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Fair Play

30 Jan

“Can I come, too?”

Four little words. And with them, a crushed dream.

I was in the kitchen. Maybe I was scoffing down sour cream and chives potato chips, maybe I wasn’t. Not the point. Point was, when I looked down at my ankles, no-one was circling them. The kids were – gasp! – otherwise occupied. They were playing. There was no screaming. And I was not involved in any way. Heaven.

I saw a chance and I took it.

But fuck me if that damn safety gate at the top of the stairs doesn’t squeak like a motherfucker. And then –

“Can I come, too?”

I was trying to run silently down the stairs but there is no silent running. Not really. And the smallest of movements from me will cause my children to prick up their ears like a deer in the woods. Like little fucking deers with supersonic fucking hearing.

All I wanted to do was take a piss alone. And if, once the solo piss was done, peace and calm still remained above, then I might think about putting some washing away. So, you know, selfish shit.

But no. I was busted. And even though I threw promises of a speedy return over my shoulder as I ran (silently, I tell you!) away, I knew that LD would stand at the top of the stairs shouting at me (‘Mumma, I need my blue bike! Where’s my blue bike, Mumma? Mumma, I want strawberry smoothie, cup of milk and juice. Mumma? Mummaaaaaaaaa?’) until I got my arse back upstairs. And that would alert Zee to the fact that I was gone and he would proceed to rattle the safety gate like a prison inmate and scream.

So what did I do? I pissed like I was going for an Olympic record and got the fuck back up there. Of course I did.

But I’m telling you, when I can take the opportunity to hide from my kids, I do. Oh, you better recognise. I hide and I’ll hide again. Because there is only so much I can reasonably be asked to take before my blood pressure causes me to spontaneously combust.

In one of my hiding sessions today (in Zee’s bedroom – they’ll never suspect!), I read an article by Mia Freedman about how she hates to play with her kids.

It got me thinking. I never even dreamed of discussing that on The Little Mumma. And I pride myself on telling the whole story, no matter how unpalatable it might sound to others.

But clearly, I am all messed up about the question of play.

There are two conflicting arguments, as I see it.

The first is that you should play and engage with your children as much as you can. Play is how they learn and your time is the most valuable thing you can give to your kids.

Wise words from friend I greatly admire:

“It’s so easy to get caught up in all the pressures of the day that we brush our children aside. Next time your kid comes and tugs at your leg to come and play, drop onto the floor immediately and be in that moment with them. That’s all they really want.”

The other argument is that kids have wonderfully vivid imaginations so by encouraging your child to play alone, you are fostering this gift. An important part of a child’s development is the ability to play alone.

Wise words I read somewhere, one time:

“Children of today are given every conceivable toy or otherwise plonked in front of the television, and their imaginations are suffering because of it. Their inability to occupy themselves is a direct result of having their every demand met by someone (or something) else.”

 Reading both those sets of wise words back to myself, is there any wonder I am confused? They both have merit.

So then it’s a matter of striking a balance between the two. The only problem is that the kid you just played Postman Man with for the last fifteen (torturous) minutes, doesn’t understand why you are now withdrawing the playing. LD just didn’t respond as I’d hoped when I explained that I was simply “fostering the precious gift of your imagination.”

But who am I kidding? I have never played with my kids for a full fifteen minutes. I have to stand with Mia on this one and profess that I fucking hate it. And when I do get guilted into it (“Hey Mumma,” curls little hand around mine, “you wanna play dinosaurs…for a little bit…” looks forlornly to the ground, refusing to meet my eye lest I spot the extent of his manipulation), I am renowned for making the dinosaurs lie on the ground to nap.  

So I don’t know why I have never admitted it before. Maybe it’s because I consider myself a fun and vibrant mum. Hell, I am fun and vibrant but for fuck’s sake, I don’t want to crawl around on my knees being a lion. I refused to be a cow in drama class back in my university days (“..really try to feel the weight of your udder hanging between your legs..”) and it’s clear that nothing has changed.

Playing is painful. And, SHIT, I need my roots done!

So here it is. I hate playing. I don’t want to play dinosaurs or postman man or Buzz Lightyear. I don’t want to go to the park and if we go to the play centre, my preference is that the kids disappear for the entire duration so that I can catch up on some OK! magazines.

