Sunny Spring Evening

Half past 9 at night, and all 3 minxes are snoring – I think we got today right!

(Well, ok, me and The Boss didn’t have that much to do with it – it was just the lovely weather: sunny, cloudless sky except for a bit of evening lenticularis, tiny breeze, warm, warm, warm!)

For the first time since the girls’ first week at their new school, they all got up, got ready, and off to school without me being driven to yelling and/or screeching. I put it down to the sunny morning, beckoning the girls outside with its promise of warmth and interesting nature-things to explore.

Mini and I couldn’t hang about spotting bumble-bees, though: once her sisters were safely in school, we had to zoom back to unearth swimming stuff for Mini’s swimming lessons. She’s just started Big Girl Lessons, where she can swim with an instructor instead of being accompanied by her Horrible Mother forcing her do terribly scary things like jump in, go for a shower or actually swim. I’ve blogged loads of times about how traumatic other pool-users find going swimming with Mini. I pre-warned her teacher: she hated water on her head, in her eyes, her ears, in fact anywhere on her face; she hated jumping in; she absolutely would not put her head underwater; she’s refused to swim on her back for 4 solid years… The swimming instructor listened to me reeling off my dire warnings, her eyes getting rounder and rounder (the poor soul also has the ‘pleasure’ of teaching Midi and Maxi swimming). I handed Mini over for her taster session, sat back and… Mini made a total liar out of me, ducking and splashing and jumping and blowing bubbles underwater. And swimming on her back with a noodle. Afterwards, as I showered a child who absolutely was not sounding like she was being flayed alive, I asked what had changed.

“I a big gell now”, she grinned winningly.

Well, blow me down.

So, her first ever actual non-mummy-accompanied lesson was last week. The Boss had had a mandatory day off work, so he and me sat in the gallery, studiously saving £3.78 by not having coffees, and watched Mini. Both totally agog. This week, I ignored all the little lazy voices in my head (“You’re too tired; you’re too unfit; everyone will laugh at you in your bulging swimming costume; having a coffee in the cafe would be much, much cheaper than a swim”) and went for a splash about while Mini swam. I’m glad I’d already paid for the swim before I unexpectedly bumped into my friend and her beautiful little newborn – it was a real struggle to drag myself away from them and go do something vaguely resembling swimming. I may not have drowned, but I’m typing this with my elbows tight in to my waist, and I may struggle to dress myself in the morning. Or move my arms and shoulders at all. Maxi had given me lots of advice about how to swim, and was very complimentary about my half-length of crawl, 2 lengths of backstroke and 20 minutes of flailing breast-stroke. It’s strange being patronised by a serious little 8 year-old… But I must admit I do feel good. This is the perfect little regular chunk of the week when I can exercise regularly without having the additional expense of a creche or stop everyone else doing something fun while I disappear to go to the gym or the pool.

It took ages to get out the leisure centre and it was a 30 minute drive home, so when we finally got there with only 20 minutes to go before we had to be heading back out again I decided we should play hooky from nursery. OK, so that now gave us 25 minutes before we had to be at the *next* appointment – dentist. With Mini helping by grating and eating half a block of cheese, we made the quickest omelettes in the world, glugged some water, spent more time brushing teeth than eating lunch, and back off in the car.

It’s taken me 3 years of being on different waiting lists to get to the top of the queue and get an NHS dentist – one waiting list was a sham one that didn’t actually exist (it’s a long story…) – but apparently all I need is a scale. Bonus! I think the dentist was in a bit of a rush because he caught the inside of my cheek with his sharp pointy stick thing (youch! Blood!) but with Mini sitting in the chair I normally sit in, watching me intently, I couldn’t flinch too much. She asked if she could have my sticker for being brave, then threw a mini-strop because she had to settle for Tinkerbell. Well, I mean, what’s the NHS coming to, not having princess stickers?! Actually, in hindsight, maybe he was getting me back for unleashing the minxes on him last month.

