Spring is Sprung

Right, now that I’m feeling more of my old self than I have in 7 months, I’m going back to my old style of blogging: just a daily blah of all the mundane minutiae that we get up to.

Today felt special, even before I opened my eyes. I woke up unsquashed by minxes (they’d slept in their own beds. Finally!), I’d had a full night’s sleep, and I could smell the coffee The Boss had lovingly brought me in bed. (OK, I say lovingly. That’s actually shorthand for “very afraid of the consequences of me stomping about without a jolt of caffeine first. Very, very afraid”). When I peeled my eyelids open, I could see sunshine seeping in around the blind. I could hear only Killer Cat complaining that she wanted out – the minxes were all snoring. Ah… peace for a precious 5 minutes!

We still managed to be almost late for school, though, but that’s what happens when you let your kids eat their breakfast without nagging them. And sneak a peek on all the things you’re desperately eBaying. And a cheeky check on Facebook while you’re there.

Last week I had to make the 4 Minute Walk of Shame with a shrieking, screeching, tantrumming Mini who kicked and windmilled at the deprivation of being made to walk the whole 100 yards to school. She screamed the whole way there, the whole time I waited on the elder 2 going into school, and the whole way back. Mortified. Good morning neighbours, time to rise and shine. Yes, I just moved into your neighbourhood last week. I’m sure you can’t wait to meet me or my noisy kids either. Yes there are 300 of them, and they’re all as badly brought up as this one. Today, I got the 4 Minute Walk of Shame with a wailing Maxi, who was objecting noisily to me not stopping everything and everyone in order to listen to her opinion about something. She seems to be growing up to be like my mum: absolutely no concept of keeping time, or being on time, or the need to be at a place for a specific time. Drives me insane.

MiniAfter faffing about with laundry and giving the air a chance to warm up, me and Mini set off exploring. We walked down a little country lane. I wasn’t sure whether it was a private drive or not, but we walked along, enjoying the snowdrops and the yew trees and the looking at the coal-tits (when you’ve only see seagulls, pigeons and oyster-catchers for years, the variety round here is great!). We took photos of each other. Looking at them, I can see that my 3 year old takes better photos than me! I seems like only yesterday she was learning to focus her own eyes, never mind focus a camera. The camera’s nearly as big as she is!

GrumpyOldTroutIn the distance, I saw a big black labrador without a lead. The dog saw us. I realised how alone we were and felt a little vulnerable. I remembered how much Mini hates dogs, turned on my heel and suggested we walk back, whilst setting off at a good tabbing pace. It was a smart move: the dog and its owner caught us up, the dog straining on its lead to jump lensmanup on Mini, slabbering its drool everywhere. I stood between it and my baby, and hauled the stupid thing away a few times by the collar. The owner happily chattered about how his dog was still just a puppy and still liked to jump up on children (!), and how he’d put it on the lead when he’d seen Mini. He was completely oblivious to the dog actually trying to jump on her and me. Right now. In front of him. Lead or not. Blimey, I don’t think he really ‘got it’ that he could pull the lead himself and actually control the dog’s behaviour… Bless.

I walked around a little public garden with Mini, looking at the unblossomed daffodils and all the different tree buds. She then decided that she was too tired and wanted to paint a picture of me instead. So we walked home, and I let her do her worst with her paints while I attacked the entire house’s glassware with the Mr Muscle. You do *not* want to know how black the living room windows were. And now they’re streaky. But they’re clean!

After dropping Mini at nursery, I enjoyed my first day in weeks of NOT having to nip down to the rented house to load up another car-boot load of stuff and clean another room. I spent the precious 90 minutes eBaying anything else that I had photographs of and thought I could maybe sell.

It takes 4 minutes to walk to school in the morning; it takes Midi 2 minutes to run back home; it takes Maxi about half an hour if she’s cajoled and dragged (an hour or longer if I left her to herself). It was still sunny (balmy high of 9degC. Too cold for middle-aged mummies with faulty internal thermometers, but fine for 3 girls with anti-freeze for blood), so the minxes played in the garden from 3.30 till 5. I’m not surprised that Mini and Midi fell asleep by 8 this evening. And Maxi? Good God, the bonkers child has decided that right now (9pm) is a great time to practice her recorder! Sheesh.

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…

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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?!

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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.

