Tag Archives: kisses

My First Day at School by Me, age 44 ¾

The Loneliness of the School Playground

The Loneliness of the School Playground

So much is written about a child’s first day at school, and rightly so, but it can be easily forgotten that it may also be mum and dad’s first day at school for a long time. Decades in our case (well, technically only a few months for me, but I’m not counting education as an adult because it’s so different).

And it can be just as nerve-wracking for us.

Children will have their own concerns. Will they see their friends? Will they make new ones? What if they’re the only ones struggling with the buttons on their coats or putting their wellies on the wrong feet? Will their teachers be nice to them or will they keep telling them off?

In Motormouth’s case he was, oddly, really worried about being bitten by one of the other children.

And it’s only right that we are there to reassure them, to give them a comforting cuddle before we say goodbye to them in the classroom doorway, or that wave to remind them they need to put their book bag away in their drawer so it won’t get lost.

But who is there to reassure us? Especially those of us who are, like me, a bit of an introvert?

I mentioned this to the Other Half, who struggled to understand why I was so worried, everyone was in the same boat weren’t they? This from the man who is on first name terms with half the parents already after just a week or so. I know two grandparents by sight, one mum and one dad. No names have been exchanged yet. This is even with the supposed advantage I have of having picked Motormouth up more often from school than the Other Half.

He’s not an introvert. The Other Half that is.

Or Motormouth, come to think of it.

I am.

I’m hoping I’m not the only one who pulls out my phone to answer imaginary texts that are so time-sensitive I have to ignore the world around me. I’m the one who stands in the corner towards the back of the playground so Motormouth knows where to look for me as he files obediently out of the classroom with 30 other children, all looking identical, with grins lighting up their faces as they see parent or grandparent waiting to hear all about their day. (What did you do today son? Nothing.)

I’m the one watching, with my hazel eyes just a bit greener than usual, as little knots of parents form, talking about their kids. I tell myself it’s just because their kids have been to the same playgroup or they live in the same road. I tell myself that it’s not a clique really, and I ought to be brave enough to say hello and join the group.

I’m not very good at listening to myself.

Perhaps it’s made worse by the fact that it’s a village school. Most of the children live in the village. We don’t. We chose it because it’s a good school with good inspection reports and the parents of children who have been there told us the school worked for them. That their children were happy there and learned a lot.

I’m telling myself to start just one conversation with somebody where I exchange names with someone. Hopefully it won’t be someone who is just doing the school drop off as a temporary measure, someone who will be absent from the playground forever in just a few weeks.

Then I look at Motormouth as he runs around the playground, part of an endlessly changing group of children who tag each other, stopping for a quick dinosaur impression here and there.

That’s when I think again, I’m not the one who matters. In the big picture, the one that’s a portrait of Motormouth, he’s the one who needs to feel comfortable coming to school. To feel that he has to make the most of those few minutes before the classroom doors open or we start to trail out of the gate towards home. To cram in as much as he can before he enters the more ordered world of the classroom.

In the meantime, I’ll stand there, one of maybe half a dozen parents who aren’t engrossed in conversation with other parents. One of those grown ups who switch their attention from their phone and whatever random question they’ve put into their search engine of choice, as the classroom door opens and children start to emerge, clutching their water bottles and book bags.

I’ll wait for him, for his face to light up when he sees me, just before he pulls a clown face and jumps around. I suspect he’s slightly embarrassed by the attention.

I should go now. I don’t want to lose my spot in the corner.

X is for Kisses

X is for Kisses

X is for Kisses

Yes, I know. This is cheating a little bit, but the only other X that came to mind was x-ray and we haven’t had to deal with those yet and, if we’re lucky, we won’t have to for a while (touch wood, she says, hand on head).

Kissing.

Hmm.

It seems to be all or nothing with our two.

You either get a big, slobbery, snotty kiss when you least expect it (have you ever had that experience when you’re in a deep sleep and you open your eyes just before they plant one on you?) or you have the struggling, trying-to-hold-on-to-an-angry-eel manoeuvre where you get a hope-you-make-contact-with-a-body-part-that-doesn’t-smell-kiss.

Just us then?

Really?

Are you sure?

Oh, OK then.

Anyway, it’s a balancing act, like so much else in parenthood. You’re trying to show them affection so they know they’re loved and trying to time it so they get it when they need it most, like when they’re feeling poorly or vulnerable or in need of a little injection of self-esteem.

