Sleepless in Aberdeen

It shouldn’t be actresses, models or TV ‘stars’ on the cover of magazines – it should be mums. We are so freaking fabulous we deserve people to gasp when they see us. We should be sent free handbags, be placed at the best tables in restaurants and have treats showered upon us.

This morning I woke up thanks to a headbutt from the three year old I’ve been trying unsuccessfully to get back into the habit of sleeping in his own bed. My eyes were puffy from crying at 4am when his endless screaming, kicking tantrum broke me. My curly hair was a fuzzy mess from tossing and turning my six-months-pregnant bulk. I spent the morning in a daze and was so pathetically grateful when my husband handed me a lovely salad for lunch that I burst into tears. Again.

This cannot continue. I am not this woman.

I have been Googling. I cannot understand why my son has turned into a screaming banshee just because we took him on holiday and he had to sleep in a few different places.

So far the reasons I’ve come up with are:

1 he’s acting up because I’m pregnant

2 he’s having tantrums because he can’t express himself verbally and he wants to be in our bed

3 he’s having night terrors

4 he’s asserting his independence

5 he’s overtired

6 he’s going through a growth spurt

Well, I can’t do anything about number 1 or 6.

Number 2: yes, but too bad, he’s not getting his way.

3: OK, apparently the way to deal with this is to note when these happen, wake him ten mins before with a drink and reset the sleep pattern. [sigh].

Number 4, yes I understand that, and it’s probably linked to number 5, so I will redesign the bedtime routine slightly.

I’m also aware that letting him come into bed with us at 6.15am, after resolutely returning him to his bed twice or three times during the night, is probably confusing matters. My reasoning is, at 6.15, I only have two options: Get up for the day or Bring him in where he’ll fall asleep immediately, sleep for two or three more hours and be much more manageable for the rest of the day.

I mean, what would you do?

I am already dreading tonight. My patience is shot to hell. I’m tired. I’m pregnant and therefore overly emotional. I’m also back at work tomorrow. But I will dredge up some strength from the depths of my bruised soul and just have faith that this too shall pass.

If anyone wants to send me a handbag as an incentive, I’d be most grateful.

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It’s time to start potty training – part 3

Day two and there was progress, though I wasn’t sure there would be until lunchtime.

It was another lovely hot sunny day, so we were outside from 9am, though over the next three hours he seemed to develop Potty Fear. This may be because at quarter to nine he grabbed himself, ran to the toilet, peed a little as he stepped up, slipped on it and sprawled across the toilet with his head in the bin. I persuaded him to sit on the moulded seat but he cried and complained and was not interested in singing the pee pee song.

Over the course of the morning he would hide to pee or point-blank refuse to go near the potty, even though he would tell me when he needed. I was getting a bit upset about it all, until, just before noon, I managed to grab the potty and catch the last of his stream in it. I was delighted he didn’t stop and run away, he just kept going, so I decided this was a bit of a breakthrough and made a big deal of it. He was delighted, we danced around and kissed and cuddled and took the potty to the toilet to flush it down and wave bye bye to the pee pee. He then got two chocolate buttons and did a little funny dance around the kitchen. Adorable.

Mummykimmy playing on the deck

We played all afternoon and I managed my Catch the Flow trick twice more. Both times we had big celebrations and I noticed he seemed less uncomfortable with the potty as a result. He’s still happier to go and stand by the toilet on his step, though he’s yet to get anything in.

At 2.15, shortly after a two-chocolate-button moment, he was running in circles round the whirligig pole in the middle of the patio. He stopped and I asked him if he needed a pee pee? He shook his head, started running again and, like a trotting pony, plopped three little poos behind him. I’d been dreading this moment so was very relieved at the lack of drama and the easy-clean surface he’d chosen.

Mummykimmy playing with shaving foam

At half four I realised too late that he was looking for something, and he started to puddle on the deck. Luckily the potty was within reach (hidden behind a box of toys though) and I managed to catch half the flow so the wee soul could have his chocolate buttons. He really is trying.

It may be slow, but there is progress happening. He also surprised me today by picking up a tangerine, wandering off with it and bringing it back to me half peeled! I watched as he carefully removed the rest of the skin and ate the segments as if it was no big deal. It was to me! He’s never done that before and on a day when I’m obsessively watching for any step forward at all in his development, this was a wee bonus.

