Tag Archives: crying

I’ll Be Watching You…

People watching

People watching

Mini has taken up a new hobby – people watching. Well, strictly speaking it’s not a new hobby since she’s been doing it pretty much since she was born, but it’s certainly one she’s pursuing with a single-mindedness that is a little unnerving.

I know all children are natural people-watchers, after all, it’s how they learn. But Mini seems to be taking it to new heights. She’s two and a half now and by this age Motormouth was more interested in talking and taking things apart. Mini is the quiet one, just absorbing everything and listening.

And of course, watching.

Motormouth still asks why people do things, usually at the top of his voice when everything, and I mean everything, else is quiet.

Like “why has that man pushed in front of us in the queue?”

Or

“Why is that woman making us walk through smoke by standing in the shop doorway with her cigarette?”

Don’t you just love children not having the same filters as us?

It sums them up really, Motormouth the talker and Mini the watcher.

Speaking of which, she has so much more freedom to watch people more closely now she’s mobile.

And she’s fascinated by emotions.

Which is why, the other day, she went and stood by someone else’s table when we were at a restaurant.

Did she want to go to the play area with Motormouth?

Oh no.

The seven year old having a meltdown was much more interesting.

Despite our best efforts she kept returning to the table to stand and watch with a quizzical look on her face. Every so often she would look back at us, point to the screaming, tearful boy and say “look”, just in case we were missing the event. She was genuinely fascinated by the whole thing.

The poor mother, I did try and send her fellow-mother vibes that we understood and that we’ve had our own public displays of unhappiness from noisy children to deal with,, but I think she was a bit too distracted to notice.

I can see why Mini was so intrigued by the screaming boy though. In our house tantrums are just as common as any other abode with children under the age of… oh… twenty five or so… but they tend to be short-lived. It’s rare that we get a sustained bout of hysterical screaming.

Mini cries when she shuts her fingers in something or someone tells her no. She really, really hates that word. Motormouth cries, well, at everything else. (I have checked the books on that and apparently it’s normal.)

I hope Mini never loses that interest in what others are thinking or experiencing and that she can use that to become more empathetic and tolerant towards others.

In the meantime I think I’ll have to settle for trying to get her to be more subtle during her observations.

Dragon’s Tears

stoick*** PLEASE NOTE: THERE ARE SOME MAJOR SPOILERS HERE ABOUT HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON 2 ***

I took Motormouth to the cinema for the second ever time a few weeks ago to see How to Train Your Dragon 2. He’s a big fan of the first film, and the TV series, and it’s a special treat to snuggle together while I read the books to him. We were both looking forward to having some son/mummy time together, although I suspect he was looking forward to his packet of sweets even more.

The film was good with the standard of animation we’ve come to expect from the series but there was one thing that took me totally by surprise – *SPOILER ALERT* – Hiccup’s dad, Stoick the Vast, dies.

Yep. Stoick.

A major character.

Dead.

He does it in a heroic way of course, saving Hiccup, but it’s a death from which there is no coming back. No dragon magic or sleight of hand that will help him get up again. It’s permanent.

Motormouth has lost someone he genuinely liked and cared about. And Hiccup, someone he cares about even more, has lost his Daddy.

He cried (Motormouth that is, Hiccup was a little more stoical about it all.)

He (Motormouth) sobbed his heart out for the rest of the film. And during the walk across the car park. In fact, he was near inconsolable for the whole drive home.

This was a BIG EMOTION.

They don’t really tell you about all the things you need to do as a parent. You take it for granted there will be messy mealtimes and stinky nappies, some cooing and cuddling, and more messy mealtimes and stinky nappies, but it takes a while for it to sink in that YOU are the one who needs to teach that tiny human how to interpret and express their emotions.

This all the while most of us (and certainly me) are trying to cope with our own emotions that have suddenly got more complicated with the insertion of a person whose welfare and happiness are so firmly placed ahead of our own. We have to teach them that not only will they have a reaction on an emotional level to different situations but those reactions are normal and there are accepted ways to express that emotion.

It’s a double-edged sword. We want our children to empathise with others, to understand the emotional bonds that can exist between people, and to modify their behaviour so they can have positive relationships with those around them.

We want them to have the imagination to understand the problems they encounter and be able to make the intuitive leaps that allow them to be creative and inventive when facing everything that life throws at them but…

This same imagination is what allows them to identify so closely with the characters in films and books that, when one of them goes away forever, it’s like a bereavement. No. It IS a bereavement; they have lost someone they care about. Add to that the ability to take those intuitive steps and we have a boy looking at a friend who has lost his father, so who’s to say Motormouth can’t lose his own father? Maybe not to an evil Viking’s thrown weapon, but loss is loss.

Do I regret taking him to see the film when it made him so upset?

No I don’t.

Why?

Because I’d much rather he had the opportunity to experience these feelings and learn to deal with them when he loses a fictional friend. That might make it just that little bit easier for him to cope with losing someone in the real world.

Would I let him watch it again if he wanted to, even knowing how upset it’s likely to make him?

