Tag Archives: public

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?”


“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.

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.

K is for Kicking


K is for Kicking

K is for Kicking

Kicking footballs, that is.

And sliding down slides (hopefully without getting wedged halfway down).

And sitting on swings.

And generally reliving all the childhood activities you secretly wanted to do but were too embarrassed to actually do (at least in public).

Having children gives you the excuse you need to run around playgrounds shouting, or gallop across a field pretending to be a cowboy (or girl) or knight on horseback. (Please tell me I’m not the only one to do that!)

It’s a little like having a second childhood without the disapproving looks, you know the ones, where people obviously think you’re having a mid-life crisis.

One without a flash car.

You can even watch the latest animated films without feeling as if you are either being childish or slightly sinister. Yes, I know they put the extra layer of meaning in for adults today, at least in the good ones, but it’s still nice to be able to appreciate the “aah” and “ooh” moments for the innocent elements of the story that they are.

It’s amazing some of the things that haven’t changed since we were children. I can see my little boy resisting the same temptation to jump off the swing at the top of the arc. I say resisting, but I’m pretty sure he just doesn’t have the courage yet. I’m going to keep telling myself that to make myself feel better.

And that’s one of the scary parts of being a parent isn’t it? We know they’re likely to do exactly the same things we did, and in all likelihood not hurt themselves too badly when they do, but now we know how dangerous it is.

And what the possible consequences can be.

And I really hope he doesn’t so some of the things his father did when he was growing up. Like riding his bike off the end of the pier into the river. Repeatedly.

Or jumping off the swing at just the right point to land on the roof of a nearby garage. (OK, so that was me rather than his dad.)

Getting back to the change thing, a lot of the same nursery rhymes are still sung, though I don’t remember any about spaceships when I was little (and I would remember, having been a nerd since I was about 5).

We’re not at the stage where he’s at school, so I don’t know if kids still play chase (or British Bulldog as we used to call it) or run around the school field playing the latest Doctor Who villain. At our school you could always tell what films had been on at the weekend. There’s nothing quite as surreal as a large group of school children staggering around during lunch break with their arms held out in front of them chanting “Odd Bod”. Yep, you could always tell when Carry on Screaming had been on.

I have no doubt there are things that will be different. I haven’t a clue about the impact of You Tube and social media on what children do nowadays but I do know how quickly crazes can spread, or how difficult it is to make sure they only see appropriate stuff. Gone are the days when fads came from films and TV programmes and were spread via comics, cereal packets and word of mouth (and the displays by the supermarket tills that parents dreaded). The characters and toys ended as video games, they weren’t spawned by them.

Ours aren’t at that point yet I’m not going to worry about it.

I’m sure there will be plenty of things to freak about before then.

Besides, they only know how to find Octonauts and Curious George on the smart phones at the moment.

And in the meantime, I’ll try not to get stuck in any swings and face the embarrassment of having to be rescued by firefighters.

On the other hand…

G is for Grumpy


G is for grumpy

G is for grumpy

Oh, where do I start?

At some point, everyone gets grumpy.

Whether it’s us as parents being grumpy because we are so tired, or small people being grumpy because, well… that’s the question a lot of the time isn’t it?

There are some obvious reasons. They’re hungry or tired or thwarted in their latest death-defying mission (I mean why would we have a problem with them climbing on a stool balanced on the settee?). Others are less obvious.

And that can be what makes us grumpy, or rather grumpier.

It’s like grumpiness is contagious and, on the right, or rather the wrong, day, it can send up a pall something akin to the black death.

You can almost hear the bells ringing. The bells. The bells. Bring out your dead (sense of humour).

The thing makes us, well, me anyway, feel guilty is when our little horrors …. darlings… throw some of our (or my) behaviour back.

The huff of breath which isn’t quite a grunt. (Yes, they got that one from me and they’re both getting quite good at it.)

The statement to the world “my bit grumpy today” which became a catchphrase amongst family and friends for a while (that’s courtesy of the Other Half).

