Blood, Snot and Tears

Mini Minx made a hole in the new Burghead to Cummingston cyclepath with her head. She’s ok. I’ve aged 20 years. The end.

Setting off for some fun

Setting off for some fun

The detail:

The minxes have been badgering me to let them go cycling for the past week. Mini has steadfastly refused to go on the childseat at the back of my bike for weeks, now. The thought of trying to shepherd all 3 on bikes safely along the edge of a busy road, past thundering articulated lorries and speeding vans filled me with mortal fear. However, little Mini has been getting faster and faster on her little balance bike, so in a haze of extreme sleep deprivation, this morning I agreed.

It started very well and just got better and better: all 3 ate hearty breakfasts, reminding each other that they’d need lots of energy to cycle all the way to Cummingston and back. Normally it’s a fight to get more than a bite of honey toast past them in the morning. Then instead of our normal fights over suitable clothes (all 3 prefer flimsy pink, glittery, frothy nonsense over sensible clothes. They do NOT get that from my genes!), they actually requested thick jeans and long-sleeved jackets. As I shuttled back and forth to the garage, fetching bikes and helmets and gloves and a partridge in a pear tree, they stood safely at the door. There weren’t even complaints when I put a tissue, a snack bar and a milkshake carton in a little backpack for each of them. I got myself in trainers, grabbed the Connecta Sling “just in case” (forgot the sun cream, doh), then headed out the door.

backpacksI felt like I was dreaming: all 3 girls kept to the side of the road. When cars approached, they hopped off their bikes and walked, or nipped into driveways. They kept together in a group. They kept to the inside of the road. They called warnings to each other about oncoming traffic and pedestrians.

Yes: these are the same 3 girls who can’t successfully WALK down the road to school without being reminded to look, listen, breathe in and breathe out again. I couldn’t believe my eyes. My step lightened. I might have smiled a bit. I started to praise the little blighters for showing such care and common sense. I especially praised zoomy little Mini, who was nipping along so quickly that I had to jog. The sun shone, a gentle breeze cooled us, the sea gleamed green: life was bloody wonderful!

snacktimeEventually, around the time we were level with Cummingston, Mini complained of being tired. Her sisters were up for cycling all the way to Hopeman and back, via Roseisle forest and the swings, but they listened to their baby sister, and suggested that we stop for some ‘energy’. I showed them how to get their bikes off the cyclepath and lay their jackets over the thistles so they could sit in relative comfort. They demolished their snackbars and milk shakes. I spent the time telling them how proud I was of each of the them: how they’d encouraged each other; how the elder 2 had held back and kept Mini company; the way Midi had passed on Maxi’s top tips on how to conserve energy cycling; Maxi for warning her sisters as they’d approached a slippy bit of the path; how they’d all looked out for each other, were safe in traffic, and been loving sisters.

“If you keep being this safe and lovely to each other”, I beamed, “I’ll let you cycle to your new school in August!”

Although all 3 were raring to go on to Hopeman, I decided to call it quits and started to head back to a chorus of minx groans. But better to feel they could have gone further than to face the prospect of carrying Mini and her bike up that hill home!

Maxi had a little wobble and fell off her bike with a loud howl. I helped her get her bike chain on again. She wanted to tell me all about her microscopic graze, but I was painfully aware that Midi and Mini had continued, and that there was a little downhill bit coming up. As I set off towards the younger 2, I saw Mini take the wee slope at full tilt, so I broke into a run, shouting over my shoulder to Maxi to catch up.

Too late. With a crash, Mini lost control on the downhill turn and fell off the side of the cyclepath. The cyclepath is just a smooth ribbon of tarmac, laid in a strip, so the edges drop a steep 4 inches or so slope down to rough stones then the dirt. It’s a sharp edge, and although Mini was wearing a helmet, as she tumbled off her bike she took the full force of the edge of the cyclepath on her forehead, right above her eyebrow. I didn’t realise that, though – I thought her helmet had taken the impact. She screamed. I picked her up and held her tight.

I’d let Mini take off her padded jacket because it was so warm. Yep: she was wearing a short-sleeved teeshirt. Her screams didn’t really abate, so I peeled her off my shoulder to check for grazed arms. I wasn’t expecting a thick river of dark purple blood running down her little face. Crap. Where was it coming from? It gushed a bit. My insides froze. It gushed again. Ah, gotcha – that black line there on her forehead. I grabbed a ball of tissues and pressed it hard on the cut. She shrieked louder. I told her something about it being all ok, that Mummy was here. Y’know, in case she was confused that I was hovering 2 miles overhead, or something. Maxi wailed a bit. Midi declared, “I feel sick!”