Quick mooch round the local supermarket, planning dinner based on the contents of the half-price fridge (homemade stovies with goats cheese and beetroot chutney pizza. Em, maybe yum?) and back home, to finally have a coffee and a proper lunch. Mini was very subdued and quiet for an hour, not quite napping, but not totally paying attention to CBeebies. Good decision to avoid nursery this afternoon, then – she’s really tired after swimming and gymnastics. Must feed her more lard…

After school and making sure Midi’s new glasses were put away safely (my wee baby! Looks 6 going on 11 with her lovely dark pink glasses on), I pretended to be an indulgent mummy and gave the girls a cornet with a scoop of ice-cream pressed into a bowl of sprinkles, with a dot of strawberry sauce on top. I say pretend: it was *me* who wanted the ice-cream! The elder 2 played a bit outside then settled for zonking in front of the TV. When it looked like the stovies weren’t actually going to burn through metal and spontaneously combust (my stovies are a wee bit hit and miss…), I dragged the minxes out to play and had a cup of tea on the garden bench and watched them scoot and cycle up and down the cul-de-sac.

I love the garden bench! We managed to sell the dishwasher and spent the cash on a really sturdy wooden bench. I’ve had some purple, pale- and mid-pink wood stain lurking in the garage for 3 years, so painted the bench purple, with the 2 sets of slats in all 3 shades. I think it looks really pretty. I’ll add a photo over the next week and you can tell me how much of an eyesore it truly is.

After dinner, we went for a wee explore past the end of the street, where the builders have levelled the earth mountain and put down a sharp sand track through the fresh loads of topsoil. The first track took us down the edge of the estate to the shallow burn. What a pretty spot! The minxes spotted rabbits while I eyed up an awesomely fun-looking rope-swing. Definitely worth coming down tomorrow in wellies with Mini after nursery. The Boss and I strolled down the other track (dead-end), watching our shrieking, skipping girls, with the Grampian Mountain foothills as a backdrop.

“Not too shabby a view”, exclaimed The Boss.

I waved back at one of our neighbours, and ambled back to the bench, drinking decaf beside The Boss in the evening sunshine while the girls scooted and cycled and taught new friends how to skip. D’you know, I don’t think evenings get much better than this?

Happy, happy, happy.

Driving Me to Junk Food

I found this blog entry for last week that I forgot to hit ‘publish’ on. I’m having real problems with the photo editor, so they’ll follow later. Hopefully… Ha! Google Chrome to the rescue; IE9 is rubbish. ANYway…

——————————————————————————————————————–

4th October 2013
Thursday. Swimming Day. Pass me the ear defenders…

Today didn’t start well – Foster Cat left The Boss a big stinking present in the hall for him to clear up before work. I’ve not been sleeping (various combinations of cats and kids needing my attention) and have been pretty much living in the car this week (additional trips to schools and vets beyond the usual), so am a fair bit behind in things like clean floors and ironed uniforms. In a surge of guilt, I skip breakfast to iron Maxi and Midi’s uniforms. Five minutes later, they’re rolling around on the floor licking each others faces and my work is wasted. Then they start to bite and hit each other. The place stinks of cat poo, sour milk and centuries of tobacco smoke and it’s making me feel ill. I have a headache. And a cold starting. I suggest to the kids that we all get into the car early this morning for a change so that I can drive them to the children’s home instead of school. They look at me defiantly then continue screaming louder than me.

The day doesn’t get any better – someone nicks my towel at the swimming pool. A nice member of staff offers to phone the school whose pupils were coming out of the pool as we were going in. I logically point out that if someone honestly thought that the towel was theirs, then it wouldn’t occur to them to later on check. And if they stole it? Well, they’d hardly hand it back, would they? I try to console myself with the thought that the towel-nicker had used my minging week-old towel to dry themselves (it was going to go straight in the washing machine after swimming), but it was cold comfort: I have to use Mini’s sopping wet towel to dry myself. Pretty pointlessly, though, because my jeans legs were soaked from the rain this morning and are soggy up to the knees.