And don’t talk to me about their attention span. No sooner have I started to move in for the kiss than they’ve got distracted and are trying to disappear in the other direction. I’ve had far too many air kisses (as far as I’m concerned air kisses should be between consenting adults only) so I’ve learnt to get them in a bear hug before I try to deliver the all-important kiss on the cheek or the top of the head.

But it’s more than just physical contact isn’t it? It’s comfort for both of us that we belong together, that families are important and showing that you love your family is good. I know they’re going to go through a phase where they won’t want to be in the same room as us, let alone be kissed, they swing in and out of that particular frame of mind at the moment. (Why is it so funny when your 4-year-old retreats to his bedroom and shuts the door, saying he wants some alone time?)

And you start to accept that any demonstrations of affection will be on their terms and we’ll be lucky if they let us know what the rules are.

You just get used to this, then they’ll add the chaos factor and want a full-out cuddle (OK so that usually happens when you’ve been trying to get them to go to bed and stay in bed for the past half hour) but you leap at the chance anyway. At least the first four or five times.

Or they’ll declare at the top of the voice that they love you best in the whole wide universe. (That accolade usually goes to the Other Half.)

Then you’re (or at least I’m) left in a gooey mess and we start all over again.

A bit like life really.

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.

Where Do Babies Come From?

How did it get in there?

How did it get in there?

We had the dreaded question from Motormouth the other day. “How did Mini get inside your tummy, Mummy?”

One look at his face told me he was in full Enquiry Mode.

We knew it had to come. His childminder is due to have her baby any day now.

He might only be 4, but he is persistent when he gets in this mood.

The Other Half and I had discussed this in passing, knowing how much Motormouth wants to understand how things work it is inevitable he was going to come up with this particular question.

We decided even before he was born, that we would answer any questions honestly and as simply as we needed to, to make sure he understood the answer. That’s the approach we took when he started asking why Daddy only has one arm. With the wisdom of small children he asks, listens and asks again (but only half a dozen times or so over the next few days if we’re lucky), but he doesn’t judge.

The dilemma for us was what do we tell him exactly? I know the common method is along the lines of daddy giving mummy a “special kiss” but am I the only one to find that a little bit creepy? I half expect it to be followed by phrases like “it’s our little secret” and “you don’t need to tell anyone”. Then I get annoyed with myself for allowing something simple to be tainted by the terrible actions of others. That then leads into the fear that I have about protecting my children from people who would do that to them. One thing I now have as a parent is this whole new universe full of things to worry about and I’m not sure I will ever get to grips with it.

What did we settle for in the end? Well, Motormouth has been keen to grow tomatoes and chillies in the garden this year so I told him daddy had given me a seed to grow in my tummy and that seed became Mini. Now I’m just waiting for him to remember this and come back with the watering can.

Here’s a challenge for you (sorry, no prizes except bragging rights for the most creative). How would you explain conception to a 4 year old?

 

One Foot In Front of the Other

 

I wish everyone would stop staring!

I wish everyone would stop staring!

Well, it’s official.

Mini is walking.

She’s a little later than Motormouth but didn’t seem too bothered by that, so we were trying not to be. She was managing to get where she wanted to go without any problems. She would either crawl at what was, for me, a fast walking pace which had to be seen to be believed, or Motormouth would transport her from A to B.

It didn’t seem to matter to either of them that the locations of A and B were completely random.

Or that it wasn’t uncommon for her to be dragged along the floor by her foot. (Judging by the giggles she found this quite entertaining.)

She has actually been walking for a few weeks. We know because the child minder told us, but she wasn’t doing in front of us. In fact, the few times we caught her walking (mainly because she had things in both hands she did not want to put down) and she saw us, she would literally drop everything and start crawling as if nothing had happened.

I’m not quite sure why she didn’t want us to see, and I’m trying not to be disappointed that it wasn’t us she chose to show her first steps to, so we are consoling ourselves with the fact that she’s not officially walking until we’ve seen her do it.

And now we have.

She’s remarkably steady on her feet, considering she still has that stiff-kneed, loose-hipped technique that all learner walkers have.

She also has a very supportive, and attentive, coach in Motormouth.

At least he’s attentive most of the time, holding her hand, leading her down the path (literally), and giving her plenty of verbal encouragement and hugs and kisses when she gets to her goal.

I say most of the time because the few times I really need him to hold her hand (for instance to stop her falling over when I’m juggling two rucksacks, her cuddly blanket, two water bottles, my bag and my work books whilst trying to unlock the car in the rain) he gets distracted by a passing cat.

Or an interesting pattern on the path that may or may not be dog poo.

Or anything else really (well he does have the attention span of a crane fly with ADHD).