Torture By Nursery

Day 1 of nursery went well for Mini. So did Day 2. She had Wednesday off and we went swimming. Day 3 was fine, also. Then she had the weekend to think about it. By Monday morning, she was begging not to go back. “I got sore tummy! I don’ wanna go to nursery!” she wailed. She also had a cold, so I decided she should stay off. We pottered about and made coffee buns again (I can’t get to grips with this bloody oven. The only way to learn its foibles are to make cakes. Lots of ’em. Often. I’m LEARNING, I’m not being greedy… OK: oink)

Meltdown...INCOMING!

Meltdown…INCOMING!

The next day, she threw a shrieking tantrum about going to nursery. Proper screaming, squirty tears, drumming heels, incoherent ragey shouting, tugging hair, clenched teeth, waving fists at me, the lot. It was hard to keep calm. God, it was also hard not to snigger! All that rage in one so small! Poor little mite.

I applied a multi-pronged approach: a little explaining (“Mummy doesn’t meet up with anyone here: you need to go to nursery so you can meet other people”), a little insistence (“Whether you stay or not, you are going. You can tell your teachers that you’re not coming, in person”) and as much empathy and understanding as I could muster (“Poor tummy. My tummy gets tight and sore when I’m doing something new… I can see you’re very upset about going to nursery…). I tried asking her why she didn’t want to go. No coherent answer. I tried to teach her simple exercises to loosen up her tight tummy muscles. No joy, she refused to try them. I tried the confusing-but-gets-you-straight-answers of “What would have to change to make you want to go to nursery again?” Aha! That got a result: she said she didn’t like the wee boy hitting her. Oh? She was vague about whether it was an accident or if he’d said sorry or if a nursery teacher knew. I reassured her that it was an accident, and to tell someone: all the usual good stuff.

Dear Childline... My Mummy tortures me with nursery 4 times a week...

Dear Childline… My Mummy tortures me with nursery 4 times a week…

The staff didn’t fail to notice Mini’s new attitude. Neither could the kids. One wee girl raced off with her hands over her ears to protect them from certain extreme volume damage. All 3 ladies took it in turns to try to distract Mini and engage her in different activities. I asked if there were any other kids who liked to play with each other rather than alongside. One lovely wee girl was quickly ushered over, and she tried to hold Mini’s hand. Miss Truculent was having none of it.

I stayed, and over the next half hour gradually backed away a bit more and a bit more. “I’m going to sit down. I’m tired. Look, you can still see me. I’m just over at the coats”. It was a hard balance, because although the staff were encouraging of me staying, it was upsetting for some of the other kids (“Where’s *my* mummy?!”) I said goodbye when I had told her I was going to go and Mini went ballistic, lying on the ground, clutching at my ankles, screaming for me. I smiled and waved and walked. I deserved an Emmy for that acting performance!

The next few days were very similar. The staff were all, 100%, entirely behind me. They were happy for me to take a Tough Love approach, and they were happy for me to stay. Or do whatever I felt suited me and Mini. I was very grateful! Because I didn’t need to be at work for a certain time, a tough approach wasn’t right for us (never mind philosophically – she’s not being manipulative: she needs me there just now). But it wasn’t fair to the other kids for me to stay. I suggested I phase it, spending less time each day.

One lovely lady took a photo of me and uploaded it to the computer so that Mini could look at me whenever she felt lost or lonely. Another wonderfully empathic teacher came in on her day off to drop-off a dressing up outfit for Mini because they’d talked about it earlier in the week. They laughed with me when I said goodbye to Mini and hid for 5 minutes to make sure she was ok, then had to crawl on my hands and knees to attract their attention to get the door unlocked to get out without Mini spotting me. They commiserated when I felt terrible when my little girl was shrieking, “I want my Mummy! I want to be with my Mummy! I need her! Mummy, don’t leave me here!” They also wryly smiled with me when we all watched little Mini switch from those desperate, heart-rending screams to smiley inquisitiveness at another game within 10 – 20 seconds of me disappearing from sight.

I fussed and fretted over the right thing to do. Had we still been ‘home’, she’d only be doing 2 or 3 half-days a week at nursery because I’d a thriving social life with a really wide variety of friends. I don’t ascribe to the notion that children need to be ‘socialised’ by mixing solely with kids of the same age. I think they get far more from meeting babies, young children, teens, young adults, old people: a really wide variety of humans. But with me having zero social life here at the moment, this was the best opportunity for my most gregarious of children to meet others. And she hated it.