Then Mini has a meltdown in the changing room about wearing trousers: “I’m not wearing trousers! Hate them! Hate them!” This is after screaming the place down because I dared to insist that she shower after swimming. I’d even brought along a plastic jug to minimise the stress. I want to cry or at least run away, but I honestly fear that if I put a foot outside the (ridiculously small) cubicle that I really will run, and keep on running, never to return. Mini demands a dress. Right now. I suggests she cast her own magic spell to conjure one up. She shrieks like a banshee in fury and stamps her foot (splash. More wet clothes). I give her an ultimatum: trousers or no trousers, her choice. She choses none and legs it to the car wearing her wellies, coat, teeshirt and pants. Mini 1 Mummy 0.

Any surprise that I’ve bought pizza for dinner tonight?!

——————————————————————————————————————–

Mummy gets her own back by dressing them like this. In public. Ha!

Mummy gets her own back by dressing them like this. In public. Ha!

Actually that day got better: both Maxi and Midi had to go and get their swimming ability assessed so that they can go on the correct waiting list for lessons. Despite not swimming since June, they had a hoot: the instructor established an easy rapport with them. I’d assessed them as Level 1 and Level 4, based on the Learning Objectives of the swimming blocks. The professional assessed them as Level 2 and Level 5. They were delighted. It was completely irrational of me to feel pride that they’d done so well, but I did anyway.

And that pizza? Bloody gorgeous! Especially with the half bottle of red wine I plunged into.

Little Things That Improve Your Day Instantly

  • Midi Minx airily announcing at breakfast, “I am not a monster; my teachers say I’m lovely”. I lost my coffee and choked for a loooong time.
  • The expression on Mini’s little face as you hold your arms out for her to jump into at the swimming pool. All 6 of those little teeth on display with a squeal that’s pure dolphin.
  • Maxi whispering, “I love your knitting. You’re the cleverest Mummy in the world”. Ah, darling you won’t be saying that when you discover fashion.
  • Realising you can’t get any wetter (when rained on for the 8th time that day) so stopping wincing against the rain. Then noticing it tastes a bit malty (!)
  • The Boss bringing hot buttered toast, unbidden.
  • I said, “The Boss bringing hot buttered toast, unbidden
  • (Damn, the telepathy link’s down again…Must be the stormy weather)

I Don’t Like Tuesdays

Tuesdays are tough, especially on not enough sleep. At least I didn’t have to cope with Midi Minx weeing everywhere – yesterday she peed on the floor twice before lunchtime, each time within the 5 min countdown to absolutely having to leave the house right now o’clock :/

Anyway, we managed to sort out getting school dinner tickets for Maxi (she was so excited about having salmon fishcakes that her little face fell when we discovered I’d been looking at the wrong menu, and today it was only her 3rd favourite: sausage and pasta bake. Bless!). She proudly marched into her class no problem and me and her sisters zoomed off to the swimming pool.

As we were early, I decided to go on in and just splash about for the extra 15 minutes. Tell you what, I won’t be making that mistake again! We had the whole pool to ourselves and both girls happily jumped and splashed and shot down the little dolphin slide. I worried that little Mini Minx was beginning to flag as her lesson started. By the end of the half hour, her lips were going purple and she was crying, so I knocked the lesson on the head. Up till then, though, both Midi and Mini loved it and did so well. Mini is starting to make doggy paddle movements on her tummy, almost relaxed into a starfish float and is so competent at ‘holding on’ at the edge of the pool. Her favourite thing is for me to sing Humpty Dumpty and her to fall into or jump into the pool/my arms with a huge giggle. Midi is such a little fish. She was swimming on her own on her front and back with 2 float noodles. She met every challenge her beloved teacher set her and really relished jumping and splashing around. I love seeing how confident and just so bloody joyful she is!

Getting out wasn’t fun, but it wasn’t as bad as last week – I even got to wash my hair and have a basic rinse of my body (so I only mildly honked of chlorine the rest of the day). Mini actually stopped crying for a few seconds in the shower, too. It’s all progress…

On a roll, we did a quick dash round Tesco to buy essentials. And lamb chops on a discount – yum yum for tomorrow! (Note: they were indeed fantastic: juicy and tender). Midi happily sang “Which Coloured House Are We Going To?” at the top of her lungs, completely unself-consciously. One woman started giggling at her  – she was obviously another Balamory Mum.