Mummykimmy tangerine peeling

I’m definitely much calmer than I was this time yesterday. I feel much more positive and on top of things. I accept it won’t be done and dusted within three days but I’m satisfied he understands what we’re trying to do and that he’s becoming more familiar with the sensation of needing to go. Rod’s off tomorrow and we’re both looking forward to a whole day in the garden, just the three of us.

Read part 1 here and part 2 here

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It’s time to start potting training – part 2

Day one started so well.

We had the chat, he picked out his pants, he sat on the potty, he smiled and laughed, he seemed really excited about the whole event. He even ran to the toilet and stood on the step ready to ‘pee like daddy’ within half an hour. Nothing happened and he made a puddle a few minutes later as he brushed his teeth, but I gave him a chocolate button anyway. He’d tried.

This morning there were lots of encouraging signs. At 10.30am he told me before he needed and sat obligingly on the potty while we sang the pee pee song. Nothing happened, he made a little puddle a few minutes later but then he ran over and finished by peeing right next to the potty. So his aim’s a little off – he got another chocolate button for effort.

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As the day went on, I abandoned pants and trousers (it was a roasting hot day) and he seemed less and less tolerant of the potty. He was happier to stand on the step by the toilet, but always after a puddle and never with any success. By the end of the afternoon he was just peeing freely with no attempt to tell me until afterwards and no chance of sitting on the potty.

My friend and her wee boy came over for a couple of hours after lunch. He was clearly too distracted to think about it at all – but after hitting his pal and being placed on the naughty step he made a huge puddle and ran straight to the toilet. That was tricky – he was supposed to be in the middle of a punishment but I wanted to reward him for at least trying to make it to the loo. He got another button and was allowed back outside under strict instructions to behave himself.

The worst part was 4.30 to 5.30. By this point I was knackered. My bump was tender from all the bending down to clean up puddles. My patience was wearing thin. We were on the seventh set of pants (even though he’d been naked half the day) and it was still a good few hours until daddy was home. I thought if we made a pizza together the time would pass.

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Right in the middle of the messiest food prep ever, he suddenly stopped, looked at me guiltily and looked down. Instead of taking the three minutes to finish off the pizza, I started cleaning him up, and the chair, and the floor, and washing my hands, and washing his hands, and preventing him grabbing the half made pizzas and slipping and maybe shouting just a little bit too much. I eventually got the pizzas in the oven and was trying to put the kitchen back together when I glanced at the packet and realised I should have cooked the dough for ten minutes first.

So I pulled everything out again and made up two more bases and flung them in the oven while the wee man did some more peeing on the floor. At least he grabbed the mop and tried to clean it up. We then had to smear on more toppings and as I put the pizzas back in the oven he had another accident. After the requisite 15 minutes the pizzas came out looking great but with the dough clearly undercooked. By now it was 5.30 and I was about to completely lose it, so I reheated some spag bol and sat next to him checking Facebook while he happily munched the lot. And peed. I know I shouldn’t have been checking Facebook but I just needed to remember there was a whole world outside my urine soaked house.

After playing outside a little longer, I checked my watch, congratulated myself on reaching 6 o’clock and ran his bath.

He’s wearing a nappy in bed – I’m not even going to attempt dry nighttimes for at least another fortnight. I’ve mopped all the floors, tumble dried all the pants, made sure there are easy meals ready for tomorrow and now I’m going to bed.

Read part 1 here.

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It’s time to start potty training – part 1

Today was a rite of passage for the wee man – he picked out his first Big Boy Pants.

I have cleared the diary for three days, checked the weather is going to be good enough to play outside all day and stocked up on cheap joggers.

Tomorrow we begin potty training.

I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing.

I have a potty, a seat for the pan and a step for the toilet.

I intend to have a good chat with him in the morning, put him in his first pair of Big Boy Pants and prepare to clean up a lot of accidents.

The only signs he’s shown that he’s ‘ready’ are his habit of telling me when he’s dirty and his peals of laughter when we imitate daddy at the toilet before he jumps in the bath. He’s more than capable of pulling down his joggers and pants himself and he’s pretty clear in letting me know what he wants in every other area of his life, even if his words aren’t great yet.

