Tired, Vacant and Cling

Sleep Deprivation

Tired, tired, tired

Last week at swimming, I was bone-tired. Fed up of 3 wild animals for children who couldn’t walk from the car to the swimming pool reception desk without screaming, escaping in 3 different directions (hmph! Different dimensions, it feels like!) and heading for the wheels of the nearest speeding car. Tired of the same old nagging session of ‘Hurry up and get in the cubicle’ and ‘Hurry up and get your clothes off’, ‘Hurry up and get to the showers’, ‘Hurry up and get out the showers’, ‘Hurry up and get dried / dressed / out the cubicle / to the car”… (I’m sure you get the picture). I was tired of new reception staff who blinked in horror at me barking the minxes’ names and classes at them, whilst holding as many of the 3 by their collar as I could, before they escaped. Then who gaped vacantly as I growled at them, “Open the gate now, please! The kids have nipped under the barrier without me… Open it! NOW!!” The doors of the swimming pool are broken. I darkly suspect it’s in no small part due to my 3 bashing hell out that massively inviting metal ‘push’ button for wheelchair users.

So, last week I’d explained to the girls that I really hate moaning, nagging and shouting at them. They looked sceptical. Well, fair-play – how can you claim to hate doing something that you do all day long, every day?! I explained that it would be so much easier for us all if they did everything quickly, when I asked them. Then I could have more fun with them. I think my smile must have looked like a grimace, because all 3 recoiled in horror. On a roll, I flippantly said, “And if you roll all your clothes together, you can be even faster getting ready when you get out the pool!”

Well, I hadn’t realised that Midi Minx was actually listening! Today, she and Maxi went into a cubicle to get ready for swimming. Literally 2 minutes later, Midi emerged, beaming: “Look, Mummy! A roll of clothes!” I looked as dumb-struck as the new reception staff. After the swimming lesson, Midi had a swoosh under the shower then was out waiting patiently for me, whereas I had to haul Maxi out the shower. Then Midi was dried, dressed and smiling up at me before Maxi had even peeled off her swimsuit – she just stood staring into space.

Talking of Dolly-Daydream, Maxi nearly got flattened today. Normally she and Midi are released from school and come racing vaguely towards me with big smiles unless they get distracted halfway. Today, Maxi took one look at me, scowled, and slunk off sideways, to go and footer about by the bike sheds. Not being one to put up with sulks, I gathered the other 2 (who’d typically bomb-burst in different directions) and shepherded them all out the school gate. I had a hold of the younger 2 and could see Maxi right behind them. “OK, safe to cross: go, go, go!” I yelled, and they all scampered across the road. Once on the pavement, I did my usual safety-check. One minx, two minxes, three… oh. I looked up, Maxi was still on the other side of the road, looking vacant. She saw me, and went to dash across the road. Right in front of a white car. I roared, “STOP!!!!” so loudly that it silenced the playground. I’m sure the other Mums were thinking, “Oh Christ, there she goes again, screeching at her kids…”. But on the plus side, it worked: Maxi stood stock still till I told her to cross. Silly girl…

On the one hand, my eldest is acting like a wistful, daydreaming, tortured artist-baby. But on the other hand, she’ll suddenly act like a responsible, mature child. Example, we got in through the door at 1710hrs. I got caught up in a big tangle of faff-ness. She noticed that Foster Cat needed fed. Not only did she go off, find a bowl, choose a pouch, empty it carefully and feed him, but she supervised little Mini in doing it (Mini’s favourite ‘job’). What a star! They’ve never fed him unsupervised before!

(What was I doing? Calling back Currys, fighting with my flaky PC, wrestling with the dilemma of ‘Sort out a business query now and provide good customer service or leave it till later and feed my grumpy kids?’. I chose the former. Mistake – a 20 second job took 20 minutes because all computers HATE ME! Fact.)