Another chase back home, quick lunch, march down the hill to park Midi in nursery with her new best friend, big march back up the hill, Mini down for a nap, mental race round the house for an hour turning it into a real human house from a chimps enclosure, chase back to the school to pick up Maxi, loiter for 30 mins, pick up Midi and back to the swimming pool. (And breathe)

Alas I didn’t get to see much of Maxi’s lesson because Midi and Mini were playing up, were far too hot, both needed the toilet and the parents were 4 deep at the spectators’ wall. However, what I could see suggested that Maxi’s swimming is going backwards. Today she refused to jump in the deep end, and not only insisted on holding onto the pole, she sat down first too. I didn’t want to make a big deal of it, just mentioned it to her – she said she had felt too nervous, so I left it at that.

However, I’m putting this together with the way that she’s always last out of school because the others push in front of her (she says). I suggested she push back. She insisted this would be too rude. She also refuses to ever hit anyone back, even her little thug of a sister. I don’t know what to do. As her mummy, I want her to grow up able to hold her own, to stand confident and not be pushed around. She truly is meek and I don’t think this is a good or helpful trait in an adult (which is what I’m trying to teach her to grow up to become).

Though I’m not sure I’m fit to teach anyone a single thing about being a grown-up – the lack of sleep, the extreme swimming pool heat, Maxi’s extreme whingeing and constant dawdling pretty much sent me over the edge. As I nagged her to hurry up and get dressed I realised I’d spent most of the day nagging and chiding her – hurry up and walk smartly down the hill, stop wandering towards the road, keep up, stop talking, go over there, no you can’t have another cuddle I’ve already given you 5, hurry up and get undressed, hurry up and get showered, hurry up and get dressed, move it, move it, move it. Poor little girl! Those kind of messages are hardly going to make her feel loved and cherished, is it? (Note: it’s now Thurs and I’ve made such an effort to stop nagging Maxi: it’s mostly working)

As a kind of ‘sorry’, and to let us end the day on at least a nicer note, I said I’d wash and dry Maxi’s Rapunzel hair. We settled down to brush all the tugs out and it only took The Boss 6 reminders to get Mini away from us before he complied – bonus! So I chatted with Maxi about her hair, telling her how beautiful it is, and that she truly is a real-life Rapunzel. She airily chirped, “Yes, I guess you’re a lot like her Evil Mother”. When I stopped choking, I pouted at her. She lifted her bent fairy wand (thanks to Midi’s random violence), swept it in an arch at me and quipped, “I can fix that smile for you!” I couldn’t help laughing, so we had a right cackle together. God, I love listening to Maxi’s laugh – it’s a proper infectious gurgle. It’s been like that since she was a baby. I remember taping it for my mum for her to listen to when she felt at her lowest (right after she got diagnosed with lung cancer). Anyway, it’s one of the sounds in my life that I don’t hear often enough, and it just seems to hit the ‘sunshine and happiness’ note in my heart every time.

Dinner was a bit hit and miss. I’m recording the recipe because The Boss liked it, though the kids were a bit more reticent.

Wrappy Old Trout

 Dry-fry a pork steak per person for about 12 mins on medium, turning it every few minutes. Let the pork rest for a few mins. Nuke a tortilla wrap in the microwave for 10 secs. Smear about a tablespoon of Philadelphia over the wrap, then smear about a teaspoon of seedy mustard over that. Slice the pork thinly and plop on the wrap. Add some spinach leaves. Add about 4 slices of tinned peach (with the syrup/juice drained well). Wrap, cut in half and eat.

Well, us grown-ups liked it and the kids liked the cheesy-mustardy peaches. If I made it again, I’d add slices of stem ginger and add some sliced garlic to the frying pork about 3 mins before it was ready. Now *that* might be yum!

First Day of School (Very, very, very long)

(Tues 16 Aug)

We all survived and some of the minxes even enjoyed themselves!