 I feel bad. But it’s nothing this beer won’t fix.

 Do you play with your kids? And enjoy it? Tell me about it….please?

Trust the Universe

28 Jan

Yesterday was possibly the very worst day I have ever had in Mumma-land.

And it wasn’t that the kids were especially difficult – although Zee is teething and LD is a three and half year old demon.

It was me. I fucked up. At every turn, I made the worst possible choice. It was an epic fail.

Yesterday, I was NOT a good mother.

And the killer was that within moments of me ceasing my screaming and ranting, both my children were so willing to crawl into my lap, to cuddle me, to laugh with me.

Kids are resilient? You can’t even imagine how true that is. How scarily true. You can get away with shit that a normal person would NEVER forgive you for.

But even if my kids have instantly forgiven and forgotten, just what am I etching into their little souls when I fail to be the mother they deserve? What will it mean, long-term?

I don’t beat my children, abuse drugs or alcohol in front of them, neglect them or leave them to cry. But there are choices I have made that I would never have thought I would make.

So, it was a bad day.

That evening, my babies tucked up in their beds, I was tooling around with the blog.

I chose to read two blogs that I had never read before. Two blogs that I had noticed many times but never gotten around to reading.

Anyone who thinks the universe doesn’t provide, that the universe doesn’t send messages, just isn’t listening hard enough.

It’s actually spooky how prescient these posts were.

And how reading them meant that today was one of the best days I have ever had in Mumma-land.

Check them out below.

And have a great weekend.

Pink Dryer Lint

Becoming Sarah

 

Embracing The Arts

25 Jan

So here’s LD, making a little something for my treasurey artwork collection.

As a parent, can you witness your child put paintbrush to paper without getting a little misty-eyed?

I’ll tell you, I can’t. I simply can not. It fills me with joy. Probably because I’m a left-wing, support-the-arts type. But also because seeing my kid’s imagination begin to soar is like a drug. It makes me high. Giddy. It’s cool is what it is.

And also, kids engaged in activities are kids that leave me the hell alone for a sweet second.

So, I love it when my kid gets all creative and artsy. I’m not sure if he’s any good at it but I love that he seems to get a kick out of doing it.

I had a friend whose (genius) daughter drew her first face at around 18 months of age. I was astonished. And jealous. It took LD an age to work out which end of the crayon to write with. Ummm, dude, it’s a crayon. Both ends work.

No, I made that bit up. Not the geniusy daughter bit. That’s totally true. But LD knew how to work a crayon,  he just didn’t really dig drawing until after his second birthday.

See here how he’s made up for lost time?

What is it about photos of faces and kids with pens? They have to draw something coming out of the nose. It’s like Defacing 101. Kind of cool though considering at LD’s age, I’d expect nothing more than mindless scribbles. The kid has defacing skillz.

And how awesome is this shit?

I wanna say that this is a ghost. But I can’t remember whether LD actually told me that or whether I’ve just decided that’s what it is. Either way, I love the shit out of this drawing.

A while back I came across this scene.

It appeared the painting had turned into a spot of finger painting. That’s cool. I’m all for exploring your creative potential.

But what, pray tell, had become of the little artist?

And that was the day I learnt that painting is not a good activity to set up Child A with so as to put Child B to sleep without being interrupted by Child A. Not a good activity at all.

So my little artist and I had a little chat about where paint belongs. Namely, on the paper and not on the face. I felt the chat went well but short of having him sign an agreement in blood, how can one really be sure that their small child has comprehended much less agreed with the little chat? It’s tricky. To reassure myself that we have been on the same wavelength, I often prompt LD to say, “Yes, Mumma” when I’ve finished speaking. How this helps with the overall comprehension, I can’t say. But it feels like the right thing to do.

Okay. So, do you see what’s happened here then?

I feel like maybe when LD said, “Yes, Mumma” after our little chat that he didn’t really mean it. Although in his defence, our chat was about paint and not textas, faces and not wardrobe doors.

Far be it from me to crush the spirit of the artist within. For the record, I’m a big fan of LD’s work. And I can see how the constraints of the easel could push a little man to extremes. Creativity can not, nay, MUST not be contained and all that. But seriously, we rent this joint. So I can’t be having this shit.