The frowns. Oh the frowns. Distributed by a small girl with great concentration, they can be quite disconcerting even for those that know and love her.

We even have the odd outburst of bad language (I know, surprising isn’t it) that small bat ears pick up to be stored in little minds to be repeated with impeccable timing. You can guess where can’t you? In playgroup. In the middle of the supermarket. In the doctor’s surgery. Anywhere quiet that has strangers about.

At first it’s quite funny to see and hear these examples of our own behaviour reflected in miniature, then common sense kicks in and you realise that this is a habit you need to break. In yourself before you can break it in them.

It’s easy to forget that they don’t have the experience to know when to reign it in. As adults we can judge it to a fine art (usually), knowing when it will be counterproductive or even damaging. They can’t and as we know, friendships at that age are all or nothing. I’ve lost count of the number of best friends in the whole world a certain toddler has had, and I’m pretty sure he has as well. I’d hate him to start losing them because “my bit grumpy” once too often.

Anyway, back to grumpiness as state of motherhood (I can’t justify focussing totally on the kids, I don’t think it was working as a smokescreen anyway).

I would love to know if I was grumpier before I was a mother. I honestly don’t know if I was or not.

Perhaps it was masked because, if I wasn’t feeling up to facing the world with a smile on my face I could just stay in bed. Obviously that’s not an option now.

Or I could curl up with some chocolate (now I just hide in the utility room where the kids can’t see me… it isn’t just me that does that is it?).

Or I could read and get lost in a fictional world. Nowadays the fiction is shorter and involves a lot of talking trains and genies (we have an Aladdin obsession at the moment). It’s a bit difficult to get lost in that. There is the danger that you start looking at locomotives in an entirely different way. In fact, I remember reading a book.. chic lit, which is a departure for me… and the main character was having a conversation with her friend about whether James or Thomas was better looking. (Please note I ‘ve cleverly not admitted that I’ve rated them myself. Even I’m not that sad…)

So, what do I do now when I’m grumpy?

I try and hide it.

Probably not very successfully.

And the days I can’t?

I console myself with something else I was told; that children need to see others being upset and grumpy sometimes. It gives them the opportunity to see that it doesn’t last, it’s ok not to be happy all the time and can even give them some practice in showing empathy and making others feel better.

In the meantime, if I’m grumpy and snap at my children I’ll apologise. And if they’re grumpy, I’ll try not to smile at how cute they look.

1… 2… 3…

I don't want...

I don’t want…

It’s been a week of numbers, well, the first three anyway.


Motormouth has developed An Attitude.

I know it comes to every child, and therefore every parent, but it’s hit us hard and fast.

I have to admit, we were probably getting a little complacent (or dare I say it even smug) since Motormouth has generally given us an easy ride. Of course we’ve had the odd tantrum here and there (and two notable melt-downs) but nothing that has lasted or caused real problems.

But the last week?

We seem to have had a changeling in our midst.

Suddenly we have this small bundle of angry attitude that has been going off at the slightest provocation. It’s like he’s been practising to be a November 5th firework.

I don’t want to go the silly doctors! (It wasn’t his appointment.)

I don’t want to go to bed! (Pretty much a standard protest I know.)

I don’t want to eat my dinner! (Even though it was exactly what he’d asked for.)

I don’t want to get dressed!

I don’t want to clean my teeth!

I don’t want to go to the child minder!

I don’t want to watch silly Cartoonito/Nick Jr/CBBC…!

We’ve been struggling to find out what he does want. We’re still working on it.

It’s been difficult to identify why he has been so volatile. He’s not been eating anything different. No chocolate and no fizzy drinks. He’s had the same involvement in choosing what he’s eating, what he wears and where we go as he usually does.