So when The Boss arrived home at 1740hrs with dinner not even started, never mind on the plate, he did what marks him out from other men: he just asked if I needed a glass of wine, and how he could best help. What a star! I just needed to take 10 seconds to grab some antibiotics without constantly being interrupted and thereby forgetting. Again…

Mini was a very tired little bear today: despite complaining, “No! No! I three! I not a baby!” she sat in our ring sling while her sisters swam. It might have had a lot to do with me pointing out that from her high vantage point, she could put the coins in the vending machine herself to get her beloved ‘cisp-cisps’ (crisps). She happily snuggled in to my shoulder for half an hour, munching and slurping sleepily and happily, feeding me the odd tasty crunch. She even asked me to bring that sling with us when we go on holiday to Orkney.

She’s being pretty clingy just now, and needing lots of cuddles, and telling me repeatedly how much she loves me. This is so out of character that I think she’s coming down with (yet another) bug. It’s very sweet, though. This morning, she woke up between me and The Boss. I pretended to still be asleep. Well, only half-pretended – she was on one shoulder, Midi on the other, so I was pinned down, with both arms pins-and-needles-y and useless. Mini yawned like a cute little cartoon baby, kissed me, stroked my cheek, kissed her Daddy, stroked his cheek, said quietly , “Love you!” then clambered out and scampered off to see her Grandma (visiting for her 3rd birthday). Awwwwww!!!! I need to record that kind of child adulation, because it’s already worn off with our 6-year-old would-be teenager.

Mini’s Weather Cake Photo Tutorial

Mini's Weather CakeI know there are a million rainbow cakes out in Internet-land, so I thought I’d add mine to the melee. Mini Minx turned 3 today and had asked for a ‘weather cake’ with the sky, the sun, clouds, rain, snowflakes and a rainbow. Eep! Luckily I remembered the brilliant rainbow cake my friend Tracy had made her wee daughter last month, and the tips she’d given me about colourings. She’d kept the inside a surprise, and I thought that was a fantastic idea. If you’ve seen the video of little Mini cutting her cake and her reaction at discovering the rainbow inside, then you’ll see why I think most of the impact of this pretty cake is from keeping the inside a secret! So try to make it when no-one’s around…

It was actually pretty easy to do, and from start to finish took me a single evening. Call it 4 hours, absolute tops, including baking and cooling times. But I was doing other things at the same time too, like cook dinner, eat, get kids to bed, etc. So really not too arduous.

OK, first of all, assemble all your kit. You don’t need it all, but it certainly made things much easier for me:

  • I use disposable paper cases because I’m rubbish at greasing and lining baking tins. They’re like massive cupcake cases. If you have them, 15cm diameter cases and tins would be ideal, but I used 18cm cases (in 20cm tins)
  • 2 cake tins. Small ones. 15cm diameter would be spot-on.
  • food processor or mixer. I used one with a whirly blade rather than a proper Kenwood mixer thing. It’ll be fine!
  • wooden spoon
  • spatula
  • small mixing bowl
  • electronic weighing scales

Here are the ingredients for the sponge cake bit:

  • 6 large eggs
  • about 300g self-raising flour
  • about 300g softened butter
  • about 300g castor sugar
  • vanilla extract
  • food colouring. Gel colourings give you brighter results than the liquid food colouring bottles you get in supermarkets, but they’ll be fine, too.

Here’s my basic sponge recipe, which makes 2 layers:

  1. Put the food processor base onto a set of scales. Crack 2 large eggs into it. Note the weight (should be around about 100g or so).
  2. Add that same weight of castor sugar into the base.
  3. Add that same weight of butter, and also of self-raising flour.
  4. Whizz until it’s all processed.

Right! Let’s begin!

Preheat the oven to 190degC. Make up a batch of sponge recipe. Using the spatula, put about half into your mixing bowl. Don’t stress about being exact, just do it by eye. I say use the spatula because when you’re working with small amounts of sponge mixture, leaving a few tablespoons of mix on the sides of the food processor base is a real waste!

Add food colouring and a 1/4 teaspoon of vanilla extract. Mix with your wooden spoon. It’s up to you how much food colouring you use: I used a half teaspoon for each layer. Some folk prefer a more subtle effect… Scrape the mix into one of the cake tins and smooth it to the edges and so it’s fairly flat.

