THEY SAY…

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As well as the Frozen soundtrack , I spend a lot of time hearing They say ….and I often wonder who THEY are, where THEY are and why THEY think THEY have the authority on everything

 I was hoping to spare you the agony of my poetic attempts, unfortunately I have failed and have scribed a bit of a ranty ditty about THEY, whoever THEY are.

They live in tall towers, smelling of flowers, whilst sipping the best champagne,

Shaking their heads whilst tutting, “She did it again”

They tut if you do, tut if you don’t,

Moan that you will and groan that you won’t

They won’t let you know if you’re doing it right,

But will wake you up with a fear of failing, during the night

They tell you to do it this way, but don’t delay a day

Because their theories change as they please,

Whilst guffawing at you on your knees.

They see you through their giant binoculars, serving fish fingers again

Whilst they have organic, fresher than fresh meals delivered  by electric train

They put their hands over their eyes as you drop a bookcase on your foot

Whilst soothing a baby in a sling and desperately trying to find the toddler’s favourite book.

They don’t know why you don’t get a grip and wear nice clothes

Whilst they strut about in pristine robes

They don’t know what the fuss is about

It’s child play, although it must be wooden and raved about in the latest magazines

They wonder where you read that puke and snot was better than a healthy, make up sheen

They release new techniques, which you think you have mastered

Just as they put their hands on their perfect hips

And say there were glips,

So please swot up on the latest trend,

Before you blink and it’s reached its end.

After spending three hours following their latest getting the baby to sleep rules before you unwind

You collapse on the sofa, which has taken an hour to find

And breathing a sigh of relief , throw a stray nappy in the bin

Which misses and  unwittingly covers the spy camera

They left there to check you are on track, day out and in

You smile, pop a straw in the bottle of wine and enjoy leftovers of many a processed meal gone by,

Blissfully unaware of  THEY,  hopping mad in their headquarters ,

Somewhere up in the sky.

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WHEN THE TABLES ARE TURNED

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There is an unspoken rule of parenting and actually life in general that should be tattooed on everybody’s arm on leaving the womb which is; SMUGNESS DOESN’T PAY. The second that even a sniff of smugness is spoken or thought, you have inadvertently set yourself up for the most almighty of falls without a soft duvet to land on, more like a hard concrete slab.

Rewind, two weeks. We had had a morning out and the boys had been eerily excellently behaved. Being fools, we decided to chance upon this and went to a bar for lunch. On being seated, the nine month old baby at the table behind us started to shriek, not your average shriek, think horror film multiplied by a zillion kind of shriek. Her family applauded and thought this was hilarious, especially the more she did it. The boys put their hands over their ears, S rolled his eyes and I , oh yes I dared to comment. (Shoot me now) I actually said these words to S ” I`m so glad ours never shrieked”  S said they did shriek but maybe because they´re ours, we didn’t mind. “No, no, no” Say I , momentarily possessed by some hideous smug-arse.  The shrieking continues, the boys are drawing  and we place our order to an apologetic waitress.

The waitress brings our lunch. Chips for Boy 2 and Pasta for Boy 1. Boy 1 steals one of Boy 2´s chips. Boy 2 smiles and takes a strand of cheese from the intended for pasta cheese bowl. Boy 1 howls, leaps up and basically turns into something terrifying that lurks in a world of Ninja Turtles and Horror films for the over thirty-fives. All eyes turn. All chatting stops. The cd jumps and the fruit machine stops flashing. This is not a cute baby making a noise, this is a languishing, raging five year old. Hell hath no fury like a ferocious five year old protecting his cheese. People are shuffling with anticipation waiting to see …

                                                  HOW THE PARENTS ARE GOING TO REACT.

 Awkward, as the parents are frantically eyeing up all escape routes, unfortunately the only way is past everyone and the ice-cream fridge. So much for sitting at the back of the bar “so we don’t disturb anybody else.”

