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.

Hellish Mornings

I'm practising to achieve cartoon-baddy evilness, obviously

I confess I’m not a morning person; I struggle to even slurp that first mug of strong coffee lovingly prepared by The Boss. Well, I assume it’s lovingly prepared – surely he wouldn’t be feeding me caffeine before he’s even fed himself because he’s afraid of the alternative?

Anyway, the mix of Night Owl with Chronic Lack of Sleep isn’t a good combination. Three nights ago we had all 3 minxes in bed with us at various times. Mini Minx was crying pitifully (teething) so I took her in for a comfort cuddle and cheeky wee breastfeed – there ain’t a whole lot left there, but it usually does the trick, as she goes to sleep sighing, “Yum, yum, yum”. Not that night – she drained me, then had some fun poking a finger up my nose (probably to stop me snoring), pulling my eyelids up and rubbing my (white-ish) hair. Eventually I woke up enough to get her back to her cot.

Not an hour later, Midi came in, complaining that she’d wet the bed. The Boss sorted the bed (well, he just inspected it, realised it was a night sweat, then went back to bed) and went straight back to sleep. I, meanwhile, spent a fitful hour with Midi tossing and thrashing and turning and complaining that my breath was too hot on her neck, that she was too hot then too cold, the bed was too lumpy, Daddy was too smelly, it was too dark, she was too bored… Eventually I woke up enough to turf her out of bed and gave her Tuck-Tucks in her own bed.

While I did this, Maxi sneaked into bed. Except being an uber-minx she sneaked into the foot of the bed where I didn’t notice, but it sure disturbed my sleep.

Actually, you know how fake gold is ‘goldique’ or ‘golde’? Well, Grumpy Old Trout’s sleep is henceforth to be known as ‘sleepique’.

That morning, I think I was downright high on lack of sleep. So for a change I barely nagged the kids. This had such an impact on Maxi that she busied herself for 5 mins with her stickers and tape and paper, then proudly hung up a sign on the door saying,’Mumy’ (sic): she’d made me a sticker chart. For not shouting. Oh, the shame! She beamed with pride as she awarded me 2 stickers for not yelling that morning, and praised me to the hilt. Normally I walk to school feeling guilty as sin for yelling at the girls; that morning I felt guiltier than ever.

The next morning (yesterday), the lack of sleep really hit me, so I had blue touchpaper about a millimeter thick. I swear I’d have lost 10 stickers from my chart had I earned that many. The girls weren’t worse than usual, just standard stuff. So here, to record how bloody normal they are, and how seriously grumpy I am, is our usual morning:

Start hauling everyone out of bed at 7.30hrs. Kids start bickering about cereals and who’s getting which pink bowl from about 7.31. I slurp coffee, get self dressed and grab an armful of minx clothes from 7.35 while The Boss makes his and Maxi’s packed lunch (unless he’s late, then it’s school dinner day), ignores all the milk puddles on the table and floor, then gets out the door to work by 7.45. I start chastising about milk puddles from 7.46. By 8 I’m really nagging them to Hurry Up and Eat. At 8.05 I sit down to eat some toast, and have 3/4 of it nicked by cheeky minxes. At 8.15 I start seriously grumping about there being more toast, cereal and milk on their floor than in tummies (yep, every single morning). At 8.20 I’m dressing minxes: I’ll do Mini first while Maxi and Midi run around knocking each other over, pulling hair, pestering the cat, whingeing. I start yelling louder to “Stop that! Do xyz right now! Now!” Mini done, I’ll start yelling at Maxi to hurry up and get her PJs off and get dressed, while I wrestle with Midi and argue that she *is* wearing trousers, and she *doesn’t* look like a boy. At 8.25 I release Midi, yell at Maxi to Get. Those. PJs. Off. This. Instant. and go retrieve Mini, who’s upended the contents of Maxi’s schoolbag. After re-stuffing the schoolbag, I haul Mini out the bathroom where she’s tasting the catfood* and really roar at Maxi to stop pulling Midi’s hair and get dressed in her uniform. At 8.30 I pour Maxi into her uniform and send them all upstairs to brush teeth. They fight over who gets which toothbrush and which toothpaste, and who gets to squeeze it out. I wrestle with brushes and facecloths and try to intercept the worst of the mess. At 8.35 they’re downstairs fighting over hats, mits, coats and shoes/wellies: Mini wants to wear Maxi’s wellies, Maxi’s upset because she wants to wear a thin coat in driving wind and sleet, and Midi wants to eat a banana. I throw coats at them and nip outside to the garage to get the double-buggy. In the 25 seconds that takes, I try to take a deep breath and calm down, ready for the final onslaught… Opening the front door, Mini’s upended Maxi’s schoolbag again, Maxi is lolling on the stairs, crushing the uniform I was up ironing at 23.30hrs that night, and Midi’s poking Mini in the head. I generally roar, “Get your shoes on! Get your shoes on! Get your shoes on! Get your…” etc, in a loop, in the same way that God-awful loud rock music on constant loop allegedly forced General Noriega out of hiding. At 8.45 I’m yelling at Midi to sit in the buggy so I can force a shrieking Mini in to the rear seat without it upending, and shouting to Maxi to keep the front door shut (I can’t afford to heat the whole village up from our front door). If I’m lucky, it’s not rained buckets in the 5 mins between parking it by the door and bending minx limbs into it. Sometimes I even make a cruel comment like, “I wish I could leave you lot at school just for one whole day!” which, I’m ashamed to say, leaves one or more minxes crying. At 8.47 I’m negotiating a double-buggy that weighs 6 stone combined weight (prob a few pounds more, now) with one hand through the pot-holes and kerb ramps along the hill, while dragging a sulky 5 year old with the other hand, at a quick march to get to school for 9. Usually I’m continuing the nag of, “If you do as I tell you first time, I wouldn’t need to shout, and we’d all feel better!” or I’m apologising for losing my temper and shouting. Bah. Bet our neighbours really love me…