Midi: "I hate you!" Mini:

Midi: “I hate you!”
Mini: (*taking notes*)

Over the 2 weeks that this went on, she’d cry every time nursery was mentioned. She’d burst into tears suddenly whenever she thought about it. I tried asking more. We established that the ‘hitting’ was possibly a little boy who was deaf and patted you to get your attention. I explained that, and Mini never mentioned being hit again. But she still couldn’t explain why she hated nursery so much.

In the end, perhaps my initial instincts were spot-on (!!) One day she came home with a smile on her face, said she’d had a lovely time, and talked the whole afternoon about another little girl who coincidentally has the same name as Maxi. The next morning, there were no tears. The other little girl came up and held Mini’s hand and the pair skipped off. Mini flung a quick “Bye, Mummy” over her shoulder and I was instantly forgotten. And that was that. The end. No more nursery angst. Woohoo! Happy 3 year old!

Midi: "I still hate you!" Mini:

Midi: “I still hate you!”
Mini: (*taking more detailed notes*)

So: all she’d needed was a friend to play with! And it’s hard, because lots of ante-pre-school kids haven’t taken that developmental leap yet – it’s normal still for them to want to only play side by side. But Mini will be one of the oldest in her class and she has 2 big sisters, which is perhaps why she so desperately wanted to play with someone. I’m so relieved that she’s actually enjoying nursery now, and not just the (yummy) snacks…

Could Be Worse…

Tired out from all that minxery

Tired out from all that minxery

I know, I know, I’ve stacks of posts from over Christmas and New Year to catch up on, but you know me – if Mini Minx isn’t napping during the day, then I’m not blogging.  But before I launch into them, I just thought I’d update this little online journal of my girls with a wee description of today.  How’s it been for us?

Well, yesterday we had a brilliant first day back at school morning routine: everyone up in time, everything done in time, no cross words at all, and a lovely unrushed walk to school.  Today?  I got payback for yesterday’s easy ride.  No-one liked their breakfast.  No-one wanted to even eat breakfast.  Maxi Minx flexed her new melodrama muscles and shouted at me like she’s seen the characters in Tracy Beaker yell at adults.  As we’d had words about this last night at swimming when she screamed, “I hate you, you’re a liar!” to me, CBBC is now banned for a day or 2.  Maxi and Midi fought over who was closing the front door.  I picked up Midi and moved her off the step, where she crumpled dramatically like a Chelsea footballer, screaming at the top of her lungs.  On the walk to school we managed to walk past 3 houses before I got to mutter my Last and Final Warning to Little Miss Go-Slow With The Biggest Pout In The World (Maxi).  I don’t understand why she hates to be with me on the walk to school, yet when the bell goes at school she smothers me in kisses and acts as if she’s being painfully peeled from me.

Back at home, Mini wanted to go to the supermarket.  I’m starting a cold and feel gooey-headed and miserable.  She’s just started potty-training (again).  I think I’d rather eat beans for a week or actually starve than combine the 2 in a supermarket.  I also can’t face having my shopping peed on by a 2 year old (Maxi’s favourite trick, only 4 years ago.  I’m still traumatised).  I suggested we go for a nice walk along the beach instead and look for treasure.  Mini suggested she lie on the floor and have a lovely screamy tantrum instead.  I did my tax return while she calmed down and did a jigsaw, then we made some bread together.  I was on my best behaviour, ignoring the flung flour and the splashed water, so for an encore got her to help make the French toast for lunch.  Mini’s still calling eggs “Knock-knock-eggs-put-thumb-in”.  Funny, but not as much as Midi’s name for them, at a similar age: “slimeys”.  Yum, appetising!

Mini had 3 dry days in a row then wet herself yesterday when she was too tired to remember to go to the potty.  Today was similar: she managed to stay dry until she started to fall asleep after missing her nap.  So that’s another 2 sofa covers washed.  I wish she’d pee on the middle on – that’s the only one actually needing a wash!  Don’t even ask me about poo…  The last 3 times we’ve tried potty training she had the poo bit cracked.  Not this time – every single day she’s managed to cack herself.  Today she waddled down from where she’d been pretending to nap: “I poo in my bum!”.  I’m getting good at dead-arming her in front of me, up the stairs.  But in the clean-up operation, she fragged the bathroom floor, the toilet seat, both toilet lids, the bath, the sink, and every item of clothing she was wearing.  What I managed to shake out of her pants blocked the toilet.  Still, at least with this cold I can’t smell all the poo or the bleach.  And some progress: she can now take herself to the toilet, pee, flush, re-dress and come back down, all without help!  Woohoo!  OK, so I need to tell her when to do it, but it’s a start.