In slow motion I get up and pick up the exploding 5 year old. I move to the side, crouch down and in a very slightly  on the edge, incredibly slow voice try to reason with him, the words ice-cream may have been used. He stops shaking and we do the walk of shame back to the table. En route, I have a masterplan (cop out idea) and ask for another bowl of cheese. Surely, if each boy has a bowl, all will be ok and peace will reign. Surely?

Waitress brings extra bowl. Boy 2 smiles, he just wanted a bit of cheese on his chips. As he reaches for the cheese, Boy 1 rears his head. More howling and writhing and raging takes place, “It´s my cheeeeeeese!” he yells ” I have pasttttaaaaaa” I look around hopefully, wondering  if anybody wants to claim the 2015 winner of the world´s most brattish sounding child. No, no takers. I consider throwing in a bowl of cheese for good measure.

I remove him again and try rationalising, pointing out he may be being ever so slightly majorly unreasonable. We go back in. On seeing the cheese, what lies within resurfaces. I hand him over to S, who also takes him outside for quite a while. I think the words ice-cream and Lego were used.

The bar is still silent. Boy 2 swallows the cheese, I hastily smuggled him and we flatten the bowls so there is no evidence of pilfering. In comes Boy 1 and the onlookers wait eagerly for their next installment. It is here, dear Reader that I think i need to point out something. There is absolutely NO point to this argument because Boy 1 is in fact…

LACTOSE INTOLERANT.

Yes. You read it right. Boy 1 can’t eat cheese and had no intention of eating it anyway.

On his return, he is calmer but still not giving up the cheese. Then, as five year old logic and boredom sets in, he smiles. Squeezes Boy 2´s hand and says “Here you are, you like cheese and chips”  and  promptly throws the contents of both bowls onto Boy 2´s plate. We hear a small ripple of clapping and finish our lunch to the audible comments about our terrible parenting and the soothing dulcet tones of a very cute shrieking baby.

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TOPPLE LIKE A TODDLER

I never thought I would utter these words, but Madonna and me have something in common. We both had a topple in public. Granted, Madonna’s crowd was about a zillion deep and all eyes were on her, my crowd comprised of hundreds of freezing parents clapping at their offspring´s graduation. Also, mine was in a cathedral , not a swanky venue and I don’t think anybody noticed mine, not even my Mum who had been kindly seated behind a pillar.

I had been terrified about falling off the rickety stage , but I needn’t have worried about that as what actually happened was that in my relief at receiving my scroll (is that what it’s even called?) and not crashing to the ground , I leant forward , tripped over my feet and watched in stilted slow motion horror as my cap flew off my head and kept going as if it had accidentally lost its way from Hogwarts.

Cue, me stretching out like a drunk octopus and somehow managing with a bit of a mix between a run and a star jump catching it before it fell with a thud. I was ever so slightly mortified. My “friends” were highly amused and still are to this day.

Madonna, however, handled it with grace and managed to carry on unscathed. If that had been a toddler who had toppled down the stairs, they would have;

a: thrown the world`s largest most vocal tantrum, pointing fingers at everybody and screeching until everything , everywhere came to a standstill.

b: laughed uncontrollably and pulled everybody else down too.

c: hopped back on stage and done it over and over and over again.

d: probably found something to eat whilst on the ground and discovered a secret tunnel.

e: managed to locate you in the crowd and blame you for letting them wear the cape. After all, it is always your fault, remember?

 

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HOW CLEAN IS YOUR HOUSE?

The boys are drinking their bedtime milk from champagne flutes. I’m not Hyacinth Bouquet and the champagne flutes are in fact plastic and for the record, I don’t actually know how they got to be in our house. But our dishwasher has not read its job description and has broken down for the umpteenth time this week, leaving a kitchen which resembles the leaning tower of Pisa with a conservatory built on the back.

Yes, I know I could wash up and I have, but it`s the pile that keeps giving and I am now tempted to test the hair washing theory, the one where you don’t wash your hair for months and then it self cleans and you are left with the glossiest of manes, hopefully it applies to plates boasting congealed remnants of lunches gone-by.