1 assemble layersScrape the other half of mix into the bowl (it’s up to you if you want to wash it out first or not – I didn’t bother*), add a 1/4 teaspoon of vanilla extract and 1/2 teaspoon of gel food colouring, mix, and put that in the other cake tin. Bake the 2 layers for 15 – 20 mins in an oven at 190degC. When they’re cooked (skewer comes out clean / bounces back when you press it lightly), leave them in the tins for 10 mins to cool, then take them out onto a wire rack to cool properly (still in their paper cases) and crack on with the next 2 layers. Repeat for the last 2 layers.

* I didn’t bother being too pedantic about stopping the colours mixing. I made the blue then the purple layers; the yellow then the green layers; and the red followed by the orange layers.

2 compress lightlyNow to construct your cake! It looks amazing if it’s layered with buttercream, but I think my gallbladder would complain a bit (!). So I spread some apricot jam between each layer. I didn’t bother heating it first because I’m not sure why you’d do that! Then while I sorted out the icing, I put the base of the (now cold) sandwich baking tin on the top, and put a weight on that (the big old mixing bowl) to gently compress the 3 apply buttercreamlayers.

I made a buttercream with 100g butter, 225g icing sugar and about a tablespoon of milk. I blobbed it over the sides and used a spatula to smooth it around and over the top. That was about right – not too thick and not too skimpy.

Icing: I used a 1kg pack of ready-to-roll shop-bought icing. I DSCF7174guess it’s like fondant icing? I added a tiny blob of the blue gel food colouring and kneaded it into about 700g of the icing with a dough hook (I was too scared of the mess it might make of my fingers to do it by hand…). It didn’t take long to spread through the icing till it was a beautiful sky-blue. I rolled it out and draped it over the cake. I should have spent longer smoothing it over the cake, but tbh just plopped it on, squashed it around, and gave the top a wee polish with the palm of my hand to make it gently gleam.

DSCF7173Decoration: I used yellow icing to make a sun. Just a round cutter and an ‘i’ cutter. I stuck it on with a pastry brush and water. The clouds were some of the 300g icing left over. They were flower shapes that I cut in half. I used el-cheapo writing icing to blob and drip on ‘rain’. The name was made of white icing with red gel colouring added. The aircraft was just modelled from off-cuts all mixed up. I used more writing icing to add ‘strings’ to turn the name into an aircraft’s flying banner, and a smile to the sun.

Ta da! You’re done.

DSCF7175One of the ladies (Emma Ringer) on my FB page said that she’d made a rainbow cake with lemon flavouring. That made me guffaw and really appeals to my sense of humour! If I ever make this again, I’ll maybe make each layer a different flavour: mint, DSCF7205almond, lemon, etc. If you use liquid flavourings, then you just add a bit at the same time as the food colouring, so it shouldn’t be too much extra hassle (though the mix of flavours could be boak-worthy…!)

Stick Around: There’s More Fun To Be Had

After a truly terrible morning with Midi Minx (one thing after another from 6.30am – 9am), I tried to restore my “I’m really not a terrible mother, honestly” balance by doing some messy craft with Mini. Oh come on, if you’ve been following my blog for even a few days, you’ll already know fine that it didn’t go smoothly!

I was trying to replicate this cute little Easter egg thing  But of course, me being me, I’d scan-read the basic instructions weeks ago, didn’t refresh my memory, and hadn’t read the detail. So I got out the big tub of yarn off-cuts, the huge bottle of extra-strong PVA glue, newspaper, and little chocolate mini eggs. Mini and I shared the eggs into 3 piles and, giggling, shared the extra one between us. We got into our aprons. We chose our paintbrushes. I squirted some glue into a bowl. I had a big wibble when I discovered how bloody difficult it was shoving the stupid eggs into the opening of a tight, rubber balloon. I thought about abandoning the idea, but being made of stern stuff, roped Mini into helping. She’d seen Show Me Show Me earlier, whose word of the day was ‘squeeeeeeeeze’, so I got her to squeeze in the eggs while I held open the balloon necks. Well, I opened up 7 big bleeding hacks in my poor fingers. Jeepers, they stung! Never mind, on with the fun…. I demonstrated how to cover a strand in glue and stick it to the balloon. Mini giggled. I may or may not have smiled.

