Tag Archives: poo

Don’t Drink the Bathwater

 

What's wrong Mummy?

What’s wrong Mummy?

You know when you feel like you’ve almost got the hang of this parenting thing?

Your children do as they’re told and listen to you?

They seem to have developed a respect for you and your wishes?

And you feel like it’s going to be smooth sailing now?

The smart part of you, which has usually gone into hiding for self-preservation reasons, might finally stick its head up over the parapet just a tiny, little bit to point out that it’s the lull before the storm, or, more accurately, that pride comes before a fall.

Mini is just at that age when she has started picking up bad habits and she seems to be getting them from her big brother, who is just starting to stop all the gross little habits he’s accumulated so far.

Like investigating the contents of his nostrils, presenting them to me with the proud flourish of a fait accompli. (It is of course mandatory for this to take place in public.)

Or eating food off the floor. Without application of the 10 second rule (a moot point in Mini’s case since she can’t count to 10 yet).

She takes her nappy off when she wants it changed and presents you with the offending article. We then have to play hunt the contents around the house. This is a Mini special and, fortunately for the carpets and furnishings, not one we had to face with Motormouth.

She also licks the railings. This is one habit she hasn’t gotten from her brother and I have no idea where she got the idea from but her assessment seems to be that the hilarity of the situation is proportional to our reaction to it. It is really hard to pretend not to see it, believe me.

Our general reaction to this sort of behaviour has toned down since Motormouth, but you know what they say “Your first child eats dirt, you rush them to the doctor; your second child eats dirt and you clean their mouth out; and your third child eats dirt and you wonder if they still need dinner.”

So we carry on, trying to break her of the bad habits without making her so stubborn she carries on the behaviour just because she can, and we try not to worry too much.

There are things that we still get aerated about; we have the “dog poo alert” chant to the Octoalert theme from Octonauts (don’t get me started on people allowing their dogs to foul pavement and verges); we still clean bottles when they’ve been dropped; and we’re very strict on hand-washing after going to the toilet.

I think we’ll just have to put up with what can until Mini get out of the habit of having bad habits.

I almost forgot. She drinks the bathwater as well.

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.

Newsflash – A Parent’s Worst Bath Time Nightmare

Archive photo courtesy Mature Mother

Archive photo courtesy Mature Mother

Mature Mother and the Other Half faced one of the bath time occurrences that all parents dread.

The incident, which occurred several weeks ago but has only just been reported happened when Mini and Motormouth were having their evening bath.

Bath time was nearing its end when the Other Half noticed an intent expression on Mini’s face. Emergency measures were quickly put into action but unfortunately it was too late to prevent the emission of a noxious substance into the shared washing environment.

Motormouth was immediately removed from the situation and stood shivering, wrapped in a towel, watching as his younger sister was evacuated. She was less fortunate and had to endure being decontaminated using the shower method. She was less than happy about this and made her feelings known to Mature Mother.

The Other Half bravely continued with the decontamination of the washing area whilst Mature Mother carried out the standard safety measures to ensure both the victim and the perpetrator were sufficiently warm, dry and clothed to deal with the aftermath.

Interviewed later, the Other Half said “it wasn’t my favourite thing to do but you have to get used to this sort of thing as a parent. I’m confident we did okay today and we can cope with the situation if //it happens again.”

Mature Mother was dealing with Motormouth and Mini and was unavailable for comment.

L is for Looking

 

L is for Looking

L is for Looking

Constantly.

Everywhere.

It feels like you develop eyes in the back of your head, either that, or your peripheral vision gets really, really good.

And you can’t help it. You, or rather I, have this need to be able to see both children. All the time. The only time I’m not worried is when they are asleep or with a babysitter (because the babysitter is doing the looking instead).

I know this is something the Other Half struggles with, the idea that you have to be constantly on the alert.

I’m not an overprotective mother, at least I don’t think I am – if one of them falls over and they’re OK enough to cry and blood’s not spraying out alarmingly, then I’m not going to go running to them unless there is imminent danger. (OK, I admit part of that could be the exhaustion talking. Check out E for Exhaustion in this series for more.)

Getting back to the Other Half, I know he wants the children to be safe. I think he, like most of us until we go through motherhood, think once they’ve been hurt or had the dangers explained to them, then they’ll be fine.

