Wednesday, 28 January 2015

The Precedent - The Parent’s Greatest Fear

“You let us yesterday,” my sons argued, as I yelled at them for making a barricade on the stairs using all the bedding in the house. “I know, but that was a one-off!” I answered. But it was too late. They’d already gone off to ransack the towel chest. I was left to wonder, Can I not let them do one single thing without them seeing it as a green light for all future occurrences? Must I always live in the shadow of the dreaded Precedent? 

It’s not just Stairgate. It’s loads of things. The fear of setting a precedent grips me at every turn. 

Should I never let them:
  • Sleep in our bed 
  • Take a teddy into school
  • Go in the front seat
  • Give up football “cos it’s too cold”
  • Have biscuits for breakfast
  • Skip the dunking part of swimming class 
  • Leave a playdate early because the host is being mean to him
  • Have a bit of every cereal in the cupboard, even though I know they’re just going to tip it on the floor?
Of course I should. And I do. It’s natural to indulge your children, it’s your right and your choice as their mother, and there’s nothing wrong with it. Anyway, you tell yourself, it takes three days to form a habit…

Right?

Not with kids it doesn’t. Their vice-like little minds seize on the slightest weakness and play it right back at you to their advantage. They liked cuddling with you all night when they were a bit poorly - so why not tonight, just because?

With children, once is enough to set a precedent.

Where there’s a way, there’s a child

Basically, I’m at the sharp end of the human’s natural instinct to survive, thrive and beat their mother into submission. While the child is out for all he can get, the parent must try and drive their expectations and behaviour into acceptable channels. And think not just of the immediate consequences, but of the far-off ones:
  • If I let them skip their Year 1 homework one weekend, will they fail their A-Levels?
  • If I let them give up an activity half way through a term, will they never hold down a job?
  • If I let them sleep a couple of nights in my bed, will their future bride have to kick me out on their wedding night?
It’s exhausting. 

Obviously, there is a balance between setting boundaries and responding to the child in hand. 

But just as you strike it, thinking you’ve scored a victory and held back from setting a precedent of, say, letting them eat popcorn in the bath, they play their trump card:

“Daddy lets us do it.”

It makes you want to drink at teatime.

Now that’s a precedent I don’t mind setting. 


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Thursday, 22 January 2015

Life’s Too Short to Ice A Mushroom


Kids lick the icing off cakes. Fact. Some may eat the cake too, but there are many, like mine, who would go through a whole tray of cakes if they could, just skimming off the icing with their little filter-feeder mouths. So I got to thinking, as we were baking the other day, what if I just iced - something else? Like a stone. 

Would they really lick the icing off anything - even a rock? But then one of them would probably crack a big tooth and turn my little experiment into a disfiguring reminder of my guilt forever more. I don’t know how it came to me, but I thought - a mushroom! It’s the right kind of shape, I had some in the fridge - and the kids loathe them!

Some claim that life’s too short to ice a mushroom, (I paraphrase) - but actually, for parents, I find there are lots of little pockets of time where you can’t really get anything particularly useful done, so you might as well do something silly and ultimately pointless. 

Like when they’re playing nicely, which you know won’t last a nanosecond if you start putting away laundry, for example, so you start straightening up your ancient jam and pickles area in the fridge. Obviously there is not enough time to make the momentous decision to finally part with a kindly gifted homemade preserve, scrape the (probably very mouldy by now) contents into the bin and wash out the encrusted jar for recycling. Or when there is two minutes till the pasta is ready and you have squandered the other eight doing who knows what, but you can’t really capitalise on those two minutes because it’s too short a window. So you hover paralysed by the stove, vaguely thinking, “Will I ever move out of this sink-stove vortex?”

But that ten-minute lull between the children finishing a meal and asking for “something to eeee-at” is just long enough to do something daft. And there was the leftover icing just sitting there. So I did indeed ice a mushroom. Three, in fact.

How did I make them stand up so they wouldn’t drip everywhere, I hear you cry. I stuck 'em in a basil pot, of course. 


I scattered on some hundreds and thousands for good measure, enjoying myself surprisingly much - amazed and amused at my own idiocy. 

I popped them in the fridge to set and closed the door, rubbing my hands together a bit like Mrs Twit in Roald Dahl’s classic tale of domestic prankery. “The look on their faces when I tell them they licked a mushroom!” I thought to myself, tittering inwardly.

But as if to punish my lunacy, those lurky mushrooms wiped the smile clean off my chops. When I got them out again, they had - there can be no other description for it - spitefully drunk all the icing. So instead of a nice set glaze to trick the children into mouthing a mushroom, there were just some sorry hundreds and thousands clinging on to a revolting sticky mound. Porous little pesks. Needless to say, the children clasped their hands to their mouths making vomiting noises as soon as they clapped eyes on them.

The moral of the story?


Be thankful to your children, for they give you the interludes
 you need to be creative.

or

Don’t ever think you can fool your kids.
Until I think of some other way to test my “will eat icing off anything theory”, I will continue to make cakes.
Luckily, they are always happy to help…

Speaking of people who just lick the icing off cakes,
a very happy birthday to my darling sister!

