Trout Throws A Tantrum

I’ve often thought about what great friends I have and how lucky I am to have met them through our kids: first you share a ‘hello’ as you recognise them in the playground; then it’s a shared raised eyebrow and telepathic message of solidarity at one of our kids throwing a tantrum; then it’s a chat in the blisteringly cold rain while we’re waiting on our kids being released from school into our care again. Next thing you know, they know you so well that they can say *exactly* the right thing to make you feel loved and accepted and forgiven and back on an even keel again.

Today those words were: “Man up!”

Tissue Heart
Maxi had quite a morning – up around 0630hrs and making the most exquisitely beautiful hand-made bit of paper shaped in a loveheart for her Daddy’s birthday. And I mean hand-made – she’d obviously spent hours ripping up tissue, toilet roll and paper into the most tiny pieces. When I found it leaking a river of gungy gunk from under my laundry basket, I didn’t stop to reflect on the hard work, vision and sheer technically brilliant craftwork she’d shown. Oh no. I just saw my newly-mopped floor being stained and my long-suffering laundry basket about to go mouldy. (Of course it will. Instantly). I grumped and helped her put the heart-paper under a pot instead.

She niggled at both her sisters. She tormented Midi so much about things that make her feel sick that Midi refused to eat breakfast. She niggled some more, so Midi whacked her murderously. She set off a siren wail; not a cry of distress, but a proper, stroppy wail. It feel like nails down the blackboard of my tolerance. When I feel anger at my little girl’s cry, it instantly makes me feel deeply guilty as an additional, fun, free layer. Kind of like a depth-glaze to my cross-ness.

As an encore, Maxi decided to make Mini cry. Then she sat at the breakfast table repeating the same nonsensical phrase over and over and over and over and over again, twiddling with and rattling felt pens, even when I took them off her. She ignored me when I told her to stop playing and eat breakfast or she’d be late. At 0830hrs, 2 hours after getting up, she was still in her nightie. I marched her into her room, picked up her discarded uniform (oh yeah, the one I stupidly bothered to iron when I felt ill) and gave it to her roughly. At 0845hrs she was still in her nightie, singing something in made-up words and annoying her sisters. I shouted. She jumped and burst into tears. At 0850hrs I flipped out at her skirt: it fit her when I bought it 3 weeks ago, but at that moment she’d tucked the front down under her tummy, pulled the back almost to her shoulder blades, and given herself a Man-Beer-Belly. I’m strict with myself about not criticising the kids’ bodies, but don’t want to give her bullies any ammunition, so insisted she straighten her skirt. I didn’t do it very sensitively, so she stropped and wailed and flounced. At 0855hrs I sent her sisters out the house and slammed the door on Maxi.

I started marching to school, intending to entreat the care of the younger pair off on any willing parent while I ran back for Maxi. When she saw I was really walking her sisters to school without her, she magically got her stuff together and got out the house. Yes, I was that Terrible Chav Mum, yelling at her in the street. Again. No self-control. Adult tantrum. With a croaky throat.

I ignored her and walked to school with the other 2, then felt deeply shamed as she came up to me at the gate and gave me a kiss goodbye, looking and acting like nothing had happened. Oh God. Either she’s not affected at all by this horrible morning and doesn’t realise why I completely lost my temper or she’s so used to me being angry that it no longer affects her. Guilt. Anger. Guilt. Anger. Guilt. Guilt. More guilt. She’s just a little girl. She’s not behaving like this just to make me angry.

I wailed at some friends that I couldn’t cope any more. They applied Emergency Pal Aid and talked me into a better perspective in the playground and in the street for a while afterwards.

The irony of my friends giving me the parenting that I needed wasn’t lost on me. If only I’d applied the same loving help to my little daughter when she was in the same boat as me not an hour earlier… Still, I know she’ll be having a lovely, supportive and happy morning in school right now. And until I get another opportunity to practice not being wound-up about things not worth being cross about, I’ve got 2 birthday cakes to finish baking that’ll soothe my guilt till home-time.

Rinse and repeat.