I’m not sure how I corralled them, but I got out the Connecta, got Mini in it on my chest, pressed the tissue to her head hard (it was still running lots of blood… don’t panic, head-wounds bleed… give it a minute… she’s hot and bothered and it’ll look worse than it is…). I grabbed her balance bike and helmet, calmed Midi and Maxi down, explained to them that we were going to go very fast back home and set off as fast as I could. Maxi offered to carry Mini’s backpack. I accepted gratefully, but it slowed us down while I transferred the pack. Then Maxi lost her bike chain again. Cursing, I helped her fix it. Then my shoe lace flapped undone. Holy God Almighty, will I ever get off this path? Mini whimpered and shivered. “I’m tired!” she wailed. I could feel panic clutching at the edges of my head. I walked faster.

I thought about whether to stop and call an ambulance. Nope – too hard to get to, and I’m not sure it’s that bad. I looked at the cut. Just oozing now. But oh my lurching stomach, it looks like a dent in her forehead. I looked at sleepy Mini. Concussion? Midi asked if Mini was going to die. In spite of myself I sniggered. And walked all the faster. I thought about how long to get home and to the car – maybe 20 minutes? Then another 10 minutes to A&E? How could I do it faster? Could I phone my friend J and abandon bikes and bags and 2 elder girls while I ran up the hill to the car with Mini on my chest? No – what if she wasn’t in? I stopped to fix Maxi’s bloody stupid annoying chain again. I told Midi again that Mini was fine and just needed a little stitch. Stitch… stitch… stitch… oh you doughball, what about the GP’s surgery in the village? Yep, faster to get there than home. But were they open? We’d arrive around closing time. I stopped to catch my breath and phone them. Shitty stupid head, don’t know the number and it’s not under the eminently sensible ‘Doctor’ in my mobile. No idea what I put it under. Crap, crap, crap. March on.

Maxi and Midi suddenly gained the ability to cross roads safely by themselves as I blazed a trail in front. After 15 minutes or so of marching / wobbly cycling, we swooped through the thankfully open door of the surgery and called for help. The receptionist ushered us through to the nurse. I sat the elder 2 down in the waiting room and carried the still-crying and clinging Mini through.

The lovely comforting nurse touched the cut and it gaped open, in a stubby T shape, very clean cut. And deep… “Oh my God!” I gulped as I stared down the deep hole. The nurse fetched the doctor. They agreed on steristrips (no glue). She applied 4 steristrips in a star shape, covered it with a dressing, reminded me of different reasons to go straight to A&E, then we were off, showering everyone in profuse thanks as we tumbled out. Well, I virtually had to haul out Maxi, who was determinedly talking to anyone with ears.

Mini wanted to walk home, clutching my hand, still whimpering. I was happy to hobble along: I’d hurt my back holding the dumb balance bike out to the side for over a mile, with a heavy 3 yo on my chest and one arm twisted round to press her cut shut. And I realised I’d given myself blisters on each foot. Mini checked herself for injuries: sore knees, grazed forearms, scratched tummy, one bashed palm. It took maybe half an hour to walk the rest of the way home.

Normal service now resumed

Normal service now resumed

After a drink of cold fizzy juice (normally only a birthday treat), my youngest Evel Knievel was back to normal, especially after a chat on the phone to Daddy. She’s wavering between not wanting to cycle again, and wanting to get back on. We’ve chatted about how everyone falls off their bikes at some point, even Mummy (comically, in front of a large group of RAF Regt recruits, who were far too frightened by the sight of the flabby, flapping skirt sailing through the air to laugh). Speaking of which, Midi’s been flapping around her, and come down from bed 3 times tonight already to tell me that Mini’s head is bleeding again (it’s not – it’s just oozing slightly). She’s asked to sleep beside Mini (no!) until I go to bed and take her into my bed with me (good idea – I will!)

I hate head injuries – they make me come over all irrational and panicky. Get well soon, my baby.

Just Me and Mini

The Picnic Chariot

Thursday 6 Sep 2012

Monday was Midi Minx’s first day full-time in school.  Both me and Mini were missing her dreadfully, rattling about this quiet house on our own.  So we decided to do Mini’s favourite thing: go on a picnic.