My effort before the phone rang

My effort before the phone rang

My mobile chose that moment to ring. My fingers were covered in glue. I didn’t fancy washing extra-strong PVA glue off my mobile / newly-dyed hair, so I ignored it. Probably a bit smugly – I’d seen that it was a ‘no number’ call, so suspected yet another spam call. If it was important, they’d phone back. They did. Then the house phone went off. Oh-oh… probably really important then. I ran to the phone and gingerly picked it up with my least glue-y hand and started wiping the other hand on a damp cloth.

The caller launched into a huge long spiel. We had a wee accent problem right from the start: she struggled with Glaswegian overlaid with shrieking background Minx and I really struggled with hers. It was something about my credit card. Oh crap. I’d finally twisted The Boss’s arm into buying the cheapest desktop PC we could find anywhere last night. I might have known that it would have set off bells and whistles everywhere: “Red alert! Red alert! The Grumpy Old Trout has made a major purchase! A-ROOOO-ga! HOOOOONK! Implement Plan Maximum Hassle! Red alert!”

So I turned my attention to the phone for 3 minutes. OK, 3 minutes 23 seconds. Seriously, Call Centres, if you’re going to get your staff to stick to scripted spiels, can you at least get them to speak slowly enough for me to understand? I hung up, relieved that the card was sorted out. Well, I think it was. The lovely lady on the other end had said brightly: “I’m delighted to inform you that your card is now fzzle-wzzle-frked”.

“Eh?” I said, with the full impact of my mighty intellect (!). “So it’s unstopped and I can use it now?”

“Oh yes”, she said. Then paused. Then: “I am delighted to inform you that your card is now fzzle-wzzle-frked”.

“I’m sorry”, I apologised, “I didn’t catch that. Can I use my card now?”

Pause.

Long pause.

“I’m delighted to inform you that your card is now …”

“OK, thanks, ” I interrupted. “So the declined transaction: will I have to put it through again?”

Pause.

Oh no, here we go again: take cover..!

“I’m delighted to inform you…”

I don’t think I really wanted to do that, Dave.

So, phone safely turned off, I unpeeled myself from the handset to see that Mini had happily upended the entire bottle of glue into the little bowl I’d been dispensing it into. Oh hell… And she was covered in fluff, cotton balls and wool. And the balloon wasn’t. She was ominously waggling a fully-laden paintbrush beside her fuzzy head. Noooooo! I tried to re-engage her with sticking, but she’d had enough. I struggled to stick long bits of yarn onto my balloon, so I quickly had enough, too. The stupid stuff stuck to the balloon ok. But it preferred to stick to my fingers AND the newspaper (then peel off the dumb balloon and back onto my fingers).

Mini's balloon's neat side. After 30 mins work.

Mini’s balloon’s neat side. After 30 mins work.

I grumpily led Mini to the freshly-cleaned bathroom to clean up. Freshly-cleaned? Oh, don’t you know that I’m having to get busy with the bleach at least once a day right now, and the cloth and cleaner at least twice? You don’t want to know what the sink looks like after Midi has been in… I was traumatised last week by the *things* lurking in the nailbrush and plughole as it was.

Well, we scrubbed and rinsed and dried. I managed to get most of the glue off Mini. I thought about cleaning the kitchen, the phone, the sinks, the floor, but abandoned it as a bad job and just shut the door on it. The rest of the afternoon I was peeling the bloody stuff off my arms. I’m not saying that I’m hirsute, but it was pulling hair off with it. My right arm looks like it has the mange!

