Temper Tantrums

I’ve not been writing and it’s sending me mad. Well, either not writing, or trying to handle keeping a big house clean and tidy and ready for viewers / nosy people looking through the windows, and keeping 3 hyperactive, emotional little girls busy and occupied. Tonight I’m leaving the kitchen a scene of devastation and am writing instead of mopping that floor for the 3rd time today… (boiled egg remnants this morning, spilled hot chocolate this afternoon, spilled chicken curry and spat out chicken curry this evening).

I’ll fill you in on the days in between later, but it’s enough to say that it’s been a stream of depressing parenting fails: lots of shouting, tantrums and boundary-pushing behaviour. And the kids have been being little brats, too (ba-doom-tish!) Today, though, was going to be different.

We went to the nearest town to pick up some bits and bobs. First was 6 ballgowns I’d tried to sell through a shop. Nope. Not one. Maybe I’ll try eBay, or the 50p-a-kilo man. Anyway, I’d gone in steeling myself to be yelled at: the woman who runs it seems to keep a special voice for me – top volume and v-e-r-y  s-l-o-w-l-y, which I find irritating beyond measure. Today, though, not only was the volume painless, but she even filled a bag of hair bobbles and headbands for the girls, for free. They were gleeful; I was cut-up that my de-cluttered house was about to refill, but very touched at her generosity. Next was a wee trip to B&Q for a sprinkler… Look, we don’t have hosepipe bans up here. Don’t remember the last one. Stop gasping and looking horrified, ok? It doesn’t make me a bad person! And then, fulfilling a long-standing bribe, I took the girls to Evul MaccyDs.

No matter how much they cry, beg or plead, NEVER feed them chocolate or other caffeinated products after midday!

No matter how much they cry, beg or plead, NEVER feed the minxes chocolate or other caffeinated products after midday!

We made a right entrance: Midi and Mini Minxes fought to hit the button on the automatic door first, then fell in (splat). I plonked all 3 down at the nearest empty table and told them to sit and stay. Mutiny. Pouts. Midi leapt off her seat.

“Fine!” I huffed. “If I can’t trust you to sit here while I get the food, then that’s it – home! We’re going home now. Move!”

The people at the surrounding tables looked horrified. The minxes looked sceptical. I turned for the door. The minxes looked crest-fallen. Midi helpfully apologised. I came over, took a suddenly-compliant Mini’s hand*, sat the other 2 down, and went for food.

*This was a big deal! Mini and I are currently waging an “I’m not holding Mummy’s hand in public” war. When we’re anywhere near cars or potential danger, if she won’t hold my hand then I grip her by the arm. It’s not negotiable. Being a tenacious little madam, she’s still riling against this Absolute Rule of Safety nearly a year after it was first explained carefully to her.

We then spent a really happy 40 minutes troughing, chatting, laughing and even sharing a poke of chips and single pot of ketchup. And the ultimate in sisterly love: Maxi gave Mini her last grape from the fruit bag!! They were brilliant about going to the toilet and cleaning up, covering each others ears while the third sister used the rocket-powered hand-drier. I think it helped giving them Secret Missions. Example: “Midi, your Secret Mission is to go get 5 napkins; one for each of us and one for Mini’s nose. I’m not telling you where they are; you have to go find them” and “Mini, your mission is to eat a cheeseburger right now without getting out of your seat. How will you manage to get hold of one?” then feigning surprise at her whipping one out from her little cardboard box. The oldies are the besties.

We had to go via the GPs – one of my back moles was cut out, and the other is being frozen off. Today was session 2. The girls were ok about sitting on the floor in a busy, hot waiting room, cuddling toys or me. Mini suddenly piped up: “Mummy got die-a-rear!” I cringed. I don’t have diarrhoea. I hoped no-one understood Mini’s baby lisping. “Mummy got die-a-eah! Out her bottips!” she crowed (‘bottips’ = buttocks in Mini-ese). I shushed her. “And blood when she wee-wees!” I laughed aloud in shock. The mum opposite me sniggered and flashed me a I’ve-Been-There-I-Feel-Your-Pain smile. Then Maxi started up with: “Did you know that when Mummy eats peanut butter, she does the most amazingly…”. I cut her off with a sharp Enough! God, thank goodness I’m not an axe-murderer: those kids would tell everyone where I’d hidden the bodies!

On the drive home, suddenly out of the blue, little Mini’s bottom lip pouted, her chin wobbled and she cried piteously. “I miss my Daddy!” she wailed. Poor little mite! Maxi and Midi both leaned over their car seats to hug her. They’ve talked to The Boss every night and we’ve talked about him often each day. Of course we all miss him. But this was the first time, in 4 days, that any of them had actually articulated that or cried.