We couldn’t have a normal First Day of Primary School in our household, oh no! It was first day of primary for Maxi Minx, first day of new nursery for Midi, first day of swimming lessons for both Midi and Mini and first swimming lesson in The Big Deep Pool for Maxi. It’s fair to say I felt a bit nervous beforehand. I mean, here was our timetable:

0900: Maxi start at primary
0940: be at swimming pool
1000: Midi and Mini start swimming lesson
1030 – 1100 if lucky: scream place down (all 3 of us) getting changed and out the swimming pool
1130: Midi lunch
1200: be out the door
1220: pick up Maxi
1230: drop off Midi
1300: Midi and Mini lnch
1440: be out the door
1500: pick up Midi
1600: Maxi swimming lesson
1700: get through door and get dinner on
1900: get the zoo in the bath
2000: big, big, big G&T or glass of vino

Preparation

I ironed and hung and name-tagged Maxi’s entire uniform on Sunday so there was no mad rush. (And admittedly also like a madwoman, paranoid that anyone would nick my little girl’s £2 polo shirt from George at ASDA!) I knifed out a sliver off every pencil and biro’d her name on the flat wood bits. Not because they were valuable, but because my Dad did it for me when I was little, and because simple pencils ARE precious to 5 year old girls. I labelled every part of her water bottle and shoe bag. I even put a full water bottle in the fridge cooling overnight. Thinking ahead to the likely most chaotic bits, I got The Boss to make Midi a packed lunch that she could eat in the car if I was running late, and pulled out clothes for us all so I could minimise Morning Dither.

The Reality

The girls took it all in their stride – it was me who forgot the water bottle (doh! Cue one unscheduled run back to the school) and I even managed to squeeze in an online shop, fill the car with diesel and check of the tyres. And make a quick rhubarb crumble from scratch. I’m really smug about doing the extras. My, how my standards have fallen that I’m preening like a peacock over living through a fairly busy day and not losing any children!

Maxi’s Day

Child as Backpack

P1 with 'small' schoolbag that Maxi lusted after

Maxi admitted to feeling nervous beforehand, and she definitely has a propensity to hysterical anxiety. So I made sure we weren’t late, chatted about what it would be like and how she’d feel, and reminded her constantly that it was only a morning today. She stood by me quietly with her sisters, watching the other kids and half a thousand milling parents, as we waited in the playground. The bell went, we lined up. The poor wee thing panicked a little as she let go my hand in the line and marched into the school, so I followed her in. I wasn’t being an overanxious mother. Much. Some newbie mums went straight home, some newbie mums went in with their kids, other newbie mums got their partners to help carry in all their heavy photographic equipment…

Maxi stood with a crinkle in that smooth little forehead, happy that she’d found her peg, but unhappy at not having a school bag (why? For what?) or her water bottle (oops…). I guided her into the path of her new teacher, who swept her up and over to her new tray. She perked up the instant she saw that it was purple. I kissed her again, waved, and dragged a very quiet and overawed Midi out the room (Mini was on my back, sucking my hair, oblivious to everything except the flavour of my new shampoo).

Maxi didn’t tell me much of her day when I picked her up at 1220hrs, just that it was ‘really good’. She ate her lunch while I tried to settle Mini in a nap (fail. Obviously Madam prefers to sleep on her mummy’s back) and just wanted to watch CBeebies rather than do anything active (!) during the hour we had nothing to do before picking up Midi.

Eavesdropping on her phonecall to her Grandma later, I discovered that she had sat in a circle and when she was passed Little Ted to hold, she said what her name was and how she was feeling (“Very happy because I’m wearing my new watch today” – that’s my girl! We bought her a pink Timex from Argos to make a big deal of starting school, The Boss scratched her name on the back, and she’s as proud as punch of it). She only drew 3 pictures (that’s her normal hourly output – at nursery she did over 10 most days), and her teacher reported her as saying that the only (!) thing she wasn’t good at was the computer. Her P7 buddy is called Begonia (her name is Naomi and she’s an incredibly confident and kind 10 year old who’ll buddy Maxi all year, and who gave me a very professional handover at lunchtime: “Maxi has had a lovely day and enjoyed playing on the chute most of all at playtime”. Cripes!)

