Category Archives: play

Mummy martyrdom and the wonderful day

It was the apologetic post about being a “Smug and Judgemental Mother of Girls” that made me fall in love a little bit.

I’ve been reading the Facebook updates from Peter and Jane for a few weeks now and I’m convinced the author and I would be best friends. From her “Fuck It All Friday” to her mentions of the “bastarding summer holidays”, she pretty much nails it every day as far as mother martyrdom goes.

And yet.

After I’ve snorted and chortled and liked and commented, I can’t help but hope her children don’t read what she writes. My mum always said the first day of the summer holidays were her favourite and she was really sad when we all went back in August. She has come out with things like “I never wanted you girls to go to the kids clubs on holidays – I wanted to spend the time with you” and she will sob every time my sister goes home to London. I quite like it.

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My family ❤

So either she’s an excellent liar or my sisters and I were angel children or she really did – and does – enjoy hanging out with us. I also suspect, not that I’d ever tell her, that life was a little bit simpler 30 years ago. No mobile phones, more community spirit, less financial pressure and so on.

I have three separate friends who’ve used the line “to save our marriage” over the last few months. These are solid couples – they’re just parents of small children. The lack of sleep, the endless noise, the relentless pace, the MESS will wear down even the most devoted childhood sweethearts. We LOVE to read bloggers who voice our innermost rantings because it reassures us it’s normal to find it all so difficult.

But I think we need to keep it in perspective.

Today, for example, was a wonderful day. It really was.

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Rod took the Wee Man off on An Adventure. They packed a rucksack full of gluten-free sandwiches and marched off into the Pentlands. KD and I tidied the house then met a friend for a very civilised Morningside brunch. He slept for an hour afterwards, allowing me to weed the driveway jungle, and when the adventurers returned, exhausted, we had a lovely quiet half hour playing with Play Doh.

It wasn’t even three o’clock so we casually got into the car and headed west, kind of maybe looking for an ice cream shop, but actually finding a National Trust garden which we had to ourselves. I took my shoes off, walked in the spongy grass and thought “Gosh this is nice. We’re all quite chilled out.” That is not a feeling I am overly familiar with.

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We had dinner all together – an awesome recipe I’ll share at the end of the post because it’s such a sneaky way to get veg into your children – and the bath and bedtime routine was a bearable decibel level. So here I am and Rod’s gone off for a swim and actually, life’s not too bad.

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Recipe for hidden veg pasta:

Fry a diced onion in olive oil. Add a squidge of garlic paste.Throw in a small diced courgette, four or five broccoli heads that have already been steamed, half a red chilli (deseeded and finely chopped), a few chopped up sticks of celery and half a chopped red pepper. Once they’re soft, squidge in some tomato paste and then a tin of chopped tomatoes. Mix well then put the lid on and leave it over a low heat for a few minutes. Meanwhile, boil your chosen pasta (gluten-free in our house). When the veg mix is ready transfer it into a plastic bowl and blitz it with a hand-held blender or, if you’re fancy, put it in the food processor. Mix it into your drained pasta that you’ve put back into the pot then throw in a handful of spinach. It takes about two minutes to cook. Transfer to whichever plastic plate the child insists upon then drop some tomberries (ickle tiny tomatoes I found in Sainsbury’s) and shredded ham hock (again, packet from Sainsbo’s) on top to make it look cool. Voila.

 

 

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Filed under Edinburgh, entertainment, home, KD, play, Uncategorized

They grow up so fast…

Until recently I could have happily throttled anyone who dared say that cliche to my face.

The wee man turned four last month and I was like “Only four? Shouldn’t he be about 12 by now?”

Six month old KD, on the other hand, has been quietly morphing into a giant in the background. He’s bursting out of his 9-12 month clothes, he’s rolling so far and fast that I’ve sold the cot top changer and he no longer fits into the beautiful pram. I picked up a brand new City Mini today and was Christmas-Day-excited –  until I realised he’d be facing the other way. Why did this break my heart? I mean, I didn’t even cry on his first day at nursery.

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Maybe it’s finally dawning on me that this isn’t actually forever, no matter how much like Groundhog Day it can sometimes feel. These days in sole charge of my two boys may be draining, but they’re also enriching. With every minute that passes they are learning and growing. Every small battle actually moulds them into future adults, so that one day they can fly the nest and make their own mark on the world. It’s the most intensive learning experience there is – like getting a law degree inside a month.

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I had never understood friends who wailed “but one day they’ll grow up and leave me!” I mean, do you want them to live with you forever? Because that’s a thing now. I certainly wouldn’t want two stinky boys hanging around my house too late into their twenties. But who knows? That’s a long way away. Right now I struggle to think past tomorrow, and I only do that because I need to be a few steps ahead with clean trousers for the mud-loving big one and clean bottles for the milk-guzzling small one.

We’re also pretty sure we’re stopping at two. The joy of donating, selling or simply chucking out things as KD expands has started to become kind of poignant. I am literally binning a huge part of my life. Time has become tangible. I’m finding this odd as I’m always moaning about time – either not having enough of it to accomplish my endless list of tasks, or having far too much of it as a rainy afternoon with two crabbit children gapes in front of me.

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The one thing I can say with confidence is I’m getting better at it. I’m getting pretty good at pre-empting dangerous situations. I am stricter about discipline with the big one and routine with the small one as it’s the only way to have any kind of control. I’m coping pretty well with the sleep deprivation. I’m less precious about the soft furnishings. I’m less guilty about the time the wee man spends in nursery. I hope I’m more chilled out with Rod – though he may disagree.

I suppose the boys aren’t the only ones growing and learning. I am definitely more compassionate and more patient. I judge people less – in fact – I don’t judge people at all. I take every chance to say “God, I’ve been there, do you need a hand?” I wave at my elderly neighbours and chat to that annoying woman with the dog because these things take a few minutes but make a difference. They make me feel good.

I’m also aware how lucky I am. I may spend a lot of my day repeating myself, cleaning up poo, cooking while singing while confiscating knives while sterilising bottles while rocking the bouncer chair with my foot while not tripping on the toy cars, lifting, tidying, washing and repeating myself – but I have two beautiful boys who make my heart burst when they kiss and cuddle me. Ahhhh, they grow up so fast.

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Filed under Aberdeen, home, play

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.

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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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Filed under education, home, play