I’d been threatening to go out cycling with Mini for a while, so The Boss had checked my old bike over, pulled out helmets for us both, a neon-bright bag cover, waterproofs and extra packed-lunch boxes.  Blimey, you’d think he didn’t trust me to find them myself!  Then again, maybe he’s frightened of the mess of the garage if I’d gotten frustrated looking for something in vain?

(I wonder if it’s under here..? I’ll just put that carefully over there… Nope. What about under this?  I’ll put it on the pile… Nope. Hell. What about under here?  I’ll just chuck that over there… Nope. Bloody hell!  Ok, let’s throw that stupid thing over here, and that pointless thing over there, then I might be able to see… Argh! Why is my life so cluttered?! I’ll just kick that pile over… Oh that feels better… I’ll go stamp on that… Grrrrr! I’m so ANGRY!! Why can’t I find a stupid bicycle pump?! NggggAAARGH! <crunch, rage=”” stomp,=””>)

Although I could chop up scabby dog, add a boiled egg, call it ‘picnic’ and the minxes would eat and enjoy it, I made a bit of an effort today: tuna sandwiches, little BabyBels, tiny bottles of water, cherries, “stobs” (strawberries).  And boiled eggs.  Add a change of clothes, a few nappy changes, a ton of tissues and we’re ready.  And we’re not… back to get Mini dressed a bit more warmly – it may be the start of September, but that breeze is nippy!

Happy Tummy!

We cycled the 2 miles to Roseisle with Mini complaining bitterly the whole way about how bumpy the ground was.  Talk about Princess and the Pea!  My bike is a Cadillac of a big old bike; I rode on the smoothest bits of the path; Mini was wearing thick trousers and a nappy.  Hmph!  She had some fun stomping around when we got to the beach, but the tide was in and I’d stupidly not put her in wellies – her little Doodles would be pointless in wet sand.  My idea of walking about barefoot didn’t appeal to her, and I didn’t fancy her hanging around too long beside an area that a previous toddler’s lazy parent had left a used nappy at (there are hundreds of bins and a few skips not 50 yards away.  If someone is too lazy to take a nappy to a bin, I wonder what else they’re too lazy to do?)

We checked out the playground just back from the shore, as there were a few new things.  Predictably, Mini was only interested in climbing up the cargo net and whooshing down the slide. And again. And again…

After half an hour, it was time to go home.  It was fine, until I realised that I’d missed my turn-off.  My (crappy) navigational sense told me that I could nip off any of the tracks to the right to eventually hit the main 60mph road into the village, or I could go straight ahead to finally end up down by the caravan site.  But would any of the tracks go over the old railway line at a bit I could cycle over?  Or were they all tiny, rough, and for people on foot only?  I decided to go on to the caravan site.  And brave all the sand across the track that helped me do some alarming, crazy skids.  Mini thought they were a lot of fun; I didn’t.

We popped out much later at the caravan site, squeezed through some posts either site of the path with barely an inch to spare, up past the school, which Mini waved wildly at, and home.  Where she completed failed to have a nap :/

I dare you to click on this to see it larger, and count all the caterpillars…

Tuesday was a write-off because I had to finish a knitting order, and with winds gusting over 50mph, I didn’t fancy dragging my littlest minx out in it, other than for a short half-hour caterpillar-cull in the brussels sprouts, cabbages and broccoli (I’m still squashing 40 – 50 every 2 or 3 days, in a piece of ground 4ft x 4ft).

On Wednesday, I decided that Mini’s cold was better enough for us to go swimming and start getting her used to the pool again.  Well, after 15 minutes of her prancing around at the edge of the pool, I tried to get her more engaged.  How about splashing Mummy?  Nope.  What about watering my blue swimming cap?  Nope (I need to wear a cap at the pool because my hair is newly blue again and I don’t fancy leaving a river of blue semi-permanent dye everywhere I go…)  What about the chute?  The floats?  Armbands?  Your float vest?  Watering can?  Nothing.  Until Aqua Aerobics started, and suddenly Mini decided it was a lot of fun to leopard crawl on her belly to surreptitiously spy on the old ladies, then slither back to the little pool to bounce up and down in the water in time to the music.  Ah, well – it’s a start!

