Mexican Standoff at the Belt of the Car-Seat Corral

March 2, 2013

Our morning started off well enough – we went to a local farm that has an enclosed play area and a good cafe. When we lived closer, we went at least once a week. We’ve not been very often since moving 3 years ago, but having remembered this little gem last month, me and Mini Minx have been frequent visitors. And we’ll remain frequent visitors until my little madam unclamps her fingers from her nose whilst there – apparently she doesn’t like the smell of its herd of beautiful Aberdeen Angus cows…

Anyway, the minxes had a wonderful time burning off some energy on the slides, the swings, the pirate ship, scooters, mini cars and even the trampoline (normally Mini doesn’t get a chance to get on because we seem to go when it’s busy). The Boss and I enjoyed a hot drink and a sprinkle cake at a table, on our own, while keeping a watchful eye over the girls playing at the other end of the barn. They weren’t deprived of cake – they’d just inhaled their cake and drinks as soon as they’d hit the table, then zoomed off. I was very proud of myself – no helicopter parenting! Mini showed that she’d remembered to check the bottom of the slide for babies and toddlers before launching herself down, so I could stand back and have a coffee with my husband. First time for us!

I gave the girls a 3 minute warning, then a 2 minute, a 1 minute, and a “have a last slide, it’s time to go”. I really wanted to get a few errands run, and hopefully have time to do something else in the afternoon. Midi didn’t fancy that at all. She refused to let her Daddy fasten her car seat belt. He cajoled. She screamed. He coaxed. She smacked his glasses off. He threatened. She kicked out at him. He forced. She thrashed. He gave up. I went round to her side of the car and tried them all again. I added shouting to the list. I tried a smacked hand. I lost my temper. I gave up.

I went back to the driver’s seat, flounced in and stewed. Not wearing car seat belts properly is a non-negotiable thing. I told Midi to let me know when she was ready to wear her car seat belt properly; till then, we would all sit with the car doors open. Midi is waaaaaaaay beyond tenacious and far along into stubborn. She makes mules look indecisive. Although she’d thrown off her jacket and her favourite cardigan that I’d knitted her, she refused to budge. She and I sat with identical expressions and poses: arms folded, legs out, chin down, bottom lip out, darkly murderous eyes. A nosy old couple who stood by the car-door providing an audience (yep: they reeeeeeally weren’t helping) made smart remarks to each other about people having too many children to cope with. I ignored them. They made some quips about the right way to bring up children. I folded my arms the other way. Midi didn’t move. The old people got bored after 10 minutes of gossiping and needling me, and shuffled off. Midi sat still, car seat belt still pulled off.

“Are you ready to wear your seat belt now and go home, Midi?” I asked.

“No!” she pouted.

We tried combinations of that conversation every 5 mins for the next 20 minutes. Eventually I walked back round to her door. This time she didn’t kick or scream or hit out. I leaned over and wiped her tears and kissed her forehead. I told her I loved her.

“I hate you!” my 5 year old spat.

“Oh right”, I said, like Father Dougal, and strapped her safely in.

Hey-ho, it can’t get much worse over the next 8 – 12 years, eh? I thought, as I drove off.

Midi Minx at 22 months old, Dec 2009. Not much has changed since.

Midi Minx at 22 months old, Dec 2009. Not much has changed since.

2-year-old Mini regularly throws tantrums, and I’m partial to the odd sleep-deprived paddy myself nowadays. But unlike her mother and younger sister, Midi can’t be distracted by shiny things and absolutely won’t give in. Over anything. Ever. So her tantrums are looooooooooong! And she’s a big gallumping girl, with more strength than she can really handle yet. Poor wee thing – life would be very hard for us all if she had too many of these tantrums.

Grumpy Old Witch

Two Packets of Hula hoops

Essential Items When Taming Your Minx (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I hinted a few posts ago that Tuesday was quite a tough day for me in lots of different ways.  Just the usual sleep-deprived shenanigans, really…

I asked Andy at the garage what services I’d lose if my auxiliary belt failed.  He went through a long list of things that, whilst not essential, were pretty much needed.  Yep, definitely better to keep your aux belt working.  It’s a bit like that and sleep.  If you’re so sleep-disturbed that you’re into total awake-failure, you can stay alive; you can stay functioning.  But you lose your short-term memory, tolerance, decision-making ability, short-term memory, rationality, sense of humour, short-term memory…

So: Tuesday morning.  Both Midi and Mini Minxes decided that they couldn’t possibly sleep in their own beds and had to sleep beside me.  That’s fine, especially if they’re having nightmares, are cold, frightened, feeling ill, but I don’t think it’s fair game to come bounding into my bed, stamping up my prone form and prodding me in the nose. with a yell of “Bogeys!”.  Just for fun.  Or having a fight with your sister about who sleeps immediately next to me.  Or who has the most covers.  Or kicking me in the head to make me relinquish my little 5cm sliver of mattress.