As for Mini? She is rightly proud of herself for reaching this huge milestone and looks up at regular intervals for the positive feedback we are all giving her, a huge grin on her face (I’m going to ignore the fact that she always looks at Motormouth first).

She’s even graduated to carrying items across the room, still with that stilted gait that makes me worried she’s going to tip over at any second. And she does.

Often with the unintentional help of a passing brother.

Still, he tries to help when he remembers, whether she wants it or not, and he’s told us he’s going to teach her how to cross the road safely. I’m also trying to get him used to the idea that we need to leave earlier, since it takes a little bit longer to get to the car (5 minutes plus now instead of 2) so he really can’t run around with his socks on his hands shouting “look at me, I’ve got puppets!” Not for very long anyway.

And now it is marginally easier, since I’m not juggling two rucksacks, her cuddly blanket, two water bottles, my bag, my work books and a 23lb baby who insists on leaning backwards, whilst trying to unlock the car in the rain

Now we have a little procession down the road, Motormouth on one side, me on the other.

She manages pretty well, except when she starts to look around at things (yes, I’m talking about you cute but fluffy tortoiseshell kitten with an unnatural lack of fear of strange children) and forgets which foot should go where. Then poor Mini either ends up dangling from our hands or on her knees.

Watching her slowly getting better at this walking thing, I have to restrain myself, knowing that she needs to learn to judge her limitations, to gain confidence in her ability to master this new activity.

And that she’ll get bumps and bruises along the way.

I’m pleased that we normally put her in joggers, jeans or tights. (They hide the bruises and there’s no sudden change in her fashion sense is not likely to alert social services.) I know every child goes through the bruises stage but it’s a bit embarrassing when your daughter’s legs look like she’s auditioning for 103 Dalmatians (have they made that one yet?).

We can’t do much about the bruise on her head from the fireplace except brush her fringe over it and wait for it to go down.

Then it occurs to me, isn’t it a terrible indictment on society that, as perfectly normal and loving parents with a perfectly normal, loving and safe child, we are worried that we might get reported for abusing her? Still, maybe that’s a more serious post for another day.

In the meantime?

I’ll be buying some more joggers for her.

Baby Love

Just a quick cuddle? Please???

Just a quick cuddle? Please???

I have come to the conclusion that any affection we get from small children is exclusively on their terms, no matter how much we might wish it otherwise.

Before I had kids I was like everyone else. I would treasure those innocent and sincerely-meant kisses that my adored children would shower on me, and me on them. We would be smiling and happy and all would be well with the world.

It hit me tonight as I was trying to dry Mini off after her bath. She decided she wanted to be affectionate. This consisted of her standing on her changing table and hugging me tightly around the neck, leaving me able to breath… just… but unable to do much else apart from swaying from side to side.

So, after a little dancing like this she turned to me, tenderly moved the hair off my face, then blew a raspberry on my cheek.

A very wet, very long raspberry.

Then she did it again.

And again.

Then she decided to demonstrate her affection by actually kissing me.

Yes! (I pump my fist in the air, well, I would if I could since she she also wrapped both legs around me like a limpet).

Very wet, very slimy kisses. (Did I mention she has a cold at the moment, and her nose is in flat out snot production?)

By the time she had finished it felt like I was wearing a face mask. (Yeah, I know, gross, but my aim is to share the good and the bad about parenting, so feel free to laugh at me.) Somehow I don’t think it will do my skin as much good as the cucumber and ginseng (or whatever) face pack I have in the bathroom cabinet.

As an aside, am I the only one who has tubes of face masks and sachets of foot stuff that I never actually get round to using? I always have the best of intention when I buy them but somehow, when it comes to using them it’s often a choice between that and sleep and well… you know… small children.

Also, her aim isn’t that great. She tends to hit my chin most often. Then there’s my ear. And my cheek bone. My eye. Sometimes she even gets my neck.

Sometimes there are teeth involved.

That can make for some interesting explanations, so much so, I tend to where a scarf to hide the love bite. I can just imagine the conversation…

“The Other Half getting a little enthusiastic last night?”

“No. My 19-month-old gave me a love bite as a kiss.”

I agree. A little weird.

If I want to kiss her? She’s usually doing her best to squirm free to explore something much more exciting and, sadly for me, she’s at that age where pretty much anything is more exciting than me. And cuddles? Well, they’re even worse. Stop her from exploring? How dare I?

The only time I can reliably get that dreamed-for kiss or cuddle is when she’s cleaning her teeth. This is when she is chewing her toothbrush and staring at the incredibly cute baby in the mirror. If I’m really lucky she might even lay her head on my shoulder as well.