Brave Midi attacks the sprinkler selection dial

Brave Midi attacks the sprinkler selection dial

When we got home, I got out the hosepipe and attached the £6.95 cheap plastic 8 pattern sprinkler. Fantastic! Normally I’d never bother watering lawns. But I guess a patch of brown, dead grass isn’t too enticing to potential buyers. So I watered the lawns and the kids at the same time. An entire afternoon’s cheap entertainment, with ice-pops at half-time. Just like when I chased them with the hose a few days ago**, Midi was the mental, exuberant one, unafraid of attacking the water, while her sisters squealed and skittered at the edges. Midi was the one turning the dial to test all the jets. Midi was the one trialling how it felt to stand or sit on each jet, or wash her hair in it. The girls had an excellent time. The cats caught in the crossfire somewhat less so…

**The kids were really pressing all my buttons on Tuesday. I gave myself a 10 min time-out before I murdered one, and went to water the wilted flowers out the front while they played in the back garden. The little devils followed me so that they had an audience for their 3 day-long whinge. I may or may not have accidentally changed the nozzle from ‘gentle plant soak’ to ‘mega jet-propelled ouchy-whoosh’. I may or may not have cackled a little too maniacally as I drenched them…

Eek, it's water! I'm melting! Melting!

Eek, it’s water! I’m melting! Melting!

After a quick hot shower (I say ‘shower’… actually I stuck them all in the bath and hosed them down in one long industrial line), I saw that Mini’s lips were purple-black and even my hot-blooded Midi was looking a bit blue. And that’s when I made my big mistake: I made them each a big mug of hot chocolate with floaty marshmallows. Doh! So much chocolate and sugar at 4pm on top of a junk food lunch just sent them loopy. I could see it starting to affect them about half an hour later, when we were at the library (no, I wasn’t being a good, educational mum – I was looking for the audio books of How To Train Your Dragon narrated by David Tennant. A treat for the whole family! 😉 ) By the time I had dinner made, they were being little devils. Again.

So for the 3rd night in a row I found myself on the phone to The Boss, yelling and snarling at them, going incandescent at Mini spitting on the floor and Midi racing through a puddle of curry in her new white socks and trailing it up the stair carpet as she squealed in glee. I think The Boss is worried about how many daughters he’ll have left when he gets home tomorrow. He already knows what language I’m using (Mini can now use 4 or 5 adjectives to go in front of Hell).

Weaning

Don’t get me wong, there’s lots to enjoy about weaning: your precious one’s little face as they sample all the morsels of home-cooked food you’ve lovingly prepared for them, for example.  I admit I have an entire Facebook photo album logging all of Mini Minx’s facial expressions as she tried each new food.

However, I sure don’t enjoy the mess!

I don’t suffer from OCD or a clean obsession, fortunately.  I do empathise with parents who keep spoon-feeding their kids past their 3rd birthday, to keep the mess manageable.  But my experience is that I produce stubborn, wilful, pig-headed little independents.  So the sooner I let Mini Minx loose with a spoon and fork, the sooner she’ll be neat with them <shudder>

Maxi Minx was happily using a fork as well as a spoon at this age (11.5 months), and my greedy little Midi Minx was so desperate to feed herself that she was starting to attempt to use a knife before her first birthday!  Whereas her sisters adored food in all its guises, Mini quite likes it.  Unlike them, she’ll pause to play with it.  She doesn’t care much if it misses her mouth.  So the mess is…um…well, I’m glad we don’t have carpet… And I use Bad-Ass Washing Detergents.

The photo is from this morning.  (photo deleted) I let her have the bowl and spoon at 0858hrs.  At 0859hrs she successfully manoeuvred the spoon from hand to bowl to mouth and lapped up my delighted applause.  By 0901hrs, though, she’d slung a spoon of porridge down the chair, another behind her ear, tipped the pink bowl under the table, rubbed her feet in the puddle of goo she’s spat out, and splashed some table slop with her hands.  Then on her cheeks to compare sounds.  At 0902hrs I gave up and got the wet flannels.  The furious screams subsided by 0905hrs.

Tonight Messy Minx discovered just how hard you have to throw stew to make the carrots stick to the wall.  I got my own back and let her loose on a proper cup, half-full with water.  Well, the ensuing swimming pool made her and the floor easier to clean!

Post-Holiday Grumps

Today was like wading through treacle.  Even as I yelled at the littlest lights of my life to Get. Those. Shoes. On. NOW, I knew the day could only get better.  It did, but it was touch and go for a while.  Nothing dramatic, just a combination of lack of quality sleep (I woke up painfully furled in and out and around the eldest 2 girls and The Boss; they had the covers and the pillow and I didn’t), still ill (3 days of dodgy tum), brain still on holiday (God, it’s such an effort to think in a straight line!), and the rest of the zoo feeling equally tired and grumpy.