In my most fantastical of dreams, my house resembles one on Wisteria Lane, (possibly Bree’s) pristine and smelling of freshly baked goods and exotic flowers, unfortunately real life is the stuff of nightmares and is much more hysteria than wisteria and smells of burnt and wee thanks to two boys who find it hilarious to aim for the sky rather than the bowl . But for some excruciatingly dull reason, I am always stressing about it. Always. I feel like I am constantly cleaning and tidying up a la ground hog day, but to no avail. I know two small children doesn’t help the mix, but I think it´s me, I think I’m just not very good at the whole cleaning malarkey. When my house is spotless and shiny (in my eyes) it probably looks like a before shot on How clean is your house?

Thankfully, my children don’t share this worry and if it was up to them, this is how they would maintain that “we live in the movies” look.

Spilt drink on the floor
Grab nearest item off clothes horse (big socks work really well) and rub half-heartedly until it’s slippy, but you can’t see it. If you are pernickety and want to dry it, then use a skirt or dress, usually found on radiator. It gives it a nice glean and a magazine finish.

Clothes
No need to worry about mountains of clothes to be washed, just turn top/ trousers around and then inside out – magic. You instantly have 4 wears out of said garment, and nobody will notice it’s the same as each new stain and mark will add a certain “where did he get that?” envy to it.

Food
Don’t bother picking up food that’s fallen off your plate, it’s always good to have snacks to hand 24/7, there is nothing tastier than a 3 (week) day old fishfinger or bean.

Lego
Lego must be left strewn on the floor at all times, no matter where it is. At all times.

Toys
Collect as many as you possibly can, hoard them. It’s all about plastic, the brighter and noisier, the better. Never throw or give anything away, you can never have too many broken kinder surprise toys. If there are complaints, just brush them under the sofa; nobody ever looks there anyway.

Just last week, we were at the doctors looking at a very glossy magazine, with pictures of houses I think I should probably live in, and O pointed at an exquisitely gorgeous pristine house with an exquisitely clean family standing in front of it. “Why are they so grumpy?” he asked, genuinely concerned. “Is it because they haven’t got a sandpit?” he said scouring the photos, shaking some sand out of his hair.
Evidently, sparkling cleanliness = grumpiness and misery. In that case, I say bring on the dirt and the huge grubby faced smiles. Always.

This is obviously a stock photo and NOT a photo of the pile of clothes I have to fold and put away...

This is obviously a stock photo and NOT a photo of the pile of clothes I have to fold and put away…

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SEVEN THINGS I ALWAYS FORGET TO REMEMBER……

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1. When your (any) child says “I don’t want any more of this lasagna/ biscuit/ squashed banana” Do not under any circumstances finish it off. Leave it out on the side for at least three and a half days, as the second it hits your belly or the dark depths of the bin, there will be a loud wail and a monumental tantrum as you fail to produce said biscuit or congealed banana.

2. Nosebleeds; I am actually considering getting a tattoo of the correct procedure. Every time there is a nosebleed (where does ALL that blood come from?!), I go blank, trying to remember if it’s head up or down, blow or squeeze, flip child upside down or sideways or take a photo for a future blog post.

3. Nappies; Never ever check whether your child has done a poo or a wee by putting your finger in their nappy. Believe me.

4. Don´t ever talk about how well your child gets on with other children to anybody, don’t even accommodate the thought. The moment this smugness leaves your mouth, your child will be pummeling all the other ones to the ground, followed by a star jump on their bellies for good measure.

5. In the same vein, never say out loud “No, they haven’t wet the bed for ages” (Cue; a night of changing sheets and beds and you all end up sleeping in the kitchen) or “No, they haven’t been ill this term”; Congratulations! You have just invited the plague to visit your house.

6. Don’t entrust your child with a secret of any size, unless you live on a desert island only populated by banana trees or want all and sundry and their dog´s dog to know it.

7. There is absolutely NO point in cleaning your house, ever. Not even the most hidden corner of it, not until your children are at least 37 years old.

 

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Literally….