Maxi had also been very apprehensive about swimming lessons in the Big Pool – she burst into tears when she passed her last assessment and was told her new block of lessons were to be in the Big Pool. I took her swimming during the 6 week summer break just to keep her skills reasonably fresh, but as she didn’t swim properly (though we had a lot of fun!) I wouldn’t let her in the Big Pool. A week down south and me being ill stopped us doing much more, so I sent her and The Boss to the pool over the weekend and they had fun in the Big Pool. I’m glad – she was very hesitant during today’s lesson.

We were a few minutes early (!), so poor Maxi sat and shivered on an empty bench, all by herself, hoping she was in the right place. I guess Mummy and 2 sisters waving madly from 20 feet away doesn’t help when you’re feeling awkward. After an eternity of 5 minutes, the bench filled up with 5 other kids; they met the new swimming coach, and off they marched to the pool. Poor Maxi wasn’t too happy, but unlike her normal Give Up At The First Big Hurdle, she showed some proper tenacity (my heart burst with pride) and kept on ploughing up the pool after every safety/reassurance stop. She didn’t feel confident enough to jump in at the deep end solo, but wanted to hold onto the coach’s stick. I regaled the poor thing with tales of our week’s holiday in Cyprus when Midi Minx was just a 4 month old embryo in my tummy, and a baby Maxi would continually leap into the hotel swimming pool whether there was a waiting parent there or not! How times change! Still, I waved and gave huge Embarrassing Mum signs (thumbs held aloft for far too long, and both of them) to encourage her, and it really lifted my baby’s spirits.

As a treat to us both, I gave her her bath tonight and blow-dried her hair. Normally this is The Boss’s job, but he’s very rough with her hair. We had such a lovely giggle. It was easy to make her laugh tonight as she has my puerile sense of humour – we discussed ways of keeping her hair out of her bum when going to the toilet. Maxi’s hair really is a sight – honey, ash, yellow, brown, white, gold tresses as thick as any head of hair I’ve ever seen. When wet, her hair reaches down her back, over her bum, and one inch onto her leg: no wonder she’s started singing Rapunzel’s song from ‘Tangled’! Hair finally dried and in a loose plait, she cuddled into me and declared that she loved me most of all, but would tell Daddy she loved us just the same, so his feelings wouldn’t be hurt. !! That big hug, for me, just capped my day too.

Midi’s Day

 Although she’s only starting a new nursery (class within Maxi’s primary school) for 5 half-days, Midi wanted to be in uniform too. With ASDA George uniform being so cheap and (to my eyes) so pretty, I figure she might as well trash a uniform as normal clothes. So Midi skipped to school with her big sister in an identical pinafore, but with a bright blouse underneath. She likes to know The Plan and be updated with the Next Step just before it happens, so she was fine about dropping Maxi off and then nipping in to the swimming pool because we’d verbally rehearsed it again and again.

At the pool, I wasn’t sure what to do or where to go and felt very first-day-at-school myself, but at least I’ve learned how to ask for help in the 25 years since I left school instead of just watching and waiting and inwardly panicking. As the other 2 kids in the class didn’t show up, Midi and Mini had just me and Nic the teacher (who taught Maxi to swim) and the entire learner pool to themselves! And oh my word, how they loved it! Midi is a confident little girl and revelled and glowed in the individual attention of an adult. She had no problem doing any of the moves (designed to build water confidence, which she already has), spent the entire half-hour giggling, and happily launched herself off the little water slide again and again.

Predictably, Mini went apoplectic in the showers afterwards. She screamed when I took her out; she screamed when I cuddled her; she screamed when I took her swimming costume off; she screamed when I showered her; she screamed most of all when I put her on the ground to deal with Midi in the shower (and don’t look at me like that, Mrs Fellow Showerer – if I didn’t put her down to deal with Midi’s hair properly, Midi would have legged it and been out to the car park before you could blink. It’s happened before. My baby’s crying hurts my heart a hell of a lot more than it hurts yours, trust me. So don’t look at me like that or I might turn all cornered lioness on your sculpted butt). Oh yeah, and Mini screamed as I wrapped her in the soft fluffy dressing gown I brought to keep her extra warm.