Absolutely.

And I’ll be there with him for every frame, answering every question and returning every hug and squeezed hand because parenting isn’t just about the happy things and, in a weird way, it can be more rewarding helping him deal with the big bad emotions than the big happy emotions.

Because nobody can do it like a parent.

Pass Me the Hook Brush Please

"Let me tell you a secret..."

“Let me tell you a secret…”

It’s been chaos this afternoon, with screams and shouting and even some biting (or at least attempted biting).

Yep. I’ve had both kids at home this afternoon and they’ve swung from holding their own little love-fest to trying to deafen each other (I think my subsequent hearing loss is considered collateral damage) on a regular basis.

If you call every 4 minutes regular that is.

It’s a bit weird really and I can only put it down to the fact that the relationship between Mini and Motormouth is changing.

Maybe it’s because Motormouth starts school in a few weeks. Perhaps he’s stepping into a more grown-up persona. That would explain the times he pulls Mini close and says “hush, sweetheart, it’s all right.” I know he’s copying the words we use, but I think the same sentiment is there.

He even counts the stairs as he helps Mini climb down them, (although it was a bad joke for every step instead of numbers the other day), and is very careful when he’s showing her how to cross the road safely.

Some things haven’t changed – Motormouth is still first choice for holding hands and Mini still has to copy everything that Motormouth does, including walking along walls, poking drain hole covers, picking dandelions… well you get the message.

Yesterday was a classic. Motormouth decided I needed a make-over, specifically I needed my hair to look like Princess Jasmine’s. There he was, with his faithful assistant Mini passing him his “equitment” on demand. He did put his own unique spin on things, using “hook brushes”, toy swords and other random items. He and Mini are on the same wave length as well. She doesn’t seem to have any problems understanding what he wants, which is lucky really, the way his imagination works. Who knew a fire ladder was an essential hair dressing tool?

There are some moments when I catch them unaware, when they snuggle up to each other whilst watching TV or they sit there holding hands in the back of the car.

Those are the memories that make the screaming and the crying worthwhile.

I just wish I could stuff them in my ears to block out some of the noise (the memories that is, not the kids).

In the meantime, I’ll just turn the radio up and grin and bear it.

U is for Upset

U is for Upset

U is for Upset

Before the kids arrived there were times I got upset. That’s perfectly normal. I got upset by the usual things like bad news or seeing others in pain.

Then the kids arrived and there was a whole new world of upset waiting for me.

Holding those tiny babies, I made the usual promises to try and protect them from all the horrible things in the world and to give them the best life I possibly could.

I knew intellectually that I would need to let them make their own mistakes, that I would have to stand back and ignore all my natural instincts to step in and pick them up before they’ve fallen. That’s one of the hardest things about being a parent.

So I bite my lip and hope they succeed and give them a cuddle when it doesn’t happen the first time they try. Or the second. And with a bit of practice I’m managing this, though some days are easier than others.

And I can’t let them see me worry, that might stop them from trying, and that’s the only way they’re going to learn and develop.

It’s about protecting them from the grown-up world as well and the sort of things that have been on the news so often that we take them for granted. They catch a word or a phrase and you’re struggling to explain it in a way they can understand. War. Poverty. Climate change. All the big things that we struggle to understand ourselves.

Even explained in the simplest of terms, it can still be upsetting to hear about children who are starving or people who have lost everything. One of the things the kids need to learn is how to be upset, and how to deal with it, along with disappointment, rejection and not being chosen to join the sports team (if they still do that these days of course).

Then there’s this ability my children have to upset me without trying.

Like when they miss daddy more than me.

Or when they’ve fallen over and I’m not the first person they run to for help.

The fact that I like to think that I’m the most important one in their lives like they are in mine and it turns out I’m not, not at that particular moment anyway.

But I know that I am when it counts.

In the middle of the night when they wake up with leg pain or after a bad dream.

Or when they just want a cuddle and a story read to them.

So I’m going to hold onto those memories and bite my tongue when all they want to know when I pick them up from playgroup is when their father’s going to be home.

R is for Repairer

R is for Repairer

R is for Repairer

This is it.

This is our opportunity to assume goddess-like status as repairer of broken toys (or god-like, I don’t want to forget any blokes who may qualify for this honour).

And it’s so easy I could almost cry (in gratitude that is).

Why?

Most of the toys that are presented with tear-stained and grubby fingers can be fixed by snapping something back into place, whether it’s the fire station door that’s letting in the draft and making poor Fireman Sam feel a little chilly or the spinning barrel thingy on the back of his cement mixer, they can be fixed.

Of course there must be an element of showmanship (or should that be showpersonship?) to make sure there is an air of mystery and almost supernatural skill surrounding us to elicit awed and excited comments like “Thank you mummy, you’re the best”. I’ve even been told I’m the best mummy in the whole universe because I fixed the ladder to the fire engine after it broke yet again.

And that’s the thing isn’t it. We fix the same toys over and over again and we could almost do it in our sleep and we enjoy the adulation that follows it, but isn’t there always a quiet little voice asking us if it isn’t about time we taught them how to do it themselves?

