The Grandparent – Toddler Handover Notes

Usual Disclaimer: Gee…I sure am lucky to live so near to my parents! We are so lucky my son has his grandparents in his life. I sure don’t know what we would do without them.

But I could do without the handover notes.

Which usually go a bit like this:

Toddler is thrust back into the house, after our much needed time off, looking rosy cheeked and full of gusto with a new attitude of “well now I know who’s really boss”.

Grandparents give me a carrier bag of half eaten brioches, soggy biscuits and a cup of squash that looks like it has been dragged through several puddles of manure.

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And the Toddler Grandparent handover notes commence:

1. First and foremost – we are told how much our son did not want to come home to us in any way, shape or form. We are told how miserable he is at Departure Grandparents, Arrival parents; You know – the ones who look after him 24 hours a day and the woman who barely survived a three day labour.

We are told that he started protesting and weeping merely at the thought of coming home to us when he reached our block – as soon as he saw the familiar streets leading up to this house – well, he had a breakdown. The poor soul. How awful for him.

2. Secondly – we are told a list of information about his bowels. If he has gone, when he went, what the poo was like! Shape, smell, consistency. What they did about it – never a straight forward: “Oh we simply changed his nappy, like you do 76 times a week.” No, no, always something elaborate because there was some sort of shit based disaster that meant he had to be hosed down in the bath like an incontinent Rhino.

“And you know, there’s something wrong with those nappies you gave us, or we might have put it on backwards and inside out – or on his head – we just can’t figure them out.”

3.  Accompanied by something they have ‘spotted’ while he has had his clothes off that is a major cause for concern. A pimple or a red raw arse (according to them) or a jutting out bone or a scaly patch.

“Have you seen it? I really think you should have seen it? Do you ever look at his body? And we are sure he needs to go to the doctors asap about it, or A&E. Are you bathing him enough?”

4. A detailed description of how much he ate while he was with them – Veg! Yogurt! An adult portion of Fish and Chips! Juice, more juice! And pudding (“although you know, I want to get him some vitamin C supplements because of the tone under his eyes and how he obviously doesn’t get what he needs when he’s with you”) and

“we can’t understand what you mean when you say he will only eat egg! He seems to eat everything when he’s with us. Ha … Ha…. Ha.”

5. A list of perfectly easy and simple things they couldn’t do when they were out with him.

“We just couldn’t fold down that pushchair after all, so we have had to leave it at the train station in Scarborough. We couldn’t figure out how to fasten those reigns….that nappy…that coat. We couldn’t figure out which shoe went on which foot. We couldn’t adjust the car seat so your Grandfather just held onto him for the journey!” (no of course the last one is a joke)

6. A detailed description of how much he achieved when he was with them. “He was obviously just in the best environment for personal growth”.

“I know you say he can’t walk, talk, read, count… but when he was with us today he ran ten metres, said Grandma and Grandpa repeatedly and counted to eight in Russian.”

7. A detailed description of how much fun he had with them.

“You know dear, I don’t think I have ever, in my life, seen him so happy! It’s such a pity that you can’t do things like this with him all the time! Such a shame he has had to come back to you – look how upset he is! Poor Sod.”

And they leave.

Us waving and nodding at the door, and promising that we will give him another bath to get rid of any encrusted poo, we will get that spot checked out, we will feed him more broccoli and have more fun with him.

“Take him out in the fresh air every single day and play with him. Don’t just neglect him! Poor bugger!”

They drive off happily.

Toddler screams and wails and stamps whole body onto the floor. I gear myself up for the long evening counting the minutes before I can put him to bed and have some rest.

Once in my bed I close my eyes and hear the tick tock of the clock counting down to the next time he can go to his grandparents.

Repeated Disclaimer: Gee…we sure are lucky to live so near to my parents. Grandparents are the best and we don’t know what we would do without them.

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Why is it you?

mummy's writing darling

Why is it you?

 

At age two, to a goose, I wouldn’t say boo
whereas you son, would shoot it and stuff it too.

Why is it you?

who cant sit still, while fifteen others do,
Who has to play with the fire extinguisher on the wall,
while everyone else is queuing, single file, down the hall?

Why is it you who has to snatch the block off the three month old,
who doesn’t seem to acknowledge anything you are told,
who needs to jump up and down at the front,
who has to roar, bark, gurn and grunt?

Why do you always rugby tackle the babies,
leap and stomp and stamp on the daisies?

When others are sitting, listening sweetly in a trance,
why are you performing a deranged, erratic, river dance?

When everyone is singing ‘twinkle twinkle little star’ notes
why are you trying to shove the maracas down your throat?

Why is it you – and seemingly no other?
Can you not see everyone judging your mother?

When you turn five and all you ask is why,
why, why, why, why, why?

I shall say, great question son, glad you asked
Why, when you were two, were you such an arse?

poetry, mummy's writing darling
why is it you?

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The Secret Saboteur inside of me

mummy's writing, darling

The Saboteur

Sometimes I watch my boys playing with their toy blocks. The eldest will carefully place one on top of the other, strategically, methodically. In a couple of minutes he has created a perfect tower, strong and steady. Then, like clockwork, the youngest will bound over and smash it to bits. The saboteur!

The bricks fall and they both giggle at the hilarity of this process. I understand the youngest’s urges, I really do.

