This is a very short one. I hate shouting at my daughter. I feel like I have lost control when I do. It isnt nice. It makes her behaviour worse. Why then, do I do it, and why, no matter how hard I try, is there never a day, where my voice isnt raised at least once? This parenting lark is really bloody difficult.
Posts Tagged ‘children’
I wanted to take Rachel on holiday this year. If am honest though, the idea of taking a 2 year old to somewhere we could barely afford, without the comforts of home- entertaining her all day, then sitting on my own all night- really didnt sound that much like a holiday. I considered Butlins- then realised I would rather put pins in my eyelids, although the prospect of perving at Chico could count as a guilty pleasure.
Luckily, 6 of my friends also had very similar ideas- and last week- 6 of us set off, with children in tow- to a very large house in the Cotswolds-with room for all. When I told people I was going on holiday with 6 adults, and 9 children- most under the age of 5- I got some very insincere responses. People saying ‘that will be lovely’- while barely concealed horror contorted their faces. It says something that every single parent I know, thought it was a fabulous idea.
When there are just two people in a house, even if one of them is only two- its intense. You are a tiny family unit, and as such, even though I have no shortage of friends- the relationship is one that is all consuming. You are a family unit so closely bound- that it can become isolating, and even though this little person I share my entire life with-has been speaking for less than a year-80percent of my conversations are with her, and her alone. We plan our days together, and her wishes are taken into account, in a way that they wouldnt be if there was more than one adult, or if she had siblings. When she is in bed, unless someone comes round- that is me- in the house, unable to leave-not even for a quick trip to the shop, or takeaway. There is no lying down, if I feel a bit crap- reading a book cos I feel like it- if she is awake- I am awake, and solely responsible.
The relationship that results is awesome, and amazing, and I get more of my daughter than I ever hoped possible- but it has its issues.
Going on holiday with 6 adults, and 9 kids that young, may seem like a nightmare for those of you who dont have this- but for the 6 of us, it was a godsend. When we arrived, the tightly bound intense relationship we share at home- dissapeared. She thanked me for ‘buying’ her all these children- and legged it into the garden to play on the swings with her new friends.
Our children-(Ophelia aka Monkey Face aged 2, Persephone aged 4, Betsy aged 3, Rachel aged 2, Isla aged 2, Jack aged 3, Brian aged 7, Hannah aged 5, Liam aged 5, and the teeny baby Sam-10 months), have never had so little supervision, and have never been so occupied. For a week, there was always another adult around to talk to, to laugh at the kids with, to keep an eye on your child if you needed a shit(seriously, I value going for a shit by myself – there is nothing quite so offputting, as a two year old, copying your poo face). The kids didnt even want our company- so exciting was it, to have others the same age, to run round the garden, make dens out of beds, play on the swings, squabble with, draw pictures with. And in the evenings, the evenings that can be so crucifyingly dull at home, and which ensure that this blog is updated regularly, and that Facebook is used to its full-those evenings were filled with semi pissed slummy mummys, laughing, and occasionally skinny dipping- all the while- knowing the kids were being looked after.
Feeding time was quite interesting. It was a novelty trying to get a 17 place table set, with enough food to feed all, but to cater to all the allergies and fads- it resulted in industrial food- in great quantities- with vast quantities of cereal, pasta, and milk being consumed. But when all 6 of us were so used to doing everything alone- the assistance of other adults- ensured that there were never squabbles about housework- just 6 women glad they werent doing ALL the jobs.
All in all , this has led me to question, whether living alone with a child, is all that necessary.
Is a romantic relations really the only relationship, upon which one can build a household? In fact, is it that wise to base the life that you and your child have, on the one kind of relationship, which is statistically speaking likely to end? Given the difficulties of reconstituted families, is it even the best relationship to base this on? And is it really the best thing, to reduce your relationship to something that is overwhelmed with trivialities and domestic mundanities-especiallly when by the time you reach your thirties, you are not looking for someone to build a life with- you have a life already.
Now, I am not packing my stuff, and moving to an eco house, come hippy community, complete with yoghurt weaving, and tofu picking, any time soon(although there are several in my hippy town). I am not all of a sudden, developing a desire to grow my own potatoes, or give up my heels.
BUt seriously- surely two or three mothers, pooling their resources- to buy or rent a larger house, in which to raise their children together- is more sensible than us all existing, in our isolated houses, shouldering all the burden-with our children not getting the benefit of the many people, that larger families take for granted.