That learning to repair things, and take care of them, is a valuable life lesson.

That we’re, horror of horrors, stunting their development by keeping this task from them?

I’m ignoring that little voice for the moment. I want the positive strokes for just a bit longer.

I need balance you see, because apparently I don’t wipe bottoms as well as daddy does.

Possibly not, but I can make sure Fireman Sam doesn’t catch cold.

And the toys that can’t be fixed? Well the tidy-up fairy takes them away after they’ve sat on the side long enough to be forgotten about, or at least until we have plausible deniability.

Today Should Be Monday

Motormouth Meltdown

Motormouth Meltdown

As in Motormouth Meltdown Monday.

In other words, we’ve had one of those days today.

I can’t blame him really, we have the trifecta of causes for an over-emotional child.

He’s poorly with chickenpox.

He’s sleep deprived after our holiday.

He’s 4 years old.

What this meant in practice was that he cried today.

A lot.

At anything.

Mini trying to steal his food.

At not being allowed to go to playgroup today.

Asbo not wanting to be stroked.

His puzzle getting stuck in its box.

Him not being allowed more chocolate.

It being 2 o’clock.

Mini wanting to play with his toys.

Me wanting him to pick up his toys.

Him not being allowed to watch TV while he was eating his dinner.

Him hurting his toes when he fell over one of the toys he’d failed to pick up.

To say this was tiring for all of us is an understatement. In the end I persuaded him to snuggle in our bed with the tablet to watch Aladdin (for about the 90th time). The idea was him having a sleep would help his soldiers fight the virus that was giving him his rash.

Perhaps I need to explain about his soldiers. To help him get through his vaccinations we told him he had lots of tiny soldiers in his body that help him get better when he was hurt. He’s taken to this idea with a passion we didn’t expect. He tells complete strangers about how his soldiers are helping him. He told the nurse he was disappointed he was getting his vaccination with a nose spray rather than a needle. When they drew a life-size outline of him at playgroup he had to put a germ and a soldier in there as well as a heart.

Anyway, back to Aladdin. I asked Motormouth agreed to try and snuggle and have a sleep.

He agreed. He even managed to have a little nap.

And woke up grumpy.

Mini didn’t help either. She knows loads of words but only uses one.

No.

She practised using it a lot today.

And she has my tone of voice down pat. So much so that even Motormouth was laughing.

She hasn’t quite sussed that sometimes the no is aimed at her rather than her brother.

Like when I’m telling her not to try and pull the table cloth off the table.

Or not to throw things at me when I’m trying to change her nappy.

Or going up to her brother and slapping him.

Or steal her brother’s food.

Maybe I can understand him crying at that.

N is for Nursing

 

N is for Nursing

N is for Nursing

I think everyone realises that when you are a mother you take on the role of nurse, along with caterer, dresser, toy-fixer, taxi driver and everything else I’m too tired to think of at the moment.

It isn’t until you actually try nursing a small child that you get a reality check.

When the Other Half is ill, nursing consisted of providing soup, drinks and words of comfort. And the occasional stroking-of-brow if I’m feeling sympathetic. Which I will admit doesn’t tend to be very often.

And when I’m ill? It’s sod off out of the way and let me be miserable in peace. You may leave an occasional cup of tea or bowl of chicken noodle soup in the doorway. Then sod off and leave me in peace.

It’s a whole new experience when children are ill, especially toddlers.

When Mini’s ill, it’s a case of more feeds and cuddles, but Motormouth?

Well.

Where do I start?

If he’s in pain then he wants the magic strawberry medicine, the one we adults would know as paracetamol, preferably in the funny little syringe we’ve just discovered. (We were reduced to buying the posh stuff while we were on holiday.)

Then he doesn’t.

Then he wants to sit down.

Then he doesn’t.

Then he wants a cuddle.

Then he doesn’t.

Then he wants… well, you get the idea.

This is frustrating, but you learn to deal with it. Eventually.

It can be a bit scary at times. Not the fact that my children have hurt themselves, we’ve been lucky that neither of them touch wood, have hurt themselves badly enough to warrant a trip to the hospital so far.

It’s how hysterical they can become.

Motormouth fell over and cut his hand when we were at Riverside Country Park one day. The poor soul was cradling his hand and running in circles screaming. We almost had to herd him into a corner before we could start to talk him down.

That took some patience and typically, the offer of a cold towel from a complete stranger. (Does anyone else find it as annoying as I do? You know the times when you’re trying to deal with your child and some stranger steps in and interferes, and, most annoying of all, it works, leaving the stranger to smile at you condescendingly, as if to say, don’t worry, you’ll get it eventually?)

Then you get the opposite effect. Ten minutes after they’ve had their medicine, they’re running around doing exactly what they would be doing if they were healthy.

You know.

Getting into mischief and stuff.

So, now when I think of nursing, it’s not just making toast and tea and wiping fevered brows, I think of toddler wrangling and hysteria-reducing.

And patience.

And lots of cuddles.