Trouts Go Brambling in Moray

Normal people decide to go brambling, set off, pick brambles, have a nice time, come home. Not us…

It took us a whole hour to get out. Well, 2, really. Straight after breakfast I recognised the signs of a sluggish family on go-slow, so suggested to The Boss that he go shower, get dressed, get the kids dressed, get the bikes out, and in the meantime I’d dive into town and do a grocery shop. It took me 45 minutes. When I came back everyone was mostly dressed. Ish.

I chivvied and nagged and they were ready to go after maybe half an hour. Then Mini Minx decided that she hadn’t had a tantrum in, ooooo, an hour. Perfect time for it. She didn’t want to wear her bike helmet. She wanted her bike. She didn’t like the rule ‘No Helmet, No Bike’. She didn’t want to wear a hat. She didn’t want to wear mitts. She didn’t want to go on my bike. She did want her bike. She didn’t want her helmet, still. She did want to go to sleep in her buggy. With her helmet. And her bike. She wouldn’t go in her buggy without them. She didn’t want to hold Evil, End-of-her-Tether Mummy’s hand. She’d hold Daddy’s hand if he begged. Well, he had to notice her, first – up till now he’d been staring vacantly into space, hoping that I’d organise everything and everyone. She decided that she would walk after all. So she did.

With a long line of neighbours tutting at the windows, we did the Walk of Shame down the road, a full 20 minutes after shutting the front door, Mini still sniffling, me gnashing my teeth. Foster Cat decided that it was all a disaster waiting to happen, and followed us. We spent a fruitless 5 minutes trying to shepherd him back home, eventually giving up and just plodding / walking beside the bikes the half-mile down out of town, across a few roads, to the coastal path. I even got to do my now-traditional “Slow down, you moron!” yell and hand-signals at a speeding orange car. Go, me…

I got 3 kids, 2 bikes, a sulky adult, an old cat (and a partridge in a pear tree) safely across the road, down the hill, and straight onto some of the shiniest, juiciest brambles I’ve seen in a long time. Brilliant! We abandoned the bikes, jackets and cat, and picked and picked. With a 1kg fruit jar full, we decided to cycle on down the path a bit. Foster Cat got nervous and started to miaow-cry. Poor old boy! OK, let’s set off back for home. Foster Cat bounded off happily, shepherding Mini and slow-coach Midi along the path back up the hill. Till we came across 2 big black labradors…

Exorcist Cat

I yelled to Maxi and Midi to stop cycling and wait. Mini clung to The Boss. The Boss glared at Foster Cat. I shooed the dogs away. I guess the dogs have heard Exasperated Old Bag before, because they obeyed me! Get out of town! So I lavished some Good Boy! praise on them till their owners caught up. Foster Cat decided that this was boring, so arched his big back till he was bigger than the dogs and spat at the biggest one: “Come and have a go if you think you’re hard enough, Fleabag!” The dog was having none of it, so bounced at the cat. The cat made a  faux-pounce at the dog. The dog yelped. Mini burst into tears. Maxi and Midi got bored and started to cycle around. I lunged at crying Mini to scoop her up. The Boss lunged at the cat to scoop him up. The cat obviously wasn’t in the mood, so turned tail and sprayed cat-diarrhoea straight at The Boss, and bounded under a gorse bush.

Maxi and Midi were now out of sight. The Boss was staggering around like Shaggy out of Scooby Doo moaning, “My eyes! My eyes! He got me up the nose!” Mini was near hysterical. The dog owners were saying: “You took your cat for a walk…?” I ran up the hill to call the elder minxes back. I ran back down the hill to dab at The Boss’s face. I ran back up the hill to drop Mini off with her sisters. I ran back down the hill to coax Foster Cat out of the bush and frog-marched him back up the hill. We set off for home, Maxi proudly yelling to anyone who’d listen, “This is the first time EVER that my Mummy’s let me cycle on the pavement by an actual road!”…

We’re now safely home. The cat peeled off as soon as we hit the outskirts of town and went for a browse in one of the big, posh, manicured gardens. I hope he returns soon; The Boss doesn’t. Our dog-poo strewn shoes are in a big pile outside the front door, humming gently in the sun. The bikes are a big pile of metal alongside. The Boss is going for his second shower and the minxes are lying in front of CBeebies, exhausted. Me? I need gin. Lots of it…

“We’re not going on a bramble-hunt again!”