I could move in with any of the girls I went on holiday with(well maybe not Paula..) but as they are scattered round the country, and I love where I am, its unlikely- but I have to say- I wont be closed to the possibility of sharing a house with someone in future- and I am eyeing up that spare room quite differently now.
I knew we were in trouble yesterday, when a trip to the local swimming pool resulted in a very upset little girl, who just wanted to stand in the shower with her armbands- and not get into the pool, or go and get something to eat. I did find it quite amusing when she commented that the lady in the communal shower had hairy knickers on…and tried desperately hard not to look at the hanging tangle of grey pubic hair, that was hanging down from said womans swimming costume.
But I digress. By teatime, Rachel was burning up, and sleepy.
Now thismay seem like a minor concern- but when you have a little un with a high temperature- scare stories of febrile convulsions and dehydration run side by side, with nightmares about having to physically have your child restrained while you adminster a syringe full of foul tasting calpol/nurofen syrup, and media scare stories about Swine Flu, which you know shouldnt cause panic, but do.
But these concerns about your childs possible welfare, pale in comparison to the knowledge that you will spend the next 12 hours finding more and more inventive ways of adminstering medicine, and that the the chance of sleep for the next 24 hours is slim to none, and slim just left town.
It would help if I hadnt been a food nazi, obsessed with dental hygeine- and Rachel didnt think that fruit juice, pop, and flavoured milks, were the work of the devil. THese sugary nutritionally inadequate solutions, allow you to hide medicine in the guise of a treat and remove any necessity of brute force, instead of a distraught child, shocked at the tactics their parents employ- I assume you get a grateful child, who thinks being ill is a marvellous excuse for sweets.
By the time we got to 9pm, and Rachel was running a temp of 39(verging on A+E time). Any attempts at getting this ghastly syrup down her were met with the kind of distress which resulted in bedclothes covered in sticky syrup, and her temperature further rising, due to the outright anguish at the thought of mummy trying to get her to take this stuff.
I had tried putting the medicine into grapes, and stitching them up, a la John Carter in ER. I had made an ice cube tray filled with jelly, with a spoonful of nurofen in with it…I had mixed it with milk, water, and tried holding her down, and forcing it into the side of her mouth. The problem with brute force, is that you actually need two people- one to restrain the child and the other to shoot the medicine into the side and back of the mouth- to prevent rejection. I had tried outright bribery, cajoling, and tried to pull on the early sense of peer pressure, by saying that her friend Finn LOVED medicine. I had offered her some rather dubious mint flavoured childrens paracetamol donated by a neighbour.
Problem with Rachel, is that she is smart. She was slightly perturbed by the fact that the jelly was in ice cube form, and immediately realised that red jelly was not supposed to taste of orange nurofen- and refused. The grape was half bitten and shot across the room immediately. And getting an octopus into a pillow case would have been easier than holding her down.
So we were left with the old staples of a cool flannel sponging her down. When I am ill, and am running a temperature, I pretty much always have the chills- the same applies to Rachel. Attempts at opening windows(highly ineffective in July), using thinner covers, and wiping her down- were met with cries that she was cold.
By midnight she thought she had been in bed for days, and that it was clearly time to get up. And so we set into the pattern for the rest of the night. I dont often complain about living on my own. I love it generally, I love having my own house, I like not being accountable to anyone else. The nights when your child is ill, however, are a different matter.
The nights stretch long, and by the time Rachel was sleeping in 20 minute bursts- common sense told me that getting some sleep was also a very good idea. The problem is that you lie there waiting for her to wake up, and as soon as you begin to drift off, she wakes again. What the baby books dont tell you, is that by the time this has been repeated six or seven times, you begin to get tired and snappy. As someone who has suffered insomnia, I know that the surest fire way of getting tired, is to be told you cant go to sleep.
When you are married- regardless of what kind of cretin you are married to, there is an adult in the house who you can be snappy to. Because the temptation is to get tired and snappy at Rachel, and it really doesnt matter how you look at it- snapping at a two year old for being poorly, is really not on. I think this is where the image of the serene, calm, Florence Nightingale figure comes in- because by 5am- this is the facade that you are adopting- to cover the fact that your entire body just wants to go to sleep, and actually the crying is beginning to grate, and you have that kind of tiredness where you can almost feel yourself sinking into your bed, even though it is a floor away.