Hometime, and I had the girls in the garden for 5 minutes while I took some action shots of a beanie I’d knitted as a test project for a knitting class I’m about to teach at Varis Crafts in Forres next month. Midi posed happily for me while Maxi busied herself turning the entire step to the back door bright blue with chalk. She’s been hit more than a glancing blow with the OCD stick, so every single square cm was covered. I blew (blue) my stack. I managed to explain why I was so angry (2 x cats, 3 x kids, 2 x adults walking back and forth over chalk all day long = hell of a mess in the house). Right on cue, Midi and Mini raced across it with a synchronised snigger and trailed chalky footprints through the kitchen, through the hall, then forked: one branch upstairs, the other into the living room. I was more than a tad angry…

Look into my innocent eyes...Not around the eyes..The eye! The eyes! ..You're under

Look into my innocent eyes…Not around the eyes..The eyes! The eyes! …And you’re under

Fast-forward through 30 minutes nagging to get Maxi and Midi out of their uniforms into swimming costumes and tracksuits; shrieking matches in the changing rooms; constant tormenting of 2 sisters apiece: usual Monday evening, really. When I picked up The Boss from work, I think he knew not to argue when I suddenly hung a right into McDonald’s instead of driving straight home. “The kitchen isn’t habitable, dear”. Super-speed over Mini upending her entire carton of milk over everyone’s dinner, Midi stropping about having a ketchup-bottle’s worth of slop down her school jacket (sod it – she can smell like vinegar tomorrow), Maxi tantrumming about not being able to find her chips… I think I need an early night to just get today over and done with!

PS If you’re going to try the string Easter eggs, use a sugar-water mix rather than thick glue. i.e. read the bloody instructions, unlike me!

Clashach Cove

As usual, Midi and Mini Minxes disturbed my sleep a few times last night, so I struggled to get up this morning. Not even a cup of coffee waggled under my nose in bed from The Boss worked. I finally got up after 9.30 (shocker!) and spent about an hour stumbling around, trying to wake up and be able to coherently string a sentence together.

It looked like it was going to be a wasted day: The Boss finally got around to hoovering out the car and spent best part of 2 hours on it. Either the car was filthy or he was dodging looking after the girls. Probably both. Especially as he’d heroically let all 3 paint that morning with watercolour and poster paints. After moping around a bit like Eeyore, he made noises about going outside. I think I was with the kids on this one: it was grey, cold, drizzly, I was tired, I just wanted to curl up and hibernate with my knitting, pausing only to shove another bit of chocolate in my mouth. So I don’t know why I ended up siding with him, but I did.

It took nearly an hour from, “Right, let’s go! Let’s definitely go! Everyone go do a pee and get your shoes on!” to us actually opening the front door. Midi was adamant that she wasn’t going. But I know that my little whirlwind is too much like me: keen to mope around doing nothing, but a wee sniff of fresh air soon changes everything.

The path up from the Hopeman beach huts

The path up from the Hopeman beach huts

We drove over to Hopeman with 3 sulking daughters in the back seat. I’m not sure why I decided to go there, to walk from the beach huts up towards the quarry; probably because we’d not got past Daisy Rock in a few years of walking the minxes along the coastal path. So: off we bimbled, looking for Signs of Spring. At her own request, Midi was In Charge of looking for bumble-bees (ever the optimist…), Maxi was In Charge of finding birds carrying twigs or worms in their beaks, and Mini was In Charge of not falling into anything too wet or sticky.

Doesn't this make you want to go for a wee scramble?!

Doesn’t this make you want to go for a wee scramble?!

I was right about Midi: before we’d even hit the first little hill summit at the end of Hopeman East Beach, she’d had a burst of energy and had started smiling again. Maxi was giggling and chatting and happily skipping about. Mini merrily raced to each sister, trying to tickle them. I think me and The Boss even managed to crack a smile apiece.