(Till next time…)

Midi The Stunt Weevil

Sun 2 Sep 2012

“Yeehar!!!!!”

At 1413hrs today, Midi learned to ride a bike without stabilisers.  At 1418hrs she started doing stunts.  And shouting, “Yeehar!” as she weaved in and out and pedalled up and down pretty substantial ramps like she’d been cycling for months, rather than minutes.  Under all this blue, my hair must be very grey…

How do I know the precise timings? Ah, that’ll be thanks to the videos I took (which alas I’m not going to share on here.  You wouldn’t understand them, anyway: all you can hear is me laughing maniacally).  And

“Mini: Stupid balance bike – I hate you!”

what was the prompt that finally got her on 2 wheels?  Was it to keep up with her elder sister?  To impress her younger sister?  No… it was to show off to the big boys on the BMX stunt ramps.  Oh hell, we’re going to have trouble with this one…

Oh my word, I just checked posts, and it appears that I completely neglected to add a post from when Midi first went on 2 wheels with no stabilisers!!  Probably because I put it in the Little Trekkers blog; I tend not to repeat them all that much between there and here.  OK, here we go:

On or about 3 June 2012, we took the girls to the school playground with the bikes.  We dressed them in their down jackets partly against the cold, and partly against injury.  After the speed Midi had zoomed around forest tracks on her stabilisers in Roseisle,

Short-lived success

we honestly thought she’d be up for going on 2 wheels.  And she did it!  And was doing great!  Until she noticed how well she was doing, frowned, got off her bike, put it on the ground carefully, lay face down on the playground and refused to get back up.  For the next 3 months she refused to get on her bike at all.  Till today.

No, they’re not being defiant for a change – they fell off the tyre swing a half-second prior to the photo being taken

Outdoor Life Brainwashing Level 2

My and The Boss’s plan to brainwash the minxes into wanting to spend their weekends doing the same activities as we did, pre-kids, has stepped up a level. Hooray!

Yesterday (Saturday) The Boss took Maxi and Midi Minx out for a wee cycle along a local wide flat path while I got on with knitting for an impending craft fair and watched Mini nap. Well, my morning was spent doing a very fun mystery shopping assignment, but I can’t say anything about that. And I felt blinking awful, so needed to act more than usual.

Today the sun shone, even though it was cold still. I also had a lot of work to do on my blanket for the fair. I had 7,000 washloads of laundry to do and the house was a pit. So sensibly we decided to get wrapped up and all get out and have some fun for a few hours, cycling!

Mini, Midi, Maxi and Mega Minx out for a tootle

My old bike hasn’t seen the light of day since I used to ride to and from work, heavily pregnant with Mini. It was declared a Cadillac of a bike by my colleagues, who wizzed past on super-slinky go-faster lovely mountain bikes and racers. I don’t care – I love that bike and its old-fashioned shape, comfy ride and now newly-discovered ability to go down gear so far that I can pedal like hell whilst moving at a snail’s pace. Beside a little girl.

Not that I needed to much today: Maxi is a whizz on 2 wheels now, and Midi’s strong little legs make her faster on a stabiliser bike than I thought humanly possible. But then, that child takes corners on one front wheel and a stabiliser only, leaning out for balance and sling-shot boost. Mini, meanwhile, was safely in a bike seat on the back of my bike. She wasn’t happy about it, but 2 adults into 3 super-excitable kids intent on zooming off in totally different directions and speeds just doesn’t go. Poor Mini! But she soon perked up, sniffing the coconut sun-tan lotion scent of the gorse, pointing at violets, horses, dogs, birds, poking me in the ribs, putting her feet up on my saddle every time I raised my fat bum off it and objecting if I took over her luxury foot-stool.

According to The Boss’ Endomondo we cycled 2.2 miles in an hour. Which included stopping to dust off grazed knees (Maxi), kiss bashed elbows better (Maxi), wave at horses (Maxi), smile at dogs (Midi – she was hungry), and a detour to the beach to count the fishing boats. Not bad for 2 wee girls!

But the person shouting, “Woo-hoo!” the most often and the loudest was me. I didn’t think we’d be heading out cycling as a whole family this soon, and with so little extra gear (windproofs, helmets, water and bananas). I think next weekend we’ll try Midi without stabilisers, and then I think we’ll be going a lot further and faster. Ahhhhh, Peak Cycle Trail: we’ll be back before long, with 3 additions to the family.