*Aha! Maybe I need to give her catfood for breakfast! There’d be loads less mess…

**That was a joke, in case Social Services are reading this, gathering more evidence.

Yesterday was a pretty standard morning, which is why Maxi lost her dinner ticket – Mini had grabbed it, nibbled a corner, then stuffed it into the doll’s house window, which is where I found it last night. I made sure it was safely tucked next to today’s ticket about 10 times before leaving this morning.

Today was a very standard morning, except that Mini (with the terrible circulation) steadfastly refused to wear mits or anything on her feet, and shrieked full volume the whole way down the hill. I let her get cold, because we’ve run out of botch tape – when I get more, I’m taping those mits and boots on!

Thank God tomorrow is Saturday, and we can get a 2 day break from my morning nagging – it even makes me feel rubbish.

I Still Hate Garages

Wednesday: Another day, another juggle.

This morning kind of set the tone for the rest of the day.  It was the standard nursery-day battle of wills to get Maxi and Midi Minxes to eat something, drink their milk, get into clothes and shoes and into the car, whilst feeding Mini Minx porridge, get her breastfed, nappy changed, clothes on and shoe-horn the Bucking Bronco into her car seat.

I was scoring maybe 6/10 getting them to eat their breakfast and a 4 on the milk front.  Maxi was naked and refusing to dress, whilst Midi was clinging to her pyjamas.  Mini started up her siren wail, so I abandoned my coffee (+5 bonus points for actually getting to drink some) and went to change her nappy.  My nose tried to claw its way to the back of my head before I walked through her door.  Yep – leaky dirty nappy.  And from the sight of her red raw and burnt looking wee bum, she must have pooed as soon as she was put down to bed last night.  So a quick emergency bath (and I’m already running 10 mins late: joyous), and she screamed the place down.  As she well might with sore lady bits, still half asleep and wanting her milk.  Midi Minx, who’s suddenly become a very protective big sister, came thundering up the stairs to see what was going on.  Placated that I was being a Mummy, not a murderer, she stroked my cheek and bizarrely sighed, “Never mind, Mummy”.

Mini Minx’s angry kicks and jerks as she fought being dressed (“No, don’t put me in the cute blue dungarees, I’m a baby Emo but you don’t know it yet.  No, not the pink stripes.  Bunnies!!!  Arrrrgh!  This is Child Cruelty!”)  soon opened up a very deep crack in my fingers, so as well as a nappy-load of poo to deal with, I had to avoid bleeding on everything.  And yes, it hurt.  Quite a lot.  Indeed, I nearly winced.  (I’m Glaswegian, dontcha know?)

Downstairs, I barked orders to Finish. That. Breakfast. NOW.  Or I’ll take Bagpuss away for a day.  Midi Minx pouted out her bottom lip and rolled her eyes while waggling her chin left and right (??? Where the hell did she learn that?)  “I full-up.  Can I get down now?”  The combination of fact and politeness are hard to resist, as well she knows, so we moved on to Round 3 of the Morning Fight.

