Sunday, July 25, 2010

Why old fashioned is sometimes best when there are children around.

I have been reading the paper this morning. No, not the shockingly awful Canadian papers that take roughly 3.5 minutes to flick through before realising there is no news here. The good ol' British press.
I love the Times on Sunday. And The Guardian, and the Mail, and the News of the Screws. Hell, just stick 'On Sunday' at the end of it and I will read a toilet roll packet.

The problem is, I can only read it online. This is obviously a good thing, in a lot of ways. Five years ago I would have been stuck with the hell of Canadian newsprint. But the bad thing is, when I am on my laptop, I am fair game for the kids.

Holding a dull as ditchwater newspaper up around your face gives a signal to the children. It clearly says 'I am doing dull adult stuff. You are welcome to join me doing dull adult stuff.' And off the children trot to greener pastures.

A laptop to them is the treat of The Flintstones on YouTube, CBeebies games, seeing Granny on Skype. Fun fun fun stuff. I am no longer in the realm of dull. I am there to be pestered on Sunday morning.

I wish the Canadians would get their act together with their newspapers, otherwise, we are moving back to England so I can get an hour of peace on a Sunday morning.

Oh, and two things, I have a new laptop and have no idea how to cut and paste for photos yet [blush] and I have seriously spent money lately that my frugality is well out of the window.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

What do I do about my lying, cheating, stealing daughter?

That title seems a little harsh. I have made my 6 year old daughter sound like J.R., or worse still, Jeffery Archer.

But that is the bare truth of it. Around about now, children learn the ability to lie. And my daughter is doing it in spades.
"Did you take those sweets when I told you not to?"
"No Mummy. [sound of crunching sweets and the rustling of a wrapper being shoved under a pillow.]

It's so hard to deal with. I know, because had there been a prison for tiny prisoners, I would have been placed there many, many times. My life of petty crime was sustained, and extremely petty. I stole: an eraser from a shop, a party popper (which I then let off in the car, forcing mum to stop thinking we had a tyre blow-out), a brass bracelet from a play group and untold sums of coins of small denominations. Shocking.
I also would cheat at any board game I could get my hands on, even Cluedo (and that is difficult). I used to lie to everyone about truly trivial crap.

In short, I have enormous sympathy for my daughter and feel a hypocrite for having to chastise her. Do I come down on her too hard (like my stepfather used to, with the effect of alienating us from him) or too soft, like my mum, in which case there is no effect at all.

My friends have been of no help either. Apparently, their children are of such high moral fibre that they never do such things. They seemed so shocked by my daughters sneakiness (pilfering stickers when told not to etc) that I feel as though my child must be the only one on the planet to have told a fib.

I was getting in quite a state about it, until I spoke to my sister yesterday. She laughed when I told her my worries.
"For God's sake. When I was six I told the mother at a friends birthday party that I wanted to take two party bags for each of my two sisters. I then proceeded to eat all the contents myself until I was sick. I have not been sent to Holloway Prison as far as I know. Lighten up."

It was just the advice I needed.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Friends - when is it 'safe' to have an argument?

I have spent the past two days a cottage with a friend. We fell out midway through the first day. Only for a minute, possibly five. But still...there it was, for that five minutes we did not like each other.

How soon can a NBF (New Best Friend - ick) and you argue, and the friendship survive? A week, a month, a year, never? This friendship was shiny-new, about 6 months old. Like a newborn we tended it lovingly, excited over every tentative development. We could drop in on each other. She was starting to hear about my skeletons in the cupboard, and me hers. But it feels as though the newborn has suddenly sprouted fangs.

What was the row about? Children, of course. That is a surefire way to disagree with even the most amiable friend. Her son and my daughter are kind-of friends. They wouldn't choose to hang around each other - she is Queen Barbie, and he doesn't think the day has been a good one unless he has had roughly 88 sword fights. But when it is just the two of them they muddle along fine.

Only, it wasn't just the two of them. A friend had rented the cottage next door and she has a son - who also likes swords. My daughter was teased, battered, subtly and not so subtly ignored, "Girls can't be in the rebel space command". Until the point she just looked pale faced and miserable.

I tried to think of 'bonding games', games that might give her a toehold in the boys imagination, but it was no good. By this time, she had become dull and flat, wouldn't you if every time you tried to join in a conversation you were put down?

I pointed it out to my friend, how it was upsetting me that my daughter was miserable. Her son got a sharp speaking to, and I got a sharper telling off. It was brief, 'He is fine. My son is being just fine' I think she said. I tried to apologise, telling her I was just worried. But by this time, the red mist had descended on her, and I just looked an overreacting bitch.

The afternoon limped on. I wanted to go home, but couldn't as she was driving. We forgave each other, we laughed about out little contretemps and gave each other a hug. She told me she never argued with friends. I felt that made me look kind of special, in a bad sort of way.
This morning, all was well. Except a little scar on the newborn friendship. It itches, it is healing, but hasn't healed. We left each other, all smiles, and yet my hand is going to hesitate next time I think of calling her.

I feel like a schoolgirl who angered her best friend. It's so sad, as I like her, and I like her son. These are such petty, silly things that won't be remembered in a decades time. But friendships are such precious, fragile things. I wonder if this one will get beyond the forgive, so that we can forget and move on.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Why don't I like men much?

That sounds incredibly sexist and marginalises 50% of the population, doesn't it?

So let me qualify that statement. I don't understand men much, and I think it is quite a recent thing. I have always been mystified by boys and their stereotypical interests (rugby, football, collecting strange things, mending shit etc), and was never able to banter with them. I blame having 3 sisters and an absent father (never blame yourself, always blame your past. It's so much easier that way I find!). Eeeps - saying men are only interested in sport and mending is like saying women only like gossip and shoes. Ah well, it I am aware of the stereotyping here.)