There was a heart stopping moment when I took to the texta with spray cleaner and a sponge and NOTHING happened. I was ready to sell my little artiste. But thankfully, the Magic Eraser worked like….well, you know.

We had another little chat. And for now, it seems to have worked. But maybe that’s because LD is sufficiently exercising his rebellious side by pissing on our carpet. Yeah, that’s rented, too.

Click above just once and you will help me become RULER OF THE UNIVERSE!

Co-clucked

23 Jan

I woke this morning to tell B about a dream I had. I had just given birth to twin sons, one of which I called Control.

Yup.

Then B told me he dreamt that I did a pregnancy test but rather than the usual piss on a stick variety, this one involved chicken schnitzels. We had to pan fry the schnitzel and if it turned blue, it was a boy and a pink schnitzel would indicate a girl. He said despite being certain we would be having another boy, the schnitzel was, in fact, pink.

Yup.

So.

Both dreaming about babies at the same time.

You might say we are co-clucking.

And it just beggars belief.

Last night, not only did Zee wake up four times BEFORE MIDNIGHT but we also had LD pay us a visit at around 11pm to say that he’d had a dream about monsters.

Then, they both woke at around 6am, headfirst into the day.

I use the word ‘day’ loosely because to my mind, if the sun ain’t all the way up, it ain’t day yet.

So exactly what are B and I doing dreaming about expanding our family? And then telling each other about the crazy dreams and feeling all giggly about the idea of another baby? When we’re downstairs hiding from the two children we already have?

As I said, it just beggars belief.

We are tired. Bone weary. We have so very little time to try to get done the mountain of stuff that is either required or desired. The kids get on our nerves. We get on each other’s nerves. Hey, let’s throw a newborn into the mix!

We are nutty in the extreme.

But from the moment Zee arrived, neither B or myself had even a moment when we sensed that we were done with the baby-making. It’s clear to both of us that another little being is waiting to make their grand entrance onto the Family M-G stage.

And if the thought scares us, that fear is wildly outweighed by the giddy we both feel when we mention Lil M-G 3.

This morning was tough. B went off to work (yes, on a Sunday) and there I was with two little boys living large in the way that little boys do and me dragging my sorry arse around trying to find a way into the day when my body was screaming, “Get thee to the nearest bed and slumber!” Apparently, my body is all Shakespearean.

I was sitting on the couch, willing myself to do….anything and then I was watching my kids. They were, blissfully, ignoring me. So I was free to just witness them at play. I don’t do it enough. Just stop and see my kids. Really watch them. And it was cool. They were really playing together. Their age gap has narrowed enough that they can actually engage in a way that is fun for both of them. LD is still physically bigger but Zee is quite capable of holding his own. For the most part. And when in doubt, he screams bloody murder until I save him.

But watching your children together – there’s nothing like it. Seeing two little people you put on the earth just hanging out? It’s incredible. And in those moments, you just feel that they’ll be friends for life, that they’ll have each other’s backs. Even if looking around at many grown up siblings tells a very different story. In this little moment, your kids have each other. And it feels like maybe that was the best gift you could ever give them.

So we want to add to that. Even amidst the exhaustion and chaos. Even though we will suddenly have one too many for the average Family Pass or Holiday Special. Even though, in years to come, our children will turn to us and list all the ways we fucked them up.

Even then. It will have been worth it.

Just one little click, friends. Click above and THAT IS IT. Vote is counted and I send you virtual love forever. Bargain!

Toilet Training 101: Fluffies Training Pants Review

14 Jan

A recently discovered relic from The Little Mumma's own toilet training days. No doubt, I was a gun......

It was time to take action.

B was on annual leave and would be home for three whole weeks so it seemed a perfect time to tackle a few things while we had both hands on deck.

The plan included weaning Zee off the boob and toilet training LD. As it turns out, both these tasks are fairly monumental so it became necessary to choose just one. And since Zee is a huge boob pig and LD is about to start college, the toilet training won out.