As I yanked Midi into her clothes, Mini kept escaping with her Terminator Crawl to sniff out and retrieve one of Midi’s potties.  Maxi has hip-length thick hair and gets hysterical when I brush out tugs, so the way she was practicing putting her hair into a twisty ponytail didn’t auger well.  I picked up Mini Minx from the floor, moved her to another room and distracted her with a toy.  She hit it out my hands.  Riiip, another deep hack in another finger.  Sigh.  Curse under my breath.  Fetch different toy.  Find Midi Minx (trying to hide inside the sofa, behind the cushions).  Sit her down and try to peel pyjamas off her.  Yell at Maxi to Leave. Your. Hair. Alone.  Mutter to self.  Go get hairbrush and attack Maxi’s hair.  Forget hairbands.  Fetch hairbands.  Attack hair.  Yell at Midi to turn her trousers round and put them back on.  Go get Mini Minx from the potty.  Put potty on the table.  Start Maxi’s hair again.  Yell at Midi to put her trousers back on and to put her socks back on, they were fine the first time.  Dry Mini’s snot and push the potty further into the middle of the table.  Ask Maxi to put her shoes on the right feet, it’s not funny.

Then the doorbell goes.  It’s 0845hrs. “Hello, it’s Carnold Lark*, we’re here to collect your car”.  The deep breath I took was probably what stopped me ripping the poor innocent’s head off.  We have history, me and Carnold Lark* (see Longest Angry Rant Yet post last month).

*Name changed as they haven’t the ability to tell their side of the story.  Obviously.  Allegedly.

I calmly explain that the car was booked to be picked up at 12, because I needed it to drop the kids off and do the food shop.  The man waggled some paper in my face.  I agreed that his slip of paper did indeed say 9am, but my bit of paper filled in by The Boss said 12 noon.  He’d booked it specifically, and Carnold Lark had agreed, because we’d been messed around so many times before (The Boss booked  the MOT a month before it was due to run out because we needed it done on a Saturday.  10 mins after he set off to get it MOT’d, Carnold Lark phoned to say their computer had broken and they couldn’t do it.  They’d phone back with an alternative appointment.  They didn’t.  All that week.  So The Boss pinned them down, and they kindly offered to pick the car up and drop it off for us).  I suggested to the poor man at the door, being traumatised by Midi Minx running around naked with her trousers on her head, that there’d been a mix-up somewhere, and offered to get home as fast as poss before 12, and phone when the car was available.

So I did!  I skipped breakfast, raced around the Post Office, the dump, Tesco, pushed back baby R’s breastfeed to get back asap.  I phoned at 1105hrs.  The receptionist said someone would be out shortly or at noon at the latest.  1235hrs – nothing.  I was too angry to call, so asked The Boss to deal with them. (Yeah, I know: <waves hands wetly> I’m just a silly woman, can you do it for me?  Well, I have a very sharp tongue when angry and I don’t want to injure someone’s psyche for life).  Anyway, they’d stuffed up.  They’d not even booked-in the MOT (allegedly), and were fully-booked tomorrow.  Our MOT runs out the day after.  The Boss negotiated a pick-up the final day of the MOT.  The Customer Service Manager phoned The Boss and explained that the communication skills of ‘Tony’ were lacking.  You’re not kidding.  I hate garages.  I really, really do.

Slow Down and Taste the Snowflakes, Woman!

It was snowing this morning as I herded cats (not literally – just my 3 squirmers) into the car.  Big deal.  It’s snowing all over the country.  Ah, but I live on the coast, it normally never snows here.  And it was Baby Trout’s very first sight of snow <fanfare>

I have gigabytes of photos and videos of her elder sisters’ first reactions to snow.  I have none showing my baby’s little face lit up in wonder / screwed up in confusion at the white stuff.  I have failed as a doting mother.  I couldn’t even describe to you her countenance upon meeting snow – it was, alas, one of Those Mornings…