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Baking With Babies - A Recipe for Disaster: WickedWednesdays #3


My toddler's signature style: the squeezed cupcake. Usually the children get bored after I've let them hold the whisk but this time, oh no! They had to be involved at every step. Still, they were for immediate consumption, not a bake sale, so where's the harm? (Still treading in hundreds and thousands after a double clean-up...)


brummymummyof2

Monday, 19 January 2015

The Sofa Slug



It's 4.45am. Outside it is pitch black. The heating hasn't come on yet. On the sofa lies a barely discernible shape. A small creature seems to be alternately lolling and bouncing on the lumpen object, which occasionally emits a kind of grunt, crossed with a groan. It is a beast endemic in houses with young children: the Sofa Slug.

In the flickery light cast over the scene by the TV, we can get a closer look at this force of nature. it seems to be draped in something - is it a blanket? or a medley of children's fleeces that happened to be close to hand? No distinguishing features are visible, except its antennae, which are propped up at all times in case its young, the oozeling, decides to crawl or toddle back upstairs and wake the rest of the family. The only other protrusion from the protective layer is a solitary hand, which blunders out every ten minutes to press play again on the remote. It is too early even for 'Me Too!'

If the oozeling is really poorly and not just being annoying, he will be tucked up in the folds of the 'sofanimal', only his little head sticking out as he feverishly follows the progress of Thomas the Tank Engine. As soon as the Calpol kicks in, he will commence kicking the beast that enfolds him. If he was just waking up for fun, he'll already have been doing this. One by one, the other oozelings tiptoe in, guided through the gloaming by the beacon of the screen. They see with delight that there is an extra comfy cushion / punchbag lying ready for them on the sofa and set to work immediately. The lump gives no sign of feeling any of this, it just burrows further under its cover. An intermittent hiss, "Just don't wake Daddy!" can be heard by those on the right frequency.

As the sun rises and it becomes, indisputably, day, a miraculous change comes over the mound. A stirring, a shaking, a stretching, a tipping-off of oozelings and coverings. It snaps into action, serving breakfast, dressing children, checking book bags, wiping bottoms, kicking a tea towel around the spilt milk, showering and dressing, changing a last-minute nappy.

It becomes, in short, a mother.

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Related posts: The Mummy Shark Dead eyes, grey skin - we have more similarities than you'd think to the deadly beast.
The Meerkat Mother - like a Tiger Mother. Only more cuddly.


And then the fun began...

Sunday, 18 January 2015

Love in the Snow

There's a whole lotta love going on at #GetYourCraftOn #GYCO, a monthly craft challenge set by either Anthea at ZingZing Tree, Maggie at Red Ted Art, Ali at Kids Chaos or Liz at Me And My Shadow. My piece is not strictly craft-y but it's certainly LOVE-y, and as I was kindly invited to join in by Anthea, I jumped at the chance! 

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Wednesday, 14 January 2015

The Ingenuity of Children: #WickedWednesday 2


Never fear, Tortilla Boy's here! Both a snack, and a disguise! For a moment I thought I'd found the perfect car snack - look no crumbs! Until they started tearing them apart and rolling bits into tiny balls...

brummymummyof2

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

We're Going On A Job Hunt


We're going on a job hunt,
We're gonna catch a big one,
What a beautiful day,

We're not scared.

Oh oh!



Guilt!


“Bad mummy” guilt.

We can't go over it,

We can't go under it,

We've gotta go through it!

“We love you, kids, this is for you”.

We're going on a job hunt,

We're gonna catch a big one,

What a beautiful day,

We're not scared.

Oh oh!



Doubt!



Enormous self doubt.

We can't go over it,

We can't go under it,

We've gotta go through it!

“We can do this, we used to do this”.


We're going on a job hunt,

We're gonna catch a big one,

What a beautiful day,

We're not scared.

Oh oh!



No smart clothes!


Just PJs and hoodies.

We can't go over it,

We can't go under it,

We've gotta go through it!

ASOS, Primark.


We're going on a job hunt,

We're gonna catch a big one,

What a beautiful day,

We're not scared.

Oh oh!



Childcare costs!



Big, off-putting childcare costs.

We can't go over it,

We can't go under it,

We've gotta go through it!

Move near parents, think long term.


We're going on a job hunt,

We're gonna catch a big one,

What a beautiful day,

We're not scared.

Oh oh!



Overqualified!



Too out of touch, expensive.

We can't go over it,

We can't go under it,

We've gotta go through it!

Persevere, fight back.


OH NO IT'S A REJECTION!!!

Quick!

Through the guilt, “Love you, kids, this is for you”,

Through the doubt, “We can do this, we used to do this”,

Through the “no smart clothes”, ASOS, Primark,

Through the childcare costs, move near parents, think long term,

Through the overqualication, persevere, fight back,

Run to the house, run up the stairs,

Oh oh, forgot to shut the door!

Run back downstairs, shut the door,

Run back up, to the bedroom,

Jump into bed, cuddle your family,

YOU’RE THE BEST MUM IN THE WORLD!

Adapted from and in homage to the wonderful children's poem by Michael Rosen, illustrated by Helen Oxenbury, We're Going On A Bear Hunt.



Mama and More

And then the fun began...