Young Love

Well, we survived the NE Scottish floods. We survived the local transformation of the landscape into ice (no thanks to my neighbour: lovely man, but what was he thinking washing his car in -3degC and leaving a huge puddle of ice on the hill for the neighbourhood to slither over today? I refused to grit the cul de sac on principle that I’m fed up hurting my back doing it. No-one stepped in. I give up). More importantly, though, the kids have gotten over me traumatising them about emergency drills. Phew.

Maxi’s ASD diagnosis is progressing – the psychologist reviewed various questionnaire submissions from us and the school and agreed that it’s not been in my silly head all this time after all – Midi’s in love and Mini’s got a cold.

Today nearly made me cry. I felt such a turmoil of emotions when the psychologist confirmed that Maxi should now go ahead for the last bit of the ASD assessment: relief that my constant niggling for Maxi’s needs and quirks be taken seriously hasn’t been in vain; pity that poor Maxi really isn’t going to have an easy time over the next few years either; determination at now being able to go get all the resources and advice that I can to help her understand other people and be understood better. Oh, there are a million other feelings muddled around in there, too, but alas this blog isn’t the place to unleash them.

I’d innocently thought today would be all about my eldest: taking her to the hospital, discussing her welfare with her, The Boss and the psychologist; spending time with her alone between the appointment and her sisters coming home, chatting over lunch and helping her with homework. But no, it never happens like that, does it? Midi’s ‘only friend in the whole world’, the boy who’s already asked The Boss if he can marry her when they’re 18, told her today that he’s moving hundreds of miles away very soon.

Midi’s distraught. My ever-hungry little grub couldn’t eat her dinner and just got herself ready for bed silently, saucer-eyed. I sat her on my lap and asked how she’d feel if we brought her birthday celebration a month forward and did everything she’d planned to do with her friend the weekend after next instead. Her eyes came alive again. I asked her if it would be ok and not embarrassing if I sorted out a wee birthday cake and sparklers to be brought out wherever they have lunch, and that they could go to the cinema together by train to the city with The Boss as chaperone. She smiled. I said that her friend’s mum and I had talked about setting up email addresses for the pair so that they could write to each other every afternoon after school, and maybe Skype. “Yippee!!” she shouted. They’re only 8 and 7 years old. Awwwww…!

Maxi decided that her sister needed solace and has bunked on her bedroom floor. I suspect Maxi’s needing a bit of reassurance herself, so I’m a bit loathe to scold the 3 of them for still giggling and squealing at 10pm on a school-night. We will all suffer for it tomorrow morning, I know.

Why So Super-Smashy-Nicey?

What is it with minxes and bugs and holidays? Last week was the first week of the long-awaited Tattie Holidays. The Boss took a week off week and we’d planned to go camping, climbing, mountain biking, harvesting everything in the garden and generally having a blast. Instead we fed the contents of a big bottle of paracetamol to the minxes.

They go loopy on calpol, so have been alternating between lying wanly in bed and roaring up and down and off the walls and ceiling of the hall, shrieking gibberish.

It’s just some kind of virus that’s giving them head, tummy and joint pain with a fluctuating appetite. Nothing too serious. So we’ve gotten out of the house occasionally: a wee jaunt to the library, a 90-minute shamble around the woods poking at toadstools, that kind of thing. The Boss took the eldest 2 out on a beginners mountain bike ride in Fetteresso Forest. They were broken the next day, so only Mini was left to accompany him on a cycle round the local woods. The next day she too was draining green slime out of her face.

Only Mini’s been up for helping me in the garden. This year we started to turn the front lawn into a fruit and veg garden and have done better than I’d anticipated:

  • 5 weeks of spinach
  • maybe 6 dinners-worth of broccoli (dinners-worth: feed a hungry family of 5 for dinner. Obviously)
  • 2 dinners-worth of potatoes
  • 2 dinners-worth of runner beans, with more still to come
  • 10 dinners-worth of broad beans
  • 4 months of continuous lettuces and rainbow chard
  • 20 tiny apples
  • enough chillis to make a 6-jar batch of sweet chilli jam
  • herbs (rosemary, thyme, parsley, teeny bit of tarragon, chives)
  • and…
  • …3 beetroot (yep, 3. Three. One more than 2. All the size of gnomes’ golfballs. Out of a whole packet. I give up. I obviously cannot grow beetroot!)

