Organising Chaos.

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So, in case this is a scenario that has plagued your mind recently, I would like to share something I discovered yesterday.

Q. When is it ok to not really fancy reorganising the pantry (oh don’t worry it’s not a posh pantry, it’s a cupboard with shelves to make up for having no kitchen units)?

A. Well pretty much all the time really. I mean, it’s boring, tedious, time consuming and, let’s face it, you can guarantee that ten minutes after you’ve finished someone will single handedly undo all your hard work while searching for; peanut butter (Pickle)/ ‘bibbits’ – biscuits to the rest of us (Wombat)/ sweets he claimed he got in a party bag that he most definitely hasn’t eaten and therefore someone else must have (Noodle)/my slimming world friendly tins of mackerel that she’s taken a liking to and I’m forced to covertly hide (Froo)/the meaning of life (CircusHusband).

Q. When is it not ok to not really fancy reorganising the pantry (still a cupboard with shelves)?

A. Erm, unfortunately shortly after emptying the entire contents of aforementioned pantry over the entire kitchen in a method that could be accurately described as ‘haphazard’.

Now I’ve imparted this wisdom let me set the scene.

It’s a Tuesday morning. I have successfully delivered 2 children, 2 backpacks, 1 lunchbag and 1 guitar to school. It is not a nursery day, it is a ‘stay at home with Mummy day’ for Pickle. We have returned home, we have played, we have ‘done jobs’. Pickle and Wombat have requested crackers for a snack (he didn’t know about the existence of the bibbits at this point, he now will not entertain the mere thought of a cracker) and I have announced naptime for the baby, imagine my astonishment when the 3 year old also expresses the desire for a nap (I argued hard….I promise).

Now, I think this is where the problem started you see. I was floating so high from the sheer dizzy novelty of a shared naptime that I got carried away. Instead of making a coffee and watching Jeremy Kyle (I use it like therapy, it reinforces that whatever may be happening it could all be much, much worse) I decided to tidy the pantry to allow me to make the best use of my new spice rack; sorry I should have warned you previously about the excitement level contained within this post, do feel free to take a moment before continuing.

I decided that the best approach would be to clear the shelves so I could see what was what to make reorganising easier. This seemed best achieved by relocating things onto the kitchen table and kitchen worktop. Simple.

This probably would have been a relatively good plan had I not forgotten to take into account that I had a grocery delivery due imminently. Before I knew it I had a weeks worth of groceries for six people piled on top of the pantry contents. Still I was undeterred, at least now I could put everything away at once (in fact while I was at it I should empty and clean the fridge before putting the chilled groceries away – I AM NOT JOKING…I DID THIS)

Approximately 4.6 minutes later I lost the will to live; I was ankle deep in random cereal that had skydived from boxes, Ryvita dust was flying from every angle, the contents of a tub labelled basil smelt suspiciously like sage. I was contemplating tying together the 5628 plastic bags I’d unearthed and attempting an escape, Rapunzel style.

By now you’re probably thinking well at least nothing else can go wrong.

Wrong.

The baby woke up.

Yep an eighteen month old in an already somewhat chaotic situation.

You can surely imagine the rest.

Long story short; the pantry was finally refilled and reorganised thanks to an obscene amount of plastic baskets and my trusty labelmaker. The spice rack was put to use, although I may need to stock up after disposing of some curry powder that predated my eldest child. And I filled the tub that is festooned with the word ‘Haribo’ with slightly misshapen Ryvitas so that should be entertaining.

So to sum up:

Negative points –

  • That’s a couple of hours of my life that I’ll never get back.
  • I’ll never know if the strange toothless man is the father of his sister’s aunties next door neighbour’s lollipop ladies’ chinchilla. (can you watch Jeremy Kyle on catchup?)
  • The hoover may never be the same again.
  • I still don’t completely trust the basil/sage ‘freaky friday’ saga.

Positive points –

  • The pantry in the kitchen finally matches the pantry in my head.
  • The baby didn’t need lunch after spending the best part of an hour foraging.
  • It was all done before the three year old woke up and ‘helped’.

As an added bonus I’m pleased to announce that should this country ever need to succumb to rationing and you find yourselves desperately short of anything, then you’re welcome to come and see me and we can come to a deal. However I may need to restrict some products to one per customer as I’m personally down to my last 7 boxes of dried lasagne sheets and worryingly my last 49 sachets of fast acting yeast. I apologise in advance for any inconvenience caused.

Welcome to my world
Rx

 

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Lyrically Speaking.

The circus is always noisy. Probably not helped by the fact that there is music playing almost continuously, quite often from more than one source.