The only thing that has changed is that Mini is going to the same child minder he goes to. (He is due to go to a playgroup for a couple of days a week now.) Motormouth has told us he is happy about this. He loves spending time with Mini and, even though she is nearly 16 months old, he still has to introduce her to everyone they meet. He really wants to go to playgroup as well and was jumping up and down with excitement about it tonight, so I don’t think it’s that.

It’s left us scratching our heads.

It’s also left us with rapidly diminishing options with regards to punishment. Most of his toys are in black bin bags where he refused to help tidy up. He hasn’t quite understood he needs to help tidy up to start earning them back. He had no television over the weekend. We didn’t go to the park. He didn’t get jelly for desert.

I knew we would have to develop patience and thick skins, not to mention a variety of ways to address issues when we needed to, but there are some unexpected quirks we need to learn to deal with. The main thing I have learned from the last week … I need to think more quickly on my feet.

Me – Where have your manners gone?

Motormouth – Soccerboy took them. (Soccerboy is an older friend of his).

Me – uh… (trying not to laugh and working out what the heck I was supposed to say – I didn’t want to ruin the responsible parenting aura I am trying to affect).

Me – Tidy your toys up before dinner please.

Motormouth – No.

Me – Right, your toys go into a bin bag then.

Motormouth – No, you can’t do that.

The Other Half walks in from work

Motormouth – Daddy, mummy’s been horrible and taken all my toys.

And the classic?

“Mummy you’ve upset me. You should go to your room and think about what you’ve done.”

This one still makes me laugh.

We are also more used to being “those parents”, you know, the ones you look at with either sympathy or irritation depending on your views on their parenting style, as they haul a toddler out of the shop tucked under their arm, a toddler moreover that is screaming at the top of their voice.

I know that this is a passing stage and we will soon get the normal, smiling, happy, mischievious but polite child that we know and love instead of the little boy who announces to me that he’s “a grumpy boy today”.

Of course we love this one too but he’s so much more tiring.

T is for Timing


Toddlers (and babies) have such a perfect sense of timing it has to be experienced to be believed.

If it’s not the noisy filling of a nappy just before you are about to walk out of the door, it’s the extraction of an item from your handbag (in my case a sanitary towel) with a screeched “what’s this for mummy?” by the supermarket fish counter.

Both have happened to me several times before and will no doubt happen again.

When they do, you always have to choose what your reaction is going to be.

It’s a dilemma.

Do you change the nappy before you go or can you wait until you get there? If you wait and you’re dropping them off at the childminder, can you get away with pretending they did it on the way (this is easier before they can talk and drop you in it)? Not that I would ever do it, of course.

Often you only have a few seconds to decide what your response is going to be.

I can’t remember my exact answer in the sanitary towel incident; I was too busy trying to play it down, but it was probably something along the lines of “it’s something that ladies use, ooh, look at that squid.”

The other talent my child has is a sure knowledge of when we have to be at a particular place at a particular time.

That’s when he decides he doesn’t want to get dressed, so you have to have to chase a naked boy around the house until you can pin him into a corner. Then you realise his clothes are just out of reach. We’ve tried not telling him we are going somewhere, that we can’t go if we are late and everything in between. The only thing we haven’t done is construct the sort of funnel farmers use to heard sheep towards the shearer.

Hmm… that could be the next option.

Whatever they say or do, the only way you can deal with it and retain any sanity is to laugh about it.

Once you have got over the stress of trying to be out of the door on time.



Random Things # 14 – What’s This Mummy?

Yes... um.... well... it's a...

Yes… um…. well… it’s a…

OK. Is there a mother (or father) out there who can, hand on heart, say their child has never said something to embarrass them?


Didn’t think so.

My most memorable (so far) is Motormouth, having rooted through my bag, pulling out a sanitary towel and asking, at the top of his voice (of course, since they don’t have a volume control yet) “What’s this mummy?”

Did I forget to mention his voice also has that piecing quality common to small children?

And, of course, he had that essential feeling for place, so he just had to ask the question as we were standing at the fish counter of the local supermarket on a busy Saturday.

When is it I get to embarrass him back?