Attention Span of a Bored Goldfish

When I went to sleep on Sunday 22nd July, I’d had high plans that we’d spend Monday either going to the beach or the woods. The reality, when I woke up having had around 3 hours broken sleep, thanks to all 3 minxes (yet again), was that I’d spend the day just functioning. No problems, we have a large garden – mostly lawn with a vegetable garden in one corner – so we can at least get outdoors. Ah. Maybe not. The forecast of ‘warm, overcast, slight south-westerly with no gusts’ turned out to be more like ‘mild, overcast, driving horizontal rain, strong wind with squally gusts of up to 50mph’. As I watched my veg garden being blown over and 7ft tall buddleia* split itself in half, I considered the possibility of falling roof tiles, yet again, so decided to stay indoors.

* well, the stupid thing was only supposed to grow to 3ft tall. Serves it right. Hmph!

Trying to be a Good Mummy, I encouraged the minxes to build a den indoors. I gave them sheets, blankets, suggestions, helped them to turn the sofas so that the backs faced together, and helped them ‘clear the forest floor’ (pile all the toys and general kid-detritus onto the sofas or out the room). Brill. As they got on with that, I skulked back to the kitchen to make yet another strong coffee.

Maxi’s model of a camp fire, with logs, flames, ground and smoke. It was so good that I’m very proud and a bit frightened. ‘Was’: Midi wrecked it. Thank goodness we took a photo the night before

Before the kettle had boiled, 2 out of 3 minxes were screaming. Maxi’s amazing camp fire model was being destroyed by Midi. I went in, scolded, remonstrated, soothed, and headed back to the kettle. This time I nearly got to pour the water out before Mini was screeching and pinching at Midi. Third time lucky? No chance – the younger ones objected to Maxi’s insistence on everything being done her way by smacking, hair pulling and throwing tight-fist shaking, nose-wrinkling, foot-stamping, teeth-baring strops (Mini). The noise volume was about Level 11 so I made it up to a nice round 12 by joining in the shouting and threatening.

Maxi flounced off to bed. (She really loitered at the top of the stairs pretending to wail. I wish she had gone to bed – she needed more sleep as much as me). Midi and Mini cackled at being given free rein to only have 1 lopsided wall to their den. I gave up on coffee and got on with mopping the floor (why oh why oh why can’t I just hose away all the goo dropped from dinner? Life would be so much easier, I’d have so much more free time and the house would be so much cleaner…).

The wind gusts went up another 10mph (the peas blew completely flat past their hard support) so I gave up on the idea of a garden picnic lunch. Instead I boiled some eggs (the minxes only ever eat boiled eggs in picnics. And it’s the first thing they ask for in picnics. Strange kids. You’d never guess that I craved boiled eggs when I was pregnant with each of them, would you…?!), cut different cheeses into strips, made some sandwiches, filled little water bottles, found some raisin sachets and made it all up into little packed lunches. Heck, they think anything wrapped in foil = world’s best packed lunch. I broke my main house rule and let them eat it in the living room, on the already-dirty sheets. Ahhhh, maybe I could grab that coffee now?

Two coffees down, 3 more to go to achieve normality. After lunch and some thick slabs of watermelon for pudding, and I realised all 3 girls were sticky, dirty and wet from melon juice. And the wind was down to just ‘storm’. Excellent! They couldn’t get any messier, so I grabbed 3 umbrellas, put the girls in waterproofs and ushered them outside. The 2 girls with the nice see-through umbrellas loved this; the other, with the dolly-pram umbrella hated it. So I tried to make it into a game – every minute I shouted, “Change!” and they all had to swap umbrellas. Except instead of spreading out the fun, it actually spread out the misery – they all bickered about who was getting which brolly and for how long. Thinking my poor neighbours probably couldn’t take much more of my yelling, I suggested they be trains. Nice! Now they got to fight over who was the engine or who got to choo-choo the loudest…

I ran away bravely to make another coffee. Clutching it like a shield, I wracked my brains. Ah, bubbles! They all love bubbles! That will make them giggle and laugh and we’ll all feel better! So I got out the litre bottle of bubble-mix I’d stashed away at Christmas. I carefully poured it into the enormous bottle with the best bubble wand ever. I gave each minx a bubble bottle. I stepped back to drink my coffee and enjoy…

Mini: “Waaaaaah! Why do I always get the toy one?!”

Midi spilled 500ml of bubble mix instantly. I yelled to her to pick up the bottle. She just chuckled and left it, draining out like a bloodstain. Mini promptly spilled hers. I yelled at her. Then she dropped her little bubble wand into the huge (and now mostly empty) bottle. I couldn’t reach it and it cut my finger, so I yelled at the bottle. Maxi cleverly picked up bubble mix with her wand from the puddle of bubble mix on the ground, but then merrily threw the wand and gobs of bubble mix at me and my precious coffee. I yelled at her then ran away bravely to The Stones. The little gits kept following me, despite me reminding them Every Single Day that their domain is the massive lawn whilst mine is the tiny stone area around the veg garden. They are not to play on the stones because it’s unsafe and I need somewhere to drink hot drinks free from worrying about spilling them on a (feather-brained) little head. They never listen and I always get cross. Either us adults or those minxes are going to have to back down one day…

Mini signalled to me that she was ready for her nap by pinching me hard 5 times. After the 3rd time, I gave up scolding alone and added a slap to her little hand (gulp – massive guilt and shame at those delicate, gentle little hands being smacked. I was waaay beyond the end of my tether), but no surprise that it didn’t change anything: she just laughed at me and pinched me harder. I read somewhere that smacking a child is a sign that the adult is throwing a tantrum. How very, very true! Realising I was being a total twit, I stopped yelling and asked her if she wanted to take Dora the Explorer or De Li to bed for a nap. “Di-di!” she said happily, not at all bothered by this very dramatic change in tack. We had a lovely cuddle up the stairs, big kisses, nice tucks, and bid each other good night (God, she’s such a sweet little love when she’s not displaying her foul temper that has absolutely nothing to do with mine. Of course. Ahem).

Typically, as Mini was settling down after a yelled “Mummy clo’ my doah! Now, peez!” (Mummy close my door, now please), 4 parcels were delivered. Yep, by the kind of folk who ring the bell 3 times with one hand whilst they hammer on the door with the other. Grrrrrrrr!

To be fair, I normally wouldn’t even have stayed at home in wind and rain, but I’m still a little freaked-out at Mini turning blue when we went to Lossiemouth East Beach last week. She was wearing a thick tunic dress, leggings, thick water-resistant fleece and hood, yet a little squall had her shivering in seconds, shuddering violently with purple cheeks, blue lips and black hands a minute later. Thankfully I had my thick linen sling with me, so could chuck her on my back while I yanked the other 2 back to the car as fast as their wee legs would carry them, rather than just shelter behind a fence or something. I know Mini’s circulation isn’t that great, but that was scary. Even in the car, with a fleece top on, my thick fleece jacket tucked around her, and her hair dry, she *still* looked blue (though she was happily tucking into sandwiches). I don’t know. I think I’d rather stay cautious while she’s so little, rather than chance her ending up hypothermic or something equally mental.

Anyway: Mini napped while Maxi raced around outside mostly naked, singing to the butterflies and crooning soothing noises at the poppies. Something about not letting Mummy pull them up, they weren’t weeds, and not to get upset. Midi happily joined her, whipping her with her wet clothes (it must be their favourite game). Aye, Midi with the black eye (left) from falling onto a rope playground thing at Lossie on Sunday. What a sight that pair make…

Now do you understand why I sometimes need a glass of wine when you walk through the door, dear husband?

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