The squash just rotted in the ground; the radishes all bolted; blueberries, raspberries and strawberries got nicked by birds before we got more than the odd one or 2; but the cabbage, garlic, spring onions and brussels sprouts are still in the ground and looking great. And we’ve got 4 eggshells filled with cress…

As for the 10 nasturtium seeds I planted to attract bees? They turned into triffids. They took over 3 raised beds, spread over and along the paths, climbed fences, grew over sunflowers and ran down other paths. The local honey smells like nasturtiums. There are no bees anywhere except the inside of my nasturtiums. Never, ever, ever plant nasturtium seeds in compost, no matter how much you’re tempted! They really went bonkers. Me and Mini are out every day collecting seeds to dry and give away. Or maybe sell – well, we need to make up the lost couple hundred pounds a month in tax credits* somehow, and I can’t see me selling enough jars of wild bramble jelly or teaching enough people to knit and crochet, can you?!

*I’m still bitter – The Boss got a little pay rise. The extra money and a bit more got taken off us in tax credits. But because Student Loan repayments are calculated on your gross pay, they suddenly needed paying. So all in we’re down a few hundred every month. Ouch, ouch, ouch. So what’s the impetus to get a wage rise again…?

I’ve been struggling to write this past couple of months, too, because Maxi’s been taking up all my worry-capacity. After a promising start at school this term it soon all plummeted. To cut an extremely long story short, she eventually had a bit of a breakdown so I involved the GP as well as the school more formally. Within a week she was referred to be assessed for High Functioning Autism.

The referral is not a surprise and is a welcome move forward. I’d really love to write all about it in detail, but am conscious that a little coven of witches in her class who pick on Maxi would use anything they find here against her. The minxes’ privacy is something I’m beginning to consider much more, now. I’m finding that I’m writing 10 never-to-be published posts for every post that I do hit ‘submit’ on because I want to talk about things that I don’t think my kids would want attributed to them.

I’m not going to give up this blog, but I can see that it’s been mutating into a bit of a sugary-nicey Show and Tell kind of thing as the minxes have grown up, with the outdoor adventures mostly going to another blog these past 3 years, and the real dirt being dished on a barely-used anonymous blog or just sniggered over privately on sleepless nights.


Yeah… whatever, Mummy

Why announce that I’ve already stopped writing the crazy kid stuff? Well, I didn’t want anyone to read recent and future posts on here and think that the girls are suddenly behaving themselves, or that our life is all crafting, foraging, happy faces and wholesome outdoor adventures. Ahahahahaha! As if! Nope – more tears and screaming and tantrums than ever before (and that’s just me and The Boss), more near-misses and panics, more house-wrecking and stupid parenting fails. But with the girls now reaching the ages when reports of their antics would cause them to squirm at the very least, I do need to put attributable stuff elsewhere. I’ll keep the photos on Instagram, though, and keep the non-arrest-able stuff here.

Anyway, wish us a healthier week ahead – I’m getting cabin fever, and that never ends well…

Settling In

March 11

This morning the minxes had their biannual dental check. Back in September, I remember that the lovely new dentist had seemed quite intimidated by the Family Trout descending noisily on him at 0845hrs. And immediately afterwards, Midi and I had had to rush back to Elgin for a hearing test (she’s since been signed off the ENT department – hooray!). Gosh, only 6 months ago… Feels like a lifetime!

Today, the girls bickered about who was going to go first in the dentist’s chair. Mini shrieked loudest, and proudly strutted to the big chair, climbed up, laid back, closed her little eyes tight and opened her mouth trustingly, as wide as she could. Model patient. Like her sisters, there were no issues, no decay, no plaque. Easy-peasy. And like last time, I acknowledged that I had no part in their clean teeth so couldn’t claim any credit or glory – The Boss does the bed-time routine after work while I tidy up. And faff around on Facebook.