But that’s not totally true.

I have a 4-year-old and a 21-month-old and they are, for their ages, pretty safety consciousness.

Motormouth has good road skills. The green man is his friend and I think he might be every so slightly scared by the angry red man at road crossings.

Mini knows when she doesn’t feel confident about steps and will always sit at the top of the stairs, waiting for someone to hold her hand while she climbs down.

That is until something else gets their attention.

Then all bets are off.

Normally the “something else” is the little tabby-tortie kitten that comes to see them when we leave in the morning and is usually there to greet us when we come home again.

When she’s around, they only have eyes for her. That’s when they need a gentle reminder not to run out across the road, and by gentle I mean a firm grab of their hood or T shirt, or, to be truthful, whichever article of clothing is nearest.

I’m not trying to be sexist here, when I talk about the Other Half not being as attentive, since I am only talking from my own experience. I know studies have shown that the father’s role is more about encouraging children to push the boundaries to achieve more. To take risks. And they need that, otherwise they’ll never achieve anything near their full potential.

And Motormouth and Mini, are quite good at assessing the risks of things like climbing up or down something.

So now I’m looking to see what mischief they are getting into.

This is definitely where the Other Half and I diverge on our notions of urgency and immediacy. He thinks peace and quiet is bliss.

I just think it’s suspicious.

We have had the odd few incidents that most parents will recognise.

Remember the time when went into the room to find a small boy who has coloured himself in with this mother’s gel pens. At least all the bits he could reach. (On the plus side, we got an indication he’s probably right handed.)

Or the time when he ate the yoghurt in the fridge.

All 12 pots. (That was an interesting at nappy change time.)

Or the small girl who emptied out her father’s bedside drawers. (I didn’t realise he’s got concert tickets in there from 1989).

I remember when I first got pregnant and everyone was giving me the advice to sleep when the baby sleeps, and this is fine in principle when they pretty much stay where you put them (apart from that’s likely to be the only time you get to do the odd tasks you might like to catch up on, like eat. Or wee.)

Once they’re mobile, you feel more like, if you sleep when they sleep, they’ll wake up without you knowing and do things you have told them NOT TO DO (sorry, force of habit. I always end up shouting that at Motormouth or Mini.)

Motormouth in particular seems to have a talent for this. It was only last week I told him specifically NOT to go into the narrow gap between our house and our garden (which is raised) because there was cat poo under the leaves.

Less that 2 minutes later?

Yep.

You guessed it.

The wonderful task of cleaning cat poo off foot apparel. Luck was with me for a change. He was wearing wellies.

And he hadn’t picked up the cat poo asking “what’s this Mummy?”.

We’re not always so lucky. Once we had the case of “some idiot has left their dog’s diarrhoea in an untied nappy bag on the path”. Poor Motormouth had the indignity of being marched back home at arm’s length to be stripped down to his nappy and bare feet before he was allowed in the house. Must have been a bit chilly in February.)

Why do they always, ALWAYS have to pick it up or touch it?

Speaking of mischief, Motormouth is in the garden and I’ve just heard the hose go on.

And I have almost-dry washing on the line.

Correction. I did have almost-dry washing on the line.

I think I’ll go and have a quick look…

The Great Easter Hat Incident

It's a bunny. Honest.

It’s a bunny. Honest.

Motormouth is entering an Easter hat competition. It’s his first and I’m not sure who is most excited, him or me. I’m mainly excited at the thought of making something with him that didn’t involve cartoon characters.

Or wheels.

Or walls.

He’s excited because it involves scissors and glue. And hats.

So, I dutifully went and bought a straw hat for the base (I might think I’m pretty creative, but I know I’m not that creative, you should see my attempt at an Octonauts cap) and some random bits to stick on it. I say random, they weren’t really. I got some pipe cleaners, some tiny pompoms, feathers and some googly eyes (just because I could).

I drew the line at pastel-coloured eggs and fluffy chicks, partly because they were a little twee for me (I would like to apologise to fans of fluffy eggs and pastel-coloured chicks, each to their own), and partly because they looked a little too tasty for a house with a small girl who routinely cruises for food and has absolutely no compunction about taking it from you grasp, regardless of what you might think about it.

I didn’t really have any idea of how we were going to decorate the hat, and, when I thought about it, that seemed right, after all, he was entering the competition, not me.