Actually, LD is not about to start college. He is 3.5 years old. So, clearly, too young for college but, let us speak frankly, getting too old for all this nappy-wearing business. But at 3.5, he is showing none of the initiative to start toilet training that all the books told me to be on the lookout for before even thinking about proceeding.

I waited patiently, the experts assuring me that to push a kid into using the toilet before he is ready is to create a painfully prolonged and possibly traumatic training period.

Boys matured more slowly than girls, I comforted myself when a dear friend’s daughter, nine months LD’s junior, began wearing underpants each day.

I waited.

And I waited.

And finally, it just seemed like the kid would be walking down the aisle to his future life partner in adult diapers.

So, it was time to take action.

On Facebook, a friend made a comment about her recent success with toilet training her son, a similar age to LD. I demanded she tell me her secrets and in doing so (there really aren’t any), she mentioned she had used Fluffies Training Pants.

Fluffies Training Pants

I wasn’t familiar with the training pants but I recognised the packaging and realised I’d seen them before. Fluffies Training Pants are made of terry towelling and have a foam lining which means they are more absorbent than your average pair of undies. However, they are not designed to absorb liquid the way pull-up pants are and subsequently, they will leak. I didn’t see the point of going the pull-up route because as far as I could tell, they were just a nappy by a different name. And hey, a friend said the Fluffies were good and I had exactly zero to lose.   

I got in touch with Fluffies and they graciously agreed to supply me with 6 pairs for review. The package arrived and I waited patiently for B to begin his annual leave so that we could begin the journey towards this momentous milestone in the life of our LD.

The night before we began, we told LD the Nappy Fairy was coming to take away his nappies. He seemed vaguely interested in this.

The first day was….a complete and utter failure. Before 12 noon, LD had pissed his way through four pairs of Fluffies. I asked him to let me know when he needed to wee and his response was, “No”. Ooookay.

I was despairing. But I was determined to persevere. Give it a week, I thought.

The second day after a couple of accidents, the M-G family could be found screaming, clapping and dancing around the potty after LD used it for the first time. We had progress!

I am writing today in the third week of our journey and I would say that 98% of the time, LD is using the toilet. And I do mean toilet – the little genius having graduated from the potty already. I am quite amazed. In two short weeks, we went from outright refusal, to potty use motivated by a praising audience, to “Go away, Mumma. I do it myself” as my kid sits perched on the toilet like he’s been doing it all his life.

We still get the odd accident (daycare poses a challenge) and there are still “travel nappies” and “night nappies” but we have made a start. Something has switched in that little brain and I am hoping like hell that it won’t switch back.

I think we’ve had success for a few reasons. Namely, LD was 100% physically and mentally ready for the challenge. The first day disaster was a normal resistance to change but calm and consistent perseverance meant we could overcome that resistance quite quickly.

The Fluffies pants have been great for a number of reasons.

–         They are slightly more absorbent than a regular pair of underpants so if you catch the little trainer quickly enough, there may be less mess after an accident.

–         Fluffies pants have some absorbency but the child will feel uncomfortable in them if they get wet. Pull-ups never worked for LD because they felt too much like a nappy and so he would use them accordingly.

–         Unlike pull-ups, they can be washed and reused which is a benefit financially and is also a greener choice.

–         The major advantage of using the training pants for us was, I think, psychological. We have undies with robots and undies with Spiderman. All manner of undie incentives we provided but LD preferred his “fluffy undies” and I think that was because they feel more like a nappy. They’re bigger than regular undies and they’re softer. So he was less resistant to wearing them. I think they’re an ideal in-between – going from the security of a nappy to a thin pair of cotton underpants is probably a bigger jump for LD than I figured.

So, we’re still in the early stages of training and certainly not “trained” yet but it’s a start and I am relieved because it was always a nagging thought at the back of my mind that my kid should not still be in nappies. Fluffies Training Pants have been a helpful transitional tool. And they’re cheap. I’ve seen a 6-pack advertised for $19.95.

Other helpful stuff included a sticker reward chart, keeping my mounting frustration to myself and just generally encouraging without overwhelming. In the end, what seems to have been the most cementing factor for LD was his own sense of independence in doing this most grown up of things.

So, I’m proud of the little fella. Wish us continuing luck!

LD dons underwear as headwear and declares himself "Undies Face!" Seriously.