Rachel and I both settled by 5ish, and here is where the ultimate irony of childrens illness comes in. RAchel woke at 6.30, feeling fine, although still hot- and not understanding why I didnt want to play. She now morally objects to the insinuation that she may be ill, and this may be a good reason not to go to the park, and the library. She has assured me that if she was ill, she would take medicine, and as she is not having medicine, she is clearly not ill…
On the upside, we get to doss around the house in our pyjamas, eating sandwiches, and nibbling fruit, while Charlie and Lola plays on a loop. And Rachel gets to adminster her own medical treatment to the line up of dolls and teddies, who being poked and prodded, and forced to take her own version of medicine. Judging by her bedside manner- she should be really grateful that my impression of Florence Nightingale is slightly more compassionate and less gruesome than hers.
So apparently, I am a ‘mummy blogger’(according to the mouth of Rupert Murdoch that is The Times). I am assuming that means I am expected to dispense sage parenting advice, passed through generations- and share the marvels that are parenting, while impressing you all with my ability to be a domestic goddess, eternal nurturer, and general all round Madonna.(the first one, not the one who collects babies from the developing world, and boy toys from LA).
Well, it’s a good job I didnt update yesterday then. Because at precisely 2pm, I truly believed someone had swapped my child with Satan over the weekend, and left a foundling with me, whose sole raison d’etre was to send me to the loony bin.
Now dont get me wrong, having the company of a fiercely unpredictable, smart cookie like Rachel has its benefits. BUT when your energy is flagging, or she is out of kilter- it becomes an endurance test they wouldnt inflict on prisoners of Guantanemo. When both happen at the same time, you have a situation which they couldnt show on film, because the results would be too frightening.
While Rachel says she is not a ‘feminist’, she clearly has the nature of someone who doesnt understand that there are limitations on what she can do/have. So from the early morning wake up call of ‘Mummy mummy mummy WAKE UP WAKE UP I WANT CEREAL DORA CBEEBIES’, to the screaming tantrum because I put the spoon in the cereal, instead of handing it to her… right through to the ‘I peed on the floor cos I couldnt be bothered’(for the third time in one morning), and I hate you, you are a stinky meanbag, and I want to go to the park, even though its bedtime- we were in a war of attrition.
You can go and buy books, or watch tv shows with that muppet Supernanny(who by the way doesnt have kids), and you will learn about clear boundaries, following through, remaining calm, and generally being an uber cool, detatched, controlled, caregiver- delicately nurturing your offspring with clear expectations and a firm loving hand.
You would be better off watching an old 50′s thriller, with someone diffusing a bomb, and not knowing whether the red wire or the blue wire, will be the one which sets off the explosion which will consume them into a fiery ball, and leave their liver hanging off the shop over the road. This is more akin to parenting a toddler.
Remaining calm, and communicating clearly, becomes quite difficult when you are faced with a two year old, screaming because her peach isnt green, and has a bone in it. Ah, I hear you say- offer an apple. But when the offer of an apple, is met with a meltdown beyond hiroshima, because she ‘WANTS A PEACH’- you begin to see a problem. When this screaming fit, is only one of several zillion screaming fits, for equally bizarre, and unrelated reasons, the sanity of any normal person begins to wear. When you combine that with the fact that I am not a ‘mummy blogger’, I am in fact just a normal woman who blogs, who happens to have a child, and who was still slightly delicate from a demanding weekend in muddy fields, we begin to see a problem.
You cant even take the lazy way out, and give in, because when the request is that mummy makes it stop raining, so we can go to the park- my powers are limited. While i believe myself to be a very capable intelligent woman, I think attempting to create sunshine would be mixing up my ambitions and capabilities somewhat.
So, after two days of this seemingly endless war of attrition, I was counting the minutes till 8am this morning, when my daughter would be lovingly left in the capable hands, of those angels in blue, at her nursery, who swear she has never had a toilet accident, and is the most well mannered little girl in Christendom. And here I am, ‘mummy blogging’ and contemplating clearing the carnage left by my two year old devil.
But with the help of Dora the Explorer on a loop, playdoh, scissors, card, gluesticks, a box of teabags, and many friends on the end of the phone, I made it through alive. I shouted slightly more than I would like, and I dont think any parenting experts are going to be using me as a case study. I wont get a medal, like the veterans of the Israel/Egypt war of attrition, and I have achieved about as much as they did. I will relish my baby free day, and by tomorrow will be pining for my little girl to be home- having completely forgotten how rubbish yesterday was. Selective amnesia is the thing which allows us to carry on, and not sell our children on ebay(that and a handy rule from ebay, that you cant sell your child using their auction site).
So here is my ‘mummy blog’ for the day. And I am sure that I will come over all supernanny for the next installment.