In the morning I slumped at the breakfast table.  With weary, red eyes I glared at my youngest 2.  “Kids!” I hissed, “If you 2 don’t let me get some sleep soon, I’m going to be grumpy… FOREVER!!”

Mini blinked thoughtfully, looked me right between the eyes, and announced, “Want toast, Mummy.  Now.  That one”, nicking a slice off my plate.  Midi idly picked her nose.  So the prospect of an angry me had lots of impact, then?

Within 15 minutes, I was roaring: spilled milk, up-ended cereal, my entire 2 slices of toast (cut into 4 little squares each) nicked by daughters, 2 freshly-ironed uniform sets bunched up and rolled about on the sofa where the cat sits…  Mini decided to raise the stakes with a tantrum.  I threw one of my own.  When I paused for breath, mid-rant, she suddenly changed tack with a winning smile and a lispy: “I want to say solly, Mummy – I love you!”  You’ve never seen wind out of sails so quick; how can you be angry with a toddler that cute?  As she came over for a cuddle and a ‘sorry’, it was just what I needed to take a breath and start the morning again.  Mini knows exactly what she’s doing – she can influence and downright control my behaviour far better than I can hers!

Her good influence extended all the way to the bus into the nearest town.  When she decided that she didn’t want to sit in the seat.  Or my lap.  I tried reasoning with her.  I tried distracting her (“Look! Pink shiny glittery thing over there! Wow!”).  I tried bribing her.  She wailed louder and struggled harder.  I managed to get a seat belt around her.  She turned into a noisy, squirming, shrieking Harry Houdini, with an audience of tutting old people all around us.  Bless – I guess their memories were as shot as mine, except that I remember what tantruming children are like.

No problems with Mini’s memory, though.  The only time I’ve ever bought her Hula Hoops as a snack was the last time we went to the garage, in summer.  As we’d chatted in the car earlier about taking the car to the car-dentist for a check-up, she asked for “HooooLLLLa hooops again”.  Minx!  Actually, maybe that’s where I went wrong on the bus – I should have bought a packet for bribery.

The rest of the day in town was wet.  And cold.  Bitterly, bitterly cold.  Although I’d taken the sling and a ton or 7 of toys, Mini just wanted to walk.  And splash in muddy puddles.  Or splash me with muddy coffee (my khaki cords had a really fetching brown stain on the inside of my legs all day…).  The rest of the day didn’t get much better.  When I later related my tale of woe to The Boss that evening, he pole-axed me with a simple, “Why didn’t you go to the Farm Shop?”  A short walk from the garage.  With an indoor play area that kids really love, great food, properly child-friendly, nice coffee, farm animals to go look at.  The perfect half-day out.  I’m so tired I’d forgotten it existed…  Meh!

Quick Update of Minxisms

Yeah, I know, I’ve been a bit absent.  Well, I suddenly got 2 commissions for baby booties via my website www.rainbowknits.co.uk with tight deadlines, so I had to drop everything and just knit.  And it was right in the middle of me starting to create a new range of booties.  And it was also in the middle of me knuckling down to doing some serious study about tax and some of the more esoteric legislation that I think may impact on my Take Over The World With Knitting plans.  So this blog unfortunately fell by the wayside.  Still, that just means that I get to post a little post of quick observations of the minxes rather than an enormous blow-by-blow, too-much-detail post.  Bonus. 

The girls haven’t been sleeping well.  On Saturday (14th May) morning I woke up with Mini Minx yelling for a feed, Midi Minx starfished across the bed and Maxi Minx asleep along my feet like a puppy.  Maxi quickly woke up and started moaning: “Ewww, Daddy: you smell like dirty puddles!”  Poor man was so perplexed by that one that he had no comeback at all.  My giggling just egged Maxi on.

Mini’s had a bit of a personality upgrade this past week.  As well as learning to walk and cut another tooth*, she learned to scribble (on a McDonald’s colouring-in sheet.  The shame!  Am I too mortified to keep it?) and is very happily displaying her brand new tantrumming skills, at every opportunity.