You *have* to stop here and listen to the rocks rumble

You *have* to stop here and listen to the rocks rumble

As we curved around the headland, where you get your first glimpse of Clashach Cove, I remembered a sunny early summer’s day 4 years earlier, with a baby Midi on my back and a toddler Maxi scurrying around, declaring to The Boss that actually I honestly, really wanted to finally settle down. And settle down somewhere near here, in fact. (So we did!) My favourite part of the whole Moray Firth coastline is from that point, all the way around to the caves on the east of Clashach Cove. I love the way that each turn of the path shows you something fresh and new: jagged orange rocks, blocks of black rocks that look like a cobbled street, waves and curves in bright yellow sandstone that look like fossilised wet sand,

Clashach Cove and its caves

Clashach Cove and its caves

the lighthouse, tiny wild strawberries, a hollowed-out overhanging boulder, the smell of ozone from the crashing green and white waves, and the way that one minute all you can hear is the hum of bees and the next you’re assaulted by the rumble of angry thunder as the big rounded rocks tumble over each other back into the surf.

Midi: you're not getting me in there!

Midi: you’re not getting me in there!

We shepherded the minxes down the path onto the beach itself. I’m not sure of what it’s called: I’ve seen it referred to as Primrose Bay as well as Clashach Cove, but it’s about here: 57° 42′ 46.97″ N 3° 24′ 43.11″ W. We call it The Secret Beach because you’ve no idea that it’s there until you’re standing above it. I proudly let the way over to the caves. Now, I know it was around 2 years ago since we were last here, but you’d think I’d remember which cave led the way onto the mussel-beds, and which led to a dead-end (hint: the one you can see daylight through leads to the coast…) No wonder the people in the cave were so keen to show Maxi and Mini their torches (we’d blundered in without torches because I was so sure that there was an exit at the end…) Doh! Parent Fail! I’m glad Midi had stayed at the entrance, refusing to come in – it would have blown her fear gaskets. (Though I’ve tucked her strange declarations of “I’m frightened of the dark! I’m frightened of heights!” into my head for now – she’s my fearless little daredevil, so I’m wondering where this has come from. I’ll maybe ask her in more detail in the week, because it’s not like her).

We went through the (correct. Ahem!) arch to see that the mussel beds were entirely covered by the tide. Maxi had a lucky escape: an unusually high wave came crashing up the stones, hung briefly in the air almost over her head, and before I could shout, “Run!”, she nipped back in the cave, with a whip of her ponytail. She missed being drenched by around 12 inches.

Dolphins off Hopeman East Beach

Dolphins off Hopeman East Beach

After sitting around under the nesting seagulls to eat chocolate for a bit, and bask in a sudden 10 minutes of sun, we set off back to the car. As the light slowly started to dim, I idly wondered if the dolphins would be around. The Boss spotted them first: a lazy pod arcing gently out the water. Maybe it’s the Glaswegian in me that will always be in awe of ‘exotic’ creatures, but seeing the dolphins lifted my spirits to ‘euphoria’ levels. I think it may have affected The Boss the same way: when I suggested that we slope past the Hopeman Chinese Takeaway on the way home, he didn’t need his arm twisted… 😀

Hopefully tonight now I can settle down to finishing writing a knitting course instead of spending my evening creating negative pressure on a blocked toilet by filling and emptying a sink. Yep, we all had lots of fun (!) last night trying to flush toilets synchronously with emptying sinks to try and wash a blockage from the bathroom to the downstairs toilet, to the manhole, to past the pipe altogether. After gurgling and a lot of ominous bubbling, we (ok, I!) managed it. Hmph. After having to spend a snifter under £100 to get the drain from the washing machine and utility sink cleared last week, I could really do without this… I don’t know what’s going on – I’m the kind of person who is very particular about what gets flushed, puts soda crystals down every plughole once a month, and the drain that got blocked only gets the outflow from the washing machine and a sink that has a cover to collect ‘bits’. Hopefully I don’t have to start rationing the girls’ toilet roll usage now?!

March 3 - first smell of the gorse!

March 3 – first smell of the gorse!

DSCF6990

Who needs emergency distress flares when your bonce is this bright?

Who needs emergency distress flares when your bonce is this bright?