I’d finally been referred to the physio about my ballooning shelf stomach (not from cake or beer.  But on the plus side it props my saggy boobies up), but meeting the appointment meant dropping Minxes 1 & 2 off 30 mins early at nursery.  They knew I was stressed and in a rush, so (shocker) were good about not spilling breakfast over each other (just the floor – fine, I can sort that out tonight, though any burglars would have been horrified at my slovenliness), letting me put hair up in bunches / lashed down in a plait as appropriate.  They even got dressed in the clothes I chose for them with only a token show of defiance (“Why can’t I wear my wellies with my ballet skirt, Mummy?  Why?  Why?!”)  The morning routine was going too smoothly, so Minx-in-training asserted her presence and pooed long and hard just as I wedged her in her car seat.  I thought about just leaving it (well, that’s what nappies are for!) but the memories of her horrific nappy rash as a newborn still haunt me.  That, and the realisation that I’d not get a chance to change her for 2 hrs meant that I had to un-layer her from all the outdoor kit, take off my muddy shoes, threaten her sisters with toy confiscation or worse if they moved from the spot, and raced up the stairs to win the 100m Nappy Dash Hurdles.

Just as I uncaked the nappy and released the pong, I heard the ominous sound of the front door opening.  With a roar that would frighten your average gang of tough hoodies, I leapt downstairs, gingerly holding the semi-clad, still gungy, baby in front of me.  I yanked the 2 wannabe escapees in with one hand, waggled a cross finger with the other hand, locked the door then ran back upstairs to de-gunge the now mildly-surprised looking baby (she’s very chilled-out…).

5 mins late now.  Try again.  Outdoor clothes onto protesting baby, shoe-horn into car seat.  Cram wellies onto one minx.  Replait hair of other minx.  Cram wellies onto first minx again.  Zip jacket up of second minx.  Threaten to sellotape wellies of first minx to her knees if they’re removed again.  Open front door, step out into blast of snow and wind.  Wet foot.  Shoe failure.  (Shoe forgotten)  Slam door shut.  Curse at snow trail.  Put on shoes.  Curse at trail of mud.  Open door.  Drag out 2 minxes.  Lose hold of both as they make for the snow in a practised “break, break” Red Arrows manoeuvre.  Open car door with teeth and dead-arm both inside.  Slam door while they rattle about inside the car, finding sunglasses, pulling on hats, pulling out plaits, discarding jackets.  Run back for car-seated, wailing baby.  Heave into car.  Run back for armful of bags (nappy change bag, bag of things to post, bag of things to return to shop because I was over-charged, bag of change kit for Minx 2, bag of packed lunches, bag of bags (shopping day – Save Our Planet)).  Strap 2 minxes into seats.  Negotiate nursery rhymes CD or silence (nursery rhymes – I can screech to it louder than the volume control goes, saving me the misery).  Run back to house to double-check door (Still unlocked.  Damn).  Start car.  Skid off drive.  10 mins late.  Realise it’s going to be a long journey…

Even at the nursery, things go into go-slow.  My fingers are too cold to strap the baby into the sling, and she’s hyperventilating at the cold windy gusts.  One sister runs to the door, the other waddles.  ?  Looks like they’ve moved the little kids to the big kids’ room, so drag everyone to the *other* side of the building.  Nope, they’re just hiding.  Settle one minx in her classroom.  Discover Duck minx has wet herself.  Waddle back to first room and haul out a change of clothes.  Consider crying at the lateness but get distracted, so don’t.  One nursery teacher smiles benignly at my fast-approaching-vortex levels of stress; the other offers to change Wet Duck for me (I love you – thank you!).

At the physios, it takes me a further 9 mins to find the stupid place, running back and forth in the pelting snow with my little but very unstable car-seat-on-a-pram-chassis, baby minx’s eyes not leaving my face for a second (Oh right.  *That* portacabin with the sign in letters 6 feet high.  Didn’t see it.  Oops).  But on the bright side, the physio thinks she can help not only my rubbish stomach and subsequent perma-backache, but she wants me to join in with the group fitness thing going on in the New Year.  “Take the baby with you, it’s fine”.  Wow!  I am now overwhelmed.

So.  I know it’s a rubbish excuse for missing my infant’s reaction to snow.  It’s further evidence to my current theory that time spent on myself is time soon sabotaged.  My back will be painful, stiff and useless for a while longer, whether I’d made it to the physio on time or not, but the baby will never see snow for the first time ever again.  I’m sure I will feel guilt over even more substantial things in the future, but tonight it stings a bit.  Sorry, R.  I’ll take a video tomorrow and pretend it was the first time.  No one will ever remember or know that you weren’t a real Snow Virgin in years to come.  Honest