For example; Radio 2 is nearly always on in the kitchen (who doesn’t love Ken Bruce?! plus I have to brush up on my PopMaster skills), if Circus Husband is home then you’ll be treated to anything from Blink 182 to The Stereophonics streaming from ‘The Office’ (we squeezed two desks into the playroom). As you head upstairs you will invariably be met with a cacophony of melodies, maybe Taylor Swift from one room and some 90’s classics from another (oh yes, Noodle has unearthed all my teenage years albums and can be found wandering around chanting about a boot scooting baby who’s driving him crazy, his obsession from a western, his dancefloor date…..followed by a change of tempo to accompany an enthusiastic rendition of Cotton Eye Joe) and of course, someone, somewhere will be attempting a mashup of Let It Go from Frozen fame and Moana’s You’re Welcome.

So, yes, all in all music is quite a large part of our lives. Fortunately the Monkeys have inherited my ability to not have any idea what day of the week it is but can recall every lyric to a song they’ve heard fleetingly on the radio. I am obviously viewing this as a sign of intelligence even if it does lend itself to slightly awkward conversations; Noodle went through a phase of being obsessed with Bruno Mars, he had the hat and everything, his favourite track was ‘The Lazy Song’ which on the surface seems fine………until you listen properly and have to try and convince a then 3 year old that the lyrics actually say “I met a really nice girl, she had some really nice specs….”

Pickle is the same, loves music, remembers lyrics…………latches onto inappropriate songs! Her favourite is ‘Don’t Marry Her’ by The Beautiful South, fortunately she has only heard the album version but I am not looking forward to the day when she enquires what ‘Sandra Bullocks’ are, there’s also a few minutes panic when she launches into song in the supermarket, the scene goes:

Toddler singing: “You gotta wash the car, take the kiddies to the park, don’t marry her…”

Everyone in earshot: stops, turns and prepares to judge

Toddler singing: “HAAAVVVVEEEEE MEEEEEEE”

Everyone in earshot: wanders off disappointed.

Right so now you understand the full importance of music in the circus, I’m sure you will be just as astounded as me to find out that IT IS NOT FUNNY OR HELPFUL if I answer questions in the form of song lyrics. Nor, apparently is it amusing if I interrupt them speaking to carry on with a lyric that they’ve inadvertently uttered (I know, it’s shocking right?)

For example these are some conversational interactions recently that have been classed as ‘annoying’:

“Mummy, you’ll never believe what happened at school today”

” I wasn’t expecttttting that”

“Mummy, How….”

“Do you do that thing that you do to me……I wish I knew”

“Thank you”

“What can I say except you’re welcome”

“Stop….”

“in the name of love”

“right now, thank you very much”

“wait a minute, fill my cup, put some liquor in it”

“collaborate and listen”

“Mummy, where should I start?”

“Let’s start at the very beginning, that’s a very good place to start, when you read you begin with ABC, when you sing you begin with Doe Ray Me”

and so forth, I’m proud to say I have many back catalogues worth of these witty comebacks for them to enjoy for years to come. Although Pickle (3) got her own back the other day, she had had a toileting accident earlier in the day then yet again didn’t quite make the toilet, she looked at me and sang “oh my gosh, I did it again, I weed myself, it keeps happening” Look out Little Mix, the next generation is on it’s way!

And that brings us to the less positive side of constant exposure to music. Earworms. You know, when you have a piece of a song spinning on loop in your head for hours. Sometimes, it’s a recognisable part of a well loved song, other times it’s simply random lyrics that you never recall hearing before in your life. You spend all day humming the same tune and trying to block everything else out while you work out what the hell the song even is (or you realise it’s a theme tune to a CBeebies programme and decide to keep that information to yourself.)

I suffer with these a lot. And I have recurring earworms, that can be brought on by the mere mention of a song. I spent three weeks once with the lyrics “where’s your head at <boom boom boom>” taking up all the space in my brain, I came out the other end relatively unscathed but every so often Circus Husband will mutter those words and that’s it, groundhog day. I quite often wake up with songs already etched into my psyche like I’ve slept in an erratic jukebox, this unfortunately means I’m prone to singing short bursts of the song in question out loud at inopportune moments (sorry monkeys!)

If anyone’s curious, my current earworm is the lyrics “I can’t feel my face when I’m with you”, I know the song but I don’t know where I heard it for it to be imprinted in my brain. But, nevertheless, round and round it goes just waiting to be overtaken by the next ready and waiting track of randomness.

Oh and if anyone has never experienced earworms first hand then do let me know, I’m very willing to share, because of course, I cant feel my face when I’m with you.