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The boys are tri-lingual, I speak to them in English, S in Catalan and at school the majority of their classmates are Spanish speaking. Sometimes they get muddled and come out with literal translations like I’m really hungry to see my friend or I have no poo, when asked if they need the loo. This gave me a flashback to a boy I sat opposite on a train once, who had obviously just learnt the word literally. It was brilliant. His conversations went pretty much like this “ Literally, here’s a cheese crisp” “Today is literally Friday.”

I am pretty sure all children take idioms literally but I’m not sure that all children react in quite the overly dramatic way mine do ….

SIX THINGS MY CHILDREN TAKE LITERALLY / JUST DON`T GET

1. “We need to get our skates on, we´re late for school”

Response: “NOOOOO! My teacher said no skating at school, No skates, she`ll take them off me and I’ll get cold feet.”

2. Rhyming sentences such as “Let’s go Jo!” or “Don’t worry Murray!”

Response: A whole day of saying ” I’m not Jo or Murray, Why are you calling me that? Who’s Jo? Why don’t you know my name?”

3. “It’s raining cats and dogs”

Response: “ What?! Quick hide, they will squash our house!” “I don’t like dogs, where are they?” (said a bit tearfully)

4. “Stop pulling your willy, it will fall off!”

Response: Cunnning smile spreads across face as he saunters off to convince little brother to pull his willy.

5. “Have you got ants in your pants?”

Response: Half naked children in supermarket queue.

6. “I`m your Mum and you´re my son”

Response: Silence as bottom lip starts to quiver, “I want to be the moon, not the suuuuun.”

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IT’S O.K TO BE DIFFERENT

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I am not a violent person. However, if ONE more random stranger dares to point out that the boys “are very different, aren`t they?” with negative connotations mostly aimed at the non-show off of the two. I shall have to take action with whatever I have about my person (Most likely a stray lego brick , a snotty wetwipe or a soggy banana)

I am fully aware my children are different, and eternally grateful for it! If they were exactly the same I wouldn’t have needed to think of a name for the second , I could have just called them O and O, also quite honestly I actually don’t know if I would be able to cope if they had exactly the same personality traits. Variety is the spice of life and all that jazz. If they wrote their own personal ads F´s would read like this:

      3 year old male; slapstick hilarious, not frightened of anything,except for vegetables. Very good at getting out of tricky situations by putting on the charm. Interests: showing off to the max, making an almighty mess, kissing and dressing up.

and O’s:

                    4 year old male; dry sense of humour, very caring, very good at hiding when in trouble. Interests: Lego, crumpets and Lego. In fact, everything EXCEPT for School. 

  I think that I am particularly adverse to people comparing the boys negatively because when we were younger I was “the chatty one” and my sister was the “quiet one”. Nothing wrong with that, but when my sister went to the primary school I had just left, a teacher constantly compared her to me so much so that my Mum promptly whisked her out of that school and into one which I had never been to and she blossomed and was quite the queen bee.

It is natural to compare, we all do it. It’s how we gauge normality, development and tastes. I just think that when it comes to characters, it pays to be respectful and accepting. Yes, the boys are different  and I know I am nauseatingly biased, but for me they are as hilarious, as manic, as wonderful, as annoying, as loud, as quiet, as brilliant, as grumpy and as cuddly as each other. It just manifests itself in different ways. There are days when F is quiet and O shows off to new heights and when they are in  cahoots it can be flipping exhausting. Good exhausting but this is where a clone, a magic wand or a troop of staff would come in handy.

They may be different but I love them exactly, head over heels , not a lego brick in it, completely the same.

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THE SALT OF LIFE

In general, I don´t have many helpful pearls of wisdom to share but i have discovered something that I feel the need to holler about, very loudly. Apologies if I am the only person on this planet who didn’t know this potentially lifesaving nugget of information.