And that’s where Midi won You-Amazing-Girl, Best Big Sister award – she wriggled so she could climb up on the bench and poke up behind the baby change unit, and sang and chatted to Mini. Little Miss Busta Lung suddenly started cooing and giggling at her favourite person in the whole world (hint: that person is not me). As a result, she was dried and dressed in a few minutes, botch-taped strapped to her buggy and smiling, while me and Midi hurried into our clothes. This had been the bit I was most dreading about the day (I expected both to howl and both to leg it on opposite directions the minute I let go of them), so I was almost on my knees in gratitude to my 3 year old.

Midi polished off lunch in the car home (1100hrs) and happily posed for more First Day at School photos in the garden. She skipped merrily all the way down the hill to the school. She smiled at her big sister and held my hand cheerfully in the playground. Her eyes got bigger and bigger as we waited in line to go in, and she called out hello to her new friends, made in last term’s single hour visit. Her little face lit up when she got her name sticker on her chest. I kissed her, wished her a fun afternoon, turned to go… and had a limpet attached to my ankle. She wasn’t happy to see me go at all. I shouldn’t have been surprised. I felt hellish just going, but the staff had asked that we do this, and I remembered from last year that it really was best just to go. I peeped through the window a few minutes later and she was still cuddling her teacher…

Still, when I picked her up at 1500hrs, she said how much she’d loved her day. She couldn’t remember what or whether she’d had a snack, who she’d played with or what she’d done, but she assured me it was ‘great!’

Whatever she did, I guess it was active – she was a little monster at Maxi’s swimming lesson, tormenting both sisters, rolling around the wet floor kicking the baby’s buggy, biting hell out her dolly. No surprise that she fell asleep on the way home and roused only briefly after dinner. She came down around 2200hrs insisting she was hungry, and enjoyed a late-night dinner and chat with The Boss. I wonder if she did it on purpose? Minxy!

Mini’s Day

Lovely snuggles on Mummy’s back in the sling, most of the day – heaven!

I was pretty apprehensive about her swimming, but was very aware that she’d had less time at the pool than her sisters at the same age, so decided to Man Up and get the little blighter into the water together.

Predictably, Mini was fearful at first and clung on to me tighter than I’ve ever felt my strong baby cling, like I was dangling her over a clifftop. As she watched Midi screech and giggle and splash around the empty pool, and as she realised I wasn’t going to drop her, she loosened up a little. As she discovered all the praise and smiles and cuddles she got from 2 adults and her sister for doing different things, she soon got into the swing of it. She even took to being submerged briefly. I was amazed at how well she clung to the side when I put her there. And I did leak a little tear (2nd one of the day – do I really need to tell you that I welled-up at baby Maxi going in to school?!) at her jumping into the pool, into my arms, with a face-splitting grin.

And Another Thing

…And another thing, why are Marks & Spencers school skirts so bloody short? I had to buy my 110cm tall 5 year old skirts in age 7 and pull them right in at the waist to get any to even reach her knee-caps. I’m not impressed.

Little Swimmers

So today was Maxi Minx’s asessment in this block of swimming lessons.  She’s been doing really well, swimming a whole length of the learner pool with a recognisable back-crawl.  Sometimes.  When she doesn’t get distracted halfway.  Or twisted goggles.  Or remembers a new joke she’s bursting to tell everyone. <proud mummy nonetheless> Today she completely forgot how to ‘windmill’ her arms, but still managed to get a B.  I didn’t mean to sound surprised when her grade was announced, it was just the way my voice squeaked when I said, “Really?  Wow!”  I gave her a huge hug, even though I’ve always focussed more on: was it fun? Did you enjoy it? Did you like jumping in the deep end? Did you make the biggest splash?

There are 3 other kids (boys) in the class, and Maxi’s been having hassle from 2 of them.  No one else is being pushed around.  It’s nothing major: just pushing, shoving, splashing.  I’ve heard her shout “Stop it!” at one of them, and I’m happy that she’s standing up for herself.  The boys all look about a year older than her.  The teacher doesn’t stop them.  While Maxi’s holding her own, I don’t want to step in either.  Though the week before last I was hormonal enough to have leapt over the cafe barrier and hauled the kid out the water with my angry laser eyesight alone, had he touched her.