Welcome to my world

Rx

Straying from the normal posting path…

Today’s blog post is slightly different to the usual, but today is a difficult day in The Circus and this blog is supposed to be an unfiltered look at circus life. So please bear with me and normal service will be resumed soon.

Today my Mum should be celebrating her 62nd birthday but in my head she will never be a day older than the age at which we lost her nearly 11 years ago.

Grief is a very personal and individual emotion and there is no right or wrong way to deal with it, this is what has prompted me to post this today (believe me, by the time you read this, it will have been typed and deleted multiple times before I plucked up the courage to press Publish). I’m not one for sharing my emotions as those who know me will testament to, but if my words, however clumsily presented, can aid even one person in realising that whatever feelings they are experiencing are justified, valid and perfectly acceptable then I will consider it worthwhile.

Please, please share this with anyone who might need to hear it; anyone who’s ever felt pressured to put a time frame on their grief.

The Greatest Healer’s Flaw.

Some days exist to simply prove,
that time; it must go on.
Time doesn’t heal, it merely masks,
the scars are never gone.

When loved ones die, you lose a limb,
through metaphor at least.
Though lives and minds are straightened out,
your heart’s forever creased.

People watching from outside,
assume which days are worst,
but it’s not always the ‘special’ days,
that cause the tears to burst
.

Yes, it’s true that certain dates,
make staying strong quite hard,
birthday gifts you’d want to buy,
nowhere to send a card.

The day that marks each year of passing,
is known so you prepare,
you spend the day safely cocooned,
with those for who you care.

The days that prove that time won’t heal,
expand both far and wide.
The days you need that person’s ear,
to talk to, to confide.

When something lovely happens,
a thing you’d love to share,
the person you’d most love to tell….
…..simply isn’t there.

When you lose a parent,
quite early on in life,
before you become somebody’s Mum,
and someone else’s wife,
you also lose the wisdom,
advice to be passed down.
You lose a proud companion to choose a wedding gown.

It’s simple things, and silly things,
that really break your heart,
a memory not quite recalled,
will always miss a part,
there’s no one there to fill the gaps,
to make the thought complete.


Ends are always left untied,
death is never neat.

Grief; it has no ‘best before’.
No date of expiration.
It comes.
It goes.
It ebbs.
It flows.
Depending on occasion.

You learn to live your life again.
You learn to carry on.
BUT.
Time it does not heal wounds.
Those scars are never gone.

 

Sending love, empathy and support to anywhere it is needed

Rx

Reading between the lines.

I love books. I love to read. I believe that most things that you need to know to succeed in this world can be learned from books.

Unfortunately life in the circus does not generally lend itself to long periods of quiet, so I don’t get the chance the chance to read as much as I might like.

That’s not to say I don’t read at all; I have at least 15 of the ‘Free Kindle Bestsellers’ list on the go at any one time, though admittedly I generally read one page and get distracted mentally writing an email to the author outlining the various spelling, grammar and punctuation issues followed by a rundown of what I believe are the major character flaws and helpfully point out any holes in the plot. You know what they say; those who can do – those who can’t………..criticise.

My daily reading list also includes the back of various cereal boxes as the monkeys shuffle through the boxes declaring their dislike of each and every one. Including, of course, the one they definitely, adamantly, absolutely needed from the supermarket that they faithfully promised they would eat religiously every day without fail. If I was ever to appear on Mastermind, I would probably choose as my specialised subject “The fibre content and nutritional information of every cereal known to man” (except cocoa pops because only nice mummys buy cocoa pops.)

So, with all this is mind, I have decided that I shall take my parenting hints and tips from the books I do actually get to read. Bedtime stories in the circus are wide and varied and range from the sublime to the ridiculous. So in my search for parental role models I have researched and discounted:

  • Odin king of Asgard – I’m sure he meant well, but I’m really not sure that banishing one of the children to another realm until he can lift a hammer is really going to help.
  • Big Nutbrown Hare – Sure, trying to outdo everything your child attempts sounds like fun on the surface. But, do you really want to get into a competition with a three year old with boundary issues, no embarrassment filter and questionable morals?!
  • Dilys Price – All my children so far have gone through a Fireman Sam stage, so I have been forced to watch and read about this woman’s delinquent son more times than I care to remember. I think he is the one exception from my ‘no banishing children from realms’ rule.

But finally I have seen the light and I have found a couple of books that really helped me with a few things and I admire their sheer cunning and genius. Let me share with you some of my new found parenting advice.

Picture the scenario:

You’ve had one of those days. You haven’t cleaned the house, you haven’t been grocery shopping and you can’t be bothered to make supper.