Mini carefully enunciated”‘yum-yyyyyyyumm!” twice, while she was eating.  That’s my girl!  It adds to her signs for milk, hot, and her own made-up sign for ‘my sisters’ (blows kisses like Upsy Daisy)

Maxi, chirruping about something at first light this morning (I wasn’t really listening): “I think that I am the strongest girl in all the land”, she declared.  “Except for the ones that can lift their parents”.  Riiiiiight.

Maxi, this evening: “I’m a bit clever so I won’t need to go to University; I’m going to be an artist instead”.  So long as it keeps me and your father in our dotage, you can be whatever you want to be, darling.

*Mini’s teeth: she no longer looks like Fang, as she’s cut a top incisor, now – her right one.  The left one is literally a few skin cells’ depth below the surface.

General Minxiness

Just a bit of an update post, really.

Mini Minx is now proudly standing on her own 2 little (long, thin, banana) feet for up to a minute at a time.  If me or The Boss don’t see her standing tall, she’ll shriek till we look over, then beam with delight as we cheer madly.  I predict that she’ll take her first steps by the weekend.  Then I will need eyes up my bum, as she moves so blooming quickly, and usually towards the nearest point of danger.  She can exploit potential minxdom in anything she finds, that child…  She still only has 2 proper teeth and one just poked through.  Her hair is still a strange colour (ginger / brown / blonde / see-through), and she still enjoys being wrapped.  We’re getting fast at strapping ourselves together so I can do things with both hands (separate her sisters from a fight, clean up mess, put out kitchen fires, that kind of thing…).  It’s not so much that she likes being close to me – it’s so she can pull my ears and rub banana / baby snot in my hair and down my neck.  She knows fine what she’s doing – she usually giggles just before she rubs some mushy substance where it really shouldn’t go.  Her favourite song right now is “Eyes, Nose, Cheeky-cheeky, Chin” and she claps along to anything with a beat.  Tantrums aren’t far away – she got really frustrated yesterday at not being allowed to ‘help’ me change her sisters’ bedsheets, so yelled through clenched gums, buried her face in the sheets, and pulled her head back with the sheets between her gums/teeth.  Biting in frustration?  Already?  Oh hell…

We had ice cream cones tonight after dinner, pressed into chocolate sprinkles.  Just as Mini sank her 3 teeth into hers, The Boss remembered that brand of ice cream had egg in it.  As he whipped it away, to Mini’s indignant protests, Maxi commented kindly: “Gosh, I hope R isn’t going to get another egg infection!” 🙂

Midi Minx has taken a bit of a stretch.  A few weeks ago her feet were a 7H; they’re now 8H.  I’m looking at her latest new shoes and wondering how the hell she can walk in them without falling over – they’re like flippers.  I ordered absolutely everything Start-rite did in an 8H (both pairs!), so Midi plumped for her favourite ‘Meg shoes’* instead of the cute red ones with butterflies and sparkles on.  Still, the cute red ones had a sole that’s so much wider than the already-wide shoe that, never mind flippers, she looked like she was wearing snow shoes!

*So-called because they’re black and look like witch’s shoes to a 3 year old (‘Meg’ as in Meg, Mog and Owl)

She’s now in the same nursery room as Maxi Minx, and is suddenly quite happy to go to nursery again.  (I’m not sure I am – she returned home on Friday with one hell of a big bruise on her vulva that the staff obviously hadn’t noticed occurring, or they’d have mentioned her falling of the play equipment.  Surely?  Thank goodness Maxi is a spot-everything tell-tale).  She’s just had yet another ear infection, and her speech went very murky for a bit.  For the first time, too, she managed to say to me, “Say it louder, Mummy: I can’t hear you!”  My heart sank, as I’d been speaking quite loudly and clearly to her, but on the other hand I was very proud at how well she can now articulate her needs.  Though right now her needs usually involve requiring a Mummy-huggle every time my hands are full or I physically can’t. 

Midi made a chocolate bird’s nest for Easter, but calls it her ‘Eagle’s Nest’.

Just as the Earth’s magnetic poles have and may (allegedly) suddenly reverse, Maxi and Midi have suddenly reversed their fear polarities.  Midi, who normally knows no fear, got scared climbing the steps to a slide.  Maxi, meanwhile, swarmed over tall cargo nets, steep ladders, fast roundabouts.  Her usual scaredy-cat wail has gone.  I asked Midi if she wanted to go on the big swing with her sister and their friend.  “Nooooo”, she replied, “It makes me bery sad.”  Eh?  Why?  “Cos it does”.  Oh.  “But this chute makes me bery, bery ‘abbeeeee!” she grinned gleefully*

*translation: she was very happy