But there were boys who were able to be a little bit girly (we called them blo-birds. i.e., part bloke, part bird) who I did bond with. Boys who didn't seem to have to adopt that weird barking laugh when some lame joke was told. Boys who could watch Dirty Dancing, or at least tolerate the soundtrack. Boys who chatted, rather than held forth about topics.

But those boys seem to have disappeared from my life. The last one was a stay at home dad who had me in fits of giggles at the crusty old church hall toddler group I used to go to. We have now moved away, and away from the blo-birds it would seem. The men around here laugh-bark at golf jokes, hold forth on why the healthcare system is collapsing and seem obsessed by playing squash.

All my friends husbands are very pleasant, but they make me feel as though I am whittering. I probably am, but who wouldn't want to have an indepth conversation about whether Robert Pattinson would kick Zac Efrons arse, or the other way around?

I am lucky that my husband is a blo-bird. His little sister beat girlishness into him from an early age - he even knows how to sing all the harmonies to the soundtrack to 'The Kids From Fame'. Thank goodness he can tolerate my whittering and I can tolerate him shouting at the TV when there is sport showing.

But I feel as though, as a full time mum, I in some kind of conversational convent. Where men are not invited or welcome. I want to change that. It is toxic to only be exposed to one gender, one way of thinking, one way of doing. So in the next few weeks, I start adopting a barking laugh, you will know that I am trying my hardest to get rid of my prejudices and integrate with the other 50% of the population.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

I have so blown it...

My spending diary looked quite fascinatingly frugal until about 3 hours ago when I was let loose in our local mall. Unchained from the kids I seemed to do a 'clothing binge' and now I feel a little bit sick.
All the clothes were fairly cheap, but there it is, in black and white, I spent $300. That's about £175 in Blighty-cash. For that, though, I got:

  • 3 dresses (lovely light and airy ones that will let the breeze float about my nethers)
  • 10 little t-shirt thingies. The white ones I had were starting to go terminally grey. I know there is an ancient way of solving this by borax and sunlight but the 'Going to Gap sale' method was far easier.
  • 4 pairs of nice pretty nude-ish knickers when I realised that the lovely floaty dresses were a touch see-thru.
  • A pair of Nine West Jackie-O style sunglasses that probably make me look like a bug rather than Jackie-O.
  • A cute sundressy-nightgown, the nights here are now officially muggy and I am past wanting to terrify the kids with me ranging around naked at night.
  • A rather enormous feeling of guilt.

Never mind. Back to the budget tomorrow.

Just worried about how to explain this binge to my husband though. I think the 'Look how pretty and seethru this nightydress thing is, so much more sexy that the flannel PJs I normally wear' will probably do the trick.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Have I betrayed my daughter?

I feel as though I am the Judas in our mother/daughter relationship.

I left my white-faced daughter at day camp this morning, in a room which epitomised her worst nightmare. My daughter loves dolls, and sitting, and flowers and sitting, and card games and sitting.
This room had about 30 kids hurling hoops about with gay abandon, basketballs flying, noise noise noise and not a single doll. In fairness, this is a 'nature camp' where the day involved planting, a nature walk and 'playground based activities'. That doesn't sound too bad, I reckon.

But she was NOT BEST PLEASED to be left.
In Canada, there is a day camp culture during the summer that doesn't exist in Blighty. The summer holidays are much longer here, and it is the norm to send your child for football, swimming, arts and crafts camps etc. They are great...for parents. And I hear you argue why have kids if you just send them off the minute they are on holiday? Because the holiday is THREE MONTHS LONG!!

Not always too sure about how these things are for the kids. One of my friends had her child thoroughly mutiny this morning and refused to go. She is desperate for some time off and sounded gutted about having the chap around for the week.

I grew up in Canada and have nothing but fond memories of camps. The shinned knees, getting a crush on the hot camp councillor (who was probably age 17) and giggling alot. I probably blocked out the homesickness, the boredom and the repetitive macaroni sticking. I think she may like the 'Acting Camp' she is going to do in 2 weeks time (that is my plan, one week on, one week off).

Poor daughter, I am picking her up in half an hour, and then I will know if I get the rest of the week 'off' with just my toddler.

Friday, July 2, 2010

What to do on 'no-energy days'? Ideas please.

I repeat blah, blah, blah.

Do you ever have days where you are just not in the mood for 'doing stuff' with your young children? Where you wish their days away hoping they will morph into a teenager and not want to know you - just so that you could get on with your day in a sane and orderly fashion?

I have woken this morning with a summer cold. So has my toddler. We are both a wee bit crabby, but nowhere near bed-ridden. I am not in the mood to play 'Go Fish' with my newly card-sharkish daughter. I don't want to push my son around on the pavement on an oversized bike for hours on end. I want to go 'Blah' all day.
It was one of those days where I watched my husband go off to work (it was a day to be spent 'doing paperwork' rather than seeing patients - in other words, a bit of a doss day) with envy.

And my friend cancelled on me as her child has 'bowel problems' so I have faced the day mostly alone.

We have cycled/scootered up to the local cafe, decimated the local toy shop and played several games of 'Go Fish'. To the point where I want to tip toxic waste in the fish pond.


I don't like wishing the days away. I want to enjoy each day with them, to savour their precious childhood, to admire every ladybird and examine every flower.

But it's bloody hard work when your head has been stuffed with lint. Off we go, in a minute, to the park. Blah, blah, blah.

Today's spend: $20 on a coffee, 2 chocolate milks and an insulated coffee cup. Surely the insulated cup with help with future expenses.
Oh yes, and $5 for a pack of cards, which i am deeply regretting now.