Here’s what you do:

You will need a small child; preferably one who loves to play pretend and will go along with things willingly. Firstly you will need to prepare a very simple tea (small sandwiches, a few biscuits and a pot of tea will suffice). Whilst the tea is brewing, you will need to locate the water stopcock. Once found, turn to the OFF position. Next, explain to small child that you’re going to play ‘who can mess the kitchen cupboards up first?’ don’t worry, small child will like this part so no effort needed from you.

Next thing is to ensure that anything that could potentially be turned into supper should be removed (call it ‘reorganising’ if you like), outbuildings and airing cupboards are useful here.

Now, to be able to carry this through is going to require complete dedication (I would suggest sampling any beer that may be cooling in the fridge).

So, the table is laid and now to coerce your sidekick. Tell small child (extra points if she happens to be called Sophie). “Small child, wouldn’t it be hilarious if, while we were sitting here eating our small sandwiches and biscuits, the doorbell was to ring. Wouldn’t that be funny? Because, as you, know it wouldn’t be the milkman because he came this morning, and it wouldn’t be the boy from the grocers as this isn’t the day he comes. And, of course, it wouldn’t be Daddy because he has his key.”

You might need to leave this to sink in for a moment, children can be annoyingly cynical.

Next. “You know what would be even funnier small child? If you opened the door, found a tiger and invited him in. I wouldn’t be cross because he must have been hungry to ring our doorbell, mustn’t he? Wouldn’t Daddy think that was funny, if we told him that the tiger ate all the food in the cupboards and drunk all the water out of the tap?”

The next part is crucial. Small child needs to be wearing nightwear (perhaps the tiger might like a sleepover?). Unfortunately the OFF position of the stopcock means a bath just aint happening.

Right as soon as you hear Daddy’s key in the door, prompt small child to relay the hilarious tiger story to Daddy. Small children can be incredibly convincing, especially when they mention that the tiger drunk all the beer too.

Poor hungry, unbathed child. Poor (slightly tipsy…shhh!) wife traumatised by the mess left behind by the feline visitor.

Daddy steps up and suggests a nice dinner out.

I’m sure you’ll agree this is the perfect (if somewhat convoluted) get out clause of a ‘can’t be bothered day’.  Thank you Judith Kerr.

My second go-to for parenting advice is slightly different. I have a 1 year old and a 3 year old so we watch quite a lot of a programme called Bing, and repeatedly read the associated books.

bing

The excitable bunny on the left is ‘Bing’. The slightly bizarre looking, knitted thing on the right is Flop. For reasons unknown, Flop is Bing’s guardian (despite being half his size). But what Flop is lacking in size he makes up for in patience. Seriously, his patience would make Mother Theresa quake in her boots. His favourite phrase is “it’s no big thing”. He says it for everything from too many bubbles in the bath, to a broken and hidden mobile, to a shoplifting incident.

He never raises his voice. He never rolls his eyes. He never threatens to summon a policeman (god knows why I thought that threat or that phrasing would be effective). He never evens counts to ten while frantically figuring out what suitable punishment will be enforced by number ten.

He is actually a knitted saint and I hold the upmost respect for him. Thus now when faced with a parenting decision I follow the code of WWFD? (what would Flop do?)

I do hope that me sharing what I’ve learnt from books has been helpful to you.

Welcome to my world

Rx

Great Expectations and Little Rewards.

One of the many plus points of having a larger-than-average family is that you are forced to lower your expectations and be grateful for smaller accomplishments.

For example;

I’ve seen many times people joking about the joy of finding the bottom of the laundry basket.

Me? I do a little dance if I manage to unearth the laundry basket from under the children’s latest attempt at dirty washing Tetris.

People get all hung up on matching socks.

Me? I’m just happy if every little pair of feet is covered with two socks of any description for at least a proportion of the day. The exception, of course, being the baby who views socks as an enemy that require chewing, throwing, repeatedly pulverising and, as some sort of sinister punishment (either to the sock or to me!), removing from his feet and hiding in any available space. This is usually at other people’s houses, meaning we have quite a lot of visitors who turn up brandishing one or more baby socks. The favourite visitors are the ones who wash them before returning (see above point about laundry!)

You also have to become pretty good at having a reason (most definitely not an excuse of course) for every thing that may raise questions.

For example;

  • “Isn’t this the third time this week that we’ve had pasta?”

Quick as a flash

  • “Yes, the children have a very busy weekend coming up, I’m carbo-loading them….obviously”

Phew.

  • “You haven’t hoovered in here today?”