Anyway, today I got a good look at the mother of the ringleader of the shoving.  Well, I heard and smelled her first.  Confucius say “Heavy perfume bad move anyway, doubly so when mixed with eau-de-bleach and chlorine-water.  Dimbo!”  Bleached yellow hair ‘artfully’ pulled back (looked like it took her hours to achieve that ‘whimsical, tousled’ look), a ton of slap, clothes like she walked out of Glamour magazine.  I’m a real snob when it comes to personal grooming, aren’t I?!  Anyway, I could forgive her that lot, but I think I audibly growled when her son refused to shower pre-swim like the rest of the kids, and she said airily, “Oh never mind, darling, you’re so clean anyway”.  Right, so that oil slick in his hair is from fresh, non-washout gel?  The whole swimming lesson she didn’t look at him once, or her daughter.  She was too busy using massive, extravagant gestures to make sure everyone could see her working on her laptop.  Probably spent the 30 minutes playing games, because she only ever touched the mouse-pad and the enter key.

After swimming, Maxi asked why I’d not talked to Shoving Boy’s mother.  “Well”, I uncharitably sneered, “I don’t think she really cares about him or what he gets up to.  I don’t think she’d give him into trouble.  Never mind,” I added as an afterthought, “If he shoves you again, I’ll go up to him like this…,” bent down to her, nose-to-nose, “Hold his clothes just under his chin,” dropped my voice to a low, quiet growl, “And tell him: If you shove my daughter one more time, I’ll tear your little head off and smack you with it”.  Maxi’s eye’s welled up, her chin wobbled, her bottom lip pouted and she started to cry.  Aw crap, I guess I overdid it.  She can be quite sensitive.  I meant to make her laugh.

“What’s wrong, princess?  Why are you crying?” I asked over a big hug.

“But, but, he’s my best friend!” Maxi wailed.

Aw, deep double crap.

“In that case, I’d go up to him like this,” bent over nose-to-nose, “And say (breezily): Hello, I’m P’s mummy; would you like a sweetie?”  That seemed to brighten her up a bit.

I can’t keep track of my eldest daughter’s social life, I really can’t.

Toddler Modesty

Four-year-old Mini Trout has out-grown her swimming costume, so I had to find a new one.  One big supermarket chain apparently only sells children’s swimming costumes in summer; the other gave me a choice of 3 styles, of which 2 were totally inappropriate, in my opinion, for a 4 year old.  Who on earth thinks that hi-legs and a low cut top with a dropped shoulder is what a female toddler should be wearing?  I guess the same idiot people who design or buy toddler girls’ tee-shirts that have ridiculous slogans like ‘Sexy’ or ‘Hot’ emblazoned over the chest.

After a week of searching, Mini Trout attended her swimming lesson this afternoon clad in a very sensible, low leg, thick shoulder straps, full coverage burka of a swimsuit.  (I know, I know – just wait till she starts dating…)

With 3 Troutling daughters, I expect I’m on a hiding to nothing hoping that they’ll grow up with no body image hang-ups.  Me and The Boss are learning along the way and doing our very best.  Example: Mini Trout’s rounded toddler tummy is proclaimed ‘a beautiful happy tummy’.  I smile as genuinely as I can muster with all my acting talents when she flings herself at my 3-baby-plus-bad-diastasis-recti-and-a-bad-cake-habit belly and sighs, “I love your fat squashy belly, Mummy, it’s so yummy to cuddle”.  The kids don’t know what ‘diet’ means, and fashion is a swear-word in this household.

Oh boy – we’re in for some rough times in 10 years or so…

Still, I hope to lead by example.  My first day in my last job was marked with me going back to the office of some overly-macho men over lunch, armed with a thick black marker and a look-out.  I only owned up to penning the moustache, beard and bikini over a semi-naked Kelly Brook calendar about 3 years later, having sniggered each time one of the guys had moaned about the ‘shocking’ graffiti.  (Yeah, yeah, yeah, I could have had a head-to-head confrontation, but being underhand is sooooo much more fun.  And effective.)

Yep, still beautiful even after my make-up job