The problem is it’s not so hilarious when it’s your life you’re destroying.

Part of my depression over the years has included impulsive behaviour and a sort of self sabotage – especially when my tower is strong and steady. Everything going ok now? Great – what can I do to royally feck it up?

It is usually when I am at my most successful or happy when I can choose to topple my life over.
Diets – I sabotage them all. Relationships – I can walk away and not look back. Jobs – I can be Head of English one minute and the next minute not. Even writing!

Great writing opportunity? Ooh let’s set fire to the pages!

It usually follows a pattern of being strong for a long time and feeling the fight or flight creeping up on you. And for me I guess my impulse is to always fly. (One day I’ll fly away, leave all this to yesterday).
However, there is one thing I have never sabotaged or felt the need to – and that’s my family.
We are a team, a unit. My boys keep me striving, they keep me looking up, breathing and trudging through the quick sand. I would never stamp on their sandcastles. My irrational impulses stop right there.

And yes I might sometimes shout at my husband “Well if you don’t want to be with a nutcase then maybe you should marry someone else!” But he knows I don’t mean it – and he tells me everyday he loves me for my oddities.

I learned something astounding this week too. You might have been impulsive, you might have thought the damage had been done – but if you admit your mistakes and do a bit of damage limitation – colleagues, friends and even employers can surprise you.

And slowly, you can start building your tower back up, only higher this time.

The Mum Next Door

brands worked with

There is a mum next door

you’ve caught sight of at dawn

dragging the bins out at night

dragging the kids out in the morn

mostly you hear her

and the little terrors she bred

screaming, crying, cbeebies on incessantly

the Gruffalo exhaustedly read

and I can bet my tax credits

on the fact that she’s lonely and sad

and that 38 times today the toddler has driven her mad

she worries so much about what her neighbours must think

she avoids their eyes as she stands sobbing at the kitchen sink

Lord oh Lord, what next door must hear

will she get reported for the children’s noisy tears?

You’ve seen her offspring in the garden

wearing only their nappies

you’ve seen her shouting at them not to eat worms

and with her husband in the morning all snappy

you’ve seen her put out the washing

covered in baked beans, looking grim

you’ve seen her blowing up the paddling pool

and sipping what looked like Tonic and Gin

you’ve not spoken to her yet

you assume she’s not got time

but she’d snap off your leg

for a neighbourly glass of wine

a chat, a smile, a cup of tea

all she needs is a bit of adult company

she wants you to tell her the kids are alright

and that she’s doing fine

that you don’t mind hearing the fights

every night at bed time

that you were her once

though it’s so long ago you’ve forgotten

that you don’t know how she does it

spending days cleaning and wiping bottoms

that you don’t judge her one bit

that sometimes kids, well, they can be little gits

I know this mum next door

and how hard she tries to be

(but fails at being) the perfect mummy

because the mum next door

well the mum next door is me.

The Slow Clap

 

Yesterday evening, thirteen hours into my day with my two young sons, I sat, slumped on the closed toilet lid watching them in the bath together. The three year old, long and slender, pale, the water only covering his bent knees; The ten month old sitting stoutly, portly and stocky, his two lone teeth shining in a goofy grin, the water rippling around his Buddha stomach. The baby smacked the surface of the water with his sausage like paws a few times and looked shocked at the water hitting his face – and repeat. The eldest talked his younger brother through the bath process – showed him the sponge, talked about the temperature of the water etc.

I sat half coma-like, half in panic attack alertness to ensure that both of their heads were kept above water – the same state I spend most days of motherhood.

It’s been pretty bleak lately in our household. Depression and anxiety has drawn in and I’ve not really been treasuring too many moments of being a mummy. To be perfectly honest I have been fantasising about working, about being away from home; home which lately feels so far from the word. My house feels like a prison, a trap. Four walls with me trapped inside for twenty four hours just trying to keep plodding along, keeping the boys alive, clean, changed, fed. And again. And again. And again.

In my dirty tracksuit, my hair undone, no make up, looking utterly shocking I ran the bath, carried through the motions: “keep them clean, keep them fed, keep them happy.” I slumped on the toilet seat and thought about what next. How many hours till the next thing?

Suddenly my baby boy stood upright on the bath mat, he let go of the side of the bath, looked me square in the face and very surely but slowly clapped his hands together. He had never clapped before.

I let out a shocked squeak alerting me I was there. “That’s it! Well done!” I laughed. This spurred him on and he continued with more excitement. I clapped back to show him he was doing it correctly. The eldest stood upright too, trying to get in on the action. “Look mummy!” he shouted as he clapped maniacally at me. “Yes darling, wow! Well done!” I said back, playing along, mustn’t play favourites – even though he’s been able to clap for a fair few years now.

So there my two sons stood, upright, bare, in all their glory, staring at me with dancing joyous eyes, clapping enthusiastically, and there I sat clapping back at them, grinning, beaming, us all laughing goofily. We laughed harder and harder and clapped longer and I felt a little sun crack through the clouds.

In a stage of life where there are no appraisals, no promotions, no one there to reassure me I’m doing a good job – I’ll take my sons’ slow clap. A bit of me felt it was my youngest telling me he really loved having a bath with his big brother. I’ll take their praise of me – at the end of the day, all that matters is their approval; their slow clap.