Mini’s berserker tantrums. She adds “Nnnngggg!” sound effects for added drama. Image from chessville.com

School run: Stupidly, I’d let Mini walk down to school, rather than put her in the sling or buggy, because I was feeling too breathless.  Maxi came out of school, took one look at me, pouted, and legged it behind a bin.  Mini tried to head in the opposite direction, straight towards the road, but I got her in a firm Two-Year-Old-Safety-Lock.  She looked like the Tasmanian Devil, thrashing to get free, but I couldn’t because Midi came out at the same time, wearing some enormous black rimmed fake glasses.  I confess that I didn’t recognise her at first.  Her teacher came over to tell me that she’d been out of sorts all day, complaining of tummy ache, feeling ill, but not enough to phone me or send her home.  I assured her that I never minded being asked to come collect her and would drop everything.  But as her teacher sees her day in, day out, I do trust her to spot when Midi genuinely needs to go home and when she’s probably just fine.  I later discovered that she’d only eaten an apple and a tangerine all day – sandwiches left uneaten – so perhaps that explains the tummy ache?  Though she’s a bit hot and said her ear hurt…  Brufen solved it, but we’ll see.  And the glasses?  She was the Line Checker.  The kid who checks the other kids are standing patiently in line gets to wear the glasses.  Cool!

After being briefed by Midi’s teacher, I let Mini loose.  Big mistake.  Straight for the road.  My voice may be hoarse, but it certainly carried.  As did my old feet, as I zoomed up to my baby.  Baby, my foot – she’s a chuckling tormentor.  I lost count of how many times I scolded or yelled at the girls to walk together and stop pulling off toward the road.  I think the locals and the regular drivers of the big artics recognise us and give us as wide a berth as they can on the road.  But in my fearful heart, those minxes are only a tantrum and one single large step away from death.  Most days I have the energy or patience to try and lighten the collective mood and regroup the girls fairly happily.  Not this evening.  I can’t breathe without coughing, I ache, my head hurts, my eyes are streaming, and actually I’d rather like to lie across the pavement and refuse to walk, too.  Budge over, Midi and Maxi!  I also think they enjoyed my demonstration of how to use swear words as adjectives… **fail**

Back at the ranch we had a lovely evening of fights, arguing and tantrums.  The most impressive was Mini’s over a pear that she refused to finish eating.  When she threw it on the floor for the 3rd time, I put it in the compost caddy.  She reacted as if I’d binned her favourite toy.  I swear her arms grew another few inches in her desperation to reach it.

I am again awake - let the wild rumpus resume!

I am again awake – let the wild rumpus resume!

I think I set myself up every night for a fall, bothering to cook at all.  Tonight Mini was complaining of sore teeth (?! Actually, see the photo above right) and Midi’s ear hurt, so I thought I’d make something soft that they didn’t need to chew much and that I know all 3 like: macaroni, cauliflower and cheese, with apple crumble for pudding.  I got Midi to help scissor up some bacon so I could do brussels sprouts and bacon on the side – another favourite.  Not tonight it wasn’t!  Midi ate it, moaning about how horrible it was; Maxi ate a tablespoon-ful; Mini managed a dessertspoon-ful.  I don’t know what’s fuelling the latter, because she’s still running up and down the stairs and playing with light-switches at 2115hrs.  Maybe she’ll sleep tonight…?

<———— maniacal laughter

It’s Been a Long Day

The secret of ‘How I Cope’. That, and the 2 emergency back-up bottles of wine lurking beside it

I knew it was going to be a long day when I got peed on for the second time before 8am.

Midi Minx’s been complaining of a sore tummy on and off for a week or so.  I’d ignored it because the tummy-aches coincided with being told to do things she’d rather not.  Like: get out of bed.  Or eat your dinner.  Or go to bed.  This morning over breakfast she announced that her lady-bits stung when she peed, so I took her a bit more seriously.

“OK, I want you to wee and I’ll collect some in this jam-jar”, I calmly and bravely told her, waggling a recently sterilised jar at her (I’d cleaned more than I’d needed on the last batch of Moray Coast Trail Jelly).  She sniggered.  This should have alerted me…  I caught a jar-full, ignoring the wet hand – well, I’d need to wash my hands anyway.  Then she decided to force the rest out as fast and hard as she could, and it sprayed over me.  Nice…  Maxi decided that her tummy hurt too, and that she needed her wee collected.  Another wet hand, another session with the soap, another split in my permanently dry skin.