Maxi Mountain Goat

Maxi Mountain Goat

DSCF6995

chocolate break

chocolate break

sandstone ripples

sandstone ripples

Showing the minxes a cool rock

Showing the minxes a cool rock

DSCF7011

Mini get your tongue back in - you can't eat it!

Mini get your tongue back in – you can’t eat it!

A very tired little 2 year old

A very tired little 2 year old

Mexican Standoff at the Belt of the Car-Seat Corral

March 2, 2013

Our morning started off well enough – we went to a local farm that has an enclosed play area and a good cafe. When we lived closer, we went at least once a week. We’ve not been very often since moving 3 years ago, but having remembered this little gem last month, me and Mini Minx have been frequent visitors. And we’ll remain frequent visitors until my little madam unclamps her fingers from her nose whilst there – apparently she doesn’t like the smell of its herd of beautiful Aberdeen Angus cows…

Anyway, the minxes had a wonderful time burning off some energy on the slides, the swings, the pirate ship, scooters, mini cars and even the trampoline (normally Mini doesn’t get a chance to get on because we seem to go when it’s busy). The Boss and I enjoyed a hot drink and a sprinkle cake at a table, on our own, while keeping a watchful eye over the girls playing at the other end of the barn. They weren’t deprived of cake – they’d just inhaled their cake and drinks as soon as they’d hit the table, then zoomed off. I was very proud of myself – no helicopter parenting! Mini showed that she’d remembered to check the bottom of the slide for babies and toddlers before launching herself down, so I could stand back and have a coffee with my husband. First time for us!

I gave the girls a 3 minute warning, then a 2 minute, a 1 minute, and a “have a last slide, it’s time to go”. I really wanted to get a few errands run, and hopefully have time to do something else in the afternoon. Midi didn’t fancy that at all. She refused to let her Daddy fasten her car seat belt. He cajoled. She screamed. He coaxed. She smacked his glasses off. He threatened. She kicked out at him. He forced. She thrashed. He gave up. I went round to her side of the car and tried them all again. I added shouting to the list. I tried a smacked hand. I lost my temper. I gave up.

I went back to the driver’s seat, flounced in and stewed. Not wearing car seat belts properly is a non-negotiable thing. I told Midi to let me know when she was ready to wear her car seat belt properly; till then, we would all sit with the car doors open. Midi is waaaaaaaay beyond tenacious and far along into stubborn. She makes mules look indecisive. Although she’d thrown off her jacket and her favourite cardigan that I’d knitted her, she refused to budge. She and I sat with identical expressions and poses: arms folded, legs out, chin down, bottom lip out, darkly murderous eyes. A nosy old couple who stood by the car-door providing an audience (yep: they reeeeeeally weren’t helping) made smart remarks to each other about people having too many children to cope with. I ignored them. They made some quips about the right way to bring up children. I folded my arms the other way. Midi didn’t move. The old people got bored after 10 minutes of gossiping and needling me, and shuffled off. Midi sat still, car seat belt still pulled off.

“Are you ready to wear your seat belt now and go home, Midi?” I asked.

“No!” she pouted.

We tried combinations of that conversation every 5 mins for the next 20 minutes. Eventually I walked back round to her door. This time she didn’t kick or scream or hit out. I leaned over and wiped her tears and kissed her forehead. I told her I loved her.

“I hate you!” my 5 year old spat.

“Oh right”, I said, like Father Dougal, and strapped her safely in.

Hey-ho, it can’t get much worse over the next 8 – 12 years, eh? I thought, as I drove off.

Midi Minx at 22 months old, Dec 2009. Not much has changed since.

Midi Minx at 22 months old, Dec 2009. Not much has changed since.

2-year-old Mini regularly throws tantrums, and I’m partial to the odd sleep-deprived paddy myself nowadays. But unlike her mother and younger sister, Midi can’t be distracted by shiny things and absolutely won’t give in. Over anything. Ever. So her tantrums are looooooooooong! And she’s a big gallumping girl, with more strength than she can really handle yet. Poor wee thing – life would be very hard for us all if she had too many of these tantrums.