So I am keeping an open mind. If, by Sunday night, I’m not convinced it’s been a success, I will put him back in nappies and try again in a few weeks.

I’m feeling a bit nervous about it. What if I don’t teach him the right way? What if he doesn’t get it? What if it upsets him? I’m not intending to take any car journeys. I’m not even thinking about walking to the park – though I will probably have to at some stage or risk going stir crazy.

We’re going to make pizza, draw on the patio with chalk, play with shaving foam and soapy water, do some digging in the garden and generally play for three days. After the crazy working week I’ve had, I’m actually really looking forward to spending proper quality time with him. It’ll be just him and me tomorrow and Saturday, but Daddy will be there too on Sunday and that’s a comfort.

I’m writing this as part one of a four part blog series just to document the process. I’ll be interested to see if my fears are unfounded – or if it turns out to be even more of a disaster than I anticipated. I’ve purposely not read too much on the internet – I’m just going to trust my instinct on this. Who knows – maybe one day a parent in the same boat will read how I get on and learn something from it. Even if it’s how NOT to potty train your child.

Deep breath.

Here we go.

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Why didn’t I think of this before?

I don’t know if it’s typical of three year old boys, or just mine, but concentration span is an issue.

I do remember mum frequently asking me, when I was wee, whether I had ants in my pants, so maybe it’s typical of small children full stop.

The wee man is a ball of energy. “Full of beans” is the standard nursery report.

“He’s been into everything,” the creche supervisor told me today.

“He’s non-stop,” my mum frequently agrees when I phone her in weary triumph, having finally packed him off to bed.

But today at 5.30am I made a break through – and now I’m wondering why the hell I didn’t think of this before.

It’s called Play-Doh.

mummykimmy playdoh

He’d received a four-pot-pack for his birthday two months ago and I’d thrown it into the bag when I was packing toys to amuse him while we were at Mum and Dad’s holiday house. (If only I’d thought to pack the black-out curtains we wouldn’t have been sitting waiting for the cartoons to begin at half five in the morning, but I digress.)

I’d pulled it out in the ambitious hope it would keep him  quiet until the magical hour of 6am.

It absolutely did – and the best bit was I enjoyed playing with it as much as he did!

The smell when I peeled back the first lid immediately awakened a very old, childish excitement and the sight of the perfect, untouched block was ridiculously tempting. We rolled and squidged and pressed and pulled and smacked and stuck the shapes together, laughing and passing the lumps back and forth, using the pots and lids and various bits of cutlery to make shapes. He copied my movements as I shaped the dough and gleefully destroyed all the little animals I built for him.

As it began to dawn on me what a long time had passed without a complaint, I remembered a client telling me about her new product, Jumping Clay. She was using it to hold classes for children with additional support needs and had some interesting observations about the power of clay. The senses it appealed to and the concentration it inspired, the skills it helped to teach and the calmness it promoted were just some of the reasons she said it was so effective with this particular group. I was seeing first hand how universal these qualities were – we were both engrossed and happy. I kicked myself for not connecting the dots before.

He did lose interest eventually and wander off to watch cartoons, but he came back to the table looking for the Play-Doh on three other occasions throughout the day. I need to watch he stays at the table and the wee bits don’t stray to the carpet or any other soft furnishings – and I pretty much have to sit there playing alongside him, but I’m still delighted we’ve discovered such an absorbing activity.

I have now put a pot into his wee rucksack and will consider it as essential as the iPad when it comes to keeping him entertained in public places.

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My Play-Doh bear in the three seconds it survived before being gleefully squashed

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Another kid-friendly day out in Aberdeenshire discovered

“WOW!” the wee man shouted.

I don’t know why we hadn’t thought to bring him here before. For a little boisterous boy who just wants to zoom around pushing or riding on anything with wheels, it should have been an obvious choice. Today we went to a Transport Museum.

We left Glasgow around the time the fabulous new Museum of Transport opened by the Clyde – and to be honest, I hadn’t even known a Grampian Transport Museum existed. But there it is, only half an hour away from our Aberdeen abode in Alford and today it was surrounded by car enthusiasts and their toys.