Now, I’m no doctor.  But when your 4 year old pees out something that looks like cloudy apply juice, you do think: UTI.  Maxi’s pee was clear and fine, so I ignored her sudden ‘tummy-ache’ complaints.  Mini sat over her breakfast, blinking over her 2nd day of bright pink eyes.  Looks like they’re not magically getting better on their own, either.  So that’ll be a visit to the GP, then.  Luckily, the brilliant receptionist was on today.  Normally when I call the GP’s surgery asking for 2 appointments, I get offered different days or split over the morning, and get some surly attitude when I explain that, if possible, it would be brilliant if I could have 2 together.  Brilliant Receptionist doesn’t need hints like that: she just sorts it out, first time, every time.  I think she’s also the only one who gets that when you call the surgery, you either feel rubbish yourself, or you’re stressed about someone you love who’s feeling rubbish.  You’re really not at your best and most eloquent.  She didn’t need to hear me bark orders at all 3 girls to understand how it was: She Just Knows.

One quick school run later (no Midi, you ARE going to school and I’ll pick you up at break time.  You’re fine.  You’ll live.  Go have fun) and I did the best thing today – invited my friend back for coffee and a blether instead of standing nattering in the street.  I had a whole precious hour of adult talk and laughter, sat perched amongst the clutter of the morning.  She graciously didn’t notice the crunch, crunch, crunch of 200 kilos of Cheerios and discarded peanut shells on the floor when she came in, or the 2 big jam-jars of little girl pee that I’d unthinkingly left out on the table

We ended up sitting in the GP’s for half an hour.  Midi and Mini bounced and chattered and played and raced around.  I’m glad I’d not kept Midi The Future Best-Actress-Oscar-Winner off school after all…  The GP’s pee dipper said a bit of protein, a bit of sugar, but nothing much.  Midi giggled when he prodded and patted her belly, and he declared her fine.  I bow to his far superior medical knowledge.  But if her pee is still cloudy in 3 days, she’s going back!  Mini was given eye drops.  Poor lamb!  She lay down happily to get them.  After she got the first drop, I peeled her off the ceiling and tried in vain to prise her other eye open.  My ears bled.  Oh boy, this is going to be a long 3-5 days of giving her eye-drops 4 times a day…

Lunch was the usual disaster:

“What would you like to eat, Mini?”

“Toast”

“Toast, and…?”

“Bottah” (butter)

“…and what else…?”

“NuffinElse.”

“How about some fish fingers?  Beans?  You love baked beans!”  Silence.  Pursed little 2 year old lips.

So I served up toast, beans, fish fingers and juice.  She ate the toast, had a token swig of juice, refused everything else, but claimed to be hungry.  After exhausting persuasion, stubbornness,  threats, bribery, I accused her of being a baby.

“I’m a big girl!” she wailed.  I shook my head.  “I am!”  I mouthed the word ‘no’.  “Yes me are!  YES! ME! ARE!”  I realised it was me being the baby, and gave in.

“Do as I say, Minion-Mother, or these little fingers are going to go a-walking…”

I changed tack and asked about her pants because it’d been around an hour since I last perched her on the potty (it’s Day 2 of the latest attempt at Potty-Training).  She claimed they were fine.  I checked her pull-up pants and made a fuss that she’d peed on The Princesses – poor princesses!  (Yeah, I’m daft enough to believe that a child who doesn’t care that she’s wet or soiled herself might give 2 hoots about peeing on some Disney cartoon characters).  I want to try reward stickers for successful potty use.  So far at the end of 2 days she’s earned the grand total of 0 stickers.  Nil.  Zero.  Zilch.  But I WILL see this through to the end of the week before giving up and going back to nappies for a few more months.

Luckily she had a nap, so I had an hour to attack most of the terrible mess of the kitchen and attempt to turn the bathrooms into ‘vaguely habitable’, before picking up the eldest 2.  We went to the library, where I was instantly distracted by someone talking about local authority public consultations whilst the minxes ran amok, then the chemists.

It was a looooong walk home.  Midi whinged about the wind.  Maxi complained she was too hot.  Mini railed about the unfairness of being stuck in the buggy.  Midi got angry about her hair in her mouth.  Maxi walked along the very edge of the (unmaintained building-site) road and slipped sideways and fell, just as a car went past.  Funny old thing, the same scenario I warn her about at least once a day.  She was lucky because the car swerved in time.  So although I was incredibly relieved that she’d only hurt her bum, I was madly frustrated at shouting myself hoarse day after day after day to be ignored.  Continually.