Quick as a flash

  • “Ooh no, I was a little concerned about the baby’s eyesight so I’ve devised a test to see how far away he can spot crumbs. It’s medically recommended….probably.”

Can’t argue with that.

  • “Mummy, where are our biscuits?”

Quick as a flash

  • “Oh don’t tell me the grocery delivery man forgot to bring biscuits AGAIN. I shall send a strongly worded email.”

  “Mummy what are you eating?”

          “Hmm?? Ermmm??? Mushroom  and spicy stuff, oh what a shame you don’t like mushrooms or spicy stuff and yes it is funny how they smell like biscuits. I shall send a strongly worded email.”

Ha foiled.

I’ve also decided that adulting (yes that is a real word, I’m just trying to convince autocorrect!) needs to be more rewarding.

And I think I’ve figured out the answer…….drum roll please……

STICKERS

Children will do anything for stickers;

  1. I ate all my lunch and got a sticker,
  2. I read my reading book and got a sticker,
  3. I remembered what my name was and got a sticker,
  4. I managed not to need an accident report form today and got a sticker (I’ll admit the last one may be specific only to my five year old who seems to spend a high percentage of his school life in ‘first aid’ with an ice pack applied to various limbs.)

So the obvious way to make adulting (ha didn’t argue that time did you autocorrect) more fun is to introduce stickers.

I shall start the ball rolling:

  1. Today, when I stubbed my toe the only word I said was ouch, where’s my sticker?
  2. I remembered to remove the washing from the machine before a ‘refresh’ cycle (or 3) was required, where’s my sticker?
  3. I took on board the famous words from Bambi and chose the ‘say nothing at all’ option, where’s my sticker?
  4. I asked nicely for cooperation in a Mary Poppins voice at least 7 times before resorting to the Miss Trunchibald persona, where’s my sticker?

I’m sure you will agree that this is definitely the way forward, maybe even with a reward issued for collecting so many stickers. You know, just something simple; like maybe going to the bathroom by yourself, or managing a whole meal without someone needing to sample your meal (of exactly the same food as them.)

You’re right, we should probably be more realistic. After all a three legged, rainbow striped, bilingual unicorn wearing a beret would probably be more attainable.

We’ll call it a work in progress for now…………….but if I happen to flick the telly on and find someone pitching stickers on Dragon’s Den, especially if I hear the word ‘adulting’ (ha it’s in my phone’s dictionary now.) I shall be expecting a cut of the profits!

Welcome to my world.

Rx

Me casa, Su Casa

Helloooo  <knocks on screen> anyone still out there?

Sincere apologies for the radio silence.

My mind has been somewhat distracted with the unfeasible task of moving four children and 7 years of an undiagnosed hoarding condition lovingly collected belongings from one property to another. Due to our spontaneous, fun-loving personalities (aka, hell if we’re paying another months rent if we don’t need to) we had slightly over three weeks between the decision being made and  ‘the big day of move’. Now; imagine that you are the kind of person who takes decision making verrry seriously, can debate things so successfully in your own head that sometimes you have to declare stalemate and approaches change in the same way that Peppa Pig might approach a hotdog convention…..are you there? Good, so you can probably empathise slightly with what I’m saying.

S0.

Step 1: The viewing – the first opportunity to suss out whether this property will be suitable for your needs. We approached this with a sensible, methodical system; checking room sizes, assessing outdoor space etc. Meanwhile two of the three children we had brought with us were performing there own tests “Mummy, we can both fit in the cupboard…look…MUMMY…the door won’t open…STUCK”.

Step 2: The application – applying for a private rental property is akin to attempting admission to MI5. There are application forms that put war and peace to shame and cover aspects of life you have never before considered, they have more appendixes than the staffroom fridge in a theatre department. For some reason, as soon as my eyes spy an application form they cease communication with my brain. I’m suddenly completely unaware of my own details to the point that I feel like an identity thief with every box I tick. I managed my name and date of birth…phew… I hit a hurdle with national insurance numbers, I have both mine and my husband’s stored in my head…unfortunately they are stored as a random mush of numbers and letters, they all there just not necessarily in the correct order or assigned to the right person. I also have them stored on my phone, except I know that one of them is incorrect but I can never remember which one or which part is wrong; so all in all a useful use of phone memory. Then there’s the reference element; bank, previous landlord, employee and character. That’s a lot of people to find who will say something nice about you. The employer reference is also slightly dicey when you spend your days being bossed around by a 3 year old, ‘you should give my mummy this house because if you don’t she’ll put you in timeout’.

