed. I wish I could be more like her.

Come to think of it, there are lots of moms I could compare myself to. This one is so good at remembering birthdays and being organised in terms of preparing and planning for the day ahead. (I tend to be the one careering round corners with things half-falling out of the buggy as we rush to get somewhere on time.) That one has a spotless house, a knife is cleaned up and tidied away almost as soon as it hits the surface of the kitchen counter (I needn’t tell you about the state of my kitchen). This one home-schools, gets to input into her kids’ lives every moment of every day; that one takes her kids to swimming lessons, ballet lessons and French lessons; this one is always taking them to museums and things; that one has the patience of a saint….There always seems to be someone who is doing something better than I am.

Such is often the case in the worry-laden and guilt-ridden life of a parent. I want so desperately to be the best mother humankind has ever produced, with children who are happy and healthy and perfect all the time. Sometimes I feel like I’m doing pretty well, like last week when we were walking in the park (see last week’s post). And then we have a rager of a day when Isaac and Evie are at each other’s throats, Judah is teething and can’t stop crying, I drop the compost bin all over the kitchen and completely lose my sense of humour, and I think to myself, “I am so glad school starts tomorrow!!” So much for not being one of those kinds of moms.

My own mother always says, “Children are great levellers.” Which I guess means that just when you think you have got it all sorted, your kids will do something to show you and everyone else that actually, you really haven’t.

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Come to think of it, nobody is as perfect as they seem: the one whose house is spotless always seems to be stressed and harried; that one who home-schools never gets enough time for herself; and the one who has the patience of a saint actually has kids that are pretty obnoxious little terrors who could do with a good barking at every once in a while.  We are all in the same boat, all trying our best to be our best. So we really shouldn’t compare ourselves.

All the same, last week I couldn’t help myself. We were sitting on a park bench having lunch and enjoying the sun; Isaac and Evie eating contentedly and Judah watching everything in his chilled, happy way. Then we heard shrieking and angry shouts from across the street. Heading towards us was a family, obviously on their way to a picnic themselves. The smallest child was screaming and crying. They came closer, and we realised it was a girl from Isaac’s class. She was striding ahead, casting off things in a fury as she went. First the scooter, then the coat, stamping her feet and roaring magnificently.

Behind her marched her sisters and mother (a very beautiful, slim woman who is always terribly organised and looks amazing), who was snatching everything up and shouting, “You’re going straight to your room when we get home!” As they passed us she smiled sheepishly and they hurried on, the shouts getting fainter.

We were silent for a while, then Isaac casually remarked, “She was being very naughty, wasn’t she, Mama?” “Yeah,” Evie chimed in sagely, shaking her head, “Naughty.” We carried on eating; somehow the afternoon seemed even better and sunnier than before. I bit into my sandwich, enjoying a satisfying moment. The Germans have it right, I thought. Besides, tomorrow it will probably be me.

Poop Goes the Weasel

The 5 rules of potty training are:

  1. Be patient.
  2. Be patient.
  3. Be patient.
  4. Be patient.
  5. Invest in a good set of marigolds! (refer to previous post Pimp Out Your Marigolds)

Welcome to the Bardone house of fun. It’s day number 7 of potty training, and while it is going considerably better than the last time (with Isaac it was like trying to teach an amoeba to write) it is still by far the hardest part of parenting for me.

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I thought about heading this post something like “Tough Girls Do Cry” or “Crying is OK if You Can Stop After Ten Minutes”, but then realised that perhaps nobody would want to read it. Yes, there have been tears, and yes, the marigolds have been put to good use. But, although it is intense, it has meant a whole lot of undivided attention for Miss Evie-pie, and I have to say we have grown closer over the last week.

Reading books on the potty, doing stickers and tattoos on the potty, waiting, waiting….Talking about going on the potty, eating sweeties on the potty, running in circles around the potty, potty books, potty sticker charts, potty wins, potty misses. Lots of cheers and clapping and jubilation for the wins. Lots of deep breaths and “ah, poor dear, don’t worry, next time” for the misses. Yes, it takes a lot of patience.