It surprised me how excited Motormouth was at the idea of making this together (as in jumping-up-and-down-clapping-his-hands-in-glee excited). He decided he wanted me to help him make it, rather than the Other Half (who I think was secretly relieved about this since he doesn’t feel altogether comfortable around glue for some reason).

So, Sunday afternoon, we sat down with the hat, the bits and some sticky letters left over from Christmas. It was all a bit chaotic as the Other Half got involved after all, mainly because Mini was cruising. See, I told you she did it.

It was a bit like Christmas really.

Christmas with googly eyes flying everywhere as Motormouth got a little overenthusiastic opening the bag.

It was agreed, mainly by Motormouth, that his name would go on the hat. Not a bad idea to make sure it didn’t get confused with all the other entries, even though by this time I had a sneaking suspicion that he was in no danger of merging with the crowd.

Mini found the whole thing very interesting, especially the sticky letters. Unlike me, she had no problems with peeling the back off the letters and had probably been wandering round for a while with a bright green G stuck to her forehead before we noticed it (I wonder what it stood for. G for Girl? G for Grumpy – we’ve had a fair bit of that this week. If it’s the latter, we could all do with them stuck to our heads. Unfortunately there were no Gs left so I’ve opted for P for Pooped, the Other Half already having taken E for exhausted. I thought that was quite clever of me since it works on so many levels. Fortunately, it’s not P for Pooped On so much any more. Damn! Did I really say that. It’s bound to happen soon now. )

Motormouth wasn’t so happy at Mini’s attempted involvement, so we had a few fairly vocal reminders that it was Motormouth’s hat, not hers.

What next?

Why, feathers of course! After a little finagling we managed attach them securely to the hat, although for some reason they all ended up on one side.

Motormouth decided he wanted some eyes on there next, the biggest, googliest eyes there were. Can’t waste them can you? Otherwise they just sit there in their bag, looking at you accusingly.

On the hat they went and, after resolving a few technical difficulties, they even stayed on!. (Note to self, don’t assume super glue will stick anything together when you are making things with your children – except your children.)

All I can say is thank god for double-sided sticky pads.

So, we had a hat with feathers.

And googly eyes.

What the hell were we going to do with it next? After all, it was meant to be an entry for an Easter hat competition.

Two googly eyes and some bottle-green feathers don’t really make anyone think of Easter, not in a good way at least.

Motormouth looked forlornly at the pile of bits and pieces.

Then he noticed the pompoms that had exploded all over the floor (having been set a bad example by the googly eyes).

We’ll have a nose!

On went a fluffy blue thing, roughly below the eyes.

I looked forlornly at the pile of bits and pieces.

Something was still missing.

The pipe cleaners!

And what do we associate with Easter?

No, not chocolate, at least not on this occasion.

Something with ears?

Yep. Pipe cleaner bunny ears.

On they went.

Motormouth and I surveyed the hat. It still needed something more.

By this point I was feeling a little like Curious George, making something completely random out of odd bits and pieces lying around. I was just hoping I might achieve the same level of success he always seem to.

There was further discussion and we agreed that something with ears, eyes and nose needed a mouth.

More pipe cleaners and we had finished. I was quite pleased and with the effect of the sticky backed pads (I love those things), our Easter Bunny had teeth.

It's a hat, an Easter hat, I tell you!

It’s a hat, an Easter hat, I tell you!

A happy accident.

Unfortunately it also looks like the more-than-slightly-demented younger cousin of Donnie Darko. The fact that it’s all in bright spring colours only makes it more sinister.

I don’t think Motormouth looks at him in the same way. At least I hope he doesn’t.

I don’t think you should give a 4-year-old the amount of chocolate he would need to get over that kind of trauma. Plus it’s not good for his mother’s waistline.

Oops. Did I just type that out loud? It’s for his own good, honestly, and chocolate does have a use-by date, and children should have their sweets rationed and he gets so much chocolate anyway……

I’ll just stop there.

I is for Imagination

 

I is for Imagination

I is for Imagination

Before I had kids I thought I had a pretty decent imagination. After all, I wrote stories. I’d even finished 4 novels, all of them still stuck in that infamous bottom drawer that writers have.