Sp picture the scene: We finally get home – I’m tired, windswept, upset, angry, relieved and my back hurts.  I’ve got 3 little girls who’re tired and whining.  The 2 eldest throw instant strops when I ask them to help carry in school bags and library books that are currently decorating me and the buggy, and the youngest strops because I’ve not released her from the buggy instantly.  The door finally opened.  Everyone stands around mutinously, watching the warm contents of the house whoosh out the door.  I scoop up 7 big books, a homework folder, a little rucksack and big rucksack and slam them on the floor.  No reaction – they’ve all transformed into sloths.  I guess they’ll jump out their skins in about 15 minutes.  Mini’s hungry because she’s not eaten any lunch apart from a slice of toast.  She tries to nab the fish fingers and beans I didn’t clear up after lunch (too busy cleaning the bathrooms).  I whisk them away.  Maxi screams like Midi has ripped her leg off.  The mood they’re both in, that might well have happened… so I turn my back to scold them.  I turn round to fetch Mini a banana or something.  The wily git has spotted the apple sponge I started to eat myself at lunchtime and got distracted from, to sort out the rotten pull-up pants, and is troughing in.  I whip it off her.  She starts to protest, but forgets that her mouth is full of dry sponge.  And chokes.  She looks frightened.  I’m not – she’s still pink.  So I reassure her, scoop her up, cuddle her with one arm and thump her back with the other.  She stops choking and snuggles in to my shoulder, crying.  I kiss her head, push one cat away from the spilled cat food with one foot and yell at her big sisters who’re poking each other.

Right in the middle of the chaos, the phone rings…

Another bright button. Photo from Fonejacker.blogspot

“Hello!” I demanded.

“Hello, this is Ali from the Department of the Ministry of Mis-sold Claims” said a bright little enthusiastic button.  Jesus Christ, they’re taking the piss now…

“This is a spam call.  Take my number off your database immediately”, I barked.

“No, but, listen, I have very important…”

“NOW! Immediately!” I spat, and hung up.  I’m not normally that rude but today I made an exception. What next?  Oh God, homework…

Midi brought her first reading book with words home yesterday.  She refused to read it last night, claiming a sore tummy.  She refused to read it tonight.  It’s due tomorrow.  I tried not to fight about it, or get cross, but how difficult is it to sound out and figure out the 4 words, “can you see me” then be able to read them as a sentence?  Especially when that is the sole sentence on every second page?  Or learn that ‘we’ is pronounced “wee” rather than “wheh”?  I mean, ok, I can understand that it takes a while, but half an hour?  Holy schamoley, I think my 2nd daughter is either a skilled comedienne or has bumped her head too hard.  I started to write a note to her teacher in Midi’s homework book to summarise the past half hour’s non-progress.  Midi threw a hysterical fit.  So we tried again, reading out together.  It was a bigger disaster.  So I abandoned reading homework and went for number homework.  Bigger disaster…

I’d had the bright idea that the best way to teach Midi about coins was to actually use them.  So I got all the sweets left from Hallowe’en, and even raided my own chocolate stash.  I set them out on the table with little bits of paper in front saying 10p, 20p, 2p, etc.  I shared the contents of my purse with all 3 girls and prepared to be Shopkeeper.  My idea was that Midi would figure out the price and correct coinage for each purchase.  Maxi was having none of it – every single question I asked Midi, she butted in to answer.  I tried to be gentle and reassure her that I knew she was clever, that knew the answers already, and reminded her that last night had been her homework night.  Then I brusquely asked her to be quiet.  Then I yelled “Shut up!”  By the 5th warning, I knew I was about to explode and guzzle the chocolate myself in a massive adult tantrum.  Midi still only knew 3 coin types and even then only if she could see the actual number on the reverse (size, shape and colour seemed to have no impact).  By this time, it was half an hour past the time I should have put dinner on, so curry out of a jar on yesterday’s chicken leftovers and a big portion of peas it was going to be.  Even though I knew it would cause a fight and more arguments from 3 fussy little girls.

Some days are just pants.  I hope Ali or one of his colleagues phone back tomorrow so I can have some fun at his company’s expense.  I have his number stored on the mobile…maybe I should make a spam call of my own?  Mwahahahahaha!