Yesterday, I decided to cook sausages on the electric grilling machine which S is always raving about. The sausages were sizzling happily while two hungry children took it in turns to ask why lunch was taking 100 years. All of a sudden, there was a rocket type “WHOOOOOSH” actually more of a “WHOOOOMPH” as the whole grill-side of the kitchen became engulfed in rapidly growing flames. Panic stricken, I looked around for something to smother the fire with but all I could spy through my frightened eyes was a sock.

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As tempting as it was to fight the rising flames with a tiny sock, I ran across the landing, (plus side of living in a flat) and in the style of a 999 reconstruction, hammered on the neighbour’s door , only to run back inside followed by my neighbour who valiantly stretched around the flames and unplugged the grill, then plonked a plate on top of the flames and yelled for um………….. SALT.

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I flung it at him and he calmly doused the flaming sausages with the salt (I thought twice about writing flame-grilled) and put out the fire!  A quick google search confirms that yes indeed, salt is a fabulous weapon when faced with a grease fire (it also went on to say that you could put out a camp fire with wee, but to do it privately…)

I was in awe and wanted to hug my neighbour and the now empty salt pot. We were both a bit stunned and he broke the news to me that we wouldn’t be able to eat the sausages, which made me laugh a lot, relieved that the only casualties were the sausages and the grill, rather than the boys or the building.

How is it possible that they are still a bit pink?!

How is it possible that they are still a bit pink?!

Boy 1 and Boy 2, who had been watching in excited trepidation from a safe viewing point, whooped and cheered for our quick thinking superhero neighbour and of course the salt, before remembering that they were still ravenously hungry.

That afternoon, I spent a good fews hours trembling while one zillion “What ifs” zoomed round my mind. Luckily the boys had found the whole thing massively and weirdly exciting.  “We´re super brave, like Luke Skywalker” they exclaimed  tucking into their long awaited lunch of potatoes and chocolate snowmen.

The thing that was most terrifying was the speed of it, how in one split second everything could have changed. At bedtime, Boy 1 turned to me and said  “You need to be friends with Fireman Sam, he knows what to do.” I make a note to put Sam on speed dial and to stock up on salt then I kiss the boys goodnight, eternally grateful that somebody or something had most definitely been looking out for us all and vow never to cook sausages ever again.

Me, not doing a very good job of staying calm by Boy 1.

Me, not doing a very good job of staying calm, while the neighbour smoothly extinguishes the flames. @Otis.

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NO WIN SITUATION

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The other day at the back to school meeting, they advised that parents take time out every day to do a puzzle or play a board game with their child. They went on to say that it’s because it’s a good calming exercise to do with them. This sounds obvious, but it made me laugh at the realisation that their children are obviously not my children.

Playing board games with them is not fun.

This is what happens after the first two and a half minutes.

Shopping List : There are tears because F has more products than O. O swaps trolleys, F doesn’t realise. F then realizes. There is a fight, shopping trolley gets bent. The products get hurled across room. Game turns into fishing shopping list items out from under the sofa, my bra, leftover lunch.

Any puzzle: F likes to do puzzles when they are nearly finished. As in, the last piece needs to be placed. He will instruct you to do it with him, then he will conveniently go off to find his princess cape shouting “Is it ready? Is it ? Is it? “ Then screams as O puts the final piece in , just as he gets there.

Penguin game: (The idea is to flip your penguin onto the vibrating igloo) It is only ever O’s go.

Peppa Pig Snakes and Ladders : F decides how many spaces you can move (regardless of dice) and where you can go. Even if you are one square from home, you will most likely be sent back to number one because “I was one when I was little”

All of these games are accompanied by dulcet screeches of “I’m the winner, No I’m the winner!”  Then tears and hysteria “He said he’s the winner, but I’m the winner…. “

In short, as much as the idea of sitting down to play games is one I envisaged romantically when they were about a day old, the reality is the noisier and faster and more running aroundness (preferably just in pants and wearing a crown) the better. Yesterday they were entertained for a record 27 minutes  by “Run from the Dragon”.  This highly innovative game was thought up by a desperately shattered teetering on the edge me,  you need two children, a scooter and a go carty thing stolen , borrowed from the neighbour. Children hurtle round garden and I lob , gently throw an inflatable dragon in their flight path. Crashing into it and when it hits your brother´s (not your) head is apparently the most hilarious thing ever. They couldn’t get enough, until O ran over F’s toes and then drove into the clothes horse. The game had come to a natural end. Or so I thought, until twenty seconds later, while I was making chocolate milk for the screaming injured, I was met by two (plastic) sword wielding boys wailing “I’m the winner” “NO, I’m the winner!, you’re the LOSER!”