Step 2: Checking your things fit in the desired property – now let me share some wisdom; when you visit the property again to ‘measure up’ be absolutely sure to take a tape measure. This will avoid the slight awkwardness of ‘will our bed fit?’ ‘erm, well if I lay on the floor and you take account for the headboard and the bit at the end…’ and also negate the need to come back later with said tape measure and attempt to measure up for curtains from the outsides of the windows. Note: accuracy can in no way be assured when you’re on your tiptoes in the mud trying to gauge how tall the windowsill is likely to be.

Step 3: Packing – Easy, we’ll place all our things in sturdy boxes, label them clearly and job done. And then there’s the reality: pack 3 things into a box, turn around to reach item 4, turn back to find an empty box. Children and packing DO NOT MIX. Suddenly every toy/book/potato masher that you attempt to pack is their absolute favourite that cannot possibly be put in a box. The pile of ‘stuff I’ll secretly pack once she’s asleep’ becomes considerably taller than the pile of stuff that’s actually packable. Then there’s the ‘packing tape black hole’, I swear there’s some sinister force at work, I never managed to finish an entire roll before it vanished into the ether, yet there was constantly a length of it attached to my slipper/the letterbox/the baby, although conversely I did find 12 open packets of baby wipes so at least the force was offering a swap. Finally there’s the labelling; I started off with good intentions ‘2 medium sized saucepans and a lemon – KITCHEN’ by the time I was halfway through I had boxes proudly bearing the label of ‘crap I found behind the sofa’. There’s also the boxes that I neglected to either tape or label which made me incredibly popular with those loading the van.

So, finally, after you’ve gone through these steps and completed all the admin (unsuccessfully attempting to remember every password for every website that needs an address change, then unsuccessfully attempting to remember every password for every email account for every ‘forgot password’ request..it’s a vicious circle I tell you).

Then you reach M Day (the big day of move). The day when you realise how much stuff you actually have and come to the conclusion that the property you’re leaving behind must, in fact, be some sort of tardis. The day you find out that when your husband painted the bedroom he actually left the wardrobes in situ and painted around them. The day you realise that your daughter’s beloved piano weighs more than a healthy baby hippo.

But, anyway, we are in, yes we are tripping up over boxes, but we are in. We finally have a table in the kitchen so the monkeys can sit and chat while I lovingly cook (they can sit and complain about the meal while I’m cooking it rather than after I serve it),  we have tall ceilings so my impulse buy 7ft giraffe doesn’t get concussion, we have open fire places so with a bit of training I’m hoping we can perfect ‘chim chimney chim chim cheroo’, and most importantly we have an understairs cupboard so the eldest can move in to await her letter from Hogwarts (fingers crossed we haven’t raised a muggle).

Here’s to the next few weeks of cardboard box jenga.

Welcome to my world.

Rx

 

Lights…Camera… PANIC

As the festive season approaches, we reach that time of year most dreaded by parents of school age children (with the odd exception, and I mean odd!) everywhere.
To what could I be referring? Could it be:

  • The sudden dramatic increase in advertising aimed at children? No dear, I don’t think that that cape/mask/utility belt/nuclear gunge blaster will turn you into a real superhero.” “I know, it really is a shame that Father Christmas has never brought you a game involving picking someone’s nose or clearing up dog poo, even though you’ve asked nicely so many times.”
  • The advent calendar ‘explanation’? No you can’t have another chocolate. We open one door each day and eat one chocolate each day, then when we’ve eaten all the chocolate what will it be…..?” To which my two year old replied “it will be an empty box Mummy”.
  • The Christmas list? Or more precisely the fact that the requests that have been set in stone since approximately 3rd August suddenly change to something else entirely once they are faced with paper and pen. My children are allowed to suggest three things that they might like in their letters to Father Christmas, they understand that they might receive all, some or none of these things. Pickle dictated her letter, the first two items were as expected. Then she threw a curve ball “please tell Father Christmas that I’d like a teddy bear”.  Aww I hear you say, how sweet and how easy…………or so you would think. To clarify the situation I asked if she had a particular teddy in mind? Yep. She did. “It’s a big pink teddy bear, I saw it while I was sleeping, it was resting in the shade…….” Good luck with that one Father Christmas!

But, no, it’s none of those things.

I am, of course, referring to the school Christmas play (at our school it’s called a ‘production’ which couldn’t be more accurate).

It happens at the same time every year. We know it’s looming. But still there’s that sense of shock and panic as you trepedatiously open the letter, the letter that will determine exactly what costume you are expected to provide. 