I managed to find ways of amusing Motormouth quite successfully when he was smaller, not that it takes much to amuse an 8-month-old – peeking round corners seemed to work pretty well. So did playing guess the animal in sign language.

Then Motormouth got to the point where he was inventing his own stories.

At first our games (yes, our games, parental involvement was, and still is, mandatory) were recreating stories he’d been read or seen on TV.

And oh, how we have to get involved. I’ve done everything from making imaginary fish biscuits to running around the local park shouting “I’m a colossal squid” in a funny voice.

Gradually things got confusing (Yes, I know. I’m easily confused.)

First of all we had to learn our new names. Depending on what we were playing, I was Dashi from Octonauts, Penny from Fireman Sam or Jessica, Lord of Air from Gormiti.

Then it got still more confusing. We didn’t just play Octonauts, or Gormiti, or even Fireman Sam.

All of a sudden, I was Dashica from Octogorm, or Jesseny from Samiti.

At least I could recognise the stories, all lovingly, and imaginatively pieced together by a small boy in charge of his world.

Then he went off piste.

We were making up stories.

I can still tell where they’re coming from, he picks up little elements from books, TV, even his journey to school. He weaves them together and comes up with the most fantastical plots. He naturally has a beginning, a middle and an end. There’s action and, I have to admit, a fair bit of bashing and more than a little arresting of the bad guys.

Then there are the props.

Boxes become forts, boats or racing cars. A soft toy football becomes his giant basher, creating quakes to knock the bad guys off their feet when he’s Nick Lord of Earth. Coathangers become hooks when he is a digger. Bits of broken toy can become pretty much anything.

It amazes me.

And then there’s his story telling.

We’re at that stage in his potty training when he wants someone with him while he does the business, partly to inspect the results of the “thousands of poos” he intends to do.

Then he starts telling me stories, animated expression and arm gestures helping the tale along. He has even been known to open with “it was a dark and stormy night…”

What does all this mean?

That I have really had to up my performance when it comes to imagination.

And it becomes more challenging (I refuse to say difficult) as he gets older.

I’ve learnt the hard way not to help the story along. He puts his hands on his hips, looks at me with his head cocked to one side and says “No, Mummy, be quiet. I’m telling the story.

Then, just when I think I’ve got a handle on it, he comes up with the questions.

And I need imagination to deal with this as well.

It’s not about making the answers up. I’m sure he would pick me up on that. At least he always has so far when I’ve got any of the details wrong.

It’s about finding new ways to describe things so he’ll understand.

Like all 4-year-olds he has a curiousity that only switches off when he’s asleep.

He also has the attention span of a crane fly on a caffeine high.

The journey to playgroup is the most challenging.

He sits in the back, commenting on every thing he sees, and between he shoots questions at me.

Just a few weeks ago we had the following…

Why did all the dinosaurs die? Was it a volcano? (No one really knows, but most people think it was an asteroid that hit the earth and threw up loads of dust that blocked out the sun).

What’s an asteroid? (Cue explanation and we get onto the Tunguska meteor strike.)

What causes holes in the road? (Discussion followed about dene holes, chalk mines, frost expansion and subsidence.)

Could you steal an elephant by hiding it under your coat? (Uh… help?)

Fortunately, the 10 minute journey ended shortly after.

He’s persistent as well. I can understand him wanting to know what every single person he sees is doing or where they are going, but why does he have this desperate need to know where they live?

And if we can visit them for tea?

I have to reword my answers on a regular basis, not just to help him understand better, but to stop me from boring myself, and him, into a stupor (something I failed to do miserably when he asked me what burglary was for the 70th time).

Hence the need for imagination.

It’s still a vital skill for parents, finding ways to keep a small child with an active mind occupied. It’s not just on car journeys, but doctor’s surgeries, supermarkets, anywhere we have to queue, anywhere that doesn’t have toys, anywhere that has toys we want to move away from… well, you know.

You’ve probably been there.

And it can be exhausting. We love our children dearly but sometimes, just sometimes, it’s nice when they’ve gone to bed and we can savour those first few minutes that are question-free.

So, I’ve decided that I’m going to make the most of Motormouth’s story-telling and sit back and ask the questions for a change. Even if the sitting is on the toilet floor.

And as for Mini?

She’s still at the peeking round corners stage.

 

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.