The socialising of Maxi continues. I had to teach her, as gently as I could, that talking about the dentist loudly, rather than to him, when he was in the same room, was rude. She got upset, even though I’d taken pains to make sure she knew she wasn’t being scolded, just taught. This is the approach me and The Boss are starting to take with her when she does or says something really awkward. It’s part of the dawning realisation that she genuinely struggles with understanding and taking in all the little social niceties that her sisters happily absorb, but she doesn’t. We’ve noticed repeatedly over the last 24 months that Maxi does take everything literally, and that she’s not trying to be cheeky.

Example, last week after an overly-boisterous and grizzly afternoon I ended up yelling, “Just eat your dinner and keep your mouths shut! Tight! No noise!” After a few minutes, I chided Maxi for not eating her dinner. Instead of arguing, she started to cry big fat teardrops. I asked her what was wrong now. She stared at me mutely, her lips pressed together. Lightbulb. “It’s ok, you can speak”, I told her. It all came tumbling out: how could she possibly eat with her mouth closed? And even if she was allowed to eat, how could she eat and make no noise? I took a big deep breath and tried to explain that I’d been too cross to speak literally and had used a kind of shorthand. Satisfied with that, she happily ate her dinner without grumbling too much. I remember The Boss raising an eyebrow at me, and us comparing notes: she really, really does take everything literally. Oh boy…

The dentist (still lovely, and great at explaining things to the kids this time) was very fast, so all 3 were safely tucked away in nursery and school by 9.40am. What to do, what to do…? It was still gloriously sunny, so I took off for a wee swift 2 mile circular walk round the village, ending up retracing the end of the walk me and Mini had done yesterday. It was mostly on big estate tracks or on woodland tracks, and it was just heavenly. Oh, the bliss of being able to walk at my own pace! To be able to walk in a straight line without detouring to check out every single pebble! To be able to march and stomp about and swing my arms and feel *energetic* once more! Ah, if I’d not worn tight jeans I think I’d have jogged round, I felt so euphoric! I spotted a field of snowdrops and an enormous clump of daffodils that should be out in a week or so – lots of reasons to repeat the fun.

I had time to shower and blow-dry my dumb-ass stooooopid hair (love the colour; hate the length!) before picking up Mini from nursery. Just as well – instead of running towards me shrieking “Mummeeeeeee!”, Mini waddled towards me, looking uncomfortable, plucking at her bum, trailing a fog of green smoke. She’d poo-ed herself. Lovely. When I told the staff I was going to be in the toilets for a while, not to lock me in, the lovely ladies offered to clean Mini up for me. Nooooo! (Though I did think about it for 5 whole, tempting seconds).

Still, we got back home in time to put some potatoes on to boil before picking Mini’s sisters up from school. This was their second ever home-lunch, and turned out to be just as successful as the last one: the girls raced home, were overjoyed at there being peas and cake (lunch was just last night’s dinner’s leftovers – we’re on a biiiiiig economy drive), ate everything enthusiastically like they were half-starved, declared that they loved stovies* (recipe below) more than anything (even lasagne), and got back to school in time for a 15 minute play. Perfect!

When we got back from the lunchtime school run, Mini looked like she was going to fall asleep, so she had a quiet afternoon in front of CBeebies while I ironed *yawwwwwn*, then played with me at taking selfies with the camera.

It’s not everyone’s idea of a heavenly day, but it’s pretty close to mine.



It seems there are a million different recipes for stovies. The best one I ever heard of was via my friend I. He quoted: “Peel some potatoes and boil them tae fuck”. That’s probably about right. I’ve tried lots of different variants, and this was today’s version that the kids seemed to enjoy – they licked their plates and begged to be allowed to scrape the pot clean.

  • peel about 1.5 potatoes per person
  • slice them thickly and put in a thick-bottomed pan
  • poke them around with half a sliced onion and some lard over a medium heat for a few minutes.
  • dollop in leftover gravy and roast beef from the weekend. The gravy was dark and thick and strong; I diced the roast beef up.
  • add enough boiling water so the liquid reaches halfway up the potatoes.
  • bring to the boil, put the lid on, lower to a simmer, leave alone for 2 hours.
  • don’t let it boil dry. Season at the end if it really needs it.
  • just before serving, throw in a double handful of frozen peas.