One of Rod’s customers had told him about it and he casually suggested this morning that we pop by. I hadn’t expected to enjoy it so much. (The old Glasgow one had bored me as a child). I guess now my own happiness is defined by how well-entertained (and therefore least-troublesome) the wee man is.

He loved it.

He and his daddy admired all the Porsches, MGs, Ferraris, Lamborghinis, Corvettes, Morgans and TVRs – he even got a shot in one of those

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while I was quite taken with the violet velvet interior and the fact the button to open the door was located under the wing mirror.

The highlight of this trip past hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of car and social history however, was a bus.

A double decker, cream and green, Grampian transport bus.

The wee man spent twenty minutes in here before we eventually had to bribe him with yoghurt raisins to get off.

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He was not happy to leave – he had another impressive tantrum as we tried to manoeuvre him out past the carriages, turn-of-the-century motor cars and Romani caravan – but the little play park at the entrance proved a small consolation.

We’ve been here over a year now and we’d never been to Alford. I reckon the museum (on those days the motor clubs gather) plus the lovely wee bistro across the road for lunch, makes for a really fun, kid-friendly day out.

Grammy, I just had the best day, wait til you hear...

Grammy, I just had the best day, wait til you hear…

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They’re not judging, they’re sympathising

He grabbed my sunglasses along with a handful of hair, while screaming in my ear and kicking at my stomach.

“We’ll go back out, mummy just needs her jacket, we’ll go back out,” I repeated, aware I was pleading with him, but saying it over and over allowed me to keep my tenuous grasp on my temper.

The wee man had two almighty tantrums at lunchtime today, both times because we took him away from the play park before he was ready.

The first time was to go into the cafe for lunch; the second was because I forgot my jacket. The place was mobbed –  it was Easter Sunday. My humiliation was nearly overwhelming and Rod’s barely-concealed rage was almost as bad as our sons’. I had to lock the wee man and I in the baby change cubicle for ten minutes to let us all calm down.

Then a surprising thing happened. Alone at last and paying for some goodies from the farm shop, the assistant asked sympathetically if my wee boy was “OK now?”

“Oh, yes, he’s absolutely fine, just upset we took him away from the swings,” I said quickly, in an apologetic tone.

“I felt so sorry for you, I remember those days so well, they do pick their moments don’t they? Biggest audience possible to embarrass mum and dad,” she said, smiling.

I looked up from my embarrassed purse-rummaging in surprise.

“Oh yes, we’ve all been there, I’m sure every parent here was feeling your pain and wishing they could help,” she added.

So they weren’t all tutting at us and wondering what was wrong with that child? They weren’t all shaking their heads as I carried him, squirming violently, under one arm into the disabled toilet or sighing at the ensuing echoing yells?

Of course they weren’t. I should have known this because only the day before the boot had been on the other foot. I’d enjoyed a peaceful lunch with my mum and on the way out we passed a woman drinking wine while her baby gnawed a cookie in a highchair.

“The things you have to do to keep them quiet!” she said quickly.

We stopped, smiling indulgently at the wee girl and then sympathetically at the woman.

“I totally sympathise, I have a three year old,” I told her.

“I’d never usually give her a cookie, but her dad’s been on the golf course every day and the waitress suggested it and I just really needed this one glass,” she stumbled over her words in her completely unnecessary attempt to justify her actions to us. I could have hugged her, I really could.

“I’m going to be 46 soon, it’s so hard when you’re older, but we went through so much to have her, 15 years of treatment would you believe?” she added, to our surprise. Clearly this poor woman had been on her own with her baby for too long and was desperate for adult conversation. But you know what, I totally got that too. I wish now that I’d just sat down with her and ordered another couple of glasses. We could have swapped war stories and moaned about how much easier it is for the men and how no one understands how hard it is and generally wallowed while getting pleasantly tipsy.

Everyone has these moments where they wonder how the hell they got to this and how on earth they’ll ever cope. And then it passes. For every “Oh my God this is hell” moment, there is an “Oh my God I’m going to burst with happiness” moment. Next time there’s a hell moment I’ll try to remember that the people around me are sympathising, not judging.

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This was definitely a “burst with happiness” moment

 

 

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