Oh, how I treasure those moments.

So, it’s all on her terms.

Things are slightly easier with Motormouth. He is more likely to consent to a quick kiss and is wonderfully open when he bestows his own soggy kisses. He has the knack of choosing the best times for this.

Like mid nappy-change for his sister. In the checkout queue at the supermarket. Or half way up the road from the car when I’m carrying Mini and six bags of shopping. (We don’t have the luxury of parking near our house.)

He has better aim (maybe it’s the extra practice) but his kisses are just as sloppy.

The one thing we can’t do is delay since, as with all toddlers, one minute is a lifetime. He reminded me of that the other day when I told him his dad was going to be home from work in about half an hour.

“But mum, half an hour is a really, really long time!”

Just you wait until you grow up son. Then half an hour won’t be nearly long enough for some things. Especially when that’s how long you get between requests for feeding from your kids.

And hugs that last just seconds, or snuggles (that he will beg for) that are rarely longer than a minute or two.

Anyway, back to the point.

When it comes to shows of affection from Mini and Motormouth, no matter how sticky, uncomfortable, badly aimed or awkwardly timed the the shows of affection are, I will take every single one and be pleased.

 

Teeny Tiny Drunks

Just imagine the cute little snores...

Just imagine the cute little snores…

I had one of those weekends with Mini. You know the ones, where everything you try and do gets exponentially more difficult the less time you have to do it?

Well, when I was struggling to get her trousers on and she was trying to launch herself over my left shoulder (of course it was my left because that is my weakest side) it occurred to me that small children are like drunks.

Teeny, tiny drunks.

How can I say that?

Well, lets consider the evidence (in no particular order)…

Prone to falling and often over nothing… check. You spend time worrying whether it’s because their shoes are the wrong size, the soles aren’t flexible enough or they’re turning their feet in when they walk. In reality, it’s just as likely that their brains aren’t quick enough to warn them about all the hazards in the way (tables, chairs, steps, thin air) in time, or more likely, it’s too busy thinking of something else altogether much more interesting.

Prone to making a mess when eating… check. In fact, you’re lucky if it’s confined to their person. Retrieving peas that have rolled under tables can be tricky (not to mention bruising if you don’t watch your head) and as for dried ketchup that managed to get in the one place you didn’t look…

Prone to sudden vomiting… check. Who hasn’t had the pleasure of walking round with baby sick down your back, whether you know about it at the time or not? Calling it posset doesn’t make it any more attractive when you’re wearing it, and as for giving it the same name as a medieval dessert, well, I’m not even going to go there. Still, when else would you get to develop the parental (or it may just be mothers who do this) of catching vomit with your bare hands. (We’re saving the bedding, saving on washing and supporting the environment. Doesn’t make it any more pleasant? Oh well. I tried.)

Prone to delivering sloppy, badly aimed kisses… check. On reflection, this one isn’t so bad. You can get used to a big wet kiss that may or may not end up somewhere on your face, or even head. It is slightly more problematic when they’re in full snot production mode, which, uncannily, seems to improve their aim no end, well, enough that their nose ends up somewhere round your mouth.

Prone to making loud noises… check. This includes singing out of tune and, in common with drunks, at full volume and during unsocial hours. The concept of quiet and the fact that others might be trying to sleep totally eludes them. Still, despite this we try. Isn’t that one of the definitions of insanity, trying the same thing again and again expecting a different result? Hmm…

Prone to spontaneous outbursts of emotion… check. This usually amounts to crying. Loudly and often with sign language, just in case you can’t hear them. The cause and duration can rarely be predicted and may or may not involve interaction with siblings, real or imagined. Or even imaginary friends. Why can it never be the giggles? Why? Just once? Please???

Prone to erratic motion… check. It’s cute when you see them wobbling towards you, until they fall over… well, let’s face it, cruel as it might be, we sometimes find that amusing as well. Not that we would ever admit it to anyone. We hope it gets better before they get too mobile. In the meantime, we just move objects out of the way before they can be trampled. You know the usual things, toys, newspapers, pets, siblings… and back to the spontaneous outbursts of emotion.

Prone to falling asleep without warning… check. Usually in the car about 2 minutes from home or in the most uncomfortable position – half in half out of bed, in their high chair, anywhere really. You have to admit that the chubby cheeked drunken snooze look is cute when they’re that age. And as for the tiny little snores!

So there you have it. We appear to be raising a nation of teeny tiny drunks.