I’m also grouchy because the house looks like a clothes factory fell through the roof and there appears to be a thick layer of dust everywhere.  Don’t even talk to me about the state of the kitchen floor <bleee>  Yet I went without precious sleep to clean the bloomin’ gaffe before we set off for the week!  We didn’t take that much stuff, so I don’t know where it’s all come from.  I hate, hate, hate living in a messy house.  Having junk and general detritus on every single available flat (and some wonky) surface is enough to induce OCD in even the most slovenly of people.  Maybe I should rent out tours of the place to the dirty and lazy, shock them into keeping their homes tidy…

Worse, the smell is driving me bonkers: Midi Minx peed on the sofa, the cat ‘forgot’ to poo outside (or has been chased off her normal toilet territory) and let rip all over her cat kibble, and Mini Minx’s nappies are full of 3 days of jarred baby slop: she demolished baby tuna bake like a baby possessed but its transformation from faintly pongy baby-food to evil stench from Hell in her guts was apparently accompanied by incredible volumes of gas.  Oh yeah, and I can’t find the nappy sacks, so a single night of hand-folded nappies with most of the contents flushed down the toilet has left the most dreadful smell in the entire house.  Even cooking up some of my frozen bolognaise didn’t shift the stubborn odour.  (I say ‘bolognaise’, but it’s really a meat and veg mush held together with dried oregano).

Anyway, so there we are: smell, mess, dirt, dust, clutter.  Oh yeah, and in case I wasn’t busy enough post-holiday, some bright spark thought “Wouldn’t it be a great idea to put 17 things on eBay while we’re away on holiday just in case they sell?”  They didn’t just sell, we were inundated with questions every day.  Both me and The Boss innocently thought that putting big baby items (car seats, moses basket, pram, etc.) on with ‘collection only’ would deter everyone, because we live in the middle of nowhere.  We reckoned someone local might buy each thing for a penny a piece and come along and take the lot off our hands, which was the whole point – pretty much just give it away to someone who wants it, rather than ditch it at the dump.  I didn’t expect people from France, Hungary and Germany to ask if we’d reconsider and send the items to them.  Bit hard to calculate postage when you’re on a timed, dodgy internet connection, your family are whining at your feet for another ice cream (and that was just The Boss…) and you’ve no idea of the weight of the things.  Still, I’m delighted that everything sold.  Not much, but enough for me to buy a bottle of wine and sniffle hormonally about my babies growing out of their moses basket, first car seat, tiny carry cot and pram.  I know they’re just things, but I have such happy memories attached to them of each of my girls in their tiny infancies.

So, today was spent wrapping and shuttling to the post office, cursing about The Boss miscalculating the postage costs, and trying to be helpful about chaining myself to the house for a week so courier companies and local customers can come and pick-up.  I think I’ll leave The Boss to deal with the latter.  After all, he was the instigator of the clear-out: I was happy storing it for The Future Grandchildren like the bonkers Grannie I intend to become.  Besides, if I met the new owners, I’d only spend all day wistfully talking about newborns.

What else?  Oh yeah – I discovered at 1545hrs today that this was the last day to register Maxi Minx for her first year at primary school and Midi for pre-school.  Ulp.  I lurched from the Post Office to the school, got some paperwork to fill in so long as I promised to return first thing Monday morning.  Even I, Brave Old Trout of Grump, felt very intimidated by the woman in reception.  I therefore approve of the school as a potential tamer of Midi Minx.

PS We had a brilliant holiday, no-one wanted to come home.  We only got back at barmy o’clock yesterday, so I’ll tell you about it later.  Promise.

Contents resemble my day

Food Fun

Mini Minx is rapidly developing into a right little madam bloody-minded sod assertive little girl.

She’s spot-on average length and weight for her age.  So when she sometimes goes on food strike, I just repeat the Mummy mantra of “It takes 64 days of no food for a toddler to starve”.  Sometimes I know she refuses to eat because it’s too bloody painful (evidence: red, inflamed gums and a happy, druggy, shaking of her head when I rub her sore gum with a finger).  Other times I think it’s because she wants me to know who’s boss.  I think I prefer a food strike to the ultimate Top Trump of pooing on you, which Midi Minx used to devastating effect (yes, L, you’re the boss, you win).

Tonight, though, Little Miss Gum-Clencher was refusing to eat because she obviously thought that being fed was too babyish and beneath her dignity.  She sat hissing at me and blowing razzberries, absolutely refusing her favourite roast chicken dinner.  Every tempting spoonful of food was met with a wilful little pout and turn of the head at the very last minute, just as the spoon reached the target of her mouth. Eventually I gave up decorating her head with soft butternut squash and roast carrot, and let her wave her bowl and spoon at the wall.  She scoffed/washed in the lot.  I was impressed at her munching on strips of roast chicken breast with her single tooth.  I guess my roast chicken is juicier than I thought.