I have worked out that there are three varieties of ‘school play parents’:

  1. The ones who Google their child’s part, cross reference to Amazon (other selling sites are available) put the entire outfit in their basket, hit ‘buy it now’, wait 3-5 days and boom…job done.
  2. The ones who make the entire costume from scratch with extra added embellishments, who can turn a bed sheet into any required role from any play ever created and who’s finesse with teatowel turbans rivals no other.
  3. A hybrid mix of 1 and 2; would love to go down the homemade route but lacks the skill/time/patience/enthusiasm. Costumes are part bought, part made. They sometimes look slightly muddled but they exude love.

Now, I’ve only been on the parenting side of school plays for 4 years but my experience goes back way further than that. When it comes to random school play parts I think I have it covered.

My earliest school play memory involves the rather grand title of ‘second little pig’. That’s right, I wasn’t the first daft creature who at least had the honour of meeting the wolf first, nor was I the clever third farmyard animal who used his brains, built his house, burnt the wolf and saved the day. Nope, I was the forgettable middle child of the three little pigs world.

A few years later I had a slightly more impressive role, this one involved a huge, long, complicated monologue……all directed at a poodle?!

Then of course there was the year when I put on an oscar-worthy performance as……….a carrot. (at least I’m not typecast, I guess.)

All of these though, every single one, and every other random role that you may have been subjected to will pale into insignificance when you hear the role that my brother was given for his primary school Christmas play. I would invite you to guess, but there’s a very real chance that Jools Holland would have welcomed the new year in before you even got close.

Whichever ‘school play parent’ bracket you fall into, I ask you to imagine this scenario. Your son comes home, aged 5 or 6, excitedly holding a letter informing you which starring role he has been cast in for that year’s prestigious Christmas play. You open the letter, you read the words, you read the words again. And the thought rushes through your head….
How the hell do I tell my son that he is being a compost heap???”


But you know what, as compost heap go, he was pretty convincing!

Welcome to my world.

Rx

    And my specialist subject is:

    I’ve been muddling through this parenting lark for nearly 9 years and that time has thrown up some questions . Allow me to outline a few:

    • Why do my children blatantly refuse water all day but suddenly develop chronic dehydration requiring endless cups of said beverage as soon as bedtime rolls around?
    • Why will my children not eat stew (fortunately they are quite partial to ‘meat and chunky veg in gravy’)?
    • How do they change from smart, well presented model citizens to scruffy, slightly feral creatures somewhere between home and school?
    • Why is the phrase ‘sleeping like a baby’ touted about so much? My babies don’t sleep…..I want to sleep like my husband.
    • Why will my toddler happily eat nappy cream, hand soap and paint yet mushrooms are ‘stinky’?
    • Why can they recite the entire theme tune to a TV show yet they can’t remember what I sent them to their bedroom to fetch?
    • Why do they always, always, always need a wee when there’s no toilet in a mile radius despite going twice before leaving the house?
    • How, when my phone memory is full and it won’t let me take a photo, does it let the two year old take 472 photos of her own ears?
    • Why can they not replace the lids on felt tip pens but can very vocally complain when aforementioned pens *shock horror* won’t work?
    • Why can’t they eat couscous without causing some sort of pulse based snowstorm covering the entire lounge?
    • Why don’t they understand that a cheese sandwich will taste exactly the same whether is it cut into rectangles, squares, triangles, bunny shapes or origami swans?
    • Why did I receive ones with factory faults such as no volume control and tendency to disobey orders? I didn’t get a receipt and the warranty is rubbish!
    • Why can I not read ‘Guess how much I love you?”without Big Nutbrown Hare having a Yorkshire accent?
    • How can they flood the bathroom, use all the soap and leave wet towels everywhere, yet still look like they’ve been recruited by the SAS complete with warpaint?
    • How can the weather be beautiful and settled for 22 hours of the day but suddenly decide to recreate the disaster scene from the film Twister as soon as it edges close to school run time?

    If anyone can shed any light on any of these ponderings I’ll accept answers on the back of a postcard……. unfortunately the toddler is very reminiscent of a poorly trained puppy so the chances of me getting readable, unchewed post varies from slim to unlikely.
    Welcome to my world.

    Rx

    From the mouths of babes.

    So. We’re nearing the end of August and nearing the end of the summer holidays. A 6 week break from normal routine with four small children presents it’s own individual challenges and is a rollercoaster of a time.

    It also allows time for more random conversations and ridiculous debates and as an end-of-holiday treat I thought I’d share with you lucky, lucky people some of the more bizarre things to have graced my ears these last few weeks. I suggest you abandon all sense of understanding and expectation of logic right here before reading on!