Anybody got a 50,000 piece puzzle I can borrow?

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Heigh Ho, Heigh Ho, It’s off to school we go.

Aside from an alarm failing to go off, we made it to school awake, dressed and mostly happy ( the news F couldn’t wear his cape, which is actually a double bed sheet didn’t go down very well). The BIG day we have been waiting for excitedly, nervously, desperately and in denial-ly has been and nearly gone.

IMG_2036 There were only tears when O couldn’t see me as I had momentarily lost F in the hoards of parents, only to find him sitting down on the floor talking to a recently decapitated caterpillar, and it was a bit emotional seeing O’s sleep creased face looking a bit too serious, but we survived, phew! “What, you didn’t cry?!” shouts everybody who knows me. I know, I know, I was on the brink. But yesterday I had an EPIPHANY! Amongst the nerves, the melancholy that the summer was over, I realised that going to school means that bedtime will be at NORMAL o ‘ clock, NOT half past completely RIDICULOUS o’ clock! A fact that fills my slightly heavy “Where have my little boys gone?” heart with jumping joy. It turns out that days of beach, lego, umpteen viewings of Frozen, eating your bodyweight in ice-cream , destroying the house, painting yourself from top to toe with felt tip doth not tired boys make. Quite the contrary, it fills them with extra energy which burns slowly throughout the day slowly getting greater and greater until, just after 7.30pm (the bedtime of yesteryear) they turn into the duracell bunnies and nothing suppresses the great ripple of energy. Nothing, not talking in a ridiculously calm (slightly psychotic) voice, closing all the shutters (” Mummy, we can still see the sun, why are you making the house dark?”), warm milk, reading stories where all the characters are going to bed, putting on their pyjamas or going to bed myself. One night I managed to get them to bed by 7.30pm, it was paradise. I was ecstatic, until they woke at 1:45, 2:37, 3:15, 4:52 and 5:45 am where I admitted defeat and we started the day. “Oooo, it’s a bit dark outside isn’t it!” exclaimed O “Yes” giggled F shouting “Wake up lazybones day!” at the tired sky. In fact bedtime turned into such a ridiculous part of the day that on a few occasions I had to throw it all to the wind and just join them. One night all dressed for bed and nowhere to go ( I showed them the way to their bedrooms, they just laughed) We piled them into the car and we did a bit of rock climbing, made all the more exciting by potential wild boar sightings, but luckily they waited for us to leave. ( I was not too excited by the prospect of scooping up two boys and running down a hill in my flip flops from a herd of hungry boars). They fell asleep in the car on the way home – result! IMG_2054 Another night , I took them out on their skates and scooter, only for them to come back and F had a meltdown about circular bread and triangular fish fingers. So, instead of two ready for bed boys, the next hour was spent negotiating with an angry toddler who was only calmed by watching Frozen from start to finish, twice. IMG_2056 Bedtime had become BADtime. Obviously being the holidays, I wasn’t expecting bedtime to be early but closer to the witching hour than In the Night Garden was a bit much night after night. Today at lunchtime ( school day – 9-12:30,  3:00 – 4:30pm ) O started wailing , “I’m too tired Mummy, I don’t need school. I didn’t go for a hundred years, why today?” I try to distract him by making a cake , Once he has licked the bowl inside and out, he smiles, satisfied. “I’ll go and put my pyjamas on, when the cake’s ready we’ll eat it and then it will be bedtime , ok? ” He says hopefully. It looks like recruiting for my Bring Back Bedtime Campaign is going to be a piece of cake.     ShareWithMePicM

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