One has to let a lot go (everything that is not essential really), because, for a two-and-a-half-year-old, learning to go on the potty is a really big deal. Personally I can’t remember it (thank heaven!) but I can only imagine that suddenly losing that sense of a comfortable safety net is a bit unnerving. And, I have to keep reminding myself that this is not about me, it’s about her.

For example, 45 minutes spent waiting for a poo to come with her lying over my lap on the floor could be seen as a colossal waste of time, OR…a great excuse to have a little cuddle and stroke her hair, reassuring her that it’s all going to be OK. Or after sitting on the potty five times without success, one heads out the door, only to get around the corner and hear a forlorn little, “Sorry, Mommy!” One just can’t get too frustrated.

Not only is Evie being potty-trained, but teddy and dolly are giving it a go as well, often with impressive sound effects. And their little mama seems to be keeping things under control pretty well. So I figure, having a good cry once they’re all in bed, or calling a good friend from the other room to have a vent is permitted. As long as to my Evie-pie, when she sees me, she thinks I think she’s doing a great job.

Potty-training is not for the faint-hearted. But, like many hard and unpleasant things in life, it has to be done. And finally getting it mastered is extremely rewarding (not to mention easier on the wallet – think how much money we’ll save with no nappies!).

So, till then, the carpet remains rolled up under the coffee table, the washing machine keeps humming, and I try to keep it all together with silly songs and cups of tea. Hopefully we won’t still be here next week. (Just keep swimming, just keep swimming….)

A Little Silliness Goes A Long Way

Pompom Pom clown. SensationalSilliness.com, Clare Stace 0410331221

Ok, so it’s been one of those weeks. I locked us out of the house in the pouring rain; we’ve either been running late to school or so early that nobody else is in the playground and darn-it-I-could-have-brushed-my-hair-with-the-extra-5-minutes…we’ve had tantrums and meltdowns and mud everywhere and potty accidents and well, just about the whole spectrum of melodrama and histrionics available to two children under the age of five.

I largely blame the weather – after such a wonderful summer, looking out through a curtain of soggy grey wetness also makes me cranky and out-of-sorts.

One particularly low point this week was during a rather trying afternoon and I encouraged Evie to smear some cream cheese on a piece of toast to distract her. This usually takes about ten minutes or so, and she will happily smear away, without too much collateral damage.

After being engrossed for about five minutes she pronounced, “All done,” with a flourish of the knife (a blunt, child-friendly one). I took the plate from her and she sat down in the chair ready to be wheeled around to the table. Thinking to myself what an ultra-cool, fun mom I was, I made some racing-car noises and whipped the chair around. Unfortunately I was too zealous, and she fell right off the chair, legs in the air! Life was very sad for a while.

But soon she dried her tears and got up to eat her bread. She took a bite and started humming away, making the toast soar through the air like a plane. She took another bite and said, “Look mummy… car!” It did indeed look like a car. She giggled and took some more bites. “Look mummy… Doggie! Woof woof!” (Except when she says it, it sounds like “woop woop”) She promptly chomped his head off, with impressive sound effects. “Look mommy, I eat doggie,” with a wicked grin. We had a good laugh.

Evie demolishing her toast

Evie demolishing her toast

It always amazes me how quickly these little ones can get over a fall or a setback if there is fun and silliness to be had. It is a good reminder to keep a sense of humour and to be able to laugh at oneself – especially when it feels like everything is falling apart (and you could kick yourself because you can see your house keys right there through the window!)

 

I have been applying this method when we have meltdowns while walking on the way home from somewhere. When my knee-jerk reaction would be to bang heads together, I take a deep breath and start singing a silly song about “walking, walking, walking through the leaves, walking, walking under trees” or, to the tune of Merrily We Go Along: “I like Evie, I like Isaac, I like Judah, so very very much”. And before I realise it, we are holding hands and the little ones are singing along so very very sweetly, even managing a skip or two.

So when life is all going pear-shaped…. Go on, make up a silly song, or bite the head off your toast – I promise it really helps!

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