    I was making a cup of coffee the other day and was hounded by Pickle for some milk. I absentmindedly poured some of the almond milk I was using into a cup for her and thought no more of it. A few hours later she asked for a drink “but none of mummy’s special yucky milk, I’ll have normal moo-cow milk please”.  Discerning tastes that one.

    Noodle was discussing ages with his friend, they proudly told me how old they’d be after each of their next few birthdays. After a while I commented that they’d soon be as old as me. They glanced at each other and Noodle pipes up “No, it’s still a lot more years til we’ll be 1000” his friend joins in with “and we don’t want to be 1000, do we?” to which Noodle replies “nope, cos that’s when you start shrinking” These holidays have obviously aged me more than I’d realised……shrinking, however, I could definitely get on board with!

    I was looking at an animal picture book with Pickle and she pointed at a butterfly, “look Mummy,an owl” “lovely, but it’s a butterfly” “it’s an owl” “no honey it’s definitely a butterfly” there was a long pause followed by………..”actually Mummy it’s an owl pretending to be a butterfly”. OK. You win.

    One evening last week Froo baked some buns. It was getting quite late so Daddy was left in charge of removing them from the oven once they were cooked……Daddy remembered approximately 90 minutes later. They were somewhat past the ediblee stage, so the next morning (once I’d ensured that no blame rested on my shoulders) I suggested that they be broken up and put on the bird table for the birds. A little while later I find Pickle covered in black crumbs. “You were supposed to give those to the birds” I say. She wanders over to the window and finishes the conversation with “no birdies out there, I looked. I eat it for the birdies. I do good sharing. Yay. Well done me” In a month of Sundays I couldn’t have come up with an appropriate response for that!

    The last few days Noodle has planning his birthday (slightly premature as it’s not until next year) he’s already uninvited me to his party numerous times. This is more than a little worrying as I don’t remember actually being invited to this non existent party in the first place. Then he moved onto his birthday presents…..these may need some fine tuning as they currently involve me stealing him a real life bin lorry.

    That last one fits in nicely with Pickle starting to understand the concept of Christmas and Father Christmas, the jolly soul who is apparently bringing her: 2 dollies, a purple horse in a purple stable and a new pet lemon.

    It’s been a brain stretching few weeks to say the least but each day has been fun and with each day the monkeys have grown into slightly older, slightly more independent and slightly odder children and despite the madness I will miss them like crazy in a couple of weeks.

     

    Welcome to my world, Rx

     

     

     

     

     

     

    e stage

     

     

    The Terrible Twos

    I’m not one for clichés. I do not adhere to stereotyping. But. You know what? Sometimes, the cap just fits.

    We are most definitely well into the ‘terrible twos’, in fact, I’m reasonably sure that the phrase was coined specifically for my 2.5 year old.

    You’ve probably seen this meme doing the rounds:

    2fd21ae78998275d1772fca752de4141

    Well this here pretty much sums up my life.

    If it is quiet in my house for more than 1.47 minutes then someone asks the inevitable and foreboding question……..”where is she?”

    Now. Going on recent evidence there are a few places she could be and a few pastimes she could be keeping busy with.

    She could be:

    • Very busy ‘organising’ my purse. This translates to rehoming each and every bank card/loyalty card/piece of ID/ into new locations throughout the house. Well, who doesn’t love a treasure hunt before every trip to the village shop?
    • Very busy ‘doing her hair’. In the last two weeks she has ‘done her hair’ with almost an entire tub of Vaseline, and when this didn’t create the desired effect she moved onward and upward to Sudocreme. If any shampoo developers are reading this then you really need to up your game, Your product may smell nice but remove petroleum jelly it does not.
    • Very busy ‘eating purple jelly’. Er that looks suspiciously like the inside of the bathroom air freshener. Swiftly moving on….
    • Very busy ‘knitting’. Technically what she was doing could be called ‘uncrocheting’, I much preferred the huge pile of wool when it was in the form of Froo’s winter hat.
    • Very busy ‘making breakfast’. For anyone with an interest in mathematics; the contents of a 750g box of ‘hot oat cereal’ almost exactly cover the floor of a 9x9ft kitchen floor, with just enough space for an average sized 2 year old to sit and eat dry Weetabix.
    • Very busy ‘making Mummy’s shoes purple’. Think; 2 year old, brand new nude heels, purple nail varnish…..I’ll leave the rest to your imagination.
    • Very busy ‘tidying up’. If you’ve lost something….check the bin.

    That probably gives you an insight into a week of toddlerdom. It also explains why I declined the kind offer to look after the school guinea pigs…….!

    Welcome to my world.

    Rx